Monday, June 30, 2014

The Meaning of a Laugh

From Merriam Webster Dictionary

:to show that you are happy or that you this something is funny by smiling or making a sound from your throat.

:to think or say that something or someone is foolish and does not deserve serious attention or respect.

:to not be bothered by something.

     We laugh at comedians or sitcoms.  We laugh at movie comedies.  We laugh when we get great news because we found exceeding joy in it.  We laugh at children playing or doing something for the first time.  When we enjoy things and people, we tend to laugh.  Harry Ward Beecher coined the phrase, "Mirth is God's best medicine".  This may have been where we got the phrase, "Laughter is the best medicine".  And according to HELPGUIDE.ORG, "Humor and laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts energy, diminishes pain, and protects you from damaging effects from stress".

     There are times when we laugh at things that are ridiculous or foolish, in a manner of disrespect.  We may mock or ridicule someone for being different, or we do so because they seem stupid to us.  God laughed at wicked fools in the Bible, not because they were funny, or that He was amused.  He scoffed at them because of their sin.  On the other hand, God does delight in us when we obey, so I'm sure He laughs with joy.  God does give us a sense of humor.  After all, we are made in His image, and you know He has to have a sense of humor to have created us.  We are funny people at times.

     To laugh something off is another way of dealing with something that has happened to you.  You laugh it off as if you weren't bothered by it.  Maybe it just didn't mean anything to you, or maybe it bothered you so badly, you couldn't handle it any other way.  In my life I would laugh or use humor when I was uncomfortable, sort of to break the ice.  Laughing is very contagious, so spread it around when things are humorous in a tactful way.  Be careful if it is a mocking laugh.  We have all had our "stupid" moments.  And if you are dealing with pain in your life, laugh it off, but appropriately.  But please beware.  Don't laugh to death.  That's not good medicine! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Final Chapter-Psalm 27:14

Psalm 27:14
"Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord".

     Pete Bartholomew talked with the group after the entire fiasco.  Miranda came and met up with them.  The group thanked Pete for the help in saving their lives.  The families were immediately notified and all were relieved.  They were all flying home the next day.  Though there were mixed feelings in leaving Pastor Manuel and Ben, Drew, Sheila and Kyle were ready to go home.  Pastor Manuel had mixed feelings, but couldn't wait to get back home to his family.  All Ben could think about was Julio.  He knew he had to have faith that God would open Julio's eyes and heart.  And Ben could not wait to share his experience with his believing mother and more importantly, his unbelieving father.

     Ben also knew he had to tell the truth to the others.  He gathered them around the table at the Bartholomew's home.  He was frightened that they might judge him.  He was still young in his faith.  "I have a confession to share with you all", he said.  They were all eyes and ears.  Ben didn't have the nerve to tell them but silently asked God for the words.  He paused as they looked at him with anticipation.  "The plan that night before I accepted Jesus, was to...", he tried to explain.  Pastor Manuel spoke up.  "Was to kill us, am I right?"  Another pause from Ben.  "Yes, you, Drew and Sheila.  Will you forgive me?  And will God?", Ben pleaded.  Drew spoke up.  "We knew we were going to be killed, and we all forgive you, and better yet, God had forgiven you the second you gave your life to Him".  Ben gave a sigh of relief.  "Did you really think we wouldn't love you, knowing this"?  Pastor Manuel asked.  Ben was at a lost for words and felt so much joy that he wept.

     It was later that night and they were all staying at the Bartholomew's for their last night together.  Pastor Manuel called Sylvia, his wife.  Her mother, Rebecca answered and spoke erratically and excitedly.  All his kids got on the phone, all wanting to know how he was and when he would be home.  Pedro talked for awhile, and then they all motioned for Sylvia.  She shed tears of joy, hearing the news.  They all thought that everyone was dead.  Tears of joy ran rampant.  "I love you, my Sylvia, and I will be home for dinner tomorrow night", Manuel said, then broke down, weeping, saying, "Finally, it's over".  Amelia, his youngest, grabbed the phone again, unaware of the danger he had been in.  "Papa?  Do you still love us"?, she inquired.  "Why do you ask my darling?  I will always love you all with all my life".  "I always love you too, Papa".  He knew she didn't understand, and hoped she wouldn't remember this moment in her life, a decade from now.  He suddenly felt extremely homesick.  He said his good-byes to his family and went to his room the Bartholomew's accommodated him with.

     Kyle thought of his dad.  He called him to tell him the good news.  Kyle's dad also thought they were all dead, just like the others and he had been grieving heavily for a time.  When he heard Kyle's voice, his knees buckled and he gasped for air in disbelief.  His son was coming home and he felt grateful and praised God for the gift He had given him.  Kyle told him all that happened and how God had worked in even Ben, their one-time captor's life.  "Dad, tomorrow we'll all be home, safe and sound", Kyle exclaimed.  Kyle was proud of his best friend and thankful to God for how He worked in Drew's life.  He also saw the change in Sheila's life and was glad.  He felt peace and was reassured by his dad that all things work together for good, for those who love God.  He hung up with his dad and chatted with the Bartholomew's while Sheila and Drew called their families.  

     The news came on just before Sheila's parents got her call.  Their girl was alive and safe.  Hope had finally come to their family and all was not lost.  Sheila asked for forgiveness for the mess she got everyone in.  Her parents looked past that.  As long as they had their "little girl" in their lives, nothing else mattered.  Sheila didn't even know how she got to where she was.  She remembered the night she told her parents she was going to Freda's house.  She even lied about Rhonda.  She remembered back on how she started into drugs with Rhonda.  It wasn't that Sheila had a terrible childhood.  Her parents gave her everything, including love.  It was experimenting that started it all, and one thing led to the next.  Rhonda later, after Sheila's disappearance, was devastated.  She then, cleaned up her own act and started going to the church Kyle and Drew went to.  She gave her life to Jesus because of what Sheila was going through.  Mr. and Mrs. Wharton shared that with her daughter, and they cried together, anticipating Sheila's arrival home.  Sheila shared the love of Christ with her parents.  They did notice the change in their daughter, and thought about what she shared.

     Drew was talking with Aunt Rita.  Aunt Rita was beside herself with joy.  He also shared Jesus with her in telling her about their ordeal.  She tried to argue the point but couldn't come up with a legitimate argument.  Drew reflected back on the journey.  He remembered the note he got in the mail about not following the rabbit trail and it being signed in blood Peter Rabbit.  He wondered about that for awhile after getting off the phone with his aunt.  He remembered the story vividly.  Sheila was Peter Rabbit, who went where she wasn't suppose to go.  Hernandez signed the note in blood as a warning.  Drew reflected on this and was thankful that this rabbit story ended differently.  He really loved Sheila and Sheila loved him.  They sat together holding hands.  They waited.  All that time they all waited.  Waited for the Lord.  Jesus gave them the strength and courage through it all and they waited...In the end they were redeemed and rescued in many more ways than one.

     Short Epilogue

     Drew, Sheila, and Kyle were on the same flight home.  They went back newer people.  Drew and Sheila found salvation in Jesus, and Kyle had a deeper understanding of Who God was.  More than that, they knew.  They knew that God's Word was not in vain, but real.  As they walked through their journey, they walked through Scripture as each piece fit perfectly.  None of them would ever be the same again.

This story was a story of redemption and promise.  I hope it gives people meaning in their lives.  Psalm 27 is one of my favorite passages.  My next several blogs will deal with laughter and humor.  I hope you continue to follow and enjoy them.