“No God!  We are already overwhelmed!” I cried out. That was the morning of Tuesday, June 28.

For weeks I had been dancing and dodging… trying to avoid the truth:  I was swamped.

Our family home remodeling project was now in its third year.  When it began, the thought of re-doing the floors concerned me the least. I had done flooring before… what could go wrong?  I learned the hard answer to that thought when I removed the old flooring and found a mess that added three months of unplanned labor (that’s me) and expense.  (I spoke about this in the last letter for March-April.)

Hopes of relief from the seven days a week work schedule, between ministry and remodeling, had faded over those three months.  Each day’s labor wore away more of the hope lingering from the previous day.

By that day in June I already knew that the bamboo flooring — just installed in May over the repaired subfloor — was warping.  (While not pertinent to the point, the culprit is water vapor, the bane of wood flooring — and a breached vapor barrier.)  Our flooring nightmare turned into Flooring Nightmare II.  Now, much of the main area flooring must be removed and re-done.

What had begun as a labor of love turned into a black hole sucking the life from us.

Yet, our broken house was not the only, nor the greatest, challenge our family was facing.

Our daughter DeeDee has been sick for a number of years.  That sickness had steadily increased in intensity over the past year.  Since April this year the family has transported her to the emergency room (UC Davis and Stanford) half a dozen times or more.

Also, since April DeeDee has had two surgeries; the second to fix problems that resulted from the first.  Most recently, her times of respite from diarrhea and vomiting have been fewer and shorter than ever before.  DeeDee is virtually sick all the time and appears not to be getting better despite doctor promises to the contrary.  (“We’ll have you back to a normal life in three months,” one doctor at Stanford told her — six months ago.)

While over the weeks and months I have driven DeeDee to the hospital a few times, the heaviest burden of her transport and care has fallen on her mother and her sister.  More than a few nights they spent with DeeDee at Stanford.  Some nights sleeping while sitting in hospital room chairs.

Now, almost three months since that first surgery at Stanford, we still don’t know if the things the doctors are doing to improve DeeDee’s health are working (it doesn’t appear so).  And we don’t know if the doctors know whether their treatment actually will improve DeeDee’s health.  It is obvious to the family:  DeeDee’s health is worse now than it was before her surgery.

These were the things burdening my mind that June 28 morning as I walked out the door to clean out a paintbrush.  That morning I was attacked by wasps.  That morning, running from the wasps, I fell and broke my wrist.  That morning I cried out “No God….”

By now you must be wondering: What do these experiences of wasps, a broken wrist, a sick daughter and a broken house have to do with the ministry of Family Chaplains?

Everything!  In fact, they represent the very reason we minister to the “fallen, the restored yet still broken” who will receive it.

Each one of us enters life “Fallen,” as the apostle Paul said: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23); through God’s mercy, many receive restoration to a relationship with Him by simply trusting in Jesus; yet the truth is — everyone (both the fallen and the restored) — continues to daily experience brokenness.  We live with sickness, injury, fear and death in a sin-sick world.  The only present remedy for broken people in a broken world is God’s promise.

We love ministering to people who know they are without strength to fix the brokenness.  Jesus described them as “weak, and heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28).  They know that no one within the mundane realm of life can fix that brokenness.  They read Scripture, they sing the hymns that were written by broken people; they work at trusting Jesus even as they struggle to cling to Him in the midst of the storms.  I know who they are because I am one of them.

We are the people to whom Jesus said, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest….

One who was Fallen yet restored but still broken…and Resting…in the midst of the storms!

–Chaplain Jim