To Understand and Know

Back when I served in government people often asked how to pray for me. I quoted a Bible verse, from a story about men who pledged loyalty to David, men “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (1 Chronicles 12:32) That was my request: pray that I understand the times and know what to do.

When I read the verse again this morning in my Daily Bible it occurred to me I’d forgotten it during the eight years I’ve been out of office. Did I think I needed other things besides understanding and knowledge? It seems to be a silly notion now that I think about it.

Yesterday afternoon I visited the dermatologist’s office for the second time in my life, the first being nine years ago. Both readingtimes were for the same reasons most men to go a dermatologist – their wives tell them to.

In particular I asked the doctor about some spots on my cheek that appeared surprisingly invisible in his office but looked like leprosy only a few weeks ago in my bathroom mirror. I told him I didn’t know the difference between normal effects of aging and serious issues that must be treated, and now that I’m a certified grown-up I try to avoid the traditional male response to physical concerns which is to wait them out.

I once said the same thing to a young phlebotomist who planned to take my donation as soon as she recorded my blood pressure. She asked, Sir, do you have a headache? Yes, I have had a small ambient headache for several weeks. She said, It’s because your blood pressure is 205/134; go to your doctor now. She wanted me out of her cubicle before I erupted.

That was sixteen years ago and I’ve taken blood pressure medication ever since. I also check my blood pressure at home almost every day, again tying to be a grown-up, and of course, I plot the results in Excel. (I’ll email a copy of my plot if you’re interested, but I won’t include it in this post because someone I live with will roll her eyes at me.)

The dermatologist poked and stretched my face. He asked if I had issues on my back and I said none that Cyndi has complained about. He diagnosed seborrheic keratosis growths on the outer layers of my skin which are non-cancerous and can be treated with moisturizing lotion. He mentioned other treatments that included the phrase “stripping off the top layer of skin” but I passed on those. He gave me a handout which said the growths are common and often referred to as the “Barnacles of Life.” That’s what I have: barnacles.

After my doctor visit I drove back home for a three-mile walk before joining friends for Taco Tuesday. It was a great walk, one of my best, and I pushed my pace on alternating blocks, logging my best time in, well, ever, for walking. It made me happy. It started me dreaming again of long races and could I walk fast enough for another marathon, and like that.

I’ll admit health care is not something I know well. Our family has been fortunate that we required  few doctor’s visits, and our expense have been low.

But here are some things I do understand and know. You should: (a) regularly repeat the practices that draw you closer to God; (b) be a lifelong student of significant things; (c) grow strong in community by giving yourself away every day; (d) passionately and persistently pursue your love; and (e) lean forward in life as a person of hope.

Here is another thing I understand and know. There is lasting value in exploring your calling from God. It is a lifelong pursuit, and in my case, has been refined as I pass through the seasons of life. I am hosting a men’s weekend at my house April 29 – May 1 with Gary Barkalow from The Noble Heart Ministry, and it’s designed to help you understand your calling and know what to do. It is an excellent workshop and you should consider attending. It will change your life.

For more information, or to register, go to You won’t be sorry.



“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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