Posted in Family, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials

The Owner’s Closet

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24

It’s the one place.  My wife Judy is a really smart person and one day she proved that so clearly.  The place where we live has a two-bedroom apartment over the garage.  Off and on through the years, various members of the tribe have stayed there but finally it was just sitting empty.  Not only was it not earning its keep…it was costing us.  It has its own utilities so every month we wrote a check.  And then Judy had a great idea.  She researched and found out there was a pretty new company called Airbnb. It helps owners of properties rent them out as a short-term vacation type rental.  She wanted to give it a try…and she did.

On a shoestring budget and by watching several YouTube videos she turned that little apartment into a beautiful short-term rental.  I told her it wouldn’t work.  A couple of businessmen who attend our church told her it wouldn’t work.  After all, who comes to Harrisburg…a small town in Southern Illinois.  Well, we were all wrong and she was all right. Since 2016 when she opened for business, hundreds have stayed and instead of draining the check book, it now helps supplement our income.  Amazing.

People, book the place for a fee and we give them full access to the property.  They get the apartment, and trust me…it is very nice.  They also get to enjoy our beautiful garden (another Judy thing), the hot tub, and a nice patio area.  It is quite the deal if I say so myself.  Like I said…Judy had a really good idea. However, there is one place, one small room that the guests don’t have access to…the owner’s closet.

You see, in the hallway of the apartment, there is a small walk-in closet that we keep locked. No matter how much they pay, they can’t go in there. They can have everything else…but not that. No, nada, period.  Why?  Well…there are a couple of reasons but the main one is that it is filled with owner stuff.  It’s the storage closet where extra linens, cleaning supplies, mops, cleaning rags, decorations, things we don’t need and well, just things. If the guests were to see it, they definitely wouldn’t be impressed.  They might even say, “How can the rest of the place look so beautiful, and this look so…boring?”  And they would be right and that is why it is locked.

Every short-term rental that I have stayed in has an owner’s closet and I am sure none of them look as nice as the rental itself.  It’s just the nature of the beast.  But what about this?  What about our lives?  Do you have an owner’s closet in your life that no one, I mean no one, is welcome to open…to enter?  Your spouse? Nope. Your children? Nope. Your friends? Nope. Your parents? Nope.  God? Not even God.  Maybe especially not God. While the truth is all of us have that secret place, we need to know it can be a dangerous thing. When we are tempted to hide things, well, let’s just say bad things can grow in the dark.

Perhaps it is time we have the courage to unlock the door and let a little light in.  I know it can be difficult but as long as the door is locked, we won’t, we can’t change what’s inside. The best place to start is to invite God in.  If you are one of His kids, or especially if you aren’t, He won’t be surprised because He already knows everything.  In Psalm 139:23-24, a Book in the Jewish and Christian Bible, it says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Now that is just some great advice. Remember this…if bad things grow in the dark…bad things die in the light. If we will just have the courage to unlock the door, open the door, and even flip on the light switch…well, healing can begin, and help will be on the way.  Why not take that giant step today?  As you reach out with the key and slip it into the lock and turn the knob on the door, just know this.  He is there with you, and He will help you all the way.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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


Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Well, that didn’t do a lot of good.  My wife Judy and I recently attended a pastor’s conference at the Billy Graham Training Center in North Carolina.  It was so refreshing to get away and as always, we were treated like royalty.  The teaching, the facilities and the food were all top notch.  In these crazy days we are living it was like an oasis where we could pause and refill—to drink deeply from His well of living water.

So, too soon, it was time to head back home and because the conference was over in the middle of the day, it just made sense to stop about halfway and spend the night. Cookeville, Tennessee is just about the midway point, so we booked an Airbnb. It was a nice place and we unloaded and then went to get a bite to eat. In the meantime, it decided to rain.  Now let me explain this was one of those rains that could drown a fish.  It rained, rained hard and it rained a long time. I was about to check the price on gopher wood.  Anyway, when we got back to our home for the evening, I jumped out of the car and unlocked the door and Judy followed.

Well, it continued to rain and several times I went outside to see what was happening.  You could hear the rain from inside the apartment and you could just tell it was coming down in buckets.  Of course, there was the occasional lighting followed by a good, ole thunderclap.  Each time I went out I was careful to lock the door back.  You know, the neighborhood looked safe, but you can never tell.  Finally, it was time to head to bed and I checked the door and it was locked.  We were safe and sound.

Well, sometime in the night, I woke up to rollover and I thought I heard something.  Now don’t panic…it was nothing, but I thought it might be something.  And then, something occurred to me, a question really.  I asked myself, “Did you leave the key in the lock on the door?”  Well, that made me wonder…and for good reason.  So, in the middle of the night I got up and turned on the lights.  I looked on the counter and guess what?  The key was nowhere to be seen.  I had a sneaking suspicion I knew just where to find it.

I walked over to the door, unlocked the deadbolt, and opened the door and there for everyone and anyone to see and find…was the key.  Well, I obviously took it out of the lock and gratefully locked the door back, put the key on the counter and went back to bed.  After a short prayer thanking God for keeping us safe, I drifted back off to sleep…no harm and no foul.  But it did make me think.

You see the door had two locks…one on the doorknob and one a deadbolt.  Those together would certainly keep out any bad guys.  But with the key right there…well, those locks weren’t going to keep anyone out.  With the key in the lock, it was like hanging out a “Y’all come on in!” sign. As I mentioned, no one tried to come in, but I had rendered the locks useless by leaving the key there.

It made me wonder how often do we leave the keys in the locks that guard our heart, our mind, our character, our marriage, our anythings?  You see, God watched out for Judy and me that night and gratefully, He also watches out for us in life.  But as sure as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so it is better to remove the key and lock the lock.  Wouldn’t it have been crazy, though,  for me to leave the key in the lock because, after all, no one tried to come in…yet?  And just because nothing has gone amiss in our lives yet doesn’t mean that it can’t and it won’t.

The Bible tells us in the Book of Smart Living, aka Proverbs, to guard our hearts because out of it comes the wellspring of our lives. In other words, we need to lock the door of our hearts and put the key safely away. If you are wondering the best way to guard your heart, to lock the door to your heart, I believe the Bible is the answer.  It is just jam-packed with help from the One who made us.  And remember, the Bible isn’t just a book of rules…it is a book for living well. Like guardrails on a curvy road, it keeps us from big regrets and consequences.  Written on the pages and in between the lines is His calm assurance that we don’t have to worry because He is with us and yes, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne