Monday, December 9, 2019

All In


“They’re in trouble…again”
He nodded.
The messenger continued. “This time, it’s bad. Even the leaders, especially the leaders, those who are supposed to be good examples, to be teachers, they’re the worst. They twist and pervert and break every law. They bend every jot and tittle to their own benefit, to line their own pockets.”
He let out a long, sad, sigh.
“They make a big show of being kind and generous. But they give little and take much. They pretend to be righteous, religious, holy, but inside they’re wicked, hateful, greedy. They say they pray, but it’s all for show. They never really do.”
“You say the leaders are corrupt; but you haven’t mentioned the rest of the people.”
He opened his mouth to respond, then closed it again. He folded his arms, rubbed his chin, closed his eyes for an eternal moment. His eyes were sad when they opened again. “They, the people, well, they’re like sheep, without a shepherd.”
He stared at the messenger without saying a word.
The messenger shifted from side to side. “Would you like me to send a representative to speak with them…again?”
He lifted a small smile. “Thank you, but no. We’ve done that time and again. They turned a deaf ear to most, and killed the others.”
“What should we do?”
“I will go to them.”
He smiled and nodded. “Finally. I’ll call the legions, all twelve. Now they’ll see. Now they’ll listen. Now they’ll bow…every last one.” He raised a golden trumpet to his lips, pulled in a deep breath—
“Wait. Not yet. Someday, but not today. I will go to them…as one of them.”
The messenger narrowed his eyes and tilted his head. The words were muffled because the trumpet was still against his lips. “What?”
He stood from the royal throne. Everyone around bowed. “I’ll go alone.” He removed the crown. “As one of them.” He took off the royal robe. “I’ll eat with them, sleep with them, walk with them, talk with them.” He lifted a smile that all at once held great joy and sorrow. “I will, be with them.”
There was a gasp that seemed to echo throughout the entire kingdom.
He removed every royal vestige.
The messenger, with trumpet still part way to his lips, but now, his mouth and eyes were gaping. “But…but, how? You? There? Will it work?”
He looked at the messenger for a long moment. No one moved. Silence ruled, until… “I’ll be killed.”
This time it sounded like rolling thunder throughout the entire kingdom as warriors, all at once, stepped forward and raised swords.
He raised a hand until all went silent. His eyes still fastened on the messenger. “Yes, it will work.” He let out a small laugh. Actually, Gabriel, I have a message for you to give. “Go to a young girl named Mary, you’ll find her in Nazareth…”

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23)



Thursday, December 5, 2019

Seeds


All of sudden, just like that, I was there.

He met me with a, “Welcome” and a handshake. Then, he smiled and said my name.

“How’d you know my—”

He just patted my hand, “We’ve been expecting you.”

As soon as we passed through the gate, I saw them. “Oh, boy, this’ll take awhile.”

He chuckled a little and shook his head, “It won’t take a moment.”

There were people, lots and lots of people in a line that stretched as far as I could see.

We stepped toward the line, to hurry up and wait. For what? I didn’t even know.  

But then I noticed, something wasn’t right. All the folks were facing us.

I’ve never liked crowds; especially like this, all eyes were on me.

I turned to go, but a man grabbed my hand. He pumped it up and down. “Thank you” his smile wide, “thanks a million times, thanks,” his eyes aglow.

My mouth dropped open. “Huh? What for?”

Before he could answer someone patted me on the back and gave me a hug. “Thank you so very much.”

All at once, a group of children were hugging my legs and giggling.

Then, a tall man stood before me. He rested his hands on my shoulders, his mouth quivered a bit, he swallowed hard, “I appreciate you, sir. Really, I do.”

I’d never seen anything quite like it. “What’s going on?” I’m no movie star. I’m not a famous, anything. It had to be a dream; but it seemed so real…and kind-of awesome.

A lady gave me a hug that brought back memories of how grandma used to do.

One by one, I was propelled along this sea of people.

