The Magic Act of Life

Remember years ago when magicians would come on the variety shows and amaze us? They would wear black tuxedos and have beautiful assistants in revealing clothing. I used to sit in puzzlement following their acts. How did that happen? How can a man make an elephant simply evaporate into the atmosphere and then make it reappear again?

Well, I finally figured it all out. It never happened. When a magician asks a person if he has ever seen them before and they say, “No, sir!” they are lying. When he says there are no camera tricks or editing being done. It is a lie. When the crowd acts amazed at what they have just seen, quite often they are actually acting and there is no amazement at all.

I saw a video of Criss Angel disappearing after he jumped off of a table in a crowded restaurant. A couple of girls just happened to be walking toward the camera and were totally freaked out when he vanished. Then the video was played very slowly and under that table was a mirror. The mirror made it appear that you could see under the table but you only saw the reflection of what was under the next table. The Mindfreak jumped off the table crouched down behind the mirror and he was gone. The girls passing by could see him there the whole time. They were in on it and they played their part to convince everyone else that he was actually gone. Magic tricks are just that, tricks. They are illusions that use our point of view against us. We see part of what is happening and our brain draws conclusions from the limited data that leads us to a place that doesn’t really exist.

I have wasted a lot of time waiting for the magic to happen in my life like it has in other people’s lives. Musicians hit the big time and their lives are filled with magic. I disregarded Jimi Hendrix, John Bonham, Keith Moon, Elvis and the rest of the dead legends that the magic act ended far too soon for.

Actors make it to the top and life is magical. I ignored the fact that they self-destruct often and their relationships disintegrate at a far higher rate than the rest of the world’s.

The greatest athlete appears to never feel he is great enough and gets in trouble for using illegal substances to gain an edge. The poor man wins the lottery and lives it up, until he loses it all and ends up worse off than he was before. I have believed in magic and held out hope that a genie was going to pop out of the lamp and offer me three wishes. The sad truth is that if it were to happen, I would probably not use them wisely.

John 8:44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

God is the creator of all things. Satan has enough power to create just one. He can create lies. He is an expert. He uses the mirror to make me see the worst in myself, to make me feel I deserve more than I have, to show me God doesn’t care. He uses others to do his bidding to convince me that there is truth in what he says. He carefully rummages through my memories and compiles carefully edited sequences designed to confuse me and make me stray from what is true. It is always an elaborate hoax. It is never as real as it seems to be. The illusion is delicate and once I am deceived into leaning into it, I am easily cut and wounded when it shatters and I fall into the wreckage.

2 Corinthians 11:13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.

Yes, even those that profess to be of God can be fooling me with smoke and mirrors. I have to live my life serving God among men, not through men. Men can deceive and be deceived. God’s Word and his Holy Spirit are not capable of these things. They only bring the truth into my life that I so desperately need to see things as they are.

John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

I can’t go to the Father by anything I do. I can’t go to the Father because I deserve it or have earned it. I can only go to him through Jesus Christ. It is so important that I keep him first. If I focus on things here on earth and have only a fuzzy image of Christ in the background I am easily deceived. My focus must be on the way, the truth, and the life. All other things lose their effect on my perception of reality and I see only what is real.

God, fill me with contentment where I am with what I have. Take away my desire for a magic act to fulfill the missing things in my life. Show me your truth every minute of every day. Let me be wise and understand when what I see is deception. Amen.

Sam and Eli

When Samuel (he is an Old Testament guy that led a very interesting life) was born, it was to a woman that was despised for not having any children. His mom, Hannah, would be brought to tears by the taunting and one day went to the tabernacle to plead with God for a child, specifically a son.

When that son was born and weaned he was sent to live with the priest of that tabernacle, Eli. I always thought, “Lady, you wanted a kid and then when God gave you one, you got rid of him.” But God blessed her with more bundles of joy while Samuel learned about being a priest.

One night, Samuel heard his name being called and thought it was the old blind priest calling out. It wasn’t. The old blind priest was in bed sleeping.

The voice persisted and Samuel woke the old man and after a bit the old guy realized that God must be speaking to the boy. So he instructed him to ask God what he wants.

