Showing items filed under “Jason Meinershagen”
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I'm dreaming. Even though I’m fast asleep, I know this is a dream. But the sensation that I'm spinning out of control feels so real, and it's so overwhelming, that I'm jolted awake. As I open my eyes, I find myself reaching to grab ahold of something...anything. Unable to focus on what's in front of me, I'm now living an extension of my dream as the room, quite literally, is spinning in circles. I feel like I'm riding a souped-up tilt-a-whirl with no end in sight.

It takes every bit of my energy just to force myself to sit up and put my feet on the floor. Having done so, I'm now sitting on the side of my bed, looking straight ahead and trying to focus on the dresser across the room. There's just enough light from the street light through the window that I can barely see it. With my feet on the floor and my eyes focused forward, I'm now riding the storm out, literally trying to convince my mind into believing what I know to be true but can’t feel…that I really am just sitting still. “Ride this out man, just ride whatever this is out! You're gonna be fine. Father God, please make this stop.”

Our body's ability to maintain balance is an amazing system. Three things work together to do this. Our eyes, feet, and inner ears. The inner ear is its own amazing system in itself, with crystals floating in a small pool of liquid. As they move around in the liquid, they contact tiny hairs that send signals to our brain about where we are in relation to the world around us...whether we're sitting, walking, laying down, etc. Our feet and eyes then confirm for our brains the information being received from the inner ear, and thus we're able to maintain balance.

Sometimes, the crystals in the inner ear can become dislodged or clustered together in such a way that they don't work as designed. When this happens, incorrect signals are sent to the brain. We may be laying down, but our inner ear is telling our brain we're walking. The mixed information confuses the brain as it tries to process conflicting information from our eyes, feet and inner ears. The result is called vertigo, characterized by a sensation of spinning and dizziness, and often associated with nausea. The sensation is magnified when you remove another of the three. Close your eyes, and it gets worse. Lay down, and it worsens again. Lay down and close your eyes, and...well, just hold on for the ride, cuz it's fixin' to get crazy up in here!

There's no specific reason this condition affects any particular person. When I asked my doctor why—at the age of 41—is this now all of a sudden happening, he replies with a shrug of his shoulders, "bad luck." Really?! Here we are in the 21st century, and with all our billions of dollars poured into technological advancements in medicine and science...and that's all you got? Bad luck?

Turns out that while it can be brought on by an injury, it also just happens sometimes. No rhyme or reason. Young and old. Overweight and skinny. Unhealthy and healthy. Men and women. All are equally susceptible to just be walking through the course of any normal day and BAM! Here you go...let's try this vertigo thing out for a while and see how you fare not being able to balance or focus.

I’ve discovered that our walk of faith is very similar. We can be walking along, seemingly doing everything right. Growing in our understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus; studying the word daily; discipling others in the truth; leading our families spiritually; leading or serving in successful ministries; witnessing and sharing the Gospel with the lost. And then BAM! Something happens that sends our life into a tailspin. The death of a loved one; a misstep in our judgement or decision making; marital infidelity or divorce; a job layoff; a car accident; or a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness like cancer.

Maybe we didn't do anything to cause the tailspin we've found ourselves in, but we're still in it nonetheless. With all the strength we can muster to stabilize the chaos, we try to keep our focus on what's important, rather than the distractions all around us. But it's hard, isn't it? To overcome the tailspin, we have to open our eyes and find something that’s not moving to direct our focus. For me back on that early morning in 2014, waking up with vertigo for the first time, it was the dresser.

But in life, that “something” is God. He is immovable, unshakable, unwavering, and always there. We have to find Him and focus on Him. “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” Psalm 18:2. When we find Him in the storm and keep our focus on Him to avoid the distractions and waves crashing all around us, we can re-center ourselves and regain our focus and balance. When we come out on the other side, our faith will have grown stronger, and we’ll be better equipped for the next storm.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne" Hebrews 12:1-2 (emphasis added by me).

In these crazy busy seasons of life when life just gets to spinning out of control, it helps me to picture a house. God is the roof, covering and protecting us. His Word, the four walls that hold it all together. The Holy Spirit, the air within it…filling every part of it…present in every room. And Christ? Well, Christ is the cornerstone upon which it’s all built… “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord” Ephesians 2:20-21.

