As I sit here right now, I have to admit, today has been a rollercoaster kind of day with good, bad, and confusing moments. I suspect I am not the only one who goes through days like this. Today has been difficult because someone I love a great deal is in the middle of making what appears to be another series of bad decisions in life. What is so bad is it feels like the one I have loved and sacrificed so much for hates not only me but also my wife. Feelings like this, simply put, hurt.
One of the things that some may not know about me is that I consider myself a musician. I love to play music, whether it is my bass guitar, harmonica, and/or mandolin. I even have a cello; I played some as a child, and always loved the melodic components of the instrument. I just need to have the one I have serviced and set up. Of course that will take a little money, but I can still dream of the day that may yet come. I love music, it touches my soul, playing it expresses my heart.
I love to play music because as crazy as it may sound to some, it is one of the things that bring me closer to God. I feel his presence when I play; I know that and I also know I need to play more. Over the years I have also felt moments where God gives me a song and I write it down. It isn’t always a ‘Christian’ or ‘Worship’ song; sometimes it is a song about life and sometimes a fun song. I have songs for example that deal with the epidemic of violence among school age children; I have a song that deals with the tragedy of and prejudice towards the Original Americans or Indians, referencing the Trail of Tears, yet I also have a song that deals in a fun and respectful way with Texas Musicians, called Texas Squeal, and another that deals with untugging the crotch of ones pants, called Crotch De Crotch, another considering the bad mistakes one makes titled, Working for the D.O.C.. Like I said, there are all kinds of things I love to write about and know I don’t write enough.
Today as I was going through my day, I came home having to deal with an emergency and the events of the day. I needed wisdom but I also needed a moment of prayer and reflection. As I went to the mail box I got a package from a friend in Oklahoma, Amy Sebran. I was surprised to get it and opened it when I got in the door. Amy is a friend from the clubhouse I was the director at in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and helped start, Crossroads. Just the fact that I was hearing from a clubhouse friend was in some ways a reminder from God.
Another thing some may or may not know about me was my work in what is known as the International Clubhouse Movement. I started working in Clubhouse in 1989 and was blessed to have a part in this rehabilitation model based on Fountain House in New York City that focused on the strengths and abilities of the Mentally Ill in their rehabilitation. The model is now used around the world and my work in the model was blessed. When I resigned from the clubhouse in Tulsa to go into ministry, I had been on the International Faculty for Clubhouse Development for a number of years, and I was also on the International Standards Review Committee. I wrote the preamble to the Clubhouse Standards, a guideline used to certify clubhouses around the world and was on a committee of people from Gateway House in Greenville, South Carolina, which wrote the original draft of the Standards. When I left the model in 2001, I was leaving something I had loved and served in for a large portion of my life. I would be less than honest if I didn’t say I still miss the clubhouse model and the life it provided me. I have so much appreciation for it that I have taken clubhouse concepts and used them in my life and ministry until this day.
One of the ironies about my love for the clubhouse movement and life is that over the last week, I have had contact with several former friends in the clubhouse movement. I hadn’t planned things this way, but it is just the way it has been. Then coming home, getting the package from Amy, I realized, God still finds ways to acknowledge those he loves and lets them know they are of value. Today, God used Amy to let me know I am of value.
As I opened up my package it had a few things in it, a card and a new CD which Amy had recorded. She had recorded one of my songs, Hold Fast to Dreams, and not only recorded it but titled her CD by the same title. She also included a card that God has used to help me today. Now before I share this, realize, Amy’s father was a Jewish Cantor in Tulsa. She is still active in the Jewish temple and I have spoken at various Jewish temples in the past. While we don’t totally come to the same place as to theology in many ways, I think God has used me to touch her, and I know he has used her, certainly today, to touch me. I wanted to share the message Amy shared with me. It will hopefully inspire you as you think about that which has transpired with me today.
Thank you for this beautiful song that you wrote for me. It has brought me so many hours of pleasure, writing harmonies and melodies to your beautiful lyrics and melodies.
People ask, “Who wrote that beautiful song?” I say to them, “Mr. Michael Furches wrote it.”
The Cantor and the Rabbi ask for it. The people at Bartlett Square ask for it. You were born to compose music and lyrics and books Michael and to continue helping people.
I will remember always in my heart, the joy and hope you planted within my soul.
Thank you Michael
Now for those who know me, you know I really don’t want this to be a ‘pat Mike on the back’ kind of moment. I do want it to inspire folks to know something I have learned. Truth is, sometimes, life really does suck, it stinks, it is hard, it has moments that maybe we don’t want to live anymore. I have had more than a few of those moments in the past, I know that many of my friends, many of those who subscribe to The Virtual Pew in one way or another have also gone through those moments. I think it is important to do as God, I think, inspired Langston Hughes, who wrote the original poem, Hold Fast, and me, as I wrote the verses to the song, to do. That is, to realize we need to also hold fast to the dreams we have. There may be moments we want to give up, there will certainly be those moments that those we love will try to bring us down, but God can, and will, find ways to reach through and let us know we need to hold on and realize we are loved.
I know in my heart what kind of person I am, I am glad God sees so much more in me than I see in myself, because frankly I don’t know if I would have stood fast beside me as God has. I don’t know if I deserve the love of God, yet, I know through events like today, he loves me. I am reminded of the great spiritual truth shared by Francis Schaeffer as he was asked about the greatest spiritual truth. As he wiped a tear from his eye, he stated, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak, but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.” Understand, God is no respecter of persons. As tough as life may be, Jesus loves you, and I hope that you know that in my own imperfections, in knowing of Jesus love for me, I will do my best to love you. I am also reminded of the words of Andy Griffith this week regarding the death of his friend George ‘Goober’ Lindsey; “I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our eighties, we were not afraid to say, ‘I love you.’” To those of you reading this, know I have learned a valuable lesson now in my midlife years. I am not afraid to tell you, I love you and while my love is not perfect, I know God’s love is. So, Hold Fast and know, You Are Loved!
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