Posted in Family, fear, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Humpty Dumpty and Me

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by Me.” John 14:6

Some things never change. As we were growing up, we all learned various nursery rhymes and fairy tales.  Some were funny, some serious, and some a little bizarre.  One of my favorites was Humpty Dumpty.   Why?  I think because his story could have easily been our story—after all, we’ve all fallen off a wall at one time or another. I love the story too because what didn’t happen for old Humpty Dumpty, can happen for us.

If there had been a headline that day it might have read something like this, “Local Egg Takes a Tumble.” The story would begin with, “Apparently a well-known and respected egg, Humpty Dumpty, decided to take a rest on top of a wall just outside of town. While sitting there he lost his balance, fell off the wall and was shattered into several pieces. Fortunately for Mr. Dumpty there were witnesses who immediately called 911. Paramedics, along with representatives from the local government, were quickly on the scene. It is reported that local clergy were also on scene, though they didn’t stay long. Unfortunately, no one was unable to put Mr. Dumpty back together again.”

What a sad tale! There he lay–his life in pieces–kinda like a lot of folks today. You would have thought the local citizenry, government, and churches would have been sympathetic but no. First, some questioned why an egg was on the wall in the first place. After all, given his rounded bottom he was certainly a high risk. Second, he was in a fragile state–in fact, he lived in a fragile state. Others blamed the builders of the wall. If the wall had only been six inches high, he wouldn’t have suffered such massive fractures. Others blamed the weather service because they didn’t put out a high wind warning that day for eggs on walls. And the church–well, they said a respectable egg should have been in church, for it was a Sunday.

Well on and on it went, and in the end–Mr. Dumpty was still broken. You know, some things never change. When sin entered the world Adam blamed God, (God because He gave Adam the woman & Eve because she gave him the fruit), Eve blamed the snake, and the snake? Well, he just smiled. It wasn’t a time for finger pointing then, nor is it now.  For all around us are Humpty Dumptys…broken lives in a broken world.

But then, along comes God. God made the very first promise of a Rescuer, a Redeemer, and a Savior way back in Genesis 3. One day the Redeemer would come and provide the cure for sin–His own death on a Roman cross–and then come back to life thus defeating death forever. And the snake well, he would be cast into a very hot fire for a very long time.

You see, I am so glad that God is more interested in redemption than blaming. He is still inviting people, all people to come home. Scared people, sick people, broken people, mean people, and nice people–all get the same invitation–come home. And the path is always the same. Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by Me.” It’s not religion, it’s not good works, and it’s not winning by out-blaming the person next to you. It is grace.

The world could use a little good news don’t you think? So today why not share some? When you see the next scared person, the next broken person, the next difficult person (and it might be in the mirror), just assure them that God loves them and that regardless of their past they can come home. Tell them to rest in Him. Why? He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom

Tripped Up by Life

When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

Well, it’s a week later.  If you are a regular Grits reader you might remember that a week ago, I wrote about my grand adventure as I hiked a local trail called, “Indian Point.”  It is an incredible trail and a hike that I will remember for quite a while.  Whenever I do something for the first time it kinda hangs in my memory.  For instance, this time I remember the first quarter or third of a mile up the hill that the trail was more roots than dirt.  I remember after a while there were several short trails leading to some large rock outcrops.  I took a detour down one and stood amazed as I surveyed the valley below.  I also remember what happened next.

Next was my boot caught a root. In a split second I tripped and landed flat on my face.  I told you last week that I fell very hard and it hurt. I haven’t changed my mind. I banged up my left arm and side and well, let’s just say all week the pain just kept right on coming.  Finally, on Saturday, almost a week later, I could cough and bend over without my side not so gently reminding me of the fall.  My arm, on the other hand, is still plenty sore and I am sporting a really, ugly bruise.  It isn’t one of those wimp bruises either.  It covers most of my elbow and upper forearm and is a nice purple and yellow color.  It’s the kinda bruise when people see it, they say “ouch.”

This past Sunday I returned to Indian Point.  My wife Judy was back from her journey to the “Southland” and I wanted to share the trail with her.  I narrated the way along the trail and finally we came to the place where I fell. Right in the middle of the trail was the root…the only one, but then it only takes one. I told her, “This is where it happened.” I think maybe she then had a better understanding of my fall and a new appreciation for the bruise that I am still sporting. Perhaps, that experience made my experience better because it became her experience too. I know this is true because right there she gave me a sermon about hiking alone and being careful.

So, do you know someone that is pretty bruised up over life?  Has someone shown you their “bruise” recently?  No, I’m not talking about the kind that comes from tripping over a root, but the kind that comes from tripping over something in life.  An unkind word. An unnecessarily sharp criticism. A sarcastic zinger.  The loss of a friend or a job or a marriage?  You see, there are a lot of bruised folks around us, and it is important that we stop long enough to feel their hurt and pain.  Jesus did that so well.  It didn’t matter what, it seemed He always had the time to hurt with someone.

Whether it was a leper, a woman with a bad reputation, or a tax collector hated and disowned by everyone, He always took the time to stop, take a look at their bruised life, and hurt with them. One time He came ashore from a boat ride across the lake and there was a gaggle of people bruised and banged up by their broken world.  The Bible tells us that He saw them and then He had compassion on them.  He.Saw.Them.  In other words, He saw their bruises and then loved them.

So, if you bump into me this week, no pun intended, ask and I will show you my bruised arm.  It should be good for at least five or six more days.  We can laugh together because of the story, but at the same time it will be a good reminder for both of us to be like Jesus and share another’s hurt and pain.  Oh, and be sure and watch out for those roots…remember it only takes one.  But if you do fall, I know someone who can pick you up.  And if you listen carefully, you will hear Him whisper, “Don’t worry…I’ve got this.”   Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Christmas, Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, Holidays, life, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

Miss Scarlet

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

I had to do a double take.  When Faith, my oldest granddaughter, was only three, she started a Christmas family tradition, and it all began with her playing with our nativity set.  First, the family nativity set was purchased way back when we had two daughters when they were three and four years old.  Each year we would go to the attic and bring down the Christmas decorations.  And there, in its original box, now tattered by the years, sat the nativity set. We bought it from Sears and Roebuck for about thirty dollars and trust me back then, that was a lot of money.  Through the years the angel lost his or her wings several times and more than one head was knocked off.  Always, a little glue fixed the injury…at least more or less.

As the years passed and the injured players grew in number, let’s say we were just a little less careful with the old nativity set. When Faith came along it was just natural that she wanted to play with the nativity set and that was fine.  Now for part two.  Being from the South and loving history, somewhere, somehow, we ended up with an ornament of Scarlet O’Hara from the movie “Gone with the Wind.”  She was dressed in a curvy, clingy red dress that probably went a little too far south in the front.  Well, each year she ended up on the Christmas tree.  And then it happened.

That year, probably around 2003 or 2004, Faith was playing with the nativity set and somehow or another she spied Miss Scarlet on the tree.  She simply saw it as another member of the cast.  So, she took Scarlet off the tree and as she played, she included her in the cast of characters.  When she was done, she just let Miss Scarlet stay in their midst.  There was Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Three Wise Men, the Innkeeper (I’m not sure why he was invited), and a shepherd boy, along with several barnyard friends and standing right in the middle was Scarlet.

Well, sometime later I was walking by and happened to glance at the nativity set.  I went down the checklist to make sure everyone was there and then I spotted her.  There was Miss Scarlet curvy, clingy dress and all. My first thought was, “What in the world is Miss Scarlet doing in Bethlehem?  What is a girl like her doing with Jesus?”  I was just about to remove her when it occurred to me.  I realized that if anyone was supposed to be there it was Miss Scarlet.  I realized that she was the whole point of the story.  Jesus came for people who had messed up in life. People who had made mistakes, people like her, like me and like you. That is why Jesus came in the first place.  He knew that the religious elite wouldn’t give Him the time of day.  But the ordinary, broken people…well, they got it.

So, Miss Scarlet stayed and for the past 16 or 17 years, I still go to the attic and get the decorations down. I still find the old, tattered box and bring it down too.  I carefully unpack the cast of that night in Bethlehem and there among the characters is Miss Scarlet.  Each year, I make sure she was a prominent spot in the nativity and each year that reminds me that she is what Christmas is all about.

You see, the Bible tells us that God loved the world so much that He gave His Son, His only Son to be born into a broken world. He did it because He loved us so much and amazingly, He said if we would believe in Him, put our trust in Him, we could call Him Father, our Dearest Daddy.  He also promised that every Christmas for forever we could be with Him.  Amazing.

I am so grateful that Faith taught me an important lesson that Christmas season so many years ago.  It is one of my favorite stories and one of my favorite Christmas traditions.  And each year, Miss Scarlet reminds me that broken people are always welcomed home for Christmas into God’s loving arms.  He doesn’t care if we are dark or light skinned, rich or poor, or part of the social elite or socially broken.  He just loves us and that is amazing.

So, this Christmas season, if you have a nativity set or even if you don’t, remember the story about how Miss Scarlet got invited into the story and that you are, too.  Especially this Christmas when things are so crazy, why not find yourself right there in the cast of characters, resting right next to Baby Jesus.  Mary and Joseph and Miss Scarlet would remind you that one thing is sure…He’s got this.