Until Shiloh Comes–a review

Wars are fought for different reasons. Some are power struggles. Others are for rescue or to make a change.

Wars are fueled by one thing…hatred.

The passion it takes to get a person to be willing to lay his or her life down is serious. Somebody, or something, must be stopped at all cost.

The American Civil War was no exception to this cause. People on both sides felt their cause was just and needed to be carried on while the other side felt the same passion.

Prejudices are easy for Satan to feed. They ran high during the war between the states.

Until Shiloh Comes is a story that takes place during the Civil War but it’s more about the prejudices that fed it.

Devout Christians fought on each side and felt God would bless them for fighting for Him.

The Matthews family had already lost their husband and father in the war. The eldest son was in the Battle of Shiloh within earshot of their home.

To find her son Davina Matthews must make a deal with the Yankee devil who saw him go down.

Her Christian faith would guide her as she cared for a man she didn’t trust whom her son said was his replacement just before he died.

Stanley Mitchell didn’t leave a good home environment when he enlisted at 16. His size made it easy for the recruiter to not ask many questions.

Without help his numerous wounds would have killed him.

They say time heals all wounds…and so does Christian compassion.

The weeks and months that follow see the Yankees push south out of Tennessee. But the look inside one enemy soldier would rock this faithful family to its core.

Not only did he prove to be a hard worker but he was very much like them, too. Even the slave family who helped work the farm didn’t know what to make of this young man who treated them as equals.

No, this isn’t a clean story with a happy ending. Hatred still filled Luke Matthews, now the eldest male though still a boy.

The two books that follow are winning writing awards. That much I’ll tell you.

My friend Karl Bacon’s lifelong interest in the Civil War and God’s gift of storytelling combine to make you think about how you look at life and the people you come in contact with.

Get a copy of Until Shiloh Comes. Read it with your eyes and heart wide open. You might see some prejudices in your own heart that need attention.

Until Shiloh Comes by Karl Bacon 

I’ll see you later.   Wade

An Earnest Plea

Isaiah paused before he pushed the palace door open and looked up. “Why, LORD? He’s such a good king.”

He walked in and was led to the king’s bedroom.

Hezekiah’s face was pale. Sweat drenched his hair as he shivered.

Isaiah swallowed. “Set your affairs in order. The LORD declares that you shall die from this.”

Hezekiah closed his eyes and rolled to his left for privacy. “LORD, remember how I lived for You as best I could. I’ve been truthful and loyal.”

His body convulsed with heavy sobs.

Isaiah turned and left.

When he was halfway to the door the LORD’s voice stopped him.

“Return to King Hezekiah. Give him this message from the God of King David: ‘I have heard your prayer and see your tears. I will heal you. You shall go to the temple in three days. I will grant you fifteen more years and deliver you from the Assyrians for My name’s sake.'”

Isaiah went back and delivered God’s message.

Hezekiah got help sitting up. “How shall I know this will happen?”

Isaiah looked around trying not to show his frustration. He spotted the sundial. “Shall the shadow move forward or backward now?”

The king looked from the sundial to the prophet. “It always moves forward. Only God can make it move backward.”

Isaiah closed his eyes and sent up a silent prayer.

Somebody gasped when the shadow moved back ten degrees.

Isaiah looked at the attendants. “Make a poultice of figs and place it on the boil. Behold your king for the next fifteen years.”

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Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

When you don’t know what to pray because the grief is too much to bear just cry. God hears your tears louder than your feeble words.

King Hezekiah was reduced to tears. God was induced to grace.

The context is fierce for the nation of Judah. The northern kingdom of Israel has been taken captive by Assyria.

The Assyrians are moving in on Jerusalem.

When it comes to what kind of king Hezekiah was his name goes on the good king list. He did his best to follow God’s laws to stay on His good side.

An infection turns bad and the king is clinging to hope that the prophet Isaiah will tell him God will spare his life.

Instead of hope God’s man gives grave news.

The king is reduced to a sniveling idiot.

Isaiah thinks his task is done until God tells him to turn around.

Don’t you just love God’s grace?

Before I go on I just feel I need to say nobody deserves to live a full life according to our terms. Some spectacular people who had great potential to make a huge positive impact on the world die before they reach the age of 20.

I hated typing that as much as you hated reading it.

You and I don’t call the shots as to who lives and who dies. God does.

The only reason I can come up with as to why God spared Hezekiah’s life that day is because it brought Him glory.

The wicked Assyrians had Jerusalem surrounded but went home without entering the city.

It’s king was assassinated soon after he arrived back home.

Nobody saw that coming but God.

