The Emotional Farmer

There once was a farmer who went on quite the journey. It all started when God gave him a word about a particular piece of land he had just purchased.

“I will bless the crops you plant in this field,” God said. “I will multiply your harvest 100 times what you plant. So be of good courage, do not faint in your work, for I will surely bless all that you do in this field.”

The farmer was ecstatic! God had personally given him a word for this new piece of land! He would not let God down! With all his might and with a whole lot of fervor, he worked the land to see God’s promise fulfilled!

Friends watched as he plowed the land and mixed in fertilizer and lime. He wanted this field to produce the big harvest it was destined to produce.

“You sure are working hard on this field, giving it all you’ve got,” the friends pointed out.

“I know,” the farmer would reply. “God told me He would bless this field and bring a great harvest. So I’m working with all my might.”

He dared not tell them though that God had promised him 100 times what he sowed. They would just think he was crazy.

Soon the plowing was done and the season of planting seeds had come. This farmer spared no expense as he began planting the best seed and as much seed as he possibly could. If God was going to multiply it 100 times then he was going to pour in everything he had.

“Well,” he said to himself one day. “I’ve planted this entire field. I’ve given it my best effort. Now I can just watch God make his word come true to me.”

If only that were all that was left. Day after day the farmer checked on his field. But nothing was happening. A whole week went by and there was not one sprout!

“Why me God???” the farmer cried out.

He ran to the man who sold him the seed. He told the man what was happening and demanded a full refund! Maybe God was going to give him the 100 times back by suing the seed company.

“A refund on seed you’ve only planted a week ago?” The seed vendor just laughed.

“You told me this seed was the best! Why isn’t it up yet?”

“Give it one more week, just one more week, man!”

And so the farmer went home and called all his friends. “Be praying for my crops,” he said. “I’ve been experiencing warfare and my seeds haven’t sprouted yet.”

One more day went by and the farmer gave up all hope. The seeds would never sprout. He just hadn’t heard God.

Then on the morning of day 10, the farmer saw something he never thought he would. There were tiny little green sprouts in his field! The seed was actually doing something!

“Tonight, at 6pm, bring your family and lawn chairs. I’m inviting everyone out to my field for a little celebration.” The farmer called and told all his friends about the party. He was on cloud nine.

“Who would’ve thought,” one friend said, “that the million seeds you planted would actually sprout? I mean what are the chances of that?”

“My thoughts exactly!” The farmer agreed. “I’m determined though never to doubt God again. He said he’d give me 100 times what I sowed and I know that I know he’ll do it. I won’t worry in the waiting anymore!!”

“Wow, 100 times what you sowed?” The friend wanted to be sure he heard correctly.

The farmer was a little embarrassed that he had let out the enormity of God’s promise. “Yeah, that’s what God said.”

The farmer enjoyed his party and did the best he could to stick to his word to never doubt again. But this year just wasn’t the best for crop producing.

It rained and rained and rained. So much rain and in such a short amount of time created a small little lake on the farmer’s field. This lake grew and grew and drowned the poor farmer’s plants.

“No worries,” he said. “I’ll replant when it dries out. God is going to give me 100 times what I put into this field. I guess it’s just going to be a really big harvest!”

The farmer did replant nearly two-thirds of his field. It was just in time too for the weather was beginning to turn hot.

Summer, in all of its fury came. The sun baked the earth until it turned brittle and hard. The temperatures rose and so did the farmers stress level. His tender green plants were turning into brown dead sticks.

“God won’t let you down,” his friends encouraged.

“Too late. He already has. I can’t just keep replanting this silly field every month!” the farmer exclaimed.

The friends tried to cheer him up. “But it will be good in the end, just wait and see.”

The farmer did wait as the heat turned to drought and the drought turned into more depression. This whole thing was a bust. He needed to move on and forget about the word he’d had.

The hot temperatures kept sparking pop up thunderstorms. The farmer would only watch the radar as one pop up thunderstorm after another went around his field. One even dissipated before it got to him and then reformed after it passed over him.

“Why God?” he cried out once more. “Why are you punishing me? Did I not hear you?”

The farmer knew God was not punishing him but it certainly felt like someone was. He realized God might be letting these things happen because he wanted the farmer to learn to have faith, no matter what the circumstances were. So he got rid of his complaining and decided to do something!

“Come on everyone,” the farmer said to his friends. “I’m having another party at my field to celebrate the drought breaking before it happens! We are going to thank God for rain before it rains because I know he’s faithful and he hears me.”

The drought broke. This time a rain shower that was the size of the whole state came and soaked the land. Finally his plants and field were seeing relief!

When he got the heart to survey the field, the farmer found about half of his field had been severely affected by the drought. But the other half seemed to be doing wonderfully! He decided he would focus on the half that was doing okay and believe God for a miracle.

The summer went by and now the fall showed it’s colors. The farmer knew his field hadn’t fully recovered and he couldn’t help but feel disappointed. He had lost something he’d never see again. He’d lost things he didn’t even think God could restore. But if God did miraculously bless him he might break even.

“Hey, you might want to come over here to your field,” a friend called and said to the farmer one morning.

The farmer rushed to the field without even getting out of his pajamas. He came upon the field and couldn’t believe his eyes.

“Apparently a tornado came through here last night,” his friend said as the farmer came closer to the field. “Sorry man.”

The farmer couldn’t believe what was happening to him. This was ridiculous. Was this for real? How on earth was he still suppose to believe God was good?

Now the farmer had two choices in that moment. He could forget the silly field and move on with his life. Or he could hold out hope and believe God would still turn it all around. His decision wouldn’t actually affect whether or not his field produced a harvest…or would it?

The farmer decided to see it through. The harvest was never the goal anyways. His goal in life was to live for God, not the field and definitely not the harvest. So if the last word God had given him was for this field, then he’d wait it out until the end because he loved God and not for any other reason.

But man, this harvest was long in coming! If the sprouting of the seeds felt long, this felt ten times longer. Waiting for what was left of the crop to ripen, the farmer made preparations for the harvesting.

Friends and neighbors did their best to help the farmer celebrate as he harvested his meager crop.

Then came the phone call.

“You won’t believe it!!!” The voice screamed on the other end.

“Believe what?”

“When I hauled your grain to the elevator, I was pretty upset with how small the load was. Well when I unloaded it, it just kept on giving.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that your measly harvest somehow multiplied during the unloading process and you now have a check for …”

The farmer dropped the phone. The amount his driver just said was exactly 100 times all the expenses he had invested into his field (not that he had been counting). Even including the cost he had in resowing!

He dropped to his knees and wept!

“Oh God, you alone are God!!! You have blown away all my expectations! You never fail! You are never set back! You are and will always be good! No matter what! Now I see you just wanted my heart! Now I see you just wanted my trust.”

And this time, the farmer decided he’d really, really believe God was good and faithful no matter the circumstances…

…Until next season at least!

**********Author’s Notes************

Thanks for reading! Be sure to share this story if it impacted you and comment below to let me know your thoughts!

Be encouraged! God has no problem turning around your circumstances! He spoke the world into existence…pretty sure he can handle anything you’re facing! He’s just after your heart! Will you embrace the season you’re in and let your heart grow? That’s the real miracle.

When we get to Heaven we aren’t going to regret one time (not even one) when character was worked into us through a wilderness season. Why? Because it’s preparing us to hold glory beyond what we can imagine!

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Jailbreak

I walk the long hallway lined with prison cells. Inmates stare at me as I am pushed toward my own holding tank.

“Get in there you worthless piece of scum!” my prison ward says shoving me behind bars. “You’ll never amount to anything. You are just a sinner full of sin. The safest thing for you is to stay behind these walls and remember your wrongs!”

I hang my head in shame, knowing the guard is right. I don’t deserve to be let outside these bars. I don’t deserve to live outside of my shame.

The jail door slames behind me and I hear the guard slink off, murmuring comments of accusation at random prisoners on his way out.

“So, why are you here?” someone asks.

I turn to see a group of people huddling in the corner. Some in the group are older some are younger and there are both male and female.

“I did something wrong. I messed up,” I say in almost a whisper. “I feel so ashamed of it. I hung out with the wrong crowd. I . . .” my voice trails off.

“Go on, tell us,” an older gentleman encourages. “We are all in the same boat.”

“Well, I stole some Gatorade from a gas station.”

“A Gatorade? For real? Dang, I would’ve gone for at least a Coke.”

“I know and I got caught! I am so embarrassed! So full of sin! So evil!”

I sulk in my sorrows for a moment. I finally look up out of my self-hatred at the group in my cell. I realize I haven’t asked them why they are in jail – I could be in a cell with a bunch of murderers!!!

“So, ah,” I start to say, wringing my hands and trying to sound nonchalant. “What put you guys behind these bars?”

The older man clears his throat. “Well, we actually are a family. This is my wife and kids.”

“Oh okay.” I try not to sound nervous. They are all related? That sounds like I am a little out numbered if they try to do something.

“We all had a really good friend that we loved. We had a great relationship with him when suddenly he died. It threw my whole family into a downward spiral. Our lives seemed to fall apart. We started having feelings of bitterness and started questioning if God was good. Anyway, we felt so bad that we turned ourselves into the police. They immediately locked us away until we could bury our pain.”

Suddenly a door opens and the prison guard appears again in the hall.

“We just want to remind you, you dirty no good criminals, that if you keep repenting of your evil deeds you might just have hope after you die. Unfortunately you are too far gone to help right now. Some of you will always be too dangerous to let out of these cells to the public. So keep repenting. Keep being depressed. Keep living in mourning. Nothing will ever change but your sadness might give you a better life after you die.”

Then the guard came close to my cell. He looked past me and focused on the family huddled together.

The guard whispered at them. “We all understand your pain. We know it’s hard when you find out God isn’t as good as you thought. Keep asking questions. Keep questioning God because I would like to know what He says. Maybe if you get an answer you’ll be at peace.”

The guard seems so concerned about the family. I really can’t believe how helpful he is being.

“What about me, do you have advice for me?” I ask.

“You? Just keep feeling like a worm.”

And with that the guard leaves. I find a little bench against the wall and take a seat. The family in my cell look even more depressed. Wow, this is my new life in jail. It’s not exactly what I thought it would be but then again I deserve this.

The door out in the hall opens again. I assume it is just the guard again but this time there aren’t any long accusations. I decide to get up and look into the hallway. That’s when I see a man stopping at each cell, talking intently with the people inside.

“Hey, who is this guy?” I ask the family. They shrug their shoulders.

I watch as the man comes closer and closer to my cell. Who is he and what is he saying to everyone? Suddenly I don’t have to wonder anymore – the man appears in front of me and says my name.

“How do you know my name?”

“I knew you before you were born, why are you here behind bars?”

Well darn it. This must be Jesus, and he is seeing me at my worst! Why couldn’t he have come when I was at church last week? “If you know my name you must also know what I have done.”

“Yes, I know what you did but why are you behind bars? Didn’t you ask me for forgiveness?”

I nod, not sure how that helps.

Jesus then focuses on the family behind me. He has such love and compassion in his eyes. I can tell he loves this family and me very deeply.

“How long are you planning on staying in the prison of doubt?” he asks them.

“Lord, you failed us.”

“Only the enemy fails people and brings destruction. I can only bring good. Do you believe I am a good God?”

“Well, yes, but we need to know why you let this happen to us.”

“Is it the prison guard that keeps reminding you to ask why? He wasn’t the one who lost a friend.” Jesus pauses for a second. “Do you believe I am a good God?”

The family is quiet for a moment. Then the old man slowly replies, “Yes, you are a good God.”

“Then it is time you let that belief become more powerful than the questions and the circumstances. Life is too short to waste it inside a prison cell. Your destiny awaits outside, my dear children!”

Jesus turns to all the prisoners and says in a loud voice, “I have already cancelled your debts. It is time to step out of your prison of shame. My blood was enough!”

I hear murmuring among the prisoners and within my own self. How can we step out of this locked up prison? Was his blood really enough to remove shame? I thought I needed to keep showing my sorrow, repentance, and shame to prove I was sorry.

“For everyone in this prison who is doubting my goodness – don’t stay in this place any longer.” Jesus continues, “My Father is good and we only do good things. If you have questions then send them to the cross! The cross ends all debates and silences every accusation against my character!”

My heart begins to feel hope in this dark prison as Jesus speaks these words. I am just trying to process the whole fact that I don’t have to wear shame to prove my repentance when a dilemna hits me.

“Lord, I believe you’re probably speaking the truth, but how do we get out of this prison? Do you think you can convince the guard to let us out?”

Jesus laughs. “I have it all taken care of. Son, your accuser is shaking in his boots because you’re standing in a cell that doesn’t have a lock. You are free to leave.”

How I Beat My Dad Bowling

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“This is probably the most exciting night of my life,” I reply. “I’ve practically dreamed about this happening since I was a child.”

My Dad’s friends laugh at my answer to their question of whether I am excited or not.

Excited? For a four-year-old this is like winning the lottery. My Dad finally took me bowling with his best buddies. I guess that means you can call me one of my Dad’s best buddies!

My Dad helps me change out my shoes for some very ugly ones that the lady gave us when we paid.

“Dad, do I have to wear these new shoes?”

“I’m afraid so. They help you when you go to release the ball.”

With my new pair of shoes on, I am finally ready to begin my bowling career.

“Would you like to go first?” One of Dad’s friends ask me.

“Absolutely! I can’t wait!”

“You’re up then!”

I jump up onto the wooden platform where everyone has placed their bowling balls on some sort of machine. I take my ball from the rack and with all my might carry the ball toward the lane where you’re suppose to roll it.

This process is very arduous and I can’t believe how heavy the ball is! Wow! Everything within me seems to be straining to keep the ball from dropping on the floor.

Luckily, Dad has been holding the ball with me the whole time though I’m sure I did most of the heavy lifting.

“Okay, we are going to gently roll the ball down the lane together,” my Dad explains. “So on the count of three, we will let go of the ball.”

“One, two, three!” I scream as I release the ball with all that is within me.

“Dad?” I ask after a few seconds, “is the ball suppose to be moving that slow?”

“Just wait, it will get down there.”

Slowly but surely the ball rolls down the lane. It seems like it is taking forever. My mind wanders for a second while we are waiting. I notice other bowlers throwing their balls with force down the lanes and almost crushing the pins.

