Plastic Bags

Plastic Bagsplastic bags

Walking our dog after the rain had swept through I noticed, caught in the shrubs along the drainage ditch plastic shopping bags caught in their branches.  Looking more closely I realized that most of them had been there for some time, dirty, tattered, deteriorating from sun, mud, wind and rain.  They have no value.

Later in the day after paying for my purchase the sales clerk placed in another plastic bag not unlike those along the ditch back. That bag placed on the seat of my car continued to serve a purpose.  That bag contained something important and was needed until the contents were safely home.

With a new year has come the ever renewed resolution to take better care of our bodies.  In some ways our bodies are like those plastic bags.  Their real value is not in the bag but in what they contain.  Our bodies are NOT us.  Our bodies DO serve the purpose of containing “us”, holding us, keeping us alive in this world and able to do what we were put here to do.

Sooner or later, these bodies fulfill their responsibility and are set aside.  We call this death, passing away, or just “passing”.  We may spend a moment looking at them but then they begin the same journey as those abandoned bags along the bank.

Resolutions to work on our bodies are important.  But infinitely more important is the care of our souls, the contents of “the bag”.  Feed the body.  Feed the soul.

Fear

“What happened?”

I picked myself up off the ground. Everything seemed to still work but how on earth did I wind up face down, arm bleeding? My brother Marvin told me that after I had given Apache his carrot, while I was walking back to the gate, he just turned and ran over me. I never saw it coming.

Apache was the biggest horse I ever had. He was 16 ½ hands tall and easily weighed 1200 pounds. I was 13 years old and a runt.

The day after he ran over me I sat on the fence watching Apache. I had a lead in my hand and I knew what I had to do. I had to walk out there, put a lead on Apache and bring him in so I could ride him. What good is a horse if you can’t ride him?

But I wondered, what if he ran at me again and tried to kill me. What would I do?

I must have sat there a half hour, my heart in my throat. Finally, slowly at first, then with firmer steps I walked toward Apache with a peace offering, a ripe red apple in my outstretched left hand. In my right hand, behind my back I firmly held a baseball bat. I had decided that while I hoped for the best I had to be prepared for the worst. The worst never happened.

Fear. What will happen if the government shuts down, my 401k tanks, I lose my job, I get sick… We all know this scenario. “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34)

My greatest fear at thirteen, being run over by that huge horse, never came about. Today our world seems to run on fear. Fear of the shutdown, fear of war, fear of a lack of something or of someone. Everyone is afraid of something.

I didn’t know God well back when Apache ran over me but God was surely with me. Perhaps you don’t feel particularly close to God right now. But God knows you and God loves you just as you are. What are you afraid of? God knows just what you need. Ask Him. Thank Him.

Bullies

Bullies

stop-bully-logoRandy Jones (not his real name) was a bully. I was scared. I was too young to remember what he said. I can’t see him in my mind but I remember my fear and it was real. I was not very close to my big brothers who were six and seven years older than me. I remember that when I came home I was afraid and crying. They asked what was wrong and I told them. They smiled and said, “We’ll take care of Randy Jones. Don’t you worry little brother.” I never saw Randy Jones again. I never felt afraid again when I walked by Randy’s house.
My brothers had loved me but until that moment I don’t think I knew it.
The One who made us, the One who created this beautiful world for us, the One who paid the ultimate penalty in our place loves us, loves us beyond words. Few of us, on a daily basis walk around letting that knowledge effect us in a way that makes a real difference in our lives.
I know bullies are a problem today. As an adult I have been bullied by those who had power over me. When I asked others for help it didn’t come.
I think at some time in our lives everyone gets bullied or manipulated by someone who has power over them. Being bullied can leave you feeling helpless and alone, uncared for, unloved, unwanted. I know. As an adult the bullying behavior toward me continued for more than a year. During that time life lost some of its luster for me. But because of that bully, I spent more and more time on my knees before God. Time and again I found reassurance in Scripture. The book of Psalms was particularly helpful.
“God stands up for his people, God holds the hands of his people.” (Psalm 135:14)
Psalm 18, 37, and 91 are three of my favorites. “God, you’re my refuge, I trust in you and I’m safe!” (Psalm 91:2)
During my year of being bullied I often wondered why it was continuing. What I failed to notice was that little by little, prayer by prayer, trusting God, I was getting closer to God and stronger in faith. The one who bullied me is gone. Like Randy Jones, I have no idea where he is. My Father loves me and He took care of it. He did it even better than my brothers because He left me stronger and better.
God loves you. He waits for you to come to Him.