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

Out of Alignment

Hi Grits Family! Hey, my wife Judy and I are going to be “out of pocket” aka “not available” to write for the next couple of weeks.  During that time, we decided to send out some of our past stories.  I hope you enjoy the ones we selected and look forward to some “fresh Grits” in a couple of weeks. God bless.  Bro. Dewayne

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Something told me I was a day late and a dollar short. A couple of years ago we bought a “new to us” car.  It was a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta.  I drove all the way up near St. Louis to look at their lot full of Jetta cars.  Volkswagen had gotten in trouble about emissions and recalled all their diesel cars.  It took them a couple of years to get them fixed and rerelease them to the market.  Judy and I decided to dive into the diesel market and get one.

So, off I went to St. Louis.  When I arrived, I saw dozens and dozens of VW Jettas.  However, the problem was most of them were in pretty rough shape.  Apparently as the owners turned them in, they decided to treat them like an unloved dog.  Even after they cleaned them up it was pretty apparent, they had lived a hard-knock life.  So, with my trusty salesman by my side, I went from car to car to car—with no luck.  I’m particular about cars and these were not making the cut.

Finally, after checking almost every car in my price range, we found one that was not as perfect as I wanted, but it was the best one available.  I drove it and liked it and before long it was ours.  Driving it home I noticed that the VW emblem on the steering wheel was not pointing straight up.  Hmmmm.  But trying to control my perfectionism I chose to ignore it—for a while.

So, even though it was “Judy’s car”, it had to go.  I asked my super mechanic, Chris, if we could pull the steering wheel and straighten it up.  He said, “You don’t have a steering wheel problem, you have a front-end problem. You need a front-end alignment.”  Well, what about that. I had noticed the car was not wanting to stay straight on the highway, but I didn’t think too much about it.  I should have.

After we got the front end aligned and sure enough there it was—the VW emblem was straight up and down.  Yay—I said. Problem solved…and it was.  However, the problem was that I had waited too late.  Then, a little later I was looking at my front tires and realized that the outside tread was virtually gone…outta there. My choice to ignore and live with a problem ended up costing me nearly $500.00 dollars for new tires.  Bummer.  Big bummer. Oftentimes, procrastination can be very expensive.

Life can be like a car out of balance. It got me thinking, what in our lives might be a little misaligned, out of balance?  What habit, what misplaced priority, what sins are we hiding, ignoring, or choosing to not take care of? I know, it seems easier not to worry about it, but truth be known, the longer we wait the more it costs. The longer we wait the bigger the consequences and the greater the regrets.  It has been said that if you aim for the moon and are less than one degree off you will end up somewhere, but it won’t be the moon…it might be Mars.

Solomon, one of the smartest guys in Bible, said it best. He said that we should learn to trust in the Lord with everything we’ve got, and don’t try to figure it out on our own. He goes on to say that in all our ways check with Him and He will make our paths straight. Make. Our. Paths. Straight.  In other words, if the steering wheel on our life is crooked, He can give us the realignment that we need.  He can make our lives straight.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think I will save the $500.00 next time and head to the alignment place as soon as I notice something’s going wrong.  I think I’m gonna do the same thing with life.  When my “VW emblem” is a little crooked or I find myself pulling away from the One who loves me most—I’m gonna head to the Master mechanic and let Him check me out.  I can trust Him.  The Creator always knows the creation best.  I’ll rest in the waiting room while He works.  I know He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials

God and Waze

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him and He will guide your steps.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Some things just don’t get old…at least not yet.  One of the modern marvels that still amazes me is the GPS units that are found in most cars today.  The fact that a satellite circling the earth at 17,500 miles per hour and at an altitude above the earth of 12,600 miles can talk to this little device on or in my dash is, well, amazing.  The fact that it can tell precisely where I am and exactly how fast I am traveling is even more amazing. All that is made possible by the actual GPS unit and the maps that are stored inside it.  But that isn’t all.

Along with the satellite and the receiver are the applications, or apps, that translate the data.  One of the most popular, and most amazing, is one called, “Waze.” What’s amazing about Waze is that it is free, and it works in conjunction with most smartphones.  What’s more amazing about Waze is that it allows users to input information about traffic and even where police might be hiding. Smile. 

