Earp Takes Aim | Faith, Culture, Life

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I have an app on my iPhone called Bus.  It’s been a hit with both Liv and Iz…who especially loved playing Bus while perched on Grammy’s lap. 

Bus’ soundtrack is that silly kids’ song that drones endlessly about “the wheels on the bus go round and round.”  Remember that ditty?

I don’t know where that phrase originated, but the year before Cindy got sick, we saw The Bucket List and winced when Jack Nicholson’s character said, “we live, die, and the wheels on the bus go round and round.”

His words seemed callous and cynical at the time.  But three years later, I see great wisdom in his assessment.  In fact, his words mirror something another “cynic”— King Solomon— also said:  “If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth.  Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie.” {Ecclesiastes 11:3}

Bottom line, whether we’re talking falling trees or spinning wheels, the reality of life on the bus is this:  Stuff happens. 

Seasons change.  Every year, evidently.  Hot Summers give way to chilly Falls which surrender to deep-freezy Winters. 

But wait for it, wait!  Another turn of the wheel and pop!  A fragile blossom emerges as Spring launches her annual comeback amidst a glorious burst of new life.  It’s a cycle so predictable, you could even track it on your, hmm, calendar! 

Troubles come— and then they go. 

Suffering haunts you— and then it, just as suddenly, leaves you.

Things you never wished for get dumped in your lap— and stuff you never wanted to lose gets ripped from your grasp. 

And try though you may, you cannot navigate around this rhythmic cycle.  Because like it or not, trees fall wherever they fall.  And the wheels on the bus do go round and round. 


Echoing this theme, Emily’s friend, Ashley, recently posted the following poem on Facebook. 

“You can shed tears that she is gone

Or you can smile because she has lived.


You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all she has left.


Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her

Or you can be full of the love that you shared.


You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.


You can remember her and only that she is gone

Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.


You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back

Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”


And that’s what I’m trying to do.  To smile.  To open my eyes [to tomorrow].  To keep loving.  And to find some way to go on.  Because even when I don’t, I’m finding that those darned wheels keep on spinning…anyway.  Whether I want them to or not doesn’t change the fact— they still do!    

To be honest, I’ve actually tried to stop them…several times since Cindy died.  But let me tell you about my most recent failed attempt: 

I took a few hits for the content of this blog.  Granted, hits aren’t new to me— and I’m not typically impacted by hits.  But since my heart is still kinda tender and my healing is still in its infancy?  I responded by clicking off my keyboard and I stopped writing.  As you may know, it’s been a while since I last blogged. 

But then, when I realized I wanted to blog again…?  I felt stuck by how to re-engage.  See, the wheels of NOT WRITING had gained such momentum I was tempted to just stop blogging altogether.  But as I told you over a year ago, I started blogging for Cindy and me. 


We wanted your prayers. 


And then, after Cindy received her perfect healing, I kept writing because I wanted to find my healing, too. 

And if what I wrote helped somebody else find their healing too?  Fine. 

But I was writing in pursuit of healing…for ME. 

So, since healing is my destination and since the wheels on the bus do indeed “go round and round…”?

I’m blogging again.


I’m also trying to “go on” by stepping back into passionate ministry again.  Truth is, I never stopped.  But for almost two years I unapologetically chose to embrace my suffering Bride and give to her the lion’s share of my engaged heart, mind, body and soul.  And then?  With whatever portion I had left, I would try to maintain an admittedly feeble other hand loosely wrapped about my ministry. 

I have no regrets about making that choice or living with the fall-out. 

Here’s why:  I believe that my ministry actually expanded during the fleshing out of that choice.  For one, I modeled to other watching husbands, a faithfulness to my wife that 32 years of weekly preaching never did do. 

And our combined faith through that cancerous fire?  Well, it inspired more spiritual growth among those who followed Cindy’s journey than our ministry efforts alone could have ever hoped to spawn. 

But once my healing had progressed to the point that I wanted to steer my “bus” back into my lifelong ministry passion, I was immediately confronted by the dozens of sagging branches and those several out-of-balance and thread-bare tires that had been patiently waiting for my attention, but that refused to wait even a moment longer. 

I now realize that those wheels had been spinning all the while— even though mine had stopped.  This bus driver’s life may have careened into a dark, unending ditch, but the bus never did quit moving.  My life had stopped spinning, but my ministry had not.  Cindy’s tree fell, but those darned wheels…kept on turning anyway.


Financial wheels have also kept turning.  All these months later and I’m still fighting to get some very sizeable medical bills paid by our insurer.  With the help of my friend, they will get paid, I’m certain of that.  But the stress of trying to get the proper documents in front of the right people in a timely fashion has taken its own ssizeable toll. 

Yet once again, those relentless wheels keep doing what wheels always do…they keep turning.


I’ve even wanted companionship…and to try out that scary wheel.  But at first, even “wanting” felt unfaithful.  However, after some counseling and much prayer, I’m convinced that “go on” is Cindy’s insistent marching orders.  Even so, my choice to march is another awkward “spinning” moment, as a new set of wheels suddenly turned me toward a place I never planned to go.  And though I’ve tried to refuse to go there, they keep going “round and round” in spite of my protests. 


My “bus” has been a bumpy ride [and that’s putting it mildly].  But the wheels “go round and round.”  Sometimes they spin way too fast, sometimes they spin mind-numbingly slow.  Occasionally they turn over rugged, seemingly impassable terrain, and other times?  They hit a chuck-hole that wrecks my alignment and even causes a flat tire or two…

But even in those moments when it feels as though my “bus” is spinning completely out of control— when I can’t catch my breath and the wheels are turning so swiftly I’m not sure I can keep the pace even one turn longer, that’s when I realize: 

I am learning loads…and I am growing stronger.

My faith is diving deeper…and my witness is expanding exponentially.

My passions feel more profound…and most amazing of all…?

My God is glorified by the way I handle my bus.


And that’s why I’m smiling again.  With opened eyes and a willing heart, I’m going on again.  At long last, I really am back on the bus. 


How about you?  How are your wheels turning?  And is there any part of my journey you can identify with? 

Perhaps you don’t even want to climb on your bus again.  I get that.  And I really do wish I knew how to help you want to.  Trust me, I didn’t know how to “want to want to” either.  But now that I do want to but am still trying to figure out how…? 

Forgive me, but I find myself wishing that there really WAS an app for that.





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