Saturday, May 30, 2015

Trusting in the Dark...or not....

How hard it is to trust in the dark!

Sometimes it seems like I'm finally getting the hang of this "trust" stuff..

And then....

When one of the nephews/nieces/family/friends has something going on in their lives that is harmful or hurtful, I pound on heaven's door, pleading continuously for God's will to be my will, when it should be the other way round

And that's the plain, unvarnished truth.

When it comes to them, it is so hard to put them where they belong: in His hands.

And then let go.

The "putting" is the easy part.

The "letting go," not so much.

I want them to be ok.  I want the crisis to be over with. I want them whole and happy and blessed.

And to pray "As You will" doesn't enter my head, let alone my heart.

I know that's not where He wants me, or how He wants me to pray.

Recently another crisis popped up.

I was beside myself with worry.

I felt beaten, like someone had punched me in the gut.  Hundreds of miles away and helpless - that's how I felt.  I contacted every prayer chain and every pray-er that I knew and stormed heaven's gates.

And God, in His mercy and power, stepped in.

But I find myself wondering:

What if He hadn't?

I knew at the time that it was a possibility. My education was in this specific area and each report gave mounting stress and fear to my heart. I knew too many ways for things to go wrong, and I should have intervened.

I didn't.

As the news grew more and more grim, I didn't want to push them to a decision they were reluctant to make.  I don't know what I would have done if He had chosen other than what my heart was pleading for.  I feel guilty enough now - I can't imagine how I will feel if something worse happens because of my reluctance - which is still a possibility.

So I pray.

And strain with every ounce that's in me to trust.

I have a plaque which says, "Faith means going to the edge of all you know - and taking one more step."

It is walking forward in the dark, knowing that the edge of the cliff is in front of me - and being willing to step off that cliff, trusting that He will catch me,,,

Or give me wings.

And being willing to do it.

I find I'm not there yet.  Every time I think I am, He shows me how far I have to go.

But this I know, with every cell in my body, I am His. He holds me in His hands in the dark as well as the light.

And though I still stumble around in the dark, and bump into walls and fall and bruise a knee here and there, He will never ever let me fall into the abyss.

For underneath are the Everlasting Arms.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Remembering the fallen...

I have been thinking of Audie Murphy all day.  Someone shared the memory of this valiant man who received every medal the US has to offer including the Medal of Honor, plus medals from France and Belgium - and he was only 20 at the time - and he has been here, in my heart, all day.

I say again to every serviceman who has ever served: thank you.

I've learned that many servicemen resent this, who think it is a non-military's way to unload guilt.

Not from me.

I say thank you for every sleepless night you have spent remembering, wanting more than anything to forget. For the nightmares, for the screaming fits, for the black depressions.

I say thank you for leaving a safe bed and the love of family and risking it all.

For me.

I say thank you to and for every buddy you saw die that you wanted to save.

I say thank you to every medic who served in a hot zone, a cool  zone, a hospital ship, and remembers every GI your hands touched, who worked thru 36 hour and more shifts uncomplainingly, asleep on your feet with broken hearts, who still see faces and hear voices when they remember.

I say thank you to each heart that breaks when a car drives up to an anxious home and two men in full dress uniform step out.

I say thank you to each child that cries himself to sleep,  crying for a daddy or mommy they will never see again this side of heaven.

I say thank you for the respectful hands who fire the 21 gun salutes and  fold the flags with precision, respect, and sympathy. For the men who guard, thru summer heat and winter snow and driving rain, the tomb of some of the unknown who returned to the American soil they died for.

I don't say it lightly. I treasure one such flag.


Sir, or Ma'am, I thank you for your service.  I pray the Lord will bless you with a warm home and a heart that never forgets, but has been able to let the memories have their way and be gone, visiting less and less often. 

We tell those who have left us to "rest in peace."  The living deserve no less.  Remember those who were lost.  Then honor them by living long and happily for them as well as yourself.

And if you can't banish the voices and the faces and the sounds and the smells, you are not weak.

It is recognized now as PTSD and there is treatment for it.  Please find some. There is no reason for your family to lose you, too. Audie Murphy never knew what he had was treatable.  He tried to silence the voices and faces and sounds and smells and began to be disrespected towards the end of his short life.  This to a man who fought off 250 of the enemy alone, atop a burning enemy tank loaded with explosives that could blow up any second - and he was seriously wounded at the time!  Sad to say, but true: People forget. I give you my solemn promise,  I will never forget as God lets me draw breath.

His wife and family were Christians - and, sadly, up until that last plane ride that crashed, he resisted opening his heart to God.  His wife asked the old preacher Vernon McGee to preach a salvation message at his funeral - he said a lot of Hollywood was there, and it seemed every eye was steely and defiant and full of hatred as he preached. I hope he was wrong.  I hope that souls were pierced and hearts broke open. And I pray that as the plane began it's fatal dive, Audie cried out to the God Who held him as he went to hell and back the first time, and kept him from going back to hell again.

And for anyone out there who is idiot enough to think it can't be that bad, get a copy of Audie Murphy's combat memories or watch the movie, "To Hell and Back" both of the same title - easily available on Amazon, even for Kindle. It will open your eyes and make the next time you thank a serviceman or vet come from the bottom of your safe little heart.If you would like a more in-depth telling, warts and all, of his struggles for the rest of his life, I highly recommend the book, "The Price of Valor", a well-researched and informative book, from his childhood on. To Hell and Back was written not as an autobiography, but as a way to remember his buddies that died - to the end of his days he said that the dead were the ones who deserved the medals, not him.

And so, I say again, I thank you for your service, from the bottom of my heart and tears streaming down my face. And if that offends you, I'm not sorry.

Because I will never stop saying it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

As I Was Saying...

What a shock! To discover I haven't been here in almost 2 months. 

I was stunned.

I knew it had been some time - as the body grows older, so do the opportunities for something to go wrong or be off kilter.  Mine has been kiltering along, off key, for the last 2 months.  Bronchitis used to be quickly treatable and then booted out of my body's kilter.

No longer.

This time, the bronchitis has been playing "Catch me if you can" and my doc has a catcher's mitt that has been growing larger and larger, to contain all the remedies we've tried.  Meanwhile the cough had banished sleep and increased pain and wavered on pneumonia...then it seemed to be on the downturn, only to abruptly about face towards pneumonia, threatening, threatening...

This last antibiotic was the strongest one yet.  After 4 days the cough has diminished in frequency and moistness and I've actually been sleeping - a lot.

And then, as all good things must come to an end, I hit a wall.  Again.

The drug was so strong my body can't tolerate it, which, as many may know, makes for a weakened response in the body and gives bacteria enough time to figure out how to become antibiotic resistant.  But my doc and I decided enough was enough. 

The side effects had become terrific.  I kept wondering why I had suddenly started experiencing very nasty new troubles.  I tried to figure out what I had done/not done and when they had started and, wouldn't you know it, they all started when I started this new drug.

So, I'm back to square one. I'm hoping my imagination is the reason my cough sounds juicier again.  It's still not as bad, I'm able to breathe between coughs and coughing spells that seemed to be without end are completely gone.

So far.

And it brought to mind again, the realization that at any moment I can be called into the presence of God - live and in Person - at any moment. 

Actually, I look forward to that moment.  For me, it will be the best Homecoming ever - I know my God, Who He is, How He operates, and He can be trusted.  He is the One Who holds my every breath, and knows - to the last one - when it will occur.  I am at peace about that.  If you are not, please keep reading, and I will tell you how to meet Him - and how I did.. He is the gentlest of all the gentlemen in the world or out of it, and He cherishes you, even now, even before you choose Him.  He has a wonderful plan for your life.

So you look at mine, and what is so wonderful?

All of it.

Yes, I've been in some sort of pain for most of it.  I've had narrow escapes. I became too sick to work at my chosen profession, which I loved. From the outside looking in, I can understand the question marks in your eyes. 

Doesn't look too full of adventure or happiness or excitement, does it?

Ahhh - but looks, as the proverb goes, are deceiving.

I was living a mundane life, get up, go to work, spend my time listening to music, hanging out, smoking dope.  An average life for the 60's and 70's.