This must be how a celebrity feels.

Now, I was shaking hands—with both hands.

As we eased along; I wracked my brain for anything I could’ve done to deserve this abundant gratitude. I mean, all these people couldn’t possibly be wrong. Right?

Did I accidentally do something awesome?

Did I stumble into a crime scene and thwart a murderous plot? Perhaps it was caught on camera and I’m a hero and don’t even know it.

No, that’s just dumb. Couldn’t be it.

I scoured my memory some more. Once upon a time, I started a Bible study in high school, was a youth pastor, traveled with an evangelism team, started a church, wrote articles and books about Jesus…that’s good stuff, that had to be it. I’ve finally been discovered. At last, my ship’s come in.

I smiled and shook another hand.

Who am I kidding? That couldn’t be it. I went too far with my girlfriend and the Bible study fizzled. I quit being a youth pastor when the pastor and I had a falling out—then, he and his wife split and tore the church apart. My travels with the evangelist were only to help me heal from a divorced and broken heart. The church start was a miracle to be sure. I didn’t have a clue, but God worked and it grew—until I managed to screw things up and walk out. My writing was a bright and shiny gift; that I left in the corner to gather dust, instead of being used. 

But everyone seemed so sincere.

They simply had to be, sincerely wrong.
I’ve failed more than not. Even my best is full of holes—just filthy rags, that’s for sure.

But they kept coming.

We kept easing along.

Everyone with only one thing to say…thanks.

You’d think they’d tire and go home. But, instead, they looked like there was no place they’d rather be.

“Why?” I must’ve asked a million times. “Why?” They’d just smile and make way for the next person in line.

Finally, I’d had enough. “That’s it. No more. I don’t deserve any of this. It’s a big mistake. You have me mixed up with someone else.”

The one who’d met me at the start, looked me in the eyes. “This has nothing to do with what you deserve.”

I tilted my head and raised a brow.

“Seed time and harvest.” He smiled and nodded as if that explained everything.

The blank look on my face must’ve said, I don’t have clue what you’re talking about.

He made a small laugh. “Small seeds, make big trees.” Again, he nodded, as if that cleared it all up.

That dumb look on my face remained.

He put a hand on my shoulder. “Without even knowing it, you planted seeds. Little things, little deeds, little seeds.” He looked at the people. “In one way or another, they benefited.”

The fog started to lift…a little. I nodded, slightly.

“Now, it’s their turn, to plant.” He crossed his arms and smiled. “That’s how it works…seed time and harvest.”

All I could see, was what was left undone, unsaid. All the wasted time and opportunity. All the things I should not have said, or done, but did. I just wanted to weep. “My life, my whole life, was pretty much a total fail.”

He wrapped me in a bear hug that squeezed away every trace of sorrow. Then, he whispered “The One who sees every sparrow, counts every hair, names every star, surely cherishes every seed. Especially those that bore no fruit, those that fell on stony, shallow, overgrown ground. Those sown in faith, in love, with no hope of harvest…those, by no means went unnoticed.” He stepped back, looked at me and smiled. “I want to show you something. Close your eyes.”
I did and was twelve again, kneeling at an old wooden pew. I had no gifts. Couldn’t sing. Got nervous around people. Wasn’t big and strong. Nothing special. No way could I do anything great. But, with a soft and squeaky voice, I asked, “If You can use me, to honor You—” my shoulders shook, a salty rivulet appeared on the pew— “I’d consider it an honor.”
Then I saw the things that mattered most.
The seeds that grew weren’t at all what I’d expected. It wasn’t up front, behind the pulpit, but in the back, changing stinky diapers, wiping noses, reading stories, cleaning toilets and hauling out trash.
It wasn’t seeing my name thousands of times in print, but scribbled little notes, texts and letters to family and friends.
It was repairing a widow’s screen door and shoveling snow for a disabled vet.
It was visiting coworkers in jail and spending Christmas in the hospital teaching a friend to play chess.
It was helping the little old lady in aisle four, clean up that mess.
It was playing with the kids, when I’d rather rest.
It was secretly filling a gas tank or tucking a twenty in a purse.
It was lying in bed each night and praying, that somehow, God could use my simple life.
All of a sudden, everything went silent and white.

