Tag Archives: salvation

The Gift of Love

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

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

It was a pretty chill time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My heart nearly stopped.

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks be to God.

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A Moment in Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’ll say.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes.”

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

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

Grace for grace became our measure.

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

It is truly a matter of life and death.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Mark 4:20-22 KJV

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Thank you Doyle Lawson

I awoke this morning from a dream, in a seeming fit of torment, partly from tears of joy and partly from the fact that I had failed to mention something very near and dear to my heart to a person to which I had been speaking.

In my dream, I attended what appeared to be some sort of event. From the appearance of who I was waiting on to speak with in person after the show indicated that it must have been a Bluegrass Festival. The man whom I patiently waited to talk with was Doyle Lawson. Doyle had just announced his retirement from touring the multitude of festivals he and his band, Quick Silver, attended each year. Doyle was a showman. His presence at a festival and his band’s performance on stage were the earmarks of quality and perfection. Someone had posted on social media a photograph thanking Doyle for his contributions to Bluegrass and wishing him well in his retirement. The image showed Doyle walking away from his gold-brown touring bus, rhinestone-studded jacket, and signature cowboy had perched proudly on top of his manicured white hair, at his side, his mandolin case; the image was the icon of his legacy.

As the crowds died away and as the stage workers began taking down the sound system, Doyle lingered speaking to friends and fans, to which he had many. On the side, waiting so that we could be alone, I uncomplainingly waited. The coffee in my white styrofoam cup had long ago lost its warmth. The sips were now more of habit than need which helped pass the time. It wasn’t clear to me what I wanted to say, only that there was a deep, heart-felt gratitude that must be shared – nothing else.

Finally, when my turn came, Doyle came over, and we began talking. There didn’t seem to be words conveyed in the dream, but rather a feeling of sharing of thanks and gratitude. It must have been moving because Doyle began to cry, as had I. A lady came over, who must have been his wife, and joined in our passionate sharing. Eventually, he put his arm around me and thanked me for this fond farewell. He stood by my car as I got in to leave, telling me to be careful and to have a safe journey. We said our goodbyes, and he walked away.

As I got in my car to leave, contemplating the route to take to go home, the stage crew continued their work. Finally, Doyle packed up the last of his own gear and headed off toward the bus with his wife. It was the end of an era, the last of a dying breed. As I drove away, there was a deep sense of finality to it all. But, before my vehicle had traveled very far down the road, the memory of something special, something that had changed the way I thought about Doyle, returned. It was something that I should have shared with Doyle but somehow forgot.

My memory was about something that happened 11 years ago in May when my family and I were attending the Doyle Lawson and Quick Silver Bluegrass Festival at Denton, NC. The week had been a multitude of fun, fellowship, and play. My son Jonathan and I had stayed for the Sunday model church service, where brother Dale Tilley would deliver the sermon. As was the custom, my son and I arrived early so that we could sit up front behind Doyle’s band, who always sat on the left side in the two front rows. There, we patiently waited for the church to fill and finally for Doyle and the boys to make their entrance. Sitting behind them and hearing brother Dale deliver another fiery, enlivened sermon and hearing the most beautiful congregational singing, one couldn’t help to be thankful. But it was toward the end when my son leaned over to me and said that he wanted to stay after and “Be Saved” that my heart melted.

When the time was right, I motioned to brother Dale that my son wanted to speak with him. So, as all the people, including Doyle and the band, filed out, we patiently waited. There in that little model church in Denton, NC., my son gave his life to Christ. It was just he, Dale, and myself. Tears fell from my eyes as I heard Dale walk Jonathan through the texts in Romans 10:9 and to hear my son confess his sins and accept Christ into his life. Brother Dale prayed us out and we rose from our kneeling position off the floor. We walked feeling a renewed sense of life toward the back door, the only exit out of the church. It had been nearly 15-20 minutes. Brother Dale had taken his time to make sure my son was confident and that what he was about to do was something not to take lightly. So, the feeling that we would emerge from the walls of that white clapboard building alone, just us three, was all that I anticipated. However, when we opened the doors to exit, there, lining the steps going down from the front door, stood Doyle and all of his band. Doyle certainly had other destinations to get to and a schedule to maintain, but he stood there at the top, waiting to congratulate my son on his decision. The tears flowed even more.

