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  • Writer's pictureErnest Robin Dover

It's the 1st of November. My mind is just rambling from one thought to the other. And somehow, I feel one with all of you. Because I know this is something we all do every day. And that's what I want to talk about tonight. If you feel inclined to comment on this entry, do so with freedom of speech. Freedom of thought.

I usually briefly scan over the daily headlines. I do it because sometimes I like to think I'm in touch with what's going on in the world around me. I do it briefly in order to protect my mind and my spirit from an onslaught of negativity. Because that's what the media has a tendency to focus on as news. And I move on...

I think about my life. The relationships I have formed. The friendships. I think of my family. My wife, Jackie. My children... all of them. And I think of my grand-children... all 9 of them. And I think about my health and that I am aging. I look forward to retirement in the not too distant future. I appreciate the good things about all of this. Don't we all do this? Aren't we all connected in this way?

I ask God to help me to be the husband, the Dad and father and the son to Him that He wants me to be. I feel I need this divine help in order to improve because I've always had a bit of difficulty struggling with a low self-esteem. I'm poignantly aware of my weaknesses and shortcomings and frailty. So, I want to be humble and step away from becoming arrogant when I see I am growing stronger or gaining more knowledge or becoming more skilled in some way.

I just wanted to ramble a bit with you tonight. Just go with the flow of these thoughts and things flowing through my mind in 'real time'... as I write and as they come to me.

Thank you for taking your time to read my meanderings. I know this has been quite informal. That's nice. Isn't it? For a change? Things don't always have to be so structured and stoic.

I love you all... I'm working on ways to show this and to express my affection for you. It makes me feel good. A little selfish. Yes. But I hope you will feel good, too - just going with the flow.

  • Writer's pictureErnest Robin Dover

Something amazing happened to me on the 1st of October at around 3:20am. I drove home from work in deep thought. I thought about my relationship with God. I thought a lot about my relationship with Jesus Christ. I thought back to my teenage years and remembered what I considered to be the era of the Jesus Freaks. I remembered throughout my life being approached by many different Christians from numerous denominations asking me if I had been Saved. It ALWAYS baffled me. I couldn’t comprehend what it really meant. I just didn’t have the internal context to truly understand what they meant. To be honest, I’m not even sure if they understood what they were asking me. Having said that, I’m sure in their own way they understood what they were asking. Because on occasion when I asked what they meant, they often answered with ‘Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior?’ I thought about it and I nodded and answered, ‘Yes’. But it just didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t understand how it could be that simple and for me… one who has a tendency to possibly overthink by breaking things down into a million pieces, analyze and decide for myself if it made sense or not… just simply accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior wasn’t enough to make me feel ‘Saved’. It just didn’t click for me. It seemed too shallow. It lacked depth and meaning for me. I felt I needed a more profound, spiritual awakening… a miraculous enlightenment… to make it all fall into place in my mind, in my heart and deep in my soul. It left me empty. I wanted more.

More about how I ended up the way I became: I remember back in 1998 I studied a book about tremendous spiritual women throughout history. I still have this book, which I believe is still in storage in a box at my brother’s home. The story was about a nun who had been accosted by someone challenging the nun’s love for Jesus Christ. I think the person asking belonged to a denomination outside of the nun’s Catholic faith and possibly held a low opinion of Catholic teachings. The nun’s answer captivated my attention: “I love the Lord Jesus so much that I would rather spend an eternity in Hell than to know that by accepting the Lord’s sacrifice, I individually contributed to his suffering through the sinful choices I have made during my life.”

That statement blew me away. It floored me. I nodded, clenched my jaw and made a decision. I decided that I loved the Lord Jesus that much, too. I couldn’t think of anything more noble, loving and merciful than to refuse to accept the Lord’s suffering of the Atonement and His subsequent death on the Cross. I didn’t want to feel I had caused Him any more pain than He had already suffered.

I held onto that attachment for 23 years.

