Thrill of Victory or the Agony of Defeat?

The last few days have been kind of hard. I haven’t had enough rest. Work has been too much like work. My throat doesn’t feel quite right. My plans for my time have imploded and collapsed like a giant building falls into a pile of rubble and a cloud of dust. I have found myself sitting tired and far from the place I had imagined myself a few days ago. I have uttered the prayer over and over again, “God give me strength.”

First of all, he probably already has given me strength. I just don’t know it yet.

2 Timothy 4:16 The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death.

I tend to pray for God to show up and do something. I tend to forget that the Lord stands with me. Not in some far away galaxy or dimension trying to hear my tiny voice among the millions of other tiny voices. I think my brain gets in my way here. I can’t be everywhere with everyone all the time so I assume that God is limited just like me. I live where I am but cannot seem to grasp the concept that God lives where I am going and is not limited by where I live.

Paul reminds me that even if no one else stands with me, God does. It is important to remind myself of this. God explains this to me over and over again in his Word. I forget over and over again in my brain. I need constant reminders. Since I forget this thing so often, maybe you do too, so today I am giving you this reminder; God stands with you.

God give me strength. For what? When I finally admit that my strength isn’t enough and that I need help, what am I doing? I am guilty of often just going into survival mode. I need strength just to make it through the day, just to get the bare minimum of things knocked out to make it to the bed at night, just to survive. If God gives me this kind of strength, what’s the point? I can probably survive this day most of the time on my own. I can be miserable and suffer through disappointment and frustration and come limping into the house and collapse in front of the TV without God doing much at all.

I really need to aim higher. God isn’t a God of helping me achieve mediocrity or something even less. He is a God that lifts me up.

2 Timothy 4:18 Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.

I have this guarantee and I still have the inclination to settle for second…or third…or fourth best. Has God called me to just make it through the day and be able to claim I survived?

Romans 8:37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

God’s promise is that we are more than conquerors. Overwhelming victory, not skin of the teeth survival or white-knuckle passing of the seconds mark my day. I believe that I must start to pray, not for strength to make it, but for a desire to hurdle challenges.

I’m not going to be the Superman of Christianity. But I need to stop looking at obstacles as something that has the remotest chance of defeating me. I may have to fight but I will certainly win. If I approach God and remember where he is at all times, I am tired at the end of the day from stomping on serpent’s heads and not from gasping for breath drowning in my own abilities. I’m not just shooting for keeping my head above water. I’m looking for opportunities to swim through it with a goal in mind.

Psalm 6:9 The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer. 10 May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified. May they suddenly turn back in shame.

David writes this in the midst of great emotional pain. He isn’t asking God for strength to help him crawl back to where he once was. He is asking for God to clear the path ahead of his enemies. He is praying to a strong and mighty God. He is praying to the God that stands beside me. He is crying out to the God that hears and answers his prayers, the same God that hears and answers mine. Am I asking for enough? Am I praying to be able to merely survive the attack when I really should be praying that my enemies be disgraced and terrified and scattered like a bunch of insects when I spray a little ‘Raid’ on them?

It is time that I start grabbing hold of the power that is at my side and going on the attack and accomplishing something rather than being satisfied with limping through each day as a casualty of war.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

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I Need a Vacation!

I’m really kind of getting burned out on work.  It seems like forever since I had a vacation.  Weekend getaways are a lot of work.  I drive and drive, set up camp, enjoy a day of peace and serenity and the next day, break camp, drive and drive so I can make it back to work on Monday, refreshed, yet exhausted.

Vacation is still over a month away, not just a month of work but, since it is summer, a month of covering for other people taking vacation.  I’ve spent several weeks in the last couple of months doing multiple jobs, being stressed out and tired.

This is not my definition of summer fun!

So, this is a really good time to pause and look around to see just how fortunate I am.  I’ve found that gratitude is easy sitting on a beach looking out over the ocean with nothing pressing to do but find time to get something to eat.

First of all, I am really busy at work.  I am blessed with the skills to do a job not many can do.  Second, I get to do it in a nice place, with great people, out of the weather (which isn’t so nice in the humid heat right now and will be not so nice once winter arrives after three beautiful days of fall), and I get paid a good salary.

It is a blessing to have to get out of bed and come to work whether I feel like it or not.  I really believe that I’d have missed a lot of great living if it was confined to the days I felt like living it.

I trudge and mumble between my job at a nice place to a house that affords me more than I need.  We recently downsized from a giant home in the country to a smaller house close to work.  Yep, my commute is under a mile.  Life is rough! (Please note: sarcasm)

I’m convinced that if I can find things to gripe about in life, the rich guy does the same thing too.  Even though I tend to see people all around me I can envy because of all the things they have, I am blessed to excess.  Sometimes I think I have more than I am capable of being grateful for.

There are lots of folks, that don’t have what I complain about and would love to be in my shoes.  But still, many of those are not grateful enough for what they do have.

Well, here I sit now, in just writing these few words, transformed, at least for now, from a grumbly mumbly whiner into a man thankful for what he has and not craving so wildly things he doesn’t really need.  I think I can survive nicely till vacation rolls around.

A Few Words About What to Wear

Seriously now, some of you may not understand what you see when you look at a fly fisherman. You see a guy in funny rubber pants with a vest full of more stuff than Batman’s belt, sunglasses even when it isn’t sunny and a funny hat. They go out and stand in the water and can’t seem to make up their mind where they want to fish, constantly flinging that long rod back and forth. That line on there sure comes in some pretty colors, though, but why doesn’t that scare the trout?

Well, without those funny pants a guy would be able to wade out there and fish but not for long. That water isn’t very warm and in just a little bit body parts start to get numb. That vest full of stuff makes it so the fisherman can change tactics, fix his tangles and break-offs and eat some peanut butter cups, all without taking the time to leave the water. Those sunglasses help see through the glare on the water so he can watch the fly drift and even see the fish in the stream. That hat has a big bill on it to keep the sun from shining behind the glasses and making them less efficient. Some hats have brims to keep a guy’s ears from getting fried. I don’t worry about my ears, I keep hoping the sun will shrink them.

If I go fishing without all this will I still catch fish? Sure. But I won’t catch as many. I’ll waste a lot of time and not be prepared for the many things that can go wrong while I am standing in the stream catching the tree that I keep forgetting is behind me. The same goes for life in general. If I don’t equip myself for each day. I’ll make it through, maybe, but I will get thrown for a loop because I’m not ready for the stuff that goes wrong. Stuff is going to go wrong. It is too much to expect that even one day is going to go by just the way we write it up in our minds in the morning. The bible tells us how to prepare. Are we willing to do it?

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Take a look at that scripture and ask yourself, “How can I do this today?” Prepare yourself to take on everything that today throws at you.

 

Comfortable Shoes

I don’t know how many of you remember ‘Dingo Boots’. Back when I was in junior high, they were really popular. All the really cool guys had them so I started telling mom and dad all about how I had to have some too. Unfortunately, back then there was no internet and when you wanted to buy something, you had to go from one place to another until you found it.

First of all we had to hit the one shoe-store in O’Fallon. They never had anything in stock that fit me so we would drive around to all the stores a dozen miles away in St. Charles. Sometimes I could find shoes there that fit my short and wide foot but all the Dingo Boots in that city either wouldn’t go on my foot or they fit too loose.

Next stop was someplace in St. Louis, another thirty or so miles away, still no luck.

Lucky for me, there were lots of stores in the city and finally we found a pair of those boots that fit me. So after about one hundred miles of driving and a whole Friday evening and half a Saturday down the tubes, I had what I wanted. I could now be one of the cool guys.