I knew, I was in the presence of One who created stars and listened to the squeaky voiced prayer of a boy kneeling at an old wooden pew.
I fell on my face.
He lifted my chin.
“I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”
I shook my head. My lips trembled. No words would come.
“Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to Me.” He smiled.  
I bowed my head…and smiled, too.
“Well done My good and faithful son.”



Friday, November 29, 2019

Blessed Stranger



“How are you?” I said it without really thinking. It just came out.

The monitors beeped a steady beat. Confusion peeked through his swollen eyes.

Probably doesn’t recognize me, I thought. After all, we only met for a moment. I stepped back. “I should go.”

But then his eyes flashed. At first, they looked angry. Which was understandable, and what I expected. But then just as quick the anger melted into an understanding kindness. Those kind eyes caused me to follow the ambulance here.

The bandage around his head was starting to soak through red. I knew a nurse would be in to change the dressing, just like clockwork they checked in every few minutes. I know because I stood outside for an hour watching the door. No visitors; just nurses and doctors. I finally got up enough nerve, told the nurse I was his brother, and walked in.

His eyes drifted from me to a chair next to his bed. I wiped cold sweat off my forehead and slid into the chair.

His swollen lips bent into a crooked smile. I stared at those eyes and looked for hurt, for hate, for anger, I found none—just joy.

My mind drifted back... 

Two hours earlier I had been leaning against the brick wall at the Salvation Army. My head was pounding and I had just crushed my last cigarette. I was without a dime and miserable.

From out of nowhere, this stranger walked into my life. “How are you?”

I figured he was being polite, like do-gooders do. I said, nothing.

He pointed a thumb over his shoulder. “Did you walk all the way here?”

I looked at my worn-out boots with a hole in the toe. “Yep.”

“I saw you out there on the road a few miles back—”

My head snapped up, “Then why in the h—”

“I’d have picked you up but I was on the wrong side of the highway, going the opposite way.”

I eyed the old white Chevy he’d climbed out of. “That a ’64?”

“Yes sir. It still needs some work, but it’s a lot better than when I got her.”

“I had a truck like that.” I looked down and kicked a rock. “Got laid off four months ago...lost it. I’m cursed.”

He said nothing until I raised my head. He looked me in the eyes and reached into his pocket.

I figured he was about to give me some money, so I gave him a humble smile.

He pulled out keys instead.

I figured he was fixin’ to leave. I was tired of talking anyway.

He smiled, “I’m blessed. You can be too.”

“Listen mister, I’ve got a hangover. I’m outta smokes and ain’t got a dime. I’m cursed. You’d say the same thing if you were in my boots.”  I looked at the ground and spit.

He didn't hesitate. He just stuffed the keys into my shirt pocket. “Being blessed has nothing to do with possessions.” He pulled out a money clip and held out his hand.

“Words are cheap.” I slurred. I figured he was trying to make a point and would eventually want his truck keys back. But, making his point would cost him. I grabbed the money and shoved it in my pocket.

He pointed at the old truck. “I’m not rich. But concerning what matters most, I’m blessed.”

“Yeah, that’s easy to say when everything’s going your way.” He was starting to get on my nerves.

His eyes danced as he said, “You and I could change places right now and I’d still be blessed.”

“I’d have to see it to believe it,” I shook my head.

“Whether you see it, or believe it, doesn’t matter—it’s still true.” He tilted his head and smiled.

About that time trouble showed up. “Who’s your friend?”

I recognized three of the four thugs but didn’t know their names.

“I don’t know, he’s cool, just a volunteer fixin’ to leave.” I shrugged.

“Well, he oughta leave us some parting gifts then.” They sauntered around him…too close.

I started to tell them I had his money, but didn’t. I thought he’d tell them—he didn’t.

I ran.

I felt guilty as I peeled a ten out of his money clip and laid it on the bar. Three shots of whiskey later, I heard the sirens...

I shook my head and the memory faded.

“Figured you might want these.” I laid the truck keys on the table next to his bed. “I found a good parking spot for your truck real close to the door.” I hesitated. “Oh, and here’s your money—what’s left of it.” I wondered if he could smell whiskey on my breath. “I used a little…sorry.”

He smiled, shook his head ever so slightly and whispered, “What truck…what money?”

His swollen eyes had turned a dark purple. I sucked in a deep breath, “I should’ve stayed. I know I should’ve. But I figured they’d leave you alone once they saw you didn’t have any money. You probably hate me for running out; especially after you gave me your keys and all your…”

He raised his hand. I stopped rambling and remembered my words, “I’ll have to see it to believe it.”

His eyes smiled as the words, "I'm blessed. You can be to," fell from bloody lips.

I looked at the floor and shook my head. “Even now?”

Maybe it was the lighting, but he seemed to glow as his lips lifted into a smile. He raised his eyes toward the ceiling and though words were only a whisper, to me they clapped like thunder. “Especially now.”


After that things went wild. Buzzers started going off, lights started flashing. Folks in white rushed in, and ushered me out.

But, as I left, I took one more look and noticed the smile on his face never left, but only grew.

It had been a long time, but I bowed my head.

And now, from that day to this, no matter what, when anyone asks how I’m doing, I smile and say…
I am blessed.




Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanks Giving Prayer


~
Lord, we come so often with petitions and pleas

And I’m sure You’re glad we do

Because of who You are, You Love to meet our needs

But today we bring no list

And we know it’s not enough,

But please accept our thanks.



In Your word we’ve read,

And we’ve heard it said,

A thousand years is as a day,

And a day is as a thousand

So today as we give You thanks

May it be as a thousand



And if we may ask

Just one thing

We invite you to join us

As our Guest of Honor



And with each word spoken

With each crumb broken

Let us treat each other

As if we’re dining

With The King

Thanks.

~
this is part of "Faith Jam" over at Faith Barista. Click here to check out all kinds of cool Thanksgiving posts and more.

~

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Burning Timber

It wasn’t my fault.