God was calling Samuel even though Samuel didn’t recognize the voice at first and God didn’t exactly tell the boy a bunch of good news. The priests sons had been doing things in God’s tabernacle that they shouldn’t and God was about to put his foot down. They had been warned but they ignored God’s voice.

I’ve never been awakened in the night by God calling my name in a voice that echoed through the house. If I had, I suppose I would just think I was dreaming. Maybe I would think it was a ghost or my wife talking in her sleep. I would probably resist the notion that it was God just as Samuel did at first.

But God does speak to me often. I used to ignore much of it. When God spoke promises to me through his word, I liked to tell him I was good with getting a bunch of blessings but ignoring the parts where I was required to obey him. Then when the blessing didn’t pan out like the bible said they would, I would assume it wasn’t really God speaking.

I was kind of like the vile sons of Eli that used God’s dwelling place for their own pleasure and really didn’t see much need to be obedient to God. They ate the best of the sacrificial meat and seduced the women that came to the temple instead of being spiritual leaders willing to give their all in service for God as they were called to do.

1 Samuel 3:11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel. 12 I am going to carry out all my threats against Eli and his family, from beginning to end. 13 I have warned him that judgment is coming upon his family forever, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them. 14 So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings.”

God had some very bad news for Eli and his sons. He had chosen a boy to deliver the final warning. I wonder how Samuel felt delivering the message to Eli. I wonder if he was tempted to sugar coat it and play it down.

1 Samuel 3:17 “What did the Lord say to you? Tell me everything. And may God strike you and even kill you if you hide anything from me!” 18 So Samuel told Eli everything; he didn’t hold anything back. “It is the Lord’s will,” Eli replied. “Let him do what he thinks best.”

I have a couple choices I can make today. I can be the one that God speaks to that ignores the warnings meant to protect me and take me down the road to his kingdom or I can choose to listen, heed his warnings, his words of protection, his forgiveness and love and obey him in all I do. When he calls me I want to recognize his voice and I want to to what he says.

I don’t want to know that there is impending doom awaiting me as the consequences of my refusing to listen to him but I want to know that I am obeying him and a life of blessing is poised to follow me wherever I go next.  I need to hear from God, all of it, holding nothing back so that I can move forward in truth, heeding God’s warnings so that my life can be a better thing than I can make it on my own.

Hope

Last night I listened to a friend talk about hope. Hope is a funny thing. The slightest glimmer in the distance can propel us forward and draw us like a mighty magnet toward it, even though we may never really get close to it. A tiny drop of hope can breathe new life into our bodies and refresh our spirits.

People devote their entire lives to hope. Often, though, that hope is snuffed out right before their eyes.

There is a lot of hopelessness going on in the world today. Just take a look around Facebook. The hopelessness is there in people’s posts and the negativity they are living in. They are tired and beaten down by seeing hope extinguished so they just are not going to risk disappointment again.

I’ve been there. I’m tempted to go there again sometimes.

Living life without hope is a dangerous thing. At least I know this to be true for me. I have been discouraged so badly by my hope calling me into action and then dying out before I could reach my goal. It has left me lost in the darkness and after a while I stopped chasing glimmers and just gave up on life.

I tried to live in the darkness but it just drove me insane. I lost touch with reality and light and my actions went from being futile to just plain crazy.

I watch people chase after their hope. It lies in many things. Their hope is in material possessions. That never pans out. Those that realize that hope, always have to move it around to the next thing they don’t have yet. They chase thing after thing, and when they get it, they open the box and hope isn’t there after all.

Others put there hope in a spouse or a friend. It motivates them until that person is held to too high a standard and hope begins to crumble under the load of expectation.

Hope is often confused with desire. But in truth, chasing after my desires gains me nothing.

There is no need to be filled with hopelessness. We can choose to hope any time we want. People just stop doing it because they don’t place their hope in the right spot. Still others have hope but don’t let it move them. If I know that what I am hoping for is just over the next hill, why do I prefer to sit here and wait for it to come to me? My hope needs to move me. I need to reach out to it and not just sit like a bump on a log with my arms folded trying to want bad enough to make hope come to fruition.

It is easy to start out a day with hope that is the gift from God and then refocus on lesser hopes.

“If I can just make it through this day, I’ll be happy.”

“If I can just survive till Friday, life will be so much better.”

I have written off days and weeks and months of my life just hoping they get over with. This isn’t hope. It is desperation and desperation is a cancer to the soul.

Psalm 33:20 We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.

If I place my hope in God alone, I am no longer chasing after disappointment. I’m no longer chasing after an illusion in the distance. I’m no longer buying into something that isn’t quite as advertised. I am getting far more than I expect, seeing what was once hidden from me, being reinforced with faith and covered in love.

I have help and protection and joy. He is unfailing and eternal and there is always more to hope for with each passing day. My life is filled with purpose that once seemed impossible but now is well within reach because of what he has done for me. I am no longer a slave to this world but I am a child of the King!

My hope is in the Lord. He has given hope to the hopeless time and time again. When I feel I have lost hope, it simply is not true. My hope remained strong and steadfast, I merely need to turn to it. I turn to it now and I am ready to move.

All Aboard!

Dad took me to see Union Station in St. Louis many years ago. It was still an actual train station back then. It was not very busy at the time, though, and dad had to describe the hustle and bustle that used to occur there all day long on every day of the week. I had to envision the hoards of travelers that came and went through the enormous building. He showed me the train shed and the workings of how locomotives and train cars were switched from track to track.

The switching of trains was very important. Without it the train would head off into the wrong direction and would end up in the wrong place. The engineer and conductor were at the mercy of the track and could only go where the track they were on led them. Trains don’t need a steering wheel. The track turns the train.

I got up this morning with a sore back and a stopped up nose. My head aches a little and I am having trouble gathering my thoughts. I feel a little like I have been run over by a train. None of this is really unusual. I seldom get out of bed feeling like running out the door and taking the day like a lion takes its prey. But I am a little slower than usual this morning and when you add on the thoughts of the things I might face today, I am tempted to go back to bed and sleep till I am sick of sleeping.

I don’t know about you but life isn’t all cotton candy and carnival rides for me all of the time. I don’t go through each day thinking, “Wow! Life is grand and getting grander.” I don’t feel like I am living the dream. In fact, some days I am living the nightmare. The unthinkable happens. It weighs on me and wears me down. I am disappointed and confused by events in my life. People let me down and hurt me and I don’t how I am supposed to love them anymore. I let people down and hurt them and I don’t know how I am supposed to deal with myself anymore.

This morning feels like a hard one to get on the right track. That’s why what I do in the morning is so important to my day. I have to get on the right track right now. I need to be headed in the right direction when I head out the door or else I may just go and go and go and end up far from where I should be by the end of the day. Time to open God’s Word, spend a little time in prayer, examine where I need to be headed and do some switching. It is much simpler to follow God’s will if I am doing it from the very start of the day before I build up momentum in the wrong direction. It is much easier than slowing down the train, stopping and backing it up and switching later.

Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

I have to get on this track every day. I must leave the house not with the attitude my body desires me to have when I get up in the morning. I cannot allow it to poison the way my mind is thinking. I have to go straight to God and allow Him to change the way I think. I am starting the day off pointed in the right direction. God transforms me through His Word. I must first have a good breakfast of it. I don’t just pour some in a bowl and stare at it. I have to make it a part of me. I have to devour it!

1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment,3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

If I want the full experience of salvation I must immerse myself in it fully. I have got to start the day off in it and do whatever it takes to stay in it all day long. Pure spiritual milk is the breakfast of champions and gets the day started right.

Psalm 143:8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

David needed to get his day on the right track. He asked for God to show him where to walk before he started walking. That sounds like a good plan to me.

Psalm 5:3 Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

He also prayed to the Lord in the morning, voicing his requests and waiting before God. There is nothing like a stopping to make sure I am ready to go before I go.

God, Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning. Renew my trust in you. Show me where to walk. Listen to me as I bring my needs before you and wait expectantly. I give myself to you. Amen.

All aboard!!!

Friday

Woohoo! It is Friday!

I like Friday a lot. It is the day I finish up the work week and when the clock gets around to quitting time I am out of there.

Lots of people celebrate Friday. When I ask people how they are today, even if they are having a tough time or don’t feel good, they’ll say, “At least it’s Friday!”
A lot of people will have plans for after work on Friday since they don’t have to go to work on Saturday. I do today. I’m going to go fishing.