And yet… I still felt unfulfilled. I still didn’t feel ‘Saved’. I struggled with an abject emptiness inside. I meditated. I fasted. I prayed. I studied the Bible in its many translations, the Koran, the Hindu holy books, Buddhism and world religions ad infinitum. And I returned to the Bible… again.

And the years passed without filling that emptiness.

God works in mysterious ways. And God knows your heart. God knows what you really want and also knows what you need. God knew I needed and wanted something I could grasp. Something that would especially make sense to me.

I explored various concepts and philosophies with greater and deeper intent. During this past year or so, I became fixated on the concept of the giving and receiving of gifts. In general. Birthday gifts, Christmas gifts and the simple giving of a gift to someone just because you wanted to give. I examined the process. The offering of a gift and the subsequent receiving of a gift. I have seen people so reluctant to accept a gift from someone that they reached the point of literally refusing to accept the gift. When this happened, I witnessed joy disappear. The giver of the gift could not experience the joy of giving nor could the potential receiver of the gift experience the joy of receiving. When the reverse occurs, both the giver of the gift and the receiver simultaneously experience joy. It becomes an infinite, eternal experience of reciprocation. It is beautiful.

The focus on this concept held deep meaning for me. Seeing and understanding the joy shared by the giver and receiver became a moment of enlightened awareness for me.

It led me to think more deeply about the Gift that God offers us.

It was impressed upon my mind that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ designed a miraculous plan, inspired by the pure love of God in Heaven before we were all born. Before our spirits entered into physical bodies on Earth. A plan of salvation – a covenant between the Father and the Son – took place which would grant us saving Grace. The Father agreed. The Son agreed. And it was done. The Lord Jesus Christ would atone and suffer for all of the sins of humanity. A Sacred and Holy Gift which they offer to all of us.

I thought more about this. I remembered how I didn’t want to feel I had contributed to the suffering of Jesus. It brought great pain to my mind, heart and soul. And then it dawned like the sun rising in the morning… the holy agreement to save all of us had been made between the Father and the Son. Whether I accepted it or not would not alter the Gift. It wouldn’t alter or diminish any of the suffering – the atoning – the torture, torment, ridicule, harassment, and abuse in every form and fashion that Jesus went through – all the way to the Cross. Whether I accepted the Gift wouldn’t alter the nails being driven through His hands and feet. Or the spear that pierced His side. It wouldn’t alter that the Lord Jesus Christ died on that Cross.

Which led me to the next stage: I remembered the beauty of the simple giving and receiving of a gift. I remembered the Gift that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ offered to all of us. To me. And I came to the realization that should I refuse to accept this wonderful, precious Gift… that I would, in effect, contribute to the diminishment of joy that would be experienced by God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I understood the sadness they would experience simply by me saying “No. I won’t accept your Gift.” I didn’t want to take joy away from them. I didn’t want to make them sad. Because I love them with all of my heart and all of my soul. I want to fill them with joy in any and every way that I am able. I wanted them, to be pleased and happy with my choices.

That phenomenal awareness shook me to the core. While I drove home on that Friday the 1st of October at 3:20 in the morning, I laughed out loud. Uncontrollably laughed. More than once. And in that moment of awareness I changed. My life changed.

Finally, at 64 years old, the answer came to me. It clicked. I got it. I understood what it meant to be saved. I understood the Gift. And I thanked God for His mercy. That in this amazing, convoluted spiritual journey called my life, all things transpired into a simple moment of enlightened understanding.

This is my witness to you. It’s the way it happened for me. I know you have had and do have spiritual experiences that you know – without a shadow of a doubt – come from God. This relationship I have is with God and His Son Jesus Christ. I’m relieved and appreciate that every moment in my life, somehow, led to this awakening. Some blatant. Some subtle. I came to an understanding of God’s Gift of Salvation. I feel each of you have contributed in some way to this moment arriving in my life. We are all connected. We all live together on this planet Earth. God is all around us. And flowing through us. The more you focus your attention on God… the more you will see.

