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Here’s a Little Hope

It was the beginning of spring. 1972 I believe. I was living in Lawton, OK. Not by myself. Lol. I would have been seven years old at that time. It was early spring, so some days it was still a little chilly. But this day was sunny and warm – it was fantastic! I remember playing kickball at recess, and that we had chocolate cake for desert at lunch. I don’t know why, but school lunch chocolate cake is always the best thing ever!

When school got out, I met my best friend Bill, and we started the long walk home. If I remember right, and I do, it was about 3/4 mile from the school to my house. Bill only lived two houses down from me – a sweet, pretty little girl that I suspected would never be my girlfriend (her name was Sunny) lived right between us – but his house was closer. So the last 50 yards or so of walking was all me.

Let me just tell you, the walk home sucked. It was uphill all the way. I’m not just saying that because I’m old and that’s what old people remember about how hard things were when they were kids. I used to love riding my bike to school because my bike had a speedometer on it and I could get up to 30 mph going down those steep hills on the way! That was fast for a seven year old. And it was both scary and exhilarating! But to have to ride a bike back up those hills was a pure beat-down.

On this early spring day that had been awesome so far, we were walking and talking trash and joking around and nearing home and all of a sudden the weirdest thing happened. It started to rain. It was warm, the sun was out, and here it was raining. I remember Bill and I were on opposite sides of the street. We had been walking and every now and then one or the other of us would bend down and pick up a rock and hurl it at something – a mailbox, a dog, or each other. Then it started to rain.

The weird thing about this rain was, it was only raining on my side of the street! I was getting soaked by rain on a sunny day and Bill was dry as a bone. He looked at me and laughed – it was a nervous kinda laugh. I think he was wondering if I might get hit by lightning in a minute. Then he looked concerned, and he asked “hey are you ok?” And to this day I remember every word of my answer – “yeah. That’s just life man.” And on we walked in silence.

That’s just life. Pretty profound for a seven year old. But not many had lived the life I had lived. Not many, by the age of seven had already been abandoned by parents who just didn’t even care – left alone for over a week in a house with very little to eat, with a little sister four years younger to look after. Not many had been rolled up in a rug and propped up in a corner so he wouldn’t bother his parents or get into anything while they shot dope into their veins. Not many had been disciplined by being injected with that same substance for throwing mud up against the house, or for crying when he was hungry. Or for any other minor infraction.

Just about two years before I got rained on, I was waiting outside another school for my mother to show up and walk me home. It was about 3/4 of a mile. A long way for a five year old to walk alone. A long way on a very busy street. She never showed up. I waited what seemed like a whole lifetime. It was getting dark, and there weren’t even any teachers left. The school was locked. So I walked home. Somewhere along the way I started crying, and I don’t remember why.

When I got home, the door was unlocked but nobody was there, except my little sister and she was crying, too. I suspected she was hungry so I made us both some toast. Three days later the bread was all gone, so we ate sticks of butter and drank the rest of the milk. In between that, we ate cold spaghetti from a can and some stewed tomatoes. We even ate the dented in can of lima beans that was at the back of pantry. Then there was nothing left.

I don’t remember how long we were actually there alone. It was a long time and we were hungry and people kept knocking on the door and then they would go away after a while. I didn’t know who they were so I didn’t answer.

After a really long time though, I heard a familiar sound. It was an old VW bug. The kind my aunt and uncle drove – and I looked through the window and it was a red VW just like theirs! And it was them getting out of the car, so I opened the door and ran out and jumped into their arms and just cried and cried. It wasn’t like normal crying. I have only cried like that once since. There were no tears. Only deep, anguished sobs. All the fear and pain and anger I had locked away for days came out all at once. And they held me until I was done.

They rescued me that day. They saved me. They took me from an impossible, horrible place and put me in a new one. Life changed for me. It went from dark to light in an instant. But I will never forget where I came from. Sometimes I still think that I’m that little abandoned kid. Even though I know better – even though I’m walking in the sun, every once in a while, when the rain comes, I feel like it’s only raining on me, and that I’m getting what I deserve, because…I don’t know – because I’ve been bad, and it rains on bad people. Because if you’re a good person, your parent’s don’t just leave and never come back. Because bad things happen to bad people.

But that’s just plain wrong. The sun shines on the evil and the good. And the rain comes regardless of who you are or what you’ve done.

