THERE’S JUST SOMETHING ABOUT HIM

There’s just something about him—about her.”  There is an air about her—an aura.  It’s his dignified manner—her carriage, her conduct.  He makes a striking impression.  There is a presence about him.”

Have you ever heard that said about another person, or perhaps thought it yourself?

When I was young in the ministry, I worked for awhile with an older woman who was also engaged in children’s ministry.  I loved being in the presence of that woman.  Though I couldn’t have told you what, there was just something about her.

Most of us are, to one degree or another, hero worshippers.  Some wallow in ecstasy at the performance of this or that rock band.  Others worship at Hollywood’s altar.  In King Elvis’ day, girls often swooned or fainted in his presence, and I?  I have always been enthralled with royalty.  Those little pink-cheeked, royal princes and princesses turn my heart to mush.

When you consider that I started in a cotton patch, you may understand why fairy tale royalty captured my imagination.

On a number of occasions, I have stood before Buckingham Palace looking through the gilded iron bars hoping to spy someone at a window or on the royal balcony.  I always went away disappointed, for poker-faced, statuesque, motionless guards belied any idea of gaining entrance to that auspicious place.

I have had the privilege of visiting Balmoral Castle and Holyrood Palace in Scotland, but I wasn’t invited in there, either.

On Easter Sunday, 1984, I drove through the English countryside to Windsor Castle.  My Niece and her family were with me.  The Queen’s flag flew high over the ramparts testifying to the fact that she was in residence.  As a show of magnanimity and kindness, Elizabeth had opened her royal gardens to the public.   We were allowed to walk among the fragrant flowers and shrubbery.  With abandon, my five-year-old nephew, set free from hours cooped up in the car and imprisoned in a hotel room, turned somersaults down the garden pathway.

I stared intently at the castle hoping to see Queen Elizabeth peering out the window watching Marcus’ antics.  It didn’t happen.  I didn’t see her.  I didn’t speak with her.  I did not shake her hand.

Belgian Royalty was a bit more casual than that of England.  On occasion, our heavily guarded queen and her “ladies in waiting” were seen shopping at “Bon Marche.”

On July 21, Belgian Independence Day, soldiers marched and tanks rolled by and the king and queen, in a top-down convertible, smiled and waved energetically to their admiring subjects.  I stood with the crowds one year and thrilled at the sight of the monarchs.  It all seemed so informal.  However, I knew, if I took one step beyond the barrier, alarms would sound and I would be apprehended.

In actuality, Royalty is distant, unavailable, and inaccessible.  The common man cannot come within a country mile of the rulers of this world.

A royal invitation or summons is the only hope of an audience with the queen.

A couple of weeks ago my pastor preached about the necessity of the presence of God in my life.  I’ve been thinking about that.

I will never receive an invitation to share a cup of tea with Queen Elizabeth in the drawing room at Buckingham Palace.  I will never be summoned for an audience with our president in the Oval office at the White House.

BUT—everyday I enter freely into the courtroom of the KING OF KINGS—THE KING OF THE AGES.  Guess what!  I come at His invitation.

Hebrews 4:6 tells us to “…come boldly to the throne of grace…His throne…that we may have mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

I have discovered that I must have the presence of God in my life, for He is my source of strength—my source of joy.  He is my life.

Psalm 16:11, “…In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Again we are told in Acts 2:28 “You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.”

The presence of God can be a constant in your life, for the psalmist says, in 140:13, “…The upright shall dwell in Your presence.”

THINK ABOUT!  We are invited.  We have free access into His courtroom.  We may live continually in His presence.  No barricades, no royal guards, no secret service men can bar our entrance.

The sun will come out tomorrow!

 

A DOOR OF OPPORTUNITY

At this juncture in my life, I have to talk myself into going to the Mall.  It is not nearly the fun it used to be.

I decided I would go on Saturday morning.  There was business to take care of.  I needed some summer sandals, I was dying to buy a dress I had seen in a Dillard’s ad, and I had some wounded jewelry that needed repair.

Wouldn’t you know?  I slept very poorly Friday night, and was in no condition to go anywhere on Saturday.  However, being the stubborn, determined gal I am, I made my way to the Mall refusing to give into my weariness.

I started out at Macy’s looking for sandals.  Then on rubbery legs, I trudged to the jewelry store.  I was greeted by a lovely auburn haired lady in a green jacket.

“How may I help you?” she asked pleasantly.

“I have some jewelry that needs repair,” I answered.

I asked if we could sit, for I really didn’t think I could stand much longer.

Felicia inquired whether or not I had shopped with them before.  I had, and at her request, I repeated my telephone number.

She entered the number into the computer, and Cecil’s name, not mine, appeared on the screen.

“Cecil was my husband,” I volunteered.  “We bought our rings here.”

After examining the pieces of jewelry, and determining the work that needed to be done, and the price for each repair, she said the work would be done by June 22.

