Posted in Military memories, Scripture

Minot Memories – Walking on Ice

Do not love the world [its ways, it principles] or the things in the world. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16

You know, some folks are just slow learners.  My time in Minot was short—from October to April—but filled with memories.  The base was about 20 miles from town and only a couple of guys had cars. We would load up and drive into town at negative twenty degrees with all the windows down to play “freeze out.” We would see how long we could stand the cold.   The radio would be blaring John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads.”  Hey, there wasn’t a lot to do—especially in Minot in the dead of winter.

So, as a southern boy, this cold weather stuff was all new to me.  Some things I just couldn’t get the hang of.  One of those was walking on ice.  Now I had been walking since I was about 18 months old.  The difference was up in Minot you have to learn to walk on ice.  The winter of 1972-73 was a great opportunity to do so. I was able to go home for Christmas. I was dreaming of a green and not white Christmas.  Up until that time it had been cold, but we had very little snow.  That was kinda unusual—especially for Minot.

Well, while I was home for Christmas they had a whopper snow —and I’m not talking about Burger King.  Something like two feet of snow fell.  But what happened after the snow was chilling—literally.  It melted…all of it.  Somehow it got well above freezing for a week or so which melted the snow and then it happened.  The temperature plunged to below zero and stayed there.  Forever.

What was left behind were vast sheets of ice.  Everywhere you looked or walked there was ice.  I didn’t have a car which meant I had to walk to and from work.  So I would put on my arctic parka, my arctic gloves, pull my arctic hood up and take a hike. I would walk one way going and another way coming.  Going to work was not a deal.  I managed to make it without falling…or at least not multiple times.  Going home?  Well, that’s a different story.

About halfway there I would have to walk around the corner of a building.  So, off I go.  I get to this corner and not paying attention, stepped onto a sheet of ice. Bam.  In two seconds flat- I was flat on my back.  Because of the parka nothing was damaged except my pride.  Score one for the ice.  Day two.  I’m walking home and come to the exact same spot.  I eye the ice and ever so carefully step on and in two seconds flat I am flat on my back.  Bummer.  I crawl back upright, making sure no one is watching, and press on.

Day three. I get to the corner for the third time.  I know the ice is there.  In fact, we’ve become close friends.  I gingerly step on the ice…nothing happens.  As I take my second step in two seconds flat -I am flat on my back.  Excuse me?  Is this Ground Hog Day or what?  Anyway, for the third time I crawl off the ice and head on back to the dorm.  By this time more than my pride was bruised.

I know what you are thinking. Why don’t you take a different path?  Why did you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.  The answer is…I don’t have a clue.  Thought I could beat it? Thought it was closer? Thought if I fell enough I would break the ice before it broke me?  I don’t know.  I was stubborn. I was a slow learner. I was doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Isn’t that what we do in life?  Don’t we journey along and come to a decision point and fall flat? Don’t we sometimes do it again on Day 2? Day 3?  You know, walking on ice is one thing.  However, flirting with disaster, the kind that has big regrets and bigger consequences, that is another. God knows this and tells us not to fall in love with the world—its ways, its principles, its stuff.  Remember your mama saying, don’t date someone you don’t want to marry?  Same principle.  Flirt with the world, date the world and you’ll end up marrying the world.

John—the guy in the Bible—says in 1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world.” When you say, “I do” with the world you end of with twins—regrets and consequences. Life is harder…a lot harder.  Harder than walking on ice.

So, I finally did take a different route. They say that three times is a charm.  It took me four but I did learn.  On day four…I didn’t fall. I didn’t fall on day five either. In fact, I don’t remember falling again.  Why? I didn’t go that way. I chose a different route and that route, that path, had different consequences—better consequences. They also say that three strikes and you are out.  True in baseball but fortunately it isn’t true with God. He keeps picking us up, dusting us off and helping us find the right path—one with less ice.  When I fell I would quickly look to make sure no one was watching.  When we fall in life we can rest assured someone is watching…our Abba Father.  He’s got is His eye on us. So, be careful out there it can be pretty icy but don’t worry you aren’t alone.  He’s always there. Rest in Him knowing He will be there to pick you up.  After all, He’s got this.

Posted in Scripture

-346 Degrees Below Zero

I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” Isaiah 48:10 (NLT).

I got to go to the skin doctor last week.  That’s right…I got to go.  My skin doctor is located in Paduach so that meant I could jail break.  Judy and I hopped in our zippy little car and headed south.  It was good just to be going somewhere…even if it was to the doctor.  When we arrived, there were special precautions.  It reminded me of what going into the White House might be like.  Sitting in my car instead of the waiting room, masks, temperature checks.  I’m sure I saw a Secret Service agent poking around the corner.

So anyway, I finally made it inside.  Now this was a skin check.  They look and make sure something is not growing that shouldn’t be there.  Being a southern boy who regularly thought it was cool to go to the beach and get sunburned, this is particularly important.  What I thought was cool then is setting me up for skin cancers and the like now.

So, the nice skin doctor (at least I think it was her…she had a mask on…she could have been the secretary for all I knew) came in and checked me over.  You will be glad to know that things went well. She did find one “pre-cancer” thingy on my ear.  She said they should freeze it off.  I said, “Yes Ma’am, you go right ahead.”  So, she got her little freezing tool and cut loose.  Ouch.

I have had this done before but I forgot how bad it hurt.  It’s funny…freezing feels a whole lot like burning.  There is a reason.  Liquid nitrogen, the stuff they use for this, is -346 degrees.  Yup… you read that right.  I had a couple of other things that needed to be frozen, so she did those too.  Speaking of frozen, after this chilling experience, I wonder how all those Disney characters could be so happy in that Frozen movie. Anyway, it was over, it was done.  After a couple of hours the pain went away and so did the pre-cancer.

You know, sometimes pain is part of the process.  In this case I was probably part of the problem.  My neglect earlier led to a situation that had to be fixed—painfully fixed.  Sometimes it isn’t our fault at all.  Sometimes it is just part of life.  Sometimes it is for our good.  And that is where God comes in.

God loves us a lot.  He knows what is good and what is best for us.  Sometimes that means pleasant trips and sunshiny days.  Sometimes it means pain.  There are some lessons, and yes, some consequences, that require a season of pain to teach us. No one likes them.  In fact, sometimes we get just a little mad at God.  That is where faith comes in.  Is He a loving Father? Yup. Is He all wise? Yup? Does He have our good at His heart? Yup.  Are we willing to trust Him? Well, that’s just a little harder.

At least twice in the Bible the scriptures talk about the “refiner’s fire.” Proverbs 17:3 puts it this way, “A crucible for silver, and a smelter for gold, and the Lord is the tester of hearts.” The metalsmith will heat gold or silver to the point it melts and then all the impurities will float to the surface.  He does this again and again till he can look into the pot and he can see the reflection of his face in the molten metal.  The.reflection.of.his.face.

Our Abba Father, our dearest daddy, loves us enough to allow us to go through the fire and make us more and more like Him.  And that usually means suffering. In Isaiah 48:10, God says, “I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” Some suffering is easier than others but honestly, none of it is pleasant—but it is all purposeful.  God doesn’t know wasted suffering. Remember that.

So, as we walk these twisted paths we call life, whether it is twisted by the coronavirus or an illness or a tough circumstance, remember that God is with you and He is in control. He.is.in.control.  You see, He is honestly more interested in our holiness than our happiness.  Don’t take that harshly. As God’s kids, we are happiest when we are holiest.  It’s just the truth.  That path, the one directed by Him, means less regrets and less consequences.  So, no matter what today looks like…trust Him.  Rest in Him.  He’s got this.