The Feast

When I was a kid, during summer vacation, a great deal of that time was spent working in the garden.  He hoed the beans, picked the corn, dug potatoes, hulled peanuts, pulled apples from the trees, combed through the plants for strawberries and tomatoes.

It was a big garden and produced easily enough for the eight of us living in the ranch style home in what was once considered “the country”.

There was a lot of canning that went on all summer long and the house would be filled with the smells of corn being blanched or green beans cooking in quantities that would fill the shelves dad and grandpa had built downstairs.

On Thanksgiving, the season for gardening was over and done.  The long table had the leaves taken from under the bed where they lay most of the time and was made longer.  Everyone would gather round and find a seat.

Grandma, it seemed, had attempted to decimate the stockpile of food for the year by preparing everything she could lay her little hands upon.

There was barely room for my plate as I sat among bowl after bowl of a variety of foods.  Platters of meat and fixings lay before me and, of course, there were bowls with towels over them concealing hot rolls that had taken hours to rise and ready themselves for the oven.  Those were my favorite, so hot they were hard to hold, melting an overdose of butter beneath a beautifully browned surface.

We’d pray and be ready to dig in and Grandma would realize that there were a couple of things she had neglected to cook for the meal.

She’d ask, “You’ns want me to fix some black-eyed peas?  Do you’ns think we need more corn on the cob?”

I always declined the black-eyed peas since, to me, they had about the same flavor as paste and I you didn’t see me bringing paste to the table.

I think Grandma wanted Thanksgiving to reflect all the hard work for the year and so all the blessings we had received.  They were so much more than I realized back then.  They were more than I wanted.

I always left so much at that table.

I try to live the entire year in an attitude of gratitude, not because I’m a great guy or anything, but because my life kind of depends on it.  I’m such a selfish and self-centered person that if I don’t make every effort to be grateful, my old egotistical self tries to destroy me.

But today, as Thanksgiving approaches, I am struck that I am so blessed to sit at the table of blessing that he has prepared.  He seems to never be able to stop, he just keeps heaping more and more upon the table before me and I am filled to the point of bursting at the seams.

I sit here and wonder what I have turned down, what I have had placed in front of me and said, “No thanks!”  or “That looks like it tastes like paste”.

Matthew 22:2 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!”

He has prepared a feast and invited me to take it all in.  He desires to meet my every need, needs that seem insurmountable, needs that seem trivial and needs I know nothing about.  His feast encompasses everything but I refuse to partake of everything and, at times, refuse to partake of anything.

God’s abundance is too much for me to take it all in.  There is so much more than I realize, more than I want, more than I can comprehend.

I’ve only begun this walk with God.  My decades of mortality are a fraction of eternity.  I’m like a little kid that has only learned to appreciate the hot rolls and butter and is oblivious to the other delicacies he has for me.

I only know that I cannot live without these trips to his table, without the life he gives me through his blessing and I really only deserve it because he took the time and effort to place it before me.

I’m a little teary-eyed this morning as I think about it, as I think about the family I’ve been given that has lived his love before me and the times we feasted together as he desires me to feast with him.

Thank you God. Thank you.

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The King of Free

I was once dubbed the “King of Free” because it seems like I have been getting free stuff for no apparent reason. I don’t understand it but I enjoy it immensely. You may have seen that I had posted a fly reel that I won but that doesn’t really count, I won a contest. I entered about a million captions for a photo and one of them was a winner. But I have recently been blessed by getting more than I asked for on several occasions lately and I have been wondering why.

Not all freebies are a big deal. On a recent trip to Wisconsin we came out of McDonald’s to get back in the truck and there was a vehicle parked so close to the passenger side that I couldn’t get in. So I looked at the guy inside, smiled and waved and headed around to the other side but before I could get two steps he honked the horn and backed up. I was grateful that he did that and as I was about to get in the truck he rolled his window down, apologized and handed me a big, fat Sunday paper. I thanked him and got in the truck. The King of Free had struck again. This guy was dropping papers off at the Mickey D’s and gave me one for my trouble.

It was really no trouble.

If I am honest, not too long ago it was trouble. I would have rolled my eyes, put my hands on my hips and said, “Seriously?”

Then I may or may not have gone into a long and condescending speech about parking and having consideration for others may want to use the parking lot for their vehicles, too.

I still do stupid stuff like that, inflicting my superiority upon others gives me a bit of satisfaction but no one has ever given me a sincere, unsolicited apology and a gift for doing it.

I am learning something, taking the high road is sometimes a lonely and personal place to travel. But, it isn’t always that way. The high road is often accompanied by blessings and honors that the crowded road below can’t compete with. I don’t count it as coincidence that the girl at McDonald’s hands me a free Frappe (which is a pretty wimpy way to drink coffee) or I get a free fly fishing leader in the mail from a guy that I became acquainted with running a small fly fishing company.

Those things never, ever happened when I was the guy that demanded respect and consideration. They only happen for the much more humble and content version of me. It seems that respect and kindness come to me when I lower myself below others and trust God to give me what I need instead of marching out the front door in the morning ready to impose my greatness and knowledge on all who stand in my way.

It is nice to be called the King of Free. It doesn’t mean that I get something for nothing. It means I am free. I am free of nurturing anger and making it last as long as possible. I am free of doing things I regret. I am free of jealousy and envy when I don’t have all I desire and other undeserving people do. I am free of chasing dreams without meaning so that I can embrace what I am given each day. If I receive no freebies from anyone ever, I am still the King of Free because the King has set me free.

2 Corinthians 3:17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

When a couple of Bozo’s run their boat right over the spot where I am catching fish, when someone I love does something terrible, when a driver is eating a donut and texting at the same time and runs me onto the shoulder of the highway, I am free. I don’t have to say or do a single thing. I am on a different road. The road less traveled is sometimes empty and no one notices what I do there. That’s OK. I don’t take it so everyone can see how great I am doing. I don’t take it to get more free stuff. I take it because it sets me free.

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

God has given us a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. I often choose to ignore those things because of fear. If I had no fear of loss or pain, I would never experience anger. This fear I cling to is not from God. He gives me love and self-discipline and the power to succeed in these things. These things free me from the by-products of fear. I’m not afraid to put myself second and God first. I am free to live with him in control and free from the burden of controlling everything myself.

I’m not saying that if you obey God, free stuff is going to magically start appearing everywhere.  But, I think that a lot comes our way that we just don’t see because we are so busy wanting what we don’t have.  But I do think that we can all expect freedom and what is better than that?

I guess God is the King of Free, maybe I should call myself the Prince of Free. What I am called isn’t important. The freedom of the high road, doesn’t care what my name or nickname is.

The Green Stuff

You may already know that I love some tender, juicy smoked ribs on my plate.  I love them even more when they are making the journey through my palate and into my stomach.  I also love fried chicken, steak and deep-fried fish of many kinds.

But I don’t have all of those things, or even some of those things, every single day.  I suppose that even if I were a rich man and the price of groceries was no object, I would still have to abstain from eating a rich, thick steak seven days a week.

I can’t get everything from I need by eating only the things I love.  And besides, getting too much of what I love makes me love it less.  I know that I could even tire of eating ribs.

I don’t naturally like a variety of healthy foods in my diet, so I have to sort of force myself to get the nutrient I need that don’t come in the foods I really like.  I’m not all that good at that.  I make an effort.  Unfortunately, chocolate is not a viable source of vitamin enhancement in most cases.

I’ve found that the most healthy stuff comes in foods I don’t really care for.  So often, I find myself choking down things that are green in order to get what I need at the table as well as the things I crave.

In my spiritual life, I have no issue with singing or doing things that I naturally enjoy.  I like to summarily call singing and music worship.  But it isn’t all I need when it comes to being spiritually healthy and when I base my entire diet on that aspect of worship, my appetite for it eventually wanes.

I need to dig around daily for some green stuff, stuff that isn’t just overflowing with taste when I take it in and digest it, not because it is a joy to do so, but because it makes my spirit healthy.

I’ve come to embrace the wholeness of what God has for me and not just the delectable.  There is more to God than a sensory experience of “Yippee, ribs and steak for dinner!”

There is serious growth to do, growth that needs to be complete and healthy.  I need the green stuff too.

Colossians 1:19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, our example, our symbol of what man can strive to be like, what I can be like.  Jesus didn’t thrive on the miracles, the crowds or hearing his name spoken, he dug for the green stuff.  The lonely times in prayer with the Father, the company of close friends, ministering to the suffering, those things were the green stuff in his life.

So, as I make my way to the office today, I may feel like enjoying a fried filet of catfish on a plate with hush puppies and fries but I also need to find some green stuff along the way.  It has to be a goal of necessity, a longing to meet my need.

The Beauty of Depression

I woke up intending to write this morning.  Well, that didn’t work out.  So, I’ll share a post I wrote back in 2013 when this type of writing was still fairly new to me.  

People are posting things that other people may not know about themselves on Facebook these days. I really enjoy reading them. They often reveal something that I had no clue about when it comes to what is important and meaningful to others. There are things that tell how they have fun and what makes them smile. If you have been reading what I have written over the past year or so, well, you must enjoy reading because what I write has been long. I feel like there isn’t a whole lot you don’t know about me but at some point you may learn something new. The thing is, I am trying not to harbor any deep dark secrets here about what I am and being transparent so that people know who I really am. If you’ve known me for years, you probably haven’t known me like you do now.

The hardest thing about turning from a secretive person, a person that makes a lot of noise to direct people away from who he really is, getting them to believe the fake persona that is always on display, and becoming honest and open with others is looking in the mirror and seeing the real me and not the me I wish I was. I tend to believe my own lies and lose track of who I am. That’s one of the reasons I stare into the monitor most days and contemplate who I am and what direction I am headed.

It is more important for me to do this than for lots of other people because I suffer from depression. Some people don’t understand what that means. They are blessed with a personality and brain that doesn’t malfunction and lie to itself. That’s OK. Other people aren’t required to understand.

It is very important that I understand.

If I don’t, depression sneaks up on me and begins to dominate me. My thinking begins to be faulty and that leads me to make some pretty bad decisions. Depressed or not, my bad decisions are my decisions and they lead to some pretty ugly sins. I can not let that happen.

For me to live a life that is righteous in the eyes of God, I have to spend time and effort dominating depression. I have to walk on top of it, not wallow in it. I take a pill and I have counseling when I need it. But those things are only the tip of the iceberg. I have to reach out to others and be honest with them about what and who I am. I allow them into my life and encourage them to prevent me from isolating and shutting down. They have to know that I am subject to put on a false front and I have to trust them to reach farther than I have allowed in the past to keep me where I need to be.

I also have to allow God to help me. This isn’t something that I try to beat on my own before God can use me. It is something God has given me to use for him. He has chosen not to take it away.

I am not the first to have to live with affliction and I won’t be the last. To be honest, I would tend to live without God if I felt I didn’t need him. Since this is how God created me, I will serve him with it. I’ve had the chance to talk to so many people and pray with or for so many others since I have been open and honest about what I really am. We are a band of brothers and sisters that share a common bond and can express concern and understanding with each other in just a few words. God has rewarded me greatly.

It has taken me a half-century to see that I am not cursed but blessed. It would be pretty easy to regret that half-century. But that half-century is where the bulk of my writing comes from. This writing that somehow people read and it seems that every day one of two of them are somehow touched and encouraged by, comes from a life that has struggled and been misguided most of the time. God uses everything, even the trash in our lives becomes recycled into something useful, something beautiful.

Something beautiful, something good.
All my frustrations, He understood.
All I had to offer him were brokenness and strife,
But he made something beautiful of my life.

