Friday, June 14, 2013
This is not a fishing story. Well, actually it is a fishing story. But, it’s not your normal fishing story where the teller stretches the truth. This really happened just like this:
I’m sitting at the end of a long wooden dock. Long, like two hundred yards long. It runs along the shore of the inlet at Lake Istokpoga Marina. That’s my fishing pole leaning against the wooden rail. Yeah, I know the string is blowing in the wind with nothing on the end. That’s because the biggest bass I’ve ever seen in my life just snapped the line.
Now I’m trying to figure out what to tie on. I don’t have anything like that fat rubber worm I had on there. I just caught it, too. Yeah, caught it—not bought it. A couple of casts before I snagged the bass, I snagged someone else’s line and pulled in that fat white rubber worm. So, I figured I’d give it a try. Sure enough, about three casts in and that big honkin’ bass struck—and stole my newfound fat white rubber worm. So, that’s why I’m sitting here with line blowin’ in the wind trying to figure out what I should use.
And I’m also wondering about that bird, too. It was like something you’d see in a movie. I was sitting here minding my own business, fishing. I had just cast that fat white worm out and all of a sudden this black bird flew up and sat right there on that rail. I could’ve reached out and touched her with my pole. She just sat there looking at me. And then she started squawking real loud, like she was mad about something. Reminded me of some folks I’ve known. I looked around thinking maybe she had a nest full of youngins. No, didn’t see any nest; just a bunch of cobwebs and fishing string all tangled up in the open framed roof that covered this end of the dock.
That bird kept right on squawking for about fifteen seconds or so and I said, “What in the world are you squawking about?” And then, WHAM my pole bent over and about pulled me outta my lawn chair and into the lake. It did pull me to my feet, which scared the bird off the rail. I started cranking and got the fish close enough to the dock to see it surface, telling me it was the most beautiful bass I’d ever laid eyes on, other than maybe one hangin’ on a wall at Bass Pro Shop. I got excited and set the hook again, he didn’t like that and dove down under some lily pads. About that time my line snapped and he was gone.
Which brings me back to sitting here in this chair wondering about what I ought to tie on; maybe I oughta ask that bird.
I may sound crazy, and perhaps I’ve been hanging around kids under six too long or watching too many kid movies but, I’m wondering if that bird hid that big fat white worm and was mad because I found it. So, she squawked at that big fat bass and told him to get it back.
I donno—it just don't seem normal...whaddayathink? And if you could think of some life lesson or moral-to-the-story I'd sure be obliged, 'cuz I'm still sitting here scratching my head wondering what I'm gonna tie on.
|where bass is still hiding|
|chair where I sat & rail where bird sat|
|sign in front of dock -as opposed to abnormal & unsafe?|
Monday, June 10, 2013
“Johnny said he wants to be a pilot when he grows up.”
All the parents clapped politely, Johnny’s parents clicked pics, and on it went. One by one each student walked to the front of the room, an award was hung around their neck and they turned to pose for a quick photo op while Mrs. Brooker, the teacher, told us what they wanted to be when they grew up.
And that’s how the kindergarten graduation goes.
We waited for our granddaughter’s moment. I wonder what she wants to be.
There were plenty of pilots and doctors and a few super heroes. One said he wanted to be Spider Man but if that didn’t work out he’d like to work at Walmart. Some said they wanted to be soldiers and the applause from the parents was a little stronger. Two said they wanted to be teachers and Mrs. Brooker’s voice smiled and she bounced on her toes a bit as she said it.
I watched parents puff up when their child announced they wanted to be a doctor or lawyer and other faces turn red when they said they wanted to be Bat Man or a Power Ranger.
Nevaeh, our granddaughter, waited her turn, and as usual God in His way of teaching me patience had her situated at the very end of the line. By the time she got to the front there wasn’t a profession that hadn’t been duplicated at least once—until hers, it was one of a kind.
They hung the medal around her neck, she turned and I snapped the best picture I could from the bad angle at which I sat. Mrs. Brooker smiled, “and when Nevaeh grows up, she said she wants to be a…mom.”
The room fell silent as everyone held their breath to see if they’d heard her right. And then a few quiet chuckles and polite applause.
I couldn’t have been prouder. And the way I figure it, she’s got it right. I just pray her priorities don’t get twisted and tangled into thinking that her occupation is who she is.
|Nevaeh in line--end of line that is|
|Getting award! Ya!|
|Nevaeh photo op. Principle & Mrs. Brooker|
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
~After the spinning howling flying churning—what remains?
Ground up and spit out, trees, houses and debris lay silent.