Suddenly I jerk my attention back to my ball just in time to see it drop into the gutter before reaching the pins. 

“Yay!!!” I exclaim. “I landed my ball right in the gutter! That’s hard to do, Dad. Isn’t it?”

My dad smiles at me. “It sure is, son.”

I run back to my Dad’s friends to tell them the amazing thing I have just done.

“Hey come back here. You have one more time to throw the ball.”

I turn around to see my Dad holding my bowling ball. How in the world did he get my bowling ball again? I shrug my shoulders and run back to take the ball off his hands.

Again, me and my Dad get another gutter ball!

“Wow, I’m pretty good at this! I bet you won’t have to help me next time, Dad,” I say.

I don’t want to hurt his feelings or anything, but I’m pretty sure I can handle the ball alone.

“I’ll keep helping you. Maybe when you get a little older you can do it alone.”

I take my seat after having bowled two straight gutter balls.

I watch as my dad and his friends each bowl. I try to keep encouraging them but frankly they aren’t very good. They keep on hitting pins and getting strikes.

“It’s a good thing we aren’t playing baseball,” I say toward the end of the game. “You guys would be out.”

“You’re right,” my Dad laughs. “You would be beating us in baseball wouldn’t you?”

“Yeah, I kinda am in bowling too,” I point out trying not to get too puffed up.

Finally the game is over! I got 20 points and dad got 160.

“Dad, I beat you!”

Dad looks at the scores and can’t believe his eyes. Apparently this is a shock for him.

“Well, I guess you did!”

I feel so proud. I didn’t even need to look at the other guys’ scores because I knew they kept getting strikes. The only real competition was basically between my Dad and me, and I won!

“How about some ice cream now? There’s that shop just around the corner,” my Dad suggests.

“Yes! I love ice cream!”

“Let’s just give your shoes back to the lady, and we will be on our way.”

“Wait, what?!” I stop in my tracks. “I thought they were mine to keep.”

My Dad laughs. “No, silly. We just rented them. We have to give them back so other people can use them.”

I rush to my chair in a panic and quickly take my shoes off. “Yuck! You mean other people’s feet have been in these! Why didn’t you warn me! I hope they at least disinfect them, right??”

“I’m sure they disinfect them,” my Dad laughs.

I feel appalled that my Dad had me put on such a health hazard.

“I can’t wait to get a cup of that pecan praline ice cream,” one of Dad’s friends comment.

And just like that I forget about the shoes and am onto ice cream flavors.

Author’s notes:

Isn’t it amazing that God let’s us “bowl” with him? He decides to partner with people to bring His love and kingdom on the earth! He uses us to lay hands on the sick, to cast out demons, and to preach the kingdom!

We can sometimes think we have it all figured out. We think we know the “rules” (even if they are backwards) of how God moves and yet sometimes we don’t realize that He’s the one doing the heavy lifting. Haha! We are just the second set of hands on the bowling ball! His hands are so much bigger and stronger. His hands hold the power! He just chooses to use our hands with His.

The shoes also mean something but I’m not sure what yet! So, feel free to comment and let me know if anything else speaks to you!

Jesus Standing for You

Before you read this you may want to take a look at Acts 7 especially verses 55-60.

So here we have Stephen being martyred – pretty dramatic – and my favorite part is when he sees Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father! Wow! Jesus was resurrected and seated at the right hand of God but here Stephen actually sees Jesus standing – as if what is going on can’t be watched from a sitting position because He’s so excited.

I can just hear Jesus saying, “That’s my boy! Oh Stephen, you have ravished my heart! Oh Stephen, you make me so proud! Come on! I can’t wait to hold you in my embrace! Come on! You’re so close – keep going! I’m giving you the love you need for this moment. Just keep looking at Me! Do you see the tears in My eyes? They are tears of joy for you and tears of love for your killers. Oh Stephen, I’m so proud of you! Thank you for loving them! How I love you!”

Here’s where it gets tough: Can you imagine Jesus saying this about you? Can you picture Jesus standing up in joy over you?

My thoughts have always been, “Well, I’m not being martyred so probably not. But I know Jesus loves me.” There was something in me that still thought I had to earn God’s love – or at least His stand up, applauding kind of love.

But here’s the truth. I think Jesus stands up for everyone of His kids like He did for Stephen.

When He looks at you does He see all your faults? Or does He say, “You are so lovely”? (Song of Songs 1:5).

I don’t have to earn God’s love or do something in my eyes to make Him proud of me! Just being His son or daughter qualifies you to bring His heart joy! Letting Him love me, believing He loves me, and releasing His love to others is my only call and the only thing we can do that makes Him proud. His delight isn’t in your money, influence,  success, or works – His delight is in you!