Yes, that was the day that my previously made image of Doyle Lawson, one of thinking that he was purely a showman and that his faith was simple to make the audience more engaged, was washed away. There outside that little church in a dusty field, a man that spent his life sharing his music with strangers, a man that made it his life to support his family through the difficult challenges of traveling the festival circuit, became a man to me who walked the walk.

That was the feeling that I awoke with, thinking that had I only shared that with Doyle, “Surely it would have made him feel even more blessed about his retirement, that he had done something wonderful for yet another person in his journey of life,” I thought to myself as I realized the sun had yet to rise. So much for all the fanfare, the awards, notoriety. To know that a man made his living around a gift from God, and that along the way, touched people’s lives by quietly sharing his faith, not as a boisterous performance, but as Christ would have done, without pomp and circumstance, but with humility and grace made all the difference in the world.

Yes, this will forever be the real Doyle Lawson to me.

Thanks for all you gave and all that you have done, Doyle. May your retirement be rich with countless blessings from the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

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Alone – but Not Alone

My dear friend Richard’s wife, Ann Ruffin, passed away a couple of days ago. We all knew it was coming. Her terminal illness had been prolonged by Richard’s total commitment to her well-being. He had told me that being her primary caregiver was his mission in life.

Richard Hines Jr., Dennis Tracy, and I at Hebron Falls, 2021

In this time of mourning, part of me wants to reach out to my friend, to seek to help in this time of loss. Yet, another part of me tells myself, “What can you do? Richard is 86 years old. What can you do for him that he can’t already do for himself?”

Then the voice inside says, “Sometimes, all someone needs is just another person to be in the room with them, silent, but aware, saying nothing at all.”

When C.S. Lewis was grieving the loss of his wife, whom he called H., he wrote these lines, “At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.[1]

From those last few words, “If only they would talk to one another and not to me,” my feeling of wanting to go sit and be with my friend, saying no words, just being in his presence, impress upon my thoughts.

Likewise, we often misunderstand the Holy Spirit. As Lewis wrote in another article, “The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise, when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.”[2]

God knows infinitely more than we will ever begin to understand. “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.”[3] So it is that when he sends the Comforter to us, it will be in ways and in our presence that we comprehend the least. It will be like a silent friend sitting with you in a room with the air as still as a morgue. The only evidence of life is the faint sound of the wall clock ticking in the next room. Time passing, as we too shall someday.

If we genuinely seek to be like God, to walk with Christ, then we too shall understand how sometimes fewer words, or no words, speak volumes more than some of the greatest speeches presented in all of humanity. Our nature is to seek the companionship of others. Mistakenly, we sometimes think we have to spew empty clichés when wanting to console our friends and loved ones in their time of loss. But we are only speaking the reflection of our own empathetic prose. When we find ourselves alone without another being in our presence, it is then, in this void of humanness, that we find we are truly not alone. If we believe in God and know Him, we find that we need others less. Yet, we also find that when other believers are with us, His presence increases. Does Jesus not say in scripture, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them?”[4]

As C.S. Lewis wrote in the grasp of his grieving, he was shaken to his core because of the loss of his dear H. Through his words, we can find a Christian in pain, seeking consolation. Howbeit he, Lewis, being an intellect, it must have been evident to him, either then or later in life, how much more he needed God’s comforting hands upon him. We can read how he sought others in those lines of text, yet he didn’t want their words, only their bodily presence. In this light, we can feel how Lewis, either knowingly or unknowingly, craved the Holy Spirit to come into his life. Yet, there is a part of me that says he might not have fully comprehended the complexity to which his grief had confounded his thoughts, to the point, he sought that which had gone, but in truth, was only passed from this life to the next.

We are but vapors in this life, here for a moment. We will someday spend the rest of this life in eternity. Where we spend it is up to us. When a loved one passes on, if we know of their faith in Christ, if they had received the gift of salvation by the Grace of God, we can then be more than assured, yes, we can be sure that they are there in the presence of the Lord and the host of angels waiting for the day when we arrive.

Pray for my dear friend and his family in their time of loss, but let us also praise God for bringing home another daughter in Christ.

In all these ways, let us say, “Thanks be to God.”


[1] A Grief Observed. Copyright © 1961 by N. W. Clerk, restored 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Preface by Douglas H. Gresham copyright © 1994 by Douglas H. Gresham. All rights reserved.

[2] The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. 