Now sometimes the GPS devices just don’t get it right.  I remember one time my wife Judy and I were traveling to a funeral in another town.  When we finally arrived where the GPS told us to go…we were sitting in the middle of nowhere looking at a corn field.  I have to admit I was a little put out…as in put out in the middle of nowhere. So, there have been opportunities to throw in the towel on these little wiz-bangs…but that would be a big mistake.  You see most of the time it gets it perfectly right. Let me explain.

Last week Judy and I were traveling west on I-40 returning from a conference in North Carolina.  Waze gave us an estimated time of arrival and we were cruising.  Then, out of the blue, Waze tells me it had found a faster route and automatically rerouted us, but the funny part was the faster route was five minutes longer than the original route. “What?” I said out loud but to really no one. So anyway, it said we were to get off the interstate in four miles and I told Judy that we might as well give it a try.  I’m glad we did.

When we arrived at the designated exit, there were several cars and several semi-trucks taking the exit.  Apparently, we weren’t the only ones using Waze.  As we exited, we noticed an official truck backing up the interstate with one of those big electronic signs.  It was flashing this message, “Caution. Stopped Cars Ahead.” Hmmm I began to be very glad we exited. Soon we were on our new route that at partially paralleled the interstate where we could see cars and trucks at a complete standstill.  After a few miles, Waze had us turn right and we crossed over the interstate and there we saw the problem.  A semi-truck and several cars had collided totally shutting down the west bound lanes.  We turned left and back on to a now totally empty interstate.  My Dearest Father had used Waze, to send us a love note and had rescued us in a big, big way. He didn’t save us minutes but probably several hours.

So, what if I had said, “You know Judy, Waze has led us wrong before, how do I know it isn’t wrong this time?” In other words, what if I had ignored Waze and followed my own best plan.  Well, the answer is obvious, isn’t it?  I would have found myself stuck in a miles long traffic jam. But because, in a moment of faith and clarity, (for once) I listened to Waze and trusted it—I was rescued. How about that? And if you know anything about me from Grits, you know I don’t do traffic jams well…at all.

I know sometimes it is a hard call to know when to trust and when not to…especially when there is a chance that what we are trusting in just might fail or be wrong.  But I have good news! While a GPS might miss it sometimes, causing us to have doubts, there is a system that always gets it right.  It is, “God’s Providential System.” This one you won’t find in Best Buy, but you will find in the Bible.  The word providence means to foresee or foreknow.  And since it is God, we can have the confident assurance that He always gets it right.  We just need to trust Him because He sees what we do not.

One of my favorite verses in the Old Testament part of the Bible is found in Proverbs 3:5-6.  It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him and He will guide your steps.”  How awesome is that. Add to that the fact that He always has our best at His heart and that is a winning combination.  Oh sure, we can bump along the road of life without Him but if you’ve tried that you probably know it isn’t a real good idea. At least from where I sit, it makes a lot more sense to trust Him each day and in every way.  I’ve learned that Waze is a great tool but far more importantly, I’ve found that my Dearest Daddy is a great God who loves me—and you.  Oh, and, always, and I do mean always, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom

Paradox

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

It’s rather a paradox.  The story is told of two people who were married, and both happened to be doctors.  They were walking down the street together, holding hands, and someone saw them and said, “Oh look, a “pair of docs.” Smile.  I have a paradox of my own, but it has nothing to do with doctors.  You see, I love to travel.  My wife Judy and I genuinely look forward to traveling.  It is one of our “life candies.” In fact, as I write this, I am overlooking a beach in Northwest Florida.  The patio door is open, the early morning sun is sharing its rays with those already on the beach and the sound of crashing and rolling waves fill the room.  It is good.

Now for the paradox.  In order to travel, you have to somehow go somewhere.  Whether it is a plane, train or automobile…you have to go and going always involves opportunities for frustration.  Whether it is a canceled flight or train or a sudden traffic jam on the interstate, interruptions will and do come.  On this trip, it happened driving south on Interstate 24.  There is a stretch of road south of Paducah, Kentucky that the Department of Transportation has been working on for a long, long time.  The two south bound lanes have been reduced to one and that can spell slowdown.  But this time it didn’t.  Everyone managed to merge to one lane and we were merrily heading south at a reduced but very respectable speed…until we weren’t.

