Category Archives: Inspirational

The Gift of Love

Yesterday, I witnessed something that tore my heart right out of my chest. This morning’s scripture spoke to that event. “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: And he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.” – Proverbs23v24

Our Ratio Christi group was holding their end-of-summer retreat. It was a day filled with activities focused on faith, fellowship, and God’s word. One of those planned events was a trip to Elk Shoals New River State Park. The park was packed. But we managed to secure a spot on the white sand beach. Our group set up camp by the water’s edge and began to enjoy God’s creation while breaking bread together.  After eating, some of our group read, some played in the river, and some just sat and talked while reading their Bibles.

It was a pretty chill time.

We weren’t actively seeking out those whom we could save. We weren’t standing on a platform shouting out Bible verses. We were simply enjoying our time together. It was the first time some of us had seen each other all summer.

It was when I was teaching a couple of members of our group how to skip rocks across the river that she showed up. A young preteen girl, who will call Olivia, came up and asked us to show her how to skip rocks too. So, without skipping a beat, we began showing Olivia how to spin rocks off your fingertips, treating her just like one of the gang.

From there, we blended back into various activities; some took naps, some played volleyball, while I worked with a group on a crossword puzzle out of the Blueridge Christian News. As we did, I noticed the young girl gravitating toward one of our group’s young ladies, whom I will call Beth. Beth and Olivia began walking and talking while wading in the water, exploring the small rapids not far from our beachhead. Later they joined the volleyball game. In amongst those trips back and forth, I caught the eye of Beth, and she gave me a thumbs up – she was making progress, meaning she was finding out about Olivia’s faith while building a relationship.

Later, Beth and Olivia came over and lay down with the others working on the crossword. Olivia was really taken by our diverse group and said, “You guys are so cool. You have the neatest group, how you just hang out and play together.” Then she asked what we were doing. Meanwhile, Beth had pulled me aside to share what little she had learned about our new friend; she was visiting from Winston-Salem with her brother’s family. Olivia had also shared with Beth how she felt she was a Christian but that all they ever told her about God was baby stuff, treating her like a child. It was then that God began nudging me.

Curious, I asked Olivia as she lay down beside Beth on a blanket, asking about our puzzle work, if she had a Bible to read. She answered, “Yes, but it’s a baby Bible. They don’t give me anything grown up to read.” Again, the nudge grew stronger. My mind began racing through where I might have a spare Word in my car. Beth looked up at me, and we could read each other’s thoughts. “I’ll be right back,” I said as I quickly returned to the car. Beth joined me a short time later, realizing what I was doing, and we looked through all of our belongings for anything we could share with Olivia. All that was there was a track about Jesus. So, thinking the best, I suggested Beth put down her contact information so that, hopefully, Olivia could write or call her when she got home. “Who knows, you could plant a seed.”

So, we went back to the group where Olivia was still hanging out, now trying to help the others solve the puzzle. Beth lay back down next to her and began showing her the track and the information she had written on it in red ink. The preteen’s eyes lit up. She was very excited to receive the small gift and got up to take it back to her family, saying, “I’ll be right back.” Meanwhile, Beth got up and said she needed some time alone. The nudge came gain, but I tried to ignore it.

Time passed. Olivia hadn’t returned since we gave her the track but instead was back out in the river with her brother and his family, enjoying playing with the little kids. “It is as it should be,” I said to myself, not giving it a second thought. My thoughts echoed, “Hopefully, we hadn’t offended her or got her in trouble with her family.” Beth returned and assimilated back into the fold, and we moved on to other things, even though she seemed troubled by something. “Maybe she was feeling the nudge too?”

After about an hour, the sun was quickly casting long shadows across the beach. People began leaving in droves, and soon, we found ourselves mostly alone. Then, from across the way, on the edge of the tree-lined parking area, Olivia shouted goodbye, naming out a few of the names in our group, especially Beth’s. We all waved and happily bid her farewell. Then, out of the blue, Beth grabbed her Bible and yelled, “Wait.” Immediately, I thought that she would share the Gospel of Christ with her, maybe leading her to salvation. My heart was warmed by the thought, “This college student with the heart of a missionary, reaching out to this preteen on an unassuming casual afternoon.” The rest of us went on talking about the unique child and how she had been so open and seemingly wise beyond her years since she told us she was only eleven.

Before we had finished discussing the encounter, Beth returned, her head down but eyes swelled with moisture. I went over to her, and the tears began rolling down her cheeks. Something had happened in the parking area that deeply affected her. Had the family been mean to her? Had they possibly done something to Olivia when Beth tried to speak to her? These questions began racing through my mind as I hugged her trying to comfort her. She then, through the crocodile tears, smiled and said, “I gave her my Bible.”

My heart nearly stopped.

To understand the magnitude of this comment, one would have to know Beth. She wasn’t just a “Go to Church on Sunday” kind of youth. She is one of the most rock-solid believers I’ve met yet for her age. Already in her twenties, she’s been a driving force in our Ratio group, constantly pouring over scriptures, sharing her family’s mission work, and helping others to grow in Christ. All throughout her Bible, she meticulously makes notes and references, which she can later go back to and help others. To know Beth is to understand how important the Word of God is to her. So, when she said those five words, “I gave her my Bible,” it almost tore my heart out of my chest.

But then the nudge reminded me that my hesitation to do the same was perfect. Olivia needed something she could understand, something that would guide her. My thoughts were to do the same, but that good old King James Version would have been too stand-offish. Beth’s Bible version was much more user-friendly in that regard. No, Oliva needed something comforting, something she could sink her teeth into, not a childish or “Baby stuff” type of Bible, but something that she would treasure – a gift from a mature young lady on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the park. The countless hours of devotion and prayer that had been poured out over that Bible would now be there for that young girl to consume into her heart.

That tiny seed we had meant with the little scripture track had suddenly become a giant seed of hope.

Later, after our evening meal, we gathered on the edge of Jefferson Mountain and watched the sun slowly sink into the horizon. Silent, reflecting, we all pondered over the day’s events. All were special in their own way, but the one sentinel moment which stood out, the one that we will never forget, was that most amazing unselfish act of love, as Beth gave her precious Word of God to a total stranger. We didn’t need to shout it from the mountain tops. We didn’t need to put on some fancy revival camp meeting service. All that was necessary to witness to the world was just to be ourselves, and allow God’s light to shine through.

It was there in the golden glow of the setting sun that we understood what the love of God looked like, and we were blessed beyond measure.

Thanks be to God.

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More Than a Feeling

by Timothy W. Tron, August, 8th, 2022

We walked up the mountain top wading through a sea of tall summer grasses. There were no trees, only highland meadows. You could reach your arms out to your side and runs your fingers along the tops of the stalks as you walked, tickling the palms of your hands as you passed. Around us, the clouds had descended until we walked in an atmosphere that was calming and bewildering at the same time. The heat of the day had quickly dissipated as the mist enveloped our small hiking group. It was as if we were walking through a dream. Were we still on earth, or had we suddenly found ourselves walking in Heaven? The Pauline statement came to mind, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”[1]

Hump Back Mountain, Appalachian Trail, North Carolina.

Wading through the tall summer grasses heading to the summit of Sled Hill always provided a sense of achievement. Once there, towering above the little hamlet of New Harmony, one could purvey the entirety of the small village from the height of the hill. While it was only a hill, it felt closer to God. Several years later, I would find myself on a much taller mountain, in the Cottien Region of the Alps, nearly 10,000 feet up. There, for a few minutes of life, a hiking companion and I communed with God. It was a feeling that words cannot adequately describe. To feel his presence and to be so near – yet, so far to go. The sense of touching the stalks of grass to the feeling of being in God’s presence shows us how our body’s translate sensation into emotion. An almost imperceptible path is created from the input of feeling to the emotion of feeling. In our walk of life, the terrestrial realm, our perception of reality influences our thoughts whether we want it to or not.

For in this world, we may find ourselves seeking God but focused on the wrong target, as Paul Washer would say. He compares it to looking through the scope of a rifle. Closing one eye and aiming toward the target, we might find the crosshairs in the scope and errantly focus on them. But the better marksman allows his eye’s focus to go beyond the crosshairs and to fix upon the target. It is the same with how we should perceive our terrestrial life on earth. While we are in the body, we are not where we ultimately want to end up. Our goal – Heaven, of course.

Yet, there is so much to get through to get there. We face so many obstacles, so many challenges, that alone, we cannot achieve them. Our bodies are amazing. God’s creation is not only in everything we see but also in who and what we are. But how does our sense of touch, our feeling of the world around us, affect our ability to reach our goal or to prevent it?

The sense of touch is the only sense not related to a specific organ and is therefore known as a General Sense. All the others, the sense of sight, hearing, taste, and smell, are called Special Senses. To touch something is to feel it with the sensory receptors in our skin. Our skin, the largest organ of our body, is our body’s way of communicating with the world around us. Each moment in our life, we are, in some way, somehow relating to an object or atmospheric presence which we interpret through our flesh.

As we type on the keyboard, as I am doing now, there is a certain tactile feel to the keys on the keyboard. When we read, those of us born before the digital era prefer to feel the palpable feeling of paper on our fingers as we turn the page or hold the book. There is something satisfying about the activity of reading that requires the act of turning a page. Likewise, there are many attributes in our daily life that we take for granted, but they would give us discomfort if they were presented to us without our knowing. One example is the switch from plastic straws to paper. There is something unusual to the feeling upon one’s lips and tongue to a paper straw when all one has ever known is a plastic straw. It is this awkwardness that is similar to how we should always find the things of this world when they go against the will of God, but I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, let’s focus on the fact that feeling and touching things in the world around us is a significant part of our everyday life.

The scriptures clearly warn us, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”[2] It seems that more and more every day, we face obstacles meant to trip us up. Desires of the flesh are constantly bombarding us. When we think we’ve conquered one, the enemy finds another weakness to exploit and tempts us in ways we could have never imagined. How many of you have a phone, also known as your “Device?” Isn’t it odd that it requires seemingly constant attention? Whether it’s the little bells going off reminding you someone has texted you or your need to look something up, to which we now say, “Just Google it,” the battle is real. Those devices can present images that lure us into desires of the flesh or worse. Once again, scriptures warn us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.[3]

We must be ever watchful. But we don’t have to go it alone. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?[4]This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh… If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”[5]

But how do we know we are walking in the spirit? Can we feel it? Does it make us feel a certain way? C.S. Lewis put it like this, “The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.”[6]

But being in the body and absent from God creates a problem. Those seemingly limitless sensations we experience each minute of our life can either add to our sanctification or take away from it. It all matters on where you are in your faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things unseen.” So, how can we comprehend Heaven as real when all that we know is what we can sense through our earthly context? Of course, it requires one to believe what cannot be seen, which in itself is an act of faith. As Jesus told Thomas when he had just finished inspecting his risen body, touching the holes from the nails in his wrists, to thrusting his fist into the hole in his side, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”[7]

But there is something else that reassures us that we are walking in the right direction through various moments of confirmation; the Holy Spirit. The Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all seek to know us. When we accept Him into our lives, we are made anew. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;”[8]

When we walk as Christ, we learn to hear his voice and direction. It is then we can finally discern when to take those feelings of this world and use them to help us focus on our goal – life eternal.

Although we will experience all manner of troubles and trials to reach those mountain tops in our lives. “The flesh is weak” reminds us that not only does it so easily give in to temptation, but it also fails us as time passes. Age becomes the great equalizer, and the aches and ailments grow in number. But we find as our faith grows that it all fades away when we are in His presence.

For those fifteen minutes of my Alpine journey, sitting on the edge of the world and looking out upon a valley below, we felt washed in the glow of God’s Grace. Those aches and pains that it took to reach the summit had vanished, washed away like our sins by the blood of Christ. Below us, a valley stretched to the horizon. Like the veins of life, the rivers course through its tortuous rocks and cliffs. Waterfalls echo voices of distant saints gone on before. Before us soared a raptor, finding the thermals; at home in his place before us as we sat and watched him as the wind blew past our place of repose. I closed my eyes and savored the multitude of sensations and the feelings that flowed through me at that moment.

Then, in the blink of an eye, it was time to leave, but like those tiny, minuscule glances of Heaven on earth, it was worth a lifetime of torment. If a man were but for a second shown what Heaven would be like, he would forever, for the rest of his breathing days, would gladly shed blood, sweat, and tears to just once more find that moment of eternal bliss. Those moments like these become the confirmation of the truth that our eternal home awaits us. It makes Jesus’ words to his disciples even more precious when he said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”[9]

Stretch your arms out wide and embrace God’s creation every day in your life. Let your fingertips caress the tall grasses of the high mountain meadows, savoring those sensations, but be forever mindful of the ultimate goal. For we must allow our senses to be heightened for all the right reasons and, in so doing, will guide our footsteps ever closer to eternity in the presence of God the Father. And remember, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?[10]

Thanks be to God.


[1] 2 Corinthians 5:6 KJV

[2] Matthew 26:41 KJV

[3] 1 Peter 5:8 KJV

[4] 1 Corinthians 3:16  KJV

[5] Galatians 5:16,25 KJV

[6] From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

[7] John 20:29 KJV

[8] 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 KJV

[9] John 14:2 KJV

[10] 1 Corinthians 3:16 KJV

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Peace Be Unto You

It was late evening. The light was gone from the sky, but the air seemed to breathe a hue of compassion, illuminating the scene. The cattle were gently grazing around me. The grass was rich and thick – a lush summer’s growth, one that keeps the cows busy for many days. The sound of a mouth of foliage being torn from the plant reminded me of what it was to have happy cattle. The jaw of the bovine casually crushed the plant as the noise of chewing began, adding to the cud already in tow. A shuffle of hooves, slow movement as another sweet spot of the edible plant was found. An aroma of livestock, something reassuring to the farmer, emanated from the ground around where I stood. Black Angus bodies, my herd of cows surrounded me, accepting me as part of their circle. We had been many miles over the years, from one pasture to another, from one season to the next. There were bitter memories, loss of life, and struggles that come with raising animals. But there were the many wonderful thoughts upon which to reflect, from watching the miracle of birth to seeing a momma instinctively nurse a newborn for the first time. Standing there, amongst my extended family, one couldn’t help to feel blessed beyond measure.

These all played in my mind as the dusk slowly faded into night, and I awoke from the dream – my heart was gladdened. A gentle peace rested upon my soul.

To stand in that place in the dream was the recalling of many times in my journey. Surrounded by those gentle creatures to whom my care upon which they depended allowed for a certain feeling of satisfaction. That comfort in knowing that all that you strived to do, all those many tasks and chores to manage the farm were working – that alone emanated a certain peacefulness. Knowing that the barn is full of hay for the coming winter, that the fields are rich with grasses, a result of preparation long before the warm weather arrived, to planning the birth and rearing of the next crop of calves – there were many facets to what goes into creating that pastoral scene of peaceful solitude. To dream of that moment, that snapshot in time was a reminder of the reassurance God provides to those that serve Him faithfully.

Much like farming, our spiritual lives don’t happen by accident. It takes effort and determination to keep one’s mind centered on Christ. It doesn’t take much imagination to find something that can pull us away from our focus. All we have to do is wake up in the morning and we are almost instantly hit with something that will surely try to pull us away from our prayers or devotions. That sense of urgency that something needs to get done needs to be put aside no matter how grave or essential it is. The need to give God our first priority is as vital as storing those crops for the coming winters or, as in Joseph’s time, the famines to come. Preparing our minds for the day is as essential as a good hearty breakfast.

Many days after work, I would come home and change into my farm clothes, then escape to the barn to find solitude in the herd. Regardless of the time of year, if they saw me approach with a feed bucket, they would come running. The older cows led, the younger, for the elders knew what the bucket meant. As time progressed, the younger calves would quickly learn and follow suit. Once fed, they would return to the grass or the hay, whichever was in season. Then, in their respite and time of rumination, we would all relax and allow time to pass. Around us, the world would continue to spin – the geese flying into the pond on their journey south, the deer would pace through the undergrowth of the nearby woods, or the songbirds would welcome the coming dawn. Yet, there in that bucolic setting, a certain clockwork of life flowed, and the handiwork of God was always present.

As the sun would set or rise, the sky above would paint many colors that the waters of the ponds would reflect. The mirror’s looking glass would ripple as the surface was broken by one of the animals wading in for a drink or the splash from the Kingfisher diving in for a meal. The Swallows would skim along the surface as the steam would rise when the night’s air would begin to cool. Everywhere, the sounds of peepers and bullfrogs told of the coming night.

Meanwhile, a golden glow emanated from the farmhouse’s windows across the pasture. Inside, my wife and children would prepare for bedtime, and my focus would shift to my family. After we all had our showers and were ready to snuggle in our favorite reading chairs, we would blissfully read them a bedtime story. As they drifted off to sleep, I would gently rock them, singing softly the old songs that came to mind. There were many a time that we would fall asleep together, the chair slowing to a standstill, the night’s preparation complete. Sweetly and softly tucking them into bed, we would then resign to finally find rest in our own abode.

As the last prayers were spoken and the lights were extinguished, sleep came quickly and peacefully.

In this mindset, I awoke from the dream, for there was no reason to interpret what had been said or found. It was clear. It was as if God was saying, “My Peace I give to you, and may my Peace be with you.” For it is in God alone that we can find the ultimate tranquility.

And in this, we can always say, “Thanks be to God

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth.” – Psalm 104:14

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A Moment in Time

C.S. Lewis wrote about the holy spirit, “It is quite right that you should feel that “something terrific” has happened to you (It has) and be “all glowy.” Accept these sensations with thankfulness as birthday cards from God, but remember that they are only greetings, not the real gift. I mean, it is not the sensations that are the real thing. The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise, when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.”

But to those that receive it, “And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.”[1]

If we were to interpret the holy spirit as a sensation, then it would quickly dissipate. Jesus even explained the action like this, “And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” While some say this is speaking of the gospel’s truth, it can easily be seen how it also applies to the receiving of the holy spirit and, with it, the truth. For one cannot have one without the other.

Considering these scriptures and words from Lewis, a thought, or rather, more of a question, began to form in my mind. How to encapsulate a testimony in so few words that it could be conveyed to a stranger passing on a twisty, root-covered mountain trail? That is the question.

Reno Sharpe’s Store jam, in Chatham County, NC. – around 2005

The struggle of this thought was fully born the other night when my wife and I went to our favorite local ice cream shop for a treat. As we sat on our favorite bench across from said shop, watching humanity pass before us, a young man and his daughter walked by. The father was dressed in familiar bib overalls, something that is second nature to my heart in clothing. A pair of worn but serviceable bibs with a t-shirt underneath is probably as close to heaven’s robes that I will know on this side of glory. That was the first thing that caught my attention. The other was his intentional stare. It seemed that he noticed something about me that also drew him in. As he slowed to get a better look, our eyes locked, and it was then I realized I knew him from somewhere. My mind raced through the fog of mental cobwebs trying to place him. It was as if we were in a duel, seeking the past. Finally, the young father stopped walking. He had proceeded so far past our point of rest that he had to turn his head to continue staring. Then, as if neither one of us could not take the not knowing anymore, he smiled and said, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” The little girl with him turned around and came back toward us, wondering who her daddy had found in a town so far away from home that he knew.

“Sharpe’s Store,” I replied in question, “at the music?”

He grinned a little bigger and turned to face us. “That’s right. It’s been a couple Sundays since then.”

“I’ll say.”

 “Are you still playing music,” he questioned, still trying to put the pieces back together.

“Some, in fact, they have a jam up here on Saturday mornings that I go to sometimes.”

Reno Sharpe’s Store, Chatham County, NC. – around 2005

My mind was trying to recover names or faces that he might know, but it was as if my head’s fuel tank had run dry, and nothing would come. He seemed to be doing the same when he brought up a couple names or instruments that they played. But nothing seemed to trigger the right neurons, and so we left it at that and started talking about what brought him to town. He was obviously there on vacation, so we went over the usual suspects of destinations. He was leaving to go back to Bonlee the next day. By this time, my mind was frantically trying to pause time. As I looked upon him, it was apparent that he hadn’t physically changed much at all. He was still slim and clean-shaven. His children, whom I didn’t know he had any, were now old enough to enjoy walking with their daddy down main street in Blowing Rock. While I was still trying to drink it all in, he said, as if to reinforce my look of doubt, “The last time I saw you, you said you were starting to write a book.”

That last statement sent my head reeling into dates so long ago that it seemed multiple rivers had flowed beneath my proverbial bridge. It was over twelve years ago that something like that might have been uttered from my lips.

So much had transpired. It was challenging to put into words how much had changed, to the point, that it was impossible to tell him that he was looking at the new me. What he didn’t know, nor do most people in my life, was that the writing of that book changed my perspective on life and my walk with God. It placed upon my heart an urgency, an impetus of motivation.

Seven years ago, it had become too much. There was a frustration level in my soul that couldn’t be quenched by serving God just part-time. It was time to take the step off the cliff and devote all of me to Him. It was an immersion that would take my family and I hundreds of miles away from the only home my children had ever known – our Chatham county farm. My instincts were drawn to the mountains, both physically and spiritually – to a higher calling, if you will. The first year was one that I felt would break us, both financially and emotionally. It was our Israelite forty years in the desert phase. We learned to do without and to suffer. But we learned something much greater through all of those trials – that we couldn’t do it alone. We needed God even more than ever before. But how could I convey this to Matthew, a person who had almost entirely been lost in my memory?

But there, in those precious few seconds, there wasn’t enough time to tell the whole of the story. There weren’t enough seconds to convey what God had done in not only my life but in the life of those around me. Suddenly, as if the breath of life were about to be removed from my chest, an urgency came upon me. If it weren’t for this chance encounter, this momentary pause in time, we would have never seen one another again. There was an instant of longing to want to find a way to spend time with him and his family, but he said they would be leaving on the morrow. There was no way to reach out to him technically because, like so many where he came from, they have spurned those so-called advances, and for many good reasons. It was a finality of a missed opportunity that stung the most. There was so much to show him and his family they would have missed.

But then, if we are true to our faith, isn’t this a feeling that should possess us every day?

The feeling that we sometimes only have a moment in passing a person on the trail, walking past someone on the street, or even meeting someone only briefly in our daily life, to reach out to them to share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. The sense that time would slip by before we could tell them how their salvation depends on the way, the truth, and the light of Christ descended on my heart mightily. This spirit of urgency began to drive me to seek wisdom and direction from the Word. And with it, a determination to seek out those who are lost, not by their own accord but through lack of hearing.

It was in this mindset of fleeting chance encounters that lingered when the sunrise beckoned, and it was time to go to the Bible Study on Tuesday morning. Dan, our teacher for the day, walked us through 1 Timothy 4. He was enlightening as always, and for that, we were grateful. But the moment which is always desired but rarely seen happened after the meeting had concluded. My friend Richard and I had planned to go hiking and were about to head out after all the bustling of departures had ended. But in my heart, that lingering pause, that feeling that we should rush out just yet lest we miss something, seemed to loom over my earnestness to depart.

The chance encounter occurred when one of the elderly men, named Jim, came over to my table and began to share with me the enjoyment of reading that book Matthew had alluded to the night before, “Bruecke to Heaven.” He started to ask questions, and as is usual, they brought back the flood of memories, emotions, and spiritual awakening that had transpired through its writing. As we talked, another friend of mine, Richard, joined us. It was just us three in the restaurant’s dining area at that point.

Jim began to open up about his own personal walk and how that very morning, his dear wife had shared with him her point in life when she came to Christ. She told him that he needed to know it because it was something often mentioned at funerals, how the believer came to know Jesus. Tears began to well up in his eyes as we could feel our own heartstrings being pulled.

As he continued to share, his own emotions began to flow down his cheeks. He then said he wasn’t sure if he had ever truly received Christ into his life. We both could hear the despair in his voice. Then, without warning, he continued. The tears of sorrow flowed from his eyes like rivers of relief as my friend, and I felt that moment open, like the clouds after the rainstorm parting and the sun breaking through.

“Do you want to come to Christ right now,” Richard asked.

“Yes.”

“Then let’s do this,” and Richard began to pray over Jim, asking God to come into his life and give him the gift of eternal life through the salvation of his Son, Jesus Christ. When Richard was finished praying, he then, with head still bowed, said, “Jim,” as if to say, “take it away, you know what to do.”

With head bowed and heart in deep contrition, I was blessed beyond measure to hear our friend Jim pray to God, seeking his forgiveness, thanking him for his Son, and asking him to fully come into his life, once and for all. He battled through his flood of emotions so much that we began to embrace him through his change. The Holy Spirit began to flow, and that shaft of sunlight seemed to illuminate that little room until all three of our hearts would almost burst with joy. For a moment, time stood still, and the love of Jesus Christ filled us to overflowing.

Grace for grace became our measure.

As I sit here this morning, the day after, still reflecting on all that transpired in the past couple of days, it is with profound, heartfelt sincerity that I want to share how important it is that we seek those chance encounters. In those brief moments of time, we must find a way to stop time and speak into another’s life. Be always prepared to succinctly and as abundantly tell someone about the gospel of salvation, the story of Jesus Christ. And even more importantly, allow them time to come to Him in their own words.

It is truly a matter of life and death.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Mark 4:20-22 KJV

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A Misty Mountain Mornin’

There are some days, when the mountain has a mind of its own. Today was one of those days. The air felt as ancient as the granite stones that line one’s trail when ascending Grandfather. Alone, it is remarkable enough, but when you ponder the people that have claimed it as their own, it rings of an even older time. Those early settlers from Ireland, Scotland, and other Norseman-type countries, brought with them a heartiness of spirit and a willingness to survive in the harshest of climates with the most meager of supplies. Many have escaped for survival needs. The great potato famines made many leave their homeland, seeking a place where there could be hope, a promise of a better tomorrow. But, along with them, they brought a culture and a faith as old as the rocks that built their chimneys and lined their hearths. It was this permanence of spirit that flowed forth from the shrouded peaks this morning.

With each breath of life, there is a yearning to seek God in everything – nearly to the point of being obtuse. But through that seemingly endless search, there is a compulsion to love unlike before. When the instinctual sense to judge someone arises, that misguided thought is quickly usurped by an urgency to love them for who they are and not place their exterior before who they really are beneath the façade that is there for the world to see. Who hasn’t looked in the mirror and wondered who was looking back – was it the person we want to see, or are we stuck with something we’d rather not accept? The more we find ourselves immersed in Christ, the less the person in the mirror matters, other than being as clean and approachable in how someone might perceive us so that we don’t deter the opportunity to witness simply based on our outward appearance.

For this reason, we should only care about what we look like; otherwise, we are making an idol of our image, a sin as detrimental as any. In that regard, being aware of the fault of the addiction to personal beauty, one might find it more difficult to look upon that woman at church who cakes on the makeup, who spends hours on her hair and adorning jewelry as we might the homeless beggar that is covered in sores and lesions from lack of proper sanitation and personal hygiene. One has chosen to go beyond being approachable to the point that might as well have wallowed in the hog trough in the eyes of God for all the good they are doing. It is images like this that those who want excuses to avoid God use – the negative aspects of hypocrisy are sometimes more damaging to our ability to share the gospel than anything we could do purposefully to detract someone on our own accord. If we were to really think about the ancestral ties of these mountains, the rugged beauty of those women who crossed the ocean and then found a way to eke out an existence in these rugged mountains, we would find it heartening how they didn’t allow anything to detract from their worship. Their image mattered little when compared to how well they knew the Word of God.

Sitting at the jam in Blowing Rock this morning, it was with these thoughts that I watched many souls pass by. Although we were surrounded by tourists from all walks of life and backgrounds, we could still feel the ancient spirit with us. When our notes found a melody of an ancient song, it was then the world stood still – for a moment in time, notes in the air connected with the stones upon the earth, and they to those souls of days gone by, until all were one. As the shrills of fiddle strains wafted through the marketplace, spirits united in refrains as old as the hills. Suddenly, they wore kilts and woven tapestries from looms as their tam-shays tilted in the breeze. It was something to behold as the sun tried to escape the bondage of the mirth beneath the clouds.

It was in this manner that my day began. From an ancient time to the present, we are most when we are one with Him. Blessings abound in a dark world if only we take the time to notice.

Allow yourself to be approachable, but don’t go beyond that point and turn it into an obsession. There are far greater things to be concerned about within this world. The days are short as the end times approach. Make the most of every breath of life. May your day, your weekend, or even your week find nuances that bring out the best instead of the worse in all that you do and see, and in this, we can always say, “Thanks be to God.”

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His Grace is Sufficient

by Timothy W. Tron, May, 2022

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…”      – 2 Corinthians 12:9

The bursts of lightning struck all around the mountain last night. The bolts from the sky shook the earth with each succession of haunting light that filled the dark room. With each strike, the word “Grace” kept coming to mind. There are times like those, when the power of God’s creation is on full display, that we feel most helpless. Think about it; there is essentially nothing that can protect you from a bolt of lightning if you are out in the open without any shelter. It is then we begin to comprehend something of God’s grace. In layman’s terms, one could think of God as someone so powerful, so unthinkably magnificent, that on the one hand, he could destroy you with nothing less than the blink of an eye, while on the other hand, with the same force, he’ll protect you from all harm. In this manner, one could imagine how grace is given – not what we deserve, but what we are provided through the goodwill of another.

The other evening, walking around Bass Lake, God’s grace spoke to me. The sun was setting, and the sky was painting all manner of purple and orange hues upon the surface of the water. Up ahead of me, several deer were grazing on the new shoots of grass growing along the trail. My pace didn’t change, nor did their demeanor as I approached. It was then, standing and looking at them peacefully accepting me in their presence, that I realized they were affording me grace I didn’t deserve. Here were animals that would have already darted away if their natural instincts were allowed to rule. Yet, we stood, looking at one another as if they were my pets. How often do we receive grace but fail to pass it on? We seem to easily receive, but when it’s time to pay it forward, we make excuses – inabilities or infirmities stand in the way. As a result, the person that needed our help or support is left without because we failed to give the very thing we were afforded – grace.

An evening walk around Bass Lake, in beautiful Blowing Rock, NC. – May, 2022

Walking along the confluence of the John’s River yesterday, it was apparent that the night’s storms had brutally assaulted the highlands. The water was the color of chocolate milk, raging in frothing fits seeking to burst its confines. As my footsteps were careful to avoid the pockets of mud, my mind wandered to a comparison of my life to the water. So many times, my life had taken a turn; sometimes, it seemed for the worse, sometimes, less frequently, for the best. Many days, it all felt like my life was like the turmoil that flowed past me. Yet, along each step, along each misdirection, He was guiding me. The Apostle Paul suffered from a thorn in his side, as he put it. He had an affliction that he suffered with throughout his ministry. It had to have been unpleasant, for he asked God three times to remove it, but God’s answer was simply, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”[1] In other words, God could have taken away the ailment but chose to allow Paul to continue struggling through his life with the condition. Paul could have been angry but realized that “God’s Grace” was enough for this unmentioned thorn in his side, that he could bear it, and with that, he was satisfied. He even used it as a motivation when he said, “For my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”[2]

The word “grace” can take on all manner of connotations when thought about within the context of the Bible. One of the most important places it is used is when it says, “For it is by His grace that we are saved, and not of ourselves, that any man should boast.” We live in a fallen world. As adults, we are all guilty of sin. By God’s judgment, we are guilty and convicted of this sin, such that we deserve death. But it is by His grace that we are saved. The only condition is to believe in Him and accept Him into your life – it’s that simple.

There are times when we feel inundated with what the world puts on us. Paul wrote about such things, putting it into perspective, he said, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound….”[3] He realized and knew that what was in the world was no match for the power of God. When the obstacles became too great, he would lean all the more on the Lord. In these times of need, he saw again and again that God’s grace came down and allowed him to continue. From shipwrecks, imprisonment, beatings, and even death, God’s grace was more than enough to prevail.

As I pondered these things, I wondered if “Grace” was something that I really wanted to write about this month. “Surely, if it is meant to be, God will give me a sign,” I thought to myself as I continued my walk to church. It was during the special music that I received my answer. The preacher, unannounced, sat down at the piano and performed a song that I had never heard before. When he got to the chorus, it became apparent what the song was about, and I knew the confirmation was complete. “Grace to cross the river, grace to face forever, there’ll be new grace I’ve never needed before.” Yes, it was the gospel song, “New Grace,” and how it hit me.

All of grace is my story, all the way from earth to glory

Since by grace, He lifted me from sin and woe

Living grace, He has extended as on Him my heart depended

And He’ll give new grace when it’s my time to go.

There’s been grace for every trial, there’s been grace for every mile

There’s been grace sufficient from His vast supply

Grace to make my heart more tender, grace to love and pray for sinners

But there’ll be new grace when it’s my time to die.

Grace not yet discovered, grace not yet uncovered

Grace from His bountiful store

Grace to cross the river, grace to face forever

There’ll be new grace I’ve not needed before.[4]

In the Gospel of John, we are afforded the most telling description of how God’s grace is sufficient, “John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”[5] Not only have we received the ultimate blessing, God’s grace, but by that grace, we are allowed more grace to enter because of it. Like the cleansing of the waterpots before Jesus turned the water into wine, we too, when we accept Christ into our lives, are like those vessels.

Allow God’s grace into your life, and find out how much richer your world will become. You’ll have the grace to cross the river, and yes, grace to face forever unlike any you’ve known before.

And as always, “Thanks be to God.”


[1] 2 Corinthians 12:9

[2] 2 Corinthians 12:10

[3] Romans 5:21 KJV

[4] Song written by Tom Hayes, 1982

[5] John 1:15-17 KJV

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Just A Pair of Leaves…

by Timothy W. Tron, May 2022

The pair stood on the bridge and watched the clear mountain river flow beneath – one the elder to the other. A chill was in the air, it was still early May, but the night air still lingered in the valleys. As they stood watching, a pair of birch leaves floated past. At first, the leaves stayed side by side, as if walking and talking along a trail or ridgeline. It appeared as if they reflected the demeanor of the two friends that morning. Then, as if time sped up for one, a swifter current navigated past rocks, tiny splashes of white water told of the increased flow, and the one leaf went ahead of the other. Meanwhile, the leaf that stayed behind kept its course, steady and true.

The elder was still talking as the other watched the leaves but didn’t say anything. It felt as if God was telling him something silently so his friend wouldn’t be interrupted by what he was saying. In his mind, he knew that time with his friend would be like the leaves. Their walks and talks together were only for a short while. Before long, his friend, long in the years, would soon leave this world behind. Or was it himself? Whatever the case, each man was well aware of life’s end approaching, but it was something that only came up in conversation when there was little else to ponder. Both knew that the day would come for each of them. Like the current speeding up for one, the Spirit shall quicken within our mortal bodies so that we should then rise from our sleep to meet our creator. It was his pleasure to make us, and when we are reunited in heaven, we shall all be given new, glorified bodies – what a day it will be. “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” – Romans 8:17

Yet, as one would become part of eternity, the other would remain behind, steady and true to carry on the faith. It was with this in mind as they found a bench along the river and sat, listening to the songbirds sing of brighter days as the breeze blew the wildflowers that grew in abundance nearby, that the younger of the two mentioned the leaves. After sharing the scene, they both sat for some time. They had found a coffee shack nearby and were both sipping on a hot brew of their choice. It seemed so appropriate. They savored their drinks and, for a moment, sat in silence, relishing in the beauty of God’s creation and discernment.

God created all things for our pleasure. It is up to us to pause long enough to enjoy them. Some moments we wish could last forever, but time flows onward like these mountain streams, and with it, we too will someday pass. It’s not what we leave behind that matters, but hopefully, what others will remember of us will cause them to think of Him, of only Jesus, and for that, we should all proudly say, “Thanks be to God.”

 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” – Revelation 4:11

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” – Romans 8:11

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Only Not to be Lonely

by Timothy W. Tron, May, 2022

A petite young boy, barely four years old, stood just within the entrance to the pasture. His tiny frame had easily crawled between the bars of the tube gate that was shut to keep the herd of cattle confined within. The firmament overhead was an azure blue, clear as far as the eye could see. Before him stood stalks of green, as tall as trees. The sun felt warm on his demure frame. He was smaller than most children his age. To know him, one would understand why. He was lucky to be alive.

For two years, at the tender age of one and then again, at two, he had contracted double pneumonia. Each time, he barely survived extended stays in the hospital, camping beneath a clear plastic tent as oxygen was pumped into its confines. Many prayed for and over the child. Most feared that he would succumb to the illness, but God had other plans. Like the countless stalks before him, a multitude of prayers had been lifted up in his name, supporting, strengthening, abiding in one another until they found their mark. He eventually healed, but his body suffered the ravages, growing more slowly than other children his age. So, as the sap began to flow in the trees, he felt a renewed strength start to flow through his veins. There seemed to be something that beckoned him to leave the old farmhouse and to wander out behind the tractor shed. Something beyond those palisades of fencing and outbuildings – an openness that smelled of freedom from the bondage of death.

 The white cotton shirt beneath the little overalls wasn’t enough to remove the chill of the breeze that wafted the tops of the grasses that swayed before him. A deep, rich aroma permeated the air – it spoke of earth and nature. Earlier that morning, he heard his grandmother speak of prayers being answered for him and how God was great. She went on to share how millions of prayers were being lifted up for their country, seeing as something called the Vietnam conflict was being fought. He didn’t understand the words “prayer” or “war” or what a “world away” meant. It sounded scary. She saw his countenance drop and quickly comforting saying, “nothing to be bothered with, my son. It’s far, far away.” She explained that prayers were people’s way of speaking to God, “like you and I talking now.” But the word “million” made no sense at all. Like the blades of grass before him, too numerous to count, a million was a number that was beyond his comprehension. It was only an entity unto itself, like a living organism, something through which he could only understand if it was tactile. The boy wandered deeper into the tall grass.

A childlike faith, dread of nothing, guided his path as he made his way through the forest of green. Cows making their way had unknowingly prepared his path. A baby cannot know sin, just as there is no reason to Baptize such. So, it is with fear. The child only felt the hand of the comforter. It wasn’t a stranger to him. He had been with him before – like the long empty days when he was held captive in the hospital bed. There were times when he would look to the foot of his bed and see the shadow of one that watched over him, and those suffocating feelings of abandonment would drift away – a love unseen would flood his soul, and sleep would come once more. He was there now, the comforter, walking, holding his hand, watching over him once more. They continued on. The boy followed wherever the trail of grasses led. Surviving the illness had instilled in him a sense of hope, knowing that with each new day, each fresh breath of life, there was always something to look forward to. The Apostle Paul put it like this, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”[1]

To understand a faith like this, one must erase all the preconceived notions that cling to us as we traverse through life. It takes an unfettered faith, one that clings to God as a drowning man does to the one trying to save him. As Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”[2] This faith, the belief in something unknown, but yet, it was known, that guided the little child. For each new turn, every new wrinkle of light gave hope, a tantalizing offer of something else to come. For a child, heaven is as believable as the friend that talks to them when no one is there. Anything is possible when you can dispense with what we come to know as the natural realm of reality. Matthew describes Jesus calling the little children unto him, saying, “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”[3]  This faith, this pure belief, guided the little farm boy past the herd of gentle Herefords to the small brook that ran past the farm.

The breeze gently blew the leaves overhead as the little one found his way to the gurgling waters. Before him flowed a small tree-lined creek. Large river birches and pin oaks shaded the oasis below. The bank was worn away where the cows had trod to reach the life-giving sustenance. The little boy sat down on a rock, resting as he wondered about the beasts that soon followed him to the watering hole. He was at home with the herd of cattle as he was with being alone. The animals sensed a purity, a being so gentle, they couldn’t help to wonder. They didn’t speak but gathered, at first hesitantly, realizing the child wasn’t a threat. Then, one by one, they meandered on down to the water and began to drink. Calves followed their mothers, some sniffing at the little boy, their muzzles tickling his neck, causing him to laugh aloud with a cherub-like voice. The sound would cause them to jump, skittering a step away, but continuing on as accepting the tiny human’s presence. He did not know how long they gathered, only that as they departed, he followed like one of the herd. A rumble within his tummy soon reminded him that the grass that the cows were eating wouldn’t suffice, that he needed to return to grandma’s kitchen where the pleasant aroma of something good cooking surely awaited.

Like an old friend, he motioned goodbye to his newfound friends, the cows, and climbed back through the gate’s bars. Somewhere off in the distance, a Redwing chirped as it headed to the pond nearby. A tiny puff of a cloud whisked past as the little boy kicked at a dirt clod in the trail leading back to the house. The dust drifted onward, like his feelings, from one happy sugar cube of thought to the next. His days were filled with what some might call loneliness, but to him, it was just another day in the life he had been given. It was there, alone in those oceans of grass that loneliness and isolation were supplanted by imagination. It would become a voice within that would carry him through all the days of his life. There was nothing for which to compare, and as it was, he was glad to be alive.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Romans 5:5 KJV

[2] Matthew 19:14 NIV

[3] Matthew 18:2-3 NIV

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Rapping At My Chamber Door

by Timothy W. Tron – April, 2022

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell choose it. Without that self-choice, there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek, find. To those who knock, it is opened.”[1]

A long time ago, in what now seems like another life, I spent the summer of 1976 working in a trim shop in Evansville, Indiana, called Vessels. It was the kind of place where people would bring their cars to get their seat covers repaired or replaced with new ones. They also specialized in vinyl roofs and boat covers. It was my first job off the farm, where I had worked most of my teens. This would be the first job where I didn’t receive payment in cash but instead received a real paycheck. My stepdad was the foreman, which was more than comforting because I always had the feeling that someone was looking out for me. That was important because Vessels employed a pretty rough crowd – from Vietnam vets with PTSD to recovering drug addicts and everything in between.

New hires were paired with more experienced employees, so when they put me with Raphael, I didn’t know what to expect. He was a young black man, probably in his late twenties, shorter than me, but had massive biceps and forearms. Rafael kept his hair cut short, and he had a long scar on the side of his face that ran from his cheek to his jaw bone – its existence of which was never mentioned. Rumor was that he boxed on the side, mostly street, bare-knuckle events, and from the looks of it, could handle himself pretty well. Being just a new kid off the farm, it was a very daunting atmosphere. However, it was there that I learned to listen, imitate, and adapt, a trait that would serve me well for the rest of my life.

Raphael and I worked at a large, very worn table grounded to the concrete floor; he on one side, me on the other. There was no air conditioning, only fans that blew the hot summer air around, making for a sultry, fluorescent, dimly lit ambiance. The atmosphere was intoxicating, with odors of fresh vinyl and glue, both ingredients necessary for the work. Raphael and I used hog ring pliers to staple the new seat covers on the frames of the seats after we had removed the old, nasty, torn covers. It was a tedious job, but we were both thankful to have one for our own reasons, so we kept to ourselves mostly. Yet, as one does with anything that challenges your paradigm of life, you slowly learn about the person in the trench next to you, whether you want to or not.

Off and on, Raphael would slowly share glimpses of himself with me in odd ways. We didn’t speak much at first, mostly because he was always whistling. Those melodies he chose were something to which I could relate; old church hymns, songs that I had known all my young life. Yet, instead of my grandma Tron singing God’s praise through pursed lips, it was a young black man. Looking back, he probably knew those were something I could relate to – an unspoken welcome if you will. But my introduction to the world through Raphael didn’t stop there. He would often go into long recantations of literature. At first, they seemed to be mere ramblings of thought, but the more I listened, the more I realized that they were quotes from works of poetry. It wasn’t simply the words he spoke, but more than that, it amazed me at how much he had seemingly memorized. One day, after reciting another lengthy prose, I finally inquired about the piece he had just mentioned. Something about rapping at a door caught my ear.

“The Raven,” he replied, smiling through his thick shadowed mustache. A single gold tooth gleamed from the broad smile. The sweat glistened off of his dark, chiseled forearms.

“Can you teach it to me?”

“Sure, I guess we got plenty of time.” He finished the seat he had just tightened, sitting it up on the table across from me with a loud thump. “Let me get this in that Chevy out there, and we’ll get started.” He dashed off to the parking lot, returning shortly afterward, smiling more than ever. “Now, where do we begin?”

Raphael spent the remainder of the summer sharing various works of poets he liked to memorize with me, but Edgar Allan Poe was by far his favorite. Over and over again, he would work with me learning, line after line, until we could finally repeat them together. “The Raven” seemed to always be our “go-to” piece.

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“ ’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —

Only this and nothing more.”

To each of us, there was something special about the words we shared. To Raphael, it was the heartache of the man in the tale. The most poignant section of the verse that always stuck with me was the rapping at the door on that bleak, dark night by the raven. In many ways, a broadsword and a door are the same, each having two sides. The blade’s two meanings are as opposing as night and day – one to save lives, the other to take lives.

Similarly, the door has a dual purpose, the inner and the outer. From each side, one can have a different perspective from the one standing on the other side. From whence you stand makes all the difference in the world. Alone, the man in the poem is distraught over his love, and one can surmise that he is slowly drifting into insanity. But who wouldn’t find a knock on the door of one’s house in the middle of the night a bit more compelling than just a curious tap? The same rapping upon the chamber door in the middle of the day is far easier to accept; the other is a sense of impending doom.

Yet, are we not to be prepared for the Lord’s return at any time? As Jesus told his disciples, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”[2] It is this proverbial rapping at our chamber door, deep into the night, which we most dread. For, it is not the known that beckons our fears, but the unknown. Likewise, unless we have the foresight to know who is on the opposite side of that last bastion of barrier between us and the world beyond, we cannot know to whom calls upon us.

Trepidation awaits if we allow it. Yet, when we truly know in our hearts that we can be called upon at any time, therein itself lies a comfort, erasing the mysticism of the unknown. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”[3]

But there is the other side, the portion from which we are the ones to be the caller. It is when we seek God that we are requesting permission to enter into his presence. Before Jesus, only certain priests were allowed to enter into the holiest of holies, and then only at specific times of the year. When Christ shed his blood on the cross, the veil that separated the holiest of holies from the world was torn from top to bottom. It was then, if we have requested permission that we were finally allowed to enter into God’s presence; a gift from God to those whom he loved enough to give the life of his only Son. “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”[4]

But as clear as the Bible is on seeking Him. But sadly, many will never listen. Their own will, earthly desires, and self-purpose will prove stronger than their desire to know God. Jesus made it perfectly clear when asked about how many will be saved, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.[5]

The summer of 76 eventually ended, and with it, my time at the trim shop. School was about to start up my full-time summer job had concluded. I never saw Raphael again. It is sometimes odd to think of God working in us, even when we knew him the least. So often, in times of torment and persecution, when we go to God in prayer, we feel him with us, but oddly enough, it is the times we least expect him that he is with us the most. So, it was in my youth.

Time has passed, and like all memories, one wonders how the other acquaintances in their lives faired. God’s path for us is never expected, and through it, when we look back, was there for a purpose. Such is the case for me. For in the shade of the shop lights, in a hot July summer, a young white kid just off the farm and a street-savvy young black man formed a bond over the most unlikely of poets, sharing the words penned some 100 years before them both. Through it, I learned how others, unlike me in so many ways, had riches to share with me that would enhance my journey through life.

Even a secular poem can remind us to seek God, to knock upon his door. When we enter into His presence, we are then within him and He within us – inside God’s dwelling place. From there, we can then perceive the knock from within – the call to serve. So, when that gentle rapping comes at your door, don’t hesitate to open it. “Many are the called, but few are chosen.” So, when your time comes, be prepared to answer, “Yes, Lord, it is I, take me.”

Live your life so that when your judgment day comes, it won’t be your will that had been done, but rather His.

Yes, then you will know you are finally home.

Thanks be to God.


[1] The Great Divorce. Copyright © 1946, C. S Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed 1973 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

[2] 1 Thessalonians 5:2 KJV

[3] Revelation 3:30 KJV

[4] Jeremiah 29:12-13 KJV

[5] Luke 13:23-30 KJV

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