Tag Archives: mountains

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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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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A New Year, A New Look

Announcing the revised edition of my first book, “Bruecke to Heaven,” now published on Amazon as “Bridge to Heaven.” The opportunity for some down time over the Christmas break afforded me the chance to make some changes, not only to the first book, but also revising the second book, “The Light in the Darkness.” To my amazement, or lack of paying attention, the first book never had a soft cover version on Amazon – that has been fixed.

1st book in the Children of the Light series.

Also, the second book needed a reformatting (i.e. reducing the font) and fixing some grammatical errors. All of which were revised and also republished over the break.

Needless to say, once all of that was finished, there was a feeling like of renewed inspiration.

Thus, the first few chapters of the third book in the series has begun. It has yet to be named, but when time allows, and editing of those said pages are completed, I’ll try to share excerpts for your review and comments.

If you would like to suggest a title for the third book, please do. I’m always open to suggestions, and of course inspiration from on high.

The link to the 1st book revised on Amazon is: Bridge to Heaven

The link to the 2nd book, the sequel, on Amazon is: The Light in the Darkness

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Sometimes You Gotta Stir Up the Water

My journey to church this morning revealed the beauty of God’s creation in the flowers of spring. There is the reminder even in the third week of May that winter’s grasp is not gone. It is Blackberry Winter now in the mountains of North Carolina. Here and there, depending on your elevation, you can find pockets of white blanketing the landscape. Unlike the frozen precipitation, these are the tiny white flowers of the indigenous wild blackberries. They not only symbolize that in roughly two months, there will be the ripe, delectable berries for which they are named, but it also symbolizes that the last cold spell is upon us. To many folks, the temperatures drop far below what is considered normal during this time of year. While there have been many summer-like days with temperatures nearing the 80’s, during Blackberry Winter, there can even be a late frost with nighttime temperatures dropping near freezing or below.

Blackberries in Bloom, Collettsville, NC.

While this seemingly unseasonable weather is not uncommon, it is still a shock to our senses. We quickly grow accustomed to the more leisurely days of warmth and look forward to the summertime, where living out-of-doors is more pleasant.

Why is it we so promptly become complacent in our lives and take the path of least resistance?

One could surmise that is simply our nature. We perceive the world around us through our senses, our natural instincts. When we rely on these alone, we are nothing more than the beasts of the field. Yet, God made us distinctly different from the wild animals of the forests and the beasts of the field. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”[1] Although we are of the earth, we have been given the ability to choose to serve a higher power – Yahweh. But too often, we get caught up in the worries and struggles of living from day to day and forget, if we knew at all, what our purpose is in life. Some never realize this or awaken to know God but live from birth to death in a valley of life where a shadow of death overshadows all that they do. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”[2]

It was in this vein of thought this past week that the scene of Jesus walking on the sea stood out.

First, in the Gospel of John, “And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.”[3]

From the Gospel of Matthew, “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.”[4]

Now, there is much to unwrap in these few lines of scripture. But if we focus on the idea of how the natural man perceives the world around him, and from this, either believes or rejects the supernatural, then we can find a greater meaning in this miracle. We see not only that Jesus walked on water, but that he called one out of the boat to do likewise. Yet, immersed in the surrounding passages are concepts that apply to us today.

 “The disciples went down to the sea and entered into the ship. It was dark and Jesus had not come with them.” The ship was their comfort zone. Several of his disciples had been fishermen. Their familiarity with the Sea of Galilee would have made this travel almost routine. Like so many things in our lives, we stick with what is familiar. Going outside of our box is uncomfortable, yet Jesus told his disciples at the end of the gospel of Matthew to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations..”[5] He wanted them to leave everything behind, going to the ends of the earth if necessary. But before they were prepared to embark on such a journey, they had to be shown that they were capable. When we sit in our institutional churches and hear the weekly sermon, too often when we walk out the doors to go to lunch, we leave it behind. We put our faith right next to the Bible on the shelf, where it waits until the following Sunday – if at all.

Then there is the point that Jesus did not go with them, “It was dark, and Jesus had not come with them.” As with Philip, when he said that “This he said to prove him knowing himself what he would do,” it is probably safe to say that Jesus knew in advance that he would purposely surprise his disciples. Yet, he didn’t just show up walking on the sea in the dark. It was far worse than that, for, “The sea arose by reason of a great wind which blew.” In the last scene of episode 4 of Season 2 of the series The Chosen,”[6] Peter makes a comment regarding the healing of the man by the pool on the Sabbath when Jesus could have easily waited, and Jesus replies, “Sometimes you gotta stir up the water.”

The disciples knowingly went out on the Sea of Galilee at night. Was this by choice, or was this planned? The winds often pick up on large bodies of water during the day, so the night crossing would have been safer and easier under normal circumstances. But these were anything but normal circumstances. Remember their comfort zone – the boat? Knowing that these seasoned sailors would haven’t been bothered by the night crossing, I like to think that Jesus did a little stirring up of the water that night. When we are shoved out of our comfort zone, it is then we realize we need Him most. So it was, that dark stormy night, after they had rowed 25 or 30 furlongs, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing nigh unto their boat, and they were afraid. Yes, grown men, hardened sailors were now scared, so much so that Christ had to call to them, “It is I, be not afraid.

Now, the Gospel of Matthew next tells of how Peter, possibly not believing that it was really Jesus, calls out to the Spirit, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” We must wonder if it was Peter’s disbelief or was it the fact that he was emboldened by the miracle that he called out to Jesus. Nonetheless, Jesus answers and simply says, “Come.” Peter then, fully vested in his belief, gets out of the boat.

Friends, this is the moment that we should all gasp!

For this is the exact parallel to our lives today. We have been asked to go to all nations, making disciples for Christ, yet, we cannot leave the church walls before we are swept back into the boat. We fail to even dare step out of our comfort zone for fear of drowning. Yes, it is a leap of faith. Yes, it is daring and will require more of your dedication and commitment than ever before, but think for a moment of those first few steps that Peter took.

