Story time: Reconnected

I will never forget the time an old friend came to mind randomly as I sat at my desk at work. I worked for a medical office and I did patient care via phone. One day I received word of a patient that needed a phone call about a particular issue. So, the first thing I did was enter the patient’s name into the database, and as you can imagine this particular individual had a somewhat common name and because of this there were many people that pulled up in the database. This is obviously nothing unusual, and happened most of the time when I entered someone’s name into the computer. This time, however was a little different because at the top of the list, I found someone that I knew and who I have not seen in many years. This man had become a great friend, but because of his circumstances and his health, I knew that he had become functionally homeless (going from hotels to eventually a short term nursing home).

The line on the computer stood out to me, and I made a mental note that I was going to try to find him and reconnect. I decided to spend some time later calling around to different hospitals because I just had this feeling deep inside that he was not okay. Oddly enough, the first call I made was to a hospital I remember him going to years before for a rather minor issue. Sure enough, I found out that he was at that hospital at the time that I called. So, I decided I was going to use a day off to go visit him. It was going to be a wonderful surprise, and in my mind I thought I was going to walk in to a situation in which he was watching television and eating Jell-O as anyone would be doing in the hospital. This was not exactly the case for my friend. He was a very large man and needed a custom breathing apparatus to make sure his body received enough oxygen. The medical technician had already struggled with fitting his breathing mask on him for nearly 2 hours. I walked in to both of the arguing about the comfort of the device. When he finally saw me, he began to weep.

No one knew how bad he was doing, and no one knew he was in the hospital. He had lost connection with most people that he loved and outside of his children, he felt as if people had forgotten about him. He was so excited to see me that he ripped off his mask that was giving him oxygen, just so he could talk to me. This nearly send the medical technician into a fit of rage because of the long hours he had already put into the project. He stormed out of the room, and while I felt sorry for him, this did give my friend and I the chance to reconnect. I sat with him and talked for a few hours, and we laughed, cried, and shared memories. He told me about how he was estranged from nearly everyone he knew, and the fact that he no longer had a phone, it was very difficult to keep in contact with people.

My friend had no money, and the one thing that he wished he had at the time was a Bible to read. I told him I would get him one to read from the hospital gift shop. Unfortunately they did not have large print so I promised him I would get him a new Bible the even had his name engraved in it. He nodded and smiled. I then left. It was such a sweet time together.

My friend died in his sleep a couple weeks after I visited him in the hospital. I couldn’t believe it because I never knew he was that close to death when I saw him.

I realize now that it was God who prompted me to reconnect. I am glad I listened.

-Landon DeCrastos

Living As If Dead

When you ponder deeply in your mind
Soon, you will inevitably find
The world has always been far behind
Christ’s kin; a step ahead

Before you object, please let me explain
Because all you see on this human plane
Disobedience, strife, trauma and pain
And children going unfed

These indicate another day
One that is defined by decay
Before the king had His way
And conquered through the blood He shed

When you think about all we see
Constant struggle within humanity
It makes perfect sense to me
That we often reject where we are led

The day I mean is in the past
One that the devil hoped would last
The king came and won at last
And put this fight to bed

The problem many do not understand
Is they live in a time and land
One that they build with their own hand
The fight still rages in heart and head

We are so addicted to our ways
And the sin that takes up our days
Victory is won, but we are still in this phase
Of living as if we are dead

So, reject what your heart tells you
That all is lost and you will always be too
That this old kingdom still reigns anew
And accept the one who bled.

-Landon DeCrastos

To. For. Through

With one deliberate breath,
humanity gained access to life
The Creator looked down and decided to use the wind within Him
to bless
every person…every color…every thought process
He gave life TO us

Life was not stolen from His grasp, or accidently bestowed

He had a plan, and affection compelled Him
Just as we say about things that we do “the devil made me do it”

Which usually is an excuse for destruction and decay

He had a factor that also pulled Him to action
Love

We don’t really understand it.
We put people through social interviews before we give it
We have very specific criteria for those rare individuals that may…somehow earn our version of it
But He did not
He just gave it to us…recklessly…without qualification.

Ok then…maybe it was a mistake.
Maybe it was a one-time thing?
No
It wasn’t
Because, right when He was at the point of the highest earthly popularity
He, once again, made the same choice.
He gave His life FOR us.

Ok then…maybe it was a mistake.
Maybe He just gave up, and surrendered to the powers that be.
No
He didn’t
Because, every time He could have ran away, or made an excuse.
He gave up himself willingly

So, He died.
He’s gone, right?
No…not at all.
In fact to complete the loop of His blessing, He breathed His life back into us
He wants to live THROUGH us.

Let’s continue the cycle.

Dodging Rocks: What Purity Feels Like

dodging rocks

Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Take a restful nap with nothing on your mind. Imagine a life where you could exist in peace and harmony. Ok, so I am not leading a yoga class right now, and I may seem like I am going to the extreme, but in all seriousness there are some important lessons to be learned from the practice of embracing peace.

Many people struggle to find stillness in their life, because their mind and body are always on the go. Busyness has taken over hearts and schedules fill up. This is reality. Life happens and we all have a task list to complete. Today, however I don’t want to talk about peace as the opposite of busyness, but peace as the antidote for sin. Purity is peace.

Culturally, we have embraced the lie that says that in order to be accepted and affirmed in society, we must participate in acts of sin and those things that erode our soul. Often, when someone sets out to live a life of purity, avoiding things that take one captive, they are ridiculed and accused of acting “superior” (and certainly those people exist). Then, there are those people who don’t just ridicule the person who tries to glorify God through their actions, but they actively attempt to sidetrack an individual…or perhaps that is not their intention, but their actions would lead one to believe that they do not care about the spiritual well-being of another.  So, what happens is…their actions may help bring about more temptation for a person truly trying to keep on the right path in their life.

Which begs the question…should we take responsibility for another person’s actions? Or…maybe putting it another way…Is it our fault if someone chooses to sin? Well, I think yes and no (contextually speaking). The Bible gives many examples of a transformed and well lived life being practiced in the context of community. The implication, we are all responsible for each another. People that are immature in the faith will only be concerned with themselves.

Let’s look at an analogy that may help us in this discussion. Imagine a tight rope walker performing in front of a large audience. Her act includes balancing on a thin rope and walking from the top of one tall building to the other. The act is very dangerous. Then, imagine, while she is in the middle of her show, people start throwing rocks at her, and will all her might she attempt to balance and avoid being struck by the stones. You can picture the rest of the illustration.

The fact is, as Christians, we can do a lot to help a brother or sister in Christ pursue God’s best for their life. Certainly, we have no control over what happens behind closed doors, but we can be a positive influence and encourager for them.

Everywhere we look, we are surrounded with people with both private and public struggles. Perhaps they are battling alcohol, smoking, or even sex addiction. At the same time, their eyes, mind, and heart are being flooded with images and messages that tell them that going back to that dark place is the only way they will find peace. This battle can lead to a mental breakdown in some cases.

In an ideal context…what would purity feel like? It would be peaceful…relaxing…free. It would make your pillow the softest it has ever been. It would be joy.

What if we exerted energy to help guide others on the right path? A path of purity. I’m not talking about the type of purity we see pledged at church camp when we are teenagers. I am talking about living a life that is dedicated to God and His will.

Brother and sisters…I want you to experience freedom.

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos