Daniel A. Kolke Sr. was born to Dutch-German parents in Eastern Poland that once belonged to Russia and now to the Ukraine, eighty-four years ago. During World War I, Dan’s parents were exiled to Siberia while grandfather and mother’s brother served in the Czar’s army. At the onset of World War II, the Russians traded Dan’s people to the Germans to manage Polish farms. At the end of the war, they became homeless refugees. At that time, Dan’s education was two years in a Polish school and four years in German schools while living in Western Poland.
The self has not been treated fairly. I am as guilty as everyone else that uses Paul’s negative description of men and women. Of course, Paul used that approach to make his listeners aware of their need for a Savior. Nevertheless, I have stepped on myself way too much, and I believe devalued myself in the eyes of our Maker. I have come to the conviction that it is an insult to God, that is if I continue to tell Him that I am nothing. For, if I am nothing, why then did God sent His Son to save me? So, I want to know, who I really am and what the "One" who came to save me thinks of me? Now, my prayer is, not on how to be a better person, but on how to have a better view of myself. How do I see myself?
The idea of returning a favor is as old as the hills. It is like the hub of a wheel on an axle turning in a circle. All of our relationships in conducts depend on treating and doing to others what we want them to do for us (Mt. 7:12). It is also what we sow we shall reap (Gal. 6:7). Yet, modern versions, on forgiveness, no longer require remittance for our mistakes. When and where did Jesus allow us to exempt ourselves from reciprocating? He healed ten lepers and only one returned to give thanks (Lk. 17:17-18).
I was twenty-one when I left home to live and travel on my own. I put six thousand miles between my folks and myself, before airplanes shrunk the planet. It took seven days on an ocean liner and four more days on a train to reach my destination. I ended up among people whose attitudes, customs, language and manners were completely unfamiliar to me and I became very lonely and homesick. The only thing I had to fall back on was my Mother’s Road map, "The prayer" in Psalm 119:9-11. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
I do not remember word for word the first prayers that my mother and grandmother taught me in German. It had something to do with me being small and that my little heart needed cleaning before Jesus could live in it. There was some thing mystic and mysterious about it. It had something to do with my being good, obedient and punctual. I had dreams, hopes and wishes that were attached to my childhood prayers and directed at a "Being" that could only be reached through a man called, "Jesus," who was the Son of God. I would do that in the morning and in the evening. If I did something that might not have pleased the adults, I prayed more often and longer.
Prayers are clouded in mystery. Some are answered and some are not. Who is directing and even filtering my prayers? Obviously, not all of them appear to reach God. What did Jesus actually mean when he said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (Jn. 14:13-14). It is apparent that I did not and still do not understand what Jesus promised I could have. I have been re-examining my petitions and requests to determine why I am not receiving an answer, and what I found is not what pleases me.