Luke 19 talks about some servants that got a decent amount of money. There was one servant who didn’t bring pleasure to his master and why was that? Because he saw his master as harsh, impossible to please, and strict. He disconnected himself from God’s love. It’s when I disconnect myself from God’s love that I ruin my life. It’s when I stop the flow of love and reject His acceptance of me that I destroy my life. It’s when I take my eyes off of His eyes of pleasure for me and look at my pain, short comings, and trials that I forget who I really am to Him.

We have to see ourselves the way He sees us because we can’t move forward in love until we do. When we know we are flawless in God’s sight we become unoffendable and able to release forgiveness to those killing us.

It is your own shame that causes you to take offense, point fingers, and judge your brother. Shame makes you feel the need to hold a grudge because you are holding a grudge against yourself. Shame makes you point the finger at your brother because you are pointing the finger at yourself. Shame makes you see God as an angry judge who counts all your faults so that’s what you do to those around you.

You have to love yourself before you can love others. You can’t have shame and be Jesus to people. I have to let Jesus free me, love me, and accept me before I can truly love. I have to let Jesus destory my blanket of shame so I can love the people throwing stones at me.

So let’s both do something. Let’s close our eyes and pierce through our misconceptions and wrong ideas of God. Let’s pierce through the shame and works mentality. Let’s pierce through and see Jesus standing beside the Father gazing at you with love. Ask Him how He sees you. Ask Him if He is proud of you. Ask Him if He finds joys out of your life. And then live out of that place of being loved!

Longest Ride of My Life! – Short Story

 

This has been the longest ride of my life. My legs feel restless and I’m hot and sweaty from the sun beating down on my poor little head.

“Are you sure we are headed in the right direction?” I finally ask, knowing something has to be wrong for it to take this long.

AutomotivesNeither mom nor dad respond immediately but I can tell they heard me. From the back seat where I’m sitting, I can’t see the expression on their face but I imagine they are both worried.

“I promise you,” dad finally says. “We will get there.”

“Yes, but are you sure we didn’t take a wrong turn?”

“Yes, son, I know where we are going and we are right on track.”

I sigh. My dad seems really calm which can either mean he knows what he is doing or he is lost and doesn’t want to scare me.

I look to my right and see my sister is fast asleep, drooling on her pillow. How in the world can she sleep so long? This trip is wearing me out and she’s fast asleep enjoying the ride.

Actually, that’s a good idea. Long trips always go by faster when you sleep through them. I decide to follow my sister’s example (all except for the drooling) and lay my head against the car door. My mind feels like it’s in disarray but I finally make myself fall asleep.

Suddenly the car swerves and I’m jolted awake.

“Oh my gosh!!!” I scream. “We almost wrecked!”

“You jolted yourself awake,” my mom assures, laughing as she looks back at me. “We didn’t almost wreck, honey.”

“How long was I asleep?” I ask my heart still pounding from the near-death wreck I had imagined. “It looks like the sun has moved a lot since I fell asleep,” I notice, looking out my window.

“You slept a few minutes,” my mom replies.

“You’re kidding?!” I ask in shock. “Only for a few minutes?! Are we not almost there yet?”

“We are about two minutes closer than when you asked the first time.”

I lay my head back against in the seat in dismay. Out of the corner of my eye I see a map tucked behind the seat in front of my sister (who is still sleeping). I pull out the map and begin trying to figure out where we are. I need to wrap my head around this or I fear a mental breakdown is coming.

“Can you even read that?” my dad asks, looking at me through the rearview mirror.

“Not really, dad,” I say, beginning to feel my voice rise and fall. “I just . . .” I feel the sobs coming up my throat and I’m not able to hold them back. “I just feel lost and like we’ll never get there. It’s been a really long day and my head hurts from the sun. I’m feeling car sick like I’m going to throw up. I don’t think I can do this anymore, it is just too hard!”

I let my emotions pour out of me. The tears flow down my cheeks as I let it all loose. My dad doesn’t say anything. He just listens patiently as I have my emotional meltdown.

“I’m sick of people saying we’re almost there,” I continue, “And yet we never get there! I’m just not sure I can handle the stress and the trauma of this trip!”

A few minutes pass and my sobbing begins to transition into whimpers. My dad just keeps driving.

“How fast are we going anyway?” I finally ask. “I’ve noticed that red van has been in front of us forever. Are they even going the speed limit?!!”

Dad still doesn’t answer nor does my mom say anything. Finally I come to my senses.

“Dad, you’re right I’m just being a pill! I’m just being impatient and selfish. I surrender everything! All my hopes and dreams of finally getting out of this car,” I say with passion – hoping this was the real purpose my dad was taking so long. Surely, now that I have surrendered everything we will arrive. “I know I acted like a little brat just now,” I add. “And if I was you I would have spanked me but you didn’t and for that I’m thankful.”

A few more minutes pass in silence and I begin to wonder if my dad is still awake. Maybe he can’t hear me.

“Dad?”

“Yes?” he wonders.

“I want you to know I trust you. From my perspective it seems impossible that we would arrive and get out of this car. To me these doors seem so closed and the metal ceiling seems to be caving in on me but I’m going to trust you.”

