Shoveling Neighbors


(I wrote this story for my Sunday school class of younger children. It’s meant to be acted out.) 

“The Two Neighbors That Needed to Shovel”

Once upon a time there were two neighbors, Harry and Joe.  Harry loved to take care of his yard and never let his grass get too long or the snow get too deep.  On the other hand, Joe was a “get around to it” kind of guy.  He never quite “got around” to mowing until the grass was very long and never got around to shoveling until he couldn’t get out of the driveway with his car.

(Ask for two volunteers to be “Harry” and “Joe”.)

One winter morning, Harry looked out his window… (Tell “Harry” to pretend to look out the window.), and said to his wife, “There is a little snow on the sidewalk and driveway.  I had better go shovel.”  And shovel he did!  (Have Harry pretend to shovel.)  There was very little snow, so in no time at all, he was stepping back into the house again saying to his wife, “Ah!  It feels good out there!  That fresh air really woke me up!”

Next door, Joe’s wife looked out the window and said to Joe, “There is a little snow on the sidewalk and driveway.  Don’t you think you should go out and shovel?”  Joe put his feet up on the couch… (Have Joe put his feet up.), and his hands behind his head (Have Joe put his hands behind his head.) and said, “Nah.  It will melt before long.”  Then Joe went back to drinking his coffee and reading the newspaper.

Sure enough, Joe was right.  The sun came out and the snow melted before the day was out.  Joe’s drive and sidewalk had some puddles, but the snow was gone.

A week or so later, Harry got up in the morning and looked out the window again.  (Remind “Harry” he is supposed to pretend he is looking out the window.)  He said, “It snowed in the night again.  We got a little more than last time.  I had better go shovel!”  True to his word, he put his coat on and out he went and shoveled.  (“Harry” should have it down by now, but if he forgets to pretend to shovel, remind him.)  It took Harry just slightly longer than the time before since there was a little more snow on the ground.  Soon he was stamping the snow off of his boots and stepping back into the house.  “Hoo-ee!”  He exclaimed!  There’s a little bite in the air today!  Winter is here to stay!”

Next door, Joe’s wife looked out the window and said to Joe, “It snowed in the night again.  We got a little more than last time.  Don’t you think you should go out and shovel?”  Joe got up from the couch and looked out the window, (Remind “Joe” to look out of the window.), and said, “Hmmm.  There can’t be more than an inch out there.  I think I can wait until I have more time.”  Then Joe went back to the couch, put his feet up and finished reading his newspaper.

Well, Joe was right in a way.  There wasn’t more than about an inch of snow on the drive, but when they drove their car over the snow, it packed it down until it made a hard, slippery surface that Joe’s wife slipped on a couple of times walking out to get the mail.

This is the way it went for the next three snowfalls.  As soon as it snowed, Harry would go outside and shovel.  Harry’s drive and sidewalk looked the same as ever.  It was clean and dry enough to ride a bike on, and Harry was getting stronger and stronger because of the shoveling.  On the other hand, Joe’s drive and sidewalks were slippery and rutted with dirty, hard, slippery snow.  Joe’s wife said, “Honey, if you don’t shovel soon, someone is going to fall!”  Joe answered his wife, “Dear, I am having no trouble getting out of the driveway and people should be careful walking in the winter anyway.”  Then he went back to the couch with a fresh cup of coffee and put his feet up.

It was just after Christmas, when the radio and television began to issue this warning.  “We have a Winter Storm Warning in effect.  We are expected to get up to 6 inches of snow by midnight and another 4-6 inches by morning. ”

Harry reached over and shut the radio off and said to his wife.  I had better get to bed.  I will need to be up early to get the drive and the sidewalk shoveled before I go to work.”

Joe turned off the radio and said to his wife.  “There is a really good program on tonight.  It will keep me up late, but that won’t be a problem.”  Joe’s wife just rolled her eyes.

The next morning, Harry was up by 5:00 am, had a good breakfast, bundled up and went out into the blowing snow and cleared away the snow they had gotten overnight.  (Harry shovel)  He was huffing and puffing a bit, and it took him 45 minutes to do it, but he was finished in plenty of time to pack his lunch and head for work.

Joe overslept.  His wife shook him awake and said, “Joe!  I don’t know if you will be able to get out of the driveway! We got a lot of snow last night and it has piled up on top of the old snow.”  Joe jumped out of bed and quickly dressed.  “No time to worry about it.  I’ll be late as it is!”  Joe threw his coat on without buttoning it, grabbed his cup of coffee and a cookie and ran to his car.  (‘Joe’ can pretend to run.)  Joe opened the garage door and the drifting snow blew in.  He threw the car onto reverse and roared down the drive, through the snow and slid out into the street.  Off to work he went.

It continued snowing throughout the day and by the time Joe got home from work; he got stuck over and over trying to get down his driveway and into the garage.  He said to his wife, “Honey, where is the shovel?”

Harry was already out shoveling the snow that had fallen throughout the day from his driveway when Joe came spinning his tires down his own driveway.  Harry just shook his head and kept on shoveling.  It was hard work, but Harry had gotten strong and had gotten used to the cold weather.  He didn’t mind the way the full shovel pulled on his back and he could throw each shovel of snow a long distance.

Joe was finally worried about the deep snow in his driveway.  Later, after much searching for a shovel, Joe went out into the freezing cold air and stood shivering, dreading the job ahead.  What he had failed to notice until now, was that his driveway was layered with hard packed snow that had been covered with heavy, fresh, deep snow.  It made him long for his warm house with its comfortable couch. He wanted nothing to do with shoveling.  He only wanted to go back inside and drink a cup of coffee and read his newspaper.  He sighed and stuck his shovel into the deep snow.  (‘Joe’ may be too interested in the story to pretend anymore, so just let him listen.)  “Ugh!” he grunted with each little shovel full.  He had gotten out of shape through the winter, so he could barely throw the snow far enough to get it to the side of the driveway.  “Ugh!” he grunted again and again as he struggled through the deep snow.  He just wasn’t getting enough shoveled to even make a path for the tires of his car.  His arms were getting heavy and burned with each shovel full.  His breath was getting shorter and he was gasping for air.  He started to feel weak in his knees and they began to wobble.  His ears and nose were getting frostbitten and his hands were cold and raw from the rough handle of the shovel.  He stuck his shovel deep into the snow again, but this time, when he threw the shovel full of snow, the shovel flew out of his hands and he fell face first into the snow and lay there.  His wife and his neighbor Harry came running to see if he was all right.  They helped him to roll onto his back, but he couldn’t get up!  He had thrown his back out with the shovel!  His wife had to call an ambulance and Joe was laid up for the rest of the winter. Not only that, but he also had to pay $100.00 to a man to plow his driveway; all because he had let the snow pile up deeper and deeper until it was more than he could handle.

The snow is a lot like the times we get angry with someone or sad or hurt.  If we don’t forgive whoever has hurt us right away, it piles up in our hearts like deep snow. Our hurts and anger get bigger and deeper and harder to get rid of until we are no longer able to be happy.  Just like Harry, every time we have a snowfall of a hurt or anger or sadness come into our heart, we must immediately forgive whoever has hurt us so that our heart can be clean and happy again. Some hurts are heavy, like a very deep snowfall and we need Jesus to help us to forgive the one that hurt us. Just ask Jesus to help you to forgive and he will and you can have a light, happy heart again. Remember, each of us has caused Jesus hurts, but he forgives us, so we need to forgive others the hurts they cause us. You will never regret forgiving someone, but you will always regret not forgiving, especially when the time comes that Jesus looks you in the eyes and shows you His nail scarred hands. Hands that were nailed to a cross for the forgiveness of the hurts you and I caused Him.

Nancy

Matthew 6:14,15 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

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This Little Piggy


The Young Disciples Club

And

“This Little Piggy”

Featuring Jack:

Jack was one of the older boys in the Young Disciples Club. He hadn’t been in the club as long as some of the kids. He, his Mom and siblings had moved to town not too many years ago. His Mom had found a job at the local hospital and had to work a lot of hours to make ends meet. Jack was pretty quiet about his Dad. What he didn’t say spoke louder than what he did say. His friends learned not to ask him what his Dad had gotten him for his birthday, or if he would be going to his Dad’s for a visit over the summer, or if his Dad would maybe help him get a bicycle. For that matter, Jack was sort of quiet a lot of the time. It was like he had experienced a few too many disappointments already in his young life and it had sapped his youth of joy. He didn’t smile much, not with his eyes anyway and lately he had seemed withdrawn. Maybe that was why Jack had been on his youth leader, Pastor Ron’s heart so much lately.