I wore those boots maybe three times. I hated them. They were clunky and uncomfortable. They were built for standing still and I had a motor that was set to ‘run’ most of the time. I don’t know what happened to them but for the longest time they sat in my closet in pristine condition as pair after pair of lousy tennis shoes from P. N. Hirsh was worn into tatters.

What good is being cool if you can’t do the things you want to do? I didn’t realize it at the time but when I choose to mold myself into the image of other people I am kind of walking into a prison and saying, “Lock me up, Mr. Guard-dude. I want to give up on who I am.”

Looking back, I can see that those really cool guys mostly just stood around. I can hardly ever remember them moving at all. Were they even having fun?

2 Thessalonians 3:11Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business.

I can picture the really cool guys now, standing with scowls on their faces and unable to run and have fun because they are wearing uncomfortable boots. They want to appear free of care and worry. They want to appear free of responsibility and duty. They give nothing of themselves but hoard all of what they possess for themselves. They stuff their emotions until they erupt into a fireworks display of anger.

Why was that what I aspired to be?

Now that I am older, I don’t regret a single day that I chose to run over standing. When I chased fly balls for hours on end, I didn’t have a worry in the world. When I stretched my legs trying to arrive at the end of the football’s arc and have it land in my hands, I felt free and unfettered. Life was good and I was living.

Brooding alone in my room was just the opposite. The weight of the world crashed down upon my shoulders when I sat still and refused to move. After a while, I couldn’t move and just sat still, trying hard to breathe in the mire of my misery.

2 Thessalonians 3:12 We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. 13 As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.

I need to be grateful that each day I arise and put on comfortable shoes and go to work. But I also need to remember to do a good job. I can find myself sitting alone and brooding, being one of the really cool guys, sitting at my desk idling.

I’ve been really tired lately. It seems there is always something going on. Work, recreation and ministry have filled my life and there isn’t much lacking. The scowl comes around once in a while but it quickly melts away as I run into each day. Being tired is a sign that I am doing a good job of living. Don’t worry, I get my rest.

Doing good is not easy. Sometimes others feel entitled and take advantage of us. That doesn’t excuse us from doing good. Doing good is like running free and forgetting about all the worries and fears in my own life. Let the really cool guys stand and watch as this old man runs through life in comfortable shoes. I’m going to smile and look like a goofball all the way to the grave.

Idiots

You may be under the impression, the way I write about fishing, that when I step into the water that the world turns perfect and my cares are always far, far away.  Well, that doesn’t  always occur.

At times, problems follow me, trouble finds me and I run across people often referred to as idiots.

I’ve had hooks stuck in trees, on rocks, sunken logs, cars, people and myself.  I’m one of my own biggest catches and have even had to dislodge hooks from my ears, my neck, my fingers and even my lips.

I’ve been snagged, tangled, mangled and wrangled.

I’m perfectly willing to endure all these things when I go fishing, except for those people, you know, the idiots.

Two anglers meeting up on the trout stream should be a pleasant experience, men or women working together to stay out of each others way to continue on as ships passing in the night.  This is normally what I experience, a wave, a few words exchanged on how things are going, maybe even an exchange of flies and well wishes for the fellow angler.

Unless the other fellow spells “angler” I-D-I-O-T.

Some people encounter idiots and it doesn’t seem to phase them.  When I encounter them, it is always a challenge.

Last Sunday, on an otherwise stellar day, I encountered a pair of these idiots.  They made their way into the water with the stealth of a couple of Jetskis and proceeded to find a place to fish directly in my back cast.

In case you aren’t aware, the back cast of a fly fisherman is the area behind the fisherman where all his line goes before he casts it all forward.  This is the absolute worst place to stand if someone is fly fishing.

I had stopped fishing to allow the stomping, sloshing people to move on out of the way.  But one of them parked so I could not possibly continue to fish.

I’d like to be able to tell you that angels descended and the glory of God shone all about me at this moment but instead, I made a kind of snarky remark, nothing terrible but it was not a teaching moment.  It was more of a chastising moment.