I was very young when that song was written. I’ve heard it over and over again. It has been on my mind a lot lately. I see a lot more in those few lines than I used to. It doesn’t just touch my heart, it resonates throughout it.

Hebrews 4:16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

1 Peter 3:15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

Every day that I possibly can, I need to find my help and hope in God and be ready to explain this hope to anyone that will listen. I’m not defective, just different. God needs me the way I am and I find him in my need. Depression isn’t something I need to be ashamed of. God isn’t ashamed of me and my depression and I shouldn’t be either. I will live with it but it will not rule me today. God’s grace is big enough to cover all of me, even my depression.

My Church’s Thyroid

My thyroid hasn’t gotten much thought throughout my lifetime. In fact, for years I didn’t know if it was a body part or a disease. I’ve heard people mention that they have problems with it and I have always left it at that. It isn’t like having heart problems or liver issues. It isn’t going to make you turn blue or yellow and keel over dead. It isn’t like having to deal with blindness or deafness. It doesn’t take away a huge part of life by stealing away what you see or hear. It is always described as just problems and no one took the time to tell what those problems were and I never bothered to ask.

One summer when I went on my fishing trip to Wyoming, I got really tired and despite eating less and exercising more I gained weight. I went to the doctor a few weeks later and he told me that it was probably just because I was old and lazy. I insisted that the lazy part was incorrect, especially when given the opportunity to fish. He insisted that I wasn’t really getting exercise by doing that, he apparently thinks I sit in a lawn chair sipping sweet tea when I fish. He wouldn’t last through the first hour of one of our fishing trips hiking up mountains and wading swift rivers without taking a seat somewhere.

So after I told him a thing or two, he agreed to have some blood-work done and lo and behold, I had thyroid problems. That pesky thyroid, whatever it is, causes me to be tired and sluggish and gain weight. Honestly, there may be some other factors in the weight-gain such as eating so fast I can’t remember what I ate, but the thyroid definitely is the biggest part of the problem. I asked the doctor what happened with the old thyroid (which is not located in the thigh or even remotely like a hemorrhoid) and he said it just got old and quit working. My doctor has got to stop talking about me and my body parts being old. I’m not old, that’s patina!

Now I get to take another pill every day. I have to artificially introduce whatever it is that the thyroid produces into my body because the thyroid has just stopped doing its job. Stupid thyroid.

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.

I think some people think they are the thyroid of the church. They have no idea how they affect the body. If they function correctly they are virtually invisible. They begin to see themselves as lacking value and begin to feel that their efforts are not needed. I have felt that way. But the minute that we start to feel like that we become less enthusiastic about what and where God has called us to be, the body feels it. It has no idea what the problem is but it begins to misuse what it takes in and becomes flabby instead of lean and muscular. It becomes tired and lazy. No one knows what to do to fix it and the church languishes in its misery. The music lacks life, the sermons lack meaning and the seats become empty.

I need to work as unto the Lord, knowing that he recognizes everything I do even if the pastor or the guy sitting across the aisle from me does not. I am not the face of my church. I am something that you can’t quite put your finger on. I am sometimes invisible to those that get the credit. That’s OK. If I disappear, they suffer and it is my job to make sure that doesn’t happen. I don’t need to spend my time wishing I was something else.

1 Corinthians 12:19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.

I’d like to say a lot more about this but the best thing for anyone to do is to read this scripture every month or so and take a look at how well they are doing their job. Not only does my spiritual health affect me and my family, it also affects my church and all who come through the doors. If my church is sluggish and lazy and lacking life, if it is fat and lethargic and has lost its energy, I first need to see if my job is being done. One part makes a huge difference.

Where I Found the Answer

I used to sit around feeling sorry for myself that I had reached such a low place in my life. I was to the place the widow was, use up what was left and die.  I had no more answers, I had no more choices.  I had no more arguments, no refusals, no rebuttals, no denials.  Nothing.

