Posted in Family, fear, friends, life, Scripture, thankful, Trials, wisdom

It Wasn’t Pretty

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Proverbs 26:11

It just wasn’t pretty.  When we arrived in Cobden, Illinois in 1986 they provided a home for us.  The only problem was the church was “L” shaped and the house sat right in the middle of the “L.”  The reason that was a problem was whenever someone needed something, they knew right where to come.  We might as well have had a billboard in our front yard advertising where the preacher lived. Every person needing some gas or baby diapers knew right where to come. That was all fine except I do believe they watched to see when we were eating supper before they rang the doorbell.

Sometimes it was a church member needing in the building.  Early, oh, about 6:30 am, one Saturday morning my wife Judy and I were still snuggled down in our bed. About that time, we heard someone first pulling on the front door of the church and then hollering, “Where’s that preacher and why is the door locked?” Well, the preacher was still in bed, after all it was Saturday, it was just after daybreak, and the door was locked for that reason. It was just about that time when Judy said, “Dewayne, we need to move.” So, the church said OK, and we found an older Victorian home, made a ridiculously low offer (because that is all we could afford) and to everyone’s surprise they said yes. Holy moly.

We moved and began life as homeowners.  Homeowners meant that we were responsible for everything.  Things like yard stuff. Things like trimming trees.  Things like getting stuck in a tree while trimming it.  Yup, that’s right.  In our backyard was a large and old Redbud tree.  While it was still alive, it had seen better days.  In fact, there were several dead limbs up in the tree.  Mr. Homeowner, that’s me, decided to trim it up.  I didn’t have a ladder, so I found a bucket, or a stool, or something to stand on and managed to get up in the tree.  I sawed away with my handy pruning saw and soon I was ready to get back down. It was then that I discovered the laws of climbing a tree using a bucket or something.  It wasn’t pretty.

I decided it would be best to go down backwards facing the tree. It sounded like a sound idea.  It wasn’t.  With one foot in a crook of the tree, I gingerly lowered my other leg to the stool or bucket or whatever it was. And, as fate would have it, my foot landed not in the middle but on the edge of whatever it was and yes, it tipped over.  And what happened next still causes me to groan.  As the bucket or stool or whatever it was tipped over, I found myself with one leg caught in the tree and my other leg on the ground. In other words,…I was in trouble.  My foot with my leg attached was over my head and I was in pain.  For a gymnast…no problem.  For a ballerina, no problem.  For a slightly out of shape preacher, homeowner…big problem.

It was so bad I have managed to block out the details of the rescue.  I think it involved me hollering, Judy hearing and coming, and her somehow freeing my leg from the crook of the tree. I was grateful…boy, was I grateful. Like Jacob who left an encounter with God with a limp, I left the tree with a hip that holds grudges. To this day, whenever I raise my leg to do something, I am not so gently reminded of that day.  I did something to something, and it was a lifetime reminder to not use a bucket, or a stool, or some other something other than a ladder to climb into a tree.  I.Learned.

One thing that most living animals have is the ability to learn.  Bucks get to be big bucks by learning when and where to go and not go.  All the family dogs know who to beg for food from.  His name is Papa.  You get the idea.  So, assuming you don’t die from climbing a tree without the proper tools, at least you learn how not to do it…and that is valuable.  As we journey through life, God usually gives us a chance to learn.  The important thing is to…wait for it…learn.  Everyone makes mistakes but it is simply foolish to keep making the same ones over and over again. The author of Proverbs says it this way, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Sometimes the Bible just lays it out there, doesn’t it?

Well, that was a one-time experience.  I can’t say that is true for everything I’ve done, but it was true about that one thing.  There are some things in life that once is enough.  But what do you do if you find your leg hung in a tree above your head?  Well, you holler and pray.  If you are lucky someone might hear you.  The good news is that God will hear you and while I don’t know if and how the rescue might come, I do know He won’t laugh at you.  He will just whisper, “I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Right Tool… Right Job

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

They’re in the garage…waiting.  Ok, let’s be totally honest.  I am, uh, not very handy when it comes to power tools.  It’s not that I don’t use them, and it’s not that I can’t use them, I just don’t use them as effectively as others.  I know when I work with the guys at church on some project, generally speaking, they won’t let me use the power tools.  It’s an act of protection—for me and for them.  Now, with all that said, I do have a pretty good collection of power tools.  And, when I do need them, they are there and if I am careful and patient, I can usually get the job done.

I have a set of tools all made by Ryobi.  The idea is that you have all these different tools, but they are all powered by the same battery or power source.  Several companies do this but I chose Ryobi mainly because they were cheaper than most of the other “he-man” professional brands.  I have, and this is the short list, a couple of drills, an impact driver, a saws-all, a circular saw, a light, a grinder, two string trimmers, two blowers (one small and one big) and a partridge and a pear tree.  Just checking to see if you were still there. Now all these tools use the same battery—the same power source which means I can switch the battery between them all.  It is cool and it is convenient.

Several of these tools, like the drills, blowers, and string trimmers, I use pretty frequently. Some, though, I rarely use—but here is the deal.  I may not use them often, but when I need one, they are so valuable.  I had a piece of metal sticking up in my back yard from an old house that once stood there.  This metal was a pain in the neck.  I would forget and hit it with my lawnmower and bump it with the string trimmer.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t get rid of it.  Then one day I bought a grinder to add to my tool collection.  I took that dude in the backyard and eight years of frustration disappeared in a matter of seconds.  The difference? Right tool for the job.

While all these tools do different things, like I said, they all have the same battery.  I have learned one thing.  The tools without the battery are totally useless.  They might look impressive as you look into my big green Ryobi tool bag, but take away the power and they are just space stealers on a shelf.  However, put in the battery and bam—they become powerful and useful.

I suppose you are already connecting the dots here.  You probably have already figured out that all of us are different, and all of us have different skill sets, but all of us also need a power source to be what we were created to be.  Some might consider that to be a positive attitude or a strong work ethic, and while those are good things…they are not the thing.  From where I sit, the One who made me, who designed me is the source of strength in my life.  He makes all the skill sets come alive.  Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament said it right when he wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  At least for me, when I plug Jesus into life, into a situation, all of a sudden, there is power to do—to overcome.

Now, don’t make the mistake of confusing church and religion for Jesus.  In and of themselves I guess they are fine, but they are anemic substitutes for the real deal. Jesus is the power source that can change lives and He is just waiting to change yours.  Why not jump on the web and do a little research? Oh, sure you will find some who will think this God stuff is just a crutch to give hopeless people something to hope in.  But you are also going to find a big bunch of incredible people who believe just the opposite.  Hey, give it a shot.  I know after this crazy past year, as well as a zillion other tough situations, He is the real deal, and I’ve never found anything that He can’t handle.  Take it to the bank…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne