Finding Strength in Christ

Weekly Blog – October 1, 2019

“Finding strength in Christ” – Philippians 4:13; Mark 12:30

My Father owned a plastering and Drywall company with his brother in Chicago. When I was about 10 years old, I would occasionally go to work with my Dad during summer vacation time. When I was between the ages of 16 and 17, I worked two summers with him full-time doing construction.

It was tough work, mainly because it was summertime and we worked in most homes before air-conditioning was installed. My Dad liked me to work with him because at 6 foot plus, I could reach the ceilings and coat in the nails without having to get up and down off of a stool or bench. As I said, it was hard work, but paid well. When I was a teenager my Dad paid me $5.00 an hour. Doesn’t seem like much, does it? But in 1967-68 the minimum wage was $1.25, so I was doing pretty good considering gas was 19 cents a gallon.

One of the fun and funniest incidents I remember about working with my dad was when I was about 11 years old. Dad had an Afro-American man by the name of Archie Beard who worked for him. I really can’t remember if he was a plasterer like my Dad or a laborer. What I do remember that he was a big man. My Dad was 6’3” and probably weighed about 230. He was also powerful from the type of work and lifting he did.

But, Archie was a little taller than my Dad, definitely more substantial, and, well, stronger. Archie was also a really nice guy, a real gentleman. I remember him stopping by our home, even eating with us a couple times, and he always really nice and polite, and called my Mom, Ms. Bea.

Okay, all that background to get to the main story. I don’t know how this happened, but my Dad and Archie somehow challenged each other to see who was the strongest of the two. And what better way than to see how man bags of drywall compound (the mixing mixture that covers all the nails, joints and places where the drywall sheets meet) each of them could carry at one time. Oh yeah, and guess who got to pick up the 40-pound bags one at a time and put them on their shoulders? Yes, that’s right, the 11-year-old Joe G!

And so it began with me putting a bag on each of their shoulders, and they would take those two 40 pounds and carry them into the house, followed by 120, 160 pounds and so on. I actually think when we were all done with this challenge I was the strongest if not most exhausted person in the room.

Sometimes we feel like we have the weight of the whole world (If not several bags of drywall mixing compound) on our shoulders. Problems in a marriage, at work, illness in the family or yourself, sometimes it all seems too much, doesn’t it? Those are the time we need to switch from external strength (Archie and Dad) to the internal power we find in Christ.

Now I’m saying all this for a reason. I’m having surgery on Wednesday, October 2, 2019. I’m having a colon resection. What that means is, that the surgeon will put about six holes in my stomach (the surgery should be arthroscopic, but if necessary he may need to make a small incision) to remove six to ten inches of my intestine, because I have (for more years than I can remember) Crohn’s disease.

As far as the surgeon is concerned, it’s a straightforward procedure, kind of cut and dry (at least that’s what he said to me). But, for nervous Nelly Joe, it’s more than that, much more than that.

The surgeon looks at the procedure as something he’s done many times and is somewhat second nature to him. For the surgeon, it’s another surgery on another person for a disease he’s dealt with before, and it’s a kind of no brainer. I, on the other hand, not only worry a bit about the surgery itself but also about my wife Kathy who has Progressive M.S. who I am caretaker for in our retirement years. What if she falls while I’m recovering, who’s going to carry this or that for her? Who’s going to cut the lawn? What if my recovery is longer than we were told? How will we do grocery shopping if I can’t drive? And of course, although I push this one aside mostly, what if something happens to me during the surgery? What will happen to my wife?

As I said, my thoughts are a bit more diverse than those of the surgeons. Even with all of these thoughts occasionally racing through my mind, I find peace and strength within myself. The kind of peace and strength I can only get from My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:13 say, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

I believe that this passage goes far beyond me. He, Jesus, also strengthens those around me. He not only gives me the strength and peace of mind to handle this upcoming surgery, but He also gives it to my wife, my friends, and family who will help her and me during my recovery.

In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12, verse 30, Jesus says, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

What does that passage mean? You and I need to love God with everything we have. With the love in our heart, with the love in our soul, with the love and every prayer, we pray in and from our mind, and with all of our strength. That’s the strength we have been given at baptism, the power God’s Holy Spirit gives us as he guides us, nurtures us, and at times even disciplines us as He keeps us on the path chosen for us.

That’s a lot of love, everything you’ve got. I pray I have it in me, I pray to God He continues to strengthen, protect my family and me. I know He will because He is with us always.

Wait a minute. We’re not finished yet. You thought I was going to leave you hanging after I started talking about inner strength, didn’t you? Well, I’m not. We left off at 160 pounds. That’s right, Archie and my Dad each had carried four bags of the drywall mixing compound, two on each shoulder into the house. Then I added another, and another and another. It was the 3rd another, the 7th bag that maxed out my Dad. Archie won! And it was crazy. Talk about external strength, the man had 4 sacks on each should. 320 pounds. I pray his wife massaged his shoulders that night J

That’s it for this week. Let me leave you with my favorite Blessing, oh and send one up for Kathy and me if you don’t mind.

Have a Blessed week

Joe Guagliardo (Joe G)


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