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It’s graduation season…a time when our youth are turning the page to begin a new chapter in their life’s journey.  At the Old Fashion Hymn Sing last night (what a blessing that was by the way), I couldn’t help but look around at the years of experience, wisdom and knowledge present and hope all these patriarchs and matriarchs of our church have been intentional about passing down the lessons of their lives and faith to the generations who are now charged with remembering from where we’ve come.

Though my memory fails me more and more these days, I can clearly recall the many conversations with older and wiser men when my wife and I first started having children.  While each conversation was different, the message of each was the same – to enjoy the diapers, the messes, the screaming, the fighting, the noise, the clutter.  Soak it all in now because you will one day come home to a house that is quiet and clean…and miss it all.

It all seemed so far off back then.  I mean when you hear that advice as a young parent of a newborn infant, you’re exhausted and worn out and think to yourself, “how’s about we get through bottle feeding and diapers before we start talking about college plans old man?  I mean really…I’m living in a mine field of dirty diapers and tantrums and sleepless nights and mustering every ounce of energy just to survive today intact.”

And, then it happens. One messy mouthful at a time, they’re weaned from the bottle and onto solid food, and we start moving to the next phase…walking.  One step turns to two, and then they’re up and running circles around us and we move on to the next stage…potty training.  A few accidents and a whole lotta messy nastiness later, they’re screaming at the restaurant table, “Daddy, I went number two like a big girl!” and we’re high-fiving them on to whatever’s next.

And, life gets to going…so fast in fact…and in just a few short years we’re watching her walk across the stage of high school graduation and into adulthood.  As we’re left dazed and confused in the dust wondering from which side the Tasmanian Devil just attacked, the words of that old man eighteen years ago come back to haunt us, and he doesn’t seem so crazy anymore.  Here’s where I say to all you young whipper snappers…go ask your Google who Taz is.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

I’m pretty sure I’m writing this for myself more than you, because I constantly need this reminder. Even as my boys are just now turning 9 and 11, I look back on their young lives and realize I’ve already missed so much.  In constantly looking with eagerness to the next phase of their lives, I’ve taken for granted the phases we’ve gone through and not enjoyed them to the fullest.

Are we to plan for tomorrow? Absolutely!  Are we to remember the past and from where we came?  You betcha!  There’s a saying I’ve tried to live by over the years: “the rearview mirror is smaller than the windshield so that we can know where we’ve been, but where we’re going and what’s ahead of us is more important.

While true, how much more should our attention be on who’s in the car with us?!  We’re not traveling this life alone, and the relationships around us are important.  You know…that whole ‘loving God and loving people’ thing?  In the span of just one month, my two boys had birthdays, my daughter graduated high school, and my wife and I celebrate a marriage that’s 25 years young.  And, I’ve been so focused on where we’re going – and making sure we get there in one piece – that I’ve not enjoyed the ride nearly enough.  The words of all those wiser men who tried to warn me away from the mistakes of their youth are ringing truer and truer for me now.

I don’t think it’s just me…maybe you can relate?  Maybe you’ve raised your family and are excited for grandchildren to be born?  Maybe you’re right here in this phase of life with me, moving from one activity to another so fast you can’t keep up?  Maybe you’re all up in the tantrums, sleepless nights, and dirty diapers just struggling to survive unscathed?  Maybe you’ve just graduated high school and are excited about what’s next?  Maybe you’re in high school and can’t wait to get out so you can live your own life under your own rules?

Wherever you are in life, God wants you to enjoy it right there.  Yes, now I’m the old man in the room offering up the advice I once whimsically ignored. Nonetheless, it’s not too late for any of us.  Regardless of what phase of life we’re in, God hasn’t called us home yet, so He has a purpose for us still.  Together, let’s stop looking forward to the next thing and enjoy right now for what it is…a chance to glorify God in the moment by loving those around us.

Now, put this down and go enjoy the company of your family.  Give them a hug and a kiss.  Let your daughter (or granddaughter) paint your toenails after the tea party.  Read her the bedtime story…even if it’s the same one you’ve read so many times you can quote it from memory.  Go play catch with your son (or grandson) and leave the phone inside.  Sit them down and tell them the story of your life.  Go on a walk around the neighborhood and reconnect with your spouse. Pull out a board game and spend the next two hours loving the ones closest to you.  Enjoy it while you can…because one day you’ll wake up and will have missed your chance.

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