“That’s good!” I said.  “I’ll have them before I leave on my trip,”  I told her. I was going to see my brother, and in the course of the conversation I revealed the fact that we are both retired ministers, so we have a lot in common and much to talk about.

“Oh,” she said hesitantly,   “I think faith had something to do with finding my boyfriend.  At the age of forty, it’s not easy, you know.”

I laughed saying, “Oh, how well I remember.  I used to be really mad at God because everyone got married but me.  I didn’t understand why.  God wasn’t fair!  For years I believed He, for some incomprehensible reason, had said ‘NO,’ to my longing.  However, over the course of time, I found He had only said, ‘WAIT’.”

In a puzzled voice, Felicia asked, “Well, how long did you wait?”

“For His own reason, I have no idea why God made me wait seventy-seven years,” I said looking into her wide eyes with a grin.

She was incredulous.  “Seventy-seven years, and you were never married before?”

“No!” I said.  “That was the first and only time.  So you see, there’s hope for you.”

Then came the question.  “How long were you married?”

“Five months and eleven days,” I replied.

Those words presented a precious privilege—a priceless opportunity to share my faith and God’s faithfulness.

I told Felicia, briefly, of Cecil’s and my God ordained time together.  Then I told her of his death on a Saturday afternoon.

I gave him a pain pill.  Sitting on the side of the bed he took the pill and looked up at me and said.  “I am going to take this pill and lie down and go to sleep, and I am not going to wake up.”  Then he put his arms around me, kissed me tenderly and continued, “I love you.  Thank you for all that you have ever done for me.”

Ten minutes later he was gone.

Felicia’s eyes were as big as saucers.  “He knew,” she said.  “How did he know?”

“When you have known God, served Him and walked with Him for nearly eighty years, you know how to hear His voice.  He speaks incredible things to the heart that loves Him,” I told her.

I shared with her how my faith in God, and His faithfulness to me, had lifted me up and out of the darkest time of my life and made me whole again.

Like a hungry waif, this young woman drank in every word, and I left the store with a great bubble of joy threatening to burst within me.  I will take her my blog address the next time I go.

In I Corinthians 16, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about his planned visit to them.  In verses 8 and 9, He says, (The Message) “For the present, I am staying right here in Ephesus.  A huge door of opportunity for good work (for the preaching of the gospel—for the witness of Christ) has opened up here.”

What a priceless opportunity I would have missed had I given into weariness and stayed home on Saturday morning.  This was God’s time for Felicia and me.  It was His open door of opportunity.

Acts 1:8 says, “…you shall be my witnesses…”

Every time we leave the house our spiritual eyes ought to be aware of the door of precious opportunity God has opened for us.  There are a bunch of Felicia’s and Freds and Susans and Sams out there who are hungry for the truth.  Don’t miss God’s open door.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

THE LONG WAY HOME

 

The second time I went to dinner with My Cecil we took the long way home.  It was only fifteen minutes back to my hotel, but suddenly we were driving down a dark country road.

“Where are we going?” I asked.  “This is not the way home.”

Cecil grinned and said, “This is one way—the long way.”

I knew he wasn’t up to any shenanigans.  He wasn’t going to use the old “I ran out of gas” trick.  He just liked to “mosey along” taking his time—never really in a hurry.

I’m just the opposite.  Patience is not something I do well.  If there’s something to do, “Let’s get it done.  Now!  Though, at the age of eighty-one, I am retired, I am not idle.  When I awaken in the morning, I have an agenda.  I know exactly what I will do.  Now, I may change my mind, I have that prerogative, or I may not finish everything on the list, but at least I have a plan.

I don’t like it when someone takes a big chunk out of my time interrupting my plan.  I’m pretty intense about it.

The City of Brussels celebrated its one-thousandth birthday when I lived there.  It sort of grew up like Topsy.  Topsy was a character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

When asked, “Do you know who made you?”

She replied, “Nobody as I knows on—I spect I grow’d.  Don’t think nobody ever made me.”

In ancient years, the City of Brussels grew up by itself without apparent design.  “I spect it just grow’d.” Parts of the old city were like a maze—a warren of dark alleys and side streets.  It was easy to get lost.

My friend used to say, “Let’s go down this street.  I think it’s faster.”

“No! No!” I always cried.  “Just go the way we know.”  I had learned early on you can “go around the block” in Brussels and wind up twenty miles from home.  I didn’t want to waste the time.

However, I have discovered that God’s timing is different from mine.  I don’t know who coined the phrase “Stop and smell the roses,” but I think it was God ordained.  The Psalmist says that our Father knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.  He knows that we need to take time from our busy schedule to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of life.

It took some doing to convince Cecil of this truth.  Though he loved meandering about the country, he pretty much felt that most forms of recreation were frivolous and unnecessary, so it was fun to drag him away for a cruise on the lake or a train trip through the Verde Valley.

