Choose?

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Entering Our Golden Years,

We May Find That

The Golden Hue is Actually

Orange Rust,

and We Are All

Rusted Out,

Done In,

Kaputt,

Until The Spirit

Renews Us

For Another Day

of Service.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

John 17:3

[Referring to himself in the third person, Jesus prays:] Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Words of Grace For Today

Sophie was old and tired, worn right out, leaking where leaking definitely should not happen. Through the years so many different people had taken her out to the most remote places, far away places, beautiful places in the wonderful creation of God, and used her and abused her, and then dragged her back home and left her and ignored her until the next time they wanted to drag her out again. Then she would be sold to others who would do the same to her, over and over. She could barely stand up right anymore. It’s as if someone had taken her spring right out of her step, if she had had a step left at all. While she had been all cut up to fit someone’s fantasy, it had not worked too well. Most of all that pesty leak grew into a big leak, and a second started, and her pretty skin started to turn black, oozing with stink.

Gillis was smaller than Sophie, but his history was pretty much the same, though more extreme. He’d been jacked all around, dragged through all kinds of mud, out into the boonies far from civilization, and there used and abused, smeared with mud, gunk, and all kinds of unspeakables. Lucky for Gillis, though he too was worn right out and had started to leak where leaks should not happen, his did not progress to the stinking, oozing stage that Sophie’s had.

Both Gillis and Sophie came to the hermitage in the meadow, bought to give them their freedom, to be fixed up well for their last years. In the peaceful surroundings, with much time, soothing talk, hard work using the tools of a counsellor and healer-fixer-whatnot, at least Gillis became something. First his leak was dealt with, cured and healed with barely a scar left. Then he was treated and cured and fixed up from the inside out, given a new look, if not new, at least respectable. Even his water works were fixed and started to flow as they should.

Sophie sat, waiting her turn, her leaks bandaged up for the time being, the black oozing stopped so that more damage would not take her down. Some of her parts that she could not use were transplanted into Gillis to give him new life. When her time came, she would get brand new organs, parts and pieces until she, too, could go out, if not new, then respectably providing for at least a few people.

Moses puts before the people, after reminding them of the wondrous works of God to bring them to where they are, alive and free, ready to enter the Promised Land, that they have a choice: to serve God who has provided for them and their ancestors following God’s Law provided to them, or to turn to other gods, and other ways of living, cursed ways. They get to choose: blessings or curses.

We, too, even today, are free to choose to either serve God and enjoy blessings unending or to turn to other gods and to serve the Devil in all his many guises, bringing curses down upon us and ours.

We have free choice.

Jesus comes to save us from our choices to turn from God, to renew for us the possiblities to choose God, and to follow God’s Law, updated as it needed to be, from the many hundreds of thousand of words to a concise comprehensible ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself, loving especially your enemy.’ Of course this Law, Jesus’ law taking into it all the Law of Moses and all the commentaries and guides provided to it, is just as impossible for us to keep.

We with free choice, can only ‘choose’ to serve God and keep God’s Law, when the Holy Spirit brings us to so choose and live. A bit of a paradox: free but not able to be free. Martin Luther held it to be single predestination: We can fully choose to turn from God, but only God can and does save us.

This is life, and we have, by the blessing poured over us by the Holy Spirit and the gift of renewed free choice, the ability to choose to ‘try’ to serve God.

Sophie and Gillis, part of God’s good creation and having brought great joy to so many people, now entering their last years of useful life, have no such choice. They are, as one might suspect, merely recreational vehicles, camper trailers, small campers 14’ and 12’ respectively, both built in the 70’s and now near 50 years old. People have used and abused them to camp in. Some with some respect for the camper and creation that the camper made them able to visit and overnight in, some not with tremendous abuse of camper and creation.

Let us give God thanks, this day again, for all that God has made us to be, even if we are old and worn and have sprung leaks and, and, and ….

It’s another day in God’s Promised Land, the wonders always before us, the blessings flowing freely over us, the work never ending.

