Going Home

He threw back the covers and put his feet on the floor, morning had come and it was time for him to start the day. He looked at the picture on the table beside his bed and remembered how young he was so long ago when it had been taken. He had just graduated from Annapolis and received his commission as an Ensign in the Navy. Like a number in his class they had been married the first week after graduation. Now more than sixty years later he remembered that day like yesterday. He touched the side of the bed where she had spent more than fifty years as his wife. She was gone, two years now and life seemed so lonely. He struggled to the bathroom, saw himself in the mirror and wondered who that old man could be. It took him more than an hour to get ready, when he was the Captain of his sub he could do it in five minutes but the years had taken their toll and now it was a real effort. He looked in the closet and noticed the uniform that he had not worn in twenty years. He put it on, it was too large, but the four gold stripes still glowed as bright as they had when he first became a four striper, Captain in the Navy. He walked to the small park near his high-rise, purchased a pack of peanuts, found a seat on a bench and started feeding the squirrels. The young boy broke from his mother and ran over to the bench and jumped up beside him. The mother started to call her son away, but he said it was ok. The boy asked him if he was a solider, he smiled, and said that he was like a solider but he was in the Navy. The boy asked if he had been on the great big boats and how it was. He told him that he had been on large boats but most of the time he was on a sub, a boat that went under the water. “Wow!” the boy said, “That had to be great down under the ocean. How did all the fish look when you were down so deep?” he asked. He laughed and said “Well we couldn’t see the fish because we didn’t have any windows in our subs.” “No window the boy said, “How did you get home it you couldn’t see out?” The old man smiled and explained to the boy that they had an instrument that they would tell that they wanted to go home and it would set the course for them and following it would get them home. The boy listed carefully and said, “You had God on your boat cause mommy told me that even if I couldn’t see God if I would follow Him he would always lead me just right.” The Captain said, “I think your mother is right son, yes we had God, and when you follow Him He will always lead you home.” The small boy jumped down and ran to tell his mother about the solider that had God on his boat. On his way home the Captain smiled as he remember the time with the boy and how right he was that God, even when you couldn’t see Him would always lead you home. That night the old Captain received new orders, ‘Time to go home.’ And true to His word God led him to his new home port even the one he could not see.

Ivan

Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

My Encourager

I was a small shy boy of nine when I met Mrs. Wilson my fourth grade teacher. I thought she was the prettiest teacher I had ever seen but I was far too bashful to even be noticed in her class. In fact I was the smallest person in the class. I never answered a question, never offered a remark, and stayed very out of the way and near the back of the room. I felt safe in not being noticed so I made sure that I did not bring attention to myself. I didn’t respond well to other children and seldom took part in any recess activity. For some reason, that is not part of that memory, I felt very inferior and just wanted to be alone. Mrs. Wilson must have notice these traits in me and decided to invest more than teaching in my life. Before class one day she asked if I could do her a favor. I wasn’t sure how to respond but nodded that I would. She told me that she had been collecting ‘Blue Horse’ note book covers and when she got a certain number and sent them in she would receive a nice gift for our class. She said that she needed me to count all of the covers, put them in stacks of 100, and give her a total count. I am not sure why but this thrilled me and I gladly completed the task. She told the class what a good job I had done and how proud all of us should be since our class would be receiving a new world globe because of my hard work and their gifts of note book covers. All of this was far outside her duties as a teacher, but somehow she knew that they were duties of her life and calling.
Without knowing it Mrs. Wilson became my first encourager. I have never forgotten her and will always be indebted to her.

