Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Road or If I Had My Druthers

 Let me tell you a story about a man named James Terrence John Molloy.   J. T., as everyone knew him, was a traveling evangelist, and he had a wish.

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When the time came for the Lord to call him home, he had a “druther.”

He wanted to be traveling on a road, going up to the crest of a hill and die at the top.  J. T. said he would keep on going up the hill and on into heaven.

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And he did.  He lived a long life, preached the gospel, started churches, had children and grandchildren, and raised Poland China pigs.

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One day on the way to visit his son, he died instantly of a heart attack

. . . in his car

. . . on a hill.

The car was still running when they found him.

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J.R.R. Tolkien wrote of the journey of life in the Walking Song

 the road goes ever on and on

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I think about heaven as I travel dirt and gravel country roads, about following a road that begins in one world and ends in another.

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 The path of life leads upward . . .

Proverbs 15:24.  NIV

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This is what the Lord says:  “Stand at the crossroads and look; 

ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, 

and you will find rest for your souls.”  

Jeremiah 6:16.  NIV

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 In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality

Proverbs 12:28

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That story about J.T., how do I know it’s true?  He is my husband’s great-grandfather, and if I had my druthers, I’d keep going up the hill to heaven, too.

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Harvest in a Land of Giants

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I relaxed in a chair on my daughter’s patio, enjoying the sighing wind in the locust and oak trees, the musical jingle of wind chimes, and the warmth of the sun on my face.  Then I became aware that I was being watched.

A striped chipmunk sat at the edge of the patio’s cement pad, less than a yard from my feet.  The chipmunk’s cheeks were bulging with small nuts, acorns, I surmised from the nearness of the oaks.  He was a creature on a mission, on his way to store the nuts for winter, and I seemed to be in his way. Perhaps the chipmunk was wondering if I was a danger to him, if he dared risk it.  Certainly I was an obstacle.  He must have decided I was a harmless sort of giant, because he scampered under my chair and around the corner of the building.  He and another chipmunk (he and she?) returned in a few minutes, with empty cheeks.  The pair made several trips, coming from the east with cheeks full and returning from the west after caching their harvest. They continued to scurry unafraid and undeterred underneath or just behind my chair.

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Not everyone is as courageous as the chipmunks.  In Number 13 we read the story of the spies whom Moses charged with scouting out the Promised Land.  It was the beginning of the season to harvest grapes, and the men brought proof that this was a land of plenty.

they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them   Numbers 13:23   NIV

The scouts all agreed that Canaan was a land of “milk and honey,” but full of powerful, strong people–the descendants of giants.  Only Joshua and Caleb had faith in God and believed that they could conquer the land.  The leaders pleaded with the people:

Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land . . . Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.   Number 14:9   NIV

Do you remember how that story ended?  Instead of entering a land where harvest was underway, the children of Israel spent 40 more years in the desert.

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Fear is not the only obstacle in harvest.  You must wait for the crops to be ready.  The soybean fields on our farm are now a rusty-brown, and the golden stalks of corn  have paled after being dried by a hard frost, but harvest may still be delayed.  Farmers can check a sample from a field for moisture content to see if the corn or beans are dry enough to combine.  If not, they may need to switch to another field that was planted with a different variety or to one that was planted earlier.

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The harvest of souls is another matter.  It’s impossible to look at a person’s heart and “moisture test” their soul to know if they’re ripe for “harvest” into the kingdom of God.  Russell and Barbara Reed, American missionaries in the Philippines, must have thought that surely the time was right once they had overcome the obstacle of learning the language of the people.  They wanted to reach a tribal group on the island of Mindoro.  For months they searched for the people, eventually found a village, and started learning their language.  Years passed and initial interest changed to rejection. After nine years in the Philippines the Reeds, none of the tribal members had made a commitment to Christ.