That’s what I said back then. I believed it too.
Not anymore. At least not the part about it not being my fault.
It’s been a lifetime ago. But I remember it every morning when I look in the mirror. I feel it every time I run a razor across the scar that runs from my cheek to my chin. My eyes still burn when I think of it.
I was just a kid. But, the smell of singed hair, burnt flesh and smoke lingers.
I knew better. I shouldn’t have been there.
It seemed so innocent. Just a few friends, a bonfire…and refreshments of the adult kind.
I’d never tasted liquor. Not even a sip of beer. But that night, I did. Everyone was doing it. “It’ll make a man of you” they said.
After a while, I felt funny. Not funny, like different, but funny, like I was hilarious. Like I could make everyone laugh. Like I was the life of the party. My eyes were opened to this new me. I wasn’t the shy, sit in the back of the room, observe everything, say nothing guy. I was the new, stand on the chair in the center of attention, loud, funny, popular, me.
Who knew? This forbidden fruit wasn’t so bad after all.
It was just having fun around an old timber framed barn, out in the middle of nowhere. What could go wrong?
The bonfire was huge. The music was loud. The sparks on the roof were small.
The dirt floor inside the barn made a great dance floor. I showed off moves never seen before, until I collapsed in the corner to catch my breath. That’s when I must’ve fallen asleep—passed out would be more like it.
They said it started snowing in the barn. Only the snowflakes were ashes.
Everyone rushed out, just as the roof collapsed…everyone, but me.
I woke in hell. A branding iron seared my face.
The music had stopped. A thousand screams pounded like hammers in my head.
I knew I’d died and gone straight to hell. My one night of overindulgence brought my eternal demise.
Actually, to be honest. It wasn’t just that one night. It was a multitude of tiny, hidden, sins. I envied the uninhibited laughter of others. Despised the restraints of my Sunday School teachings. Fear of what others thought, kept me quiet and back in the corner.
One cough after another convulsed my body. Each time, a bomb exploded in my head.
“My God…” was all I could choke out. I don’t know if I said the words out loud or just in my head.
I don’t remember hearing any sirens. Just non-stop screaming.
Where the door had been, was a wall of fire. I backed against the opposite wall.
He came through the inferno and into the room with me.
I shook my head. “There’s no way out.”
He smiled. He smiled. “I’ll make a way.” He got down real low and inched back into the flames.
I winced, “He just killed himself.”
But then, through the smoke and flames I saw it. He pressed his back against the burning timber. His arms spread wide. He heaved and a breath of fresh air and light flooded the room. He looked at me, sweating and bleeding. “I’m your only way out.”
I crawled on my hands and knees.
The inferno lit up the night and smoked and smoldered all the next day and the day after that. Finally, on the third day, we were able to search. His body was never found.
But I see Him all the time. Every time I dream. Every time I look in the mirror at the scar across my face. I see Him.
I’ve come to realize something too. God doesn’t forgive, just because He’s so loving and kind. He is faithful and just. Justice won’t allow forgiveness without payment. I took forgiveness for granted until that day. I thought forgiveness came easy. And so, it does. But not without price. A huge price. The price of an old rugged timber burning across the back of God’s only Son.
So from that day to this I’ve longed for one thing. Someday I’ll see the One who entered my hell, was buried in my tomb. On that day, I’ll finally be able to say the word that’s been on my lips ever since that burning day…
“Thank You.”

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.


Although the above story is fiction; it is meant to reflect eternal Truth. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Celebrities & Christianity

Just imagine if one of these things happened to you:

 Your boss walks in tomorrow morning and tells you that since you’ve been doing such a great job, you’re getting a big, fat, huge, raise.
You open the mailbox and find an unexpected check.
You answer the doorbell and Publishers Clearing House hands you an over-sized check with lots and lots of zeros and your name on the top.
You’re in sales and you make the biggest sale of your career and break the company’s sales record
Your son’s football career soars and he’s drafted into the NFL
You’re a preacher and your empty pews fill with people.

If this happened, would you be sad or mad or glad?

What if it happened to another person; when you heard about it, would you be mad or glad or sad?
What if that other person was a Christian? A preacher? A celebrity? Would that change how you feel?
Does being a Christian, make a person evil if they prosper? Do Celebrities & Christianity not mix?


Are Kayne West and Justin Bieber, more evil since they’ve confessed Jesus as Lord of their life?
Literally millions of people have heard the gospel of Jesus due to their conversion. Many have followed their lead, and have made commitments or re-commitments to Christ.
That’s more, much more, than I can say for myself.
What about Tim Tebow? Is he less of a man, an athlete, because he’s a Christian?
Do you remember when he wore John 3:16 on his eye black? The following 24 hrs. that verse was the highest-ranked Google search generating 94 million searches. 
Just think; ninety-four-million people read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
It gets better. Three years later, to the day, Tim and his Denver Broncos beat the Steelers in the playoffs. During that game he threw for 316 yards; his yards per completion were 31.6; yards per rush were 3.16, the ratings for the night were 31.6; and the time of possession was 31.06. During that game ninety-one million people Googled John 3:16. It was the number one trending thing on every social media platform.
I’d say that’s more than mere coincidence and straight through the goalposts of Divine Providence.