The person that wears the idiot name in this story called me a “smart-ass”.

Once again, where were the angels and the glory?  My mouth seized the opportunity to reply with a few other words ending in “ass”.  My anger began to erupt in my words until I realized suddenly that I was about to allow a couple of idiots that feel entitled to take away my fun to do just that, take away my fun, and my peace.

I moved downstream and they moved up and I began to find what I had come there for.

Now, I’m not proud that I fell off the anger wagon there for a few minutes but I am pretty pleased that it only stole away that short time.  The day was a great one.

There was a time in my life that as I sat on a Friday recounting the idiocy of Sunday that the anger welled up inside me like a volcano getting ready to blow.  After all, life is full of idiots and if I don’t learn to deal with them, how can I expect anyone to deal with me?  I’ve spent plenty of time in the idiot category.

Matthew 5:22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

I thought of using another word for those people as I wrote this.  But, I honestly thought of them as idiots, and Jesus had some strong opinions about me feeling this way about other people.

I need to expect people to not meet my expectations and not judge them as inferior or defective when they don’t.  I know that I have done far worse than the people I met on the stream that day and I was really only angry because they interfered with what I wanted.  That moment I chose not to teach and said something meant to make the other person feel stupid and ashamed was one that I need to be ready for.  It will come again.

I was wrong and that other person and I will probably never cross paths again.  In their eyes, I will always be an idiot.

My Wishlist

Sometimes I look at my favorite websites like Cabela’s or some of the fly-fishing sites that I purchase gear from and add things to my wish list. Most of them have features for wish lists that conveniently save the things you hope to buy or have given to you someday. It is pretty easy to go through page after page of nice things, see all the cool stuff I don’t have and add lots of things to my wish list. Pretty soon my list is long and pricey.

The problem is that at some point in my browsing all the cool things I become more interested in things I don’t really need. I can become dissatisfied with what I have even though it has been working just fine. I know that this is the wrong way to think so I convince myself that I need things that I really don’t need and I feel much better about being unhappy with what I have.

I have so often been confused by such a simple question as “what do I need?” I have prayed and prayed for things I needed and then been aggravated and frustrated at God because He failed to supply me with those things like He promised me He would!

Philippians 4:18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.

Just reading this verse a person might get the idea that Paul was sitting at home enjoying a new fly rod and sipping on some Starbuck’s coffee that the people at the church at Philippi had sent him. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Paul was in prison and probably wrote this letter in near darkness or dim torch light. He was sleeping on the ground and being guarded by Roman soldiers. The gifts he received were probably less than magnificent, they were most likely meager if the soldiers allowed Paul to have them and not keep them for themselves. Yet, Paul continued on doing God’s work in the worst possible conditions when by all appearances he did not have all he needed.

Apparently my idea of what is needed is not quite right. Paul needed just enough light to see, something to write with and something to write on, food and water to sustain him and a place to sleep. He was so in line with God’s view of things that he saw that he needed nothing else. I am sure he wanted some other things but he was able to get past that and do amazing things even while Roman rulers attempted to shut him down.

Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

This is another one of those verses I have heard lots of times all by itself and thought, “Wow! Jesus is going to buy me everything on my wish list!” Paul wrote this in an entirely different context than what most people quote it. God doesn’t promise to give us a mansion or a Corvette, a hunting lodge or a new diesel truck.

He promises to be with us in hard times and give us what we need to further His Kingdom in those hard times. Now, I might not want to go through hard times, I am sure Paul didn’t either, but everyone does. Christians and non-Christians all suffer through trials and that is how life goes. I can know, if I seek God and search for ways to further His Kingdom, that God is providing me with all I need even though it may feel like I am lacking. He has and will always supply all my needs.

James 1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

This verse makes a lot more sense if I look at my needs the way God sees them. He works to show Himself to me in the midst of my troubles and I become more like Him. I have read that last verse before and thought it was just crazy talk. But, when I look at the amazing things God did through Paul when he was experiencing trials, I can understand it better.

