Saturday, February 23, 2013


I'm disturbed.
Time is passing much too fast
for me to keep up.
My head whirls to keep track
of dates and events I thought
so recent.
Are you sure that was
last year?
Two years ago?
I'm getting old - well,
older, anyway.
What I mean to say is that
I'm getting older too fast
to be possible!
This isn't real - how these
days zip by like soap
slipping from wet hands.
I can't seem to get a grip
on my life.
Lord, please supply
some traction!

I wrote that when I was 34 years old. That was 34 years ago. And time is still zipping by just like those slippery bars of soap! I'm so glad that in heaven we'll be free from time - no clocks, no calendars, no device of any kind telling us that time is streaking on by.

But you know, each stage of life has its own rewards. You may not possess the energy to work circles around others any more, but you probably now have the wisdom to give encouragement in a situation that would have left you tongue-tied earlier. You can go to bed any time you want; no waiting on a fussy baby to fall asleep first! No list of baby-sitters! No getting up bleary-eyed rushing to get ready for work (well, no rushing anyway).

We must not take advantage of being older to be a bossy know-it-all, or sharp-tongued, or think we deserve special permission to be abrasive and rude. Several years ago I was waiting impatiently in the speedy check-out at a grocery store. The aisle was narrow - several were behind me. An elderly gentleman in overalls and straw hat came in pushing a cart, looked around, then took careful aim squarely at our line. He stopped and looked at me through his thick lenses, his mouth open in a silent "O". Seeing he didn't understand the nature of the problem facing us, I said politely, "Sir, I don't think you can get through here - it's way too narrow." I spoke clearly and rather loudly, expecting him to nod and toddle off seeking another entrance.

Instead, he looked down his long, straight nose at me and said, just as loudly, "Well, cain't you get outta the way?!"

All sorts of retorts ran through my mind. No, I did not want to get out of the way! I was in a hurry! I was tired! I was aggravated at his rudeness! After a minute, however, I turned to the frowning folks behind me and said "Someday, if God lets us live long enough, we're going to be old. And we're going to want others to be kind to us. So, let's just get out of the way and let him through." The tension broke, we all laughed, and with one accord backed up. Our elderly friend pushed right on past us without a "thank you, kiss my foot" or any other acknowledgment. We forgave him.

Then there was Marie. In her 60s, she was one of the most interesting, refreshing women I had ever met. She lived vivaciously in the present day. You couldn't mention a current event she didn't know something about. I'm sure Marie could have regaled us with good-ole-days stories, but she chose instead to focus on NOW.

Marie gave her life to Jesus Christ when in her 60s. When her neighbor invited her to a home Bible study, Marie's response was "Sure, never too old to learn!" She soaked everything up like a sponge, and asked a thousand questions. My husband, Jim, happened to be teaching that study and afterward came home raving about her intelligence, thirst for the Word, and her interest in everything around her. Marie was baptized after only two studies and began loving and serving her new church family in any way she could. We moved away, but after many years were privileged to see her once more. Marie held court from her wheel chair by then, but she was still Marie: optimistic, smiling, loving. Her 80-something years had clipped her wings, which saddened us; however, I'm quite sure that by now she's talked some angel out of his. He didn't stand a chance.

"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.'" Enjoy being God's older child!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It's so refreshing to hear about the humble boldness of a child of God. Today a wife related how that when she and her hubby are in one of the local tributaries of a ginormous chain store, he in no way is there to shop. Spotting someone he doesn't know, he strolls over and engages him or her in chit-chat for a few minutes, then simply says, "You know, I may never see you again, so I'd like to talk with you about ...." He then proceeds to wade off into a discussion about Jesus Christ with this stranger!

The remarkable thing is, according to the wife, not one person has ever stomped off in a huff, or told him to mind his own business. As a matter of fact, they usually wind up pouring out their souls to this one who walks in where angels fear to tread. I'm sure one reason he is received so well is that he's one of the kindest men I've ever known. This isn't a new venture, he's been seeking out people in this same store for years.

In another instance, a lady was humbly bold enough to say in a brief exchange with a rough-looking acquaintance, that "Anyone is blessed if they're washed in the blood of Jesus." End of conversation. Oh, yes, this also happened at the tribulation - uh, I mean tributary of the big chain. However, some time later he called this Christian sister and pleaded with her to come pray for his sick wife. "I can't - I mean, I can't pray for her," he admitted, knowing he hadn't cultivated much of a speaking relationship with the Lord.

Not without misgivings, she nevertheless set out, asking God to be with her. The woman was indeed ill. After praying for the man's wife and visiting with her for awhile, they so connected with each other that a new friendship was forged. Who can say what eventually may result from this one interaction in the store?!

These comments came from a discussion of this question: How are you working to make a difference in your community? My thoughts immediately went to holding a public office, or beginning a shelter of some sort, or you know - big stuff. These two testimonies humbled me, yet greatly encouraged me to be aware of the seemingly less noticeable ways to do the work of God.

"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin ..." (Zec. 4:10).

Morning Hour

My mother hated the word, "darn." This was particularly puzzling since our family used every other euphemism under the Arkansas sun: dadgummit, gosh, golly, shoot, heck, etc. No cursing; that carried a severe penalty, such as getting your backside warmed. However, "darn" must have carried the same awfulness in mama's mind as using God's name in vain, because once when I made use of it (quite unaware of her prejudice), she went into a major meltdown.

When she'd finished venting her objections, I ventured a small "Why is that word ...?" Didn't get to complete my question. She showed signs of heating up again and I backed w-a-a-y off, thinking it wise to wipe that word from my heart and life (at least when around her).

Even though I never solved the mystery, I'm still curious. Did she as a child get into big trouble on account of that word? Or did someone - perhaps a mean neighbor kid - make it into an acrostic designed just for her? Such as Dames Are Really Nauseating? Probably not; country kids didn't know words that long.

That reminds me of the indignation of our then three-year-old daughter when the creative sons of a friend recited, "Myrtle the Turtle Without No Girdle" solely for her benefit. She had no idea what a girdle was, but her wrath knew no bounds. And she still doesn't like the word "girdle." Words are powerful.

Words are responsible for a lot of childhood suffering. My uncle was traumatized by saying a prayer his older brothers taught him - can you imagine? They carefully instructed him in when and where to employ it. One day when the family gathered around the farm house table at noon, uncle asked to say the blessing. He was standing between his mama and poppa because, unfortunately, with that many children, the chairs ran out. When he received permission, uncle said, with enthusiasm,

"Bless the meat,
D____ the skin,
Back your ears
and cram it in!!!"

A calloused hand from the chair next to the pious little guy swatted his bottom; immediately a smaller hand delivered another swat from the chair on the other side. Guffaws erupted from the male section of the table. Poor Uncle Lonnie.
He found out that words are powerful.

Remember that as you interact with others today - your words are powerful.