The cartoon character steps forward on to the end of the rake. His weight on the head of the rake causes the handle to catapult upward, smacking the character in the face. This in turn causes him to stumble backward onto the head of a hoe, resulting in a hoe-handle to the back of the head. Said character stumbles forward into the rake again. And so on and so on. We’ve all seen it. It’s a common gag used in slapstick comedy, and it’s funny. Except maybe for the character caught in the middle of it. Sometimes I feel like I am that character, bouncing from one catastrophe to the next. Or even worse; because I am focused on the last catastrophe, I cause the next one. Trust me, it’s not quite as funny after two or three whacks with that hoe handle. At those times, the only thing I’ve found that works is not to dwell on them. I just switch over to damage control and deal with what’s directly in front of me, and let God take care of the rest. I’ve found that if I do that, I have a lot better chance of spotting that rake lying hidden in the leaves.
Good luck and Godspeed. It’s a phrase you may have heard before. It basically means “may you have success in the endeavor that you are embarking on.” The phrase has been bouncing around in my head since this past Sunday. We had to make an unexpected trip to Auburn and it was short noticed. I didn’t get off work at the as early as expected and thus ran short on sleep in order to accomplish all that we needed before a deadline. My wife drove down so that I could rest and I would drive on the way back. The day was overcast, and while a little on the warm side not overly so (the AC is not working on our vehicle). As we traveled, the sun would break through the clouds and when it did it was a very noticeable increase in temperature. The trip was comfortable for the most part because a cloud kept us in the shade most of the way, but at one point I saw the leading edge of the cloud and we were traveling fast enough that we were overtaking it and the shade would be gone for a while. “We should slow down and just ride with the cloud” I thought to myself. This is when the phrase Godspeed occurred to me. You see, a lot of time I get rushed and in a hurry and don’t think much about God’s timing I’m too busy trying to work to my own schedule and trying to make things happen. I didn’t need to be in a big hurry that Sunday, and by pushing it to meet MY schedule we passed out from under the shade cloud that God had provided for us. The result was uncomfortable, the same as it always is when we forget and try to force life to meet our schedule. Had we slowed down, we would have ridden in comfort for a while longer, and I’m sure the trip would have still been just as successful. There is a plan. You play an important part even if you don’t know how. Don’t cheat yourself out of your blessing by trying to rush the journey. Good luck and Godspeed.
I remember a sermon I once heard while attending Welcome No. 1 Baptist Church. It was quite a while back, and I don’t recall who the preacher was (I was really young). The preacher said that he had prayed for a message to bring to the congregation and the Lord had granted him one on the unrepentant going to hell. This can’t be right, the preacher thought. Everyone that attends church has been saved. I know them all. The preacher brought the message that the Lord had given him, and no one moved. The Spirit that had given him the message was at peace, so he knew he had obeyed as he should have. The following week the preacher prayed again, and again got a message on the lost going to hell. Again he preached the word and the Spirit was at peace. A third week went by and again another message on hell. After that the weeks that followed were the normal messages one would expect to be preached in a Believing Church. It was many months later before the reason for his messages were revealed. A man came up to the preacher and introduced himself.
“Preacher, you don’t know me, but I live by that little church where you pastor, and I just wanted to say thank you for preaching God’s Word. You see, I was in the field next to that little church one Sunday, and God convicted my heart. He dealt with me for three weeks. Three weeks I was in that field every Sunday, dreading hearing the Word, but knowing I had to hear it. On the 3rd week I was saved out there by an old stump. I just wanted to say thanks.”
I will remember that message to my dying day. It has given me strength at times when I thought I had none. Remember, sometimes God may ask you to do things that do not seem normal to you, and keep in mind you may never know why in this life, but God knows. And your actions may be the only thing that helps that ‘lost soul’ find His Way.
I am an artist. I have been working with 3D art for the past year or so, and I have to say I’m getting pretty good at it. When working with my art, I save a lot of different versions of the same pictures. This one may have a different colored building, that one might have an added reflection or signpost. It’s usually the same picture with just a few added details. But sometimes I mess up (calm down. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen from time to time.), and save a picture with a mistake in it. Some people might not see the mistake, but I would every time I looked at it. This was the lesson I learned in Bible Study Sunday morning this week. I have read through the Bible and there have been versus that I didn’t understand. I took it on faith that God would reveal their hidden meanings when I was ready. One such verse is in the very first book, Genesis.
22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. Gen 3:22-24 (KJV)
Verse 22 was very confusing to me until Sunday. I kept wondering why? Why would God not want us to live forever? Now the answer to this question may seem obvious to some, but that is the way the Lord speaks. It doesn’t matter how many times you show someone something, they will not understand it until they are ready to receive it. Anyway, Sunday I realized why. We were a flawed image because we had chosen to sin against God. Had we been allowed to eat of the fruit of eternal life, yes we would have lived forever, but it would have been in the sorry state that we are now, flawed and imperfect. So people may actually think that God banishing us from the Garden of Eden was a punishment, but in reality He was saving us from ourselves. This is the secret hidden in those lines of scripture. He denied us eternal life in a corrupt shell. After seeing this, I now look back and wonder why I didn’t see it before. Sometimes the knowledge is in plain sight, you just have to wait for the right time for your eyes to be opened.
When I was little I had a favorite jacket. It was a blue jean jacket and I wore it all the time. Looking back now I really couldn’t tell you why, but at the time it was very valuable to me. I wore it until it became too small, and then I cut the sleeves out of it and made a vest, which I wore a long time. I wore it until the collar began to fray and come apart. Mom had often told me to get rid of that jacket. She told me it wasn’t worth anything, but I wouldn’t listen. It was my favorite jacket, and it was worth something to me. Human beings are funny like that. We place value on things and refuse to listen to anyone that says there is no value there. Yet at the same time we allow others to place value on us as individuals. We listen to them say how worthless we are, or we believe them when they say we are stupid or lazy. All the while we forget that what is of value in is will not be judged by other people, but by God alone. So if we won’t listen to people about how valuable an item is, why do we listen when they place a value on us?
I have watched my wife struggle through different hardships. I have watched her triumph and I have watched her fail. I have seen the love she has in her heart for everyone, and I cannot help but stand in awe of her. She tirelessly helps her aunt, mother and father setting up doctor appointments, getting meds refilled, and making sure they get what they need when they need it. During all that she homeschools the boys, and takes care of the day to day stuff that is required to run a household, and all the while she maintains a positive attitude. She always has a smile for a friend or a hanky if one is needed, and she rarely meets a stranger. She gives so much of herself, and all I do is bring home the paycheck. This post is to say thank you to my wife for all that she does, and to say Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers out there who do these things with no expectations of repayment or thanks. Your work does not go unnoticed, and it has its own rewards I am sure. I just wanted to point the spotlight on you all for a bit.
I want you to try a little experiment. Take your pulse. Check it looking at your watch, or use one of those little machines with the little flashing heart that tells you your blood pressure too, however you like as long as you can monitor it for about two minutes. After two minutes (barring someone scaring you or such) you should have a pretty good idea of how it beats. It is almost as steady as a metronome. It is the same in all of us, beating out the rhythm of our life. At times it beats faster, and we quicken our pace to dance with it. Sometimes it beats slowly and life seems to drift by in lazy swirls. There have been a wide variety of songs comparing life to music and dancing. It is the same in every culture, if you look. We do it almost unconsciously. We walk by a piece of equipment that bangs or clicks in a rhythmic pattern and we hear music in it. Some musicians even make music using everyday items and things. Music is around us all the time. My point in bringing this up is this. In every instance of man-made music there is a composer. Someone who directs the music, making it flow in such a way as to affect all around him/her. Directing the highs and lows of the notes. All of life is the same way. So listen to the rhythm of your heart again. Check the tempo and the measure of the beats and know that there is also a composer directing the majestic orchestra of Life. Directing the flows and measuring the path the music takes, down to the smallest beat. So the next time things seem uncertain, take a moment to listen to your heartbeat. All the answers to the universe are right there in the miraculous beat of that one little instrument that sustains you.
The message yesterday was on Acts3. While I sat and listened to the preacher talk, the scene began to play out before my eyes. Those of you that have read and are familiar with the New Testament know the story I am talking about. The story of Peter and John as they came upon the lame man begging for money outside the temple gate, where Peter spoke those famous words; “Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give to you also. In the name of Jesus Christ stand and walk.” Immediately the beggar’s legs were healed and he ran shouting the praises of God. As the story was played out on the screen in my head, I began to empathize with one of the players. This is one of the many ways God has spoken to me through the scriptures, so I waited with eager ears to hear what He was about to say. I wasn’t disappointed. I was surprised, and astounded by the vastness of my ignorance, tho. I expected to see something of me in Peter, or for something to resonate between me and John. I did NOT expect to empathize with the lame beggar. You see when Peter spoke to him, the beggar paid attention. He turned to Peter and John expecting money, something to live on for the next day, or if he was lucky, the next two or three days. These men of God had taken pity on him, and were going to give him something. This is the way I feel when God speaks to me. He has had pity on me and is going to give me something to help me through the trying times of this life. So when Peter said his famous words, it confused the beggar for a moment, and then he reached and took him by the hand. That is when God worked through Peter. Not just giving the beggar money, but giving him something worth sooo much more! The ability to walk! No more did he have to rely on the generousness of others to live. No more sitting and hoping that some man would take pity and help him. He turned to Peter expecting money, and received his Life instead. If we count on men, at best we can only get enough to get by for a few days. If we count on God, we need never worry about it again. After the service I was in awe of how I could miss such a message in all the times I had heard and read that story. Then I had to laugh. I realized that I was going to have to go home and tell my wife that God told me I was lame.
Grace was not cheap, and we should do all within our power to keep from making it cheap. This blog really spoke to me, so I thought I’d pass it along to you all.
Someone once told me that there are three ways to tell if what you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing with your life. The first one was that it was something that made you happy. In other words it was something you couldn’t dream of ever NOT doing it. The second one was by an unmistakable stroke of providence the opportunity just fell into your lap, greatly improving your quality of life. And the third way was the one that I have focused on to help me grind through the years of doing things that I did not want to do in order to provide for my family. The third way was simply a lack of options. You see sometimes we have to travel the rough path in order to learn something that God wants us to know. Sometimes it is those thorns we have to wade through to continue on that whittles away the rough edges and prepares us for greater events a few more turns down the path. It is never a pleasant thing to realize, and if we had been given the choice (knowing what it was going to be like) I doubt that any of us would choose to go down that path. So if you are experiencing the thorns, or stumbling along the road think about the reason you are there. If it is because of one of your own choices, perhaps you need to rethink that decision. If it is because of a lack of options, this too shall pass. Endure and learn. It will prove useful a little farther down the road.