[3] John 14:16 KJV

[4] Matthew 18:20 KJV

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Be The Lifeline to Others

From C.S. Lewis, From A Grief Observed, “But she was near death; near enough to make a good shot. She used to quote ‘Alone into the Alone.’ She said it felt like that. And how immensely improbable that it should be otherwise! Time and space and body were the very things that brought us together; the telephone wires by which we communicated. Cut one off, or cut both off simultaneously. Either way, mustn’t the conversation stop?”

Howbeit, that once this mortal body was obtained, through the spark of life, it was only a matter of time until the consciousness of being awakened. We, being created from other beings who likewise were created from God’s design, through the conception of copulation, we continue his plan. Further on, as the mind developed fully, or even before, there was a sense of being part of a creation beyond one’s self. This adoption of the soul into the greater being of God became realized fully later in adulthood. All the while, we were in the palm of his hand without realizing it. It is in this time, space, and body, as Lewis put it, that we then learn to communicate with God.

Fraying Rope – Photo Credit: Ropes Direct

This morning, although the sense of others around me finding themselves overwhelmed seems to be more apparent this week than ever before, I feel a deep sense of calm and comfort. For it is God that provideth this peace, not as the world knows peace, but tranquility beyond all comprehension. As the waves of life’s tumult swirl in what may seem chaotic despair, God wants me to be the rock upon which they may crash. Seeing how the Master works through me, their spirits can be comforted using my reactions to life’s challenges to perpetuate his will.

As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

The older I get, the more I can realize how God uses us. Handing over the reigns to his control is never easy, but with time, those of us who have given him complete control begin to understand how things work in this mindset of circumvented power.

I was reading Francis Chan’s “Letters to the Church” last night, and a statement he made really struck a chord with me. “True compassion takes into account far more than what a person feels today; it takes into account what he or she will feel on judgment day!” He was making the point that we allow our acceptance of sin, of how people feel today, to influence our witnessing. When we weaken the message, we weaken God’s ability to reach them fully. Their salvation depends on receiving the true Word of God without filter, without alteration.

Think of this message as a lifeline, a rope used to save a person from drowning. If we manipulated that line in any fashion, say to make it lighter and not so heavy to carry about, and we replaced it with a less sturdy material, its strength becomes compromised. On that fateful day, when the plea for help comes from those dark waters, the new rope is then thrown to save that frantic being. When they go to grab onto the weaker rope to be pulled to safety, it breaks. That soul that we meant to save is now lost and drowns dying a needless death. When we water down the message, we predispose our lifeline to be less than what it is meant to be. Those very fibers we intend to use to pull the victim from the clutches of eternal death are those which the Master’s hand had created long before our existence. How is it then that we feel obligated to alter them, sugar coat them so that they would be more readily accepted, when in fact, we are altering their eternal purpose?

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, he said of this very thing, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.[1]

Simon Peter answered Jesus when asked if he too would go away like those disciples that turned back and walked no more with Jesus when he said, “to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”[2]

We cannot change God’s word, His purpose, or His meaning least we doom the very people he meant for us to reach so that His grace may abound.

When the waves of life begin to flood the boats of those around you, reach out and comfort them with the same comfort which Christ has given unto you. “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”[3] Each of us was created for a time, space, and body. Let us use the time we have left wisely.

Your mission field is just all around you. Open your eyes and see that the fields are indeed white, ready to harvest. Gather the fruit of them into life eternal, and know that you are finally doing God’s work.

Thanks be to God.


[1] John 4:23-24 KJV

[2] John 6:68 KJV

[3] 2 Corinthians 1:4 KJV

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Open the Doors and See All the People


by Timothy W. Tron
Feb. 7th, 2021

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25


Darkness was all around. The car’s headlights could barely make out the tracks in the snow-covered roadway before me. I was heading home after having assisted in officiating a memorial service for a young lady. Another soul having passed too soon from this place. Her life had ended in tragedy, making it a difficult service to lead. Yet, even before the chill of the day’s air had left my coat from the graveside, the message of another friend’s passing reached my phone. Unlike the previous, his new home was certain. In this thought, my mind rejoiced in knowing that another brother had gone to be in that place that cannot be described in earthly terms.


As my drive home neared the mountains, the snowfall increased until, at one point, my car literally slid out of control for at least fifty yards or more. Thankfully, the tires never left the surface of the roadway. Unspoken prayer was answered once more. Afterward, my attention became ever more focused on driving carefully and slowly.

