Friday, June 17, 2011

daniel's gloves

I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town-square. The food and the company were both especially good that day.

As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read, 'I will work for food.' My heart sank.

I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief.

We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car.

Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: 'Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square.'

Then with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the store front church, going through his sack.

I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor.

'Looking for the pastor?' I asked.

'Not really,' he replied, 'just resting.'

'Have you eaten today?'

'Oh, I ate something early this morning.'

'Would you like to have lunch with me?'

'Do you have some work I could do for you?'

'No work,' I replied 'I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch.'

'Sure,' he replied with a smile.

As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions. 'Where you headed?'

' St.. Louis '

'Where you from?'

'Oh, all over; mostly Florida ..'

'How long you been walking?'

'Fourteen years,' came the reply.

I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, 'Jesus is The Never Ending Story.'

Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought.

He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God

'Nothing's been the same since,' he said, 'I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now.'

'Ever think of stopping?' I asked.

'Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me but God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads.'

I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: 'What's it like?'


'To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?'

'Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me.'

My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused He turned to me and said, 'Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in.'

I felt as if we were on holy ground. 'Could you use another Bible?' I asked.

He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite. 'I've read through it 14 times,' he said.

'I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see' I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful.

'Where are you headed from here?' I asked.

'Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon.'

'Are you hoping to hire on there for a while?'

'No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next.'

He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town-square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things.

'Would you sign my autograph book?' he asked. 'I like to keep messages from folks I meet.'

I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, 'I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you; Plans to give you a future and a hope.'

'Thanks, man,' he said. 'I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you.'

'I know,' I said, 'I love you, too.' 'The Lord is good!'

'Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?' I asked.

A long time,' he replied

And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed.. He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, 'See you in the New Jerusalem.'

'I'll be there!' was my reply.

He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, 'When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?'

'You bet,' I shouted back, 'God bless.'

'God bless.' And that was the last I saw of him.

Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them.... a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them.

Then I remembered his words: 'If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?'

Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office. They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry. 'See you in the New Jerusalem,' he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will...

'I shall pass this way but once.. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.'

Author unknown

This is not my story, nor did I write it, it was sent to me in an e-mail message from a friend of mine.

Friday, June 10, 2011

winter and road construction

We have two seasons here in Wisconsin, winter and road construction. So I hardly noticed the red lights and siren in my rearview mirror as I was navigating my way down the dark one lane road trying to dodge the orange cones bouncing off my windshield.  Apparently street lamps are not important when you send thousand pound missiles down the highway held together with some bolts and four wheels (the road crew took down the street lights when they started the construction).
Finally spotting the lights and having no idea how I missed those,  I made my way over to the side of the road, my driver’s license at the ready, Officer Friendly appears at my window rendering me temporarily blind with his million megawatt flashlight.
And then another police car pulled up with two more officers in it.
“Driver’s license please.”
Handing it over, Officer Friendly passes it to other officer standing behind him.
 “Do you know why I pulled you over tonight?”
“Yes sir, I was swerving”
“Yes ma’am, and why were you swerving?”
“I was trying not run over the little thingys sticking out of the road.” (I later found they were drain pipes).
“I see, so you thought it would be better if you took out four orange cones instead?”
“Yes sir, I thought big pieces of rubber that looked like upside down garbage cans would do less damage, they were the lesser to two evils sir.”
“ I see, please step out of the car.”
“Have you been drinking tonight ma’am?”
“Not a drop.”
“I see, and where are you coming from?”
“Bible study.”
And we have crickets, cue the deer in headlights.
I saw the conundrum written all over Officer Friendly’s face, that was the last thing he expected to hear,  he thought he nabbed himself a drunk driver instead he managed to lasso himself a Jesus freak.
“Ma’am, I am going to administer a few field sobriety tests, just to make sure.”
“Okey doke.”
So I walked the line, sang the ABC’s and touched my finger to my nose.
“Ma’am, please turn around and place your hands behind your back.” And Officer Friendly slaps on the silver bracelets.
Oh boy
Swell, I am going to be sleeping in a jail cell tonight, swinging a tin cup across the bars singing, nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, in a deep throaty voice.
“You are not under arrest we do this for our protection.  If everything checks out with your driver’s license you’ll be free to go.”
 Well Merry Christmas to me!
Then it felt like the presents were snatched from my arms.  If? I carry a strong dislike for that word, it grates my last nerve there is nothing definitive or nice about that word.
If the test results are negative
If the company decides to hire you
If we choose you
I actually filled out a job application once that read: If we think you are good enough to work for us, they didn’t hire me.
So when I heard “if your driver’s license checks out you will be free to go”, the worry sent shock waves of panic through me.  I knew that I had nothing to worry about but what if’s were still beating me up, what if I have a warrant for my arrest that I don’t know about, what if my identity has been stolen and someone went on a crime spree in my name, what if this and what if that.
We made some small chit chat as we were waiting for the other officer to finish up, only then did I catch his name on his name plate, but don’t ask me what it was because it had like 30 letters in it.
One of the other Officers made his way back to my car holding my license out in my direction, “Ma’am you are free to go.”
“Bless you officers and may God keep you safe tonight.” And with that I was off.
I can write and joke around about this now, but at the time I was terrified I really thought they were going to take me to jail and I was going to have to call someone to come fish me out of county lock up.  I am a worry warrior, I don’t know why, most of what I worry about only happens in my own mind.