Philippians 4:20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.

Paul wraps up this section of scriptures with these words. I have looked at verses like this as just some good sounding words like when someone says a really eloquent prayer and throws in a bunch of religious sounding phrases. But this is important. This is how I need to approach my day, every day. All glory to God. What I need separates itself from what I want when I live this way. My view of the world becomes God’s view of the world. My future is provided for.

God, open my eyes to see that all my needs are being met. Show me that even when my situation looks bleak I can still serve you. Show me how to have joy in my troubles. All glory to You forever and ever! Amen.

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

And now I am planning my next fishing trip.  I’m not big on being a planning kind of guy.  I kind of prefer spur of the moment, spontaneous life.

But now, at this time of my existence as a human on this spinning planet, my life gets planned for me and if I don’t plan something, someone else will assume I have nothing to do and eliminate that problem for me.

So, yesterday, I began planning.  This time I am taking a whole weekend rather than a getting up at 3:45 a. m. take a long drive to a quiet stream, work real hard to get as many hours of fishing I can in before I crawl into bed about 10:30 p. m.

I’ll watch the clock on a Friday at work as it drags till 2:00 p. m. and then it will slow down to a stop before reaching 3:30 when I get off and can pull my camper down to Branson, Missouri where Lake Taneycomo sits beckoning me to get there and walk into the cold water to catch the fish of a lifetime.

That will happen, if my plans come together, the first weekend of next month.  I’ve got to plan food, clothes and fishing gear, most notably what flies I’ll need to be tying between now and then.

I’ve done this a lot of times.  I won’t hazard a guess because the number would be staggering and would perhaps sound like some sort of exaggeration.  But I have to do it each time I go on a fishing trip.

Otherwise, I’ll get there without my pants or my fishing rod or a pair of shoes or whatever else I am prone to forget on any given journey away from home.  There has to be some sort of plan.  I also have to plan on a place to park the camper or I could arrive after the 5-hour drive to have no place to stay unless I squat on the Walmart parking lot.

I like to think I am a quick thinking, fast on my feet, impulsive, think it and do it kind of guy but in reality, I am far less effective without a plan.

Back in the day, thirty years ago, when I got out of my addiction to cocaine, I embraced a plan.  It was know as the twelve steps.  It was an effective way for me to change my lifestyle and move on to a better life.

After I got better, I abandoned those steps and went back to living without a plan.  Cocaine and drug abuse was no longer part of my life but I became lost, looking for the right way to do life.

A few years back, I found myself amid all sorts of problems, bad problems, problems that scared me and tried to convince me that I was done for.  I went to Celebrate Recovery and re-discovered the steps.

I’m not going to tell you that working the steps is the end all solution to life’s problems.  But they do give me a plan.  That plan may have to be modified from time to time but I always have a sense of what to do next when life smacks me in the gut with a tough situation.

In the past, I just threw my hands in the air and sat on my butt waiting for things to change.  I spent far too many days doing nothing, thinking there was nothing to do, when God was trying to lead me someplace that I refused to go because I had frozen in fear, intimidated by my life without a plan.

So, today, I plan for my next move while sitting here banging the keys away on my computer knowing that things will go wrong, things will get tricky, I may still forget my pants but I’ll work through it, around it or over it, whatever it takes.

Proverbs 21:5 Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity,
but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.

 

 

The First Church of the Whispering Waters

I’m pretty laid back this week.  Sunday, I attended the First Church of the Whispering Waters.  It isn’t actually a church, it is more of a river.  It isn’t actually the first, it is one of many.

OK, I went fishing instead of going to church.

Sometimes, church isn’t so much about where I go but what happens inside of me.

I caught quite a few fish on Sunday.  That’s always fun.  But I also went long stretches of time that were barren and filled with watching my line drift on the currents, hearing the sound of water rushing over rocks and standing in the shade of a mighty tree that had managed to stand by the river once more after a storm that had dislodged lesser trees and sent them hurtling downstream to rest in tangled masses of lumber.

I fished for hours in the company of a good friend.  We laughed a lot.  There was no real comedy, nothing coaxing laughter out of us, no jokes, no slapstick.  There was just laughter that comes from two men standing in a cold river with the weight of life removed from their shoulders.

It was good laughter.

Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor, nature and water

I don’t know, maybe sometimes church should be the sun shining on my neck, the water swirling around my legs and my mind’s biggest worry is being able to secure my fly to my line tying a knot with nearly invisible line.

I know I shouldn’t replace my place of worship with fishing.  I need my church, sometimes desperately.  But is church prepares me to face a world full of God and his glory, fishing shouldn’t be excluded.  I headed to work yesterday, exhausted and worn out from the journey to the river, yet my soul was calm and ready for whatever came my way.

It is a good thing to feel ready, refreshed and restored.  I think the real secret is, when going fishing, take God along. make him a part of the fun and allow him to laugh with me.

Job 12:7 “Just ask the animals, and they will teach you.
Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you.
8 Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you.
Let the fish in the sea speak to you.”

Sometimes, spending my time out in the the world of nature teaches me things I don’t know at the time.  Sometimes it just lets me see my world in a different way.  Other times it just frees me, for a while, from the everyday life that becomes so dull and lifeless.

I have learned to find my place with God along still waters where he restores my soul, and sometimes those waters are teeming with nice trout.

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High-sounding Nonsense

We are getting to the point in these days and times that a lot of people are telling us what to believe and how we should believe it. It is easy to get confused. Christians are getting confused as well. I’m no genius or anything but I think that a lot of the problem is that Christianity that doesn’t embrace the Bible as God’s holy word is going to struggle to be consistent…a lot.

I had read all of the Bible when I was younger and thought that since I had done so, that I understood it all and didn’t need to read it again. I had it all right here in my hard noggin.

After a while I remembered God’s Word out of context or incorrectly or just ignored it altogether in order to make religion fit the way I wanted to live. I had one problem after another mostly just because I didn’t embrace the Word of God.

I relied too much on some preacher with a big grin and funny hair to tell me what it meant. Well, sometimes that ain’t a bad thing but other times it is a shove down the wrong path hidden inside something that sounds very biblical. I never really held a pastor up to the standard of the bible but rather what I thought the bible said.

Today, more than any other time I can recall in my life, I need to embrace God’s Word as a christian. I’m not talking about clipping a scripture on a piece of paper and putting it on my car mirror so I see it every day. That’s not a bad idea but I am talking about more. Embracing God’s Word, touching it and letting it touch me all day long, pondering it and being willing to change because it says to change. Wrapping my heart and mind around it and letting it move me from the inside out is what I need more of.

People today are trying to dismantle the Bible. As a Christian, I have to decide if I believe it or not. If not, I may as well go find something else to believe. But God’s Word has made such a difference in my life, it has saved my life, that I must believe. It has proven itself over and over to me. I’m not bailing on it now or ever.

Colossians 2:4 I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments.

It amazes me how relevant the scriptures continue to be. Paul saw the same struggle in the early church. I will hear well-crafted arguments today that the Bible is full of errors, that it is merely penned by man and that it is no longer meaningful because we are so smart nowadays.

Take a look around. Does the world we live in seem like it is doing just fine by ignoring God? I didn’t think so.

Colossians 2:8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

As a Christian, I need to have a lot more resolve to be a Christian than I did in the past. I have to know God’s Word well enough to sift through all the high-sounding nonsense and empty philosophies that are being thrown around under the guise of truth. Am I struggling to hang on to God and his plan or the plans that come from human thinking and the spiritual powers of this world. I must know that what I believe in is from Christ. There is no other way than to embrace God’s Word.

No man can tell me, no government, no court, no faction, no religion, no denomination, only God and his words can truly guide me in a world of confusion. I am going to have to believe what a lot of others say not to believe. I am going to be told I am a fool. But the only one that can truly judge me a fool is the one that I serve.

Colossians 2:6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

This is the truth I cling to even though I am told I must believe the lies. I can feel the thankfulness growing in me already.

A Plan to Avoid Massive Head Wounds

When I used to work at the hospital thirty-plus years ago it was simply called a “hospital”. From there it became a “health center” and now it is referred to as a “mega-ginormo-monster health complex” or some sort of fancy name. I went back there not long ago and it still appears to be what I call a “hospital”. It is bigger now but from what I can tell they still do the same things. They just have more machines to use on you and more hallways to get lost in.

Don’t worry; when I worked there I didn’t actually interact with patients or visitors except for when they insisted on using the elevators that said “Employees Only”. Then they would give me dirty looks for filling the elevator up with a pallet of supplies that I was delivering to one of the nursing units in the building. They just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t wait for the next elevator and I just couldn’t understand why they couldn’t read and use the elevators that were just for them twenty feet away. So I didn’t mind that they had to smash themselves up against the side of the elevator and couldn’t get out at their floor unless I got off first. I guess it is a good thing that my job didn’t involve patients since I had no patience. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that pun.

There were two times that I had to help with patients directly however. One was helping the patients leave the building. Not all the patients, just the ones that going to the hospital didn’t work out so well for. I would frequently have to help take the dead bodies out to the hearse that took them to the funeral home. The hospital administration was fairly certain that I wouldn’t do them any further harm.

The other time I was to help with patients was known as a “Code 14”. This was a rare occasion that a patient in the psych ward became violent and was a threat to the other patients and staff. I, along with a few others, would respond in a hurry and help to subdue the upset patient.

It was always a little disconcerting to me to see someone completely out of control. Many times I would arrive and the threat would already be over. Sometimes the patient settled down as soon as six men walked in to stop the violence.

On one particular day I arrived to be one of three guys to go into the room with a mattress to protect us. We were going to take the mattress into the room and pin the patient against the wall until he was medicated by a nurse and no one would get hurt.

Before we could do this, the security guard, who I will call “Stan” because that was his name, came up with his own plan. He apparently had a John Wayne moment and simply said, “I got this.” So I stood there holding the mattress and Stan walked into the room saying stuff like, “Stay calm” until we heard a bell ring and Stan hit the floor. Then we went ahead with the original plan, exactly as planned except for the part where we had to step over Stan who was laying in the floor moaning.

See, I don’t think Stan planned the part where the patient picked up the telephone and swung it around by the cord until it made that ringing noise when it hit Stan in the head. After it was all over he was white as a ghost and had to get stitches in his forehead. A phone at high velocity can give a person a pretty good cut and bruise the whole forehead. The patient, however, was just fine as far as I know. He calmed down immediately upon being injected with whatever the nurse had in that syringe. After that, we all went back to work.

Well, not Stan, he went home because he had a really bad headache.

We made fun of Stan a long time after that. He took the kidding pretty well. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think he took it well at all. That made it even more fun to tease him about it.

The thing is that I am always coming up with a better plan. Maybe it is a plan to make me look like John Wayne. I can ride in on a white horse and save the day. Everyone cheers for me and I say, “Aw, shucks, weren’t nuthin’”. The problem is that I can’t think of any times where it actually worked out that way. I usually ended up in the floor moaning while the rest of the crew did the job without me. I need to learn to find my place on the team and stay there.

1 Corinthians 12:14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.

It is important that I stay right where God wants me. The other parts of the body need me. If I take off on my own and am too injured to help the rest of the body, then I am a problem. No one wants to be a problem. John Wayne never won a war on his own; it took armies to win wars. Pride will just get my bell rung. I need to be in the place God has created just for me.