Oddly enough, without trying, a Sunday School rhyme of my youth began to play in my mind. As the lyric was spoken, we would act out the words with our hands. We would interlock our fingers together, palms facing upward, we would then turn them inward until our pointer-fingers touched and the heels of our thumbs pressed together. The rhyme went something like this, “Here is the church, look at the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.” Our little pointer-fingers would wiggle at the sound of the steeple, the thumbs would part when the doors were reached, and then the wrists would turn so that the interlaced fingers were once more pointing upward. That was the moment when you made your fingers wiggle around as if the congregation was visiting, sharing, and rejoicing together as one. It often made me chuckle to see my fingers wiggling and thinking of the congregation doing the same.


Looking back, my thoughts on that dark, judicious drive home were not of the mourning of my friend’s passing. They weren’t memories of the fact that we would miss his jovial, sometimes prankful demeanor. Nor were they the fact that this would be another COVID death in the records of the state’s annals of those that had succumbed to the pandemic. No, what was really troubling my soul was that my friend attended a church that had shuttered their doors because of COVID. There are all always seems to be a never-ending, creative, and thoughtful precipitous stream of reasons given when asked why a church would stop holding in-person services, but the most widely accepted excuse cited is, “Because we care about our elders and those have predisposed illnesses that make them susceptible, we are closing our doors to protect them.” Sadly, my friend’s church is not alone in this decision. Yet, neither of these practices adopted by “Caring” churches protected my friend. He had a stroke. He was 86. It happens. When he was finally recovering, he was taken to a rehab facility where it was certain that he had contracted the illness. He had lived a full life and had often told me he was ready to go on home. Well, my friend had made it, but then it was no fault or had not been prevented by the very church to which he had belonged. Before my friend left us, he had shared with me how he wished they would open back up because he missed those brothers and sisters who were like family to him. Sadly, my friend was never afforded that opportunity here on earth. In essence, his well-meaning church had somehow failed him. First Peter warns us of this, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 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.” In other words, God entrusted his people’s care to those who would become the leaders of the church. It is their duty to feed the flock until the day the Lord returns. As a farmer, I can tell you that you can’t ignore your animals, or they will die of starvation. Jesus told the Pharisees, “I am the bread of life. He that believeth in my shall never hunger, he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”


Hebrews 10:25 says it clearly, “Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”


In some cases, the church puts the blame on the state or local government authorities. In some instances, they are literally being forced to close by the threat of litigation. But in most cases, it was merely the threat of what “might” happen that shuttered many a sanctuary’s entrances. While many shut their doors saying that it is Biblical to follow the rules, the Apostle Peter would have to disagree, “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” – Acts 4:19 “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29 In other words, man must live by God’s direction and not that of any man, regardless if it breaks the law or decree that is insidious in nature toward Christians.


As the children’s rhyme says, “open the doors and see all the people,” we are meant to be together, gathering in one place. The Greek word for Gathering is episunago, which means to be in one place physically. It doesn’t read episunagoge, which is the other meaning of Gathering, which so many like to say that this verse actually means. The latter form means to be together in spirit, 2 Thess. 2:1, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming o our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,” One could say that a Zoom meeting, or the prerecorded online sermons we see so many conceding too, have become the way forward for so many congregations. Sadly, some say that because of the virus’s ability to mutate, that this will never end. Does this mean that those churches that have closed their doors will remain closed forever? Does this mean that so many of those who have left the church out of fear will never return? And then the question that one must ask at a memorial service of someone that died due to a tragic event, “What is the greatest tragedy?” Yes, sadly, the greater tragedy, the effect of those well-meaning decisions by so many boards of elders, those deacon’s members who had thought it best for the greater whole, to close their doors, were causing a greater tragedy to occur than the one they had conceived. You see, my friend, the greatest tragedy is not dying in a natural disaster, it is not dying in a horrific accident, nor dying of COVID – the greatest tragedy is dying without knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior.


Disease, persecution, or any other reason that beguiles humanity is, nor has ever been a reason to stop providing a service whereby the Word of God can be preached. The Bible states this clearly in many ways and many passages.


Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” – 2 Timothy 3:12-13


Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” – John 15:20


As I was recently afforded the opportunity to attend another tour at the Trail of Faith, it was that dark, overcast evening, again with the threat of possible snow showers on the horizon, that I became intensely convicted of a thought that would not go away. It came to me while we were standing in the replica of the Barbi College. The original structure is in Pra Del Tor, located in the Waldensian valleys of the Cottien Alps, nestled in the northwest corner of Italy. The original structure is estimated to be well over 1,000 years old. There, the elders (known as Uncle – Barbi) would teach the younger students. They would commit the entire New Testament to memory while learning Hebrew, Latin, Greek. They would also learn how to heal, using ancient methods of homeopathic remedies and cures passed down from one generation to the next. Their education was not complete until they had memorized the entire New Testament. When it was sure that the student was ready, and most importantly, had received the Holy Ghost, they were then paired with an elder and would go out across Europe evangelizing the Word of God. It was against the law to own a Bible or even to have scripture in your procession. The penalty for being caught with either was death, following an arduous, painful torture. The life expectancy of those early evangelists was 2-3 years.


It was there, standing in that dimly lit room of the Barbi College, gathered around a large single granite slate tabletop, that the feeling hit me. “We must open our church’s doors and impart into those in attendance the dire warning that came out of the ancient Waldensian history – God’s word can only survive in the hearts of men.” The only safe place for God’s word is not on a piece of paper, not on your Google Drive, nor stashed away in the cupboard of your kitchen – it is in your heart. Both the pastor leading the group and myself admitted to the group that although we had not spoken of it to one another, nor mentioned it at any other time, we both suddenly felt this conviction of purpose. We must impress upon our parishioners the impetus, the impending need to commit as much scripture to the heart, for the day is coming that it may all be taken away. But this is was not the only conviction that came through that still small voice. The other was that we are doing our congregations a great disservice by shuttering those church doors. It is the very nature of what we were meant to be in a church, what every church’s goal for existing – saving lost souls. “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” – 1 Corinthians 5:45


There are factual reports of an increase in deaths resulting from society’s isolation due to COVID. It is these people, those that have been kept away from the very place they needed to be, that we are losing. Satan seeks to destroy and devour whom he will. It is with great joy that he sees those church doors closed. It is with great pleasure that he hears of another person dying, not having known Christ. It is with great satisfaction that Satan knows that those in most need cannot reach their sanctuary of hope because either their local government or, worse, their church leaders have eliminated their only path to salvation. Yes, the greatest tragedy is not the one that makes the nightly news, for it is one that is being fought every day, from one end of this planet to the next – saving the lost before it’s too late.


Friends, let this passage be a warning. May you feel the quickening of the Holy Spirit. As we draw nearer to the end times, there should be a quickening in your own heart, one that makes you wake up gasping for breath in the dark of the night, for fear that you have not done enough for those in your life that need God’s word.


Say ye not that in four months, then cometh the harvest? But I say to you, lift your eyes unto the fields for they are white with harvest.


Here is the church, there is the steeple, open the doors and see all God’s people.


Thanks be to God.

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You are More Than a Vessel

by Timothy W. Tron, Dec. 2020

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”[1]

Across the valley, the distant mountain tops lay shrouded in a soft dusting of white that appears to be cast in gold as the waking dawn cast its rays upon them. Behind them, the darkness trails the night’s passing; with it, the fitful dreams of a mind that searches but cannot find peace. Like those distant peaks, we know they are not really made of gold, and likewise, those dreams of Apocalyptic demise are just as surreal. Yet, around us each day, there seems to be an ever-growing season of discontentment. As voices rise against the mounting darkness, they are silenced before they can become heard. Those who listen can hear those echoes from thronged masses who for so long have relied upon others to stand up for them – in some ways, it seems that soon, there will be none left to stand.

Grandfather Mountain at Sunrise, Timothy W. Tron, Dec. 2020

Each of us was put here on earth for a purpose. While many see their lives as a simple matter of birth, life, and death, there is a greater calling when one awakens to God’s plan for them. As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he assured them that God had provided them something special, something greater than themselves – the light that shines within. As the Apostle Paul put it, “The light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” When we realize that we are nothing more than a vessel in which our soul inhabits, like a house that one calls home, we soon understand the scriptures that speak of mortality and decay. While these words are not meant to demean or cause despair, but rather, they are intended to make us aware of the impetus to use that with which we have been endowed to serve Him to the fullest. As this earthly body ages and begins to deteriorate, if we are faithful to God’s plan, we are likewise slowly becoming more Christlike. This metamorphosis is what is known as Sanctification.

No matter the century, no matter the evil that stalks our daily lives, we can take comfort in knowing that God is with us. You ask, “How is this possible?” The answer is in the verse, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” While we have, as Paul put it, “earthen vessels,” it is not our exterior that gives us strength, but rather, that which is within. Let us not be confused for one second and allow ourselves to imagine that we can contain God within our own being.

That is entirely absurd.

However, it is Him working through us, in spite of ourselves, that makes this statement possible. We are like a fiber optic cable, the glass thread, and God is the light that travels down that hair-thin bead of glass. We could no more contain God’s infinite power than our own solar system’s sun, which easily dwarfs anything of power we can begin to imagine – yet, God is infinitely greater even than our own star, the sun. So it is that as we find God working through us, we begin to know that regardless of what goes on in the world around us, we can take comfort in knowing that regardless of what happens in the next few weeks or months, we are only passing through.

Our preparations, our focus should not be on this world, but the next. As we turn our hope toward the life to come, we can then lay aside the trivial torments of this life. Meanwhile, we can become the light to those around us, and in so doing, lead them to Jesus Christ – the Savior of the World. For there is no greater purpose for every believer than to use all that you have been given to find a way to reach those around you lost in that sea of darkness. Like the tide that goes out before the dawn’s early light, they recede from help before we can reach them, feeling as if their demise will come with the end of this society’s failure. They have tied themselves to all that the world has expected of them, and in so doing, have no other hope than what the media and the world allow them to hear. Their thoughts are infected daily with scenes and stories meant to pull them through one sensational event to the next – each perpetrated only to keep them in bondage to what they are told. A vicious cycle of fear, excitement, and sin creates a sea of unending doom to the viewer. Few even realize how they have been led astray – yes, they have been played.

Through God’s grace, those who have found salvation must be mindful of this universal ongoing deceit when approaching friends and family that have no clue as to what they have been led to believe. Not only are they like the drowning victim, quick to pull under the one who seeks to rescue them, but they are also quick to discredit or dismiss your favor as merely a religious fervor. When we step into those dark waters to begin our life-saving, we must remember it will not be easy. Paul told us that we would experience untold obstacles, but with each one, we should be mindful of how we overcome them, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;” And as the Apostle Paul put it, all the while being mindful of our own mortal being. Being conscious that while our earthly vessels are attempting to thwart the heinous throngs of the dark forces of this world, God’s limitless power will provide for us in our time of need.

Time is of the essence. For many, they feel the end is near. We cannot say when Christ will return, but when we are called to the Judgement seat on that final day, it will be too late for many.

We must seek them out.

Find them in those dark places.

Find them in the deep water.

Call them, write to them, but don’t hesitate – the time is short.

We have been called for a time such as this.

Thanks be to God.


[1] 2 Corinthians 4:6-11 KJV

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Choose Wisely

by Timothy W. Tron, Nov. 2020

A winding mountain road is the life I live. If living were a straight road, with nary a curve, never a hill, nor a bump what a sorrowful experience it would have been. With each twist, the unexpected arrives – some good, many challenging, and some sorrowful. From breathtaking vistas to cattle grazing in verdant green pastures, there is never a bend in the road that doesn’t reveal another blessing to be alive. All make living one of not our own doing, but in that regard, give testimony to our Creator. By the guiding hand of God, we are kept between the lines. When trials come, they mold our character, develop our patience, and gather our soul into that which becomes better for the perils through which we survived.

Much like the barren, time-worn tree that stands on an outcropping of rocks on a high mountain peak, it too tells a story of a life well-lived. The harshness of existence created a cracked and foreboding skin, that with each crevice is a wrinkle in the tale of its life. Its weathered continence exudes the wisdom within. Whether the twisting road of life or the desolate, weary tree, we are the product of the tribulations which formed us in the fire.

As the seasons change, so do those of our own. From our youth to the nearing of the end of one’s time, and all those many seasons in between, there are countless moments when we could have stopped and considered the moment for what it was. Too often, we allow that fleeting opportunity to give thanks to pass us by before we are chasing the next falling leaf from the tree above. If only we had the peace of mind to stop and cherish those brief respites. Instead, the foliage spirals down into the bed of so many other fallen leaves before it, they all form a collection of memories upon a pallet of life. Their myriad of color, the complexities of those moments in time, each connected through the thread of our being. If one were to connect these, as one might think a pathway is built, their course would intertwine, fold upon one another, and intersect into a countless number of likelihoods. An image of such would look like what scientists have concluded our own immutable DNA resembles. Memory, our collective past, intertwined like the branches of a forest, is the only lasting reward, or curse, that one can carry with them in this world, no matter your position in life. Those memories are a culmination of life’s choices to that which we have been afforded – they can be our heaven or hell.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Every choice reduces a little one’s freedom to choose the next time. There therefore comes a time when the creature is fully built, irrevocably attached either to God or to itself. This irrevocableness is what we call Heaven or Hell. Every conscious agent is finally committed in the long run: i.e., it rises above freedom into willed, but henceforth unalterable, union with God, or else sinks below freedom into the black fire of self-imprisonment.”[1]

From the beginning, man was allowed choices, also known as free will. It was in this context that sin came into the world, not necessarily as a choice to do evil, for there was no evil in the world at that point, but rather was as a decision to make himself equal or greater than God. In essence, it was pride that brought the fall of man, not evil. “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul. Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.[2] Satan used man’s own pride to sequester his thoughts into a path that took him to the darkness of man’s soul.

Choices led Judas Iscariot to sell his Savior’s identity for thirty pieces of silver which ultimately led to the trial, and crucifixion of Christ. Choices led David to invite Bathsheba into his bed-chamber, which led to the death of the resultant child and his sons. Choices led Moses to strike the rock in anger which led to his being excluded from being allowed to enter the Holy Land. Time and time again, we see how erred judgment on the part of man resulted in predicaments that could have been avoided had they chose wisely. Each time we allow Satan to enter into our decision making, our minds are contorted into the culpability of choosing on the side of this terrestrial being, rather than on the side of how it affects our life eternal.

As much as we have the ability to choose wrong, we have the same capability to choose right. Though our life’s journey need not be a long course of bad memories, there are hopefully more of the singular instances of hope and light that permeate through the fog of reminiscence than the former. As those thoughts allow us to build upon the past, we must realize that going forward, we have the foresight to become greater than of ourselves, again, if we choose wisely. A life eternal is in the balance. To be tied to an earthly being or to be one with a risen Savior, that guarantees life eternal – this is the only choice in this life that really matters. You can go on living as one that perceives there is “no tomorrow,” or you can start to live a life in preparation for one eternal – the choice is yours.

Some believe they are too far gone. They feel they are beyond the grasp of God’s forgiveness of sins. Many feel their sin is greater than Christ’s ability to forgive – but they couldn’t be more wrong. We serve a risen Savior that died for our sins, even before we existed so that all that come to him might be saved. It is never too late to seek Him.

While we chase after those swirling entities that entice us to forget the thankfulness and forget that we can be forgiven, we must force ourselves to take pause and know that, “God hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pastures.[3] Like those winding country roads that passeth through the highlands of the Blueridge, we cannot know what lies ahead. The afternoon shadows pass upon the landscape, one that passes from autumn into winter. The seasons change regardless if we are ready for them to do so or not. In time, we realize our helplessness in that we cannot control all those things that in our youth we believed were within our command. The decisions which we hath made, we must now live with until our road’s end. No matter how bad they were, they can be forgiven. When you ask Christ to come into your life, your journey’s end on earth is only the beginning of the rest of your life. It is this destination that should help you decide how you will travel the remainder of the journey in time that remains.

Choose wisely, your soul’s eternal life depends on it.

Thanks be to God.


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

[2] Proverbs 16:17-8 KJV

[3] Psalm 100:3

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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 Cold Mountain River

by Timothy W. Tron

It was late September in the highlands. We were camping on the banks of the Johns River. While the leaves had yet to fully change, there were the tale-tale signs of imminent transformation on the horizon. As my feet slid underneath the surface of the cold mountain water, a formidable repercussion burst through my soul. Deeper I waded in until it was a matter of now or never; an immediate submersion momentarily took my breath away. It was my evening bath in the John’s river, yet another first in my life.

Johns River, Collettsville, NC. – photo by Timothy W. Tron

As the due course of washing ensued, the greatly diminished bar of soap I was using slipped from my fingertips and into the brink below. In an instance, there was a fear that gripped my heart. “Oh no, now I won’t be able to get clean,” were the thoughts that raced in my head. “Does it float,” came the question? Before the unspoken whisper was even done, the tiny little bar popped back up. Quickly, my hand scooped it up and cradled it carefully. “No more losing you,” I mused at the careless soap. Looking down the course of the waterway to where that tiny sliver of could have traveled, a shimmering image caught my eye. The rapids below me sparkled in the setting sun. A thousand diamonds reflected the vast spectrum of light back towards me and a radiance illuminated the bend in the river about me. It was as if the Lord had suddenly appeared. The thought of that momentary fear of losing the bar of soap returned and how it made me think of what it might feel like to lose one’s Bible, or even worse, God. For me, in that instance of time, it would have meant that I would be unable to physically cleanse my body. But like the Word, it helps us to cleanse our soul. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, our sins were literally washed away. Like that grime from my flesh, it was purged clean and taken away with the never ending current. Suddenly, standing as I stood in an indescribable realm of illuminated river, a revelation began to form in my being.

By this time, my body had nearly lost feeling. My head fully lathered, I dipped beneath the surface once more. The frigid waters rushed around me and all sound ceased from the surface. There was nothing more than the sound of gurgling flow pulsating past my being. A faint heartbeat sounded in the distant, like a bodhran keeping time to a Celtic song, ancient tomes for which the voices had long since faded into obscurity. My mind flashed to that of the river Jordan and the Apostle John standing over Jesus, who at the moment was also beneath the surface. As Christ looked upward from beneath the cleansing waters of Baptism, he could see the heavens open and the Spirit of the Lord descending. At that moment, John lifted him up. The cold water fell away from his body, his face flush with the exertion of that same shock, now beaming as the multitude of God’s love imbued his being. John saw it appear above Christ’s head, and it slowly fluttered until it appeared to light upon the crown of his head, like a dove descending from heaven.

Likewise, as I rose from beneath the veil of frigid flow, the sky opened above me to a clearness that seemed to take away one’s breath. The feeling of a newness unlike before overwhelmed my soul. Though my body was immersed in the freezing mountain waters, my soul was enveloped in an indescribable comforting warmth.

Through that momentary elation, the question returned, “How sorrowful would it be to have known God, and then to lose Him?” Simply asking the question to myself made me appreciate what I had all the more. One who has never known the love of God cannot comprehend what it is to imagine losing him. Like that inanimate bar of soap, while it is easily replaced, how unlike it is to the spirit within us. Once we receive Christ into our lives, there is a newness of living. Like emerging from those frozen depths of the mountain river, we are torn free from those previous fleshly burdens. We are given the greatest gift of all; freedom from sin. We are washed clean by the proverbial, never-ending bar of soap; the blood Jesus shed for all mankind on the cross.

Still yet, the profound symbolism of losing that bar for but a second, and the feeling of that lost translated into miniscule slice of what it might be like to lose one’s faith. So too, we who believe, would find ourselves in a despair unrivaled with any known heretofore if we were to knowingly lose our faith – to have it torn asunder like a child from a mother’s bosom. There could be no greater loss of hope, freedom, and truth. Yet, throughout history, people have been tortured because of their faith, and many times told to escape the torture or death, that they must abjure their faith – to give it up. Many died for this faith. Untold numbers were tortured through some of the most unimaginable gruesome deaths. Yet, there were a few that gave in. Sadly, their torture would have been less to have died, for the remainder of their lives, they would be haunted in a life of anguish knowing that they had turned their backs on the one thing that gave them hope, gave them life eternal – their faith.

We are living in some of the most distressing times in our country. While we are facing a growing evil, there is and always will be hope. It is now that we, those who are called, must boldly wade into that torrent of bone-chilling water of life and reach out to those who drowning in the depths of despair and heartache. Like the bar of soap, they are tossed about, unable save themselves. Without a hand to reach out and lift it up, it would have certainly been taken away downstream. Likewise, without God, we too are lost. But we can be the lifeline through which the giver of eternal life can reach them. As the gospel hymn goes, “When my Savior reached down for me, I was lost and undone without God or His Son. When He reached down His hand for me. [1]

You may not be able to immediately see those who need your help. But stay the course, and continue to walk in the light. In time, they will come to you, or their presence will be made known. It is then, that you can save them from falling beneath the rushing waters of this world’s darkness and lift them up. You were made for a time such as this. “The fields are white ready to harvest,” Jesus told his disciples. “One reapeth and another soweth, I sent yea to reap wherein yea bestowed no labor. Others labored and yea entered into their labors.”[2]

There will always be a Comforter there by our side. Step into the water, and the Lord will take you the rest of the way.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Source: Musixmatch, Songwriters: G. E. E. Wright, When He Reached Down lyrics © Bridge Building Music

[2] John 4:35 KJV

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