“I appreciate your faith in me,” my dad answers back, with a smile written on his face. “And it’s a good thing these doors seem closed considering that we’re driving. Look, I know you’re worn out and tired and feeling like this will never end but guess what?”

“What?”

“I’ll get you there. I’ll get you out of this car and I’ll pick you up out of your car seat and I’ll set you free.”

I smile. “I believe you.”

I hate to make myself look bad but this emotional rollercoaster repeats itself three times. I have three more emotional meltdowns, three more reassuring words from my dad, and three more moments of silence before we finally reach our destination.

Just like dad promised, he gets out and opens my door, unbuckles me, then picks me up out of the car into his arms. Finally I have arrived! Finally I am free!

Ocean

My eyes are blinded by the bright light reflecting off the white sand but they soon adjust and I take in the deep green and blue of the ocean. My heart pounds with excitement.

I can smell the salty breeze mixed with the distinct scent of sunscreen lotion. I can hear the waves crashing on the shore and cry of sea gulls searching for a place to land. In moments I’m going to be running into those waves, feeling the cool water crash around me, tasting that salt on my lips and basking in the glorious sun light!

“We made it! We actually made it! I thought it was impossible but I never doubted you, dad. I just kept believing you.”

“Good for you,” he laughs as he sets me down on the sand. “Now go enjoy the water while we unpack the car.”

“I think our son just went through the longest 20 minute drive of his life,” my dad comments to my mom.

“I think it’s safe to say we have a very dramatic four-year-old,” she responds and they both laugh.

 

The End.

Author’s notes:

  • Maybe you’re going through a long season of waiting on the Lord – Don’t quit! Don’t get discouraged! You have a heavenly Father in the driver’s seat and he will get you to your destination.
  • Maybe you’re pushing for a breakthrough or contending for your destiny – Your daddy has you in his hands and he won’t let you miss out on the great plans he has for your life. Don’t give up hope!
  • Maybe you’re trying to read the map and figure it all out – Don’t worry, he knows every turn and he isn’t lost. Just trust him. He has good for you!
  • Maybe you feel like it’s impossible that God can turn your situation around – Don’t lose faith. He is so much more in control than you can fathom.
  • Here is the reality: Our life is a 20 minute drive compared to eternity! And when we get to heaven it is going to be so much better than any beach!! We’re going to see God face to face!!! Every bit of fear and pain will be forgotten as we embrace the savior of the world! Love we can’t even comprehend will overwhelm our emotions. Joy surpassing anything we’ve ever experienced here on earth will fill us. He will be the fulfillment of every desire you have ever had!!! And believe me, it will totally be worth the wait!

My Ministry – Short Story

The place is a buzz. Everyone is trying to talk at once as the crowd listens intently to what we are saying. Each disciple is sharing how he had cast out demons, healed sick people, and preached to this city and that. The atmosphere is electric with excitement and I haven’t even fully shared all my stories yet – which are frankly the most amazing in my opinion.

Jesus

“Jesus, one guy started screaming while I was preaching,” Peter exclaimed, “and I told the spirit to be silent and leave him and it did!”

“That’s amazing Peter,” I whisper to myself. “Let’s not get too cocky about it.”

In my humility and wisdom, I keep relatively silent as the others fight for a chance to share their own stories. How childish. Finally Jesus has had enough, I can tell, of their immature noise and motions for us disciples to gather around.

“Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile. I know you’re all tired,” Jesus suggests.

“That’s a great idea! I haven’t even got a chance to eat we’ve been so busy with this ministry,” I agree.

Without saying much more all of us disciples pile into the boats with Jesus. There’s no need for us to discuss where we should go. Everyone knows the perfect resting place. It is a place on the other side of the lake, far away from people, noise, and all the daily drama associated with big time ministries like ours.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Andrew mutters as we approach the other side of the lake near our destination. We all look in the direction Andrew is pointing and see crowds streaming over the hills.

“Should we turn around?” Peter wonders. “I doubt we’ll rest with crowds like this!”

We all look at Jesus for direction and we can see compassion has flooded his face. I even notice a few tears in his eyes as he looks at all the people pouring forth to meet us as we approach land.

Well, I think to myself, so what for resting.

We land our boats and Jesus dives right into teaching the crowds. The day wears on hour by hour as we sit and listen (or half-listen) to what Jesus is saying. Honestly, I don’t listen much to what Jesus is saying because it’s mainly basic stuff. I’m at the point where I’m ready for more in-depth teachings. I’ve been through the basics. Actually I just finished preaching to crowds and healing the sick and casting out demons – something the people in this multitude only dream of doing one day.

The sun is getting nearer and nearer the western horizon. Oh my goodness this is the longest day ever! Some of the other disciples agree with me and suggest I help Jesus end his teachings.

“You do it. Jesus won’t rebuke you if you do it,” they encourage.