So I went into Celebrate Recovery and I had nothing. I didn’t even have sticks to build a fire. I was starved and full of death. I was broken and beaten and empty. The extent of my journey has left me in pieces. I was trying desperately to pull them all together and make myself into something more than a pile a useless trash.

Then I was asked to share.  Share what?  I had nothing.

I’m not writing to say that Celebrate Recovery is THE answer. It is merely where I found my answer and continue to find it every time I attend. God has many ways of providing the answer. But when I walked in the doors, I wasn’t looking for the answer anymore. I was using up the rest of what I had left so I could give up for good.

Like I said before, I was pity party central and I had hit bottom so hard that I was sure I was broken beyond repair. I was just waiting to be swept up and tossed wherever they toss the rest of the shattered people like me. I had tried to hold all the pieces together for so long and the pieces just kept splintering and breaking away in my hands adding more futility to my life when I thought it had reached it limit. I had reached my limit. I was done.

What a terrible place to be. This is the place God saved my life. I dropped my hands to the side and said, “God? You want this mess? You want it? For real? Here you go!”

I expected it to be too much for him. I expected him to fail. I knew in my heart that I had broken his creation beyond all repair. I didn’t deserve to be fixed because now I saw through the lies I had told myself and knew that it wasn’t God that made this mess, it was me. I had simply usurped God’s authority until his purpose for my life was impossible to achieve.

Once again God proved me wrong. In the past, God had started the healing process and I had taken over again saying, “Thanks for the hand, God, but I’ve got this now.” My thick bonehead finally realizes that I will never have this. I wasn’t designed to control my own destiny. I was designed to be transformed and finished by God and his amazing grace. I can’t make myself into more than what God will create from me. If I want to run faster, jump higher and fly, only God can do that for me. I can barely get my backside to the couch in the morning.

Isaiah 40:30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

When I am tired and weary, when I am about to faint from the stress of life and the dulling drain on my life energy from depression and fear, when anger eats away at me until I am at my breaking point, when my wings are clipped by my flaws and defects, when I can barely walk, when exhaustion makes the next breath a real challenge, God simply says, “Trust me.”

Satan’s greatest lie is, “There is immense power in yourself!” I’ve rode that self bandwagon to the point of wanting this life to be over. There is nothing at the end of that trail bunch a bunch of wrecked bandwagons and bones picked clean by Satan’s vultures. It is where men go to die.

God challenges me to do the impossible, to reach farther than man alone can reach, to change what man cannot, to perform miracles through God’s awesome power and grace.

Some mornings I sit down at this desk to write and no words come. I stare blankly listening to the coffee pot gurgle and chug. Then I look in the mirror at the miracle, the man that laid in the land of brokenness and shame, hopelessness and fear and see a face that is ready to face a day of new discovery. Suddenly, there aren’t enough words to express what I feel.

I’m not a special kind of miracle. I’m a simple miracle, the kind that God does all the time, the kind God is aching to do for you who are sitting in that place where there is no hope and no future

I’m no longer holding myself together desperately afraid that the Frankenstein’s monster I have created will simply collapse into a pile of useless parts. My hands are free to do what God asks, my feet are free to go where he leads and my heart is able to withstand being broken for his cause over and over again.

I’ve got so far to go, so far to grow but I am not heading toward death even as this body refuses to fight the aging process. My future holds only life and the mystery of what God’s miracle will do in it today and tomorrow.

