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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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Lest We Forget…

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thess. 5:18

There was a whisper in my ear this morning as I headed out for my weekly walk to church. “Pay attention to all that surrounds you,” said the still small voice. Fresh from pouring over the lesson plan for our Men’s Bible Study group at church, thankfulness was heavy upon my mind. Just days following Thanksgiving, the reminder of being so blessed with all that we have still rang true in my head.

The night’s crisp, chill was still blanketing the lower reaches of the hollers through which my path did trod. Crossing over the footbridge, the water beneath steamed when compared to the air above, making a mist rise before the trail. There was a surreal, gentleness beckoning. My eye was captured by the brightness of the carpet moss which blanketed the forest floor. Pausing to inhale the breathtaking beauty before me, the suns rays slid across the upper reaches of the mountain, finding their golden fingertips caressing the world in which I stood. Transfixed, my eyes followed the moss-laden tree nearby. My thoughts returned to being thankful for all that was and was to be.

From where I stood, the dark, foreboding tree glowed with an awakening of the dawn. The mist from the stream behind it rose meeting the sun’s rays, like a majestic dragon exhaling gusts of breath. Beyond, like soldiers standing arrayed in solitary posts, the remaining forest hid in the soft, gray air. Each one, coming to view as thine eye hath sought them, like the thanks that we often have to struggle to recall. The first is easy; the most recent, the greatest need met. Yet, then there are those that weren’t as significant; yet, they were obtainable. When we continue to look, more stoic images appear those nearly forgotten blessings; more answers to prayer, more promises that God had provided. In our simple minds, we are unable to keep pace with the graces we are so often provided. When we go to Him in prayer and give thanks, we may start easily, but when we really focus, like those hidden trees in the distance, they soon come into focus.

We’ve all heard the old cliché, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”

When we go to the Lord in prayer and give thanks, it’s often like that; standing in a forest. We start with those memories that are immediately before us; the imposing trunks that stand out. If we continue, we can remember another event or blessing to which we were awarded. Someone once said that if we truly knelt in prayer to give thanks, we might not rise again from our knees for days. It is with a devotion so tempered in gratitude to which we must seek each day.

Charles Spurgeon, the great evangelist, once said, “Thankfulness makes much of little.” When we stop to take note of our lives, like pausing deep in the woods in the early morn, we can begin to appreciate all that has been awarded us in our lives; even the most insignificant can be a hidden blessing to which we must give thanks. The depths of our graciousness should be no less than the path of righteousness upon which we trod. Through that dark wooded abode we travel, some only seeking the path before them, while others look beyond that which is before to that which is to come.

The prophet Nathan had a vision given to him by God, which he revealed to King David, “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever. According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.”

We should be reminded by Nathan’s revelation to David, that we must also give thanks to those things we are to come, not to just those that have already happened. When we go to Him in prayer, like the winding pathway of life, we cannot see all that is before. The twist and turns obscure the distance. When we fully trust in our Savior, we are promised that He will answer our prayers in time; not always our own, but always in His time. As such, as Nathan spoke to David, he was not only conveying to him the things that would be done by his son Solomon, but he was foretelling the prophecy of Jesus Christ. In essence, Nathan was assuring his King, that his prayers for a temple would be granted, but not in his time. As we learn later, the true temple, the one that which Christ indwelleth today, is no longer a building as David had wanted. The last physical Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. Yet, the temple is still alive and well today, as we, those who have accepted Christ into their lives are now the new temple; if only you would accept Him into your life and believe, confessing to Him your sins, so that they may be forgiven.

Yes, it is only as simple as pausing within the morning mist of the sun-kissed mountains to hear and see all that we should give thanks to God.

If only we might listen, lest we forget; giving thanks to all that was and was to be.

Thanks be to God.

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The Hand of the Lord Upon Us….

Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,”- Acts 4:29

He told my sister and me to follow him, that there was something strange he had to show us. Wetornado made our way down into a room that faced a large rectangular shaft in the stone wall. There was no grate covering the opening, which was about shoulder height tall. The hole spanned six feet across with an aperture large enough for a good size man to squeeze through. The outer lip of the hole was lined with rough shaped stones. Their surfaces facing the interior of the hole were worn smooth as if this once was a source of water or fluid that slowly eroded the ancient surface.

Our guide explained to us that this was where onlookers could stand and safely watch the demons emerge, without fear of being pulled into the hole. There was a convenient mark on the floor where he stood.

“You don’t want to go beyond this point,” he said stretching a crooked finger toward the crack in the stone floor where the toe of his sandaled foot stopped. “Don’t step one inch closer than this,” he demanded, with a glare in his eye. That stare caught my attention. “They can’t pull you back into the hole from here. If you go past this line, then your soul becomes theirs.”

Something about his gaze felt comforting as if we had been acquainted before.

Our focus returned toward the shaft as a soft breeze brushed past my cheek. A chill filled the room, and my skin began to crawl. Something was coming; …the darkness approached.

My thought’s returned to our guide as goosebumps rose on my arm. The man’s voice sounded so familiar. My mind couldn’t let it go.

Yet, the darkness crept closer still.

Turning my gaze from the abyss back to the man pointing out the dangers, I suddenly realized the stranger, was no stranger at all.

He was our late father.

My heart leaped.

The last time we were together, I kissed him goodbye and walked out of the hospital leaving him to God’s care. We were to meet again on heaven’s shore. I wanted to rejoice and hug him in that moment, but that’s not why we were there. The euphoria was quickly replaced with that of sounds emanating from the shaft that caused the hair to stand up on the back of my neck.  Haunting screams of horror jerked my focus back to the gaping hole. There wasn’t a feeling of reunion in our meeting, but rather, a sense of warning instead. There was no time for pleasantries. Just as he had finished speaking, as if on cue, shadows begin to ebb from the orifice, like hands stretching out for someone to hold, they sought our grasp, reaching, enticing, calling us closer. My sister’s eyes widened in horror as the ghoulish images played out before us as if they were taunting us to move closer. Their macabre dance continue for only a brief time then slowly the beasts of hell slithered back into the darkness from whence they came. Their cries of anguish echoed in the hollow of the space from where they had disappeared.

We stood frozen as we listened in horror to their voices retreat.

Darkness, echoes and then silence.

Something inside me suddenly told me to go after them.

There was no sense of fear, no foreboding of danger in my being. Without hesitation, I walked over and began to climb into the opening of the tomb.

“What are you doing,” my sister screamed!

“Get him out of there,” my father called, as they both grabbed at my feet trying to stop my advance into the chamber beyond. Before they could obtain a firm hold, I was submerged into the blackness beyond. All feeling of dread had left me. It was almost as if my fear had been replaced by a rage that repelled the demonic force within the tomb. But it was more than a rage; it was if there was a hand on my soul protecting me. As my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit corridor, I could sense the shadows retreating, fearful of my presence. Feeling empowered by the force within, I continued onward. The ceiling was only a couple feet from the surface that my body scooted along, which then eventually opened up into a taller hallway. Cobwebs and dust portrayed an abandoned dwelling left to decay. Looking for a way out, my eyes caught the rays of muted light passing through cracks in the boards along one wall. Pushing my way through the brittle wood, a large room opened up in front of me. Carefully, I stepped down onto what looked like a rooftop, covered only with tar paper.

“Hmm, no roofing shingles,” came the thought as I timidly walked out far enough that I could look back from where I had come. It was then the realization hit me from where I had just emerged; the old farmhouse of my paternal grandparents, Victor and Mildred Tron. It never occurred to me that there had been a room on this side of the house, yet here I stood, looking back. The black surface of the floor had no dimension. It was as if my footsteps walked upon a void that reflected no light, only absorbed it or trapped it below its surface, held prisoner for all of eternity. The groans of those trapped below caused a vibration that pulsated into the soles of my shoes, sending shivers up my spine.

This is no normal floor,” I thought to myself, “am I standing on hell?”

“God,” I called out turning my gaze to heaven, “Why have you brought me here?”

Overhead there was a sparse rafter system, one that didn’t look strong enough to hold much of a snow, let alone a windstorm. The pieces of wood of that upper framework were pieced together in a haphazard fashion, fastened together at odd angles forming a peculiar dome shaped visage. Had I been in my right mind, I would have been fearful of the entire room’s collapse or being devoured from below by the inequities which I walked upon. Again there was still no sense of doom, no feeling of pending disaster; nothing but a feeling of confidence.

Before I could make sense of where or why I was there, my body was suddenly transported into an RV park in another place and time. Once again danger loomed as neighbors screamed pointing in the direction of the trailer where I had appeared. A massive black funnel cloud as far as my eyes could see, from one end of the horizon to the other, bore down upon us. Those who were faint-hearted were frozen with fear and couldn’t move but rather collapsed into heaps of angst and gnashing of teeth.

Panic was in the air.

Once more, there was a power within that drove the fear from me as the smoke is driven from the fire. One man who had been running from the cloud of death stopped for a moment beside me. He was bent over gasping for breath with his hands on his knees. As the color began to return to his face, he looked up at me with a puzzled face.

“Why aren’t you getting out of here mister? Don’t you know if you stay you will die?”

“No, I’m not,” I calmly replied.

“What the hell do you mean,” his face squinted in question, “can’t you see that,” his weary arm stretched out behind him as if he didn’t even want to face it.

“It’s not coming this way.”

“Like hell it’s not,” he screamed, “all the reports have it coming this way and if you can’t see that,” he now stood and turned pointing with both arms, “Then something must be wrong with you.” He shook his head in utter disbelief and slowly took off, joining the river of people that flowed past on the street next to me.

I turned to face the bleak reality of what he had feared and saw the dark cloud, yet there was still no urgency in my being.

“There is nothing to fear,” I said speaking to the treacherous, twisting serpent cloud roaring in the near distance. “You are not coming here, for He has told me so.”

As I stood watching, the cloud didn’t approach any closer, but rather, continued to swirl and pound the earth in the distance. The deafening roar shook the earth like a thundering herd of wild horses. Furniture, pieces of homes, and shreds of all manner of life spun about in the futile darkness and slowly, ever so slowly crept away, like a scolded dog that had been chastised for misbehaving.

As I watched it fade, the boldness within continued to comfort me.

When I awoke the next morning, there was a serene sense of security, a calmness of being.

That morning my scripture lesson began with the book of Ezekiel, and there before me were the words that said it all. Like Ezekiel before his vision, God placed his hand upon him, and comforted him-“ and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.”

Yes, it was perfectly clear now.

His message was pure and simple; be bold and fear not, for I am with you always.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4: 13

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Leviathan Dreams…

The darkness surrounded me. sinkhole

I was somewhere deep in a rain forest standing before a hole that had somehow opened up on the floor of the jungle. Perhaps an ancient sinkhole had formed and over time, filled back in with water.

Why am I here,” I asked myself.

An ancient tree grew along the upper rim of the watery depth that lay before me. Its roots twisted and turned from centuries of growth winding in and out of the earth and rock ledge which hung precariously above the hole where the clear water beckoned. The trunk of the tree disappeared into the mist above the labyrinth of foliage from where nothing returned, the sounds of cries echoed from its shadowed terror. I felt a multitude of eyes watching from beyond the border of leaves which kept the darkness at bay.

Before I knew it, I was submerged into the abyss swimming into deeper and darker haunted corners. What lay ahead beyond that murky brine of life; I could not tell but felt an urge to go onward, farther, deeper into the unfathomable pit.

Then the thought came to mind, “What if this is the home of the Rahab of old?” Suddenly, fear of the deadly monster appearing from the bottomless depths caused my heart to jolt. My heartbeat thumped in my ears as I tried to calm myself. “There’s no such thing,” I tried to reason. “It was defeated by God during the creation, it’s gone…gone forever.”

The water was losing its light as silt began to cloud the scene before me. Something was disturbing the environment; something massive.

The image passed by before I could catch a glimpse; its body the color of the aquatic surroundings, a perfect camouflage. The sullen void quickly enveloped the image. The last trace was the massive tail fin that swooshed past me with such force, the wake nearly rolled me over. My source of oxygen was constantly a concern, but I never surfaced. My fear was only of the beast that now eluded my horrified gaze.

Black limbs and roots created a maze that illumination from the world above was barely able to penetrate as I swam on trying to regain the leviathan’s presence. “Why was I searching for something so fearful, when all I had to do was climb back to the world above?

Yet, I continued on.

When all hopes of finding the enormous fish seemed to be lost, there was the feeling of being watched come over me; the one that crawls across the back of your neck and into your soul.

It was suddenly there; appearing before me out of the nothingness.leviathan

I kicked to propel myself skyward, back to my own world, back to the surface to replenish my lungs; lungs that were now void of all air as I screamed useless bubbles of horror. Below me, the mouth of the massive fish now encompassed both my legs as he began to swallow me whole.

I could feel the pull of the suction from its throat pull me down.

There was no escape; I had gone too far.

Why was I here,” the voice screamed in my head?

It was then I awoke to the gray light of day streaming in from the forest outside.

I was still alive.

It was then that I realized I had been holding my breath. My lungs exhaled just in time to take in another breath as if I were preparing to dive back in.

I rolled over and tried to let it go. The feeling of the fish loomed before me. My mind drifted off, but not before I was pulled back in, back below into the depths of that which has no name.

Sleep did not come gently.

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Front Porch of Life…

“ For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart”-Jeremiah 29:11-1320160612_180149

After the day’s toil has passed, the supper dishes have been put away, and the dirt washed from our bodies, we often found ourselves poised on the precipice of our world, watching the final touches of God’s hand paint the western sky with a beauty so bold, no mortal brushstroke will ever compare, from comfort of our humble front porch.

Upon the boards that I nailed into place with my own hands, we looked out upon years of sacrifice and labor. From nothingness, we had created a home. From the wilderness, we had built a homestead. Often armed with nothing more than a shovel and hammer, we built what we thought would be our dream home. Beyond the gurgling waterfall of the Koi pond, lay the greenery in summer of the front yard that ran over across the drive into the fenced pasture. There, grazing lazily in the setting rays of the sun, our beef cattle would stand as if posing for the Master’s hand. Just knowing they were there to call upon should we have a time of need or food was a comfort. I can still hear my Uncle John exclaim the day we sat on the swing looking out upon the vista, “Timmy, your cows are looking mighty fat and slick,” which was one of ultimate praise in cattlemen’s terms. My Uncle John and I shared the love of being in the country as did many other guests who came to see us.

There were many more visits from family that often culminated at the end of long days there on that front porch. Many times we would talk long past sunset, gently swaying back in forth in the rockers or swing. There we would reminisce and share stories of long ago. Memories would flood our minds, and those of other such places would surface. My grandma Tron’s favorite sharing place was also in her swing. There on the edge of the quaint little town of New Harmony, with a pace so slow you could barely feel the motion, we would sit and solve life’s mysteries or struggles. There sitting across from grandpa, who had more often than not, fallen off to sleep, we’d learn about stories in the Bible and lessons learned in life. There from her swing we could look out past the great sycamore trees into the pasture next door where dairy cows would graze. It was where I learned that the pace of life doesn’t have to drive you crazy if only you would allow yourself the time to slow down and experience God’s blessings that were all around you.