Do you want hope? I have some to give. Reach out and take it – it’s for you! Life wasn’t meant to be lived in fear, or loneliness or regret. It was meant to be lived in the light. Take one step in faith – and there is a Savior who will take you into his arms and bear all your burdens and heal all your wounds. He’ll show you a Father who is incapable of abandoning His children. He’ll show you what a good father is like. You may never forget your ugly, rainy days – but instead of holding you back, those memories will drive you forward. They will be a part of the bedrock of a truly blessed life – a life of peace and joy.

So – that’s my story. What’s yours? It’ll be whatever you decide – it’s your life after all. You can do whatever you want.

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Not Yet

“Loved ones, now we are God’s children; and it has not yet been revealed what we will be. But we do know that when it’s revealed, we shall be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” I Jn 3:2

not yet

I went to a class on healing last week. I believe in healing mostly because I’ve actually seen people get healed. I’ve experienced it myself as well. I know God heals! Hopefully you do to. Either way, I went to the class about healing expecting to learn more about it. How it works, why God does or doesn’t do it, maybe the right words to say. We didn’t really talk about any of that – it wasn’t really a class about learning how to heal people as much as it was about what tends to happen in an atmosphere where God is present. And Because God was present, I experienced some healing myself.
I didn’t go there to be healed of anything. I didn’t expect anything to happen except my knowledge of a topic might increase. I am a curious little cuss… For instance, I have so many books. And I’ve read them all. And I know all the stuff in them. It’s like there’s and avalanche about to happen in my head sometimes. Or maybe an aneurysm. Sometimes it seems like all the crap I know doesn’t matter but it’s jammed up between my ears and its clogging up my head.
Anyway, I didn’t expect to get healed I expected to learn something. But I got both things really.
The speaker asked if we could ask God anything and know we’d get an answer what would we ask. So I asked. I asked God why he’d make me good at something AND give me the desire to do that thing AND give me no opportunity to do that thing. And he answered. He said I’m not ready to do the thing.
Um. Excuse me. I did the thing for 17 years! Brilliantly I might add. There’s tons of people I’ve led that I interact with on social media every day that thank me for what I did for them, who share memories and pictures and tell me how awesome things were back then. Every. Single. Day.
How is it then that I’m all of a sudden “not ready?” I really don’t get it.
Then he showed me something I didn’t understand one bit. I can’t even describe it to be honest. But it felt like something that’s right and whole and good and complete. And it felt like it was for me. A me without fear. A me without hindrances. A me unleashed.
I’m not that me. Not yet.
And those are the words God said to me. “Not yet.” I saw it in my head like a big, red neon sign. “Not yet” it said. “Not yet.”
Dude. I’m like too old already. I’ve gone too far and done too much. Too much. Too much good and bad really. Too much questioning. Too much worry. Too much doubt. Too much wallowing. And still God has a perfect plan for me? Yes. One that I’m not ready for, apparently.
I wish I didn’t want it. I wish I didn’t know about it. I wish I could take an ice pick and jab those parts of my brain and make the thoughts go away. And I told God all that. And he laughed. Not a cruel laugh. An amused laugh. Like he’d heard that before maybe. And then he healed me.
I don’t actually care anymore about any of that. Not in the bad way. I care. Obviously. But I care more about learning to be content in being his son than anything – and in an order of magnitude that dwarfs anything else I’ve ever felt. I just don’t care about that other stuff anymore. I don’t care if I ever have that dream because I’M HIS AND HE IS MINE. And nothing else matters.
I prayed months and months ago for God to remove the desires I had. To lead, to teach, to be a pastor again. And in my heart I had such longing for those things. And they are not bad things! But I was hurt and angry and bitter and I was saying “forget it – whatever you want for me I don’t want it because I can’t have it anyway,” and no matter what I did I couldn’t forget and I couldn’t get over it. But I’ve been healed in my soul! I’m free now! I haven’t given up on anything. But I’ve been given everything. I have hope. I have a promise. I have peace. I have God!
I understand that I’m not the only one who has been through what I’ve been through. Many of my good friends have been through it. Some have quit ministry for good, others are doing something different for a while, a few are back on staff in churches again.
That’s what I still want for me – that last thing I mean. I didn’t leave by my choice. And I guess I won’t get back to it by my choice either. For now all that matters for me is that God is building me up. He is making me whole, he is making me new. He’s making a place for me and when it’s time, I’ll be ready to step into it.
So for once “not yet” is ok. I gladly accept God’s not yet. It doesn’t mean never it means not yet. As in something’s coming! I have no clear idea of what it is but I know it will be awesome! Because he is awesome and he loves me!

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