Ivan

Published in: on October 28, 2011 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Pleased or Displeased

When I was a boy we played a game called ‘Pleased or Displeased’ it was a fun little game in which each person would say if they were happy or not and then the person would ask what it would take for them to be happy and they would always say something silly like ‘I would be pleased if Ivan would walk with Wanda around the outside of the house.’ So Wanda and I would walk around the house, big deal, but it was fun and we all had a chance to make someone do something special. But life is really not that simple today and I see so many people who are not pleased. You can tell by the way they drive, that are unhappy, their voice can be a give away, even the way they walk. If you know a person well you can tell by their eyes, ‘they are not happy.’ We live in such a wonderful world and such a great country. My house is heated and cooled; in fact I used both today. My bed is soft, the TV gets so many stations that by the time I flip through it is time to get up. The doctor is down the street, I even have a membership in a Chopper service and they will take me to the hospital in Nashville if it is needed. Not bad. My bathroom is inside, I have too many clothes, and my health for my age is just about right. Is everything as I would like for it to be, of course not, but when I stand and gaze into the ‘Far off country’ I see so many people who have nothing of the things I count as common. In Africa , no floors in the house, water five miles away, and doctors, who knew. The same was true in Central and South America by their standards I am a rich man. Now in truth this is not what brings me real pleasure, yes these things all contribute, but what gives me real pleasure and real peace is that I know God loves me and that His Son gave Himself for me. Now that is worth an eternity.

Ivan

Published in: on October 27, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Life Moves

Have you ever just watched life? Like sitting in a restaurant observing the other people, watching their actions and reactions; maybe sitting on a park bench just wondering what is going through the minds of those walking by and those sitting on other benches. There is the lady seated by herself in the restaurant, she takes a long time to decide what she wants to order and then sends a couple of items back, she raises her voice, proclaims to others as she leaves the incompetence of the staff and walks rudely by all who seek to speak to her as she leaves. Maybe she is mad that whoever was to meet her didn’t show up, maybe she just got word from the doctor that something is wrong, maybe she lost her job; such knowledge cannot be received by a glance across the room but a summation can be made, life for her is not good. There is the guy, older, too old for his behavior, hitting on the young girl taking his order. She is very smart for she must have given her table to an older more experienced lady who had no trouble just being the server. Sad that the guy lives in some kind of hyper link world where his time travels backward, a world absent of mirrors.
She is in the park with her son watching him play on the swings and talking with the other kids. She keeps her eye on him with an almost fearful trap; she has read and heard of so much evil in the world that it is difficult for her to enjoy a brief moment in a public park with her son. He sits by himself, head bent, eyes almost fluid with sadness focus on the ground around him. He has not notices the others coming through the park, he is not aware of anyone and anything just the ground, the dying grass, nothing else. There is the suited business man who walks through like a bullet on its way to some target that must not be missed. The lady overdressed tip toeing through the park as if she is afraid that she will step on something unworthy of her very expensive shoes. The young couples blinded by their involvement with one another who cannot see anyone except the other.
So life moves, it always moves, it is never still and try and we may our keenness of sight cannot know what courses through the brain, troubles the soul, thrills the heart and commands first place in the lives of those who move with us through it. One truth, a truth for each of them; God knows them, loves them, and longs to be their friend. That truth you can hang your eternity on.

Ivan

Published in: on October 26, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Walk Home

I had been to what we called in those days ‘The Moving Picture Show’, today we would just say the ‘Movies’. Having left home with twenty-five cents I had spent a dime to get in, another dime for popcorn and a coke, which left me with a full nickel in my pocket. Now I had a choice. I could either go to the F.W. Woolworth store at the corner of Liberty and main and get me an Ice Cream Cone; and walk home, about an hours walk for a nine year old boy or I could skip the ice cream and ride the bus home. Since I had already eaten popcorn and enjoyed a coke I decided to take the ride. I gave my nickel to the bus driver and got on the city bus with the East Jackson sign. I was in time to get my favorite seat, the one just in front of the back door of the bus. That way I would have no one back of me. Now in those days black people sit in the back of the bus, the area back of the rear door. I noticed as we pulled away from the curb that a black lady was standing in that area so I did what my mother had told me to do, I got up and offered her my seat. The bus driver saw this in his mirror and he yelled back at me to sit down. I walked up to the front of the bus and said quietly, “Sir, my mother told me if a lady was standing on the bus I had sure better be standing. So I gave the lady my seat.” The driver said, “I said sit down, boy.” I once again repeated my mother’s counsel, ‘If a lady is standing you had better be standing.’ He pulled the bus to the curb and said once more to me. “I said sit down.” I responded, “But sir, my mother’ about that time he stopped the bus completely, opened the front door and said, “The bus driver said get off the bus boy.” So I got off of the bus and started my walk toward home. I really don’t remember my thoughts that day except that I bet the lady didn’t get the seat even though it was now empty for sure and that I should have had the ice cream. Later it would occur to me that maybe, just maybe, the lady standing said to herself, ‘Well I be, there is one white boy who is a gentlemen in this town.”

Ivan

Published in: on October 25, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Robe of His Son

Steve had been a difficult child. He was a bully at school, ran with all the wrong people and enjoyed and bragged about sowing his wild oats. He caused his parents a lot of sleepless nights, worry and heartache. In his first year of college he met a Christian girl and to his surprise she turned him down and held to her convictions that she would only date him at church functions. Within six months of ‘attending’ church Steve had a glorious change and became a committed believer. He married that girl and for fifty years they live a beautiful life in spite of his regret for those early years. Steve enjoyed his Christian life and was a committed and important leader in his local church. The children of their marriage had a wonderful home and they too became member of God’s family. But Steve never could get rid of those early years, the hurt he caused his parents, the sin against others and certainly against God. Many nights were filled with tears of regret and wishes for a do over with life. Of course it never came.
When he died and entered heaven he was invite to come to a banquet in God’s great dinning room. He knew that he was too sinful to enter, so he just peeked around the door. God spoke up and said, “Steve, come in and have a seat, you will enjoy the banquet.” Steve replied that he was too sinful to enter; God said, “Why Steve I am looking at you and I don’t see any sin.” Steve asked about all the sins of his early life. The sin which he had spent a life time regretting. God’s reply was simple; “Steve I don’t seen any sin, all I see is the robe of my Son.” That is the picture of Grace; God is not a keeper of the bad moments for those who trust in His Son, He sees only the robe that His Son has put around each of us. His Robe, not our sins, but the robe of the righteousness of Jesus.

Ivan

Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Great Watermelon Vine

(A Reprint from ‘Just A Moment’)

Now I have never accused myself of being a Gardner . In fact I once killed an artificial arrangement of flowers, (I over watered them and they unraveled.) However I have had some success with tomatoes, sunflowers, and one year mush melons. So this year I planted a watermelon. Now it has grown. In fact the vine is at least 20 feet long, the only problem, like many of us we grow, we just don’t product any fruit. No watermelons on this great vine. I have searched through the monkey grass; it was planted in monkey grass, and no melons. I told my congregation about this last week and compared it to many of us, no fruit. Now I must apologize to my watermelon vine. I came home last Friday night from dinner and there in the monkey grass was a full grown watermelon. A perfectly round, beautiful melon. The seed I planted said it would be a long melon, but what the heck; I will take a round one. Then to my surprise on another branch of the melon was a fully grown cantaloupe. Wow! Now that is not the end. My melon was not only ready to be removed, it was already chilled. That’s right, a fully grown, ripe, and ready to eat chilled melon on one branch and a perfect cantaloupe on the other. I have more than a green thumb, I have some great friends.

Published in: on October 21, 2011 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Driving in the Rain

We had spent too much time being negative, talking about how bad things are and how they are only getting worst. Everyone had an ax to grind and not one had a blessing to share. It was an hour of despair and fretting and sitting on our pity pots talking about how bad we have it and that it is only going to get worst. As I drove through the rain my heart was shattered for I was thinking about all that we had discussed and how there are so very many problems facing our world today, problems that my children and grandchildren are going to be left with because of the greed of our generation. I wanted to weep, it seemed like the weight of the world was forcing me under and there was no way up. The storm outside was raging inside my heart and soul. I did weep, I prayed and through the rain soaked windshield of my car God seemed to speak to me and to show me that just as I could drive only where I was and only where I could see that I could not change all the things that had been mentioned. I could only focus on what was in front of me. God helped me to understand that I am responsible for being the best that I can be, doing His will as I understand it, and not for the whole world. I saw through that wet windshield the blessings that were all around me. My health is reasonable for a man my age, my family belongs to the Lord and my car was warm and working. Not bad for just a moment of remembering. I challenge you to turn off the news and turn on the remembrance of all the blessings you have. Like myself, I challenge you to seek to be God’s best. If we will do that then our world has a chance. Jesus is able and He is ready to repair, to redo, and to redeem all who will come to Him. Remember what Jesus said in Revelations 21:5. “Behold I make all things new.” Thanks God

Published in: on October 20, 2011 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Will You Join Us?

He was born in this far off country but it would never be his home. He had done well, received a good education, found a job and risen to a place of importance as part of the countries leadership. Well he was near power but had no power; but he moved among the powerful and in fact he was a personal servant to the King and met most of the important people who visited and hear the ‘power talk’ that came from all levels of leadership. But it was still not his home, this was neither his land nor the land of his fathers for that land he longed. He met some people from his homeland and asked them to tell him about his country and the people that were still there. What they told him broke his heart and brought him to tears and inward and outward sorrow. For months he sought direction, he wept, he suffered, he went without food, he aged in his broken heart until one day the King noticed and he asked him what was wrong. Even though others would count him a slave, he saw himself as a servant of God, currently serving on the servant staff of an ungodly King. But in spit of that fact he knew that he was to do his best, to be his best and to serve this earthly King as if he were serving God. So he had done his best and the King came to understand him, to know him and to see the destruction that the bad news had done to his body and to his heart. The King asked him what was wrong and Nehemiah told him that the walls of the hometown of his family were torn down, the gates were burned and his people were in great distress. He wanted to go home. He wanted to rebuild the wall. He wanted to change the broken country of his people. Look around, the walls of our nation have been torn down the gates to our way of life have been burned and the future of our children will be that of distress if we do not become a Nehemiah. Sunday I asked my people at First Baptist to pray deeply for our nation and our leadership. I asked them to repent of our own sins and then to lay the distress of our nation at the feet of Jesus. Will you join us?

Published in: on October 19, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Boys and Girls

There is a Difference Boys and girls are different and I for one am very glad that they are different. However I can remember when I was not sure how I felt about girls because they always wanted to pretend and we guys didn’t know what that meant because we wanted to play like. You know like cowboys and Indians, and soldiers and cops and robbers. There were other things I wasn’t sure about for example mother said that I must never hit a girl and for all these years I have not, but I remember one girl in our group of kids on Lindsey Street that hit all of the guys and even put a hot marshmallow on my arm; if I searched really close I think I could find the scar, she just like to beat up people. But then there was this other girl; she told everyone that she ‘liked’ me and boy did that make me mad, not sure why but it did, of course that was then not now. I remember one day when we were all playing in the empty lot on Lindsey Street that she chased me down and flat kissed me. You read it right; she flat touched her lips to mine. We would call it a smooth mouth today but then to a ten year old it was bad, really bad. I spit, and spit and spit trying to get rid of that kiss.
Well time went on and I grew and she grew. Somewhere about our junior year in high school she turned into a ten and I, well I was still a four, nothing has really changed in all those years, I got a lot taller, but baldness came early and I have always been a pretty good four. Well I remembered that day on Lindsey Street and that brief moment with ‘sex’ after all she had kissed me. I decided to prod her memory and so I stood beside her one day in the lunch line and said, “You remember that day on Lindsey Street a long time ago?” She turned and looked at me and said, “What are you talking about and who are you; go away you tall drink of water.” Well I guess she didn’t remember. So it is that life moves on, hurt feelings and all; but I still remember.

Ivan

Published in: on October 18, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment