Blind

Blind

 

This story happened this morning at Wal-mart.

Yeah you’ve already got some sort of idea where this is going. I was buying new wipers for my car. The rain here in Cleveland is getting a little slushy and my passenger side wiper was starting to look like a stick with a black shoelace tied to it. I bought a set of wipers, went out into the parking lot and struggled to attach them to my car. The guy parked next to me noticed my struggles and commiserated the frustrations. He and I chatted for a while about it and we came to the conclusion that I had bought the wrong kind of wipers and would have to return them.

Grateful, yet frustrated, I thanked my friendly acquaintance and went back to return my wipers. Soon I was back at the wiper isle trying to decipher the chart of cars and their corresponding wiper designs.

As I glanced confusedly from the chart to the dozens of styles of wiping mechanisms for sale, an older man joined me. He too looked at all of the wipers with confusion and asked if I could help him out. Already occupied with my own confusion, I thought perhaps he was mistaking me for a sales associate, and answered “I’m probably going to need help myself pal.”

I didn’t think this was an unfair statement but the man backed away. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you. We all have our own problems and I should have known you were busy.” I didn’t know if he was being sarcastic or not, but regardless, it dawned on me that I had basically told this man to take his problems elsewhere, that I was too busy to even look up to help him. “You see, I can’t see things up close so I can’t read the chart. I just need help figuring out what kinds of wiper I need for my car,” he continued.

I was immediately convicted. Not necessarily by the severity of my words or even the slight frustration in this man’s voice, but because I realized that I was too busy to see a person in need. Too busy to be kind. Too busy to care.

I stumbled over my apologies and offered to help him, but he insisted I finish finding what I was looking for first. I guiltily looked through the chart, found my car and then my wipers, and then helped my neighbor find the ones he needed. He thanked me for my help and turned to go, but being the apologetic person that I am, asked that he forgive me for my rudeness earlier. He smiled and said “It’s all good man. It’s how we proceeded that matters.”

I nodded and wished him a Merry Christmas, and the greeting was returned. I left that moment thankful; thankful that God gave me a second chance to show his love to someone who needed my help. I now wonder how many times someone has asked for my help and I was too busy with my own cares to look their way. Have I blinded myself with business? The words of Jacob Marley ring in my ears as he preaches of feeling the chains of his blindness to those in need, and the consummation of self-indulgence, and I wonder if I, like Marley, wear chains such as those.

Fortunately, I serve a God who not only breaks chains and sets captives free, but also gives us his eyes to see the daily bread He gives us each day; to do His will. May we all seek to see as God sees, to speak as God speaks, and to love as God loves.

 

©2019 by Matthew Jackson
Used with permission

 

The Choice is Ours

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There is nothing I can add to this excerpt from one of my daily devotionals:

“A Vulture Society vs A Diaconal Society”
by R. J. Rushdooney

Our Lord calls attention over and over again to the lust for power which marks the ungodly, and their dog-eat-dog mentality. It is a philosophy of doing in others before they do you. Christ’s commandment here is blunt and simple: “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:26-28).

The choice He tells us is an inescapable one: we have either a vulture society or a diaconal one, a world of hatred, evil, and distrust, or a world of faith, grace, and ministry.

The diaconal society, however, can only be built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. The modern state offers a pretended ministry of service as a means to exercising a pagan dominion, and the result is a vulture society of hatred, crime, and exploitation. It has no grace and therefore no ministry.

We cannot escape this choice: the more we build our country on any other foundation than Jesus Christ, the more we become a depraved and vicious social order, a vulture society.

The change must begin with us, and then every area of life and thought must be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. If the Lord does not govern us, the vultures will. 

Take your choice. You pay the price with your life: is it Christ or the vultures?

This is an excerpt from “A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith For All of Life Vol. 2″ by R.J. Rushdoony; Chalcedon/Ross House Books, Copyright 2011, p. 122-123

He Is Risen

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1: 3-9 (NKJV)

Dry Bones

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The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”  Ezekiel 37: 1-6 (NKJV)

Lord God, cause me to come face to face with the God I know and breathe Your life into these dry bones. . .

 

Complications

Fear Has Big Eyes--Wikipedia

Recently I received  notification congratulating me for six years with WordPress. It’s difficult to believe it has been that long since I timidly began this little adventure. And while the posts have been a bit sparse lately due to some major life changes, thoughts of this blog are rarely far away.

Several days ago, I was checking my “stats” and noticed the following post had received some attention. I went back to re-read it and realized how much I needed to hear my daughter’s wisdom that day, my life having acquired a few of those “complications.”

It is my hope that you too will find encouragement as you read, and be reminded as I was, that God really does have all things under His control. No matter what the mess, He is well able to see us through.

Don’t Send a Boy To Do A Man’s Work

Below is an essay from my daughter’s blog, “My Soul Found Rest.” When she first sent me the rough draft to look over, I was moved by what she wrote. Now, I will be the first to admit that I have never read Wendell Berry; had not even heard of him before my daughter told me that he was the focus of this semester’s Honors College at Belhaven University. I know, this admission shows me to be a severely under-educated individual; there is clearly no limit to the number of things I do not know.

My daughter’s life has, like the rest of ours, had its share of “complications.” It has been part of my job as her mother to help her navigate some of the rough rapids on the river of her life. Occasionally, she has been summarily dumped out of the boat and into the water, leaving her hurt and floundering. Each time though, she has climbed back into the boat and kept on paddling.

It has been a privilege to watch my daughter grow in her faith. She has met the complications in her life by doing what we all should do: turn to the Lord first. She truly believes that life has a “happy ending,” not because she has a false “Pollyanna-like” attitude, but because she has chosen to place her faith in the surety of God and His Word to her. She knows that no matter what this life brings, her Father continues to uphold her; her goal is Heaven. She has learned she doesn’t have to fear the future, she can trust God to use the events in her life which have left her bruised, for His purposes and the maturing of her faith. And, while her life has had no shortage of “bumps in the road,” she has learned, as her father and I have, that there is only one place we can go to find help.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 (ESV)

It is easy to get bogged down in the trials and tribulations of our lives. We lose our focus; we forget God is Sovereign; we begin to fear we are on a path that has no good end. Just as in the Wendell Berry story referenced below, our Father comes and straightens out the mess we make of our lives and He does so with a deft and gentle Hand. His mercy, His grace, His love always ready to lift us out of the quagmire, setting our feet on solid ground.

It’s Complicated

This was my first honors essay of the semester. The short story referenced is from Wendell Berry’s That Distant Land, a collection of his short stories.

In his short story, “Don’t Send a Boy to Do a Man’s Work,” Wendell Berry describes the consequences of complications. The main character in the story, a twelve-year-old boy named Athey Keith, has been left in charge of overseeing a hog-killing while his father, Carter Keith, is out-of-town. Carter Keith has laid specific plans and enlisted the help of knowledgeable men to make sure the work gets done efficiently and well. However, several complications arise during the hog-killing, which turn the Keiths’ well-laid plans upside down and cause the story to turn in an unexpected direction. The rest of the story hinges on how Athey and the other men deal with the complications.

Complications are hardly an uncommon event in our day-to-day lives. The dictionary built into my computer defines “complicate” as such: “[to] make (something) more difficult or confusing by causing it to be more complex.” Complications, or problems, as we more often call them, seem to arise with impeccable timing whenever we least desire them. Yet it seems that although complications may be sometimes unwelcome and turn our story in unexpected directions, our stories, once finished, become clearer and more illuminating as we reach the end of the book.

The plot’s driving force in Berry’s short story is the three complications and how Athey and the other men handle them. While Athey would certainly have had a much more productive hog-killing and a less harrowing day without any such complications, such a plot (or lack thereof) would not have made much of a story. Stories are driven by conflict.

When I was part of a fiction-writing group in high school, my teacher (a fiction author) had to remind me over and over again that I needed more conflict in my story. What I was writing would have been nice to live, but it was boring to read. There was no impetus to drive the plot forward. I resented her correction, because I wanted to write stories like I wanted to live, sweet, delightful, and all with happy endings. That’s still how I would like to live my life. But I am old enough now to begin to realize that my life is not going to go in a carefully plotted way to reach its happy ending. It’s going to take its twists and turns, and complications (whether small or large) are going to arise.

If I believe the promises of Scripture, that God works in all things for the good of those that are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), then I can navigate the bumps in the road with confidence. But questions still remain, and I am sure that I am not the first person to raise questions such as, “Is there any way to avoid complications? If I can, should I? Do all complications arise from sin? Even if they do, can they still turn out all right in the end (and preferably before the end too)?”

Athey could not have avoided the particular problems that came his way, all of which began with other people. He could not foresee them, nor could he escape them. The only thing he could do was be prepared for them, in the sense that he could be ready to deal with any problems that might occur. But when the complications came, he was not ready. The somewhat cocky young boy that he was, his pride and fear caused him to react in a way that allowed the originally small problems to become big ones.

I don’t think there were any complications in the Garden of Eden. Life there must have been like the story I tried to write—boring to read, but wonderful to live. Like in Berry’s story, the first Biblical complication came from another person. The complications Athey had to deal with all began with other people, but his fear caused him to react in a way that exacerbated the problem instead of solving it. Neither did Adam and Eve begin the first complication in this world, but they chose to yield to it instead of standing up and resisting. This first complication resulted in the fall of man from perfection, and now the human story is, well, complicated. At times it’s positively messy.

I don’t think there’s any way to avoid complications altogether. If there were, someone surely would have found a way by now! We can’t force others into our perfectly molded stories for ourselves—they’re going to bring complications, and sometimes we aren’t going to like the results. But neither our stories nor Berry’s story ends with failures to handle problems correctly. Fortunately for young Athey, his father came back—to a mess, it’s true, but he was quite up to handling the challenge and soon put things back to rights.

The human story doesn’t end with failure either. Although Adam and Eve didn’t have the power to put to right the wrong that they had done—that took someone with the proper authority—our Father sent His Son to earth to handle the challenge and put things back to rights. Unlike Carter Keith, He never has to go on a business trip, leaving us in charge. If Keith had been present at the hog-killing, the complications that arose would have been handled differently, and the resulting problems avoided. Likewise, because the Lord is present, we have the ability to handle the complications that come our way correctly. Not that we always will (in fact, many times we won’t), but we can, through His power. What is more, we have the guarantee that our stories will have happy endings. There might be cliffhangers after some chapters, and plot twists, and some pages might have tears on them. But in the end, we will close the book with a sigh of relief and meet our Author, the finisher of our faith.

Author: My Soul Found Rest (Used with permission)

Original Content: Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

He Went Willingly

He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53: 3-6 (NKJV)

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8 (NKJV)

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