Saying Goodbye #3: Solving the Riddle

It has taken me a week to figure out why revisiting the apartments at San Bruno Terrace rocked me so badly.

If you feel like you are coming into the middle of a conversation, then you need to go back to the blog Saying Goodbye #2 and read the first part of the story.

In a nutshell, it had to do with legitimacy.

One of my legitimacy crutches was that I was legitimate because I had bigger/better/wiser/righter perspective than others around me.

And certainly, at that point in time, I was quite sure I saw the big picture and saw it clearly.

In retrospect, I was horrified at how trivial and small my perspective was, not to mention how wrong.  That is what took me out so badly last week.

Once I knew where the issue was, I fast forwarded from the crash at 26 years old to the CRASH at 33 years old when God began to talk to me about legitimacy and the fact that it came from design, not performance.

There I began to come to terms with the fact that God designed me before the foundation of the world in a package that brought Him pleasure and that original design still brings Him pleasure.

And I suddenly saw what God had been doing in the last three months.  It seemed as though every couple of weeks, on some news site, I noticed a story of the discovery of an old car in a barn somewhere. The headline would read that the car was worth $30K or $130K or whatever.

The ACTUAL picture was of a rusted out wreck of a junker, but the car enthusiast could “see” what it was originally designed to be, and through all of the mess the car was still in, and knowing full well that it was going to take a stupendous amount of work to restore it, they still were stirred emotionally because of their clear grasp of how wonderful the original was.

Clearly God has been sending me the same message again and again.  He remembers my design and still thinks He did a pretty good job.  The things I have messed up in my life are not bigger than His ability to restore, nor are they big enough to block His view of who I was, and who I can become, in His hand.

And the fact that I genuinely WAS deceived about my magnificent perspective on life, didn’t change the fact that I WAS walking in design.  I am a lover.  I love deeply, passionately and express my love in sundry ways.  That has been crunched and punched, folded and stapled, mutilated and macerated over the years, but back then, the young love was beautiful and God enjoyed watching me enjoy my joy, being myself, the way He designed me to be.

And I AM an incorrigible visionary and dreamer.  Even though my dreams were built on some flimsy foundations, and eventually crashed and burned, I was being myself, and He was enjoying my joy as Ann and I built our sand castles and changed the world repeatedly over dinner.

He invited me to enjoy the fact that I was being me in those areas, and it was good, and the fact that the package was woefully incongruent, did not in any way mean that those areas were not me, were not my design and were not beautiful to Him.

That was something I could do.  Took some chewing!  And a couple of hard swallows.  I could eventually wrap my arms around the incongruity and be OK with the beauty.

Then He dropped the bombshell.

He pointed out that my perspective is just as deficient now as it was then, relatively speaking.

Back then, I had the vast wisdom of a second grader, looking down at the abysmal ignorance of a preschooler.  I explained with vast confidence that the epistles were the wives of the apostles, and other such things that second graders understand to perfection.

And now I am the tenth grader, confidently factoring polynomial equations, looking down on the second grader who didn’t know a factor from a factory.

I don’t have the perspective of a Nobel Prize winner, but I still have legitimacy in His eyes, (and mine if I want it) because I am still walking in my design.

Admittedly, my ability to love, laugh and dream has never fully recovered from the cruelty of life, (although I do from time to time make some of you laugh) but I am walking in other portions of my design in this season.

I can at times write, diagnose the root of some problem, or move someone to a place of awe.  Good things.  They bring Him pleasure.  Even though my life is still incongruent.

And He invites me to enjoy my legitimacy now, just because He enjoys my design.

This could work.

Copyright April 2018 by Arthur Burk




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22 Responses to Saying Goodbye #3: Solving the Riddle

  1. Soo Fee Lau says:

    The way God sees us is amazing! We look at our performance but He looks at our design. He just enjoy watching us BEING OURSELVES. A simple truth yet many failed to embrace. No wonder we are called human being and not human doing.

  2. Thank you so much, Arthur for sharing your revelations and experiences so openly. I so resonate with it and your honesty about your own walk, has encouraged me incredibly over the years. You are such an honourable man of God with such beauty of His design shining through you especially when you use your fabulous gift of writing!

  3. Elouise says:

    This is beautifully written. If I were an English teacher, I’d give this piece to 16/17 year olds to read and study. There is much to be learnt in this piece, in language and life lessons.
    I would ask them, “Do you think Burk is leaving his California willingly? Do you think California was good to him? What does this piece tell you about God?” .
    (I love it when English is used in this way, I call this ‘poetic prose’. I’m going to file this under: pieces to savour.)
    Something about leaving California is bringing something beautiful out in you, Mr Burk. Something absolutely beautiful, richly honestly beautiful!

