Bob not only wrote for the blog, but for much of his life he kept a journal. I have not read most of these journals, so it is a treasure now to have them. Below is an excerpt I found from a silent retreat that he went on in 1999. A silent retreat is a time for reflection and in this excerpt, Bob is examining his priorities. He doesn't mention his first priority in this excerpt (maybe I'll put it in a future blog - it's a good one), and you can see that God has begun the call on him to leave Calvin College. This entry has great meaning for me and I share it because it may be an encouragement for others of you in your marriages. As a marriage counselor, I'm assuming he won't mind.
[If you ever worked with Bob, you know that he ALWAYS used red, felt-tipped pens. I can't tell you how many clothes were spoiled by these pens exploding, or entire laundry loads ruined by washing one of these. But he loved these pens, hence the red font below.]
6:50 pm, CDT, Saturday, October 9, 1999
"I've called her to do good and great things and she needs you."
That's what I heard, sensed, said in His presence as the sun set next to an old cross on a hill.
But she really seems to need me.
And thus another step back to the center falls into place. In addition to ceasing my meandering and become a student of others who are centered, which was #1 a few pages ago - but before #2 which was regarding my future at Calvin - that has now been shoved to #3.
I need to be a more faithful husband. I mean just this: Renita needs me. She needs more of me than I give her, and she'll take more and use it in her ministry. She doesn't waste me. I need to spend less time avoiding her good work out of my own lack of meaning and realize I've been given to her for a purpose. She values what I have more than anyone in the world for a reason. I am supposed to be her servant! I have what she needs. I sense she will do great things. With or without me. But without me I sense it will be very alone and painful and even scary. With me I believe it could be fun for her.
Its always surprised me how just a little attention brightens her entire mood. I now see why - she needs me. I'm a critical element in God's plan to work through her.
I feel good to be needed.
Another insight into why I miss him so. And you are right, my dear. It is very alone, painful, and scary. I do need you. But your work is not finished - it continues in me. You have have been a critical element in God's plan for me, and with God's help, I hope to continue to use what you have given me for the past nineteen years.