I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Great Gains? Expect payback or retaliation before you surge forward.

Delores E. Topliff

Remember Newton’s 3rd law of thermodynamics? To each action there’s an equal and opposite reaction? That’s true, though the gravity's weight eventually slows pendulums, and they swing slower in summer but faster in winter, which is too much for my brain.

In life and story, when we surge ahead, there’s often payback to discourage further gains. That was true after Elijah’s victory at Mt. Carmel when he fled in terror but found God’s still small voice could keep him anywhere. In my world, I uprooted sunflower stalks to feed cows, but one came so easily, I fell back onto only the small sharp wooden stake remaining in the garden, and bled for hours.

In Israel, I love bread-crumb connectionsthis person pointing us to that gathering or event. Someone from Estonia visiting the same home in Galilee told of us an important meeting in Jerusalem and later showed up there, getting us six visitor passes instead of paying $35 each. The speaker? Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad. I’d heard his name in the news but hadn’t paid enough attention.

First he was an anesthesiologist, “good at putting people to sleep.” Later he prepared for ministry in the Church of England. After ordination, he came to Israel to learn Aramaic and Jewish-Christian roots. A learned rabbi said White wouldn’t be satisfied until he completed Yeshiva, rabbinical training school, so he did.

In spite of developing multiple sclerosis, he eventually served St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, throughout history the largest congregation in the Middle East with 4,000 members. He loves and shepherds those people like no one I’ve seen in recent yearshe is one of them.

ISIS wants his head. Thirty-five soldiers accompany him in Iraq. Except now the Archbishop of Canterbury has forbidden him to return, saying he’s of greater value outside making his peoples’ cause known, than being martyred. But with his people suffering, phone calls and Skype aren’t enough. White wants to join them to comfort them.

As I listened, time telescoped. I felt like Mary breaking alabaster to pour perfume on the feet of this wise, humble, suffering fairly young man who won’t avoid life-threatening obstacles.

Great stories are made of such tensions. Great lives are lived through them. White’s mission intensifies mine--and my prayers.

In writing we call such payback black moments, something resembling earlier greatest fears that revisit to block our hero or heroine now. Except they can’t. Growth triumphs. Eventually the threat appears small, laughable, because the protagonist has changed to move beyond it.

What payback has threatened to block your forward growth? What proved its diminished proportions as you saw it couldn’t touch the real you now?

Here's the best link currently to read more about this amazing man The Vicar of Baghdad: Canon Andrew White on his return to Iraq


  1. ISIS wants his head. This made cold chills run over me. This is an amazing man with a passion for Christ.

  2. I absolutely loved what you had to say Dee. This is a truth not often talked about so it was refreshing that you brought this up and equated it to writing. I remember when my dark moment came about 3 years ago and how it has made me stronger to face these black moments in my life that have now come. Thanks for addressing this necessary subject.

  3. Wow, that's a wonderful story, Dee, that doesn't get enough publicity! May the Lord protect him!

  4. Thanks each of you for your thoughts, comments, and prayers for this serious situation.