Purpose?

Friday, June 24, 2022

There’s lots of weeds in life to be caught by, and lots of opportunity to share the sunset, and everything else in life with those in need.

Psalm 19:8

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes.

Luke 3:10-11

The crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’

Words of Grace For Today

We are born with pretty much empty minds, which get filled with all we take in.

So we ask many people: how do we live well?

That is part of being human.

God does not leave us without any guidance. Sometimes that guidance is abused by others to steal life from us and many other people. Sometimes that guidance is misunderstood and following it gets us further from a good life than we were earlier. Mostly God’s precepts teach us how to live well, bring joy to our hearts, and clarity to our eyes and minds.

Still we must often ask: Lord what then must we do?

The beginning of enjoying a good life is to learn to share everything and whatever little one has, trusting that others will share with you when you are in need.

Life rarely works out that way, but being those who gladly, generously, and readily give to others in need starts by making one’s own life closer to what God intended, and it provides to others so that they can live. It’s hard to live well if you cannot even live.

And that’s the point. There’s always enough for everyone to live well, as long as those with more than enough are more than ready to share.

Which we humans rarely are.

So God keeps reminding us, that’s the purpose of life.

Today’s just another opportunity to learn how good it is to live in God’s purpose for life.

No other gods?

Monday, June 20, 2022

God, Above All Else, Reflected in Our Lives,

Gets Tangled in Our ‘Reeds & Weeds’

Exodus 20:3

You shall have no other gods before me.

John 6:68-69

Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

Words of Grace For Today

It’s all too easy to say, ‘Yes, I have God before all other gods!’ And then run off to serve the requirements and demands of life as we have chosen to put together for ourselves of those promoted or sloughed off on or left for the dregs by this society. Still we choose a life, and it’s demands are ‘other gods’ to us, taking our lives and life energies and time, so that we barely have anything left for God.

But we still say, ‘I have no other gods before God!’

Everyone agrees with us, because they do the same deceptive dance.

This civilization, it can be argued, requires this of us. God will have to make do. So we choose this civilization that is more barbaric behind the scenes, behind closed doors, in dark alleys, and all too often in the open bright of the day for all to see. Then we are aghast at the barbarism displayed. We demand better gun control. We demand better care in senior’s homes. We demand more housing for the homeless. We demand fairer taxes. We demand sanctions against the unwarranted aggressors.

There is nothing we are able to do, because we are not willing to pay the price of eliminating all barbarism, for it would take too much from us.

Which, if the cost would be nuclear bombs going off in North America near cities and military bases, I guess I’m not quite willing to pay that price either (since I live near the biggest air base in Canada).

So how can we honestly, wholeheartedly, say with Peter, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

How can we honestly and wholeheartedly follow the first commandment, putting God before all else, and not allowing anything else to gain the stature of a god in our lives?

We cannot.

Thank God, God knows this long before we figure it out.

God planned before time for this, too.

God forgives, cleanses, and renews us, and sends us out to tell of God’s great mercy and bountiful grace that saves us again and again from ourselves and all evil … and God gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us so that we can at least strive and somewhat have no other gods before God, and know that only Jesus has the words of eternal life. So we turn again, to Jesus, in prayer begging for forgiveness and life, and in thanks for the promise of life abundant.

Just another day, God watching our every thought, cheering us on to blessed living sharing God’s wonders with all people.

Are we up for it?

24 Hours, Ours Again

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Before the Sun Sets,

What Will We

Be and Do

These Hours of Ours?

Isaiah 2:4

He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

Luke 3:14

Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’

Words of Grace For Today

God chose to make a life for us, a life filled with peace, grace and love for all people.

We’ve turned it into an entirely different thing; it’s cruel, short, and disappointing. Instead of loving all people, we’ve learned to exert our will over others. Conflicts dominate couples, families, churches, cities, countries and the world.

Isaiah has seen it all. Actually Isaiah is more than one person of more than one generation, so ‘he’ has seen it all through multiple generations, from before Israel was conquered and exiled to Bablylon, during the exile when most of the leaders were in Babylon, and when the exiles return to rebuild Israel. Isaiah starts early on with the vision of God’s justice prevailing, so that, even as Israel is under attack by it’s more powerful neighbours, war will not exist any more.

It’s quite the hope-filled vision, one that we can easily claim as our own still today. We are still caught in the turmoil, suffering, and destruction of conflicts. Evil seems to win at every turn, and the best people suffer injustices they do not deserve. Canada, so proud, polite, and reserved as it may have a reputation of being, is no exception. Evil abounds, corruption prevails, the unjust accumulate more and more … and more and more people suffer trying to live on less, many without enough to subsist on.

Jesus comes promising God’s future is now. People want to see that play out in their daily lives. First they want the Roman rulers to give them independence. Then they want the religious leaders to be replaced with truly faithful priests. And they want prosperity for all people.

So we today would still wish for ourselves. The names of rulers and corrupt religious leaders and evil-doers have changed but the ‘game’ of this cruel, short, and disappointing life are pretty much still the same.

Jesus’ promise, though, is not to bring all that to be. Instead, Jesus leads people to a reform that starts within.

For example, there will still be soldiers. The will be just, not corrupted, and be true peace-keepers.

All our roles in life will be similarly reformed from within. Instead of holding our own interests first, we will celebrate God’s blessings by sharing the basics of life with everyone, ensuring that all people more than subsist. All people will live abundant lives, able to share God’s blessings with their neighbours.

Today, how is the Holy Spirit reaching into our lives to reform our hearts to see not the cruel, short, and disappointments of life, but God’s abundant blessings freely showered on us all?

Will we spend today again chasing after ‘our fair share’ of the limited resources of earth and life? OR

Will we remember all we have is free gift from God and be ready and eager to share these blessings with everyone in need?

Today. It’s just 24 hours. Everything happens within 24 hours. Today is ours to do with as we choose. What will we choose to be and do in these hours?

Choose, Again!

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The Spirit Guides Us

Each New Morning, Noon, and Night

To the Truth

Of God’s Love for Us

1 Samuel 2:7

The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts.

James 2:1

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?

Words of Grace For Today

While the rich continue to exert a ghastly disproportionate carbon footprint on the environment that everyone needs to sustain life …

While nepotism is exercised openly and in secret the world around usually as a means to ‘buy’ other people’s support and favour …

While last year’s extreme weather events become more normal this year (for every year of the previous decade it seems, and cumulatively so that this year’s normal is really extreme!) resulting in drought, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drechos, wildfires, ice storms, heat domes, and all kinds of rare weather events that challenge our way of living …

While so many people seek to be exalted in so many different ways, always at the cost of someone else’s basic living …

While today is a gift of 24 hours …

How do we choose to live?

We can jump right out there and compete with everyone in our way while we struggle to get all we want out of life (whatever that may be, and often we have no clue about what we are striving so hard for … even when we name it with words like money, honour, stability, security …).

Or

We can disengage and justify ourselves as living outside the way the world works, self-righteously declaring that we are and/or have it better than everyone else.

OR

We can listen to the Holy Spirit guiding us towards the Truth about us, life, and all creation. Often we say that people cannot bear all the Truth all at once, so we receive glimpses of it through our lives. That may be. Yet Truth is not that hard to come by and not that hard to grasp, if one is willing to face the implications. The implications are drastic to us who have ‘made our way up in the world.’ The Truth reveals that what we think we have accomplished is actually useless and futile. The Truth has less drastic implications for those who subsist. For them it offers what they have never had possible through their own efforts, life abundant. None of us can achieve it through our efforts, it’s that the poor have less opportunity to delude themselves into thinking they have or can achieve it.

The Truth is God created us, filled us with free will to choose to love, and when we choose to not love all of creation, God comes to forgive us, redeem us, renew us, and restore our freedom to choose to love … or to not love. God gives us a free gift, again and again, abundant life, filled with all the love and all the security that is possible on this good earth.

So how do we want to proceed through these next 24 hours?

Life abundant, or futile scrambling and struggling?

Every day God gives us the choice, again.

Small gods or …?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

God Created It All,

The Good,

The Bad,

The Ugly.

Which Are We Going To Be Today?

1 Chronicles 29:11

Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

1 Timothy 2:5-6

For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all — this was attested at the right time.

Words of Grace For Today

Today, as in many times before, most people pick and choose what they accept as ‘god’ for themselves. The other options in other times is for people to accept blindly what others have chosen to declare as ‘god’ for others (usually in order to control them better, and rarely to provide a better life for people), or people can take all that others say about ‘god’ and just declare they refuse to accept any of it.

Most everyone claims that, with their choice of ‘god’s’ attributes, they worship the one, true ‘god’, and all other people are just plain wrong in their false beliefs. Through history this has gotten more wars started, people killed, and the attributes claimed for ‘god’ to be wholly undermined by the people’s thoughts, words, and deeds.

When we start with the declarations like 1 Chronicles provides: Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all then what should, and at best, follows, is our humble confession that we simply cannot know God enough to choose God’s attributes at all. It’s not only above our pay grade, the kind of knowledge that such choices require belong to a completely different kind of existence that begins outside of creation itself.

And we are mere creatures in this, God’s creation.

So how can we know anything about God at all?

Only as God chooses to reveal God’s attributes and attitudes towards us, can we know anything about God at all.

Jesus, as fully God, born as a full human, living and ministering to all kinds of people (especially the poor, the ill, and the outcasts), dying on a cross crucified on false charges (brought by the religious leaders of the day), being buried in a rock tomb, and rising from the dead on the third day, … Jesus is God’s clearest revelation to us: God loves us, sacrifices everything to let us know that we do not need to sacrifice others, certainly not to please God, and that we are forgiven, as are our enemies and our lives are given to us so that we can be God’s love and forgiveness for all other people.

Now that’s a good beginning to giving God attributes that are fitting.

It is a beginning which places God for us, and beyond our control, and involved in our lives, and wishing and doing everything possible to give us the ability to love and live and choose to:

1) love God above all else

2) love our neighbours

3) love ourselves

4) love even our enemies,

and to do so humbly.

The problem we all run into when we choose ‘god’s’ attributes to accept is that our ‘god’ ends up to be a small ‘god’, a ‘god’ that can do only what we want ‘god’ to do.

Small ‘gods’ lead us right to the Devil’s doorstep, and fuel great arguments for refusing to accept that God even exists. Everyone’s lives would be so much better if we could all refuse to accept all small ‘gods’, and begin each day with a similar declaration as in Chronicles.

In short it might go like this: God is greater than anything I can know. I am just clay enlivened by God’s spirit. God’s first and foremost attitude towards me, and all people, is love. God asks first and foremost that I love God, all people, and even myself. Thank you, God, for everything that gives me life. Now there’s a day to live, work to do, gracious things to say, people to love, forgiveness to beg for, and courage to be Christ’s voice, feet, and hands for all people. Never a slow day, thank you, God, for everything.

Well, what are we waiting for. Sun is up. Day is begun. Onward into the fray.

Love always leaves us feeling a bit frayed. It’s not cheap. It like life is precious.

Fire!?

Monday, May 23, 2022

This Way Is Blocked.

How To Break Through?

Zechariah 13:9

And I will put this third into the fire, refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.
They will call on my name, and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’

1 Peter 1:6-7

In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Words of Grace For Today

This world does provide an ample sample of suffering for anyone who chooses to live ‘eyes wide open’. While some may say it is ‘now for a little while’, the suffering never seems anything like ‘little’ to those who are caught in it.

The image often referred to in scripture, as in these two passages, is that through our suffering our faith is refined, and it becomes more precious. This may be a great philosophical perspective on other’s suffering, though I’m not sure it helps those who suffer now. Yet it is repeated, and repeated, and repeated … as if the repetition would help or that the writers and thinkers just cannot come up with something more helpful.

Maybe there is nothing helpful!

That would, of course, depend on one’s perspective of towards what end, what goal, what value, those who suffer will be helped.

If the end, goal, and value is to not suffer, then there seems (as history well attests to what we humans are capable and eager to do to others) to be no shortage or end to suffering.

What if the end, the goal, and the value is something else than ending suffering?!

What if it the end, goal and value is how one lives, when one is in the midst of suffering, when one is free from suffering, and in fact in all circumstances of life?

Say (given the scriptural witness to this) that the end, goal and value is that we humans live in a love with God, and therefore we love all people, even our enemies and ourselves (which is usually the most difficult kind of love, since we know how little we deserve love.)

This first long weekend of the summer the crowds returned to the random camping area, first dribbling in on Wednesday already to secure a campsite for themselves and their group, most often a group using at least 2 camping units and numerous tents, trucks, cars, and noisy cycles, quads and side-by-sides. By Friday night all but the chilly spots along the lake (all well within 30 metres of the water) were overfilled, most bursting with drink, drugs, and loud music though a few had children and kept a quieter presence.

My nights’ sleep was more than once disrupted by the throbbing base of a piece of ‘music’ that spoke to a visceral, instinctual encounter with nature (having nothing to do with the peaceful nature that surrounds this lake until it is so disrupted by humans trying to escape reality.)

Saturday the kicker came. I made my usual walk along the high road and immediately saw something was wrong. A camping unit sat in the trees where no vehicle had ever sat before. A family had moved in two shorter, older campers, parked them on and on each side of the road easement that forms the border between crown and private land. The easement is only a trail passable by careful off road driving of something more robust than a 4×4 truck. They camped on each side and across the road that is the only way to bring in a camping unit to this end of the random camping area and into the private land where I rent and camp. There is another lower, closer to the lake roadway, with tight turns, many roots and holes where stumps have been removed that exits in the lake side of the random camping area. There everyone sees me coming and going, and it’s impossible to bring water in and out since the rough road spills more water than not. In other words they were blocking my roadway out and back in.

The father said they were not completely set up yet, claimed they (with weed and alcohol in hand) that they wanted to camp away from the noise and partying of the other campers because of the children with them, and refused to consider moving to other established camping sites that were still available where they could fit both their campers.

The threats voiced towards me, the belligerence and profanity, the open threats, and the orders to leave belied … well it belied a fear in them. And an animal that is caught in fear can be unpredictable and destructive. I could well be caught in their unpredictable violence that certainly more than bubbled to the surface of one young man.

I returned a second time later, after continuing to work on the writing due that evening, as I had been before this unwelcomed surprise. I asked how long they would be there. The young man, bursting with profanity and incomprehensible challenges, came so close to striking me that I was shocked. Another man, broken with age, a long grey beard, challenged me as well. Because neither would engage in a meaningful exchange of words I turned to the father who had come around one of the campers to join the ‘not conversation’ and said they would be there until tomorrow.

Tomorrow has come and gone and they camp still there in the way, promising to vacate the roadway if I need to use it, but blocking it from all practical use.

The real threat they pose to me is, since they can see when I come and go, they and others have clear opportunity to come up to my camp and ransack it or sabotage pieces of essential equipment, loaned to me to help me survive year around here, or worse.

How to put an end to this?!

Remove them from the face of the earth? That method has been tried so often in history and the results are ugly and never successful, or if they appear to be successful the backlash is worse than than the problem one sought to solve.

Ignore them and let them block my roadway, and the roadway for others. Another family came in last night to a site along that lower, lakeside road … and busted up the awning on a tree. The road is not wide enough, the turns too tight, and the holes tip a camper into trees one is trying to avoid. Ignoring them campers blocking the roadway is a passable solution, and really the only option for now. The danger is that they will stay with whole summer, or that others will move in when they leave, and the block will continue, and the danger that comes with it.

Or I can reframe my mind about what constitutes a danger, and trust beyond reasonable trust, that though so many will know my comings and goings my camp will not be damaged (again, for the theft and sabotage has already happened more than a few times.)

Or I can work to build some trust with these fearful people, ameliorate their fear, and defuse their under-the-surface anger so that they are less unpredictable, and less likely to vent on me or my camp.

Which is the raw, unfaithful response?

Which is the immature faith response?

Which is the ‘refined gold’ response?

Which provides for ‘us’ and ‘them’ that which every soul yearns for: to be heard, to be treasured, to be encouraged, to be welcomed and accepted just as one is?

May God provide the ‘fire’ needed to refine our faith, so that in all we think, say, and do others will hear us rejoicing and calling on God’s name saying ‘The Lord is our God’, so that the Spirit may reveal with our praise, Jesus Christ’ glory and honour … and love for all people, those that threaten us and that part of us that lives in fear.

May God provide, through us, that every soul will b be heard, be treasured, be encouraged, be welcomed and accepted just as one is!

Striving for Greeds Rots Us at the Core

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Will We Choose to See Beyond Our Own Greeds, to Other’s Needs?

Ecclesiastes 5:10

The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity.

1 Timothy 6:8-9

If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Words of Grace For Today

It would seem to be common sense that money is necessary for life and a lot of money will make for a better life. Much of humanity has lived so. Before there was money it was wealth of whatever kind was recognized in their day.

Wisdom has always taught that pursuing money/wealth is a sure route to despair and futility. The writer of Ecclesiastes is right, such pursuits are all vanity, and vanity that serve nothing in life or in death. In fact they hasten death even though one may still walk, talk, breathe and chase after more money/wealth.

The writer of 1 Timothy has it correct if incompletely so. When we have the necessities of life we can be content, though the necessities of life are more than just food and clothing. They also include clean air and water, adequate shelter, meaningful labour and being able to love and be loved. With these we ought to be content, though we rarely are.

Built into our DNA, our survival, is the drive to make things better for ourselves and those with us. So even after we have the necessities of life we strive to have more … and that striving is rots our souls at the core.

Our ability to labour on earth is not intended to be used for ourselves alone. It is to be labour that makes life possible and better for everyone.

Today, just another today, is a day …

when we are able

by Grace

to labour

for God’s bountiful blessings to be enjoyed by more and more people.

So – what’s up for you today?

God Save Us! Do Not Forsake Us in Our Darkness!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Oh, God, Save

Those Caught In The Darkness of The Bright Days

And Those Who Cannot See, Hear, or Imagine …

Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

Words of Grace For Today

Jim sat in the darkness of the bright day.

He could not see the horizon out there where the sun should have been. Not that many years ago he’d met Beatrice and she swept him off his feet before he knew what was happening. She was in her mid-thirties. Jim was 8 years older. Then he’d fallen in love and given everything to her. They proclaimed their love for each other and promised their lives to each other, until death did them part. They were madly in love with each other and everything looked so wonderful.

Jim moved in with Bea in her grand house and he worked to turn it into their shared home. They travelled to France and then to the Maritimes. They went sailing in the Caribbean for a week. It was all a dream come true. Their second year together their twins arrived, a girl and a boy. As agreed he stayed home to raise the children so she could go back to work. He put his career on hold. That first year was a dream come true.

The honeymoon shine wore off soon after Bea became pregnant with twins. He did everything he could to support her. She flew off the handle at him and others, making wild accusations. Her screaming at him cut him to the quick and he’d be silent trying to ‘fix’ whatever Bea ‘needed fixing’. He interpreted everything she did in the best possible light and went out of his way to bolster her fragile ego. She tore strips of him, saw everything he did in the worst possible light and worse blamed him for things he had nothing to do with.

Jim tried valiantly to reconnect her to her parents and siblings, though she seemed to hate them for no real reason. He met them and they were pretty good people, and as in-laws they were very supportive of him, even in awe of him. Bea refused to have anything to do with his family or his friends. She’d have a wild tantrum, throwing things, and even beating on him every time he spent time on the phone with them. Visiting any of them was out of the question. Soon he gave up keeping any contact with them.

Then Bea started telling ‘stories’ about Jim to her family. They were things he had never done. Some Bea had done to him. When she told them that he was the one beating on her, they stopped talking to him all together. He heard from their daughter’s teacher at school that she said he was sexual with her. It wasn’t true but soon it was impossible to go to school with the children for anything. People at church started to avoid him.

That had been more than a year ago. Jim could barely sleep. The doctor put him on one drug, then another, then another until he was taking 5 medications besides his allergy medicine and the sleep apnea machine he wore at night. Every two weeks he got either a testosterone or a B12 shot. He was so dragged out he could barely get anything done. He would often sit down alone after everyone left for school and not notice anything until the bus arrived to deliver the twins home. He talked with two different therapists by phone, and once a month travel 3 hours to see one of them. His hair turned grey and already the first year with Bea he’d lost 50 lbs trying to please her. He just went hungry and did not eat. No one could tell him what the matter was with him. He prayed, he meditated, he gave Bea gifts for no special occasion. He had worked out at the gym for a year but gave up on it when he injured his shoulder. He tried to walk but it was slow going, nothing like the running he’d done when he was in his 20’s. He told his doctors and therapists that he felt like he was 85 or 90 and barely able to think, work, sleep or even exist.

Bea’s promise to him, and his to her, that they would love each other until death did them part, looped endlessly in his mind. The only sense he could make of anything was that he needed to die, to be free of the weight, to finally be accepted by someone somewhere. He already had a new bottle of sleeping pills. He bought 2 large bottles of the cheapest whisky he saw at the liquor store. He cleaned the house, sorted the garaged, and their two vehicles. He made sure the groceries were bought for the coming two weeks. The fridge was bursting. He even took the recycle bottles to the depot and the garbage and recycling to the transfer station. Months ago he’d made sure his life insurance was in order. There was nothing more he could do to make things better.

Jim sat in the darkness of the bright day.

There was no distance between the end of the horizon and his arms stretched out pleading in prayer. No one heard his voice. No one had heard his voice for longer than he could remember.

It was a Sunday evening. He read a story to the twins and said good night. He made sure everything was secure in the house. He grabbed his backpack with the whisky in it. He put the sleeping pills in his pocket, put on a warm jacket and walked a mile to the woods. He sat on his special log, took all the sleeping pills, drank one bottle and most of the second before he was numbed and so tired. Finally he would be able to sleep and be free and be home.

Jim knew well most of the Bible. He was familiar with Isaiah’s words: I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them.

He had to trust that this path he’d taken was the only one God had for him.

There were no shelters for abused men. People could not imagine that men are abused just like women are, not the therapist and certainly not the doctors or the teachers or their pastor or any of Bea’s family … or any one at all.

Not one single person could imagine a man being abused, not one person Jim had talked to in the last 9 years as he suffered … until he could not take any more.

Many of them may have been members of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that they may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called them out of darkness into his marvellous light.

But no one thought they could help Jim find the light of life, because, well, women may beat on men, but they do not abuse them, not women. Reports are abuse kills ten times as many men than women, many of them by abuse that drives them to suicide. It is important to stop men abusing women, because it always ends in death for the abused. But, they say, men are not abused,

so they say.

So Jim is just another statistic that is ignored. And Bea will find another man to raise the children for her, and abuse him and the children. He will likely die, and they will become abusers if they survive.

But women do not abuse men or

so they say.

Oh, God, save us!

Save us all, though it is too late for Jim and millions like him, God, save us!

Turn the darkness before us into light, the rough places into level ground.

Do not forsake us!

Do not forsake the men who are abused to death!

Do not forsake the children who never have a chance to know what love really is.

.

Today, many men will sit in the darkness of the bright day. No one will see them. No one will hear them.

Oh, God save them and us who do not see and do not hear and cannot imagine the darkness of their reality of being abused.

