PA RUM PA PUM PUM

Repost from December 2010 edited.

While I enjoy classical Christian songs, there’s a secular one that speaks to my heart too; “The Little Drummer Boy.” My Christmas isn’t complete until I’ve heard that simple song with the Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum. My favorite is version is by Bob Seger.

image courtesy of youtube.com

I’ve heard that song my whole life. When I was younger I listened to the words without hearing them. About five years ago, after listening to that song my whole life, I finally “heard” the words to that song.

Although knowing the words in my brain, they couldn’t make their way through the denseness down into my heart. When they finally did, that’s when I learned to love that song.

Not that the song was a true story, but the idea of God showing His approval to his children finally got traction in my heart.

Like that little drummer boy we have nothing to offer God. We only have to give Him what He’s given us first. Like the Psalmist understood, (paraphrase) “What is it that I can give to you, God? All things come from your hand.”

I have nothing– I am nothing– All I am is because of God’s gift to me. The ultimate Christmas present–The only perfect sacrifice to cover our sins permanently, His son Jesus Christ, whom He allowed to suffer on our behalf so that He would be able to look upon us, even with our sin and offer this perfect gift. The gift of eternal life.

As if that weren’t enough, He also gave each and every one of us something else… Another gift. The things we do. The things we have a talent or passion for. I have a drum set. I even have a guitar. I have no illusions, that gift He gave the little drummer boy he didn’t give me.

For those of us that belong to God understand these gifts aren’t ours, they belong to God. When we use them to bring Him honor we find peace and joy beyond our flesh. We live in a spiritual peace that surpasses human comprehension.

Since the gifts we have are actually intellectual property of the Creator of the cosmos, they are given with a responsibility.We have a duty to use them in such a way that shows the greatness of the One who provided them.

The last verse of that song is what I finally heard after a lifetime of listening to it. “Then He smiled at me Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum, me and my drum.”

The God of all creation smiling as we use the gifts He blessed us with. I can’t imagine anything better.

This is one of the gifts He’s given me, may I honor Him with it. May He smile on me and my family as we try to bring Him honor with what belongs to Him.

This Christmas may we all use whatever gifts He’s blessed us with.

May we bring a smile to His Holy Face…

YOU CAN’T OUTRUN YOUR PAST

I can’t say for sure when I first heard the old adage, but it was early on. It was one of those sayings that sticks in your head. “You can’t outrun your past,” I heard someone say. Being naturally contrary, I set out to prove them wrong.

The most reckless of days are fading in my memory like paint in the Arizona desert. I’m okay with it. There are some things I’ve done I really don’t want to remember.

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With ignorant choices beginning to fade like a vapor, it sometimes feels like I’ve outrun my past. But then something happens that jogs my memory. The painful side of free will returns with a vengeance.

About a hundred feet from the airport screening area I realized I forgot to leave my knife at home. I took off back to the far, far away long-term economy parking with loping strides.

I ran through the massive airport like O.J. Simpson before his fall from grace. My lower back was reminding me of the surgery it had earlier this year.

By the time I got to my truck, that was a quarter-mile from the tram to stash my switch blade, I was huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf.

I’m in fairly good shape, but it’s been 40 plus years since I ran a marathon as a kid. Not to mention I wasn’t pacing myself.

I was about half way back to the tram after stashing my knife when, without warning, my left calf tore. The first thing that flooded my mind was the ridiculous weight that tore it the first time.

That was just the beginning of the plethora of my life’s re-runs that began to play without the luxury of an off switch.

I hobbled toward the tram – pulling my left leg that looked like it weighed a hundred pounds. As I one-legged it for the tram I saw one of the tram cars whiz out toward the terminals. I knew I had three minutes to get to the high-rise people mover before the next one left.

I magically forgot about my searing back pain as I tried to jog with a torn muscle, my left heel taking the brunt of the abuse.

Everybody makes mistakes – guys more than girls in majority. Forgiveness is sweet. Pure forgiveness I don’t think we’ll fully grasp this side of heaven. I’m humbled and grateful for forgiveness. I’ve got extra portions.

As supernatural as Divine forgiveness is, it doesn’t change the past. And time machines only exist in the movies and funny papers.

It’s a wise person that learns from their mistakes. And makes less of them as time and life goes on.

Without our memories, some of us would touch the hot pot on the stove all the days of our lives.

“Blessed are those who believe and have not seen.”

After days of hobbling, icing, Ibuprofen, and stripping the nasty knot in my leg, it dawned on me how apropos the lesson. I thought of the old adage, “You can’t outrun your past.” Of course I got a reminder… while I was running.

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

Repost from November 2010

I grew up listening to old Hymnal songs in a conservative Baptist setting. I didn’t do too much in the way of singing. Sometimes when I did sing it was usually done out of sheer boredom.

I heard the songs so often during my formative years that sometimes even now at this age, I wake up with one of those old traditional Hymns stuck in my head. You might remember some of them, like Amazing Grace, Just As I Am, How Great Thou Art?

Last Thursday I heard one of those old Hymns I hadn’t heard in decades. The song is titled It Is Well With My Soul.

I may have heard the history of the song sometime in my life because the author of the song’s name sounded familiar. That sort of history doesn’t matter too much to a bored kid. The words of the song, however, would remain in that kid’s mind and heart forever.

The song was written by Horatio G. Spafford. Spafford lost his son at four years of age. Shortly thereafter, the successful attorney lost the majority of his wealth in a real estate investment due to the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

Two years later Spafford planned a trip for his family to visit Europe. A business issue required he be delayed from his trip. Spafford sent his wife and four daughters ahead planning to follow a few days in arrears.

The ship his family was traveling on collided with an English vessel and disappeared below the surface of the water within minutes. Spafford’s wife was the only family survivor. After being taken to safety, she cabled her husband with only two words. The words he read were, “Saved alone.”

I can’t imagine the dreadful voyage navigating the Atlantic on his way to recapture his only remaining family member.

The amazing part of that journey is when close to where he lost his remaining children, Safford penned the song that multiple millions of people would hear and sing over the next almost 140 years and certainly beyond.

Here is the first verse:

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

It is well with my soul

image courtesy of it’s like this. org

I was reminded of the history behind this song at my wife’s friend Candy’s funeral. Candy was an amazing person, blessed by God with the gift of teaching, compassion and mercy, just to name a few.

I’m not sure who chose this song to be sung at her funeral, but I know her husband Steve, like Horatio Spafford, echos the words given by God to soothe his soul.

To know with confidence the ones taken by God are in a better place is the reason we can be well in spirit even as we suffer in this flesh.

I thought of difficult times in my life. My soul squirms, dodges, and weaves, trying to bear up under the flesh. Occasionally God will use events in my life like the example of Steve and Candy to remind me, “Whatever my lot, He has taught me to say, it is well with my soul.”

During those most difficult times, I feel the hand of God lift me up with one hand and cover me like a small bird with His other.

“It is well with my soul.” Those words have been with me my whole life. As God guides me through this life, may He give me the strength to honor Him under all circumstances.

May God give me the will to say every day, including the one He chooses to take me home,

“It is well, it is well, with my soul”…

TWAS THE DAY …

Twas the day after Thanksgiving and out in the garage
Were the Christmas boxes stuffed behind my old Dodge
I began to unpack them yet again with dread
There were no sugar plums dancing around in my head

I knew the massive fake tree would test my patience
Along with my poor patched up back’s endurance
Each box has gotta weigh at least a hundred pounds
No holiday cheer here, just my straining and grunting sounds

It takes half a day to get the tree up and in place
And there’s always a short in the lights to trace
That’s when I make my first trip to the hardware store
I’ve learned the hard way that there will be more

With the heavy part over, now comes the dangerous part
By that time I have the same attitude and the Grinch’s heart
With the tall extension ladder leaned against the wall
It’s carefully and ever so slowly up the rungs I crawl

I wince and am quickly reminded that I have bad knees
Till a thorn sinks deep into me from the bougainvillea trees
The neighbors stop by, I keep working till they feel ill at ease
When I’m putting up lights I’m never in the mood to shoot the breeze

The lights were working just fine when I put them away last year
How a lot of them don’t work from year to year is never clear
So it’s down the ladder and back in my truck
They’ll still have my color if I have any luck

With the lights finally done it’s on to the yard
It’s a lot lighter but still way too hard
The trees are fairly easy, but not so with the deer
Takes a genius to put them together, or darn near

As it is with the lights so it is with the extension cord
How they always go missing drives me outta my gourd
So it’s back yet again to the hardware store
They know me by name, smile and hold the door

sometimes the gift is the gratification from the work

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment
And forget even these gifts are heaven sent
We gaze at the lights as the sun goes down
And my weak flesh lets go of the frown

It’s a gift to have a task at hand
A wise person begins to understand
This is a blessed and glorious season
And the gift of God and His Son is the reason

THE A GROUP

The airline I frequently use has three boarding groups; the A’s, B’s, and the C’s. The young man was loitering in the front of the line of the A group long before the boarding call.

image courtesy of Richmond.com

I’ve been in the front of the line or the A group more than a few times. It’s reserved for the person that is the most unorganized, has a last minute emergency, or spends the most money, or all the above.

I landed a seat right by the gateway that gave me an up-close look at the young man at the front of the A-line. You had to look closely to see him, ’cause he was wearing all sorts of distractions.

He had a dark, but thin, mustache and goatee on his innocent young face. He looked like he could have been a relative of Johnny Depp… but he didn’t dress like it.

The man’s mud-colored boots were the cowboy kind. Not the sharp-toed stab-the-stirrup kind of boot. They were the “Roper” kind of shoe wear that let everybody know that he was country.

His jeans were faded but without holes. The legs crinkled around the boots and hung halfway down the wooden two-inch heels. You couldn’t seem much of his button up shirt that was hidden by his midnight blue zip-up jacket covering it.

The jacket had patches all over it, but the biggest and most prominent ones were the famous logo for NASCAR on both sides of the zipper, about chest high. The young man’s bandana worn like a tight scarf matched the color of his NASCAR jacket, a few brown locks peeked out from underneath in the back.

His cowboy hat was white, or it used to be. It was more of a cream color with hints of yellow from the sweat. It was a real cowboy hat, not the ten-gallon type, but the kind with the front and back brim curled down to protect the neck and face from the sun.

I notice characters. But too often I prematurely judge them.

There are plenty of places in the world where the young man probably wouldn’t stand out in the crowd – like a NASCAR race.

It’s a fallen human nature that begins to judge without thinking. That’s when we have a lapse in wisdom.

When they called the A boarding group the kid just stood in the way. By the time they got to my group I had to step around the kid. I didn’t say anything, but I was perturbed. I was in my seat by the time the kid and his C group boarded.

Nothing worse than a middle-aged person who’s been shown mercy and grace not using it on others.

Before I felt bad for the kid I felt bad about myself. Who is a dude with hair too long, that wears T-shirts with either workout or beach logos, to point an invisible finger?

Regret and repentance followed. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Being in the A group that really counts is a matter of grace.