Where I Belong

The other day I wrote about Joseph.  I always thought that the point of the story being in the Bible was that God will bless me if I serve him even in persecution and struggles.  I think that is true but something Joseph says in the scriptures following the reunion with his brothers struck me.  
Genesis 45:7 God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.  
Joseph had been blessed.  He had become a ruler in the land of Pharaoh.  He had wealth, power and privilege.  But that was not the reason God brought Joseph into this land and given him all these things.  It was to save the life of his family so that God’s promise to them could be brought to fruition.  God keeps his promises.  He doesn’t merely bless someone so they can feel like somebody special.  
Too often, I see the blessings of God as something just for me.  I lay claim to somehow deserving them because I managed to be obedient for a period of time or that God feels like I have had enough of struggling and need a hand.  I fail to see that what God does is never just about me.  
God wants me to be a vital part of his plan in action.  I tend to expect him to do so while I watch football on TV or sit on the sofa hoping someone else does all the dishes in the sink.  Even while Joseph was in prison, he served God.  He helped others.  Despite being betrayed by brothers, falsely accused, tossed in jail and having what man would say is every reason to announce God was slacking, he somehow knew there was a plan.
I don’t know how he knew.  Maybe he clung to the dreams he had as a child.  He knew that he would see the day that those dreams came to be.  At any rate, when the opportunity came to butter up the Pharaoh, he still stood firm in the fact that there was a true God that would prove himself to all the land.  
I have to admit that I sometimes have a hard time telling a homeless guy with a cardboard sign in front of the Kroger about the awesome power of God.  Why?  Is it because I don’t see God as strong enough to help him?  Is it because I let the awesome blessings of God stop at me when they crash into my life?  
God’s plan isn’t to give me things and hoard them for myself.  His joy isn’t for me to leech as much as I can from before using it up and begging for more tomorrow.  His peace isn’t just to help me sleep at night.  His love isn’t just so I can have warm fuzzies now and then and feel better about the world.  
These things are to share and give away unconditionally and freely.  God’s plan needs these things to move and act.  They are ways for me to grow God’s kingdom.  They aren’t supposed to get to my house and stop there on the couch with me.
Joseph realized that he was where he was because of God, not his brothers, not Potiphar’s wife, not Pharaoh’s servants or even Pharaoh himself.  
Genesis 45:8 So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt. 
God never puts me where I don’t belong.  I may not like where I am.  I may not like how poor I am.  I may not like my ranking in society.  But I am where the God of the universe has placed me for reasons I may not understand for years to come.  Today is a lot more important than I tend to think it is.

Ribs Done Right

Yesterday, we sat down to eat some ribs.  I had put them in the smoker mid-morning and cooked them to semi-perfection.  Not my best effort but, nevertheless, the plates were strewn with bony carnage afterward.

My grandson, Oakley, had his plate of food by the time I got to the table and was busy chomping away at something from his assortment of nourishing grub.

I sat down and before grabbing a rib from my plate, rolled up my sleeves.  When I eat ribs, I don’t like to be encumbered by worrying about sauce getting on my cuffs.

Upon seeing his Grandpa do this, Oakley decided he needed his sleeves rolled up.  Mimi had to help but he was able to then grab a rib and start chewing the meat from the bone in the same manner I was.

Ribs, one of my favorites, especially right out of the smoker after hours of consuming flavor and tenderizing the meat all to end it all when I took a big bite.  It is one of life’s simple pleasures.

After eating all the ribs on my plate with the fervor of a ten-year old eating ice cream, barbecue sauce in my beard and all over my fingers, I did like any kid would do.  I licked sauce from my fingers in approval of the manner I devoured the tasty, tender, smoked delicacy.

I heard the pop of Oakley’s little fingers and he slurped the sauce from his own hands with his eyes locked on me making sure he was doing it right.

I realized that through the whole meal, I was being watched and when I did something Oakley wasn’t doing, he promptly did it.

He had no clue why he had rolled up his sleeves or made a noise while licking his fingers, he just did it because I did.  I never really realized I made a noise when I slurped the sauce from my fingers till my grandson played it back for me via his imitation.

Ephesians 5:1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 

I think that I’ve often questioned God and sort of picked and chose what I copied from his behavior.  Or I’ve simply decided that I don’t want to be like him in certain areas, as if I’m losing something by being more like him.

How can I be missing out on anything by becoming more like the creator of all?  Duh!