I don’t know why some of the sweetest people die young while some wicked people live to old age.

That’s not how I would work things out if I was God, but I’m not.

A lot of folks would do away with all hatred and lying and greed and every evil thing if they called the shots.

I wonder about one thing if we lived in a world like that.

Where would any passion grow from?

You don’t know deep love until you’ve experienced abandonment.

You don’t know true compassion if you’ve never experienced evil and hate.

You don’t know true trust if you’ve never experienced lying and betrayal.

The deepest lives are lived on a full spectrum of emotions and experience.

We’re not called to be robots who go through the motions of living. We’re called to be humans who care for the hurting by stepping in and making a positive change. That’s not living. That’s called life.

That is all things working together for good according to God’s plan.

Hezekiah knew he had fifteen more years to live. What did he do with those fifteen gifts? He sat back and got lazy.

He showed the Babylonian envoys all of Judah’s wealth. They carried it all away after the king’s lifetime.

If you knew you had fifteen more years to live what would you do with them?

Would you travel as much as possible to experience as much of this world as you can? Besides your travel agent who will benefit from that? You’ll take your memories with you to the grave.

Is that the legacy you want to leave behind?

There’s a kingdom being built right now on this earth. It’s not dependent on what size house you live in or what brand of car you drive.

We’ve touched on the evil occurring in the world. Those atrocities are happening to people all around you.

What are you doing to change that?

The people the evil is happening to and the folks doing the evil all need to hear about how God came to earth and died for them so they can have a relationship with God.

That’s the kingdom that needs to be built now.

After we die there’s no chance to come into God’s kingdom.

Use whatever days, weeks or years you have to live out the life-giving message of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for all people.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

The First Week of 2018 was Eventful

2017 went out with a blast and 2018 came in with a blast of cold air plus some interesting things I never saw coming.

On New Years Eve I accepted a driving assignment to Corpus Christi, Texas. It began at 9:30 PM. That all seemed innocent enough and it was.

The tractor I was given was the first non-diesel fueled rig I had ever driven. It runs on compressed natural gas. They drive exactly the same from the driver’s seat but put out much less air pollution with somewhat less power.

By the time I picked up my load of mail I headed south. Since the tanks on the CNG rig are fairly small I had to find a special gas station for that specific fuel.

After I parked at the pump I called the dispatcher so he could walk me through connecting the right hose on the appropriate nozzle. Yeah, there’s more to it than simply pumping liquid into a tank.

The clock must have struck midnight while I was talking to dispatch because fireworks started going off all around me. It was that or a small war broke out. Fortunately it turned out to be fireworks.

Come to find out I had the wrong card to pay for fuel there so I had to drive to Waco and go through the steps all over again…this time without fanfare, just a fresh layer of ice on the ground.

The rest of the trip to Corpus went off without incident. So far so good.

After my ten hour law abiding layover I got the company car I was assigned to drive back to Dallas…no, I don’t know why I didn’t drive the big rig back. I just do what I’m told…or I do my best to do it at least.

Two things struck me as odd when I put my stuff in said car. One tire was soft and the gas gauge was on empty.

According to an app on my phone there was a truckstop less than fifteen miles away. I figured I could take care of both things at the same stop…at least that’s what I thought would happen.

The truckstop ended up being twenty three miles away. No problem, I made it there and gassed up after some cashier guided prompts to accept the card I had.

With a full tank of gas I knew I needed to drive to the diesel pumps for the air hose to fill up the soft tire before I drove home…yeah, right. That’s when things got interesting.

I started the car, put it in gear and began to drive away…then it stalled never to start again. Then all the lights on the fairly new truckstop went completely dark. Cue the Twilight Zone theme music.

To add to my dilemma the power outlet in the car didn’t work so I couldn’t charge my phone that was now on four percent battery life.

I knew I could call dispatch, but wasn’t sure how many more calls after that. Fortunately it made quite a few calls on one percent charge.

I noticed we had the first full moon of the year above me. The second full moon will be on the 31st of January. That makes it a blue moon. You know how often that happens…that’s right, once in a blue moon. Now you know where that phrase comes from.

Aren’t you glad you read this far so far?

The towtruck driver went past the dark truckstop before he found me just after eleven o’clock. Shortly after he parked in front of me he got out and introduced himself to me. Then all the lights at the truckstop came back on. Cue the Mission Impossible theme music.

Me and the car were taken back to the motel I started out at just before midnight so dispatch could decide what to do with both of us. I went back to the room I slept in before I left and went back to sleep. The car slept in the parking lot.

One dispatcher said the next driver was scheduled to head back that evening. It ended up being two o’clock Wednesday morning. I spent all day Tuesday at the motel looking for something to do.

I found it in one of my bags of stuff I need for traveling. Until Shiloh Comes is a book a writer friend sent me over two years ago. Apparently Shiloh had come at last so I could read the book, finally. I’m glad I did. A review will show up here soon.

When I opened my motel door at two o’clock the other driver was exiting his room across the hall from me. He said he slept about four hours. I knew I didn’t need much sleep before we left, but he did.

On one point I felt good knowing I wasn’t the only human who struggles with sleeping during the day. But then I sent up a prayer for him to stay awake to get us home in one piece. My prayer was answered in the affirmative, just barely.

We fueled up just past San Antonio. I found a comfortable position and slept through Austin, which as slow as Austin traffic normally is it’s no big deal…never mind.

As I was getting my bearings I realize why I woke up. The truck was making some familiar awkward movements from side to side. My chauffeur was fidgeting in his seat.

We made it to a rest area before he lost consciousness. Cue the lullaby music.

After the wheels on the truck were going round and round again my phone chirped. It was someone from a different temp agency. I filled out an application for them online before I left on this run. She asked if I could get to their office before three o’clock. I prayed that I could. That prayer was answered in the affirmative, just barely.

Once back in Dallas I filled in all the appropriate paperwork to get paid as much as I can for this fiasco of an assignment.

I drove home with enough time to change my clothes and check my mail, nothing more. Fortunately my next assignment paid for my meals for the next two and a half days.

Knowing what was coming I made sure I drank plenty of liquids on my drive to the new temp agency. After filling out more paperwork I went to give my specimen to see if I would pass my drug test. I prayed I would, especially since I didn’t have time to study.

That prayer was answered in the affirmative. I start on Monday with a company that will have direct deposit and insurance. I kicked myself for not switching sooner. It is what it is so I shall go on from here.

I prayed my next to last paycheck would arrive in the mail on Saturday. That prayer was answered in the negative.

You know who your true friends are by how they respond to your dire situation, not by how they treat you during the good times. I know I have at least one great friend. He knows who he is. Thank you.

Saturday was a good day of rest and exercise. Sunday showed some potentially interesting promise on another front in my life that I may share later.

Somehow this is all working together for God’s good in my life. I don’t need to make sense of it as it happens. I just need to keep trusting that God is in control of it all.

One step at a time is all He expects from me. That’s good, since that’s about all I can muster some days.

I pray you see God in every circumstance in your life, too.

That’s a prayer I hope He answers in the affirmative.

Keep smiling.   Wade

The Last Week of 2017 was Interesting

Here we are again. Another calendar needs to be replaced because it is all used up. I can relate. I just hope I’m not replaced, too.

My 2017 was filled with challenges, heartbreak and sadness balanced by laughter, creativity and friendship.

As I was seeing my rear view of the past twelve months slip away I began setting a new course 2018.

My business venture has been growing too much grass around its tires. It’s high time I took it out for a drive to see what it’ll do.

I plugged in a new item I invested in that will help local businesses with websites stay current with Google’s latest algorithm for being compliant, which means they’ll be happy to show folks to your website when they’re searching for what you have to offer.

I sent out some emails letting some businesses know what I have that will help them. The week between Christmas and New Years is probably the absolute worst time to do such a thing, but I feel like I need to do something different or I will go insane.

So far nobody has either read my emails, or they don’t believe I can help them.

I had Christmas Eve off to put the finishing touches on this program thing. Christmas Day I spent the afternoon with the Apainter Paul’s family. Some other friends from church stopped by. We played a fun game and visited. I had a blast.

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday finding business owners who need what I have to help them with and sent them my brilliant email letting them know how much I’m trying to help them.

I went to bed Wednesday night knowing I had to drive the next two days delivering windows in west Texas.

As my body was winding down and relaxing my phone dinged.

I have a few friends in various parts of the world who prefer Facebook Messenger for contact. I’ve been waiting for my Kentucky friend to call and talk about the rough times she and her family are having. It wasn’t her.

It was my Ugangan daughter, Ruth. She’s in her early twenties and comes to me for advice occasionally. That’s why I consider her my ‘daughter.’

Her church spends three days in prayer and fasting for three days near the end of the year. She wanted to know how they could pray for me.

Not only is Ruth my unofficial unadopted daughter she’s my spiritual sister, too…and a prayer warrior. Yeah, she’s dangerous that way.

So here I am in this space between consciousness, unconsciousness and subconsciousness needing to come up with my most pressing desire for a group of prayer warriors to storm the throneroom of God on my behalf for from the other side of the world.