I seem to always be able to observe a sort of reverence for the weekend, a tribute to the rest and recreation that it brings that I feel I need to much before facing another week of work.

But today I am also going to celebrate something much bigger than Friday. I’m going to celebrate what God has done for me and the fact that he isn’t finished doing it. Why?

Why not?

If I can celebrate a day just because it is, just because it rolled around and really doesn’t do a thing, I can celebrate God because he is and does all kinds of things.

Psalm 105:1 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. 2 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. 3 Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord.

When I consider where I was a few years ago and the slavery I was living in, slavery that I willingly took on and shackled myself to, and the pain I allowed to rule my life and justify the wrongs I did, when I compare it to today and what I will face, I am filled with gratitude and joy.

I want to fill this day with thanks. I want to dedicate it to the greatness of my savior. I want to sing loud and full of emotion about what God does. I want to REJOICE! I was beaten and broken and beyond lost yet he found me, put me back together and healed me. That’s amazing stuff right there. I was personally taken care of by the creator of the universe even though I insulted him and shoved him away.

Should I ever be more excited about Friday rolling around or anything else that happens in the life of mortal man?

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

I can celebrate on Friday or Monday, on a day of sorrow or a day of work. I know that no matter what I face, I do NOT face it alone and my helper is the Lord of All. My opposition is a bunch of amateurs and I have the greatest of all time on my side. Get ready to cheer people! Something great is in the making.

Sometimes it is good to stop focusing on the struggle and start focusing on the one that is going to get me through the struggle. There will be no defeat today or ever. Sure, I’ll fall sometimes but he will always lift me up with his strong right hand.

Let Me Tell You…

I tell people a lot of things. I tell them what I think, what I want, what I need, what they should think, what they should want and what they need. I tell people what is wrong with them, what is wrong with the world and what is wrong with what they believe.

I tell people a lot of things and most of those things I should not ever even form into words, let alone allow them launch an aerial assault on the environment. Most of my words are mere noise pollution.

I even have the nerve to speak for God. Most of my views on what God thinks or wants are tainted with my opinions based on what I want the world to be like.

It is growing more and more painfully obvious that God’s world is not and never will be based on what I want or what I need but it is based on me finding my place in it.

So, when I speak of God, my words need to be about how God is changing me from the selfish, prideful, ego-maniac into a humble vessel for his attributes. If my words about God reflect hate, I am perverting God’s image. If they are full of rage, I am lying about him. If they are full of judgment and despair, I’m missing out on what God is all about. If they make me feel superior to anyone, I am glorifying me instead of him.

I need to speak freely about God but when I do, I had better be honest and right. I’m not to be creating a god in my image that makes me feel better about myself. Often, it should be about how I need to continue the process of becoming the image of himself he created me to be.

2 Timothy 1:8 So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. 9 For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.

I need to tell the story of how God is fulfilling his plan in me, how he works in spite of me, how he continues to show me grace and make me less so he can become more. There is no changing the world by condemning it, but only by being what God created me to be in it.

I can’t speak for what God is going to do in someone else. That’s for God to know. I need to stop trying to be God and rest in the knowledge that God will get it done no matter what anyone thinks or does.

I Feel Like I am Being Watched

I have to admit, that for a long time my view of God was that of a cranky old man looking down at me with disapproving eyes and a furrowed brow wondering just how stupid I could be. I imagined him just waiting for the moment I crossed the line and he could zap me with a lightning bolt and be done with my antics.

I believed in a God that was watching all the time so I hid in the darkness hoping he didn’t notice me.

Hiding from God is like trying to conceal a hot pink bus in the middle of an empty parking lot. It just can’t be done.

I didn’t want anyone watching me and I especially didn’t want God watching me.

When it comes to being under the gaze of the Almighty God, it doesn’t matter what I want. He is watching. It’s what he does.

Psalm 121:3 He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. 4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

He isn’t watching so he can see me make mistakes, he is watching to keep me from stumbling. I can step out into full view and be seen and know that he is watching over me, not to watch me fail but to watch me succeed.

Psalm 121:5 The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.