I know. I’ve been there after the tornado as an insurance adjuster, surveying damage, writing reports and recommending repairs. That’s what I do. Put a price tag on what it’ll cost to fix what’s broke.
But there’s more.
Beyond what my camera can see. Deeper than what my tape can measure. Over what the policy provides, is a broken vessel that no amount of money can buy.
Just like that. Lives change forever. End.
How does one put a price tag on that? What do you do? What do you say? How can we touch that which is beyond our reach?
I hear the news. It’s over, they report. Yesterday, they say.
But it’s not over. It’s still today.
The tornado’s been swallowed.
Silence roars within and
Stillness whips the
The debris is removed.
Structures are rebuilt.
I read reports and fill out forms. But there’s more. I see it in their eyes. I hear it in their voice.
Who do I call to heal my broken heart?
Who’ll help me clean up the debris of my shattered life?
My house can be rebuilt—but what about my home?
I feel small. Like what I do matters little, compared to the enormity of what’s really been lost.
But there’s more. I remember a story about a man.
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”
And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said… “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.
The man needed something and simply applied what he’d learned from his job—and met with God. He went to The One with authority and made a recommendation about what needed to be done. And it was. Not by power not by might but by going to the One who could.
I can do that. You can do that.
I look at damage and recommend payment from carrier to insured. That’s my job. It’s what I do—but I can do more. I can look deep, and see the damage money can’t fix. I can make recommendations to The Carrier of carriers.
I know The One with no policy limits. He’s in charge of all restoration and knows how to fix every broken vessel; because He too, was broken, bruised and healed.
Sure, it may seem small, a quiet voice in the midst of a whirlwind. But I remember hearing another story about a Still Small Voice that spoke worlds into existence. And He still speaks, and He still hears and He will make all the difference. Ask.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
~I slammed the tailgate, pole in one hand tackle box in the other, and noticed him.
He was leaning against a wooden cane staring at folks cleaning a picnic table; looked to be his wife, children and grandchildren.
I read two bumper stickers on the car he stood in front of: 101st Airborne Division and Prayer works.
I immediately like the man.
“Excuse me sir,” I said and nodded toward his bumper.
“Yep, 101st,” he said as he grew three inches and didn’t need to lean on that old wooden cane.
I swallowed a lump, “Well sir, I just wanted to say thanks. I appreciate you.”
He waved his cane and nodded, “Your welcome.” And then his eyes looked right through me, he grew some more, his chest swelled as he said, “There are others, you tell them too, and you keep on telling them—” He paused, and clenched his jaw—“tell them before they…” He looked down and then away and slid the back of his hand across his eyes. He looked back at me and just nodded his head a few times, “Tell ‘em—just tell ‘em.”
He walked away. It was Memorial Day.
It wasn’t a simple request; it was a plea, a cry a command. And I knew at that moment I was standing in the presence of a hero, because they’re always thinking about someone else to save.
So for all of you who’ve served, this is me just wanting to say thanks. I appreciate you.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
~“I thought you wanted to go.”
“Not without the cross. I’m not leaving without the cross.”
She’s six. She sounded forty-two. I searched water high and low for the two inch wooden cross.
“How could it just vanish into thin air?” I said to myself as much as to my granddaughter who had asked me to remove her necklace while swimming because it was getting tangled in her hair. I did. And she noticed the cross was missing.
She had found the old wooden cross a couple days before in a pile of stuff getting thrown in the dumpster. I was thinking—what’s the big deal? She just found it. She didn’t work for it. It wasn’t something she had saved her money for. Well, six year olds don’t really have any money—but still. It wasn’t something she’d been wanting, she just saw it laying on a heap of stuff, and claimed it. She took an old key chain and hooked it to a silver necklace. She wore it ever since—until now. She acts like it’s her prize possession.
“I thought you were hungry.” She did tell me she was hungry and wanted to go. But that was before she noticed the cross missing. I pulled the covers off the pool filters—some nasty bugs and stuff, but no cross.
“I am hungry. But I’m not leaving until we find it Papa.”
Fred’s hands slid up the side of the pool. He filled his empty lungs, wiped his burning bloodshot eyes and said. “Nope, nothing yet.” We just met Fred an hour earlier; he was new in our little village. His hobby was scuba diving, so he took the challenge and was traversing the pool; religiously swimming along the bottom covering every square inch, in search of the cross. He grabbed some air and ducked under the water.
We’d been swimming for I don’t know how long and I was tired and hungry myself. This just doesn’t make sense. Jesus, help me find the cross. Wait. “Nevaeh, come here. Maybe it’s in your—aha.” Hanging from the back of her neck, tangled in her hair was—you guessed it—the cross.
“FRED COME UP, WE FOUND IT.” He couldn’t hear me. He was half way across the pool feeling his way with hands and eyes, scouring the bottom. He told us he had prescription goggles but had left them in his camper; so he couldn’t see too well and was looking real close. Finally he surfaced. Same routine; filled lungs, wiped bloodshot eyes, “Nope, nothing yet.”
“Look” I said pointing to the cross dangling from my granddaughter’s hair. I almost had it untangled.
We thanked Fred for searching and headed for the house.
The deeper meaning was lost on me. I was tired and hungry. But when I told my daughter Sadie, about her daughter’s cross episode she lit into a sermon that I figured would preach. And so, here I am writing at 4:00 a.m. You can probably think of more but here’s a bit of what I’ve come up with.
The cross is priceless
The cross, the one that represents Christ hanging on for our salvation, is discarded by many; counted as nothing but to be tossed in the dumpster. But, for those who see its value—it can’t be bought at any price. And even though it’s free—it becomes their prize possession.
The cross is near
The cross, the one that represents our relationship with Christ, can’t be sought by the works of man. No amount of work or religious scouring can make it appear. Because, it has never been lost, it’s been tangled up in our lives all along.
All we need do is ask
Jesus, help me find the cross.
Remember the cross
Memorial Day we’ll see lots of crosses. Remember the One that matters most.
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galations 2:20
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Thursday, May 23, 2013
~Calculating route, the GPS squawked directions to yet another church, for another funeral; three in just as many months. This time we were attending the home going celebration for my son-in-laws grandmother, Montine Tyson.
The young Baptist preacher said he’d known Mrs. T for years and through those years she’d taught him three valuable lessons he’ll never forget. And now, neither will I.
Lesson one: Simple.
“The first time I stood behind this pulpit I was young and green, I knew everything except how much I didn’t know.” The preacher pointed. “Mrs. T sat right there—in her regular spot.” The young man reminisced.
“I preached on the end times. Figured I’d impress the congregation with big words like eschatology, postmillennialism—” And he said some other stuff I can’t remember—or couldn’t spell even if I could.
“After finishing my sermon" he continued, "I walked down that aisle right there.” He pointed to the aisle slightly to his left. “As I walked past Mrs. T stood and stuck out her hand. And in one sentence taught me more than I had taught anyone in the church that day.
'Son,' she said. 'I ain’t understood a single word you said…but I’m gonna pray for you.'
From that day to this, I’ve tried to keep it simple. I can reach more people with a simple lesson, than trying to make a big impression.” He pointed at the casket and his eyes got real shiny and his voice cracked a bit. “She taught me that.”
Lesson two: Suffer.
The preacher cleared his throat and wiped his eyes. “Sometime later, I was visiting Mrs. T and she must have read something on my face or heard something in the tone of my voice and asked. ‘Young man, can I tell you a story?’
Well sure Mrs. T, I told her. And she proceeded to tell me how years ago she had a pastor stop by for a visit. And that pastor carried on about all his troubles. He had problems with this and trouble with that and just didn’t understand why God would allow him to suffer so.
Mrs. T paused and looked me in the eye and asked, ‘Do you know what I told that man?’
No ma’am I don’t know.
She said, ‘Why not you? Why shouldn’t you suffer? Why do you think you’re so special that you don’t have to suffer? Jesus suffered, Paul suffered, Job suffered, Jonah suffered, Joseph suffered—why not you?’
She must've read my mind.
Why not me?
Doesn’t the Bible say, All who live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution? (2 Timothy 3:2).
Didn’t Jesus say, In this world you shall have tribulation but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world? (John 16:33).
Is it not written, Think it not strange concerning this fiery trial which is to try you? (1 Peter 4:12).
Why not me? I’ve grown more through trials than smiles and every time I suffer, I learn to lean just a little closer to the One who walks with me…She taught me that, too.”
Lesson three: Better.
“Mrs. T loved life. She was filled with a joy for living. And when her departure was drawing near, she didn’t give up. But she started yearning for something better—longing for Home.
I read her a passage from the first chapter of Philippians. I read them. She lived them.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain… I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.Mrs. T knew Christ. She is with Him now. I miss her. We miss her. But I know she is better—far better.”
With that the preacher prayed. We sang a few hymns. And that was the end.
But then, my three-year old grandson said it best. As the casket rolled by, he really didn’t know what was going on—or maybe he did, because he said, “Look Papa, they’re pushing a big treasure chest.”
Montine Tyson: this earth is better—far better for holding this treasure for eighty-four years, and now she is better--far better.