“You’re just afraid to interrupt him,” I laugh. “Okay, I’ll do it.”

I stand up and slowly make my way close to Jesus. He is just finishing a teaching when he looks at me. He is smiling and I see energy exuding from him. Strange. Here he is, teaching all day long, and he has more energy than me!

“Do you want something?” Jesus asks, smiling as if he knows what I am about to say.

I clear my throat. “We are a long way out here in the middle of nowhere,” I begin. “And it’s very late in the day. Pronounce your benediction and send this crowd away so they can eat some supper.”

I didn’t really care about the crowd eating supper I was just tired and wanted to rest.

Jesus laughs at my suggestion. “You do it. You fix them supper,” he replies.

“Are you serious?” I ask in disbelief. “You want us to go spend a fortune so these people can eat?”

“How much bread do you have? Find out.” he answers.

I turn to the disciples to get the answer before coming back to Jesus. “We have five loaves of bread plus two fish.”

I watch as Jesus tells the crowd to sit down in groups. He then takes our two fish and five loaves of bread and lifts them up in the sky and blesses them.

“Thank you, Father, that you take what little we have and multiple it to feed the multitudes.”

Great. I’m tired from a hard week of ministry, a long day of teaching, and now I’m going to go to bed starving as Jesus gives away our supper to these crowds. I’m having a hard time thinking loving thoughts about the people in the crowd right now. Don’t they realize how much of an inconvenience they are? If only I could let them see how tired and irritated they make me sometimes.

Bread“Here, take these,” Jesus says, handing me the food he just blessed. “And start handing them to the crowds.”

What a chore! We’re tired and now we have to pass out free food to a bunch of leeches.

The sun is already halfway disappeared before we get to sit down and eat supper.

“Do you realize how many people we just fed with only a small amount of food to begin with!” Peter exclaims. “God just multiplied the food!”

“I couldn’t believe it! We just kept passing it out one loaf after another and it never ran out!” John adds.

“Praise God for his miraculous supply!” the others chime in.

I hadn’t even noticed the miracle. It just now dawns on me how amazing this accomplishment is. When I had been passing out the food I guess I just assumed there would be enough and didn’t really pay attention.

“I guess I’ve just been so accustomed to miracles,” I say out loud, “that I didn’t even notice until now.”

The disciples laugh.

“Alright,” Jesus says, coming over to where we are sitting. “When you finish eating you can go ahead and get into the boat and cross over to the other side of the lake. I’ll take care of sending the crowds home.”

“Are you sure?” John asks. “We don’t want you to have to do all that work!”

“I insist. I know how tired everyone is anyway.”

I don’t argue with Jesus’ suggestion. Shortly after we finish supper, we all climb back into the boats and head for a more peaceful location to sleep. The night is closing in but it won’t be long before we make it to the other side.

Seven hours later we are still in the middle of the lake! Tired, worn out, and rowing with all our might against the harsh wind, we keep pressing on toward that other side.

I am beginning to think I am living in a nightmare. Either that or I’m on my way to having a mental breakdown. Will I ever find rest!!?

“Ahhhh! A ghost!” Thomas screams.

I’m not sure why, probably because we’re so tired, but we all believe that there really is a ghost. We strain hard and see a figure walking on the water.

“Row harder!” Peter shouts. “Before it gets here!”

“Courage!” Jesus calls out. “It’s me. Don’t be afraid!’

We hardly believe our eyes as Jesus walks on the water to our boat and gets in. He is peaceful, calm, and looks refreshed. How on earth does Jesus look so rested?

Suddenly it seems to set in. This whole day was a lesson. Jesus was trying to teach us that our ministry was not about us and  that rest was found when we stopped striving. He had taught us that by giving away our last bit (whether that be food or strength or time) our Father would multiply it back to us.

Jesus went through the same circumstances but he was refreshed as he gave to the multitudes, flowing in the energy and miraculous power from God. We became tired and more tired as we focused on our own needs all day long and kept striving to get away from them. There is nothing more tiring then being focused on yourself all day. Focused on my tiredness, focused on my ministry, focused on my stories, focused on my pain, focused on my hunger.

In reality, the crowd was a gift from God to refresh us. Jesus had already known they would follow us to the other side. Maybe if we had given to them we would have found an energy we didn’t know existed. Maybe we would have tapped into a spiritual vitality flowing from God.

I am seeing now that my strength fails. It couldn’t heal a single body, cast out a single spirit, or even row across a stupid lake. Jesus was showing me that my strength isn’t worth relying on. Refreshment and rest comes from entering God’s rest and strength.

As I’m pondering this, I look up and our boat hits the lake shore. Funny how easy it was after Jesus came into our boat.

The Dreaded Night – Luke 7:36-50

The dreaded night has finally arrived. I still can’t quite believe the mess I got myself into. When I had asked Jesus to my home for supper it had been a spur of the moment invitation and not at all thought through. At the time of the invite I had just heard him share an exceptional parable with the crowds and I had been impressed. That was the last time I would ever let my emotions get the best of me!

All week I had been suffering repercussions. First my family wanted to know why I had invited the revolutionist into my home. Then my colleagues wanted to know why I, a devote Pharisee, had invited an uneducated self-proclaimed teacher for supper. And then I began to question myself as to why I had done this ludicrous thing.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see Jesus and his rough looking disciples standing at my door. Not about to greet them myself, I catch the attention of Joseph, my head servant.

“Go show Jesus to his place,” I say in a low tone with my back to Jesus.

Joseph looks at me with a puzzled expression. “Do you not want to greet . . .”

“No!” I argue with as much force as I can muster. “And make sure you seat him away from the head of the table. Keep those places reserved for my friends when they arrive.”

Joseph doesn’t respond as he obeys my orders. Jesus and his disciples are brought inside and seated. I try very hard to avoid making eye contact with any of them. The awkward moments that follow seem like an eternity. When are my friends going to get here?

At last I see Caleb and Cleopas approaching my front door followed by a few others of my close acquaintances.

“Welcome!” I greet with as large a smile as I can manage. “I’m glad you could make it!”

“It’s always a pleasure to be in your company,” Caleb laughs coming inside.

“The sunlight is fading fast,” Cleopas points out.

“Yes, and you all must be hungry!” I say. “Come and sit down! I’ll have my servants bring some water for your feet and some refreshments while we wait for the first course to be served.”

Jesus and his disciples watch as my friends are carefully looked after by my servants.  I want Jesus to know I don’t see him as my equal in society. I want Jesus to see that he is the one honored to be in my home.

“Joseph, we are ready for the first course,” I say when I see that my friends have been prepared for the meal.

With the arrival of food and with the conversation among my friends rising, I am able to totally ignore that Jesus was in my home and at my table. This is just what I was hoping for: He is here but isn’t the center of attention.

Remainders of the second course are just being taken away when our dinner is interrupted. My friends gasp and I look up to see Sharon, our neighborhood harlot, standing in front of Jesus. She knows better than to come to my house when I have company! What on earth is she doing here?!

Silence fills the room and I can hear weeping. The weeping is coming from Sharon who lets her tears fall down on Jesus’ feet. Jesus remains composed when the woman suddenly falls upon his feet, wiping them with her hair, kissing them with her lips, and weeping all the more.

I am not only disgusted by this lady’s outburst of emotions but by Jesus’ response to her! He sits, looking at her with eyes that show compassion as if he understands what she is doing.

Things go from bad to worse. Sharon pulls out an alabaster flask of perfume and begins pouring the contents over Jesus’ feet. The fragrance takes over the room and drowns out the smell of the meal.

I can’t look anymore. I can’t watch this parade of sin. I know that Jesus isn’t from here but if he was a prophet, if he was anywhere close to God, he’d know this woman was unclean and a convicted sinner!

“Simon,” Jesus’ voice says splitting through the silence and invading my thoughts. “I have something to say to you.”

Disgusted I reply, “Oh really? What could you possibly have to say?”

Jesus doesn’t miss a beat. “Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred pieces of silver and the other only owed fifty. Now neither of them could make payments on their debt any longer so the banker decided to forgive them both. He completely wiped their slate clean. Tell me, which of the two would be more grateful?”

“I suppose,” I start to say, “Well, I suppose the one whom he canceled the larger debt.”

“That’s right.” Jesus turns to the woman yet he continues to speak to me. “Look at this woman here at my feet. I came to your home; you provided me no water for my feet, but she washed them with her tears. You gave me no greeting, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet. You didn’t give me anything to freshen up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it?”

Jesus pauses to look around the room. We are all silent.

“She was forgiven many, many sins and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal. I forgive your sins,” Jesus says, looking at the woman. “Your faith has saved you.”

At these words the woman seemed to have been released of a million ton load. Joy, peace, and relief seem to sweep over her. And at these words, I suddenly feel like the burden she carried has been placed on me. I now understand why I invited Jesus into my home.

I invited Jesus because deep down inside I had sin that I wanted free from. Deep down, underneath my mask, I had things I wanted Jesus to forgive. Something told me he could do it. Something told me he had the keys to freedom. Something had told me he could forgive – even though it didn’t make sense to my brain.

But my pride has been holding me back. This woman threw herself upon Jesus. I reserved myself, afraid to be seen too close in public. This woman wept upon his feet. I had remained proud, unable to humble myself to repentance. This woman gave her best perfume, probably her life’s savings, and I couldn’t even give him the best place at my table. This woman saw her sin as a heavy debt she could not pay. I had thought of my sin as minimal compared to most, but in reality my sin is greater than this woman’s for she will be leaving the room free.

The night is still young. Jesus is still in my house. Will I get the courage to humble myself before him? I take in a deep breath.