For a few brief seconds, a man was walking on the substance that sustains life. It was not frozen; it was swashing all around; the sea was boisterous, scary, and dark. Yet, Peter stood on the water as if it were solid ground, as did the Son of God! For those brief seconds, Peter was able to walk again where Yahweh stood. When we step out in faith, the impossible becomes possible. When we put God at the center of our lives, we are no longer a slave to the sins of this world. We are set free.

Leaving the confines of our comfort level will never be easy. We cannot expect to succeed at every step. In fact, we will be forced to rely on Yahweh all the more. The next few steps that Peter took revealed how quickly we lose focus. For in that brief instance of time, as he stood on water, Peter quickly realized the tumultuous seas around him and began to sink. As John the Baptist told his disciples, “He must increase that I may decrease.” And so it is with us. The more we give up, the more we rely on Him to provide for us.

Lastly, we see Peter returning to the ship with Jesus. As the Gospel of John tells it, “They willingly received him into the ship.” Soaking wet, having nearly drowned, Peter is now humiliated but relieved to be back into the confines of the vessel. However, he is not alone, for Jesus is with them all. As we picture that dark night on the sea of Galilee, those men once more were shown how the impossible becomes possible when we give it all to God.

But there is one last thought to this story, one final twist – Christ got into the boat.

“So, what is your point,” you ask?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”[7]

Getting into the boat, Jesus entered into their world. He didn’t have to ride in a boat, yet, as God coming to earth in the form of a man, Christ got into the boat so that he could prove he too was the Son of Man.

When the weather turns cold after we’ve become accustomed to the warm, beautiful cloudless days of sunshine, let us not grow bitter, for the landscape becomes white of blooms of the Blackberry Winter. Let not your world be troubled by the change, but embrace it and seek to go beyond what is comfortable.

Take that step out in faith and watch what impossible becomes possible.

And remember, the first step might be the scariest, but it will always be remembered as the best.

Thanks be to God.


[1] John 3:6 KJV

[2] 1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV

[3] John 6:16-21 KJV

[4] Matthew 14:22-29 KJV

[5] Matthew 28:19 KJV

[6] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBXOFnNTULFaAnj24PAeblg

[7] John 3:16-17 KJV

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Serendipity

In the still of the night, the word “Serendipity” came to me. There was no reason for the thought. There had not been any text that I had recently read that included the term. My first inclination was to write it down lest I forget. Unfortunately, I had not placed my journal by the bedside before going to sleep. Assuring myself that it would not leave me, I turned over and went back to sleep.

Of course, when morning came, the expression was gone in the midst, like the vapor of a dream.

Silently, the car made its way up the mountain. The turns in the bends, the fog, and the words of scripture which passed through my lips brought comfort in this predawn hour. Forgetting the day, the course of life, only the moment therein was alive. Suddenly, like a flash of light from the distant horizon, the word returned, “Serendipity!” Putting it in my waking consciousness, I vowed to retain it long enough to get it down on paper – and more importantly, to see what it meant.

[noun]

the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

“a fortunate stroke of serendipity.”

Sunday Morning, Collettsville General Store

After reading the meaning, the definition didn’t sit well with my soul. A word within its meaning caused me to wince – “chance.” When we walk in faith, when our journey is fully directed by God, there is no chance. It was here, again as a moment paused in time, that the walk to church last Sunday came to mind.

Rounding the bend in the road, there was the continued reminder of mortality. Someone at some point dumped off a deer carcass in the bushes. Time and weather had aged the remains into a stark, ivory remnant that stood out amongst the gray of winter’s last vestiges. It was not the first time I had seen it. Yet, it remained as a tale of life gone on before, the morbidity of the season – bone against a dreary backdrop of one’s demise.

The thoughts of the journey my life had become began to emanate from those bones, as a subtle suggestion of that likewise, time would end for us all – some sooner than later. Yet, there was the continued push to learn, absorb, and become more than I once was. The season of growth had not just begun but had continued since the long journey began, now six years long.

My eye caught the rushing waters of the river and how they pulsated against the rocks, flowing ever more furious downstream, never stopping, never yielding. As my way continued, my direction was upstream, against the river’s current along which I walked. “So much like the life I live,” were the thoughts that seemed to flow into my head. How much easier my life could be if it weren’t constantly going against the tide. Yet, to serve as I have been called to do, there is no time to waste. There is an impetus to strive for that next hill of knowledge, to seek the wisdom that cometh from God only.

These are the times in which my life’s journey has become.

Then there is the comparison of the natural world, the secularism of man, pursuing itself – washing the multitude of humanity with it downstream to the ocean. We who seek God go against this current. Some can barely stand firm without being washed away, like those rocks wherein the water below crashes violently against. As long as they remain, the water, the worldly current complains in the tempest of thrashing white water. Some give way and are tumbled along, not happy with their displacement, eventually finding footing once more to continue their stance, while others never find a way to resist and are washed away with the multitude.

As my path found its way to the porch of the Collettsville General Store, I discovered that my arrival was greeted by a lonely Blue-Tick Hound, likely a hunting dog that had been lost in the night. He welcomed me as if this was his home and treated me to a gratifying pat upon his neck. Soon, we found ourselves sitting side-by-side on that familiar spot. Once before, two dogs, Barney and Otis, had likewise provided companionship when there was none other. As we sat, watching that tide of humanity rush by, like those frantic waters of the John’s River flowing behind us, we sought the peace of God about us.

Once more, the word pursed its impression upon this reflected scene – “Serendipity.”

May you find the peace of the Lord today, no matter how small the token. Embrace what God hath provided and pause for a moment, giving thanks. As my late father would say of moments like these, “The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the grass is green. What else could be better?”

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…” – John 14:27

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They Were Fishermen

Early one morning, as my car’s headlights weaved around one mountain curve after another, a song on the radio caught my attention. The pleasing melody, like the pre-dawn somberness, melded together, finding its way into my soul. As I listened, the words began to speak to me.

They were fishermen, ordinary simple men.
A lot like you, a lot like me.
They were fishermen; Jesus chose to follow him
Go cast your nets out on the sea.
Go cast your nets out on the sea.