Rather than questioning why God wants me to change, I need to have such faith in him that if he does it, so should I.  If he loves the unlovable, so should I.  If he lifts up the poor in spirit, so should I.  If he says, I should listen.  If he moves, so should I.

Just because he does it, should be enough for me to give it a shot.

I think I’m beginning to get there.  There was once a time that I sat at the table and was only concerned about getting my belly full.  These days, I can sit down, eat and enjoy my food and there in the midst of the sauce and bones, baked potatoes and butter, I can hear God say, “Look at that boy and imitate me the way he imitates you.”

 

The Pits

In the Bible, Joseph spent time in a pit, as a slave, as a prisoner and as a ruler.  I’m sure that had he been allowed to script more of his life, it wouldn’t have gone quite like it did.  I’m sure he would have skipped the part where his brothers threw him in a pit out of jealous rage.  I’m quite certain he would have avoided becoming a slave.  I’m pretty much positive he wouldn’t have volunteered to spend two whole years in jail.  
I’m also pretty sure that he couldn’t have figured out he would be a ruler in a powerful government that where he was considered a foreigner.  
I’d like to be able to talk to Joseph in the pit, discuss his thoughts on his future and his view of God.  I can’t really think that he was feeling his relationship with God all that much at the time.
Genesis 42:21 Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.” 
Joseph was in anguish.  He was fearing for his very life.  But even though his brothers were sinning against their own brother and the God that had promised blessings to them all, God’s plan was not shaken.  
Years later, when famine threatened to kill the entire family that was to be the line of Jesus, it was Joseph that was there for them and provided them food.  It was Joseph that had saved the food in the times of a bountiful harvest.  It was Joseph that had endured prison, betrayal, conspiracy and loneliness.  
I’m sure that Joseph had given up all hope from time to time.  He wasn’t Superman.  He simply acknowledged that God was bigger than all his problems, bigger than all his shortcomings, bigger than any situation.  
He approached a king that considered himself a deity and pointed to the one true God and announced his greatness.  
I live in a world where God’s power is minimized and ignored, where people claim that all they need lies within themselves, a world that is overcome with greed, addiction, mental illness, selfishness, fear and hopelessness.  Sometimes I feel that I am this world’s prisoner, that I should fear it, that I should just throw my hands in the air and pray it doesn’t kill me.  
But it only takes one Joseph moment, one opportunity for one of God’s own to stand up and say this is what God did, this is what God is doing, this is what he can and will do.  I need to get behind what God is doing and believe he is going to do it.  Joseph stopped living like a prisoner and saved a nation and in the process his own family.
Genesis 45:4 “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. 5But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.”
Somehow Joseph managed to see God’s hand in all of this.  He didn’t need revenge on his brothers.  He needed reconciliation.  But I guess that is a story for another day.  Today, I just want to see that even though I feel stuck in a pit or a prison or as a slave in another man’s world, God has not deserted me.  In fact, he is working on my future and finding my place in it.

Walk

A friend of mine who passed several years ago used to love to poke fun at women taking a brisk walk.

He’d say, “You’d think that as much as she walks, she’d be a little more narrow!”

I know that sounds mean but he said it, not me.

I’d respond by saying, “Maybe she is more narrow.”

It could be that exercise has been much more effective than we can perceive. It is possible that without that walk a person could get to the point they couldn’t walk at all. Perhaps sitting in a truck driving around isn’t a good time to judge what someone else is doing.

Spiritually, others may judge my walk with God as being kind of futile. Even I have questioned how much good it is doing. If I put all that faith in God, why can’t I have a car that isn’t always broke down? Why has my health gone downhill? Why don’t I have an easier time paying my bills?

But I know from experience what happens if I don’t walk with Him. It makes a train wreck look like good times in Disney Land.

Next time it feels like your walk isn’t doing you much good…think back to the times you weren’t walking. Remember how hard it was to carry that extra weight and how difficult it was to breathe when you faced that hill. I KNOW that my walk has changed me completely even if others think it looks awkward and slow.