That’s a dangerous place to place a creative individual into.

In less than two minutes I texted her back that I want a breakthrough in my life in several areas. I mentioned that God knows the details and left it at that.

The next day I realized I came up with my word for 2018…breakthrough.

Every year for the past three or more New Year’s Eves I’ve wondered where I’ll be in twelve months. Every New Year’s Eve I’m still struggling in my old 700 square foot apartment with barely any money in the bank and Clifford, the big red van, is another year older.

My love life has been struggling to find a new breath of fresh air.

My driving job is becoming more of a challenge than I wish it was.

My writing has been stalled on many fronts for quite a while now.

On a good note my walk with God has never been stronger. Struggling should do that for folks but not if you feel God has to “bless” you if you’re His child.

God is blessing me, just not in the traditional way of most people’s definition of blessing. I appreciate His way of looking at things better now.

I’ll let y’all know that there’s a movement underfoot that will likely get things moving in a positive direction for most, if not all, fronts in my life.

I’ll still have to drive through the night sometimes. Hopefully not many more times. I think a new company name will be appearing on my paychecks soon. Please pray for guidance for me there.

There’s been a possible first contact with a lady friend that could lead somewhere. Perhaps just a better friendship, maybe more. Pray for God’s will there.

The writing is bound to move at some time. The illustrator for the storybook app has been under attack lately again. Prayers for God’s intervention for Dyann and her family are greatly appreciated.

It has always appeared that things are in place for my breakthrough to occur for quite awhile now. With enough folks praying for such to happen for me in 2018 I think this might be the year I stop being so invisible.

It’s not that I want to be famous. I’m too comfortable being invisible. God needs folks to know who I am so they’ll listen to me, read my stuff and hear about His Son Jesus to further his kingdom, not mine.

That’s the cross I’m called to bear for Him in the next phase of my life.

That’s what I get for praying for Him to use me anyway He wants to.

I pray you stretch out of your comfort zone to be better used by God this year, too.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Called to Fail

Where am I? Who is that sitting on a throne? His robe is incredible. It’s filling every part of the floor.

Those beings over the throne…who are they? Why do they have wings…six wings on each one? They’re using two to fly with, but why are they covering their face and feet?

The seraphim spoke in antiphonal chorus. “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His majesty.”

Their sound is so amazing. It’s even making the door posts I’m standing near shake. That must be…Oh, I’m done. My mouth is so foul. How can I be in the presence of God?

One of the angels flew to the burning altar, picked up the tongs and carried a live coal to Isaiah. He placed it on the man’s mouth. “This has made atonement for your sins. You are safe now.”

God looked at him. “Who shall we send to tell My message?”

Isaiah stepped forward. “Send me. I’ll do it.”

“Go and say, ‘hear, but don’t listen. Look, but don’t see.’ Dull their senses so they won’t do anything about what you say, otherwise they’ll turn and be saved.”

Isaiah swallowed the lump in his throat. “How long will this last?”

“Until the cities are abandoned, the houses are vacant and the land is desolate and resting. I will remove them far away, but I will leave a remnant. A tenth will remain like the growth from a stump after a tree is cut down.”

********************

The call of the Prophet Isaiah is one of the most incredible accounts in all the Bible. The symbolism is so rich. Messages are littered all over the retelling of it all.

I don’t want us focusing on that. We’ll let the scholars hash all that out.

Since this is a series on prayers in the Bible I want us to ponder the message God told Isaiah to announce.

This was definitely a divine call of a man by God Himself. Isaiah even got to live after seeing God on His throne. He interacted with the angels who attend God in worship.

How could Isaiah say ‘no’ to the Creator of the universe. So he didn’t.

But, then he asks for clarification of what his job will entail and how long it will last.

In today’s numbers-happy culture we’d expect a grand awakening or incredible revival. Instead Isaiah is told he’s going to me an epic failure.

Isaiah was given the unenviable task of telling the last generation before Judah’s exile what God wants them to hear, but they won’t listen.

I often wonder if Isaiah wanted to back out of this calling at this point. I know I would have wanted to.

I think that’s why God set up this grand show of Himself to Isaiah before He let him know what he was going to do.

Isaiah would have this memory and experience to hold him firm to his mission.

I’m so glad Isaiah was obedient, otherwise we’d have missed out on some of the most incredible Messianic prophecies in the entire Bible.

So, what does this all have to do with us?

I was afraid you were going to ask that question. I’m not sure you’re going to be comfortable with my answer.

I truly think we’re at the same place Isaiah was at in his life.

History has proven that the most powerful civilizations last approximately 200 years. The United States of America has passed that threshold.

Many experts believe China is developing into the next world power. I’m not saying that’s bad or good, I’m just making an observation.

Looking around the world today I have one thing to say.

At best America in on the decline, at worst the entire world is near the end of its existence.

The nation of Israel, then the divided nations of Israel and Judah, were God’s chosen race of people who would bring about God’s redemption.

They were promised prosperity if they obeyed God’s laws and exile if they chose to not obey.

That’s a simple formula that’s complicated to carry out.

Power corrupts. Jesus confronted the religious leaders of His day for that very reason.

It’s human nature to want to take control out of God’s hands so we can get our own way. The breakdown of too many marriages have littered God’s people for that very reason.

Governments today are getting folks to depend on them more and more so they can control them. People are more comfortable with someone they can see having that type of control.

That’s not God’s ideal. He’ll put a stop to this nonsense someday…it could be soon.

That’s what makes our life like Isaiah’s. We have a message from God to tell. People don’t want to listen to it but we must still tell it.

What they do with it is their responsibility. Giving God’s message is our responsibility.

God never blamed Isaiah for folks not listening. He knew it was going to happen.

God loves people so much He wants to give them every possible means of coming into His kingdom. He’ll keep begging them to listen by sending His message as often as possible.

God promised Isaiah a tenth of the people would remain. If only a tenth of today’s people respond that’s still an amazing amount of people spending their eternity with God to experience His love.

They won’t make that decision if they never hear God’s message. We’re being sent with that message of love, forgiveness and grace.

I’m amazed every time I hear of someone in the United States of America who hasn’t heard who Jesus Christ is.

That’s why I volunteer when my church puts packages together for the homeless and poor.

That’s why I write God’s message in as many ways as I can.

That’s why I love each individual I come in contact with.

I’m God’s message and so are you.

Jesus came to personify God to us.

We must go and tell.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

A Christmas Medley for Y’all

I didn’t know what I was going to post for Christmas this year. This was important since I usually send out a new post on Monday morning and Christmas falls on a Monday.

While driving to Lubbock this week I experienced both kinds of snow…falling snow on the way into Lubbock Friday, and fallen snow on the return trip Saturday.

I’ve been teaching myself how to sing better as I drive by listening to a voice coach give voice lessons on a CD. While I’m driving I sound pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Saturday’s drive inspired me to sing some Christmas carols in advance of the holiday. I came up with three that have a similar theme and tone so I decided to sing them for y’all here on my blog. Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem and What Child is This?…first verses only.

As I listened to the video I realized I don’t sound as good in my apartment as I do in a semi. I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I want you to.

Feel free to sing along. Maybe our voices will sound better together and you’ll enjoy them even more.

For a bit of a twist I sang Jesus Loves Me after the three carols. Then I made a new verse to tie it into the Christmas theme to make it a carol, too.

Merry Christmas my friends.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

My Month as Santa’s Helper

December 2017 will go down as the month I got to live out a life goal. I spent this past month helping Santa deliver cards, letters and packages between Dallas and Lubbock. So, I guess I can check this off my bucket list.

As of the writing of this post I still have a week to go, but since I can’t think of anything else to write I’ll give you a glimpse of what I experienced.

Since every drive has been done during daylight hours, 90% of the time anyway, I think I’m getting back into a normal sleep pattern. That means I’m becoming normal again.

I remember telling folks when I was a teenager that I never wanted to be considered normal. Now it feels good to be able to say I’m getting back there.

Anybody who knows me will be glad to hear I don’t expect to stay anywhere close to normal for long. I’ll be Wade again before you know it.

It took half a month to get my budget caught up to the comfortable level, but it’s there. Now let’s see how long it stays there.

It does feel good to be able to give some money to an orphanage in Uganda and pay for a family’s lunch after church yesterday.

I truly do enjoy being generous. I don’t know why God won’t keep me at a level where I can maintain this giving lifestyle.

As far as wildlife goes I’ve seen starlings, grackles, crows, ravens, black vultures, turkey vultures and turkey turkeys…an ascending size for black birds.

One of the tom turkeys was even strutting to get the attention of one of his hen friends. I guess he wanted his friend with a benefit or something.

White tail deer are out this time of year. The bucks are still sporting their antlers. There was one nice 8 point buck with a harem of does. I think he thinks he’s a elk or something. He definitely had things going his way that day.

Some critters bring a song to my mind, not always a song I want stuck in my mind either.

Prairie dogs always make me think of the movie Caddy Shack. “I’m all right” pops into my mind when I see them out eating whatever they eat.

Road runners have the same effect on me. You can tell how old I am when that theme song starts running through my mind when I spot one of them.

Meadow larks are in abundance along my route. No, the Globetrotter song doesn’t pop into my mind when I see them. I guess Meadowlark Lemon wasn’t as much of an influence on me as a cartoon bird.

I saw a covey of quail one day. Unfortunately two of them got too far out into the road as I spooked them up. I hope the one survived. The one that hit between my side mirror and driver’s door got the crap scared out of him in the least. That’s the smudge that was left on the window as a reminder of our encounter.

I’ll never forget the horses I saw running one day. There’s a ranch that raises them. As I drove by last Wednesday there was a field of them running somewhere. That was a glorious sight to behold. I wished I had my phone/camera/video thingy running to record that event, but, alas. I only have that recollection in my noggin.

Just think of dozens of horses running just for the joy of running. What brings God’s joy to you?

Taking the northern route to Lubbock brings me through some fabulous canyons. My favorite rest stop has a red dirt canyon on both sides of the road. I feel like I landed on Mars when I stop there, which I do as often as possible.

The spot is called the narrows because the canyon on the north side of the road eventually empties into the Mississippi River. The canyon on the south side of the road drains into the Gulf of Mexico. That’s what the plaque at the rest stop says.

Indians have been using the same trail for centuries before TX-114 was built.

I fully expected to experience some bad winter weather this month. So far the roads have been dry.

There was an ice storm scare for the second week. Fortunately it stayed south of my route. I hope the last three trips are as event free.

The window company needs me the two weeks after Christmas and New Years Day. After that I’m back to waiting for the phone to ring for my next job assignment.

I know God knows what’s in store for me then.

He hasn’t let me down yet. I’m sure He won’t start now.

Stay safe out there my friend.

Keep smiling.   Wade

I lived out a dream last week

Have you ever had one of those dreams you wish you never had? You know what I mean…someone is chasing you and you can’t move your legs…or a T-Rex is about to eat you alive. Yeah, you want to erase it from your memory but you can’t.

Being poor has it’s pitfalls. Driving an old vehicle has challenges of another level.

Last Thursday I checked my tires before I left work. I often do this after driving on a flat tire several years ago and ruining it.

Sure enough the back right tire was low. Since I was at work there was a shop with mechanics around to fix company trucks and trailers.

I decided to drive around and simply air up said low tire so I could drive home.

I quickly discovered an air hose outside the shop ready for drivers to use. Great, something finally goes right in my life…I thought.

Some air went in my tire for about two seconds then stopped. I stuck my head inside and got the attention of a mechanic. They assured me the air was on.

I walked back out and finished airing up my low tire with no explanation of why it stopped initially.

I did find a small nail in the tread so I decided to finally use that extra thing I bought when I purchased those tires where the nice guys at the tire shop will fix that type of thing for free for me.

I decided to drive about half way home before I found the same tire shop franchise I bought my now injured tire from just to be in a safer neighborhood.

I drove into the shop’s lot about 4:30. The guy I talked to came out and checked the tread depth on said tire.

“You’re in luck. You have 3/32nds on this tire. Any lower and we couldn’t do anything for you. I’ll have one of the guys right on it.”

We went in and checked my account. He continued his conversation. “You have 62,000 miles on those 50,000 mile warranty tires.”

I knew it had been a while since I bought them. I had no idea it was that long ago. Good thing I drive carefully.

A few minutes later one of the technicians drove Clifford, the big red van, into the shop.

I sat down and read a newspaper article about the fuss made when the President said Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. And here I thought that was established back in 1948.

Soon another behind the counter guy got my attention. “I have bad news…we found two nails right next to each other in that tire. I don’t know how that happened but we can’t patch that. Besides, there isn’t enough tread left on that tire for us to work on it anyway.”

I explained that the first guy said there was just enough tread…and why wouldn’t one patch cover both nail holes?

“It’s not our call. There’s a something from some agency stopping us from doing anything in this instance.”

Obviously I didn’t understand what exactly was going on here.

I came up with what I thought would be a good solution to get me back on the road. “Can you put my spare tire on for me?”

“Yeah, we can do that.”

I watched the techs lower my spare…but them they put it back in place without replacing the nailed tire.

The second behind the counter guy sheepishly came back to me ready to duck behind the counter if the blood vessels in my neck rose back up, I guess.

“We can’t use that spare. It’s dated 2006. We can’t install any tire over ten years old. There’s too much of a chance it will blow out.”

