WRITE OFFS

Write offs may be good or bad.  Before April 15, we comb through our records looking for every possible deduction—the more the merrier. We write off our kids, our mortgage, our medical expenses, our charitable giving.  That’s all good, for the more write offs we have the less we pay Uncle Sam.  That has to do with our taxes, but we also write off things for other reasons.  In fact we sometimes write off people.

Have you ever given up on someone?  Perhaps, you have decided that he is inconsequential—no longer important to you.  You are not going to waste anymore time or attention or energy on this person.  So, you write him off.

Last Saturday I had an enlightening, and unexpected experience.  I was scheduled to attend two funerals—the funeral for a church acquaintance and a memorial for a relative.  Actually, I didn’t want to go to either, but out of duty, I decided to pay my respects to the son-in-law of my half-sister.

My family is kind of weird.  Daddy was a lot older than my mother and had a passel of grown children when they were married.  I rarely saw these older siblings, and since we never lived under the same roof, or even in the same state, it was difficult to think of them as brothers and sisters.

The widow of the man I was paying my respects to is my 87-year-old niece—older than I but niece none the less.

As I drove mile after mile through the desolate desert a thought came to mind.  “If I were asked to say something to this group of people, most of whom I did not know at all, what would I say?  With the exception of two or three, they were not church goers—God played very little part in their lives.  I tried to dismiss the thought since there was little chance that the opportunity would arise.   However, I couldn’t shake the idea knowing that God was directing my thoughts.  I knew there was no planned service.  There would be photos and recorded music, but no minister.  Someone would read a couple of scriptures and friends were free to share.

I sat in the back of the room watching the milling people.  Through the crowd, my niece spotted me.  Her eyes were red from weeping.  I felt sad for her.  She had no children and few friends.

Taking my hand she asked, “Could you sing?  Would you say something to the people?  You can say something from the Bible if you want to.”

I was surprised, and yet, not really, for I knew The Lord had prepared me for this.

“I’m not prepared to sing,” I answered, “but we can all sing together.  We can sing “Amazing Grace.” Everyone knows that.  And, yes, I will say a few words, if you want.”

I knew exactly what I would say, for God had already dropped the words into my heart. I stood behind the podium and introduced myself.  I told my audience that Dody is my niece.  I admitted that I did not know her husband well and had no idea what he believed or what relationship he had with God.

Then I said, “I have come to tell you that God loves you—every one of you.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to prove His love.  The Bible says, in Romans 3:23, “All of us have sinned,” and in Romans 10:9, “…if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, (we will be forgiven) we will be saved.”

I talked to them about the fact that Jesus went away to prepare a place for those who love Him.  One day He will come again and take us there to live with Him forever.  I shared the simple Gospel.

As I spoke, I was aware that something was happening in my heart.  I no longer felt disconnected from this group.  I realized I was looking at my father’s family.  Dody was his granddaughter.  In that audience there were great grandkids, at least one great, great grandson, a great, great, great grandson, and two great, great, great, great granddaughters.  They were my family—an arm of my family that I had “written off” years ago.  They made no effort.  They never came around, so I didn’t either. My heart was touched when, after the service, they all came to introduce themselves.  I’ll never look at them the same way again.

I am reminded of a cartoon I once saw.  A little boy was defending himself against some criticism.  He said, “I’m me and I’m special, ‘cause God made me.  And God don’t make no junk!”

“God don’t make no junk!”  He was right.  God never made a throw away.

]You are God’s creation.  He treasures you.  Matthew, the apostle, tells us that not one sparrow falls to the ground but that God knows about it.  Then he says in chapter 10:31, “…you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Regardless of how you are treated by others you are not inconsequential to God.  He will not write you off.  You are precious to Him, and He must become precious to you.

Remember the sun will come out tomorrow

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

I CAN’T DO THAT!

My friend and I arrived home from vacation on a sweet June afternoon.  I walked through the house opening shutters—surveying my worldly domain.  Opening the patio door blinds I was welcomed by a committee of one.  A snake slithered across the concrete, his head lifted high, his beady black eyes peering through the glass.  He was casing the joint, and I was beside myself.  I have never been on friendly terms with snakes.  I avoid them at the zoo.  I even refuse to look at a picture.  When my Cecil was ill, we watched a lot of Animal Planet.  Invariably, there were slithering, slimy snakes and various other reptiles.  I consider myself to have been very brave, though I watched most of it with my eyes closed.  However, I didn’t feel brave that June afternoon.

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I raced to the phone and dialed 911.  “What is your emergency,” asked the voice on the other end of the line.“There’s a snake looking in my house,” I cried.

“There’s a snake looking in my house,” I cried.

“That’s not an emergency, “she replied.

“It may not be an emergency for you,” I said disparately, “but it is for me and I don’t know what to do.”

I had no confidence in my ability to take care of the matter.

Laughing, she gave me the number of the local Serpentarium.   I didn’t know that such a thing existed, and I’m still not sure.  I can’t find it in my dictionary.

A few moments later, I opened the door to a grinning young man.  “Did you order apples,” he asked, and then, “where is the snake?”

“He’s in the back,” I said.  “I’m sure he’s a rattler.

I opened the patio door just a sliver, so this snake handler could squeeze through.  The snake was no longer on the porch, but in a matter of minutes, the man was back with the creature scrunched up, clutched in his hand.  I hesitantly let him walk through my living room and out the front door.  I’m sure he laughed all the way back to that weird place.

Sunday morning, my pastor preached about Moses and his unwillingness to answer God’s call to deliver Israel.  He had all kinds of reasons why he couldn’t do it.

“I’m no one,” he said.

“I don’t know what to do—I don’t know what to say.”

“No one will listen to me”

“Send someone else,” he cried.

Moses had a shepherd’s staff in his hand.  When he threw it down at God’s command, the staff became a snake, and Moses ran from it.

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God said, “Don’t run from it. Pick it up by its tail.”

Moses picked up the snake and it became a staff again.  Hats off to Moses!  I don’t think I could have done it.

Hats off to Moses!  I don’t think I could have done it.

In Exodus 3:12 and 18, God said to Moses, “I will certainly be with you…Then they will heed (listen to) your voice.”

The God of the universe—the God who is the creator of all things—the God who has all power—the God who existed before time, promised Moses that he certainly, no doubt about it, would be with him.

Most of us are tempted to run from the difficult things—from the hard assignments.  When, as a single young woman, God began to speak to me about becoming involved in full-time ministry, I balked.  I had always wanted to be in ministry, but I imagined that I would marry a preacher, iron his shirts, sing occasionally, and shake hands.  However, that was not God’s plan.

“I CAN’T DO IT,” I declared.

Oh, I was smart enough, well educated, even talented, but there were two big obstacles.

First of all, I was overweight—obese is a better term.  I was always well groomed and well dressed, but I was self-conscious and insecure.  People wouldn’t accept me.  I was sure of it.

“I CAN’T DO IT, LORD!”

Then there was the problem of being alone.  I didn’t want to be a single woman preacher.  People didn’t like women preachers.  I didn’t like women preachers.  I had seen and heard a few.  To me, they seemed too aggressive and unattractive.

If I wanted anything in life, I wanted everyone to like me—love me.  I didn’t want to be weird.

Ministry, in the 60’s, was an uphill climb for women, particularly single women, but in the confines of my stubborn, frightened little heart, God whispered, “I will certainly be with you.  I will enable you, and people will accept you.”

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No words can explain the joy I have had in almost fifty years of ministry.  A gentleman, whom I have not seen or heard from in several years, called yesterday just to remind me that I was instrumental in his salvation—a wonderful encouragement on a difficult day.

God’s great promise to us is found in Isaiah 41:10.  “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes I will help you.  I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

DON’T RUN FROM THE SNAKE.  PICK IT UP BY THE TAIL AND SEE WHAT GOD WILL DO.

 THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

God Can Do…

Dear Reader,

A friend of mine used to say, “Sometimes we turn square corners,” simply meaning that we have no idea what lies around that corner.  Life is like that.  In spite of carefully made plans, we do not know what tomorrow will bring.