He hasn’t assigned some bored angel to watch me and send messages back to a distant creator when I am screwing up life. He himself is watching. Not only is he watching but he is standing beside me to make my days and nights more bearable and comfortable. He is my shade, my protection and he keeps me from harm.

Psalm 121:7 The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. 8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

I will never reach the point he stops watching over me. He watches through my mistakes and failures, through my triumphs, through my boredom and grief and rebellion towards him. There is nothing that can turn his gaze away from me. He watches over me so that he can help me and be a part of my life.

He watches over me to protect me.

Psalm 121:1 I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

He is the ultimate help, the tower of my salvation, the creator of heaven and earth and he himself is watching over me, both now and forever.

Why is Life so Hard?

I don’t want to write today. I am tired and the words are just not there. Every day I see the same struggle before me and it never goes away. When it is time to get up out of bed, I long to stay there and hide from the fight before me. I bring my burdens before the Lord and lay them at his feet and every morning they are right back on my shoulders again, weighing me down and slowing my momentum before I even get moving. My body hurts, my spirit is weak and I am tired.

Job 7:1 “Is not all human life a struggle? Our lives are like that of a hired hand, 2 like a worker who longs for the shade, like a servant waiting to be paid. 3 I, too, have been assigned months of futility,
long and weary nights of misery. 4 Lying in bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’ But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn.

Men and women have struggled with life since the very first sin was committed that sealed our fates as lost and flawed beings. Life is a struggle. From the moment we are born and gasp for our first breath of air we begin to fight and claw for life. As we grow and become stronger, our desires grow and take over and we want far more than life.

We want toys and cake and candy. We want television, music and bicycles. We want good grades, good friends and good times. We want money and cars, houses and swimming pools. We want fame and a reputation.

We want and we struggle to get it. Very few of us are lucky enough to have what we want just handed to us. We either work or scheme, borrow or steal to get what we want. Every day we want more. We want kids, we want our kids to have the things we want. We pile all those things into the struggle. The struggle gets bigger and bigger. We see others succumb to the struggle as their health declines and their spirit fails. Yet we struggle on and our lives are consumed.

I think that this morning I have to take a hard look at what this struggle is all about. What am I fighting for? I started out struggling for only life. I have added so much to this that isn’t necessary. If the struggle is too big to bear, it must be time to cut back. I have to face the fact that what I want, merely wanting things that I don’t need, adds to the effort I put into each day.

2 Timothy 3:1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

It is only by God’s grace that I can look at my life and have any hope at all of removing some of these wants from my life. If I am struggling today because I love myself more than God or love money more than God, scoffing at God, am ungrateful, well, then I had better let go of those things and focus on the sacred nature of God. The struggle lessens greatly when I am loving, forgiving, disciplined, loyal, humble and wise! These things come from loving God and not all the other things I have sprinkled into the recipe along the way. Only by living as God has designed me to live will the struggle become manageable.

Psalm 18:7 Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. 8 Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. 9 He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. 10 Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind.
11 He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds. 12 Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail and burning coals. 13 The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals. 14 He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightning flashed, and they were greatly confused. 15 Then at your command, O Lord, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. 16 He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me.

God is not going to hang me out to dry. My rescue is always at hand. When he rides in it will be like a mighty conqueror and not a dried up leaf floating on the wind. I have to learn to fight what is worth fighting for and let the rest go. Then I have to have faith that I do not ever fight alone. My struggle ends in his arms.

God, strip of the things that weigh me down each day. Show what fights I should be fighting and what to lay down. Remind me that you are my rescue and my strength. Amen.

Life as a Knucklehead

It is hard for me to imagine, at times, living life as the knucklehead I once was.  I was nearly completely disabled by my infirmities but yet I pressed on, believing that somehow I would become more powerful than a locomotive, faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

I had bigger problems than me and all I had to fight back with was me.

As I sat around the table with a group of men discussing life and how to live it better last night, as always happens, we all became bigger and stronger.

I have spent a great many moments of my life bragging about my feats, telling stories of the glory days and  letting people know that, in general, I am just awesome.

Of course, I was lying.  Any great thing I may think I have ever done has only been a gift from God.  Taking credit for what God does in my life only proves that I am a knucklehead.