I didn’t even know there was a date on a tire. I just wanted to beat the rush-hour traffic, but I knew that was too late already.

Since I didn’t have enough money for even a used “new” spare they filled the tire with extra air and sent me on my way at 5:30. The half hour drive home took another hour.

I couldn’t put into words what I felt while it occurred, but I figured it out later.

I felt like I was in a dream but I knew it was only going to get worse and I was already awake.

I got home 1 1/2 hours later than I could have with an additional nail in my tire than I thought I left work with.

Oh yeah, some days are just like that for me.

Now I make sure that tire is parked with the nails on the bottom so it leaks more slowly…or less fastly anyway.

I haven’t worried much since then since that day had enough trouble for over a week. Isn’t that the point Jesus made to His followers. It works for me.

I don’t listen to the radio much these days. I turned it on to hear a song with the exact message for me.

“This world is not my home. I don’t belong here.”

I’m so glad there’s coming a time where nothing wears out, time doesn’t matter and worries are a thing of the past.

Until then I’ll just keep carrying the cross designated for me…even if that means putting up with little nails and senseless regulations.

Keep smiling.   Wade

Short-term 2nd Chance Successes

Jonah awoke with a sharp pain on his leg. He reached down and groped his right shin. He pealed off what must have been a section of octopus tentacle.

“Lord, how much longer must I suffer like this? I’m sorry for running. I know it was foolish of me. Nobody can win against You. Please give me another chance. Let me see Your temple again.”

The fish turned sharply to the right. Jonah sloshed with the stomach juices. He felt pressure on his feet so he curled up in the fetal position.

The fish seemed to climb up then stop. The stomach opening released just before Jonah slammed into it.

The sunlight never seemed so bright.

Jonah saw the giant fish slide back into the water. A wave washed up rinsing some of the debris off of him.

He looked up. “Thank You, LORD!  I won’t waste this second chance.”

“Go to Nineveh. Tell them what I tell you.”

Jonah searched his surroundings. A city was upriver from him. He stepped into the water and washed himself off.

As he approached the city a man was fishing along the river.

“Excuse me, sir. What city is this?”

The fisherman looked Jonah up and down. “Are you a Hebrew? How did you get here? Why are you naked?”

Jonah blushed. “I guess my clothes didn’t survive the stomach acid. What city is this?”

The fisherman removed his coat. “Here, put this on. This is Nineveh. Always has been. Always will be.”

Jonah put the coat on. “Thank you. My God has a message for your people.”

A crowd gathered around Jonah by midday. He stopped when he heard God’s voice. He turned and faced the crowd. “In forty days Nineveh will be destroyed.”

A murmur built in the crowd. “Isn’t the Hebrew God the one who destroyed the Egyptian military in the Red Sea?”

“Yeah, and He crumbled the walls of Jericho like they were nothing.”

“How do we appease Him?”

“Sackcloth and ashes according to my research.”

The crowd dispersed only to return wearing sackcloth and worried faces.

********

Thirty nine days later Jonah walked east of the city in disgust. “Isn’t this why I fled to Tarshish to begin with, LORD? I know You’re compassionate. They don’t deserve it.”

He set up a small shelter to shade the sun. Maybe brimstone will still fall from the sky tomorrow.

A sound behind him caught his attention. A plant was growing up extremely fast. It’s shade was refreshing.

“Ah, nice.”

Jonah awoke the following morning. Nineveh was still intact. He ate the figs he brought with him. The plant behind him fell. A caterpillar was gnawing on the stump. “What a shame.”

As the sun climbed in the sky a strong wind blew in from the east.

Jonah felt his energy slip away. “Just end my life now, LORD.”

“Do you have a right to be mad about the plant that you had no control over? Shouldn’t I have the right to forgive the people of Nineveh when they show remorse for their evil?”

****************

Here we have yet another prophet falling into a depression after a success. Didn’t God have any better men to choose from than that?

Actually, He didn’t. All He had to choose from were ordinary folks.

That’s one of the things I love about the Bible. It’s filled with normal people being used by God even when they fail after they succeed.

That means there’s hope God can use you and me, too.

I see two short-term successes in this story about second chances.

First, Jonah took advantage of his second chance by telling the people of Nineveh about God’s impending judgement on them for their wicked lifestyle. But then he relented and wished God wasn’t so compassionate because of his hate for such wicked people.

Second, the people of Nineveh took advantage of the warning Jonah gave them and showed remorse to stem off God’s anger for their sins. But then they turned right around and defeated the nation of Israel to show their strength.

So, what’s the message of the book of Jonah if these second chances were wasted?