For a year or more I have been dealing with a family need that seems to have no good solution.  I have prayed, wept, mourned, and sought advice, but so far—.  Today I thought the situation would finally be settled only to learn that it has been further complicated.

I told myself to put this problem aside for a
while, because I must write my blog.  Inspiration failed me, so I looked back at some of my past writing, and Eureka!  I found it.  I found my encouragement for this sad day.  Months ago, I wrote, “THINGS THOUGHT IMPOSSIBLE.”  The message:  “God can do what no other power can do.”  I believed it when I wrote it, and I believe it now.  So I am recycling this blog, because there is someone out there who needs it just as I do.


 

I was born with the wanderlust. I inherited it from my father. He never saw much of this world, but when he became restless, we just moved across town. In fact, we lived in seven different rentals, in the same small town, between my second birthday and kindergarten.

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We always paid the rent, so we weren’t running from the landlord. I have seen a lot of the world and yet, at the age of eighty, I still long to fly away to some distant land to see new faces and experience new places.

 

 

When I was four-years-old, my father decided to move the family to Colorado. Someone told me it snows there, and Colorado was colored pink on the map, so I put it all together and decided that the Colorado Mountains were covered with pink snow. I was excited.

The day came when the seven of us, mama, daddy and five kids, piled into our 1934 Buick and started across the Arizona desert towing a large four-wheeled trailer filled with our early poverty belongings. For some inexplicable reason, my father chose the month of August for this family adventure. In 1939, there was no such thing as air conditioning in an automobile, but not a one of us died from heat exhaustion.

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Zipping along through the burning desert, at 40 miles per hour, we made good time until we turned north toward the mountains. Yarnell Hill was our first challenge. To my father’s dismay, the Buick balked unable to pull the weight and make the uphill grade. Again and again, he tried to no avail.

Finally, daddy decided that he would off-load part of the weight, take the rest to the summit and come back for another load. Part of what he off- loaded was My Mother, my sisters, and me. The boys would be his helpers. We have a picture of my twelve-year-old sister standing in the skinny shade of a saguaro cactus.

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My Dad has been gone for many years, but I can still feel his frustration, disappointment and sense of failure as he tried time and again to find a way to get his family to Colorado. At the end of the day, hot, tired, dirty and disheartened, we turned around and headed back to Wickenburg.

 

There we found a place to camp for the night. Daddy went to a nearby grocery store coming back with supper – bread, bologna and a big bucket of ice water. Setting the icy water down by the car running board, where I rested my four-year-old self, my father turned to other chores, and I lifted my poor tired, dirty, disappointed little toes and plunged them into that deliciously frigid bucket. To this day, I cannot remember the consequences of my precipitous action, but there had to be some compensation for the loss of pink snow, right?

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The next morning our tired and wiser family headed back to the valley where my parents were at home for more than fifty years. The mountains defeated us. Had we conquered the first rise, which was not much of a mountain at all, I wonder what we would have done when we reached the Rockies.

Years ago we sang a little chorus:

“Got any rivers you think are uncrossable.

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through.

God specializes in things thought impossible.

And He can do what no other power can do.”

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Mountains often defeat us. Too frequently we are faced with insurmountable problems to which there is no discernible solution. Like my father, we exhaust ourselves trying to get over, around or through the problem. 2500 years ago, a man named Zerubbabel faced just such a mountain.

After seventy years in captivity, he led 50,000 Israelites back to Jerusalem, where they anticipated rebuilding the temple and their treasured city. He was no doubt discouraged when he saw the extent of the work, his feeble resources, and the formidable opposition. This was a mountain he could not cross.

In Zechariah 4:6 – 7 we read: “…This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, you shall become a plain!” I like the way the Message says it. “So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you are nothing but a molehill.” You may be facing an unscalable mountain today. Remember, it is not by your efforts, but by the power of the Spirit of God. When you stand shoulder to shoulder with Him, that mountain is nothing but a molehill. He can do what no other power can do.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW