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Learning to Be Content in Limbo

28 October 2023

Dear Friend,

Title tile showing a small sandbar in a vast oceanI’m in the process of learning “to be content
in whatever circumstances I am.”1

I’m way behind the apostle Paul’s learning curve, especially when he says, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Philippians 4:11). But I am learning and accepting, however slowly. Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad to be here in Florida helping family. But, honestly, I’ve been homesick. I can’t remember a time when I’ve been away from home more than about five weeks at a time. Now it’s been over ten weeks. In fact, I was half-heartedly hanging up the crepe streamers for a “pity party” when the Lord had me encounter these words from Madame Guyon:

To me remains nor place nor time;
My country is in ev’ry clime;
I can be calm and free from care
On any source, since God is there.

While place we seek, or place we shun,
The soul finds happiness in none;
But with a God to guide our way,
’Tis equal joy to go or stay.2

Photo of pairs of shoes lined upEven while we’re in Limbo,
we’re setting examples.3

We live in the limbo of “Don’t Know Yet” — “don’t know when” we’ll list our house for sale, when it will sell, how much time we’ll have for packing, “how long” it will take to buy another home and get settled in.

Meanwhile, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to teach the Wednesday-night Bible study almost every week at Christian Faith Center. And with the local Bible school, North Florida Theological Seminary, I’ve been involved in the initial stages of some projects, including a beginning New Testament Greek class, as well as encouraging and interacting with a few of the students.

Medical Updates:
Good News, Imminent Treatment

Things have much improved health-wise since last month’s newsletter. Other than one visit to the emergency room (bleeding + blood-thinning medication is a bad combination!), we rejoice that Denise is finally over her long bout with the flu. And I will be undergoing a PFO Trans­catheter Repair next Monday (10/30) in order to plug the “hole in my heart.” (See last month’s newsletter, Whirlwind, Hurricane, and Storm.)

As for our son-in-law’s cancer treatment (which has brought us here in Florida) — he has now completed five of six chemo sessions. A PET scan showed some cancer-cell reduction. Chemo session #6 will occur early in November, and then the rounds of immunotherapy will begin. Thank you for your continued prayers for all of us!

News from Latin America

Since I wrote last…

  • I’ve had a long conversation with and update from Antonio Rodriguez, the superintendent of the churches where I minister in Honduras. My next trip there is beginning to firm up, with probable dates in March.
  • My annual teaching trip to Guatemala is still on for May.

Speaking of Guate, here are some snippets of good news from the brethren there:

Photo of Wilfredo and Flory CifuentesWilfredo y Flory Cifuentes
at a recent pastors’s gathering.4
Photo of Emilsa, Estefani, and Jorge PérezEngineering grad Stefi Pérez is flanked
by her proud parents,
Pastores Emi and Jorge Pérez.5
  • Rut Chávez is still going gangbusters with her translation ministry. She says of her last engagement, “We were working English classes with children at a school called Educando para la vida. But we also made family visits because the school has a program called women’s entrepreneurship. They work with the mothers of the students because many of them are single mothers coming from an abusive husband or similar situations or in one case a father that committed suicide.”
  • Rut also shared an update which blessed me. You may remember me mentioning Wilfredo and Flory Cifuentes, the pastors of the Tecún Uman church on the Mexican border. Thanks in part to your gifts, I was able to leave them with some funds for medical help. (He was losing eyesight and she was losing her ability to walk.) Wilfredo’s vision has been restored from 20% to 80%; and Flory has moved from walker to crutches, and the goal is to move past support altogether.
  • Stefi Pérez, who graduated college with her engineering degree in May, landed a satisfying engineering-related job near her hometown. She says, “Everything is good. I obtained an ascent [i.e., a promotion] just in less than a month! I started as inventory boss and now I am the logistics boss. I am learning a lot in this company and I feel great working in there.”

Publication Bumper Crop!

Even during the two nights I was hospitalized by my double stroke back in early September, I was still able to follow my near-daily discipline of rising early and writing. (The morning of my first overnight there, I was even aided in this endeavor by the “vampire” who came in to take a blood sample at 05:30 — helping me realize that I had been sleeping away my normal writing time!)

In the ebb and flow of writing, some periods go by seemingly fruitless; that is to say, there’s a lot of activity, but nothing gets published, because the time is being spent on writing, research, word studies, creating first drafts, and fixing and tweaking drafts towards maturity. But in October…

…Wow — harvest time! I think we set a record! This month we’ve been able to complete and publish to the website the following from The John the Baptist Experience series, book 2, The Extraordinary Message:

I hope to have these available as e-booklets before the end of November.

Two other chapters are also completed and waiting for me to code them to the website in early November:

Two other The Extraordinary Message projects are underway:

Add to that list six new hymns and poems. Like I said: a bumper-crop month! Thanks to those who are faithfully praying for this long-term writing project!

IMAGE-DESCRIPTIONHow sweet it is!7

Cherry on top! While I was packing to come to Florida, I came across a years-old, nearly finished Spanish translation of my Bible study titled The Powerful Message Behind Jesus’ First Sermon. I reviewed and revised that, sending a near-final(?) draft back to our translator, Inés Maria González Valdes so that we can tie up this project and publish it to the website.

Prayer Points

  • The most time-sensitive request is the PFO Trans­catheter Repair procedure scheduled for this coming Monday. The cardiologist told us that they usually don’t perform this on folks over 70 years of age. But — praise report! — based on the fact that my heart and arteries are otherwise very healthy “for someone of my age” (he had to add that, didn’t he?!), and the fact that the likely TIA I had about ten years ago was probably also due to the PFO (like last month’s double stroke), he was recommending the procedure and authorizing it.
  • I’ve also asked, above, for prayer concerning the writing of The Extraordinary Message chapters on repentance. To Repentance, I would also add the chapters on Law and Sin as having the greatest need of your intercession. These three subjects together are the “hinge chapters” of the whole The John the Baptist Experience series. If those chapters are inspired and empowered, all will be well with the rest.
  • For months we have been praying for a replacement to our second car. The Lord provided some funds, but so far there’s nothing adequate that we can afford. Now our “primary” car is in need of serious work or replacement. There must be a way…
  • There are too many move-related matters to detail, all swirling around the selling, packing, transporting, buying, replacing, moving-in process. Pray that we can walk in faith, clearly hear God’s voice and leading in all these “business” matters, while being faithful in our regular ministry endeavors.

So as I sign off this epistle from a somewhat bewildering, but productive, “limbo,” I’ll give Madame Guyon the last word:

Could I be cast where Thou art not,
That were indeed a dreadful lot;
But regions none remote I call,
Secure of finding God in all.

My country, Lord, art Thou alone;
No other can I claim or own;
The point where all my wishes meet—
My Law, My love — life’s only sweet!8

It turns out that Limbo isn’t so bad. The Lord is here, too, and that’s what matters!

Much love in Jesus,

Jim

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Endnotes


  1. The underlying image of the title tile is by Arek Socha from Pixabay
  2. From Guyon’s poem The Soul That Loves God Finds Him Everywhere, translated from the French by William Cowper
  3. The “shoe photo” is mine; and, no, I didn’t arrange for my grandson’s little shoes to show up next to mine!
  4. Photo of los Cifuentes provided by Rut Chávez.
  5. Photo of los Pérez provided by Stefi Pérez.
  6. The title tile image is a copyrighted photo by Rex Wholster and used under license from iStockphotos.com.
  7. Cherry image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
  8. From the same poem by Madame Guyon, The Soul That Loves God Finds Him Everywhere, translated from the French by William Cowper
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