I saw a lot more. I realized and understood another Gift from God which has become the finishing touch in my life: my One True and Sacred Love – my glorious wife – Jacqueline Raye Gloria Dover. She is a godsend. She is my miracle. She inspires me, encourages me, loves me and lifts me up. She pulled me from the darkness and caused me to realize that I am not alone. God sent her to me and brought me to her. Together we are one. And we follow the Lord.

Remember the Gift.

  • Writer's pictureErnest Robin Dover

Oh, my soul. I'm going back a few years now. This is about me and my wife, Jackie. What I’m about to tell you is impactful. It is as meaningful as the human experience can get. Certainly for me. I'll start with my wife. Her mother passed away five years ago this month. Because she loved and cared for her mother so much, of course, she was beyond devastated. Seven months later, her husband passed away. She went to bed, went to sleep and the next morning, she found his body lifeless. He was gone. She was absolutely and completely broken. There was no consoling her. Her grief virtually drove her to the grave.

Now I'll talk a little about me. It was just over four years ago that my wife passed away from cancer. It had been a long, painful almost two years of struggle, chemotherapy treatments, burning radiation, pills, prayers and the deepest of anguish. Eventually, regardless of my denials, hope and dogged determination to save her life - the ambulance came, took her away from our home, and she never returned. And – just like my wife – my mother died, too.

These were things neither of us had seen coming. There was no way we could remotely prepare ourselves for these deaths. For these life changing events.

Over the course of time, both still deep in anguish, we paid our respects to one another, acknowledging each other’s experience of crisis, loss and pain.

And then Jackie went the extra mile. She reached out and posted a song to me on social media. ‘Oh, My Soul’ by Casting Crowns. She shared this song to help me understand I was not alone and that something greater was moving in both of our lives. And it was destined to bring us even closer together. When I listened to this song, I broke down and cried. For I was shattered. I was broken. And Jackie witnessed to me that she was broken, too.

These are the lyrics to the song, ‘Oh, My Soul’ by Casting Crowns:

"Oh My Soul"

Oh, my soul Oh, how you worry Oh, how you're weary, from fearing you lost control This was the one thing, you didn't see coming And no one would blame you, though If you cried in private If you tried to hide it away, so no one knows No one will see, if you stop believing Oh, my soul You are not alone There's a place where fear has to face the God you know One more day, He will make a way Let Him show you how, you can lay this down 'Cause you're not alone Here and now You can be honest I won't try to promise that someday it all works out 'Cause this is the valley And even now, He is breathing on your dry bones And there will be dancing There will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone This much I know Oh, my soul You are not alone There's a place where fear has to face the God you know One more day, He will make a way Let Him show you how, you can lay this down I'm not strong enough, I can't take anymore (You can lay it down, you can lay it down) And my shipwrecked faith will never get me to shore (You can lay it down, you can lay it down) Can He find me here Can He keep me from going under Oh, my soul You are not alone There's a place where fear has to face the God you know One more day, He will make a way Let Him show you how, you can lay this down 'Cause you're not alone Oh, my soul You're not alone

I'll finish by saying that we know God brought us together. We were married on Easter Sunday, on April 4th 2021. We're about to celebrate 6 months of marriage. This is the most amazing time of my life. I love my wife so much. I appreciate her reaching out to me, letting me know I am not alone. I appreciate her extending her compassion while she suffered... while she was broken... to help me work through the damage I experienced... to help me while I was broken... for helping my daughter, Morgan, while she was broken.

Thank you for sharing this time with me. For hearing about my belief in God. Yes. I feel comfortable using that word to express my love for my Creator. Thank you for hearing about my belief in Jacqueline Raye Gloria Dover - my wife - my Sacred Beloved.

There are great things moving in all of our lives. Something great is moving in your life, too. Please... be quiet enough to hear it. To feel it. To see it. To understand it. Be patient with yourselves. For one day you will know. Believe.

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