Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, Scripture, thankful, wisdom

Chucking Rocks

When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

I should have listened.  I was a pretty good kid when I was young but let’s be honest.  Pretty good doesn’t mean perfect and pretty good doesn’t mean not mischievous.  I think it means I was somewhere close to normal.  The only thing is, normal can still get you into trouble.

One day I was with the family and I’m pretty sure we were at a laundromat.  Apparently the washing machine had broken down and we had to do the wash at the mat.  My daddy and I were out in the parking lot while mama was washing the clothes.  I was about nine and bored and that is not a good combination.  The parking lot was gravel and all those rocks just seemed to be saying, “Throw me.”  So, I obliged.

At first it was a little toss here and there but the more I threw, the more I wanted to throw.  First it was here and there but then I started taking aim.  Several things were lying along the edge of the parking lot and they made great targets but then I got an idea.  If hitting a can was good, imagine hitting a moving target.  So I started chucking the rocks in the direction of the road and at the cars passing by.  Bad idea.

Now, if you are going to chuck rocks at a car, every nine year old rock chucker knows you don’t just chuck your rock with obvious intention.  You ease into it. Well, I started easing into it and before long my rocks were landing dangerously close to cars passing by.  My Daddy thought it was kinda accidental and it garnered a “Dewayne, be careful to not hit the cars.”  He hadn’t caught onto my real plan to “ping a hub cap.”  Anyway, I kept chucking so he upped the warning.

“Dewayne, listen, don’t throw rocks at the cars.” He had finally caught on and I should have quit while I was ahead.  I finally got close enough so that we entered “Final Jeopardy.” “Question—what happens if you hit a car? Answer—I’m gonna give you a spanking.”  Yeah, well, you can probably guess where this is going.  I chucked a rock and hit a car going by and it was “Final Jeopardy.”  Daddy got mad, the driver got mad and I got in trouble.

Well, Daddy was able to talk to the driver and he promised him the “grapes of wrath” would fall when we got home.  As he drove off, daddy explained about the “grapes of wrath.” Translated, it meant I was gonna get a spanking when we got home and it wasn’t gonna be a little one.  So, as soon as we pulled into our driveway, I ran into the house and hid under the dining room table.  Soon, I heard Daddy’s voice, “Where are you, Dewayne?”  I felt like Adam and Eve in the garden after they had chucked rocks at God and decided to sin.  God was looking for them and they were hiding too.

And that’s where things get fuzzy.  I don’t remember the spanking which means I probably got grace instead.  It probably means that Daddy and I had a long talk about chucking rocks at cars and how that was not a good thing to do.  It must have worked because I don’t think I ever chucked another rock at a car…at least one that was moving. That day I learned about obedience and how it has a lot less consequences than disobedience.  I also learned about grace.  Grace is when you deserve a spanking but instead you get a talking.  But I also learned about rock chucking. I learned that it was ok to chuck rocks at things like stumps and cans, but it is not ok to chuck rocks at things like cars. When you do there are consequences…big ones.

Now, there’s another kind of rock chucking that I’m still learning about and that is chucking rocks at people. I’m not talking about waylaying someone with a stone but rather waylaying them with our judgmental acts and words. It’s what we do when we see someone fail and we decide to make ourselves feel better by knocking them down.

Jesus ran into this when some religious people found a woman sinning big.  They dragged her into the middle of a crowd and wanted to stone her.  They asked Jesus what He would do.  He told them that the person that had never sinned should chuck the first rock.  Well, slowly they all walked away because they had all messed up. “Where are your accusers?” Jesus asked the woman.  She replied that they had left…and indeed they had.

The only two left were her, the sinner and Him, the One who had never sinned.  He could have chucked rocks but instead He loved her and forgave her.  She deserved the rocks but He gave her grace.  I like that.  A lot. He dismissed her a smile and a word of “now don’t go on sinning” and the rocks stayed on the ground…right where they belong. So, I am grateful for grace…and you should be too.  If we have experienced grace we should extend some too. You see, rocks make great parking lots and driveways but are terrible weapons. They need to stay in the quarry or on the ground.  My daddy showed grace then and my Dearest Daddy shows it every day.  We should too.  However, it’s good to know when we are hiding under the dining room table and He calls, we can come out and sit in His lap and learn about the consequences of sin but also the wonders of grace.  So, come on out from your hiding place. We can rest in Him because, “He’s got this.”

Posted in food, life, Scripture

“Pigdemic”

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

I was afraid I had caught it.  We have all heard all we need to hear about the corona virus.  Regardless of what magazine, newspaper, news program, talk show or person you talk to, eventually, the topic of this pandemic will come up.  Nothing has so dominated the public’s attention like this, this, this disaster, this tragedy, this pain in the neck, this maker of our new normalcy…COVID-19.  Oh, and I wasn’t afraid that I caught that.  Nope…but I was almost certain I had caught its first cousin.

Did you know that the pandemic had a first cousin?  Oh yes, it does.  It is the dreaded…wait for it…pigdemic.  Yup…you read it right.   Pigdemic is a new phenomenon that is sweeping the nation.  It happens when people are forced to stay at home for extended periods of time, bored out of their minds.  In this condition, people eat and eat and eat. They eat things that they love, they eat things they like, they eat things they don’t like and they eat things they have never heard of.   The consequences are weighty.

Clothes magically shrink while hanging in closets, mirrors suddenly make people appear shorter and wider, gravity seems to take on added strength when we try to get off of the couch and exercise becomes more difficult, much more difficult.  And that is where I made a self-diagnosis.  I had the pigdemic.  It happened like this.

First, despite my shrinking clothes, I have managed to walk 2.5 miles, five or six days a week at a respectable 14 minute mile pace.  Well, this morning, after walking, my wife was going to ride her bike.  I decided I would join her.  After all, riding a bike had to be easier than walking.  So off we went! I was surprised when she was about 40 yards ahead of me and I was panting like a dog on a hot day.  “Hmmmm” I said.  She had to stop and adjust her seat (for which I am eternally grateful) and I told her, “I don’t know if it is because I walked this morning or maybe it is those pesky donuts but I am tired. This is hard.” She laughed and kindly said it was probably because I had walked.  I was sure it was the donuts.

So we kept riding, I kept falling behind and I was pretty sure I was going to die.  I was certain I had the pigdemic.  I wasn’t ready to swear off donuts but I was close.  Well, I had been hearing a noise on my front wheel (which sounded strangely like a pig squealing) but I didn’t think too much about it.  I should have.  I finally told Judy I was going to stop and check out the squealing pig sound.  I did and it turned out my front wheel was off center causing my brake to be about half on. I loosened the front wheel and centered it slightly and got back on.  Two amazing things happened.  The squealing pig was gone and suddenly I could peddle a lot easier.  A whole lot easier.

It turns out I was not about to die from the pigdemic.  It was a brake that was braking when it should have been coasting. I discovered it is amazing when you ride a bike how much harder it is when the brake is on…even a little.  A little braking can quickly break your spirit.  I decided before I ride again I’m going to check my bike out a little closer and make sure there are no squealing pigs on board.

I wonder if that is what the writer of Hebrews had in mind? He encouraged us to lay aside every weight and every sin that might hinder us from running our race or riding our spiritual bike.  I think it might be.  The weights are things that may not be wrong for us but are just not helpful.  It might be like riding a bike and carrying a ten pound rock in your basket…just because you like rocks.  Sin, well, we know what sin is. If you are biking it might be like riding with a flat tire.  Not a good idea.  Whether it is rocks or flat tires, the bottom line is life is harder when we carry stuff that we don’t need or that can and will hurt us.

So, if you are riding your bike and there is a sound that sounds like a squealing pig, it probably isn’t the pigdemic.  It’s probably a wheel off-center causing your brake to brake. If life seems a little more difficult, why not ask God and see if you have a rock or two in your basket or worse, a flat tire.  Try praying this prayer from Psalm 139:23-24. “Father would you search me inside and out, run some tests on me, and see if there is anything hindering me, hurting me?  Would you see if there is something that I’m doing that offends you?  Would you lead me in a way that shows others I am on Your path? Thank-you Father. Amen.” Now that is one prayer that God wants to answer.  He wants you to peddle through life with the wind at your back, a song in your heart and no squealing pigs on board.  And when you get home you can rest in Him.  Do you know why?  Yup…He’s got this.