What about the preacher? How should he feel if his empty pews fill with people?
Is Joel Osteen a hypocrite because people by the thousands flock to hear him speak?
You may have heard Kanye West at Pastor Joel Osteen’s, Lakewood Church, where over 40,000 people attend services each week and millions watch by television worldwide.
More gospel seeds were planted that one Sunday afternoon, than I’ve planted my entire life.
Now, I understand there’s more to it than just a one-time show. Being a Christian takes discipleship and discipline and relationship building.
But it’s undeniable that media’s influence is huge in today’s world.
And yet, I’ve heard people, Christian people, mock. Complain. Criticize. Call them hypocrites.
I don’t know their hearts. I don’t know their motives. Neither do you.
Only God knows.
But one thing I know for sure and certain; because it's already been settled in the Perfect Law of Liberty.
What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. Philippians 1:18 (KJV)
The Living Bible says it like this:
But whatever their motive for doing it, the fact remains that the Good News about Christ is being preached, and I am glad. Phil 1:18 TLB

So, then, what’s it going to be? sad or mad or glad?


Saturday, November 9, 2019

Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero?


Even though we were early, there was already a crowd.
Same as last year. And the year before that, and the year before that…as long as I can remember.
But this year, there’s more.
It starts at nine. On a weekday. When folks have to work. But still, they come.
Hundreds squeeze into every nook and cranny, every shaded spot under a tree.
It’s hot. It’s sweaty. Not so much as a breeze. Still they come.
The kids are in groups.
The men with guns are off to the side by themselves.
At nine o’clock on the dot they begin.
Kids say their lines, sing their songs for almost an hour, and then, the time comes where the names are read.
One by one they come.
From out of the sweaty crowd they make their way to the front and shoulder to shoulder they stand.
The list goes on and on. The line grows, one name at a time until it spans the entire length of the elementary school’s north wing.
Until they were called, you’d never have known most of them. Unless they wore a hat, a uniform or a badge, they were just like every other person, hot and sweaty, in the crowd.
But now, they stood in front of us all.
Men and women. Young and old. Bulging muscles and tattooed arms. Weathered trembling hands on wooden canes. Suits and ties and short hair. T-shirts, jeans and ponytails. Flip-flops and shorts. Cowboy boots and hats. Together they stood. Shoulder to shoulder.
Each one of them were given a gift. “Just a small token of our gratitude.”
I scanned from one end of the line to the other.
As different as night and day in every way…except one.
The kids started to sing.
It must have been cold there in my shadow
To never have sunlight on your face
You were content to let me shine, that's your way
You always walked a step behind
So I was the one with all the glory
While you were the one with all the strength

As the words rolled off the lips of the children, each of the warriors before us did the same thing.
Men and women who’d stared death in the face without blinking, began to blink. A hand or two wiped more than just sweat from their eyes.
When the kids sang, “Did you ever know that you're my hero…”
Every soldier clenched their jaw and dropped their eyes.
A strong arm steadied the trembling of another.
A refreshing breeze carried the words, “You are the wind beneath my wings”
It happened slow, but eventually every last soldier had their shining eyes focused on the children, whose voices by now, had mixed with those of angels.
“Did I ever tell you you're my hero?
You're everything, everything I wish I could be
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle…”
That’s when I noticed it.
As different as they were, they all had one thing, exactly the same.
That look a fireman gets just before he runs into a fire, not from it.  
The look David must’ve had before facing the giant.
The eye of an eagle as it soars into the storm, while the whole world is running from it.
Each one had that look. Each one had the eye of an eagle.

Now, I know you won’t believe me. But it’s the truth, just the same.
I wanted it to be true. If only…
I raised my eyes wanting to see.
When I did, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
There they were, soaring on the words of the children as pretty as can be.
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle…”

Thank you Veterans.
Did you ever know that you're my hero?