Men, as a whole, tend to feel the need to express their lack of need of help.  They are so good at it, that they convince others they neither want or need help when, in fact, they desperately need someone to come alongside and bail them out of whatever mess they are in that is about to turn into disaster.

When I sit down with other men and discuss my weakness and search for strength from God with them, a miraculous thing happens.  God joins us there.

Now, I am not saying that women don’t need this same thing.  I am saying that men and women tend to look at the world from differing angles and that when men meet with men and women meet with women, the level of understanding in the room increases exponentially and what people need a whole lot of is understanding.

Matthew 18:19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

I need to grow, not just by getting into God’s word and prayer on my own but with other people.  It needs to be more than just sitting next to a group of strangers on Sunday mornings but opening my heart among men that become intimate parts of my life.

Life is a lot easier lived with wisdom earned by a transparent relationship with others rather than just arming myself with a hard cranium and hoping for the best.

Still, I have to keep an eye out for my tendency to be a knucklehead and nothing makes me know that I am reverting to my old hard-headed self like sitting down with a few guys and intentionally seeking to grow together.

 

 

I Had a Dream

I’ll try to write down this dream quickly before it flees my mind forever. I dream often and remember little so I need to do this in a hurry.

I was in a desperate rush to reach some important dream destination. The destination isn’t important, it could have been anywhere, I just had to get there now. As I drove down a road that vaguely resembled Missouri’s Highway 61, the river began to encroach on the road. This wasn’t the still and stagnant looking water I am accustomed to seeing in our annual spring floods here in eastern Missouri, it was more like the raging, boiling water from a flash flood.

I reached a point where it was just too dangerous to continue on my way to the important destination with no name. The water was rushing over the road and eating away at it as if it were devouring a long ribbon of licorice. Then I saw the source of the problem. There was a huge logjam in the river. The water was pounding against it but instead of destroying the obstruction it was adding more and more logs and debris to it. It was growing.

I knew I had to get rid of it if I ever wanted to get where I was headed. So I grabbed an ax. I never carry an ax but my dream kindly provided me with one. I ventured out onto the mass of tangled wood and vegetation and sought out the worst, most awful tangle in a collection of tangles. I lifted the ax and began to hack away. I swung over and over again. My muscles ached and I was out of breath.

Panic tightened its grip on my chest as the water rushing at me continued to rise. I became exhausted and the ax grew heavier and heavier but finally the mass of wood I was cutting away broke loose from the logjam. It was quickly separated from the rest of the mess and disappeared in the current as it took off downstream. After a few seconds of relief I looked around me and saw that the logjam was still just as big of a problem as it had been when I first started, maybe even worse.

Suddenly I noticed logs beginning to break away from the jam and float down the river. I looked up and walking toward me was a man. He just walked toward me and the logs seemed to just lose their grip on each other and break apart. As he passed me I looked up at him from my place deep in the twisted tree trunks. I wanted to see his face…

That’s when the alarm went off. Good morning. I write stuff just about every morning. Some of it is pretty good stuff. God is doing a lot of good things in my life. But if I would be completely honest with you, my life is kind of a logjam and sometimes I feel like the river is swallowing not only the road I need to be on but it is engulfing me and my whole family. I do everything I can to make it all better but it seems to get more and more messed up. I go to bed exhausted after hacking away at another day and have dreams about flooding rivers and logjams.

Ecclesiastes 2:22 So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety? 23 Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless.

Isaiah 35:4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”

God is not going to rescue me from my situation like some wimpy little hippie with a peace sign. He is going to destroy the logjam beneath his feet. The obstacles that worry me so much are only temporary. I will not be destroyed by them. They will break into pieces and be washed away in a dramatic fashion by the mysterious man in my dream the walked on the logjam and made it fall apart.

Isaiah 35:5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. 6 The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. 7 The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. 8 And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. 9 Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it.

Things are going to change. Christ is making a way for me. I have a path to walk on and all I need along the way. My efforts will be rewarded and my deliverer is on his way.

Psalm 18:4 The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. 5 The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. 6 But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.

God, show me all the times you have delivered me and I did not acknowledge your hand in my freedom. Show me that you are always with me, ready to rescue me from the traps and dangers that I encounter daily. Thank you for hearing me always. Amen.