That changed in May 1962.  Traveling to the east again, they found a group of people with hungry hearts.  Before long, seventy-five people were baptized, almost the entire adult population of three villages.  What had made the difference?  Centuries earlier a shaman had prophesied, ‘Someday white people will come here to teach us.  Big people.  And they will know our language.  When they come, we must follow their teaching.’  This prophecy was passed down for 16 generations.  When the leader in the east heard the Reeds speaking his language, he knew they were the ones for whom his tribe had waited more than 350 years. from Telling the Gospel Through Story by Christine Dillon

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Sometimes the obstacle to “harvest” for the kingdom of God isn’t time, it’s place.  A friend of mine moved and now teaches in a different state.  The leadership in her new community has brought in speakers with a positive message to talk in the schools.  Recently, a daytime presentation was followed by an evening meeting, where the gospel was presented.  This would not, could not have happened in her previous school, she explained.

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The harvest in her small town was ripe.  When the speaker concluded the evening presentation with an invitation to accept Christ as Lord and Savior, over a hundred came forward, and my friend was privileged to pray with some of them.  She texted,

The fields are harvest-ripe here!  Glory to God!  We had many to pray with those that gave their lives to Christ, but not enough.

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Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!   John 4:35   NKJV

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Then [Jesus] said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”   Matthew 9:37,38

My “harvest” prayer for us all: that we may be courageous when facing “giants,” that we may be wise with our words (written and spoken), that we may recognize the right time and place to share the good news, and that we may remember that God is the Lord of the harvest. *          *          *          *          *

photos of grape vines by Barb Briggs
 
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The Accidental Sunflower

Not planted, yet sown

by the birds’ careless, ravenous feasting,

buried by debris swept off the sidewalk,

a sunflower grew tight beside the white porch railing.

A seed sprouted and stretched tender leaves toward the sun,

turned its veiled face to the east,

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unfurled golden flags of ray petals,

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waved emerald leaves in the breeze,

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welcomed the soaking rain,

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opened its seedy heart wide

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and grinned a spiraled smile.

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I joyfully watched the accidental sunflower grow and change from a castaway seed to a mature bloom.  I saw the bees’ pollen-laden visits, the spider’s trapeze web, and the grasshoppers’ hungry gnawing.

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I saw the ray petals burn bright gold and then fade and wither as the seed hulls swelled fat and green.

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I saw the color drain away, leaving silver and brown as the seeds ripened and the birds found the sunflower’s final gift.

From life to life.

I saw and witnessed the meaningfulness and beauty of the sunflower’s life, which existed despite its “accidental” beginning.

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Our Lord is the God who sees us . . . and cares for us, as He did for Hagar.  Hagar was a slave who fled Sarai’s abuse and ran into the desert, pregnant and alone.  Her life was not what she had planned, a life of disdain given and received, but

the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; . . . he said, ‘Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’  Genesis 16:7,8   NIV

The Lord knew who she was and addressed her by name.  He instructed Hagar to return to Sarai and told her about the future of her son.  Hagar, an unseen servant, caught up in unplanned circumstance, called God el Roi.

 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.’  Genesis 16:13   NIV

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Perhaps your life has not gone as you planned, like Hagar, and difficult circumstances tangle your feet like briars on a path.  God sees.  God cares.  He knows your future and has a purpose for you.

Great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds.   Jeremiah 32:19   NIV

Perhaps you have known, perhaps you have been the child whose parents did not love you as they should have, did not protect you, didn’t provide for your needs, body and soul.  Maybe you are hurting as much as the woman whose mother hurled the words  “unwanted” and “accident” at her.  God sees.  God cares.

Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.   Psalm 27:10  NLT

Maybe you feel rejected by the one who said, “I do” and then didn’t.  God sees.  God cares.

Don’t be afraid. For you are very precious to God.
Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!

Daniel 10:19

Despite our bleak beginnings and pained past and fractured faith, God sees and has a purpose for us:  to love and be loved, to do what only you can do and be in the place that only you can be.

God knows where we have come from and where we are going.  He sees.  We can grow from an accidental and unplanned beginning to a beautiful, joyous, and meaningful life.

From life to Life.

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.   Exodus 9:16   NIV

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Photo of sprouting sunflower seed from the National Sunflower Association.

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Linking with

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Essential Fridays Linkup   Essential Thing Devotions

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