Men of few possessions, not men of wealth or fame.
Had no education, no titles by their name.
Yet it was they who answered and left to go with him
When Jesus said, I call you to be fishers of men.

Arriving early on campus, there is a calming tranquility that permeates the early morning darkness. Students sparsely ramble about, some seeking food from the dining hall, others are trying to make it back to their dorms after pulling an all-nighter before that 8:00 AM class. The only sounds are from the facility’s crews that prepare each day like the day before – utility and garbage trucks making their rounds. To be here before the sun rises adds another sense of peace to a place that becomes a pulsating, vibrant community by mid-afternoon on warm sunny days. In this time of respite, there is room to breathe, air to think. Here, the ponderings of living begin to percolate into the consciousness, and the Lord begins to speak.

Once more, in this life, I find myself a college student (albeit part-time). There is a purpose for why I’m here. God’s plans are never our own. The thought of how and why seldom seem to leave the cusp of my thoughts. In so doing, I make it a point to remind myself of the “why.” At my age, one might be looking forward to retirement. But for some reason, God has made me different. I look at the short time I have remaining on this earth and feel the urgency to strive ever more to fulfill His purpose in the path He has set before me.

Appalachian State University, 2021

As a college student striving to fulfill one’s purpose, every day is an unending stream of information, tests, and trials through which one must struggle. We all should strive every day to make the most of whatever we do as if we are serving God and not those who write our paycheck or grading our tests. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” So it is with this in mind that I seek not to complain, not to panic when I feel inadequately prepared for an upcoming quiz, nor to worry about grades. No, my goal is to learn as much as possible with an eye to returning to the classroom, to someday teach once again – for that purpose, to be there for these students is what drives me onward. Those short three years when I served at the High School were a never-ending stream of caring, loving, and nurturing the students who had been placed into my care. Some of them still keep in touch, which warms my heart with each distant hello.

A career of working in the computer/network-based industry had provided me the basis for obtaining my current career position. The landing of that position was as much a testimony as to all the others before it – a story for another time. But before being the System Administrator here at App’s Computer Science department, there were many years in which my career interfaced with technologies and applications that are usually the end-point for someone attending college. My journey has somewhat physically been the reverse. Over time, all of those various computer architectures, operating systems, and protocol languages created in me a wealth of information – knowingly or not.

However, unlike those beginning disciples to whom Jesus called, my slate is not empty. Similarly, the students around me don’t have to wade through years of industry knowledge and similar-sounding acronyms, which now I’m being taught stand for something new. As those fishermen left their nets behind, they had an open mind and weren’t clouded by the teachings and intense studies, as were their counterparts who persecuted Jesus, the Pharisees. No, these were simple men. They were ordinary men who worked day-to-day to feed their families and provide for their community. They had no preconceived interpretations as did their counterparts but were open to the words which Jesus spoke.

In the Air Force Basic Training, we were taught to shoot an M16, the rifle of choice in the early ’80s. As the Training Instructor (TI) was going over the presentation, he clearly stated, “Raise your hand if you have ever hunted or learned to shoot a weapon at home.” Of course, over half the class raised their hands. He then continued, “Those of you who raised your hands will most likely not make Marksman.” Now, the word “Marksman” was a badge of honor to a young man. It meant that, even though you were merely an Air Force serviceman, you would have something to say to the world, “Hey, look at me, I’m a good shot with an M16.” Ribbons, which were the badges of honor to the entry-level airman, were much-coveted, so the more you could earn, the prouder your chest became.

The Sergeant went on to explain why he made such a deflating comment. “You see, when you learn to shoot at home, you develop your own style, your own habits begin to form. When we get out there on that shooting range, those old habits will be hard to break. Although we’ll show you the right way, those preconceived practices will hinder your ability to follow through with the new instruction, and as such, you will fail.” As much as I tried to listen and obey, I too fell short and missed Marksman by a few points. It was the same concept with those disciples whom Jesus had chosen. They were not encumbered with the wealth of knowledge that prevented the Pharisees from seeing who he was. Even if the Pharisees wanted to believe, they could not clear their minds enough to accept the mind-altering concepts Jesus delivered.

Take Nicodemus, for one. He was an esteemed leader of the Jews and one of the Sanhedrin, one of the highest orders of the Jewish Rabbinical Judges. He sought out Jesus at least one recorded evening after dark. Some speculate this was to protect himself from being caught with Christ so as not to tarnish his reputation. Others believe that it was because that most scholars of that time did most of their intense study after dark when the surrounding communities would become quieter and the air was cooler. Here, under the cover of night, the ruler of the Jews met with Jesus and struggled to understand how he, an old man, could be born again. “How can these things be,” Nicodemus asked Christ. Jesus responded with, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” Nicodemus never became a disciple, but we know that he never gave up following the life of Jesus. He was even credited with contributing to the burial of Christ about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, demonstrating a verifiable act of love toward the Savior.

If you are blessed enough to reach advancing years in age, you can be afforded the opportunity to look back and marvel at the journey. In this reminiscent vein, you can see how God has often used not only yourself but also those around you. Myself, being a child from an impoverished farming family, there were never any dreams that could have manifested themselves into the life I now lead.

How many of you would have ever envisioned yourself being where you are now in life?

My family never lacked for anything, but we were not rich by Wall Street’s standards. Our bountiful living came from God’s providence, his creation, and the devotion that endured for generations. From that bedrock faith of my youth to the uncharted waters my footsteps find themselves upon today, there has and will always be that guiding light. As He has spoken to many so many times before, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

We are all made different. Our paths to life eternal are never the same. But we can take comfort in knowing that we don’t have to have credentials behind our name. We don’t have to have an extensive portfolio nor earthly wealth and fame to have a relationship with the Lord. All it takes is that we step down from our pedestals and open our minds so that we can receive the truth and the way to life eternal. In other words, we must wipe our slates clean and humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. It is written in scripture, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Jesus wasn’t looking for supermen when he found his disciples; he was only looking for one thing – simple men who would become fishers of men.

Yes, Jesus chose fishermen; they were a lot like you and a lot like me.

Thanks be to God.

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Don’t Live to Regret It

by Timothy W. Tron, Dec. 2020

An old cliché came to me this morning through the words of a song, “You’ll live to regret it…”

Many will look back on 2020 and realize it was more than the year of unprecedented events, but sadly for many, will become a year of regret. Then there is the introspective thought, “How many things have we passed through in this life to only live long enough to regret them?”

Meriam-Webster defines regret as the following: re·​gret | \ ri-ˈgret  \ 1a: to mourn the loss or death of, b: to miss very much,  sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond one’s control or power to repair, an expression of distressing emotion (such as sorrow).[1]

The corner of studio’s past, when God was not the center of my life. – Chatham County Farm circa. 1999

The longer I ponder on this line, the more corollary aspects of it come into play. For it can mean more than not having appreciated someone or something; can it not? Life is a never-ending journey of choices, and with them, we often face missing an opportunity, albeit good or bad. Like a fork in the road, there is always more than one path that we may take. As the saying goes, the one less traveled is often the one that will enrich our soul all the more. I once had a phrase back in my youth when my ambitions were to pursue the lusts of the flesh, that I was the “Unluckiest, lucky man alive.” In other words, God was watching over me even when I wasn’t seeking him. As much as I tried to run from him, I soon found out there was no place to hide. My life was as the psalmist wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”[2]

The studio that God built – no regrets.
Thanks be to God.

Time and time again, when my path should have led to utter destruction, there was another miraculous occurrence that delivered me safely out of the jaws of the lion. In those many narrow escapes of a poor choice, it was as if I could feel the prayers of my family’s spiritual leaders blanketing me when I was woefully unworthy.  They would pray that those early teachings they had sown would someday blossom. Thankfully, those seeds of faith my elders had planted in me took root, and once they began to germinate, God’s plan for me began to come to fruition. But it would take many years and many knocks upon my proverbial door before my hard head would allow him in.

As Christians, is not our pathway more judicious than those who wander like ships tossed upon the sea? “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”[3] While we might ponder those many missed opportunities, we should not live in regret. For there was and always is a purpose in the next step we take. While it may seem as if a choice were a mistake when the longer journey reveals the road traveled, when we look back over the dawn of time, we can almost, if not always, see how that passage through which we endured was one in which there could not have been a more perfect plan provided. These are the moments, when we allow them, that magnify the essence of God. “And he shall bring forth they righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.[4]

Take, for instance, just a couple of nights ago, a decision to remain in Boone and run a couple of errands before heading down the mountain cost me in time but could have cost me much more.

Why do I say this? Allow me to explain.

My own “plan,” if you will, was to leave work a little early and run while the snow was still falling. Besides the novelty of running in the snow, there was the hope that I would be able to capture images for future use in devotional postings to social media. The trails that crisscross the Moses Cone Memorial park offer a never-ending vista of God’s creation. With each changing season, so do those familiar spots where the camera’s eye catches one’s attention.

Moses Cone Manor Trail, Dec. 2020

The run was challenging in that the bitterly cold wind bit into my exposed flesh. But as is most often the case, as I continued quoting scriptures, the pain of the outer body diminished until the point it was only a mild nuisance. Thankfully, there were several good scenes from which to choose. The falling snow’s pace was merely a flurry at best by the end of the run, so it didn’t seem unwise to go ahead and stop by a local store to pick up another Christmas gift. While I was in the spirit of getting things done, I also decided to go ahead and run to Lowe’s for a couple of things on my list. While in the store, hunger began to gnaw at my insides. One who has trained long enough or worked in a physical capacity for an extended time knows the difference between a little hunger pang and one of greater magnitude, for that latter one was one that hit me while picking up those supplies. Seeing that there was a greater need than a want, I decided to go ahead and grab an early supper as well. The hot soup and sandwich hit the spot as I sat in the parking lot of Chik-Fil-A and dined alone. Outside the car, the flurries continued as the last vestiges of light faded from the sky. Street lights seemed hazy in the falling snow, but there was nothing at this point that created any sense of dread. The thermometer on the car’s display read 23 degrees.

Driving out of Boone and eventually into Blowing Rock, there was still nothing to indicate that this was nothing more than a beautiful end to a snowy day on the mountain. Christmas lights were already hung in several stores and homes. Their ambiance warming the soul within as my car drove past. Then, as the curve past the last light in Blowing Rock began to fall behind me, there ahead were the seemingly endless line of red tail-lights. An unending line of cars wrapped around the curve ahead and far below the mountain.

There would be no usual drive home that night.

Later, I would find out that a tractor-trailer had jack-knifed one of the icy curves. With it, several cars were also wrecked and maligned across the roadway. So, for the remainder of the evening, for over an hour or so, there I sat.

Looking back, my first thoughts were of regret for having stopped and run those errands. As the evening wore on, sitting there in my little car, thoughts of thanks began to percolate into my head. Earlier that morning, I had stopped for gas; the car was on full. The heater was working well, even though outside it was a frigid 23 degrees; I was warm and dry. My body had forced me to eat supper early, so I was fed. The longer I sat, the more I realized how lucky it was that my drive home was paused in the manner it was, for my fate could have been much different; either crashed or worse, injured – to the point of death.

The night following, Pastor Greer led us through the study of Romans 10 and, in so doing, mentioned the Roman Road to salvation. The term is often used to describe the scriptures in the book of Romans, which are often used to lead someone to Christ. Along this virtual road, one can find eternal salvation if they so choose to make the drive. As some choices in life afford one the ability to know the result ahead of time, and so it is when one takes this route – the Roman road. Eternal life, one in which you would inevitably be able to live long enough to see if there were any regrets, would ironically allow you also to know that there couldn’t have genuinely been any regrets, for the path you took was the one in which God would have planned.

 However, if we live being regretful, is this not as bad or worse than not forgiving?

Worse yet, think of what the utmost regret might be? If you think of life in terms of eternity, then you are on the right track. In this vein of thought, one would have to say that the utmost remorse would undoubtedly be dying without choosing the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. This choice would culminate after one’s physical life on earth has ended only to only wake up in hell, realizing that, and eternally regretting not having believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

There is no going back.

For in the gospel of Luke, the account of the rich man that died and was suddenly thrust into the midst of hell paints a vivid picture of someone who realized too late that he had made the wrong choices. “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented…Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”[5]

While it may not be evident to some, the Lazarus in this story is not the same one that Jesus raised from the dead. Yet, the name “Lazarus” is appropriately used in this passage, for in the Hebrew tongue, it translates to, “God has helped.” As the beggar Lazarus suffered his earthly life, God knew his heart. Those Pharisees to whom Jesus spoke had hearts hardened like the rich man. They knew the writings of Moses, they knew the law, and they knew the prophets’ teachings, yet they could not be persuaded. And the last sentence, as in typical Godly-poetic-justice, Jesus says, “though one rose from the dead.” Here he analogizes the Lazarus I this story with the one to whom he raised from the dead. Though the beggar Lazarus had died, he was alive in eternity, as though he had risen from the dead.

Lazarus had no regrets, for his reward was everlasting life, unlike the rich man who now felt the full weight of his errors. Wanting to prevent his own family from the same fate, he begged for Abraham to send Lazarus, for him to return from the dead and go to his house to warn his brothers not to fall to the same fate. Like him, Abraham responded that they already knew the answers, but they too were hardened to the truth.

Friend, be not so consumed with your own knowledge that you miss the truth of this story. As Jesus told the Pharisees, “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye find eternal life. For they are they which speak of me.” In other words, the answer is in Christ. Seek him, and you will find eternal life.

Let the only regrets in your life be those of the past; whereby, you didn’t spend enough time with loved ones, or you didn’t appreciate those who prayed over you, or that you didn’t stop and pause long enough along the journey to appreciate all that God has done for you. Yes, let those regrets be of the past. Going forward, willingly receive Christ in your life and leave all your future regrets behind.

You only have one earthly life to live. Make it count.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Meriam-Webster Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/regret

[2] Psalm 139:7-10 KJV

[3] Psalm 37:5 KJV

[4] Psalm 37:6-7 KJV

[5][5] Luke 16:19-31 KJV

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What Seek Ye

by Timothy W. Tron, October, 2020

As the sunrise was slowly trying to find a crease through the shroud of clouds upon the mountain, my mind was searching the scriptures for inspiration. To my left, a momentary shaft of light found its way to the earth. There, on a distant peak, among the multitude of gray skies, the golden illuminance caused the lingering fall foliage to burst forth into a breathtaking radiance. In a monotone sea of dreariness, it was as if God had created a bonfire of hope. In that instance, a brief line of scripture erupted into my mind, as if Jesus had said them himself, “What seek ye?”

Rich Mountain, Blowing Rock, NC.

So great was their meaning at that scene and moment, that I shouted out loud, “What seek ye?”

No sooner than I had released the thought from my lips, the voice echoed back across the valleys below. There was no one there to hear- nothing but the mist of the morning air, floating across the trail before me, wrapping itself between the trees, flowing into the pastures above. Like the fog, the words floated into my thoughts, until one had to ask themselves, “What is it thou truly seekest in this life?

Images of all the possibilities wavered in my mind. What was it in the physical training that made me get up before dawn to pursue climbing a mountain? What was it in my daily work that drove me to rise above expectations? What was it that made me feel lost without starting my day with scripture? Yes, what was in all these things that were being sought? In all, the answer for me had become Colossians 3:23-24, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Although, there was what seemed to be a simple answer for myself. It wasn’t always the case. It took many hardships and trials in my life before the realization of what needed to change became apparent. All of those past failed paths, like the dark crevices that linger beneath the caves of the mountains, their memory never seems to fade.  In my misinterpreted gains, when I felt that a work was of my own doing, when it was something that I had accomplished, there was the misbelief of it being my own doing.  Back then, the goals in life were to obtain as much as possible before time ran out. I was truly lost.

An inspirational speaker, and alumnus, once visited one of my college engineering classes at the University of Florida. To us college students, he was the “Real Deal,” someone that had been in the corporate world and had succeeded. In truth, he was probably a significant donor to the department in which I attended classes. Nonetheless, he was a gifted speaker. In all of his inspiring words, the line that he said which stuck with me the most was a quote from Abraham Lincoln that he had altered to fit his persona, “Good things are left to those who wait, …which were left behind by those who hustle.” Sadly, that egotistic mindset was what drove me from that time foreword and for many years afterward.   Unfortunately, with misaligned goals, one’s foundation cannot be properly created. Wealth without purpose becomes a greater burden than having nothing at all. These were the many variations of the doomed concept of mankind’s’ success that had been hammered into my head throughout the collegiate engineering studies. It would take many years of God’s presence in my life to slowly change them and to awaken me to what matters most. But before the transformation could begin, I had to realize there was something on my end that had to be done.

I had to seek him.

But no sooner had the answer to my situation had come, the thought of others around me surfaced. How did others seek Him? How were my colleagues, my friends, and those whom I knew that were still lost, how did they all seek God, or did they?

All around us, there are so many that seek what can never fulfill. From well-meaning goals and rewards to fleshly desires and momentary earthly satisfactions, there are a multitude of choices that can easily go wrong. Sadly, these ambitions and addictions are based on worldly values. While they may perceive that they are climbing the corporate ladder, or satisfying a desire within, what they are leaving behind, and worse yet, what they are not realizing, is that while these attributes provide for wealth and immediate satisfaction, their treasures and thrills are only temporary. For what they sacrifice in the gain of “success and pleasure” they lose in the grand scheme of things eternal.

Either through curiosity or from hearing someone that has planted a seed, when we begin to search for Christ, our real journey begins. John’s disciples found that out when they too sought to find out why their master had called this man that approached them, “The Lamb of God.”

Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?”[1]

In this memorable passage of the gospel of John, we see Jesus approaching John the next day, meaning the day following the baptism. John greets him with the same words as to when he first saw him just before the baptism. Yet, this time, he (Jesus) has come to visit his cousin, John. Yet, we must be mindful that John wouldn’t have been alone either, for he too had built up a following. As his account attests, “Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth…He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.[2] In other words, John and his disciples were having the honor of receiving Christ into their presence.

We can guess, that from John’s record and witness of Jesus, that at the moment in which he voiced his exclamation, “Behold, the lamb of God,”[3] he had already baptized the Christ. In that dramatic scene, many would witness the anointing of the Son of Man, as the only begotten son of God. They would have seen the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove and abode upon him. Then, the voice that emanated from on high spoke, and said, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.[4] In that inspired crowd stood John’s disciples as well. Whether out of curiosity or reverence, two of John’s disciples heard him speak of the lamb of God, and they began to trail behind Jesus.

When Jesus turned and saw them following, his next words were pivotal – “What seek ye[5]?”

It is here that the two men could have dismissed being caught as an accident. They could have said, “Oh nothing, we were just headed this way already.” But they didn’t, they responded with the honorary phrase of “Master,” which was by interpretation, “Rabbi,” a term used only for the most respected scholars and teachers of their time. Then in true Christ manner, he answered with the most endearing reply, “Come and see.”

When we finally seek him, it is then he graciously invites us in. On that fateful day, the two disciples not only came and saw where he dwelt, but they remained with him the rest of the day, and he within them, the rest of their lives.

 Like most who seek God and find him, when they receive him into their lives, they dwell with him and are forever changed. That very concept is what Paul tells us in Romans, when he says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.[6]

Jesus shared with us his answer to seeking as well. When the Pharisees persecuted Jesus and sought to kill him simply because he had healed a crippled man on the Sabbath day, he rebuked them and shared with them the concept of his ministry when he said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” Christ knew that God had sent him to do his work, and to finish it. In so doing, he was bearing witness of himself and to the fact that he was indeed sent by God.

He went further to show them, that as Moses had written, the answer was already before them, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”[7] In other words, if they had sought him, as the writings had foretold, and believed, then they would know he was indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

Unlike John’s disciples, we cannot physically dwell with Jesus. Yet, through his Grace, we can find salvation, and then when we accept Him into our lives, he dwells within us. It is then, we have sought the truth, that we finally begin to live a full and fruitful life. As the first Psalm tells us, when we delight in God’s word, we become like a tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth our fruit in our season. Even the most insignificant things in our lives, as the leaves on the tree, shall not diminish or wither. Whatever we do, shall prosper, as the psalmist writes.

Of course, all will not be sunshine and pretty mountain flowers. There are dark valleys between each glorious peak. We will have to walk through our own valleys in the shadow of death, but we can take comfort in knowing that we are not alone.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”[8]

Tonight, look into the mirror and ask with a heart of knowing that there is a God that loves you no matter who you are, what you’ve done, nor where you’ve come from, “What seek ye?”

In the end, what you receive will be a reward far greater than anything of this earth.

Thanks be to God.


[1] John 1:37-38 KJV

[2] John 5:33, 35 KJV

[3] John 1:36 KJV

[4] Matthew 3:17 KJV

[5] John 1:38 KJV

[6] Romans 10:9-13 KJV

[7] John 5:39 KJV

[8] Matthew 7:7-8 KJV

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A Soul in the Middle of Nowhere

They once called it “Nowhere” mountain. Today it’s known to the rest of the world as “Rich” mountain. The slow gradual climb slowly wears at your body, walking or running. The deceptive incline slowly takes you to a secluded overlook. There only the stone remnants of an ancient house’s foundation are all that exist. Leftover from another time, a bygone century. For a moment, above the distant mountain peaks, above the wayward meadows there is a feeling of freedom. The cattle in the fields dispersed amongst the shaded oaks and hemlocks, lowing in the fresh mountain air. Their voices bellow across the ridge. Once this was all that there was of a pioneer outpost, a home in the wilderness. It eventually became the property of the Cone’s. Today, it’s a place where one can go and find themselves a few moments of seclusion from a world that seems to fall out of control a little more each day.

photo by: Sweetwilder

A few days ago, I had found myself atop of Nowhere. Therein lies the story – it was part of my run.

Before I continue, let me say that this is not meant to be any shape or form of bragging. There are times that we must share something in our life that has become a testimony; thus, the sharing with you of how running (or the semblance thereof) has become part of my spiritual journey. Besides, my sister, a practicing Cardiac Nurse, recommended it would help strengthen my heart. Something with which my Cardiologist wholeheartedly agreed. Truly, if you saw me in action, you would know there was nothing to brag about.

Several weeks ago, the Lord convicted me to start running again. At the time, it was as if something inside me wanted to be done with this life. Between the never-ending accusations of our society from one extreme to the other, to the seemingly never-ending pandemic, fueled by every political conspiracy theory you can imagine, one begins to look with joy toward the next life. In a sense, pushing my body to the extremes will either make me a healthier warrior for the Lord or it will take me home to be with him quicker. The options are Pauline in nature, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.[1] Herein lies the rub: many have not, nor have no idea what that “next life” is. They live day-to-day, battling from sunup to sundown without hope. Their lives have little to no direction. For them to find the way to life eternal on their own would be like finding a needle in a haystack. While we want to help them as much as possible, we can only plant the seeds. It is by God’s Grace that we are saved. As Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”[2] Sadly, there are greater numbers of lost in our world than those who are awakened to God’s plan of salvation. For those who know Him, and have asked Him into their lives, there is that hope of life eternal. Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”[3]

I don’t know the exact mileage of each week. I don’t keep track of the miles that my body has been pushed these recent days, but this much I can tell, there is a renewing of the soul. Slowly, my body shifts from the unhealthy cravings as before to now, those of wholesome, natural foods beckon my taste buds. As I had experienced once before, the feeling of how the body changes when it is exercised to the extreme is not new to me. Yet, the reserve with which I can now control my diet and temptations to imbibe in things that only go against not only your body’s health, but the spirit within – these have become the things to which I am now drawn, those things which enrich the body, soul, and spirit.

This journey is not about becoming the fastest. The goal these days is to merely push this terrestrial body to become the best it is capable of being, only so that my soul has a better home. I heard Ravi Zacharias mention a quote from the 19-century writer, George McDonald a couple of days ago. McDonald said in a roundabout way, that we do not “have” a soul, but rather, we are a soul.  “We have a body,” he said, “but we are a soul.” Genesis says it best, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.[4]  This new perspective has really made me rethink the way in which I had been approaching life. 

In the act of pushing my body, I am then making a better dwelling place for my soul to live within. The nicer the home, the better the soul can feel. As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “ What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”[5] The more features the temple has, the more possibilities there are for the soul to flourish, and with it, the spirit. When our spirit is awakened, it then is able to welcome the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Then, as we might prepare for an esteemed guest, we would too want our temple to be the most glorious that it can be. It is in this vein that my pursuit of the new day’s dawn, from the time, that the sun hits the horizon until long past its setting – my days are thus filled to serving Him.

Pain in this life is a constant reminder that we live in a fallen world. There is not a run that I take that I don’t have pain. My dad used to say, “The day that I wake up and feel no pain is the day that I know that I’ve died.” Today he no longer suffers. His body was healed when his soul was welcomed into that home above.

In my youth, I longed to train in the mountains; something I was never afforded. Now, in my advanced age, here I am, training in the mountains. There is no pain like that of running up a continual climb at elevations over 3,500 feet. To try to lessen the suffering, I learned a long time ago in those early training years, that if you could talk while you were running, then it would keep you at a pace that was optimal for practice runs. In that vein, my journey has brought me full circle. Since I run alone most days, there is only myself with whom to converse. As I’ve mentioned many times in other writings, today I work as unto the Lord, not unto man, and so it is with my exercise. So now, as I run up those steep grades, my practice of memorizing scripture is put to work, quoting out loud as I run. It is nothing spectacular. A word here, a breath there, and maybe after a few hundred feet a sentence is finished. This is how it goes.

The other day, as my practice of speaking scriptures as I ran continued, I happened past an older lady. She too was out enjoying the beautiful day before the afternoon storms came. As I passed her on my ascent up the mountain, she and I exchanged the usual pleasantry of, “Good morning.” On my way back down, she said something that gave me pause. Before I passed her, she smiled and said toward me, “Thank you for using your gifts.” All I could eke out was a simple, “Amen.” As I was still pondering her words in the back of my mind, I continued through my versus. Just as I was finishing John 1, I rounded a curve and broke out into a meadow filled with a plethora of golden wildflowers. My voice still trailed, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”[6] Suddenly before me above the field of gold, the sky around me was like a throng of white stallions waiting to stampede, yet were held at bay by a mighty hand. In the center of those towering billows of white, was a crystal clear, azure blue sky reaching to the heavens. Yes, the heavens had opened and my eyes searched those ever-changing Cumulus formations for angels ascending and descending. It was at that moment I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit dwell within my soul. For a moment, there was no ground beneath my weary legs, there was no pain, there was only the glory of God.

photo by: Michael Kight

Being afflicted through the sufferings of our daily life, and yes, in our daily exercise, are all part of how God shapes us. As Peter wrote, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.[7] In our youth, our bodies recover more quickly so that there is little time to dwell on the struggles through which we face. As we age, it takes longer to recover and to overcome those once trivial obstacles. Through the tribulations of life, our soul is refined as the sword in the fire. Through these trials, we are made stronger when we learn to lean on Him, and in so doing, find hope for tomorrow. “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope…[8]

This morning, the water was still dripping from the trees. The abundance of storms had passed in the night leaving the air fresh, new, and alive.  The sound of the bountiful life-giving fluid made it feel as if I was surrounded by a tropical rain forest. The effect it had upon my body felt good. Like a blanket of comfort, its warmth enveloped my being. My mind drifted back to the Garden of Eden and how it must have felt for Adam and Eve before their sin. It was at that moment that I realized that while we are affected by the world through our flesh (our body), it isn’t always negative. There are moments, as in that instance, where we are blessed by God through his marvelous creation. Through those beautiful sunrises, to the smile of a newborn child, we are given glimpses into his love and majesty; thereby, enriching our soul, allowing the spirit to be lifted. Yes, even when we happen onto the edge of a golden meadow while His words parse through our lips we are blessed. When we are one with Christ, we are then afforded to allow the Holy Ghost to dwell within, and in so doing, find beauty in places heretofore there was only sadness and despair. These precious moments in time uplift our soul, and like the afflictions, strengthen it. 

Not all growth has to be painful, for, at the top of Nowhere, one can be afforded the most gratifying reward – to look upon the distant mountains and valleys and rejoice in God’s glory. As the air slowly returns to our weary lungs, as the heart beats blood to those body parts that are fatigued and ailing, we can be blessed by more than what this world of man will allow. It is up to us to sometimes go to the middle of nowhere and call upon His name.

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”[9]

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”[10]

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[11]

 As you go through each day, beware of the effects the world has upon you through your body. Live each day as if your soul depends on it. 

Eternity is forever.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Philippians 1:21 KJV

[2]  John 14:6-7 KJV

[3] Luke 9:24 KJV

[4] Genesis 2:7 KJV

[5] 1 Corinthians 6:19 KJV

[6] John 1:51 KJV

[7] 1 Peter 5:10 KJV

[8] Romands 5:2-4 KJV

[9] Luke 11:9 KJV

[10] Psalm 23:3 KJV

[11] 1 Thessalonians 5:23 KJV

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The Last Four Minutes…

Dawn had just awakened in the mountains. Walking down the forest’s path, I paused but for a moment. Turning around, I peered into the darkness broken by shafts of light filtering through the canopy above. A sullen mist hung close to the ground. My breath, visibly seen, became one with the morning dew which clung to the ferns that bountifully lay along the pathway from which I had come. As my eyes followed the trail from the light into the depths of darkness beyond, there was so much to reflect upon.

A couple days ago, I met a young man who went by the name Wallace. It was after the culmination of a tour that I had led at the Trail of Faith that we had time to sit down while breaking bread together. Wallace had been mostly silent during the course of the tour. But now, pulled aside from the crowd, he began to open up and share. Wallace leaned in toward me and asked that I pray for him. “What shall I pray for,” I questioned.

“I want to come closer to God. I can’t get enough of Him,” he said with a grimace. “I want to go to that next level of faith,” Wallace pleaded in all sincerity. He had the look in his eyes of someone that sought after something of which they could not find. As his question settled in my mind like the dust on a gravel road, I thought of how each of us, at least those who are believers, yearn for the same thing. Wallace’s eagerness seemed to paint him as if he were a new believer, someone who had not yet realized that the journey is not a sprint but rather a marathon. “Sanctification lasts a lifetime,” I told him. And I then went to great lengths to comfort his worries, in that he wasn’t alone: With each new day, a believer awakens to the creation of God, becoming more aware of God’s handiwork and able to hear his voice through the written word. With each new day, our mind is opened a little more to the understanding of the veritas (truth). “No one comes to the father but through me, I am the way, the truth, and the light,” Jesus would tell his disciples. As I paused to allow the words to sink in, he exclaimed, “Man, you are so cool.”

“No, no, please, no,” I said shaking my head. “It’s God speaking through me that you are hearing.”

It was then the scripture from John 1 came to mind, as I shared with this young man who sought after God with a passion I had not seen in a long, long time.

“When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

Jesus said, “You believebecause I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you,youwill see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’the Son of Man.”[1]

The thoughts of Wallace were with me the next day as I climbed the trail to the top of Rough Ridge. Again, the question returned, “How do we get closer to God?” The rocky crags cut deep into my heart, leaving nothing untouched. From up there, the world below seemed so distant, nothing to fear. Sitting on the edge of the earth, the thoughts roll across one’s mind like the clouds across the broad landscape below.

As I stood in front of the washing machine the other night waiting for the spin cycle to end, the time showed four minutes remaining. Then, for some unknown reason, the question arose in my head, “What if you only had four minutes left in your life. What would you think of? What would your final thoughts be about?” I closed my eyes and lifted my head toward heaven and waited. Instantly I was taken back to that old run-down farm house on the edge of New Harmony, Indiana. There, my paternal grandparents had carved out an existence in a life that had been anything but easy. My view was from within the kitchen seated at the head of the table. There on that worn formica countertop my grandparents had seen all manner of life pass. From the earliest times I could remember my grandpa Tron seated in the position of admiration, the head of the table. He was our patriarch. Grandma sat to at his right hand. When grandpa passed, she would move to his seat. It was there in my mind that my journey of what my last four minutes of life began.

You’ve got to be kidding me,” I thought to myself, “The last four minutes and I’m stuck in the old kitchen,” as I chuckled silently. But as I sat there, a feeling of reverence washed over me, calming my anticipation. Time slowed. A flood of memories of a lifetime began to pass before me. In those moments, my grandmother’s soft-spoken manner again, and again, warmed my heart. As she spoke, the words she said emanated from where she lived, in God’s word. It was then I realized why it was here my journey began. The words from Peter told of who she was to our family and why my story could not be told without her as its beginning, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”[2]

Before I could finish that thought, I was whisked away and was now standing at the top of Sled Hill, the highest point anyone could find in our flat landscape of southern Indiana. Geologists say that at one time, glaciers pushed the earth ahead of them as they grew into North America. When they retreated, the soil that they left behind became the hills and hollars of exploration of my youth. Those rolling hills, covered in hardwood forests, bordered the Wabash River, creating a utopia for the weary. The rest of the state had been bulldozed flat by those massive goliaths of their time. So, as I stood on this highest vantage point around, my eyes beheld once more the view of our little village from above. Below me, the rooftops and spires of the church’s reached above the trees that lined the streets beyond our little farmhouse that was home. It was then another feeling came over me, one that I had not remembered since the first time my eyes rested upon that scene – The feeling of standing on a mountain struck a chord within my child’s mind. It was as if a light had been turned on. My destiny began at that moment. Little did I know that a calling to return to our ancestry would be driven by the desire to reach for the mountains. None of us knew at that time, but deep within my soul, there was a beckoning to return to a place that I didn’t even know. Even though there overlooking New Harmony, I was barely above the tree-line, the words to the song, “Nearer My God to Thee,” never resonated more.

Likewise, when we accept Christ into our lives, an awakening, a light is turned on and suddenly we find ourselves longing for a home we have never seen –  a place where we can spend eternity in the beautiful, blessed arms of our Savior. When we become Christians, it is then we realize this earth is not our home. We are only passing through.

The last four minutes slowly washed away into a flight like the raptors who soar above in the azure blue skies over those granite peaks. Time, like the tiny rivulets of water that trickle down the pathway after the summer showers, passes without hesitation. We cannot stop it, for if we try, it only dams up into a pool from which we can peer within. Our reflections are all that we see. Letting go, the fluidness continues on as it had before we paused its journey. Onward down the mountain it falls, joining tiny stream after another until they become greater torrents of fluidness. Like the many lives of others, we have met, our experiences becoming one.

The flight continued onward and upward until there was no more ceiling, only heaven above.

Time had expired, but life had not. Once we pass from this world to the next, be it in four minutes, or be it four decades, we will realize that all that we did in this life was a witness to our faith. Whether we realize it or not our journey was seen by those who watched, even when we knew not. If we lived according to God’s word, our life would have been an example, a wonderful testimony, which hopefully would have led another soul to Christ. How great the scene when, “the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

Like a new believer, may we seek to draw closer to God every day. To do so, we must not just read the Word, we must become one with it. When we are saved, we leave our old self behind becoming a new person. In the vacuum of the old self departing, we must fill the empty space with God. To become absorbed with the Bible’s knowledge is one thing, but by taking it to heart, we receive its blessing, and with it the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  

The journey of faith, once we accept Him into our life, takes a lifetime. A diamond is not formed from a lump of coal in a day.

Yet, when we have run the race, and fought the good fight, not yielding to temptations of this world and pressing always toward the mark, we shall have finally been the light to those around us.  It is then we might expect to hear those fateful words, “Well done, good and faithful son, well done.”

Thanks be to God.


[1] John 1:47-51 KJV

[2] 1 Peter 5:2-4 KJV

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