Posted in fear, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, Scripture, thankful

I Heard Him Before I Saw Him

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.  You are with me.”  Psalm 23:4

I heard him before I saw him.  Last week I was walking in the city park.  It wasn’t the casual walk but the exercising kind.  I do about 2.5 miles in about 35 minutes.  That day the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the trees were doing their “leafing out” thing and it was a good day.  Then, like I said, I heard him before I saw him.

I was alone in the park till then.  As I crossed the bridge on the north end of the park there was a man in his forties or fifties.  He was dressed normally–whatever that means but that was where normalcy ended.  At first, I thought he had one of those things in his ear that enabled him to talk on his cell phone.  The closer I got the more I could see and hear.

He was angry.  He was shouting. He was cursing. Then he began to pick up rocks and throw them violently in one direction and then another.  I realized he was fighting a battle with someone I could not see but he could.  To him it was real–very real.  He felt threatened and hurt by an enemy only he could see.

I prayed.  I asked God to deliver him from the invisible demon that was haunting him.  I asked God for His peace to come upon this peace-less man.  Later I saw him leaving the park, no longer angry, no longer violent, no longer cursing. It seemed from where I was that a moment of calm had come to his storm wrecked mind.  I was grateful and told God so.

I thought about that day several times and I realized that in these days there are a lot of folks fighting and fearful of enemies–enemies that don’t have or need a face to wreck their lives.  The covid-19 virus, the loss of a job or business, the fear of losing someone they love, the fear that things will never be the same, the fear that this fear will own them–consume them.

My mind goes back to Psalm 23:4. David, chased by a crazed king consumed with jealousy, chased by too many memories of too many failures writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.  You are with me.”  He was wise enough to know that as he walked through this valley it wasn’t filled with real monsters–only monster “wanna-be’s.”

You see, the valley became a roadway and not a residence.  Death, because of his faith in a “bigger-than-anything” God, was reduced to a shadow.  Shadows can frighten but can cause no real damage or harm.  How did that happen? Somewhere along the way David chose to believe in his “bigger-than-anything” God and he found peace.  He said, “I don’t need to fear evil, no matter what it looks like, because You are with me.”  You are with me. Today as you journey, remember all around us are people who fight battles with enemies only they can see.  Be sure and swift not to judge but to pray.  That day in the park I got it right but trust me I don’t always do that.  It’s then that I pray a different prayer–one for forgiveness.  And if you are fighting those invisible enemies today–just a word or two.  God loves you.  Rest in Him.  He’s got this. 

Posted in Family, Scripture

Larry, Barry, Harry, Terry, Ralph and Bubba

If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God has arranged each one of the parts in the body just as he wanted.” (1 Corinthians 12:17-18)

Ok, I was just so confused that I needed to tell someone.  I know you must think I am goose crazy but yesterday morning was so weird in goose-land at the park or better, maybe it was something beautiful.  So, let’s just say the geese were very prolific this year.  There are lots, and I mean lots, of baby geese.  There are two kinds of geese in the park.  Almost all of them are the standard, brownish geese.  Then there are also four or five white snow geese.  Now trust me on this.  In the past the snow geese and the regular geese just didn’t like each other.  But something must have happened.

So let me tell you about yesterday.  First, there were several of the standard brownish geese families.  They were teaching the kids about swimming, eating, how to potty on the walking path…you know the standard things.  But then there was something else happening.  There were four white geese and they had like five babies and they were one big happy family. I’m sure there was a mom and a dad but there was also at least an aunt and an uncle.  They were all doing their family thing.  But hang on.

There was also a pair of the standard brownish geese and they had babies.  What was different was they had two brown babies and a baby that obviously came from the snow geese. No really.  I’m think they adopted one.  And you know what?  They treated him just like the rest.  But that wasn’t quite the end of the story either.  So, there was a pair of standard brownish geese and they had five brown babies.  They were so cute.  I think their names were probably like Larry, Barry, Harry, Terry and Ralph.  Anyway, there’s one more thing.

There was one of the big snow geese in the family mix.  He obviously had to be a distant, and I mean distant, relative.  But he was one tough dude.  The little babies were on the sidewalk and mom and dad were standing there.  Usually, when I would walk by a family, the dad would hiss at me and I would act afraid.  I wasn’t but I was hoping it made him feel better.  Anyway, mom and dad were like casual—no deal.

But then there was the snow goose named Bubba.  I mean when I got close he puffed his chest out, stretched his neck, glared at me and gave me his best manly hiss.  You know the kind those big cobra snakes do in India. The hair stood up on the back of my neck and on my arms and I kept moving.  I don’t know who Bubba was but he likes his family—brown or not—a lot.

You know, the more I thought about it… the more I thought it wasn’t weird at all.  I thought maybe that’s exactly how it is supposed to be.  The geese, regardless of their feather color, came together, formed a family and a community and were doing life.  Everyone seemed pretty happy to me.  Well, all except Bubba.  He had an attitude but I think even that was because he loved and cared for the others.

Someone once said it takes a village to raise a child.  It takes all kinds of people to make life work.  And do you know what?  It takes all kinds to make God’s family work too. If you go to church you know sometimes it can get just a little bumpy. Someone doesn’t like this or doesn’t like that.  Someone wears the wrong thing or not enough of the right thing.  Someone thinks things are too loud or too soft or too hot or too cold. Well, I think we need to take a lesson from the guys and gals at the park.

In the Bible Paul wrote that things would be pretty weird if a body was one giant ear or one giant eye.  If we were all the same we would just be in a hot mess.  It takes every part—ever person—being themselves and doing what God designed them to do.  And do you know what else it says?  It says in 1 Corinthians 12:18 “But as it is, God has arranged each one of the parts in the body just as He wanted.”  As.He.wanted.  That means that the person that you just love at church was put there by God.  And it also means the person who irritates you the most was put there too.  And perhaps they are there just for you. Of all God’s creations the church, His body, is one of His most beautiful.  A flower garden is made beautiful not in its sameness but in its variety. The body of Christ is made beautiful the very same way.  So, in these trying days, these crazy days, these days when it is so important that the church be the church, be sure and remember that the body is a bouquet of people and personalities selected and arranged by God himself.  We need the Bubbas and we need Larry, Barry, Harry, Terry and Ralph too.  We need the younger and we need the older.  We need each other.  Sound too difficult? Sound a little overwhelming?  Don’t worry about it.  God’s good at helping His rowdy, sometimes difficult kids grow.  So, take a rest in Him. He’s got this. Just ask Bubba.