Suddenly, I looked up and I could see lots and lots of brake lights.  So I began to slow down and pretty quickly found myself in a traffic jam.  Well, we managed to creep along at a blazing five or ten miles per hour.  I looked on the GPS and it confirmed there was an accident up ahead and that was the reason for the slowdown.  It also told me that the mess was somewhere between long but not the longest.  After a while the GPS told me that we were nearing the spot of the accident.  I was expecting the worse…police cars, ambulances, and destroyed vehicles, but that wasn’t what I found. Pulled off on the shoulder, as in not blocking any lanes, were three vehicles.  One had no damage and the other two had minor damage.  Apparently they were following too closely and someone hit the brakes and well, the rest is history.

There was no police presence, yet, there was no ambulance—in fact, everyone was standing around chatting and as soon as we passed the scene, it was over.  It was back to normal…zooming south again.  Two things quickly occurred to me. First, the choice of those two drivers to follow too closely sure caused a mess.  If one of them was in a hurry…well, they weren’t anymore.  Second, it seemed to me that while traffic needed to slow down, it didn’t need to almost come to a stop.  It could have been curiosity or maybe a case of overreaction.  We do that well sometimes, don’t we? The bottom line is…it doesn’t matter…things happen. Period.

And therein lies the paradox.  Practically speaking, if we travel, we will have bumps and slowdowns.  It is just a part of life—the journey.  So you do all that you can to avoid the bumps and slowdowns but don’t let them “eat your lunch” or keep you from doing the thing you love.  You learn to accept them as part of the journey.  Now, I’m still learning this but I have a feeling it something worth exploring.  This goes somewhere beyond knowing the joy is in the journey to include joy in the bumps and slowdowns.  It means somehow, (I’m still working on it), allowing those inconveniences to become part of the adventure.  I know that sounds crazy but at the same time it sounds…enticing.

I’m one of those crazy people who believe the Bible and believe what it teaches about life and God and I am learning to believe that God has His hand on the wheel and throttle of life. He has a reason for cruising free and clear down the interstate of life and He has a reason for the bumps and slowdowns of life. It becomes a matter of being willing to trust Him for both.  A favorite proverb from the Book of Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Well, there you go.  Do life by trusting Him.

When I saw those brake lights the other day and had to slowdown…and even stop, it seems there was a whisper in my ear. It wasn’t shouting frustration or demanding an explanation. It was something I had heard before and needed to hear again.  It simply said, “Don’t worry, son, I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

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

Out of Alignment

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Something told me I was a day late and a dollar short. A couple of years ago we bought a “new to us” car.  It was a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta.  I drove all the way up near St. Louis to look at their lot full of Jetta cars.  Volkswagen had gotten in trouble about emissions and recalled all their diesel cars.  It took them a couple of years to get them fixed and rerelease them to the market.  Judy and I decided to dive into the diesel market and get one.

So, off I went to St. Louis.  When I arrived, I saw dozens and dozens of VW Jettas.  However, the problem was most of them were in pretty, rough shape.  Apparently as the owners turned them in, they decided to treat them like an unloved dog.  Even after they cleaned them up it was pretty apparent they had lived a hard-knock life.  With my trusty salesman by my side, I went from car to car to car—with no luck.  I’m pretty particular about cars and these were not making the cut.

Finally, after checking almost every car in my price range, we found one that was not as perfect as I wanted but it was the best one available.  I drove it and liked it and before long it was ours.  Driving it home I noticed that the VW emblem on the steering wheel was not pointing straight up.  Hmmmm.  But trying to control my perfectionism I chose to ignore it—for a while.

So, even though it was “Judy’s car”, the crooked emblem had to go.  I asked my super mechanic, Chris, if we could pull the steering wheel and straighten it up.  He said, “You don’t have a steering wheel problem, you have a front-end problem. You need a front-end alignment.”  Well, what about that. I had noticed the car was not wanting to stay straight on the highway, but I didn’t think too much about it.  I should have.

A few days later we got the front end aligned and sure enough there it was—the VW emblem was straight up and down.  Yay—I said. Problem solved…and it was.  However, the problem was that I had waited too late.  I noticed a little later that my front tires tread on the outside was virtually gone…outta there. My choice to ignore and live with a problem ended up costing me nearly $500.00 for new tires.  Bummer.  Big bummer. Oftentimes, procrastination can be very expensive.

Life can be like a car out of balance. It got me thinking. What in our lives might be a little misaligned, out of balance?  What habit, what misplaced priority, what sins are we hiding, ignoring, or choosing to not take care of? I know, it seems easier not to worry about it, but truth be known, the longer we wait the more it costs. The longer we wait the bigger the consequences and the greater the regrets.  It has been said that if you aim for the moon and are less than one degree off you will end up somewhere, but it won’t be the moon…it might be Mars.

Solomon, one of the smartest guys in the Bible, said it best. He said that we should learn to trust in the Lord with everything we’ve got, and don’t try to figure it out on our own. He goes on to say that in all our ways check with Him and He will make our paths straight. Make.Our.Paths.Straight.  In other words, if the steering wheel of our life is crooked, He can give us the realignment that we need.  He can make our lives straight.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think I will save the $500.00 next time and head to the alignment place as soon as I notice something’s going wrong.  I think I’m gonna do the same thing with life.  When my “VW emblem” is a little crooked or I find myself pulling away from the One who loves me most—I’m gonna head to the Master mechanic and let Him check me out.  I can trust Him.  The Creator always knows His creation best.  I’ll rest in the waiting room while He works.  I know He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in fear, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, missions, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom

Perseverance

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Perseverance…don’t quit.  In my inventory of weaknesses is something that I wish wasn’t.  I would like to tell you that I have the perseverance of a thoroughbred race horse bolting from the gate with only one goal—to finish and to finish first.  And while I am not a quitter, I do sometimes, “peter out.”  Merriam Webster defines that as “to gradually become smaller, weaker, or less before stopping or ending”.

During 2020 there were too many times when I just wasn’t sure I was going to finish well—or finish at all.  But that wasn’t always a bad thing because it caused me to look inwardly and upward—to my Dearest Daddy.

During those times when I wasn’t sure of much of anything, it was then that I found myself turning to the One who was sure.  When my steps were unsure, I found myself tracking with the One whose steps were rock solid and sure.  I think 2020 taught me something of hanging in there—to persevere—to keep going.  While I was out west this past May I saw it over and over again.  First, it was a wild flower blooming in what can only be called dust.  The roots had somehow dug deep and found the water of life.  I saw it in a small tree as it grew from a crevice in a large rock.  It made no sense but somehow that tree decided there was a way to grow in an impossible place.

I saw it too from another small tree growing from a large rock in the middle of a lake.  There was no soil to be found and yet it grew…it persevered.  It decided that it would survive, it would thrive, even though the odds were totally against success.  You see, the Bible is filled with stories of men and women who trusted God against all odds.  A shepherd boy becomes a king, another “has-been” shepherd leads a million or so people to a new land—the promised land.  A band of eleven men from various walks of life chose to follow a young rabbi (who happened to be the Son of God) and the message they shared changed the world.

All of these folks failed at one time or another, but they didn’t quit.  They chose to persevere.  If you wonder how America has lasted for these 245 years, there are two reasons.  The hand of God and the perseverance of ordinary men and women who gave what they had for a cause they believed in. A.Cause.They.Believed.In.

We have survived one of the greatest challenges we have faced in our lifetime—the pandemic of 2020. However, I am sure the greater enemy wasn’t the pandemic, but rather the division that swept our land like a wildfire. Someone wiser than you or me once said that a house divided against itself cannot stand—Jesus said that before Lincoln did.

William Carey, a great missionary, once said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God” and I believe that is true today.  But we need to learn from the founding fathers, from the men who stormed Normandy or trudged through the jungles of Vietnam or froze on the hills of Korea.  We have to learn again to trust the hand of God.  The Bible says that we should trust God with everything we have and turn away from the tendency to trust ourselves.  If we do that…He will guide us…He will direct us.  We also need to learn the lesson of that small tree growing from that giant rock.  We will not quit, we will persevere—we will find life in the most unlikely of places.  Trust God and don’t quit.  That sounds like a plan.

With the pandemic largely in the rearview mirror, it seems to some degree we have been given a second chance.  I hope we will take advantage of this gift God has given us.  I hope we will learn the power of perseverance and the power of four simple words, “Love God…Love People.”  I may not know what tomorrow holds but I do know the One who holds tomorrow and that is good enough for me.  I am certain no matter what, that as always, “He’s got this.”