Of course, we weren’t the only ones that had enjoyed the view from our front porch. There were the odd visitor or intruder. From the geese that had chased the children up from the pond to the kittens that would pounce and roll, to the ponies that decided grass wasn’t as much fun to romp and play on as the wood of the front porch. Just imagine the clatter of hooves resonating from within the house compared to that of little children scampering in play. It was any wonder I could sleep on those days while working the night shift, yet I sometimes found a way.

As the years went by, we added more landscaping and walkways which only increased the feeling of being more of an estate than a farm. Yet, in the coolness of the evenings, that space became our sanctuary in the wilderness where we could reflect on all that we had done and what was to come. Beyond the dark western tree line was the unknown; the future. On that porch, I had watched my children grow. Many late evenings or early mornings I would find comfort in the swing, as I would wrap their tiny bodies in blankets and rock them gently while singing hymns, often falling asleep myself as we became one with the world around us. I would awaken with a start to the motionless swing and realize we were at peace. Those are moments I will always cherish.

There on the outdoor abode my children played and viewed the world around them from the safety of that gentle loft, high above the terrestrial surface below. There they would be emboldened to go out and explore finding all sorts of bugs, toads, and critters that they would unearth in their daily forays into the unknown and bring back to their home base, the porch. As time progressed, we watched them grow into the young adults; the once daunting height of that porch had become little more than a mere step to them. In my mind, I had figured that eventually I would even be watching my own life’s sunset from that place, but it was not meant to be. God had another plan.

What I had created within the boundaries of my own mind was nothing in that of the Master’s plan, it was only a stepping stone. Two days ago, at 3:59 pm, the place that I had built to last our lifetime became someone else’s dream home. Two days ago, the step we had taken to answer the calling from God became a reality.

Today, I awoke to the feeling of being somewhere between the Red Sea and the River Jordan. We have left all we have known and worked for in our previous life behind. We have died to our former selves in order to answer the call. Now, we wait to see where He has us to go. Where will our promised land be? Where is our river to cross?

These and many more questions face us each day, but each day, I open the pages to the only place I know where the answer can be found; my Bible.

Seek and ye shall find, knock, and the door will be opened.

All we have to do is leave our porch and answer Him.

Thanks be to God.

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Ten Men…

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“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

They had come to visit, the entire team of ten men, all my former GENBAND Emergency Recovery teammates. For whatever reason, I was somewhat nervous and just as they pulled into the parking lot of the rental cabin, nature called. Quickly, I dashed into the bathroom and prepared to sit but found that someone had not flushed the commode. Disgusted, I pushed the handle and carefully found my seat. Soon after, again to my disgust, I found the previous occupant did not replace the toilet paper roll. My guests soon heard my pleas for help upon entering the house and promptly delivered a roll through a hole in the door where the handle should have been; yes, this was a dream and all things were seemingly possible.

The next scene found us sitting around the table sharing with one another supposedly over a meal. Each man had a new haircut and each man, in unison, agreed that they were all going to be in a wreck that very day. Remember, this is a dream. Apparently, each of them had also had a dream of such and were all totally convinced it would be true.

Yes, dreaming within a dream is okay…I guess.

Inwardly I dismissed it. I shook my head as they conveyed their fears and as they did, I attempted to alleviate them by stating it would probably be nothing more than a parking lot fender-bender. In my mind, I could see me inadvertently driving my car into their rental van just to satisfy their mysticism.

The conversation returned to idle chatter and my mind drifted off.

In the next moment, I was driving down a country road through the mountains. Our vehicle was headed up a steep grade, nothing out of the ordinary when suddenly out of the blue, a motorcycle rider passed. His speed was beyond what you might consider safe, especially since we were nearing a peak. When driving in unknown areas on winding roads, it behooves you to have some idea of which way the roadway will turn, especially at the crest of a hill. You don’t want to be caught airborne without being able to turn. So, as we neared the top of the ridge, I held my breath as I watched the motorcyclists go airborne, then he disappeared. I sped up to follow, flooring the van as we too approached the peak. That’s when the world around me immediately transformed into a vista of beauty. An expanse of mountain ranges spread out before us. Beautiful blue-green peaks and valleys lay before us. Our altitude had increased to that of a low-flying aircraft; yes, our mountain had grown.

Far ahead, the lone madman on the motorcycle sped farther and farther away, disappearing momentarily through the clouds below us as he approached the valley floor.

As we headed down the mountainside, I pushed on the accelerator even more. My own speed accelerated until the trees passing out the side windows became a blur. Somehow it didn’t matter; fear was not within me. Way up ahead, the road passed through a valley and over a small river.

A small river with no bridge.

Somehow, the lack of surface over the water didn’t matter. At the speed we were traveling, we would easily clear the ravine. Just then, on the other side of the river, deer began crossing the highway; first one, then another. As I watched more and more came, deer, then zebras then odd colored beasts of the field, all crossing and leaping hesitantly on the road and then jumping the nearby roadside and running off into the nearby woods.

By now, the road below me was a blur and my speed was beyond understanding. There was no fear, only my focus of the impending potential impact of the animals ahead.

From here, I realized the motorcyclist had jumped the river and cleared the crossing animals and was well as I could see him as he vanished over on the next ridge. He was gone, but the impending danger had not. The animals crossing the road ahead beyond the river was an immediate disaster waiting to happen; the river, no bridge, the animals in the road; bad, all bad.

I could sense the feeling of trepidation as I closed my eyes just before we hit the edge of the river. It was then, in disbelief, I realized the vehicle in which I was traveling had left the ground and was now attempting to clear the watery grave below. It was as if I was watching a scene from the Duke’s of Hazard as the General Lee flew mysteriously through the air each episode. From a vantage point outside the van, I could see that the river had greatly swollen and was beyond flood stage. In an instant, it had gone from a simple lazy waterway into a burgeoning fury of rushing, muddy water.

I realized we were in trouble.

The bank on the opposite side had been washed away and exposed massive boulders lining the bank. It was obvious our flying van was not going to clear the abyss below. From a distance I watched as we were about to crash and just before impact, I was back in the seat, behind the wheel.

Then nothing.

God had been in control. I had given it all over to Him and then at the last minute, I panicked and hesitated. Thoughts of Peter on the water and Jesus calling to him to just believe came to mind.  So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous,[a] he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”” My human-ness had blinded me to the beauty of what is possible when we allow God to drive.

Yet, the dream wasn’t over, there was more.

After the impact, the next thing I realized, I was overhearing an elderly lady talking in the next aisle over from me about the wreck and how it was amazing that they had survived. It appeared I was standing in a pharmacy waiting on something. The lady carried on about the flooded river and how it had never before gone to that level of flood stage. Her conversation prattled on in the background as the pharmacist walked up to me. He was dressed in the typical white smock. His hair was dark, but badly thinning on top revealing his balding head. Through his glasses, he was perusing through the stack of papers in his hand. As he spoke to me while still looking down at his disheveled paperwork, he was saying that he would need ten signatures. I shook my head to clear out the cobwebs.

He looked up from his papers. “Are you okay,” he asked?

“Uh, yea…sure,” I responded trying to understand what was happening.

“The insurance requires you to initial each prescription for the men in your party.”

My eyes followed the tiny print on the prescription form, a piece of paper about the size of an index card. There was the line for initials, so I began to sign. “They must be okay,” I thought as I signed the forms, “otherwise, I wouldn’t be signing their prescriptions?”

It was about then the alarm for 0600 hrs went off beside my bed.

Darkness all around me as I sat up in bed.

“Good morning,” I whispered and began my day.

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More than a Place…We Need a Cause…

As each day passes, there is an image that is beginning to take form before me. swordofGodSometimes I see it in my dreams, vaguely, shrouded in a mist, hidden from full view. I awaken and it is gone before I can write it down. Yet, day by day, ever so slowly I hear a voice saying, “People need the Trail to be more than just a history lesson, people are looking for a Trail of FAITH!” The letters we receive asking for prayer, the people asking for more than just a history lesson and those who show up at the Trail seeking spiritual guidance. Yes, slowly, I can see the Trail of Faith more than just a place, yes, something more.

Then today, as I drove back once more from Chatham County, I was blessed to hear an interview with a young couple who were literally on the front lines of the war against Satan. They were serving  in Iraq as counselors to children who had been ravaged by the war on ISIS. As they spoke it was clear they were living in the moment of what many, including myself, only feeblly attempt to grasp on Sunday morning, the true meaning of discipleship. In all that they said, they were also very humble in their faith and realized that God was with them, because had He not been, there were many times that they narrowly escaped death. When asked what they needed most, they promptly responded with, “Prayer.” They knew that thousands of prayers lifted up daily were part of the reason they were able to do what they do. Their mission was definitely not without cause. Yes, that was it; the missionary’s whose work gives them a purpose, a Cause.

Then it hit me.

The Trail of Faith is begging to become a Cause of its own, a Mission that people seek today.

Why, how is that possible you ask? Don’t we have to go to third world countries to go on a mission?

Week after week I see the same pattern unfold. The same old church story, the same old routine of attending the place with the same old people, is losing its flavor. The world is turning away and leaving behind its youth, we must find more relevant ways to engage them; they are demanding a cause without knowing it. In order to keep them engaged and away from the distractions, there has to be a concerted effort to pull them into something that they can feel taking shape, something that they can be a part of and something that they can make a difference in the world through. Yes, we have to find a path through which these brilliant minds of our next generation can be more than just good, they have to become brilliant icons of our hope for tomorrow.

There is so much work to do in order to prepare.

One cannot go into battle with a dull sword. One cannot walk into the fray without ammunition, yet if we simply tell them to go and do, they will be shredded by the enemy. Darkness will consume their light before they have started, so we must work diligently to create the next wave of disciples for Christ, an army of evangelizing fanatics who want nothing more than to share the love of Christ across the face of our planet, bringing hope to the downtrodden and those left for emotional dead.

Where do we start?

Just as the Trail of Faith was built for those that could not travel to the valleys to see first-hand the place where the birth of the Church in the Wilderness began, we also have to provide our novice evangelists a place to practice before they go into the greater world. Here at the Trail, we can build more than a base of educated Christians; rather, we can build a host of believers who are empowered to go out and be more than just those who sit within a four-walled institution and wait for their Word to be fed to them each Sunday. We must create those who must feed themselves daily on the bread of life so that they are encouraged to inspire others to do likewise. Through their sharing of the Word at the Trail through the story of the people of the valleys, they will gain confidence. With each step they will become stronger until the boundaries that kept them shackled will be loosed.

Each day God sends opportunities to the Trail and each day, when we don’t engage them, they are lost forever. We have many times prayed over those hurting, those needing healing and those who have found themselves intimately closer to God. You see, we are being pulled to lead and where He goes, we must follow.

Yes, there is much to do, and we can begin now. The enemy will not wait and the longer we delay, the greater the challenge we face. Darkness believes the battle is won, but we have not yet begun to fight. Oh wake up sleeping nation and arise, for the battle is at hand, victory awaits.

There is victory in Jesus, and for that we must all strive to bring into our everyday mantra; to live in Christ, to die in Christ, either way, is gain.

Go forth and prepare, the time is now; we must because, there must be a cause greater than our own and He is the way, the truth, and the light forever more.

 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” – Matthew 28:19-20

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Nap of Ascension

Have you ever awakened from a dream, feeling remorse, feeling a loss for something that was so wonderful, so beautiful angelicduring the vision that you had wished it could have continued forever?

That was the case for me today.

After waking up from my nap, I had the feeling that I was visited by an angelic being and when she left me, I literally felt a loss. I say she, only because I felt comforted as if from a motherly figure; warm, compassionate, loving. Her true image I could not recall, having never caught a glimpse of the being’s true form; most of the time she was nothing more than a vapor, a whisper of a body that floated nearby.

In the course of the dream, she visited me several times, teaching me, leading me into a world that was parallel to my own, yet far beyond the reaches of normal consciousness. Each visit I learned and watched as she taught me about true love and how compassion triumphs over all darkness. We watched and observed sight unseen as people dealt with heart wrenching dilemmas, each one a lesson for our ethereal classroom. I can’t explain the feelings or scenes I witnessed, other than after each one I felt both pulled to the depths of despair for what I saw but at the same time uplifted to a higher spiritual plain from what eventually transpired, as if God had directed the people through hell and back. Each lesson built upon the former. After each visit I was returned back to my former self, back where I was still within my own body, but knowing I had returned from beyond. Each time I was brought home, I yearned more and more for the next time she would return until I was worried my anticipation was becoming real. Those around me in my dream realized there was a change taking place, but they did not know its source; they only appreciated the metamorphosis and welcomed it. The change was obviously a good thing. Their acknowledgement was nothing more than an indirect observation; something they could sense but like looking straight ahead while driving down a road, they could see if from their peripheral vision, yet its focus wasn’t clear, so it they disregarded it.

My final contact was bittersweet as emotions flowed from each of us, knowing this was the end of our journey together. I felt guilty about the time we spent together although I had not broken any vows or been unfaithful in any manner; yet, it was the knowing that my soul had been uplifted by another whose spiritual embrace had left me changed that ultimately left me with the feeling of culpability. Like dew on the leaf in the early morning light, the tender touch of the heavenly breath had remained, if only fleeting but real.

ascensionI awoke feeling as if there had been a death, as if the angelic being had died, yet I wasn’t sad. There had been something gained from the experience so rewarding that the loss was insignificant to the warmth of memory left behind. The scene of the disciples in their final hour with Jesus before he ascended into heaven for the last time came to mind. They too were saddened by his ascension, but the joy of knowing and experiencing their time with the son of God overshadowed any self-pity for his physical departure.

“And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and[j] blessing God. Amen.” – Luke 24:50-53

One can only imagine the glory that flowed that day as the disciples returned to the temple praising and blessing God. If only we could reach our brethren today in the same manner such that all Christians might be so uplifted that they walk down the street praising and blessing God out loud; glory, hallelujah what a day that would be!

I may never know who or what it was that I met in my dream today but I can honestly say I won’t be upset to meet him or her once again. Grace received is grace embraced and for this we can only be uplifted to His righteousness.

Peace and Grace to all.

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Pictoral Journal: Day 3

So much time, so many pages…

In order to try to catch back up on my lapse in blogging, I am continuing to post journal entries for several of the recent weeks. These will include drawings, random thoughts and observations of my daily life.

On another note, I have begun submitting Query letters to prospective Literary Agents and the family and I are also practicing for our performance and presentation at the Festival of Faith in Valdese on Friday, August 8th. Our friends The Lang Sisters and their family will be joining, us as well; sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord is what we do.

May you find humor, comfort and joy in all that transpires.

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2014-07-31 03.22.52

 

 

 

 

 

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Catching Up: Day 2

So much time, so many pages…

Writing on the sequel, “The Light” continues, well past just one book with 135,000 words now as the series continues to grow. Meanwhile, my journaling occurs between writing stints, as seen in the latest update to “Catching Up”.

In order to try to catch back up on my lapse in blogging, I’m going to post my journal entries for several of the past few weeks. These will include drawings, random thoughts and observations of my daily life.

May you find humor, comfort and joy in all that transpires.

Journal06252014

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