Monday, July 29, 2013

Hold !

This particular scene from the movie Braveheart has always inspired me. No, it’s not the scene in which Wallace makes the fine horseback speech that impassions the men to fight against terrible odds. No, my favorite scene is the one where the enemy on horseback are thundering down on Wallace and his ragtag army. Wallace has brought long, sharpened poles that had been laid out before them on the ground between them and the approaching enemy. Let the charging horsemen get close then raise the sharpened poles to stop them. That was the plan.
Imagine how that might have been: a bloodthirsty enemy intent on disgrace and destruction, thundering down upon them on horseback. And Wallace told them to hold; hold. The horsemen got closer-hold! Hold!-closer still, they can hear the heavy breathing of the horses-hold! Hold! In the “fullness of time” the poles were raised and the horsemen were stopped. And, eventually, they were victorious in the battle.

For us, the continuing saga called life sometimes seems thundering down upon us like the horses in that Braveheart scene. No surprise. Jesus warned,“In the world ye shall have tribulations.” When standing in the right place for the right thing, we might expect a well-equipped menace bearing down on us. Like Wallace, we have to believe in what the world, the enemy, cannot see. Our sharpened poles of faith lay ready as the voice of the Lord tells us to “hold, hold.” Yes, hold - and believing that at the end of the day we will be victorious through Jesus Christ. The approaching menaces of disease, disappointment, disability, and even death will not make our faith flinch. And, the battle will be the Lord’s.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Forgotten Wake We Make

My Father and I in our aluminum boat, right after daylight, skimming on the river surface. It seemed we disturbed little with the mirrored surface of the river, glazed to accept us; wisps of fog rising from the water in strands. We made a small furrow with our boat with the forested world parading by us on both shores. Yes, we made a small wake; the small waves of which lapped gently upon the shore. In a moment it was smooth water again behind us closed behind us leaving no trace we had ever been there.

So, it with life. For all of our world-changing tasks, and all the highly “important” things we thought we had to do, and all the exalted things we thought ourselves to be, still, life closes behind us, leaving no evidence of the little wake we made. Only what we have done for God will remain. The glassy surface of this world will close forever behind us when we die, but for those of us who know Jesus. eternal life with "Our Father Who art in Heaven will" open before us.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Lady No One Could Stand

She wasn’t pretty. In fact, she had a somewhat disheveled look to her. Who knows what her job was where I worked at, but she came around to transact some sort of business in my department now and then. Everyone avoided her as much as possible.
“She’s mean and hateful,” they would say. “She’ll bite your head off. Better to leave her alone.”

Indeed, she looked the part. Her furrowed brow, her large eyebrows, the narrow hollow eyes, the set jaw, all gave her the look of someone you better leave alone. She never had much to say, and what she did say was short and curt, in a “better leave me alone” tone. No one could stand her. But Something wouldn’t let me stop wondering why someone would want to be such a mean and disagreeable person.
Every time she would come around that thought would peak my curiosity. Besides curiosity, I also felt pity that someone could choose to live life so full of bitterness. On my own I am not that caring or sensitive but God has a way of melting my heart like heat melts a candle. My candle was being melted as the light from God to my heart was beginning to drive away the darkness.

I started to see things a little differently despite what this mysterious “everyone” said about this woman. Already having a natural distrust of majority opinion, I just had to experience this for myself. One day as she was coming down the hall to our office to make her delivery, I got in the hall ahead of her, smiled, and told her good morning. She was taken aback, and glared at me like I had offended her in some way. I kept the smile and let silence take its course. After a few moments I asked her how does she feel today. It wasn’t the customary “how are you,” but a little more personal, to suggest I really did want to know how she felt. Her face took on a startled, confused look .
“Who told you,” she snapped.
“Told me what?” A long pause and her face seemed to be losing its rigidity. The eyes widened, showing a fear and pain I had not seen before in her face. Then there were tears, sobbing tears of despair. I held her hand as she explained her terrible diagnosis: she was dying of cancer.
“I will pray for you”

She nodded, wiped away her tears, patted me on the arm, and moved past me.
Her face never had the meanness on it again that I could see. Maybe it was my vision of her now and maybe it was her vision that someone cared; that someone was praying for her. Of course, the office consensus concerning this poor woman didn't changed until one day I told them the story. It was then that their faces seemed to soften. Now, they seemed to have compassion instead of condemnation. Over the next few weeks several more people talked and became involved with this poor soul. There were hugs, more tears, and the Love of God got real for all of us and for this “lady no one could stand.”

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Invisible Days

“My wife died you know?” The one-time British sailor squinted up at me through ninety year old eyes as if to see if I were going to listen before he went on. There was pain and need in those eyes. “She was beautiful too; pretty as a picture; pretty as a picture, and played the piano like an angel. Sixty years we been together. She was beautiful. Played the piano like an angel. I miss her you know. I got nobody now. People don’t care about old folks like me. They don’t even seem to see me. It’s like I am some kinda piece of garbage or something cause I’m old and worthless now. I miss her you know. She was beautiful. Played the piano like an angel.”
I am not too far from old and worthless myself. Some say I am already worthless. And for all the times I have gutted out races; all the times I have raised my arms in joy at some finish line, for all the awards I have won and all my other moments of accomplishments, projects completed, gardens raised, pastures mowed; despite all the hard work I have done, there will soon come a time when I won’t be seen either. All the things done in my life won’t be worth listening to by a younger , trendier world. I will be passed over like a crack in the sidewalk. I will be essentially invisible, encased in only my own world consisting of what memories I can recall. But that’s OK. I am at peace about it.
My invisible days won’t be alone. I will have Somebody; my Faithful Friend will be with me when the world goes on without me. I have His blessed assurance which – like the song says – “the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.” I have Jesus.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I Had Survived


With the new day I look back and see I have survived, still intact. How did that happen? I remember the desperate moments, the extreme tension; the hunkering down in the storm. But I also remember that in the midst of those storms there was the urgency for prayer: I needed to pray. I sought out the chapel in the hospital, but it was closed. The chapel had regular hours but thank God, He is open 24/7. There in the empty waiting room my broken prayer seemed somewhat small and futile. And in this indifferent, self-seeking world in which I found myself feeling isolated and alone, prayer seemed almost out of place; sort of like I was waving loose ends of tattered threads in a raging wind. B
The world had been found to be comfortless and as my feeble prayers were, they were all I had, all there was, and all that could offer a measure of comfort. My faith, my prayer was all there was to hold on to. So I did.

When the winds abated, I looked up to realize that all had sustained me through the night was Hope, connected to Jesus through the thin thread of prayer. The problem was not overcome; the questions were still unanswered but now I something I had not had the night before. My prayers were answered: hold on, not yet. Prayer and faith had sustained me through the storm, and in storms that come they would undergird me with a refreshed hope and security through Jesus Christ. So, in the beginning and in the end, in the calm, and in the storms, my Anchor holds. Praise God! The Anchor holds.

“Now more than ever I cherish the cross. More than ever I sit at His feet. Miles of my journey have proved my Lord true. And, He is so precious to me.”