Wind Beneath My Wings




Friday, November 8, 2019

Dear Marijuana



Dear Marijuana
Ohh how you ruined my life.
It's only temporary, though, because I'm getting better!
You hurt me and my family. You took my emotions, hid them in a box and buried them deep, but guess what?? 
I found the key.
You took my motivation and hid that, but...
I'm searching, I'll find it, I can count on me.
You took my self esteem and destroyed it into the smallest little pieces.
I'm still finding those pieces to put them back together.
My emotions, you did something way worse, not just locking them up and throwing away the key, but you turned them to anger till I started hating ME.
You put me into this circle, a circle I called "my friends". 
You set me up and so many bad things happened with them.
I needed you every second and you weren't there for me.
I lost 23 pounds in a month because you took my appetite and you ate up my whole life. 
You ate up me.
You watched my need for you slowly hurt my mom and I was your puppet playing along.
Not noticing how you controlled me, you were the remote and I was the T.V.
It's been hard to lock you away and throw away the key, but I'm taking the path that's best for me!!!


Image may contain: 1 person














The above letter was posted with permission from my lovely niece, Diamond. 

She is currently working her way through Heartland Girls Ranch. She's recently been assigned her very own horse to care for.
It's hard. 

But, hard isn't bad...it's just hard. 

We appreciate you remembering her in your prayers.


Dearest Diamond,
You are courageous, intelligent and beautiful, inside and out.
Just like your name implies, you may have been drug through the dirt, the mill and the mine, 
but all these things have only made you sparkle and shine...and by the looks of things, revealed a gift for writing.

You are so very much loved and never, ever alone. 









Thursday, November 7, 2019

Coincidence or Providence


I clicked on the book of Mark from freeavbible.com, and Alexander Scourby’s voice began.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets:
“Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.”
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’ ”
As Alexander continued quiet in the background, I sipped coffee and read various online devotionals.
I just so happened to be reading a story on www.faithwriters.com  about a precious lady named Bernice. She only had forty cents to her name and was about to give ten of it to the missionaries at church. She prayed that somehow God would use her small offering to make a big difference…just as I read those words, I heard:

"Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." (Mark 12:41-44)

Precious are the moments
When time and eternity meet
When circumstance and Divine timing collide
The world calls it coincidence
I call it Providence
If only I pause long enough to listen
It's here
I hear
My Savior breathe

Things like these, happen all the time. This was just one small example.
I sent a message to the author of the story, just to encourage. Just to say thanks. Just to say her words were heard and rippled to Eternity and back.
His Eternal Voice echoes throughout the everyday timeliness and circumstances of life.
His Word goes out, like the voice of Alexander Scourby echoing through the speakers of my laptop, even now, as I write. I hear it playing in the background; but, I’m not really listening.
HE speaks every day and often. His Word is heard, but, alas, rarely listened to.  
When we stop and listen, He will show up. We will catch a glimpse of Him intersecting our lives. Guaranteed.
When it happens, don’t ask, why.  Analysis isn’t necessary. No need to dissect every single word and syllable trying to figure some deep, hidden meaning.
It wasn’t my job to figure out a hidden meaning behind Bernice and the poor widow’s offering. It was my responsibility to simply acknowledge my Father was near.  
Like all good fathers, His desire is to walk and talk with us. Just like in the beginning; in the Garden of Eden. Just like we do with our children, grandchildren and friends.
We don’t just bark orders. Neither does He. We say things that don’t require an answer or action. We simply communicate. Show up. He does the same.
His heart’s desire is for us to know Him.
Lord,
Open our eyes to see and ears to hear, the ringing of Your Divine Providence in the everyday timeliness and circumstances of life.
Thank you
Amen.

I am the good shepherd;
and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.
As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father;
and I lay down My life for the sheep.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them,
and they follow Me.
(John 10: 14-15,27)



Sunday, November 3, 2019

Peyton's Saunter



My wife picks them up from the school bus.
When they get to our house, backpacks and shoes are dumped by the front door.
I’m almost always at my desk.
It took some time and a talk or twenty, but they learned that if I’m there, that means, I’m at work—just like mommy and daddy go to work—only my work happens to be in the bedroom/office at home.
So, if I’m at my desk, they try to be quiet and they don’t stay long, but they always come in. One by one, they take turns. “Hi Papa,” followed by a great big hug. I love that part of the day. They plop in the old wooden rocker next to my desk. Usually, by this time they have a snack in hand. We chat about their day for a moment or two and then, they’re off to play.
Luke bounces in and jumps in my lap asking questions from out of the blue and then he’s off again. Savannah dashes in and out talking a mile a minute about this friend or that. Peyton saunters in; never in a hurry, always something on his mind. Nevaeh rides a different bus so she shows up later, talking so much like an adult it makes me smile.
That’s how it goes, every day, with hugs, small talk and laughter…but not always.
Peyton sauntered, slower than usual. His hug was heavy; as was his plop into the rocker. The ever-present smile and wide-eyed wonder; gone.
He rocked back and forth a time or two. He had always looked me straight in the eye. Not today. His rocking stopped. He stared at the floor.
The silence was really loud.
“It’s so hard to hold them back.” He glanced at me, then back to the floor. “They just want to come out.”
He started to rock again. Fast.
I touched his arm.
The rocking stopped.
“Who’s hard to hold back? What do you mean?”
He rocked back and forward one time, pulled in a real deep breath, wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “The tears.”
I nodded and rocked back and forth in my office chair a moment or two.
“If you get cut, it bleeds, right?”
He nodded and looked at me like, what’s that have to do with anything?
“What do you do if the cut has dirt in it?”
“Put a band-aid on it” he said.
“Don’t you wash it out, first?”
“No, that stings.”
I smiled. “Well, if we don’t wash it out, it could get infected and hurt much worse later, right?”
He shrugged his shoulders and nodded a little.
“If we get a wound on the outside, we wash it so it won’t get infected—even bleeding helps cleanse, so it can heal. Well, if we get a wound on the inside, if we are sad or hurt inside, our tears help to clean the wound, to help us heal.”
He shook his head. “B—b—but, daddy said I shouldn’t cry.”
“I suppose, it hurts him to see you cry. But, it’s good to cry. Big boys can cry. Daddies cry. Even Papa cries…a lot.”
With that, he sprang out of the rocker and collapsed into my lap with such force we rolled backwards in my office chair until we collided against the printer stand. His sobs were loud and hard. I could feel the healing soaking my shirt.
We stayed like that for an eternity or two. Finally, the words came out muffled against my chest, mingled with so much sorrow, it caused me to ache.
“Why does daddy have to go away?”
I hugged him tight and rocked him slow. So, that’s what this is about.
“I wish he could get his old job back and be home every day like he used to.”
 Mommy and daddy had kept an amicable relationship after the divorce. So, as sad as it was, at least the kids were able to see both of their parents, pretty much, as often as they wished.
But now, daddy worked out of state four weeks and only home for one. He’d just left and the thought of a month without daddy was the same thing as forever to precious Peyton.
What could I say?
“Let’s pray.”
Through quivering lips and stuttering breath, Peyton managed, “Okay.”
We prayed. I spoke. Peyton believed.
“Lord, please help daddy get a job back home. Peyton misses him really bad because he loves him very much.  Help him to feel better too, please. Thank you. Amen.”
Peyton believes in prayer. I know he does because just the other day, he had a pain in his side and he said, “Hey Papa, it hurts right here—” he pointed to his left side and slummed down in his chair—“can you make it go away, like you did before?”
“What do you mean, like I did before?”
“This happened before, remember, last year, and you made it go away.”
I couldn’t remember, but I slapped my hands together just for fun, slid them back and forth real fast and then touched his side and asked Jesus to make the pain go away. After I thanked the Lord and said amen. He stood up, wiggled a little, smiled and said, “It’s gone.”
As he walked away, I tried not to act amazed and said, “Of course it is. Thank, Jesus.”
So, after we prayed this time, I could almost see Peyton’s childlike faith wash his wounded heart and lift a little quivering lip smile. “Thanks Papa.”
And off he went with a bit of a hop in his saunter.