God was really big on using object lessons to make a point to His people.

When Jonah returned to Israel and told them how God relented from destroying the Assyrians they should have sat up and paid attention. That Gentile nation was known for their brutality in war.

Had the leaders of Israel caught the lesson they would have turned back to God to save themselves, but they didn’t. So God used the freshly wicked Assyrians to punish His own people.

I don’t call the shots here. God does.

Wickedness is a tool in God’s belt as much as grace and mercy.

It’s like a tapestry. If you only see the back side of a fine rug it won’t make much sense. It’s just a jumble of threads seemingly thrown together.

We don’t see the picture side of the fine artistry until God allows us to.

The history recorded in the Bible shows us God’s orchestration of all kingdoms through time.

Wicked nations were used more strategically than peaceful Israel was during Solomon’s reign.

That plant God grew for Jonah was destroyed by a bug. All of that was ordained by God.

Mighty nations, fish, storms, plants, bugs…they’re all the same in God’s plan. They all serve Him.

That control you think you have over your own life. Give it up.

Your success and failure are controlled by God.

Accept that it all belongs to God.

He can take it away in a moment or make it flourish past your lifetime.

That should remove a lot of stress from your life.

Do the best you can with what God has given you. He gave you the stewardship of your life for a reason.

Use what you have to build God’s kingdom, not yours.

Don’t waste your second chances.

Let them change you into someone more like Jesus Christ.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

The Holidays are Hard

A writer’s life is fraught with challenges. Like properly using the word fraught in a sentence to lead off a blog post.

If God chooses you to write for His glory don’t expect an easy life.

If your life was cozy before your call it will be turned upside down after your call.

The reason for this is because you need to experience many aspects of life in order to write about them.

Here are just a few examples from my own life.

While I was going through my divorce I realized I experienced rejection on par with what God feels when someone rejects His gift of salvation. He grieves over that.

The unexpected loss of a job will test your resolve and prove where your trust is. I leaned heavily on God at that time. Answers didn’t come, but my faith grew.

I observe things differently than I did before. While I’m helping care for toddlers on Sunday mornings I see how they respond and how we all react to life similarly.

The reason I bring this topic up now is that I find myself in a funk.

I’ve been through funks before, especially while living through those extremely long winters in Michigan growing up.

Some holiday seasons are more difficult than others.

This year’s season is proving a challenge so far and we’ve only gone through Thanksgiving.

Part of my challenge is a personal setback in the romance department.

By taking the chance of reaching out to a certain woman I seem to have totally blown it to the point that she unfriended me on Facebook and does her best to avoid contact with me even when we’re in the same room.

It’s not that we were very close before this, but these barricades are too reminiscent of my pre-divorce experience.

Oh how I wish life came with a ‘do over’ button.

I’ve used the phase “I’m by myself a lot, but I’m never alone.”

It refers to the fact that Jesus is always with me, even when nobody is around.

To be totally honest with y’all…I’m getting tired of using that line in my life.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade my relationship with God through Jesus Christ for any woman on this earth.

It’s just that I really would like someone with skin on to share my life with.

Even God said it isn’t good for a man to be alone. So why am I still in His waiting room this time?

Going back to my writing life needing experiences to draw from I see something playing out here for me.

Being born the middle of seven children I never experienced being an orphan before now.

Both of my parents are dead. My wife left me. We never had children. All of my siblings live over 1,000 miles away.

I have some good friends but apparently no great friend I can turn to at the drop of a hat.

I never expected this, but it’s here.

There are folks at church I talk to. That’s been enough.

I have one friend I share a meal with occasionally. Those times are precious to me.

I work with another friend sometimes. This month I’ll be driving too steady for that to continue.

This has all led to my current funk and hopefully a divine writing prompt.

I’ve received story ideas, poems and song lyrics while driving.

I have good drive time this month to let my mind wonder and be open to the Spirit’s leading for any of the above to occur.

I’m reaching out asking for prayers to make this funk a fruitful experience for me.

Nothing better than a funky fruit to set a guy’s attitude right side up again.

I know all of this is going to work for good to make me more like Christ.

He knew personal betrayal, abandonment and rejection firsthand, too.

He even anguished over being separated from His Father for a time.

I guess He experienced a divine funk for me and you.

Jesus was the divine orphan for three days so we can be adopted into God’s family.

He overcame and conquered. He’ll help me do the same, especially with the prayer support of my spiritual siblings here.

Thank you in advance for lifting me up in prayer.

And thank you for letting me open my heart and bleed on my blog here.

It’s good therapy for a writer.

I’ll see you later.   Wade