40 percent of what we worry about never happens
30 percent is in regards to things of the past that we cannot change
12 percent is other people’s opinions that we cannot change
10 percent is about personal health that only gets worse as we worry about it
And 8 percent of what we worry about concern real problems that we can influence.
92 percent of what we worry about is needless.

Mark 4:37-40
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still! Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

because i too forget

My sweet friend Eileen over at the Scenic posted this on her blog today and I loved it so much I asked her if I could steal it, she graciously agreed.  I know many of you also read her blog, but it struck something inside me.  That I forget, even though I know God has a plan for my life, I forget, I get so focused on my plan that I forget to include Him in the planning process.  I am definitely printing this out for my refrigerator.

And visit Jenni over at God Every Moment she shared some wonderful words of wisdom on finding the one.

i want to introduce you
to my friend, Spirit

you might know him too

he’s been my friend
for years and years

he’s with me
wherever I go
the valleys
the mountains
everywhere in between

but sometimes
i forget

i ignore him

i don’t confide in him

i forget
his wisdom
his sound advice
his perfect solutions

i feel like an outcast
i run around the playground

i forget

i forget
to look

i forget
my need

i forget
HIS love

i cry out

he reminds me

my friend
my constant

“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.  I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you.  This Friend is the Spirit of Truth.  The godless world can’t take him because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for.  But you know him already because he been staying with you, and will even be in you!
(John 14:17 Message)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

mama said there’d be days like this

God:  “Jonah, I want you to go to Nineveh”, holding out a piece of paper in Jonah’s direction, “and I want you to give them this note”.

Jonah:  “Nineveh, are You kidding me!? Have you been to Nineveh lately? They will turn me inside out there, no way, not going”.

God:  pinning the note to Jonah’s robe, “It will be fine, now go,” giving Jonah a pat on the back and gentle push.

With A coupla PB and J’s some juice boxes and an apple tucked away in his Superman lunch box Jonah hung his head and slid his sandals along the dirt road, every once in a while peering over his shoulder and when he was sure the Father wasn’t looking…

Aaaand he’s off!  Jonah is making a break for it, he is on the run, a fugitive on the lam from the Lord, hauling faster than a tanker a truck on a cross country road trip.  Jonah had no intention of going to Nineveh.

Ain’t that the truth, after boarding a boat for Tarshish, a land in the complete opposite direction of his intended, or not so intended destination, almost getting himself and the entire crew of unsuspecting fisherman on board killed in a great storm, then being thrown overboard and landing himself in the belly of a whale, and if that wasn’t bad enough He was left there to stew in his own naughtiness, for.three.days, ultimately ending up right back  where he started, and your kids thought their timeouts were bad, they have nothin on our friend Jonah.

This might be what you call, having a bad day.

So I have been sitting here staring at this post for four days, not sure what direction to take it in because there are just so many.

Ultimately it boils down to just one thing, love, and to run from God is to run from love.    

To run from God is to run from the One who loves you the most, the One who only wants good things for you, the One who wants to free you from the bondage, The One who loves you so much He is willing to let you sit in the belly of a whale among all its nasty fish guts than to let you keep going in the direction you are going, if you are going to run from anything run from the bondage not from the One who wants to set you free from it.

There will be bad days, there will be days when it hurts to wake up and it hurts to go to sleep, days when it hurts just to breathe and days when your skin literally hurts, I get when you want to build a trap around your heart and never let anyone get close to you again because it just hurts too much, I get that I walked in those shoes, for years AFTER accepting Christ.  By the way the steel trap around my heart is still there, coming undone one lock at a time.

But then the days came when I wanted to live again and suicide wasn't an option anymore.

The days came when the sting of hearing the words “I don’t love you anymore” didn’t sting so much anymore.

The days came when I was actually excited to get out of bed and see what the day had waiting for me.

This last year has been hard, I am not going to sugar coat that, it has been hard, but now there is hope attached to that.

It was a year ago that I found myself back on the same sandy shores I was on four years ago when I accepted Christ, the same sandy shores where I heard those words of rejection “I don’t love you anymore, and I never want to see you again”, those same sandy shores where depression wrapped me in in its clutches and I thought suicide was my only way out, those same sandy shores where I thought I was unlovable and worthless and there was no point to my life.  I am treading those same sandy shores again, but now all those things have given way to hope. I don’t know the inner workings of how it happens, I don’t think anyone really does, but when we let Jesus into our lives and don’t fight the work He is doing change happens, I don’t know how it just does.

You may have to trade happy hour for Bible study.

You may have to stay out of the clubs Saturday nights so you can get up and go to church on Sunday morning.

Rather than going on the tropical vacation, go on a mission’s trip instead.  

Do what you have to do to run towards the love, and the love will meet you where you are.

If you are going to run,

Run towards the love.