But in the late 60's I had almost bled to death.

Exciting, no? (Grin)

I had blood going in both arms, an oxygen mask, and lying on the stretcher, every time I moved, blood and clots fell off of it onto the floor.

Listening to the blood pressure results being called out I realized that if something didn't happen pretty dang quickly, I would be facing a just and holy God with not a single excuse to keep me out of a very painful and terrifying place.

When shock sets in, the mind becomes very calm, and your thinking seems to clear out the garbage and you are left with a totaling of the marks for and against you in the sight of God, whom you will shortly be face to face with.

So, I 'fessed up.

I spoke to Him and said that I realized I had nothing of worth to offer Him.  It didn't seem like I could do anything, granted my condition, that would change that fact, and I told Him that I gave myself to Him, just the way I was, and hoped that was enough.

No, there was no light highlighting the person next to me, no confession that s/he was actually an angel, just a hurried consent to sign and a rush to the operating room.

I believe God accepted my paltry offering.

When I got thru all the mess and complications, I sort of forgot all that and went back to my totally secular existence and relegated God to storybook level, a fuzzy, friendly God with a white beard and grandfatherly heart.

Oh, I talked about Him a lot - with my friends, while high on marijuana, concocting theories galore - one friend came up with a computer in the sky, and it controlled everything you did, yada yada yada.  All very intellectual.

One  of my other friends said that kind of talk scared him, he didn't want any part of it.

And then a best bud was sent overseas and with nothing to do on the ship, fell in with a bunch of Bible thumpers and was drawn to a loving God that paid his way into heaven, and suddenly, life became complicated.

A complication I wanted no part of.

So, one evening, I sat down to write a letter, and intended it to be the last one.


Meanwhile, my lifetime best bud's brother called.  His wife, it seems, had a desperate desire to learn guitar, and could they come over and maybe borrow one of mine and learn the rudiments?

Of course!

Unknown to me, they had recently had the same sort of experience my overseas friend had had. 

What a coincidence!!

If you are considering investigating this Christian thing, you will suddenly experience the same kind of coincidences.

You will suddenly be surrounded by Christians,


At school.  At work.  The neighbor next door.  At the supermarket you will run into old friends who want to tell you this exciting thing that happened to them.

You will NOT believe it.  They will be everywhere. And you will fight it with every ounce of rebellion in you. You will pull out every dusty ol' excuse you have ever heard and none of it will be because you honestly researched it.

It will be because there is an evil presence in this world that wants people to believe he doesn't exist and he is the one reigning in your heart, and he doesn't want to give you up. And, so far, you're not unhappy with his reigning - yet- so you don't want anyone making you feel guilty or - how dare you! - a sinner, so you close your ears and cross your arms  and shake your head no, no,no.

And the coincidences keep coming.

And on this night, it took the shape of the brother and his wife.

They arrived and we started talking about how it had been too long, we needed to get together more often, standard stuff and I got the guitars out and they saw the letter writing stuff on the table and asked if they'd interrupted something.

I said no, and, of course, explained how my friend had been sucked into this cult thing and it was about Jesus and how fanatical he'd become, brainwashed, and I'd had enough. He had sent me a tape (in those days there were no iPhones or cellphones or instant anything. It was write or make a cassette tape, period.) 

So they said, naturally, that it was too bad, and, as a matter of fact, they had recently become Christians, although they were not fanatics or anything.

So, of course, I  pulled out the cassette player and said, "Listen to this stuff! I'm a Christian, but this is waaay out of my range!"

And as the words left my mouth, the God Who had accepted my bargaining ploy 15 years earlier said, "Gotcha!" And took me up on it.

He blasted me with the Holy Spirit, and it felt like my life had gone from black and white to Color, with a capital "C".

And everything on the tape made perfect sense.

Every. Single. Word.

I couldn't believe it.  I was stunned.

Deep in my heart, I knew I was forever changed.  Every Bible verse I'd ever read made sense.

 I fell in love at that moment.

Completely, head-over-heels, eternal love with the One Who had created me to know Him, because He had loved me when I wasn't even a twinkle in my daddy's eye.

I knew I was a sinner already. (and so do you, even though you don't want to admit it.) - and when they left, I knelt on the hard wooden floor and gave myself to Him again, lock stock and barrel, and thanked Him for saying yes to me.

Then I finished the letter, praising God and quoting Scriptures I had learned as a child and told my friend I too was a Christian.  Later I was told that, overseas mail being what it is, he got the letter a few weeks later and had spent the previous night in prayer for my soul.  His friend told me he came running down a hallway with tears streaming down his face.  He couldn't believe God answered his prayers so miraculously.

Jesus has perfect timing.

People remark that it's all coincidences.  But, you know what?  Those coincidences only happen when I pray.  And they fit, down to the last detail, what I prayed for.

And no, I'm not saying that God gives me everything I pray for.  He doesn't. Jesus knows what is His best, and Jesus gives me what fits His plans for me. And He's always teaching me.  I learn so much at His feet!

And for me, the best instrument for teaching happens to be pain, in the form of a chronic illness which is painful. I learn from the Teacher Who knows first hand what pain does to a Person, inside and outside. And how He lets darkness surround me sometimes - so I learn that even in the dark, His hand is there for me to grab. Jesus knows exactly what is right for me, and reveals His love through all of it.

Yeah, I know, I sound like a fanatic.  Same ol', same ol'.

But it has been a true adventure. Jesus has held me through some of the most painful moments of my life.  When He burst into my life, I asked Him to take me into the depths with Him. (Unfortunately, I didn't say "through the depths") I didn't want to be superficial.  I wanted to know He is real and know He is truly there, every second of every day.

And one day, I read the life's story of Solomon, the wisest man to ever live.  God told him one night to ask for whatever he wanted - anything.  And being God, He could make that offer.

Solomon asked for wisdom. The essence of what he asked for was actually a "hearing heart" - so he could hear the hearts of the people placed under his rule.  He wanted to follow his father's path (David, an man after God's own heart).

And then I read the line, "and it pleased God" - so I, in my hunger to please Him with my life, asked Him for the same thing.

I had no idea that the only way to hear some one's heart is to have gone through the same things.  So I began to walk the path of sorrow and pain, to learn how to hear, and He brought me people who needed someone with a hearing heart so very much. He taught me how to listen, and guides the words I say, and blesses them to others.  He uses the words that come out of my mouth to teach me as He lovingly reaches out to that hurting person. It's an amazing thing to walk with the Living God.

I highly recommend it.

If you've read this far, you may be wanting to know how to do this.  You don't have to go to a church to reach Him.  I do recommend that you kneel before Him, as He is the King of the Universe and there is no one else, no Being as powerful in all the Universe.  Think on that for a moment, then bow your head before Him. Tell Jesus you know you've sinned. You know He is holy and you aren't. And You know He became a Man and died on a cross in exchange for your soul - He bought you. Every ounce of His suffering on that cross was for you. He in reality died rather than live without you And you are asking Jesus to come in and take possession of your heart and all you are. Thank Him for His Holy Spirit and for answering His prayer and coming in.

What will happen?

Maybe nothing.  Maybe an explosion of joy inside you.  Maybe you will feel like everything is new and in living color. For others, it comes on gradually.

I highly recommend you get a Bible and read it. Daily. If you're a Shakespeare buff, get the New King James version, it is in Olde English.  Otherwise, get the New International Version, just ask for the NIV.
These both are interpretations by scholars who tried very very hard to present what the verses actually mean.  Some of the "New" translations that say they are simply easier to understand, are not sticklers for interpretation.  They paraphrase and add subtle bits of New Age thinking that turn your heart in those subtle ways to think of a New Age God, not the Living God.  Find a church that teaches verse-by-verse through the Bible - the Calvary Chapel Churches are good at this, to find one near you go to Wherever you are in the world, there is probably one near you - and meet with other Christians (yes, you are now "one of them") and learn the joy of fellowship as well as friendship. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them - click on the comment option, below (hold your mouse over the icons below and it will reveal a comment option.)

And welcome to the family of God!  Adventure awaits you!