Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Never Say Never to God

I left California in 1983.  I grew up there for 21 years.  I never liked it there, living in the desert area of California, in a small town where nothing ever happened except the occasional tipping over cows or in my case, mooing at them and they just stare back at me in curiosity, wondering if I was insane.  Oh sure, as teenagers, we would cruise the main streets on the weekends and hang out at a local shopping center, and yes there would be an occasional drag race.  But to me, I enjoyed bigger and better places.  I dreamed of living in big cities with tons of stuff to eh' keep me in trouble.  I wanted to travel the world and see everything and people of different cultures.  

My first step was a Bible College in Phoenix, Arizona.  A great chance at a "big" city.  Back in 1983, Phoenix was less than a million people, but to me, it was big.  I tried college, and my best class was sleeping in.  Colleges should never allow a 7 a.m. class, especially in a Bible College.  It's a sin to get up that early!  Didn't quite make the college scene and dropped out in 1984.  Got married in 1985 and thought this was going to be great.  Later we had our first son, and Lo' and behold we moved back to California, but to a bigger city near L.A.  Exciting, right?  The problem with a big city is traffic.  That soon got old.

We eventually moved to Montana and had our second and last son.  Montana was fabulous, but troubles entailed.  What could go wrong in Montana?  Well, things happen.  We moved again to the capitol of Montana because my husband went to a trade college.  He graduated and got a good job, but then we decided to move back where his family was, in Illinois.  Exciting, right?  It started out all wrong, but the church I finally settled into there, I loved.  More trouble ensued and there seemed to be no way out.  I loved living in different states, but despised moving.  And guess what?  We ended up in a small town in Southern Illinois.  No more big cities.  Frankly, after Phoenix and L.A. and traffic, I wanted a small town to raise my kids in.  Ironic?

I never knew where God wanted me to be, and I was never happy in a sense.  I had my demons to deal with in spite of everything else.  Life never agreed with me.  God kept prodding me, and I kept ignoring Him.  I came to a place where I found my faith was no faith at all and hit bottom.  I found my new faith and was ready to go where God wanted me to go, as long as it wasn't my hometown.  Two years later, I felt God prodding me to go...and guess where?  Yes!  My hometown in California, with my mom.  Yes, God has a sense of humor in getting our attention to minister to others, when we don't listen.  There are still struggles, but not hopeless struggles as before.  There is hope in our struggle when we walk in faith.  And always remember to never say never to God.  God will look at you and say, "Oh yeah?  We'll see about that".

More on the humor side of the Christian walk to come.  Thank you for reading.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

What If?

A Short Story with a Funny Take on Serving Jesus, but Maybe Not So Funny

A scruffy old man was late walking into a large beautiful church.  He had on the rattiest old, torn clothes, while he walked up to the front of the church, walking by nicely dressed people sitting and staring and shunning him.  He reeked because he was homeless and hadn't had a bath in a week.  There were whispers of displeasure that he walked in.  They all gasped at the smell and mocked his dress.  The pastor was preaching eloquently, as always and suddenly stopped, as the old man made it to the altar.  "May I help you?  I am in the middle of a sermon old man".  The old man sat right in front and listened, saying nothing.  The preacher was put out and so uncomfortable, and the deacons asked the man to leave, but he continued to sit and listen.  The people in the seats started to insult him and wanted him to leave, but he sat and was ready to listen to the sermon.
The preacher was indignant, all dressed in the finest suit and tie, with his hair all in place.  He couldn't go on preaching.  "Look mister, you don't belong here.  Go find a shelter", the preacher insisted.  The old man then stood up very boldly and insistently and ask what the preacher was preaching on.  The preacher hesitantly told him Matthew 25:31-46.  The Judgment.  "May I read the passage"?, the old odorous unkempt man asked.  The pastor and all the congregation laughed but let him.  "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to me.  
Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invited You in, or naked, and clothed You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?  Then the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly, I say to you, to the extent you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even to the least of them, you did it to Me.
Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me'.  
Then themselves will also answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?  Then He will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me".  These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life".  Every face in the crowd paled as he was talking, including the preacher.  Men and women fainted in their seats and screeched in horror.  Right in front of their eyes, as the old man read, the old man began to change into a beaten, bloody, nail scarred young was Jesus who walked into the church that day.  Funny, though it may not seem.  Isn't funny how we set standard for others, who can walk into our churches, how they should dress, how they should come from the right background?  But Jesus came for the sinners not the righteous.  And Matthew 25 states if you feed and clothe and help strangers, you are doing it to Him.  I think Jesus in this story got the last laugh, but also grieved for the people who denied Him.