  4. Janis Leal says:


    (And that means more than words can say).

    Thank You, Lord.

  5. LaVonne says:

    Thank You Arthur, much needed encouragement. Thank You again for sharing with the depth and insight you do, it is an honor to be able to read your posts again encouraged

  6. Nathan says:

    I love that He is the God of process – who engages with us so presently. It’s always easy to share the “I used to be bad but now I’m good because of God” testimony, but the true one is that I used to be way off, I’m better now but still quite a bit off and in all of this He loves me amazingly and is helping me to grow into more of who He created me to be. Thank You Father for Your Amazing Grace.

    • Linda Honea says:

      Right, Nathan, and in this eyes, you’ve always been deemed “very good.”

  7. Maggie says:

    Your revelations about the mercy gift and right brainedness have saved my life. I often read what you say and hear what you speak about this and other gifts and am in awe of God understanding. Your writings inspire me to hope in restoration of my creative abilities while giving me space to work out my salvation in this new domain of intentional, thoughtful ,deliberate loving of God and His church. I totally understand the shock of realising that bombshell from God. Thank God for you!

  8. Anthony Sutherland says:

    Hello Arthur, was there a disconnect in living in a State that celebrates earned status over design when you are learning the very opposite lesson. It is encouraging to learn that our design by Father encompasses not just our past and present but takes into account all of our future days. I find that the most difficult lesson is learning to look past success and failure and to see and celebrate our design instead. Thank you for all the windows that you have opened. Anthony

  9. Maria says:

    The image of restoring a rusty old clunker is one I will turn over in my mind much in days to come. To think He can completely rebuild and replace even the most damaged parts of me–that’s breathtaking!

    Last year my husband and I drove past dozens and dozens and dozens of old, restored cars, which were presumably driving to or from a car show. Oh the metallic paint, waxed to perfection, sparkling in the sunshine! All the radiant paint colors; every individual part of each car carefully restored, made new; the shining interiors, with every detail made perfect! So much love, so much time, so much dedication, so much money, poured out on a hunk of metal! From trash to treasure–completely made new.

    Yet hundreds of restored cars don’t even come close to showing the Father’s care in restoring just one of us. From trash to treasure. From the junk heap to the show room. From a rusty old clunker to a gleaming showpiece!

    I’m undone.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Beautiful pictures, thank you for sharing them with us!

  11. Katie Trundt says:

    Once again you hit the nail on the head with something I just realized I was dealing with yesterday. Everywhere I view a failure the Lord was loving my design. Wow! What a cool new way to look at life. I keep challenging myself to see everything through His eyes!

  12. I like you Arthur Burk.

  13. Margaret Lehman says:

    To think that where I wept over dead-end failures, God may have been smiling and enjoying the iterations of a design He liked. That is the most freeing concept I’ve heard in a while.

  14. Becky Starks says:

    Love the illustration of a rusty old car. I am a visual learner and that picture of original design landed deeply. Thanks

  15. Nancy Bentz says:

    perfectly timed; thank you Arthur ~ keep enjoying stewarding your joy 🙂 God still brings the morning!

  16. Cynthia says:

    A beautiful perspective from a life spent doggedly GROWING. And all we who are supremely confident fifth graders appreciate your wisdom from the tenth, & look forward to more growth together.

  17. Thomas Stanley-Jones says:

    A friend of mine saw his Mom receive news of his Father’s death while they lived in East Berlin a year before the end of WW2. Devestating time for his Mom and many years of harsh difficulty afterwards with 9 kids and Soviet control. However, many years later at a family gathering with her children and grand children around her, she commented that she had given up hope of happiness the way she felt at that moment. I suppose we never regain the innocence of a 2nd grader, but I feel your ability to love laugh and live will gain heights you never experienced before. Primarily because you know innocence isn’t necessary when you have the giddy restorative power of Christ. Keep in mind this is a kindergartner talking.

  18. Deborah Wendland says:

    Arthur, God has, yet again, used your post to speak into my life at the perfect time. Tears of joy from the awesome gift of healing from wounds caused by years of defending who I am to various family members are flowing, and yet I have a peace that only God can give. Thank you, for embracing your design and being Gods voice to me today.

  19. Brant says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Arthur!

    • Rebecca says:

      Arthur, your hard work and teachings have taught me much about myself, encouraged me and brought me healing while recovering through the trauma of divorce. Thank you SO
      very much!!! Thank you for being vulnerable and expressing yourself so your students can learn from you that life is very real but God is with us through it all. Keep up the great work! Grateful:)

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