EXITS

ExitsLast week I was on Interstate 10 traveling west, there’s about 12 lanes of traffic in this particular area. I was in the HOV lane (legally this time!) when I made a mental note of one mile to my intended exit.

I was in a little bit of a hurry and calculated I could reel in another dozen cars or so before I’d make my gradual move over to the turtle lane for my exit.

It never seems to work out exactly as planned, I got within two lanes of the exit lane before I decided I might end up killing myself or someone else in the process. I missed my exit… I was a little frustrated, mostly at myself for not paying close enough attention.

I had lunch a few days later with a good friend and brother, he was sharing with me his desire to draw closer to God. His analogy was his life as a road. “I feel like if I stay on this road it will keep veering me to the left, eventually taking me away from God.” He continued, “I feel like I need to make a hard right and make this change.”

I immediately thought of how many times in my life I missed an exit. I wanted to pass a few more cars and steal a little more time. I think of all the people God offers an exit that want to steal some time or put off His desire for their own.

We as humans always tend to think there will be another chance, another exit in life to pull over and submit to the One who offers the only rest stop that offers true rest. The exit God puts before us offers more than just rest, it also offers peace and joy.

Peace, joy, and rest, while the rest of the world speeds by at warp speed to an unknown destination. Many of us see the exit sign and think, “I have more fuel, I can make it a little further before I have to surrender to the need for The Fuel of my soul.”

Even the lost know that a merciful God is going to offer another out or exit. So they keep the vehicle that houses their souls moving so fast the exits start to become blurs. The super highway of life has never been navigated by any of us, we don’t know how many exits God has planned in front of us.

Often times the road ends without warning. It’s a one-way freeway and once the end is reached, it’s a sheer cliff drop off. The prayer for another exit at this point could be a little too late.

I wonder how many Christians like me sometimes know the freeway and recognize the exits and yet we try to get a few more under our belts before we look for the next exit? The Master knows the needs of our lives, that’s why He offers rest or exits. God knows when our soul needs fuel, we just ignore the blinking “check engine” lights.

These are the times God allows us to breakdown, He knows we need an exit even when we’re too stubborn or ignorant to take them. He allows us to sit roadside in panic or just completely stopped until we come back to our senses.

God then sends out the tow truck and hauls us back to Him. God’s mechanics who sometimes are strangers, sometimes friends ask us, “Didn’t you know you were low on gas”? or, “Didn’t you see or hear the blinking warning signs”? We answer with regret, “Yeah, I just thought I could go a little further on my own.”

Thank God, literally, for those breakdowns. This is His mercy on His chosen. The road doesn’t last forever, everything in this world comes to an end.

We never know when we have passed that “Last Chance For Gas” or “Last Chance For Eternal Life” exit. Once we’re past it, no matter who we are there is knowledge.

The knowledge of truth one exit too late…

THE ELECTRIC WINDOW RACE

electric window race

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Most people I know care what other people think about them to one degree or another and I fall into that category like everyone else in the world. When I was younger, I cared a great deal about what people thought of me. I think it’s pretty common for kids.

Many people paint themselves like a canvas to portray the character they want the world to see. I’ve known people who have worn glasses because they wanted to look smart, I can tell you it never worked for me!

I remember being around 7 or 8 years old sitting in our car in the church parking lot after the service waiting for our mom and dad. Minutes seem like hours when you’re not playing as a kid. We were parked next to the Buchanan’s car at church. They had the nicest car at the church, a Lincoln Continental which was right up there with Cadillacs as the nicest cars around in those days. (this was when the only notable import was the Volkswagen Beetle)

We had a Mercury too, but ours was an old four door Comet and it was the only car we had. My brothers knew a lot about cars and enjoyed nice ones like that Lincoln. So with a tad of covetousness and a car load of boredom my brother Bobby challenged the adopted Buchanan kids to an electric window race.

One of the Buchanan boys quickly accepted my brothers challenge to the electric window race with enthusiasm, they too must have been bored out of their gourds.

Sure enough, even though we didn’t have as near nice a car as the Buchanan’s or live in one of the biggest houses that overlooked the whole town, we had faster electric windows, or so the Buchanan’s thought.

Although I was much younger than all the participants involved in the electric window race, I was astonished at how gullible or sheltered the three of them were. Our car wasn’t made with electric windows, it wasn’t even an option, neither were seat belts in the “affordable” cars like ours in those days. The only kind of cars with that kind of luxury was the Caddies and Continentals.

Bobby hunched forward a tad, leaned his left forearm on the armrest and on “GO” he would reach over his lap with his right arm and turn the window crank moving only his wrist. A pretty impressive feat since I could barely roll the window up or down with both my hands.

No matter, we were the electric window race champions of the church parking lot! We had proved we had something they didn’t, we had much more than they had, it would just take a little more time to gain that wisdom. Nice car? Hummph!

The problem with caring about what other people might think about us in this life is that we ignore the fact that everyone has issues or problems and their own set of insecurities to deal with. Adults and children alike.

My sister and the youngest adopted Buchanan girl were the same age, imagine how jealous I was when my sister got invited to go swimming at the Buchanan’s house? I only knew of two families that had their very own built-in concrete swimming pool in town. One was a doctor who lived in the prestigious Bel-Air Estates and the Buchanan’s who’s house overlooked all of ours.

It looked like the Buchanan’s had it all, but in time we would begin to see the cracks in the Buchanan family canvas. Though they were prominent members of our church and Mrs. Buchanan was a regular singing solos, my siblings and me decided the Buchanan’s must be giving a lot of money to the church, otherwise no way they’d have let her sing as bad as she was.

We all got thumped by our dad’s big ole’ finger one time or another trying not to snicker in church and especially when Mrs. Buchanan sang. Sadly, we didn’t have to hear her sing for too much longer after that electric window race.

The oldest son Donald shot and killed Mrs. Buchanan… Last we heard he had died in prison.

That was one of many lessons I’ve got a front row seat for in life. Our old car and house weren’t fancy, my two brothers and me shared a 9×9 room, all six of us shared the shower.

My dad was a blue collar man and my mom’s job was to stay at home and take care of us. We had discipline and we had love, even then I knew I wouldn’t trade what I had for anything, not even a fancy house or car.

I didn’t realize at the time we were rich beyond my wildest dreams…

 

Linked to Hazel’s site at http://letmetelluastory.blogspot.com/2012/04/true-story-blog-party-week-5.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FwsBvD+

COURAGE PRIDE AND A FOOL

courage pride and a fool

I SHOULD HAVE LOOKED SO GOOD!!! image courtesy of photobucket.com

The freshly waxed snow skis were chattering on the hardened packed snow as they were racing down the hill at full speed. I was tucked down leaning forward to maximize the speed as I was headed toward the jump.

Regret settled within me before I became airborne, as my body was struggling for survival, my brain raced much faster than my body itself. When your brain starts asking panicked questions to yourself you know you’re in trouble.

“Why in the world would you go this fast on a jump you’ve never been on before”?!— “Are you completely insane”?!— “Have you completely lost your mind”?! These are just some of the questions I was asking myself…No response… That, of course, answered all the questions. I didn’t try to drag any answers out of myself, no use, I gave myself a declaration right before I landed on my head and shoulder, “YOU ARE A COMPLETE MORON”!!!

By the time a regained consciousness my friend and strangers had gathered all my gear that had scattered 100 yards down the slope, or so I’m told. They had drug my limp body from the landing site to save me from further harm as well as the following jumpers.

“Dude that was the gnarliest thing I’ve ever seen”! one of them said. Another snow ski samaritan was a younger lady, “Are you alright”? she asked with deep concern in her eyes. She actually looked like she was going to cry, I think she thought I was dead or messed up forever.

I started assuring everyone I was fine though I could barely talk. It would be several days recuperating from a nasty concussion until I could stand without wavering or holding onto something to keep myself from tipping over like a sawn tree in the forest.

My friend repeatedly said, “Dude, you looked like a professional, I thought you were going to make it”!–“You’re Crazy”!!!

I’ve come to realize there is a huge difference between “crazy” and  “stupid.” I’m not crazy, I’m just stupid sometimes. Do you think I’m being hard on myself? Did I forget to mention the jump had was about a 45 degree incline approach and the landing dropped on an about a 45 degree angle so that the speed would send me about 30′ high and about 40′ out conservatively estimating.

Still think I’m being a little tough on myself? Did I also forget to share with you it was the third or fourth time I’d ever snow skied? I can’t even blame it on my youth, I was 30 years old at the time.

I wonder how many of God’s chosen take their gifts given to them by God and squander them with lack of discipline and sometimes even reckless abandon. It’s one thing to enjoy the gifts and blessings from God, but it becomes a completely different matter when they are taken for granted and abused.

While I believe God wants us to enjoy our gifts, they are specifically designed to help and influence others for the glory of God. How many of us use our gifts to glorify God? How many of us use our gifts to glorify ourselves?

If one of my gifts is stupidity, eh, I mean courage, was I using self-control in dispensing one of the gifts that ultimately isn’t even mine?

We all have many different gifts, some similar others vastly different. What are some of your gifts? Do you use your’s more wisely than I use to use mine? I hope so…

I found out the hard way there is no honor in honoring ourselves. Peace and rest cannot be found in pride, it’s found in the love and understanding of God.

If we squander our gifts I think God takes all or part of them back according to His good will. My proof is the fact that I haven’t mustered the courage to go skiing since that accident…

The Bible says pride goeth before a fall, I must have had a lot of it.

Cause’ it was a long fall…

TWO WOLVES

two wolves

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Earlier this week my friend Bruce sent me video titled The Two Wolves Inside Me. Bruce knows me pretty well, not to insult him, but generally speaking you might say we’re cut from the same mold. (sorry Bruce, sometimes the truth hurts!)

The video clip hit me like a sledgehammer, I’m certain it hit him the same as well and that’s why he shared it with me. I’m not sure who wrote it, but the site is titled healthy wealthy wise.com.

In summary a grandfather is teaching his grandson about life, about how all of us have two sides to our personality or “The Two Wolves Inside Me.” All of the words that described the two different sides of what makes up all of us is what stood out to me from the video.

Those words used to describe the good side of our nature or the “good wolf” was joy, peace, love, hope, humility, and truth. I recognized some of those attributes in me at different times in my life. As I read those words I felt comfort and peace.

When the ugly side of our nature was being described I felt an immediate change in my spirit. I was recognizing and reliving the words that describe the polar opposite that is also possible and regrettably probable in our flesh.

Those words that described the bad wolf or the fallen side of our nature were; anger, envy, ego, greed, arrogance, resentment, lie, and false pride. I too recognized those traits used in my life. It doesn’t take a full moon to bring out the worst in people, just ask Little Red Riding Hood, or the Three Little Pigs for that matter.

I think it’s safe to say everyone has used some of the traits available in our flesh and could have been considered the infamous “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.” We have an instinct similar to other mammals, so what’s the difference between a good person and a bad person? What makes some of us strive to be different than the instinct we’re born with?

How a person thinks or believes will determine how we’ll ultimately act in our emotions. If someone believes that they’re descended from animals I think there may be a pretty good chance in times of difficulty they will act out in desperation for survival, just like a hungry wolf.

I marvel at the world who believes like this… Intellectually they pretty much buy into that theory of the evolutionary way of thinking. Yet the very people in human history that practiced it, you know, the “survival of the fittest” mantra that would describe some lives, can clearly be seen and agreed upon by all regardless of belief as the worst of human nature. The Hitlers, Stalins, Mao’s of the world.

At the same time all of us regardless of how we believe admire the selfless people in history who have sacrificed to make this world a better place. Even people who don’t believe in God recognize the heroic acts of people who acted above their flesh.

We marvel and wonder at those people who lived their lives contrary to animalistic instincts. The world in majority act like that hungry wolf, sometimes blatantly, sometimes in sheep’s clothing, but relying only on their instinct for survival.

The extreme minority of our world made up of the Christians understand that we aren’t animals. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation speaks clearly to the fact that we have souls, we are made in God’s image and with the power of the Creator in us can live above our fallen nature, instinct, or “bad wolf.”

We’re never going to achieve perfection on this earth, we will feel the two wolves inside us fighting for dominance of our spirit. The wonder of God’s creation is the free will He’s given to us to make choices based on our intellect, not instinct.

I’ll pose the same question the grandson did to his grandfather to you the reader, “Which wolf will win the battle inside you”? Bearing in mind the battle is for your eternal resting place determined here in this flesh.

If you haven’t watched the video we should all still know the answer…

The one we choose to feed…

THE MONKEES

CLICK ABOVE TO SEE THE MONKEES INTRO TO THEIR TV SHOW you’ll have to stop it after it’s finished, all I could find was this ’66’ tv show openers.

the monkees

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I was definitely one of those kids who was in a hurry to grow up. In hindsight, I think there might have been several contributing factors that may have helped form that early mindset.

First of all, I was the youngest in our family and it seemed everyone got to do everything before me. I wanted to hang with my older siblings and their friends because they were having all the fun. As I recall no one wanted their pesky, loud-mouthed, smart alec little brother hanging out with them.

Another reason for my “wishing my life away” was what I perceived adult life would be like. If I had to pin it down to one reason or place the blame on one influence from my childhood, I’d have to say it’s the fault of the TV series the Monkees. Sure they seemed innocent enough, but they were stealing childhoods like a fox stealing chickens from the hen house!

You could say they were taking candy from babies!

I remember as a kid watching the intro to the TV show thinking to myself, “Man, those guys got it made”!–“They’re having more fun than anybody in the world”!

The Monkees characters were Mickey, Peter, Mike, and Davy. Davy was usually the boys least favorite characters while he was almost always the girls favorite. The four of them were depicted living their lives at the beach, they had surfboards, although I never saw any of them use one.

One of the Monkees actually rode his bicycle into the ocean, what kid wouldn’t love to do that? They had a cool specialty muscle car, I think a modified Pontiac equipped with all the chrome. One of the scenes shows the Monkees riding mini-motorcycles around the inside of a recording studio.

As a lad, the muscles in my lower back would tickle with the excitement and anticipation looking forward to the time in my life when I could live my life like the Monkees. That never happened… I never rode my bicycle into the ocean, I never rode a motorcycle around a recording studio. I can say I’ve had a few muscle cars.

At the ending of the intro, as the show is introducing the stars of the Monkees, it shows them and their names flash below them. The writers intentionally flash Peter’s name under all three of the others stars shots collectively. After the first misname Peter’s angry, the second mishap he’s visibly upset, finally after the third time Peter is reduced to fake crying.

They end the song and intro with Peter and finally his correct name as he’s smiling with his eyes closed smelling a flower. I’ve done that too… I’ve been angry, in fact that would be a good word to summarize my early adult years. I’ve been disappointed like Peter was the second time they got his name wrong. Disappointment is a reality for everyone in this life to one degree or another.

Like the third  time Peter was mislabeled and crying, I’ve been there too… I never thought much of Peter smelling that flower as a kid, my mind was too busy creating the mental picture of me living the other more exciting parts of that Monkees intro.

I thank God for the innocence or desire to still dream and look forward to my future with anticipation. I think we all should. I believe God designed us to strive for something more, not necessarily the things of youth, but the desires set in our hearts by Him.

Oddly enough as I was writing the last paragraph an old song by the Monkees came on the satellite radio I’m listening to as I write. I’ll use the words of that song as an inspiration to help remind all of us that the future has hope. With God all things are possible, we just have to take action.

“Take the last train to Clarksville”-

“I’ll be waitin’ at the station”

If you’re willing to step out of your comfort level, I’ll meet you there…

Who knows, maybe we can even ride our bikes into the ocean…