By Bill Shurkey
"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ…But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him" (I Corinthians 12:12 and 18, KJV).
The body of Christ is like a collage. We are made up of many different people of different color and cultures. We all have our special talents the Lord has blessed us with. We have our spiritual gifts and each of us has a specific ministry that only we can do, whether it's as an eye, an ear, a hand or some other part of the body. Each of us is conditioned by our environment, our education, and our experience to make us the person we are. These, added to our spiritual gifts and special talents, make our ministry what it is.
Despite what some have been taught, there is no talent, spiritual gift or ministry more important than another. The Lord is no respecter of persons. Unity in diversity is the way the Lord planned it and the Church only gets into trouble when it tries to harvest body parts and isolate them from other members of the body.
Man trying to improve upon the work of God is nothing new, whether it occurs in the world or in the Church. Throughout history man has gotten into trouble trying to do God one better. Eve and Cain tried it. Saul and Solomon gave it a shot. And so did Judas. All of them found out too late that God's way was best. For a good example today we only have to look as far as the mule to see the results. God created the male donkey and the female horse, both very loveable and sweet animals, but man wasn't satisfied and began to tamper with God's work. He tampered until he 'created' the mule. It's one of the most stubborn animals in existence and is usually sterile; it can seldom produce fruit. Isn't that a picture of the Church today?
God's plan was perfect for his people. His last prayer to the Father before he went to Gethsemane was specific: "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21 KJV).
The local church is a group of people with no two alike, coming together as one. How much more power would we have if we began to cross denominational lines and work with other local bodies to bring in the harvest?
Those in the valleys can bring comfort to others who are there. Those on the mountaintops can prepare others for the next valley. Both may have the same type of ministry but the Lord will use it in different ways to touch different people as the rhythm of our lives ebbs and flows.
Such is the case with this month's poetry. These poets have all been given the same talent, yet the poems written are widely different. The writer's own life produced the results. Not everyone who reads all the poems will be affected by them all but there's sure to be one that will speak to your spirit. May they bless, refresh and encourage each of you as you move forward in your walk of faith…different members of one body with Christ as our head.
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We Never Said Good-bye
By Bill Shurkey
I was prepared. "Dad's changed," my brother said, "you won't
recognize him. It's been four months since he's known any of us."
I took a deep breath and waited while the door was unlocked. I crept
into the Alzheimer's unit and heard the door click behind me. The
smell of stale urine and feces made me nauseous. Against the wall on
my left loomed a tall glass cage. Noisy finches bounced from branch
to branch like miniature acrobats in a circus. No one watched. It
was dinnertime. I studied the rows of blank faces struggling to act
normal. Two elderly women wrestled over a small piece of bread. No
one broke up the fight. I looked at the faces again but didn't see my
dad. He's not here, I told my brother. Maybe he's in his room. "He's
here. Look again." I studied the faces more carefully. At the end of
the nearest table sat an old man in a wheelchair, the shrunken remnants
of a man not much more than 100 lbs. He wore baggy sweats and white socks
without slippers. A red baseball cap was pulled down over his eyes. Dad! Could that be him? "Yes, that's Dad." Where's his glasses? His slippers?
"Someone took them. It happens all the time. They got his dentures and his favorite stuffed animal too." Stuffed animal? "He's a child again." Why
is he wearing a mustache? He hasn't had one of those since he was in the navy. "He thought he was back in the war. Now he's forgotten the war and
the mustache. "Dad! What's happened to you? Should I interrupt his meal?
"It doesn't matter," my brother said, "he won't know the difference." I walked up to the table and gently put my hand on his shoulder. He looked at me and gasped. His eyes opened wide. "Bill," he said hugging me around the
neck. "Bill!" He knew me! I tried to hold back the tears but couldn't. My dad squeezed me tighter and patted me on the back. He tried to speak, to turn his thoughts into words but he had forgotten how. He looked ashamed and confused. I knew what he was trying to say and it was all right. He took
off his red baseball cap and pointed to the one on my head. I gave it to him. He smiled and put my cap on his head. After a few adjustments he seemed satisfied with the fit and then gave me his. He smiled, hugged me again and
went back to his dinner. I was forgotten. The enemy that had invaded his
brain locked him inside again and would never let him out a second time. But it was enough. God's grace is always sufficient. My dad had recognized me. We hugged. We spent time together. We just never said 'good-bye. I watched him finish his dinner. Dad dipped a plastic fork into a glass of grape Kool-
Aid and slipped it carefully into his mouth. He looked perplexed but dipped his fork again. He smacked his lips satisfied. I watched as long as I could then patted him on the shoulder one last time. He looked at me puzzled. I wanted to leave. His dinner was over. It was time for his diaper
change and bed. I wanted to hug him again but I was a stranger now. The phone call came a week later. "Dad's gone," they said. Dad was gone long before this, I thought. Someday I'll see him again and let him know it was all right. I think of him often still and wonder if he remembers now, that
we never said good-bye.
In Memory of my Dad
Bill Shurkey is the editor of The Rhythm of Life. He has published over 100 poems in various publications, as well as short fiction, short nonfiction and a nonfiction book. His two passions are poetry and teaching children through fantasy and humor. You can write to Bill care of the Letters page of this magazine.
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