If I need to allow time for restoration and recreation of my physical being, so also must I care for my spiritual being.

I know God has a plan—a will for my life.  It is at one and the same time a daily work in me and a life long journey.  His ultimate will is that I become like Jesus

God is my Master Sculptor.  I see Him with his hammer and chisel forming me into the image of His Son.  Bit by bit He chisels away at the rough spots, the unlovely places, the hard unyielding parts of me, and little by little—very little by very little—an image begins to appear, but it is far from complete.  For, this is a long, sometimes painful journey that I travel with The Father.

Of course, being who I am, I want it done now.  I want it yesterday, but He is not in a hurry.  He is taking the “long way home.”

In Jeremiah 18:4, we learn the vessel the potter was making was ruined, so he had to start over and make another vessel.

This happens sometimes in my life.  When I am disobedient and unyielding, God’s work in me takes longer, and starting over in any area is painful.  However, I must tell you “I am determined—I’ve made up my mind.” I will yield to my Master Sculptor, and one day His work in me will be complete.

1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

Good things happen on this “long way home.” All the stops and starts and “do-overs, good or bad, on this journey have made me who I am today, and you should know, the night I took the long way home with Cecil, I learned for the first time he was interested in MORE than a friendship.

Remember “home” is our destination no matter how long it takes.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

 

 

 

 

ILLUSIONS

I guess I’ve always been nearsighted—it’s called astigmatism.  I don’t know whether or not anyone was aware of it, but I knew how to compensate.  I don’t remember ever thinking, “Hey!  I can’t see.”  I just held my book a little closer and sat in front of the room nearer the chalkboard.

I didn’t own glasses until I was a young adult, and even then I didn’t wear them.  Just couldn’t get used to them, and, you know, they didn’t look good.  I tried the old hard contacts, but they were more of a nuisance than anything else.

On the rare occasion when I visited the optometrist, he always yelled at me, but I was doing all right.  However, when I began to preach, I realized that it was difficult to follow my notes, so I was forced to resort to the glasses.  Now, my glasses are the first thing I don each morning.

A few years back, I found myself blinking frequently trying to clear away the mist that obstructed my sight.

“Man,” I thought.  “It’s time to change my glasses.” I probably hadn’t changed them in ten years.

The optometrist laughed at me and said, “You don’t need new glasses.  You need cataract surgery in both eyes.”

The day after surgery, when the patch came off the first eye, I was amazed at the change.  I couldn’t remember ever having seen such vivid colors and distinct features.

However, the first time I looked in the mirror I found myself crying, “No!  No!  No!  No!  No!”

I couldn’t believe what I saw.  I knew I had wrinkles, after all, I was seventy-six years old, but I thought my wrinkles were soft and sweet and undefined.  Now I saw the deep creases.  It wasn’t a pretty sight.

For an instant I wanted to undo the surgery—forget the vivid colors, for my mirror revealed the stark truth.  “I was getting old.”  Mirrors have a way of doing that—revealing the truth.

Ever since Narcissus peered into the pond and fell in love with himself, mirrors have fascinated us.  They show us what we want to see, and what we don’t want to see, but they also surprise us.

I’ve discovered, however, that mirrors don’t always tell the truth.  The first mirrors made in the 1600’s were often fashioned with warped glass and coated unevenly, so that those who used them were tempted to flee from their own image.

When I stand in front of the mirror at my Weight Watcher center, I look tall and very thin.  I could stand there all day, but that is not a true picture of who I am.

When I first went to Belgium, I bought a beautiful old mirror at the flea market.  It is oval with a real wood frame—an antique, I think.  It has hung over my sofa for more than forty years.  I love it, but the reflection is no longer flawless.  One hundred years ago mirrors were made by coating a sheet of glass with silver.  The coating is thin and easily scratched flaking off.  The scratches are beginning to show through marring the image.

Perhaps you have visited a fun house where mirrors are made to purposely distort the image, or you have had the privilege of touring the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.

Truth is you cannot always believe what the mirror reflects.  Sometimes the image is an illusion.  We see what we want to see.  I deceived myself for years thinking I looked younger—thinking that the wrinkles weren’t so bad.

I know of only one mirror that will never deceive you.  The Apostle, James, compares the Word of God to a mirror.

James 1:22-25 (The Living Bible) says, “And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to.  So don’t fool yourselves.  For if a person just listens and doesn’t obey, he is like a man looking at his face in a mirror; as soon as he walks away, he can’t see himself anymore or remember what he looks like.  But if anyone keeps looking steadily into God’s law for free men, he will not only remember it but he will do what it says, and God will greatly bless him in everything he does.”

God’s Word reveals the truth.  He speaks to you through its pages and shows you exactly who you are.  You may not like what you see, but there are no distortions—no illusions. James says keep looking steadily into the mirror of God’s Word, and obey what it says.

God’s blessing upon your life will be abundant.

The sun will come out tomorrow!