A mouse is a timid little creature, who under almost any circumstance when confronted with a dangerous situation will choose the option of flight over fight. This is a very logical position, given the non-threatening physical characteristics bestowed on the Mouse: short legs, a round body covered in white hair, a small mouth with smaller teeth, and a roar that closely resembles air slowly leaking from a balloon. A snake, on the other hand, seems content with fighting first and asking questions later. In fact, a snake rarely asks questions at all, they just strike. Also logical, because a snake’s body is designed for stealth, attack, and creating fear in an opponent or prey. It is not a coincidence then, that many snakes eat mice, so choosing to run, as opposed to joining a snake for dinner, is another good choice for a mouse. Sometimes though, running is not the first option.
I own an old manual typewriter, similar to what you might see when visiting the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. Weighing at least 10 pounds, it comes in its own grey/green carrying case, proudly baring the name, Smith-Corona on a black and chrome nameplate. Inside is a beautiful instrument of mechanical artwork, operated solely by using the knowledge and creativity stored inside the human brain, and the strength of a pounding finger or two. For a writer going into battle against a stubborn book, it can be a brutal as the axe, or subtle as a fine blade. It doesn’t need a wall plug, internet or IT technician to operate, yet its simplicity is vastly outgunned in speed, agility, and brainpower of a modern computer. The typewriter is a beautiful metaphor to life.
Since the dawn of time, or since I was a little boy- whichever is longer, I can remember being told that too much of a good thing would be bad for me. I could not understand if something was good, how then could too much good be bad? Of course, my early onset selective memory conveniently misplaced the upset stomach that resulted from a solo attack on a quart of chocolate ice cream; or the burned back and shoulders suffered from not slathering on DP 45 sunscreen at the beach. Still, how could anyone have too many Legos, too many marbles, or enough video games? Our backyard pool could have been bigger, my bedroom was certainly not roomy, and my closet was just too small to be clean.
To love us
To guide us
To help us
To mentor us
To be our Father
To support us
To fulfill His dreams for us
To calm our fears
To give peace to our anger
To sacrifice Himself first
We need to have goals and dreams, for ourselves, family and friends; it is a vital part of being human that God placed in each of us. We need jobs, homes, vacations, food, transportation, clothing, value, friendship: all off these things are also a part of life. First though, before all else – we need God. He needs us, too.
Thanks for reading.
Is it just me, or does the world want more out of us, but continues to offer less in return? Are we paying more for what was a free service only a few years ago? Flying is a perfect example of the negative change in the cost to value relationship of so many services or products we use. Flying used to be a luxurious form of transportation: good food, free movies, and big suitcases – a pampered existence for a few exciting hours. Now, you pay extra to bring clothes to your destination, unless you can squeeze them into a lunchbox sized carryon; if you are hungry, then bring your own food, and if you want entertainment, bring a credit card. The cost is up and the value is down. When I was young, ice cream was sold in a 4-quart container; we called it a gallon of ice cream. Now, since the makers of the ice cream have grown weary of raising prices, they have decreased the amount sold to 3.5 quarts. Since when is 3.5 quarts equal to a gallon? Everywhere, we are asked to pay more, and offered less in return – except in our transactions with God. His cost has stayed the same, and His value has not tarnished. His gifts are free and the value is immeasurable. Yet, even with a cost to value relationship so tilted in our favor, the darkness in this world wins too often, so we believers need to do more. The amount of pain, sickness, and hurt; the abandonment of all things Christian by governments big and small, and the stress of living in uncertain economic and political times, calls us to do more. We, who believe in God, must dig deeper to help those who do not know how, or where to dig. We need to sharpen our spoons.
This German folk tune, later sung by a host of musicians including Peter, Paul, and Mary, asks a very good question in its title; “Where have all the flowers gone?” Throughout the song, the songwriter misplaces a multitude of people and things – I used to sing this song in my eighth grade German class. Listening to the tune brought back a memory of the last time I “lost” my keys. All of us have lost our keys, books, wallet or purse, only to find the missing artifact in some obvious place a few moments, or hours later. We are amazed to think that we could have overlooked during our frantic search a set of keys sitting on the kitchen table. Could the keys have become invisible for two hours, and then just reappeared? Is there a wormhole to a distant universe in my kitchen? Or maybe, when we lose, or temporarily misplace something, it is because we have forgotten where ‘it’ came from and how to find ‘it’ once it has become missing?
The first thing that I noticed was his eyes; piercingly intense, visible even through the thick brown hair that was wet with sweat and had intermingled stains of red. Those eyes could have been wild with anger, or hate, we would have understood, but instead they were sincere, full of compassion and knowing. His eyes were kind – even today.
He was kneeling in thick dirt, dried mud from sweat and blood covered his hands to the elbow; his feet and calves were equally stained. The crowd roared with approval when the soldier raised the whip high to the sky. He yelled for the beaten man to “get up now.” Idiot. Didn’t he know that whipping a hurt man will not make him move any faster? I wanted to look away because he was my friend, my master, but I could not. The whip came down hard; his cry was muted by the force of the approving mob. He had been beaten, but he wasn’t beat. He moved his right foot slowly, dragging upward to a kneeling position. The cross was balanced on his right shoulder, with the cross member in front just past his knee and the end reaching ten feet behind. Weighing 200 pounds, it was a massive killing staff designed with only one purpose. The crowd continued screaming for more, hoping for another blow from the guard. But the guard was tired from a long night, so he rested, hoping for selfish reasons that the prisoner would stand up soon.
Kaizer, our 100 pound lap-dog, can suck the negativity and anger right out of anyone, his enthusiasm for life fills a room when he enters it; as does his enormous head, long and lean body, and huge feet. His tail can be compared to nuclear energy; it is meant for good, but when it’s near a coffee table where any breakables are on display – the incredible force of his nonstop, speed-of-light tail can only leave destruction and heartache behind. He is one of two dogs whose home we share (note the implied ownership – they hold the mortgage and have never made a payment), and without them our home seems empty and too quiet. Kaizer is a good dog (and Harley – so are you).
The title of this story was the classic response from Jesus, when after healing the ten lepers, only one came back to say, thank you. “Weren’t there ten of you?” He asked. Of course He knew how many there were; he had just healed them. He wanted the one person who returned with a grateful heart, and us, to know that He was questioning the whereabouts of the other nine. In effect, Jesus was asking, “Were the others happy to be healed of this terrible disease as well? Why didn’t they come back and say so?” Undoubtedly, the other nine men were very happy and excited to be healed; most likely, that was the problem. They were so excited that they forgot who to thank for their gift. They ran off to their homes and villages to show off the miracle, to stand before the crowds and reveal how fortunate their circumstances had changed. The gift became the focus of all, the center of attention; and the giver, the most important person in this moment, was cast in a supporting role. The nine were confused and mistaken. It was not the gift that was important, but the giver of the gift who was the real story. In their haste, (and happiness) they forgot about gratitude.
If you were a farmer 100 years ago, you might have used a plow horse to pull the metal plow to turn and mix the soil until it was sufficiently prepared to plant the seeds. The horse was meant to do the bulk of the labor; dragging the heavy plow through good soil and bad, while the farmer kept the horse in a straight line. A plow horse didn’t have to move swiftly to be considered good at its job, it needed to be consistent and dependable; always moving forward toward its goal, without much complaining or urging – a good plow horse wanted to plow the field. It knew every morning that the day would bring some rocky, dry, hard spots and, some places that were level and smooth; but, it didn’t matter, the plow horse would work its way through all of it, under the carful guidance of its farmer.