Pastor Ron sat quietly at the top of the knoll, his bike in the grass beside him. He had ridden up to the look out some time ago. He wasn’t at all sure why, but he felt like he was waiting for something or someone. Earlier, God had seemed to drive him from his house and onto his bike and this was where he had found himself. It was a pleasant day with a soft warm breeze but Pastor Ron was not able to enjoy it. As he prayed, he became more and more troubled in his spirit. He had been praying at home, as he usually did, but as he prayed for each person that came to his heart, the boy Jack, from his Young Disciple Club kept coming back to his mind. Over and over again Ron’s heart would return to Jack in prayer until the uneasiness he felt in his spirit became more than he could bear. Ron recognized that Jesus was calling him to intercessory prayer for Jack. Pastor Ron had answered that call to prayer and though he called on the Name of Jesus and prayed with all of his might, the urgency would not lift.  He felt that unmistakable heaviness grow and he cried out to Jesus to intervene in whatever was happening in Jack’s life. Pastor Ron wrestled for Jack in prayer, crying out for Jesus to intercede in whatever was happening with Jack. The heaviness became almost unbearable until, finally; Pastor Ron felt his spirit lighten and the unmistakable Holy Presence of God swept over him. As he prayed on that little, grassy knoll, Pastor Ron knew that he had pressed through and had been granted an audience with the King of Kings. He felt as though he stood before the very Throne of Grace and he knew he could ask God to grant his petition.  He reverently bowed his head and spoke to his Friend Jesus. He said, “Jesus, I don’t know what is going on with this young man, but I know that you have placed this burden on my heart to pray for Jack and you know what the trouble is. I ask you, Lord Jesus, in your Precious Name to reveal the situation to me and give me your direction so that I can help him, in Jesus Name, I pray. Thank you Jesus, Mighty God!  Amen.” As Pastor Ron finished praying, a sweet peace settled across him. He wiped the tears from his eyes and and breathed in the soft, warm breeze. His prayer turned to a heartfelt praise and worship and he sat quietly for a time in silent meditation, thinking about the Goodness of God. In the quiet, mingled with the soft breeze, he heard footsteps climbing the other side of the knoll. He heard the unmistakable sound of someone dropping to the grass then the muffled sound of weeping. Soon the crying turned to loud, ragged sobs.  Pastor Ron stood and walked softly to the other side of the knoll where he found Jack, his hands covering his face, sobbing as only the broken in heart can cry. Ron lowered himself to Jack’s side quietly, softly resting his arm across Jack’s shoulders and began to pray. “Jesus, you know the trouble that this young man is sorrowing over. You know what is causing this heartache. You know the number of hairs on his head and his very thoughts. There is nothing hid from you, Lord. Oh, Balm of Gilead, we need your comfort.” Pastor Ron prayed until Jack wiped his eyes on his sleeve and looked up.  Pastor Ron grieved for the young man, wondering what could be weighing so heavily on him. He prayed silently, waiting for Jack to speak. Jack finally began to speak, uncertainly at first, trying to find the words to tell his youth leader what he had been unable to confide to anyone. The words started and stopped, at one point pouring out, at other times stammering, starting and stopping again. Finally, his youthful voice faded to a whisper, ashamed. Pastor Ron knew now why Jesus had put such a heavy burden to pray for Jack on his heart. He spoke softly to Jack.

“Jack, what you have been into, it is true, does not please God, but; you need to somehow get a hold of how great the mercy of God is. The Bible says in Proverbs 28:11 ‘He that covereth his transgressions shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall obtain mercy.’ Jack, you have done just as the Bible has directed us to do. James 5:16 says, ‘Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.’ Now you need to talk to God again and claim that mercy and forgiveness He has offered us.  Psalms 41:4 says, ‘I said, O Jehovah, have mercy upon me: Heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.’

Jack turned his sorrowful eyes up to Pastor Ron and said with a shaky voice, “Pastor Ron, I have told Jesus how sorry I am and I’ve begged Him to help me but I keep having these thoughts jump into my head! I’ve tried everything but they keep coming back! I don’t know what to do anymore! I’m afraid I’ll be lost and I don’t want to be!”  Jack covered his face with his hands again as his tears silently fell.

Pastor Ron, reached out in his spirit to that Throne of Mercy again, searching for the right words for the broken youth sitting beside him. What came to him was an old song that he sang softly, “Create in me a clean heart, Oh Lord my God, and renew a right spirit within me. Create in me a clean heart, Oh Lord my God, and renew a right spirit within in me, within me.”

“Jack, the Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 7:10, ‘For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.’ Jack, you need to let that sorrow you’re feeling be ‘godly sorrow’, let it work toward repentance! This same portion of the Bible goes on to say in verse 11, ‘For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.’ Jack, do you love Jesus?”

Jack sat up a little straighter and said with great conviction, “With all my heart, Pastor Ron.”

Ron went on to ask, “Do you want to serve Him in holiness and live a life that pleases Him?”

Jack nodded his head vigorously, unable to speak as emotion started overwhelm him again.

Pastor Ron gripped Jack’s shoulder and looked him in the eye. “Jack, you don’t have to listen to the accuser. Romans 8:1 tells us, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’ You need what John 15:3-4 says, ‘Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you…’ That chapter goes on to say in verse 7, ‘If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.’

Jack, you are fighting a spiritual battle right now, but you have Jesus at your side and the sword of the spirit at your hand. Philippians 2:5 says, ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:’ submit your thoughts to Jesus and fill your head with the Word of God. Jesus has already paid the price, so like 1 Corinthians 15:57 says, ‘But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Pastor Ron stood up, holding his hand out to Jack to pull him to his feet. “Come on Jack. Let’s thank God for His mercy and His loving kindness toward us.”

Jack smiled the first big, real smile Pastor Ron had seen for a long time and raised his hands toward heaven and praised God with the liberty that only comes from a forgiven heart.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This story was written to ask you; Do you have something in your life that you have tried and tried to shake, but just can’t seem to? Jesus is able to deliver us of anything, anything, anything. Find a quiet place to sit and talk to Him. Tell Him everything; hold nothing back, confess it to Him; tell Him every detail. Talk to Him even about the things you tell no one about. Talk to Him about the things you don’t really want to talk about. Confess to Him every detail; even those things you wish you could forget. Tell Jesus you are sorry you have sinned and grieved Him. Ask Him to forgive you. Ask Jesus to cleanse you. Ask Jesus put you back on the Potter’s Wheel again and remake you into the person He meant for you to be. If you haven’t been baptized in Jesus Name, you need to be.  Acts 2:38-41 says, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

If you need the name of an apostolic church near you, look at the web site: http://www.upci.com/churchLocator/default.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

Then don’t settle for just having your sins forgiven and washed away. You need the Holy Ghost to live a victorious life. Most likely you will receive the Holy Ghost when you are baptized. Ask for a Bible study while you are at it. There is nothing like living your life in the power of the Holy Ghost. Check it out today!

Nancy

(I may post some other stories I’ve written. We’ll see.)

A Glimpse


“It’s so good to be home…It’s so good to be home…”, my husband spoke softly as he rocked in his old green rocking chair. It’s been almost 15 years since he uttered those words.

I had just started my evening prayer through the tabernacle and was meditating on being thankful for the “gates of the tabernacle” when that scene from so long ago came to mind. I had been thinking of how those Jews that could only make it to the temple once a year must have felt as they approached it, how they must have wanted to drink in the sight of it. I could imagine how they laughed and shouted as it came into sight. Fathers lifted children onto their shoulders and excitedly pointed out the temple in the distance. Then I thought of those Jews that had spent years in captivity and how only the fortunate few made it back. I thought of how they must have wept at the sight of even the remnant of the temple. It was as I was thinking of those captives, that I thought of my husband sitting in his old rocking chair, so very glad to be home. In my mind’s eye, I saw our children sitting a little away from him, hopeful but wary; and myself on the couch, wanting to be happy, yet serious and cautious.

This is a very long and difficult story that I am only going to tell you a little of. I will allow you a glimpse, but no more into those dark days. It’s not something I willingly talk about, but God has made it very clear to me I am to write a little bit of it.

I had just brought my husband, (I will not give his name) home from the hospital where he had been very close to death. You would think that was why it felt so good to him to be home, but it was much more than that. He had been gone from our home for many months; but, gone from our family for many years. It was his first time “home” since he had left us. The divorce was finishing up and the children and I had finally started to find a new normal. Some weeks prior to this, I had been to a ladies retreat. It was during the last altar call of the last session of the retreat that God spoke to me. He said, “If {he named my husband} asks if he can come home, will you let him?” I said, “No Lord. There’s been too much water under the bridge. It’s been too hard.” A little later God spoke to me again, “If {your husband} asks you if he can come home, will you let him?” I said, “No Lord. I don’t want to.” Then one last time, God asked me, “If {your husband} asks you if he can come home, will you let him?” This time I answered, “I tell you what Lord, how about if we just do this your way. You’ve never left me hanging and I don’t suppose you’ll start now.” The retreat finished, I went home and didn’t think another thing of God’s words. That was Saturday. Monday afternoon, my husband stopped by the house. He said he had something to talk to me about. I reluctantly let him in. He said he had made a mistake and wanted to come home. Long story short, I forgot completely about my conversation with God and said no. He spent some time trying to convince me but I had no intention of going down that road again. He finally asked if he could take the kids and myself out for pizza. The kids had come home from school by then and were all in favor of us all going for pizza. I did not want to go with but he and the kids put a great deal of pressure on me until I agreed. We got back a little later that evening and my husband asked if he could catch a nap on the couch in the lower level before he went to work that night. I was very unhappy about it. I absolutely did not want him in the house any longer, but where he was living was an hour away, so I reluctantly agreed. I went to bed and hadn’t been asleep long when I heard him on the phone in the dining room, calling in sick to work. I was very angry. I was even more angry when I got up the next morning to find him on the couch in the living room, claiming to be sick. I didn’t care if he was sick. I wanted him out of my house and let him know in no uncertain terms that he had better be gone when I got home from work. The kids called me later at work and told me their dad was very sick. I came home after work to find him still on the couch and truly sick. He was burning up with a fever which I could not ignore. I spent a long night trying to get his fever down, so come morning, I insisted he be seen. When the attending physician diagnosed his illness as sinus infection, I knew in my gut they were wrong but there was nothing to do but get the antibiotics and hope they worked. I have to say I was very anxious to get him off of my hands.  I had company coming for Easter, I had a great deal to do and I knew his presence would be unwelcome to say the least. That was Wednesday, but when Thursday came and went with  no improvement, I insisted on taking him to the emergency room across town. It wasn’t long before the nightmare began. They roomed him immediately which should have been my first clue he was seriously sick. At some point I was taken back to a private area and questioned by the infection control group. Could he have contacted this, that or the other, they asked me? I finally had to own up to the fact that I really didn’t know much about him anymore and hadn’t had contact with him for a very long time. They said he had said as much but they were grasping straws. He was admitted and the battery of tests began. The next afternoon, I brought the children in to see him and was disturbed to notice his breathing had become labored. They took him for a late afternoon CT Scan which showed multiple pulmonary embolism. My Easter company came, took the kids home with them and my vigil began. He rapidly went into a decline and was emergently moved to intensive care. The physicians broke it to me that he was going into total organ shutdown and they still didn’t know what was wrong with him. Very quickly he turned yellow-orange and became very swollen. He was delirious and kept asking me to take his boots off, though he had nothing on his feet. He said they were, “so heavy”. Soon after, he became totally unable to speak but was easily startled and very frightened. I prayed almost every minute I was with him. At some point I knew I was to pray over his entire body. I knew I needed to pray and sing to him, touching him as I did. I didn’t care who came and went, I continued. I remember a young doctor walking in and observing me. He said to “keep it up”, that it had been proven to help. I only left when I knew someone else would be with him. He reached crisis mode and they still didn’t know what was wrong. They finally told me that it might be a good idea to let the children come and tell him goodbye, so I called the school and the principle brought them to the hospital. I don’t remember much of that time except for the exhaustion. Then, the main physician came to me with a smile. They finally had a diagnosis and could aggressively treat him. He had been visiting family in Tennessee two weeks prior to the start of his illness and had been bitten by a tick carrying a disease called Ehrlichiosis, called by locals, “the bone breaker” because of the pain associated with it. The average yearly incidence of it is 0.7 cases per MILLION population and none of that happens in MN. Once the physicians knew what they were dealing with, they were able to successfully treat him. They were finally able to move him out of critical care to a step down unit though he still couldn’t talk and was confused. They had a serious talk with me about taking him home. They said I would have to make sure not to allow him to use the stove or let him wander. They could not guarantee he ever would improve enough to be left alone. I vividly remember saying to God, “Well, this ought to be interesting.” They were finally going to release him, but since he was very immunosuppressed, I went home and cleaned and washed walls. When I came back to his hospital room and walked up to his bed, he reached up to me and put his arm around my shoulders, kissed me and said the first words I had heard from him since he became so ill. He said, “What are you doing here babe? Aren’t you supposed to be at work?” It was the first time he had kissed me since his heart had turned from me so very, very long ago…the first time he had spoken an endearment to me since his heart was stolen from me.

I took him home from the hospital and the first thing he did was to go to his favorite old chair, the green rocking chair. He rocked silently for a while with his eyes closed, than said with a catch in his voice, “It’s so good to be home… It’s so good to be home”.

I fell in love with him all over again…head over heals in love with him… passionately in love with him… and we almost made it. We almost beat that spirit that had gotten a hold of him, but he wouldn’t let the pastor or the men of the church get close enough to him to be accountable… to be safe.  He was finally able to go back to work, but it wasn’t long before he was dabbling once again with that sin that had taken him from me in the first place. Soon he was back where he had been before he had gotten sick…only more so. I fought that spirit that had a grip on him! I fasted and prayed and wept until I tore the cartilage in my ribs. The rest of the story reads like a textbook. That spirit isn’t very imaginative. It pulls the same stuff wherever it strikes. There was the usual ugliness of divorce, then the car broke down, the well had to be re-dug, my furnace burned up, my fridge went out, my stove quit working, the roof started leaking, the pressure pump went out and had to be dug up and replaced. The divorce had been discontinued when he got sick, so it had to be completely restarted…with a new retainer fee… in other words, I made a lot of money, but I had none.You say, where was God in all of this? Oh, where do I begin to tell you of His faithfulness. One day as I wept, God said to me, “But, didn’t I give you peace in your home?” Yes, God gave me and my children peace in our home.  He also gave me closure, since I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had done everything I could possibly do to win my husband back to me and to God.

You wonder if God left me “hanging”? No, no He didn’t. He has given me a new, peaceful life. I’m working on being a soul winner and the best is yet to come. I’m not sure why God has laid it so heavy on my heart to write this or why He has placed such an urgency on me to write it. I guess, if there is one take-away I can give you, it is this: Remember, Satan doesn’t come to inconvenience you or to mess up your day…

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:” John 10:10

Nancy

“It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,” Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”; But you will be called, “My delight is in her,” And your land, “Married”; For the LORD delights in you, And to Him your land will be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you.…” Isaiah 62:4,5

Crazy Love, Magnificent Love


“Is it a small thing to grieve your God?”, the still, small voice of God had spoken to my heart many months ago. I had gotten home from work and was still in my car in the garage, on my phone, catching up on Facebook. I had felt the wooing of God, competing for my attention, but I had continued reading post after post. It was then that I had felt that unmistakable grieving of the Holy Ghost wash over me and He had spoken. His Words were like a sword that plunged deep into my spirit. I immediately realized I was at a dangerous precipice, not just because I had ignored the wooing of God’s Spirit, but because I knew I had lost my first love, if I had ever had it. I simply did not deeply and truly love God, not the way God’s Word describes in Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  This acknowledgment to myself that I did not love God as I should, broke me. I managed to make my way into the house and to my chair to pray but I didn’t know where to begin or what to say. I didn’t know how to even start to pray now that my worship seemed phony and shallow. I struggled, wanting to say, “I love you” to God from the depths of my heart, from that place where deep love resides, but when I inspected my love of God, I knew it wasn’t sufficient for Him. I didn’t want to talk to God about it, but I knew I had to. I tried to speak, but could only come up with broken sentences. How do you talk to the Almighty God about the fact that you don’t seem to have the kind of love to offer Him that is due Him? I asked Him to help me love Him with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my might. This started a conversation with God which lasted many hours. I started by telling Him everything He had done for me and worked my way backward through scripture from the cross, to Him leaving heaven to take on flesh as a baby so that as a man, He could be that perfect sacrifice for my sin. I worked my way back through the ages to Adam and Eve and the sin that entered the world through their disobedience that the blood of bulls could not forgive. I went back to the fall of Lucifer from heaven and sin entering the world. As I talked to God, telling Him everything He had done, something started to change in me. I felt the presence of God resting on me and my recitation of His Goodness became sing-song poetry. I felt my love for God grow and become deeper, it was like God enlarged my heart and gave me the ability to love Him as He deserves to be loved. I asked God to help me love Him and He did.

This was many months ago and my love for God has continued to grow. It has become what I can only describe as a spousal love. I Need Him. I can’t wait to be in His Presence. I pour my love out to Him. I lavish love on Him. I woo Him and worship Him with an unashamed need. I love Him deeply, deeply, deeply… and He loves me. I look for time to love on Him, to be in His presence, to talk to Him. I may be doing something else, but when I feel that little nudge from the lover of my soul, I have to stop and entertain His presence. Even as I’ve been writing these last sentences, “My Love” has been very near, His presence so very tangible…

I asked Him to help me love Him…and He did.

Crazy Love, Magnificent Love,

Nancy

As Lee Stoneking says, I “will never be the same again.”

Making the Dry Tree Flourish


“Oh great. Ezekiel.”

Now, some of you are going to want to reach through the computer and slap me real hard for what I’m about to own up to…but; here goes. The reason I was disappointed about turning to Ezekiel in my Bible was because I had done what no mature Christian normally does. I NEEDED to be encouraged. I NEEDED to be encouraged so badly that I had asked my Jesus to please speak to me through His Word by me randomly opening my Bible. I knew better, but closed my eyes and opened my bedside Bible. It fell open to…Ezekiel. I was disappointed. You have to understand…I just don’t do this. I normally would just read from where I had left off and look for nuggets of peace and solace there. The reason, I didn’t do that was I had been reading Isaiah and I just wasn’t up to reading what was coming in the next chapter when I had such a need of comforting. When I saw that I had turned to Ezekiel, I’m afraid I sighed. I went ahead and started reading with part of my brain saying, “You knew better.” So, I read…

Ezekiel 17

“1. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 2. Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel; 3. And say, Thus saith the Lord God; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar: 4. He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick; he set it in a city of merchants. 5. He took also of the seed of the land, and planted it in a fruitful field; he placed it by great waters, and set it as a willow tree. 6. And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature, whose branches turned toward him, and the roots thereof were under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs….”

I was reading but not absorbing. I was tempted to skim, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me. I continued.

“7. There was also another great eagle with great wings and many feathers: and, behold, this vine did bend her roots toward him, and shot forth her branches toward him, that he might water it by the furrows of her plantation .8. It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine. 9. Say thou, Thus saith the Lord God; Shall it prosper? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring, even without great power or many people to pluck it up by the roots thereof. 10. Yea, behold, being planted, shall it prosper? shall it not utterly wither, when the east wind toucheth it? it shall wither in the furrows where it grew.”

Now, I REALLY didn’t want to continue. I was just so beaten down already, I didn’t think I could bear to read something that made me feel any worse… but; my conscience would not allow me to not take the bitter with the sweet, so…I continued.

“11. Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 12. Say now to the rebellious house, Know ye not what these things mean? tell them, Behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof, and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon; 13. And hath taken of the king’s seed, and made a covenant with him, and hath taken an oath of him: he hath also taken the mighty of the land: 14. That the kingdom might be base, that it might not lift itself up, but that by keeping of his covenant it might stand. 15. But he rebelled against him in sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. Shall he prosper? shall he escape that doeth such things? or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered? 16. As I live, saith the Lord God, surely in the place where the king dwelleth that made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he brake, even with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die. 17. Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company make for him in the war, by casting up mounts, and building forts, to cut off many persons: 18. Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape. 19. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; As I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and my covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head. 20. And I will spread my net upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon, and will plead with him there for his trespass that he hath trespassed against me. 21. And all his fugitives with all his bands shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered toward all winds: and ye shall know that I the Lord have spoken it.”

Now, not only was I beaten down and very sad…I was starting to wonder if I had displeased God. I caught myself skipping words in order to rush ahead and past this disturbing scene…but; my conscience wouldn’t let me. I made myself back up and read it again before I continued.

“22.  Thus saith the Lord God; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:”

I had to read this a couple of times. It was puzzling to me. Then I read…

“23.  In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.”

My heart started to lift…Oh to bear fruit! To be a goodly cedar!

“24. And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the Lord have spoken and have done it.”

He will make “the dry tree to flourish:” I had to read it again and again. “…made the dry tree to flourish:” Oh what Beautiful Words!  “I can do this!”,  I thought. “Everything is going to be alright, no matter what the end is, it’s going to be alright!”

For months I had been working on the “force the desert to blossom as the rose” plan, as I call it to my kids and family. I had been privileged to hear Rev Lee Stoneking speak at my daughter’s graduation from Bible college, and the thing that he said that impacted me the most was what he preached from Isaiah 35:1 “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” He spoke of “forcing” the desert to blossom as the rose. (I wrote extensively about this in my post, “Rise Up Oh Army of God”.)  God had really gotten a hold of me after this and had been changing me in ways I never would have done on my own. Just the other night, I had been praying about how I felt like I had so far to go and I felt like progress had slowed and I absolutely did not want to chance a stall. I talked to Jesus and said that my program of forcing the desert to blossom was not going to cut it. His ways are so much better that I asked God if HE would “FORCE my desert to blossom”. He is so awesome and His ways are awesome and He would do it RIGHT!  HIS plan would be perfect and the end would be lovely, no matter what it was. Now, here I was, sitting on my bed reading Ezekiel 17 over and over to make sure I got it right. Yes, I’ve been in a dry and thirsty land, but THIS DESERT is GOING to BLOSSOM!

What a GOOD life we have when it’s lived in God!

Nancy

Song of Letting Go


“I need you to…” I struggled with my emotions, unable to finish my sentence. I tried again, “I need you home to…” I choked on my words making me sound angry. I was frozen at my kitchen counter, head down, eyes tightly shut. I clutched my phone listening to my daughter. “Mom!”, she said in frustration, “I really don’t want anything more out of my room!” I kept my tears in check, speaking carefully around them. “I don’t need you home to empty your room, I need you home to….” My voice cracked. “I need to spend time with you before you move.” At this, my daughter’s voice cracked. “I know, Mom.”

My daughter had called to tell me that she had changed her plans and would be moving from Minnesota to New Hampshire the weekend following her graduation.  I had calculated quickly and realized I would hardly get to see her before she left. I wouldn’t even be able to see her off as I was scheduled to work that weekend. It had hit me unexpectedly hard. My daughter, my last child still under my wing, really was going to move and far enough away that it would be difficult for me to visit.

It was not like her move came out of the blue. She had talked of little else for the past year. She was moving to New Hampshire to help in a small Home Missions work there. I had previously told her  that she needed to have a job in New Hampshire and her school bill paid before she moved, which was good advice, but lately I had felt that perhaps I was wrong. I had started to feel she shouldn’t delay her service to God, so I told her she should get her resume` ready and be prepared to go. She had planned on moving the end of the year but now, suddenly she was going. I did not object to her going where she felt God was leading her to go. She has her own calling that she needs to be faithful to and I expected her seek direction from God on her own, but it did not keep me from feeling a great sadness and loss when she told me she was leaving so soon.

We hung up and I went to the couch to pray and finally let my tears flow.  I knew my God, my Jesus would understand. As I prayed and talked to God,  I remembered what a dear lady had said to me just a week or so earlier. I had been moaning about problems with my lawn tractor and not being able to get my lawn mowed. She wrote on my Facebook page. “I take the stance about things like this at least it’s not health, it’s stuff.” I will admit that at the time I thought her comment was a little more serious than the post warranted, but I love this lady and took it to heart. Now, I remembered her comment and said to the Lord, concerning my tears and sadness, “At least I’m not feeling this way because of a sickness or death or some kind of trial and I’m not crying over my daughter because she’s backslid!” “She’s graduating from four years of Bible college and she’s leaving to go to where You’ve called her to.” Then, I remembered my tears and heartbreak throughout the years prior as my husband left and children slipped away from their commitments to God. As I thought on the hours I had poured my broken heart out to Jesus, I spoke to the Lord. “Jesus, You know that all I have asked for and cared for all of these years of praying for my children is that they live for You and walk in Your ways. That has never changed. Even before my children were born, I gave them to You and I have never changed that prayer. That has been my heart’s prayer all of these years.”

As I was thinking on this again today, it reminded me of Hannah, the mother of Samuel in the Bible. She had prayed to be able to have a child and finally, in her desperation, she told the Lord God that if He would give her a man child, ‘then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life,’ I Samuel 1:11. God heard her prayer and little Samuel was the result. After she had weaned Samuel, she took him to the temple and gave him to Eli the priest as she had promised and he was mightily used of God. When I thought of this I remembered the song of worship Hannah had sung after she left Samuel with the priest and I thought, “I will not be sad. I will write a song of praise to Jesus because I’m giving my daughter back to Him.”

Song of Letting Go

Jesus, I remember the day I stood in front of the mirror and cried because I was pregnant with another child. You asked me if I could trust You in this thing also. And I said,”Yes, Lord. I will trust you in this thing also.”

And Jesus, I remember the little girl riding in the car and looking at the stars shining in the sky. She said, “Look at the beautiful hands of God!”

And Jesus, I remember the day she stood at the open front door singing her heart out to you. She sang the only words to the song she knew as loud as she could! She sang, “God’s got an army! God’s got an army!” She sang it over and over to you. Then suddenly her song stopped and she came running to me saying, “There’s a man at the door!” though I found no one there waiting. I said, “What did the man say?” and she said words I’ll never forget. She said, changing her voice low, “I am the Captain of the Army of the Lord and God DOES have an army!”

Jesus I remember her stumbling a bit, trying to find her way until You talked to my heart loud enough for me to say, “If you could, Abby would you still go to Bible college?” and her tears and nodding said more than her words ever could.

Jesus, I’ve seen her grow and receive her own call, now Jesus I give her…my child…back to You.

My tears may not be quite finished, but I’m letting go of my daughter to serve God in her own way with her own calling.

I may have an empty nest, but my quiver is full.

Psalms 127

1.  Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
2.  It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
3.  Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4.  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Nancy

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