Posted in Family, forgiveness, gratitude, life, love, loving others, missions, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials

Lost in the Desert

He counts the stars and calls them all by name.” Psalm 147:4

Don’t follow me. I’m lost.  That may sound like something a preacher should never write but at least one time in my life, that was the message.  It seems like I was probably ten years old and somehow Mama and Daddy bought me a new bike for my birthday.  When I was a little older, they gave me a brand new, bright and shiny ten speed but this one was different.  It was a single speed, traditional bike but it was new, and it was mine. I remember it having the little “streamy” things that kids used to put on their handlebars so they could wave in the breeze. I was so proud of that bike.

There was one other thing that set it apart.  Attached to the back of the seat was a little “tag” (you know, like a license plate but a lot smaller) and it said, “Don’t follow me. I’m lost.”  I don’t know if Mama and Daddy bought it and put it on the bike or if it came on it. However, since I was like most ten-year-old boys—it was probably appropriate.  Of course, at that time I had no idea that one day I would be a pastor and do my best to help people find the right path in their lives. We all know how imperfect preachers are but hopefully there is one thing that we can do and do right—show people how to follow Jesus.  After all, we all get lost, and we all need someone to point us in the right direction.

Several years ago we were in Niger, West Africa and we were in the Sahara Desert.  We were traveling from one small village in the middle of nowhere and going to another slightly larger village in the middle of nowhere.  Keep in mind this is West Africa and more often than not, you are going to end up on a road made of sand and only an occasional road sign.  Our missionary was driving a 4X4 and we were heading in the direction of Abalak—again a medium sized city in the middle of the desert.  We drove and drove and she was pretty sure we were going in the right direction but who knew.  After all…it was West Africa, and it was the desert, and signs, well, they were not.

We drove for several hours till we came to a place where we could see in the distance a couple of tents and a few camels standing around.  I remember there was a young lady sitting on a donkey who looked like she could pass for Mary on her way to Bethlehem but there also was a man. We opened our window and the missionary greeted him and he asked where we were going.  She said we were going to Abalak.  I remember his reply. In his local language he said, “Not this way, you’re not.” He also said that he had a cousin in Abalak.  Of course, in West Africa, in the middle of nowhere, it seemed everyone either knew or was related to everyone.  But he offered to guide us to Abalak if he could ride along.

Well, we readily agreed and off we went with a new friend pointing the way. Remember the song we sing at Thanksgiving about over the river and through the woods?  Well, it was just like that except it wasn’t Thanksgiving, there was no river and there were no woods but after several hours we did find ourselves in Abalak.  It turns out our new friend was just the person we needed.  We were lost and he pointed us in the right direction.

You know, sometimes in life we get lost too, don’t we?  I know more than once I have been lost. Don’t be shocked and don’t make me turn in my “man card,” but I’ve actually stopped and asked directions. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.  It was always reassuring though when the store the person mentioned or the right color of house on the corner appeared.  It was always about then I knew we had been found and everything was going to be ok.

As we emerge from the pandemic and all of its craziness and if you are feeling a little lost, remember it is ok to ask directions.  It might be a trusted friend or someone you know from church, but it is ok to stop and ask for directions. I’ve found a Friend that always points me right where I need to go.  He never gets lost because He made the place and He is never wrong because, well, He’s just never wrong.

There is a place in the Bible where it says that He knows the total number of stars in the heavens, and He calls them all by name.  And I figure if He knows the stars…He probably knows the way I ought to go.  How about that?  So today, if you’re feeling a little lost, just ask Him.  He knows the way and He loves pointing people in the right direction and, as always, you can rest assured that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Contact- Lost and Found

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

He did it again.  It was a love note from my Heavenly Father and at least for me…it was a big one.  It all started with a nap.  You see, every day after lunch I take a short nap.  I have done it for at least 45 years.  It goes something like this.  Eat. Nap. Back to work.  It seems as soon as lunch is done so am I. (It could have something to do with my 4:30 am wakeup time.)  It is my understanding that the folks who live in Japan do this, and they live longer and are healthier. So, Monday, I ate a sandwich and then went to take my nap.  Generally, it is about 15 or 20 minutes and as usual, that’s what happened.  However, as I woke up, I sat up, and it was then that I messed up.

You see, accidentally and totally unintentionally, I touched my right eye as I set up.  It might have been one of those getting the momentum going in the right direction kind of thing.  At any rate, I touched the eye where I wear my “mono vision.” I knew right away something changed.  I have a test I perform to make sure my contact is doing its thing. I simply look at my watch and if I can read it, all is well. However, when I looked that day it was way past blurry.  That meant my contact was either on the bed somewhere or lost in my eye.  From the way things felt—it was lost in my eye.  I called my eye doctor friend.

I explained that I thought my contact was lost in my eye and she kindly agreed to meet me there. That’s the kind of person she is—kind. I was soon at her office and in her eye checking chair. She looked and looked. Nothing. Next, she put in some dye to make the contact stand out and then even rolled my eye lid up to peek there. Nothing.  In spite of all her best efforts—no contact was to be found.  We were pretty sure it had jumped out.  Only time would tell the tale.

Well, throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening, every once in a while I knew I could feel it.  It would stick its little head out and when I went and looked it had already disappeared again.  This happened again and again.   I went to bed that night knowing my friend was still in there.  Well, the next morning, it greeted me but at the same time alluded me. It was frustrating.  It was going to be one of those things that make your day a little more difficult.

And then it happened.  I was chatting with my wife Judy, and I felt it.  I could tell it was right near the edge of my eye lid.  I rushed to the bathroom and reached in, pinched and boom—I got it. Oh, happy days were here again! Talk about a game changer…you would have thought I won the lottery and in a way, I guess I had!

Here’s the best part!  I knew it was a love note from my Dearest Daddy.  You say, “Really?”  And I say, “Absolutely.”  You see He is a good, good Father who is into the details.  He cares about the biggest things and He cares about the smallest things.  Paul, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament, said that He could and would do more than we can ever imagine.  Trust me, it was no accident the contact suddenly made its appearance, and it was no accident that it was right where I could grab it. Yup…it was a love note.

So, I told Him thanks about a dozen times, and I figured I had to write this story.  I had to take another opportunity to tell Him thanks by telling you about Him. I just had to share this big truth—God cares about the little things.  Oh, and it doesn’t happen every time or all the time—nope, and that is what makes it special.

So, today, why not look around for a special love note from your Heavenly Father. If you think about it, even the fact that we are breathing His air is amazing!  Whether it is a lost contact that is found or just a beautiful day in the neighborhood, remember to say, “Thank you.” Learning to see the little things and being grateful is better…in fact, it is a lot better.  And as we learn to be grateful, well, we will recognize more and more that great truth, no matter what, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne