GONE FISHIN’

When I lived in Belgium, it was almost impossible to get anything done during the months of July and August.  Almost every smaller business – electricians, plumbers, neighborhood grocers, etc – were closed up tighter than a drum.  The Europeans prize their month long vacation and take advantage of every moment.  The Belgians go to the south of France and the French go to Spain—anywhere to catch some rays.  The lights are off and the sign is on the door.  “GONE FISHIN’”!  Actually, the sign just says “FERME – CLOSED,” but it means the same thing.   “Don’t call.  Don’t knock.  Don’t ask.  I will not answer.  I am not available.”
fishing-909554_1920Do you ever feel like God has “GONE FISHIN’?” 

For many months I have been talking to God about a desperate need in my family.  I have prayed, I have cried, I have begged, I have bargained, I have even told God how to do it, but the heavens are silent without a whisper of encouragement.  Has He heard?  Does He care?

I am reminded of the story of Elijah and a bunch of false prophets.  Elijah was concerned because Israel had forsaken God and turned to the worship of Baal.  So he challenged these prophets to a contest.  Elijah would offer a sacrifice to his God, and the prophets of Baal would offer a sacrifice to their god.  The god that answered by fire would be the one true god to be worshiped.  The prophets of Baal went first.  They prepared their sacrifice, and they prayed, man did they pray, from morning till noon, but there was no answer.  Elijah mocked them saying, “Cry louder. Maybe he is meditating, or he is busy.  Perhaps he is on vacation, or he is asleep, or he’s GONE FISHIN’.” Still, no matter what they did, even to the bloody cutting of themselves, there was no reply.

fish-1755473_1280Now, I can understand that.  The god they prayed to was no god at all.  He was the figment of someone’s imagination.  And those so called prophets were greatly deceived, but what about that person who really loves our God and lives to please Him.  What about you and me?  What about our needs?  Why hasn’t my God, who can surely do anything, answered my prayer?  Doesn’t He care anymore?  Has He “GONE FISHIN’?”

In contrast to those false prophets, the Prophet Daniel was a man of impeccable character.  Daniel’s whole life was spent in faithful service to God.  God revealed to Daniel some things that were going to happen, in the future, to his people, Israel.  This revelation made Daniel very sad, so he prayed.

Daniel 10:2, “In those days, I Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

If I understand correctly, Daniel prayed without ceasing for those three weeks.  He fasted and prayed earnestly even neglecting his own personal needs.  Why didn’t God answer him right away?

We sometimes think God doesn’t answer us, because of something we have or have not done.  That may or may not be true.  However, this was not the case with Daniel.  He was one of the very few in the Bible against whom not one charge was ever levied.  He was a Godly man, but he had to wait for his answer.

So, why doesn’t God answer immediately?

In Luke 11:9, Jesus says, “…ask and it will be given to you…”

            John 14:14:  “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

 boy-909552_1920Matthew 21:22:  “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

That’s pretty clear.  Isn’t it?

I’ve thought a lot about this, and I believe I know some of the reasons we don’t get our answers immediately.

  1. God wants relationship with me. Every moment I spend in God’s presence I am learning to know Him better.  If, when I run into His presence crying “give me, give me, give me, He answers immediately, then I don’t have to come back until I need something else.
  2. What I want is not always what I need. God knows that better than I do, so He, sometimes, says “NO!  That’s an answer.
  3. God’s timing is perfect. No matter how long we wait for the answer GOD IS NEVER TOO LATE.  When Jairus asked Jesus to come heal his daughter, Jesus went with him.  On the way, a servant met them with the news, “…your daughter is dead.  Jesus doesn’t need to come.”  Jesus answered, “Don’t be afraid; only believe,” and THE DAUGHTER WAS HEALED.  God always answers on time.
  4. Some of God’s promises come with contingencies. Psalm 37:4:  “Delight…in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  TRY SOME DELIGHTING!
  5. In Daniel’s case, Gabriel told him that, from the first day he prayed, God heard every word, and sent Gabriel with the answer. But Gabriel was delayed, for twenty – one days, by evil forces. (Daniel 10:12 – 13.)   We have an enemy, who does not want God’s goodness for us.  Consequently, he sometimes interferes delaying the answer.

Has God “GONE FISHIN’?”  Not on your life!

Our Great God, who created all that now exists, is not stymied by your need.  His promises are true, and HIS ANSWER IS ON THE WAY!

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

EENY MENY MINY MOE

When I was a little girl, we had a flock of chickens (Rhode Island Reds) and one very big, very mean rooster.  The chickens were not free range, but the rooster thought he was.  He always found a way to free himself from the chicken pen, and he ranged wherever he chose.  Every time I walked out the kitchen door, that rooster was waiting for me.  Squawking and flapping his ugly red wings, he swooped down on me pecking at my tender little ankles.  I hated that bird!!!

eeny-meny-miny-moe-2In spite of the rooster, raising chickens had its benefits.  We always had fresh eggs and, from time to time, fried chicken or chicken and dumplings.  I will not bother you with the gross details of how my mother killed and butchered the chicken.  Suffice it to say, every bite was scrumptious.

But that was not the end of the benefits.  The chickens had to eat, and they would never be satisfied with a few bugs and an odd worm here and there.  They needed maize; the kind of feed that produces good eggs.  Maize is dried corn, which looks kind of like popcorn before it pops.  We ordered our maize from the local Feed and Seed Store.

At the appointed time that big flat bed truck rolled into our gravel driveway.   The driver hoisted me or my little sister, depending upon whose turn it was, onto the bed of the truck.  And there they were—great hundred pound bags of chicken feed – not burlap bags, mind you.  These bags were made of beautiful printed fabric, covered with little pink roses or purple pansies.  Sometimes the fabric was decorated with stripes or dots or even Disney characters.

eeny-meny-miny-moe-1 To my young eyes, they were bright and beautiful, and I could choose the one I liked the best, but there were so many to choose from.  Looking from sack to sack, and pointing with my finger I began the ritual.  “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe.”  No, not that one!  I started over.  “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe.”  Then I added to the rhyme.  “

Then I added to the rhyme.  “My mother told me to choose the very best one.”  Finally, the choice was made, and the sack was lowered to the ground.

It was a difficult and important choice for a seven year old, for when the chicken feed was used up, my magical Mama would open the seam on the sack and wash and iron the fabric and fashion a beautiful dress for me.  She always added ruffles or rick rack and other little embellishments.  No matter that the fabric was coarse, and the colors might fade, I donned that bright new dress with joy and wore it with great pride.

Just little sidelight – women made everything from dishrags to dresses out of printed feed sacks.  By 1942, an estimated three-million Americans wore at least one article of clothing made out of a feed sack.

eeny-meny-miny-moe-3I have made many choices in my eighty years on this earth – some of them mind-boggling —many of them life changing.  When I was five years old, I made the most important choice of my life.  I chose Jesus as my savior, and I have been choosing Him ever since.

We make choices every day.  Many choices are casual requiring little thought.  What will I wear—where will I go—what will I prepare for dinner?  Other, more difficult and important choices have to do with money or health or relationships.  Can I afford to buy this car?  Should I seek a second opinion?  What can I do to save my marriage?

However, the most crucial and demanding choice we will ever make concerns our relationship with God and how we will spend eternity.

You can worship at the altar of culture, education, entertainment, nature, or wealth.  This world offers many possibilities.  But there is only one God who offers life eternal.  He loves you and, according to John 15:16, “…He has chosen you…”

Now you have a choice to make.

Joshua 24:15 admonishes, “Choose this day whom you will serve.”

Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us, “Choose life so that you … will live.”

In Isaiah 7:15 we read, “Refuse evil and choose good.”

These are choices that everyone must make sooner or later.  Eeny, Meny, Miny, Moe won’t help you with these decisions.  These choices must come from a sincere heart – a heart that longs to know God.

You may be wrestling with a life changing decision today.  You have no idea what to do.  Choose Jesus.  He will shine His rays upon your confused mind and light up the darkness.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY BELOVED PAULA

I wish I knew one other person in this world, who has this disease,” Paula said plaintively.

PICK’S DISEASE!  “What in the world is that?”  None of us had a clue.

The problems developed gradually.  This gal, who had always held responsible positions, could no longer keep a job.  She couldn’t figure out the phone system.  She erased important material on the computer.  Her last bosses, a group of OBGYN doctors, loved her dearly, but she just couldn’t do the work.

She spent a week at Scott and White Hospital guaranteed a diagnosis before she left.  Finally she was advised to see a psychiatrist.  There was really nothing wrong with her – she was malingering.  That’s what doctors say, when they have no answers.

Months followed – months of frustration, worry, and despair.  Things only grew worse.  She lost her ability to read and write.  She could no longer play the piano.  Her vision grew worse until she could scarcely see.

my-beloved-paula-1

 

Finally a neurologist said, “I know what’s wrong.  I believe you have Pick’s Disease.”  In a way it was a relief to know, but what is Pick’s Disease?

 

 

In a nut shell, it is a rare, degenerative brain disease affecting the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.  It exhibits itself in females between the ages of 40 and 60.  There is no treatment, no cure.  After the disease is diagnosed, the patient has, perhaps, five years to live.

Paula gradually lost most of her motor skills, she could no longer feed or dress herself or take care of other personal needs.  Finally, she lost her ability to communicate.

Paula died early in the morning on September 21.  She left, behind, her sweet husband, her precious children, her father and sister, a multitude of friends, her puppy, Rusty, and an aunt who adored her.

I first laid my eyes on Paula in the spring of 1952.  She had come to Arizona with her Mommy and Daddy.  She came to meet her daddy’s side of the family, and her daddy came to preach a revival in our home church.  I was sixteen, and baby Paula stole my heart.

She was relegated to the church nursery during those revival meetings.  However, she seemed to have an uncanny sense of timing.  When her daddy stopped preaching, she started wailing, and he always rescued her carrying her around on his hip while he prayed with people.  Paula learned early what is most important in life.

Thinking about Paula I automatically think of music.  Her whole life was a song.  By the age of four, she had become the featured soloist in her father’s revival meetings.  This tiny child stood on the platform, and with a strong firm voice delighted the congregation with her singing.

“So let the sunshine in.  Face it with a grin.

Smilers never lose and frowners never win.

…Open up your heart and let the sunshine in.”

 

The congregations were enchanted and often took special offerings for Paula.   She had her very own bank account, which her parents sometimes raided when they were scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Paula gave her heart and life to Jesus during those early years, so there was never any question about the kind of life she would live or the music she would embrace.

Blackbird (3)

She became an accomplished pianist.  She learned the clarinet and was first chair in her school band.   In college, she sang in a women’s trio ministering in churches representing the school.

 

Though I saw little of this life loving girl during her growing up years, somehow, somewhere we connected and became soul mates.  She was my girl!  She worked with me in children’s ministries playing the piano and helping in every conceivable way.

One of Paula’s greatest joys was to sing in her church choir.  It broke her heart when she was forced to quit because she could no longer climb the steps.

Occasionally, when I visited, she and her Dad and I sang together.  It was great fun.  Just last summer, when the disease was far advanced, she said wistfully, “I wish we could sing again.

Actually, she never quit singing.  As late as a few days ago, her daddy wheeled her down to the service at the facility where she was cared for.  She joined enthusiastically in the singing.  She could no longer make the words come out right, but she carried the alto line without flaw.

my-beloved-paula-2

Now she mingles her voice with the redeemed of all ages.  Heaven’s alto section is enriched by Paula’s arrival.  She is singing a new song – a song that the angels cannot sing – a song of battles fought and victories won – a song of praise to her Redeemer.

“…blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be to Him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.”  My sweet girl won’t have to worry about steps in heaven.

At Paula’s request, her life’s testimony was sung at her funeral.

Jesus led me all the way, led me step by step each day.

I will tell the saints and angels, as I lay my burdens down.

Jesus led me all the way.”

 

Thank you, Paula for your well lived life, for your love and laughter.  Rest now my girl.

I love you!

Take Paula’s advice.  “Open up your heart and let the sunshine in.”

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!
 

EVEN THE LITTLE THINGS

I lost my Driver’s License.  Actually, I didn’t lose it.  I knew where it was.  I had driven up to the bank drive through window to cash a check.  Knowing that I would need my ID, I took the license from my wallet and immediately dropped it between my seat and the consol.  I tried desperately to retrieve it, but I couldn’t even see it, and there was no way to get my fat little fist into the narrow opening.  So I drove around to the front of the bank and went inside.

Since I knew the manager, I was sure there would be no problem.  I assumed a sad little face and explained my predicament to the Teller producing every scrap of identification that I had.  I was told that none would suffice, and the manager was not there.  The Teller was “very sorry,” but she could not cash my check.  To put it mildly, I was annoyed and a bit concerned about driving without a license.  I was afraid a patrolman wouldn’t accept “The dog ate my homework” excuse.

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On Sunday, a friend of mine was able to retrieve the license and return it to me.  Saturday morning I returned to the bank drive through.  With license and check in hand, I was prepared for business only to be told that the window was closed.  I gave up!

Laying the check and license in the passenger’s seat along with a stack of envelopes ready for mailing, I chased down the mailman, grabbed the stack of envelopes, jumped out of the car and left them with him.   When I arrived at the grocery store, I reached over for my license intending to put it back in my wallet, only to find that it was gone.  I looked everywhere.  I knew what had happened.  In my haste, I had picked it up with the letters and left it with the mailman.

“O, God, please help me,” I cried.  “I’ve had enough!”

This was such a trivial thing compared to Cancer, the Mid-East Crisis, and Terror Attacks, and yet it was sort of the last straw in a difficult week.

I am reminded of the Arabian anecdote told of a camel whose owner loaded the beast of burden with as much straw as possible.  Not satisfied with the staggering load he had put on the camel, the owner added just one last piece of straw and the camel collapsed.

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It’s those little things, seemingly insignificant things that accumulate.  The baby has a runny nose, the dog tracked mud into the house, the washing machine is making a funny noise, the telephone is ringing, you’re out of milk and the car won’t start.  The pile grows higher and higher.

It is the cumulative effect of small actions that sometimes brings us to the brink of despair.  Sadly, we hesitate to bring these small, insignificant matters to our Father.  After all, people are dying.  The economy is struggling.  Our country is in the middle of a nasty election year.  God has more than enough to take care of.

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Hear what Paul has to say in I Corinthians 10:13. (The Message)  “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

In Psalm 103:14, (The Message) David said, “He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.”

God knows exactly who you are and just how much you can bear.  He will not allow that last straw to be piled upon you.

Matthew 10:29 – 31 tells us “Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

            Now, here’s the rest of the story!  Returning to the car after grocery shopping, I opened the door and there, stuck in the mechanism that controls the trunk and the gasoline tank, was my errant Driver’s License.  I had picked it up with the mail and dropped it, in the car, before giving the letters to the postman.

Such a little thing!  Such a wonderful little thing!  I shouted for joy thanking God for His goodness.  Can you believe that a Driver’s license has kept me singing all week?  Of course, it’s not the license.  Rather, it is the graphic reminder that God really does care about even the little things.

He cares to the LAST DETAIL.  I Love it!!!

 

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!