Sunday, October 31, 2010

There is Hope

 (Route 6 heading west into the coastal range)
Have you ever had a hard time coming up with a beginning to a post?  Since starting the blog again I've already written about such subjects as cancer and job loss, both of which are not positive and uplifting topics.  So I've been challenged a bit coming up with a beginning.

This post has another subject that's not popular so I want to say from the outset that my intentions are not to make a pattern of this.  It's just the way things have unfolded in the last month or so.  I'll begin by saying as I've mentioned before that we've had a little place at the coast for a number of years.  The first year we had it we went there almost every weekend.  It's been a place for special family times and our grandkids will probably treasure the memories for the rest of their lives.

It's in a quaint neighborhood with people that you get to know by having conversations from the backyard while barbecuing or out in the street after coming back from a walk on the beach.  Many of the houses are second homes for Portland folks so the full time neighbors keep an eye out for anything unusual.

Three-day weekend holidays are fun.  The whole town bulges with tourists and extended families.  And then there's the 4th of July parade that has all the charm and excitement of small town parades.

Last Tuesday night we got a call with some bad news.  The kind of news that seems to make time stand still for a few moments.  It's the kind of call that's difficult to make and to receive.  Our next door neighbor died suddenly last Sunday.  I won't go into detail except to say that he was relatively young.  He leaves his wife and two young daughters.  His memorial service was yesterday.

 (Along Rte 6 and the Wilson River)
I left about 4:30 Friday afternoon to ride over to the coast.  The weather was clear and in the low 50's F.  Sometimes on a ride like this I'll listen to the iPod but this ride I wanted to reminisce.

 (Route 6 - Tillamook State Forest)
Do you think it's possible that a quiet two-lane highway in the forest can be like a cathedral?  I think so.  Except for the fact that I had to keep an eye out for the big three.  Deer, Elk, and the newer threat foraging bears.

Over the years our neighbor and I have had many conversations in front of our houses on the street or from our backyards.  Topics varied between our families, local government, world issues, weather, neighborhood news - the usual stuff.  Occasionally and at appropriate times I would bring up religion and things of God.  On those subjects he wasn't too interested in going into detail and that was okay - we didn't.   It was an interesting relationship that grew despite the 90 miles that separated us.

I came out of the forest and onto the straight-away that precedes Tillamook as the sun was just setting.  This is the spot where you see many of the dairy farms.  You not only see them you smell them. 

After making the usual stops at the store then Subway to pick up dinner I headed up the coast towards the house.  By the time I got to the ghost hole on the east side of Tillamook Bay the sunset was peaceful and the bay was calm.  I stopped to take it all in.

In February our neighbor had a bad accident at home.  He slipped while in the shower and hit the side of his head on the edge of the tub.  It did quite a bit of damage and he lost the use of his eye.  In the months to come he had a few reconstructive surgeries which helped bring him almost back to normal.  The accident, though, had taken its toll on his outlook on life.  Already unemployed he started to spiral into a time of despair.

One night in April while we were on the phone he said that he wanted to talk about God.  He wanted to have a talk about Him in person.  I told him I'd be there the following Saturday. 

That next Saturday afternoon while we sat in his darkened living room, God opened his heart to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior.  Later as I left I hugged him not realizing that it would be one of the last times that I would see him.

As I rode home yesterday after the service I took my time and made many stops in the now cold and drizzly forest.  Each day is such a gift and I fear sometimes that I'm not making the best of each one of them.  Robbing the title of my last post, events like this really put things into perspective.  

 (Men fly fishing on the Wilson River)
The emptiness of not being able to see him and talk with him is there but the assurance that he'll be reunited with his family and that I'll see him again one day is a wonderful promise that God has made.  And I believe it's true.

There is hope - there is always a way provided for hope.

God's speed.


  1. Mike, I'm so sorry. Yes, there's almost always hope and the point you make about making the best of every day is something dear to my heart.

    Incidentally, rain at a funeral is considered to be a spiritual blessing by our Maori people. They also regard a funeral/wake (called a Tangi)as a time for celebration of a person's life, not a time for great grief. Hard to argue with that.

    Beautiful, beautiful photographs. Absolutely appropriate.

    Take care....

  2. Oh wow... Mike I'm so thankful that you were there for him and that God opened his heart to Christ. I'm so sorry for your loss and the grief his family and friends are all feeling. I'll be keeping you all in prayer.

    I think this was appropriate as well- and the images are gorgeous.

  3. I'm so sorry for your neighbor's loss. My prayers to the family. Wonderful that you had an opportunity to share with him about Christ and his receptiveness to that message.

    Yes, I think a forest is exactly like a cathedral, perhaps the best kind of cathedral, not created by the hand of man.

  4. Geoff,
    Thank you. That's interesting about the Maori people. As I read the Bible and see the promises that God makes for those who put their trust in Christ it's amazing and incredibly encouraging. The promise of spending eternity in heaven with our creator is definitely not a time for grief. I agree, it is a time for celebration and his service was just that. Thanks for your comment Geoff, I appreciate it!

    Thank you. God is good - all the time! I always appreciate your comments!

    Thank you too. You're right, it was good that he was receptive and that receptiveness is the key. It really comes down to the point of need. If we don't have a need then we won't be receptive. He had reached that low point of need as I did at one time.

    And well said about the cathedral not made by human hands. Thanks again!

  5. Hey Mike,
    didn't know ya had this blog.

    Sorry ya lost a friend, and his family's loss too. but glad to hear he asked Christ in to his heart.

    as always AWESome shots!

  6. Jel,
    Thank you for your comment and for stopping by. Yes indeed, God is good!

  7. Mike: I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. I'm liking your blog even more now, you write beautifully and I'm happy that you were there for him. I agree, the forest can be a cathedral, I think a lot while I'm riding, I don't listen to music, I like to be immersed in my thoughts. I love when I'm riding at sunset, there's something special about it. Keep up the good work.

  8. George,
    Thank you. Thanks for your kind words. Riding and thinking are good! Keep up the good work on your blog, I really enjoy it. Too bad we couldn't meet when you were here. Maybe next year...