Be Careful What Success You Pray For?

Saturday, May 7, 2022

See the Light,

And God’s Hand.

All Things in God’s Hands.

Psalm 118:25

Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

Hebrews 13:20-21

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

What is success, that we ask God for it?

To save us is clear. We are in trouble (what’s new, mostly of our own doing) and we’ve exhausted our own ideas on getting ourselves back in the clear, so we turn to God, our last hope and refuge.

But to ask for success! That’s another huge step up the rung of audacity in begging from God!

Success as a Christian has always had the colour of offering oneself to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, which leads to a cross and sure death. Which, for most people, looks quite different than the success that we humans pursue in our short, cruel, and brutish existences on earth. Do we intend to ask for this success, that our lives be offered as a sacrifice so that others may live. NOT usually, unless …

unless the Holy Spirit guides us to understand and live out the love by which the world will know the followers of Jesus. This love is unconditional, self-sacrificial, life altering, powers undermining, universe transforming, living water love.

When that is the love we indeed live then the whole world is changed for us. The New Jerusalem is arrived and we are at home in it, and God dwells with us, and

wonders never cease.

For God has indeed made us complete in everything good so that we may do God’s will.

Examples are endless through the history of the saints.

Consider Chai-Shin Yu, who is an ordained (Korean) Presbyterian pastor and professor of Korean culture and religion as the University of Toronto. In 1950 the North Korean Communists invaded South Korea. Chai-Shin Yu, then a student and heavily involved in church work, managed to hide for some months, knowing that as a Christian he was a prime suspect. In September 1950, S. Korean and United Nations troops landed in Inchon Harbor and the N. Korean soldiers began to prepare their retreat. Yu was apprehended by the Chief of the Communist Intelligence Bureau and so began days of interrogation and torture. Finally, along with others, he was taken to what he was sure was the execution ground, for he could hear gunfire. Instead, he and the other captives were forced to carry arms & supplies for the retreating N. Korean soldiers! Day after day they were forced to carry heavy burdens, ever on the lookout for strafing American planes.

By early October they were deep in the mountains. They began to come upon wounded Communist soldiers abandoned by the side of the road. One wounded soldier was staring vacantly, his leg covered with clotted blood. But he seemed familiar, and Yu stopped to look in his face. He recoiled; it was the Chief of the Intelligence Bureau! “Move on,” Yu told himself, but a voice within replied, “no, his life can be saved if he gets some help.” So Yu argued within himself, until a voice said, “But don’t you believe in Jesus Christ? He told you to love your enemy. What would Jesus do if he were here?”

The Chief finally recognized Yu as the reactionary he had planned to kill. He closed his eyes, expecting to be killed in revenge. But Yu said, “Get on my back.” The argument raging inside him was resolved. After some persuading the wounded Chief crawled on his back. Yu’s feet were blistered and bleeding from 150 miles of dreadful walking, and he was exhausted. But he gritted his teeth and kept on. Once he tripped & they both fell. The Chief finally broke the silence. “Friend,” he said, “you know that I hated you and wanted to kill you, don’t you?” “Of course I do.” “Then why are you going to all this trouble to save me? All my fellow soldiers have deserted me. Why are you trying to save your enemy?”

After a long silence, Yu said, ” Love is stronger than hatred. Even though you planned to have me killed, I still love you. Love is stronger than death. I hate your hatred, but I love you as a person” The man wept and confessed, “I have killed so many people. I don’t deserve to be saved.” And they wept together.

They Yu took the Chief up again & moved on. Ten miles down the road he found an ambulance being repaired, & arranged to have his passenger taken to the Pyongyang Military Hospital. The Chief protested, “I won’t go to the hospital. I’d rather stay with you and die. Where ever you go, I want to go with you.” But Yu forced him into the ambulance. “You ought to live,” he insisted.

By the end of October Chai-Shin Yu & the others had walked 200 miles. During an attack by American paratroopers he escaped & walked all the way back to Seoul, and eventually was reunited with his family. (Source Unknown)