Whatever Is Pure
He's Holding Them Close
"Oh no, You never let go
A close friend informed me of tragic news; a member of her family had lost his wife and mother of his five young children in a boating accident. Although this young man loves God and is active in his local church, my friend worried that he might become angry with God and walk away. How could this father reconcile the concept of a loving God with the reality that his wife had been snatched away from her family that desperately needed her? I could understand my friend's concern. Several years ago, I lost my closest friend to cancer and watched helplessly as her husband spiralled downwards, abandoning his faith and eventually losing his job and his house to addiction. His sister took in his children and he lived for almost a year in his car. Was this young man doomed to a similar fate?
In answer, the Lord brought back to mind the tail-end of a television program I had caught as I waited for the late night local news. The scene was a waiting room outside of a surgery ward. Several adults waited anxiously to hear how surgery went for a loved one. A little girl sat with them, playing a haneheld video game, seemingly oblivous to the tension in the room. By the concerned glances of the adults in her direction, I gathered that the person in surgery played a significant role in her life. When the news arrived, it was not good. One of the adults quietly sat beside the young girl and gently broke the news.
She lashed out violently, kicking and pummeling her tiny fists against his chest even as he gathered her in his arns. He did not let her go as she flayed against him. Instead he patiently and lovingly bore her assault until she collapsed against him, his strong arms keeping her safe.
I felt the Lord's reassurance as he brought this picture back to mind. God shifted my perspective away from a position of anxiety and fear that the young man's faith could not possibly be strong enough to carry him through the fire. God could easily hold this young man and would continue to hold this young man, even in the turmoil and violent storms to come. The Lord's strong arms will never fatigue and his mercy and love will endure forever for his son. Nothing this grieving young father could say, think or do would ever cause God to weaken. The Lord's ability to carry this man's grief and concern over his motherless children had nothing to do with this young man's ability to cling to him.
Perhaps there are loved ones who are in the midst of horrible storms that batter against their faith. Perhaps you are surrounded by those storms yourself and you wonder if you have the strength to hold on to your faith as the winds of adversity howl around you. Perhaps you fear that those winds will tear you right out of God's arms. Trust in the Lord's strong arms to hold you, don't trust in your own strength or despair over your own weakness.
Faith As A Child
There is a man who lives here in the VA hospital, who I see now and again. He wears a silver construction hat and walks around the entire hospital grounds. With his backpack and heavy jeans, he looks like some sort of engineer from days long past. At any given time, you will find him walking, or inspecting, or chatting with anyone who will listen. But he’s not an engineer, or an inspector. He’s a patient on one of the veteran’s hospital’s wards. He is probably suffering with dementia or senility. He might have been an engineer sometime in his life. I don’t know.
I have seen him all over the hospital and the grounds. He turns up in the most unusual places. I have even seen him in town. He shuffles along and makes safety inspections of everything. I met him once. I introduced myself and asked him his name. We talked about the weather and he was emphatic about the danger of ice on the roads. I can’t for the life of me, remember his name. But I have always felt compassion for him because his mind is like that of a child. I wondered if he knew Jesus as his savior. I wondered if his mind was too far gone for me to witness to him.
This morning, I was standing on my front steps, when he came shuffling down the sidewalk; his silver construction hat, sparkling in the sunlight. I hollered "hello!" and asked him how his day was going. He answered that all was well and that the weather was beautiful. I asked him the question that had been burning in my heart each and every time I saw him. "Do you know that Jesus loves you?" He hollered back, still shuffling, "Yes … he loves us all!" Then he added; "I wish that everybody knew that he loves them." I said "Amen!" Then I added; trying to be funny,"Maybe we should pray for them!" Suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks, lowered his and began praying the Lords Prayer, out loud. I was surprised, but I caught myself and closed my eyes and prayed in agreement with him. When I opened my eyes again, he was already shuffling down the street.
At that moment I was filled with so much love for that man. I asked God to bless him richly. I asked God for his kind of faith; simple faith that is not complicated with worldly knowledge or distorted by the cares of life. He has the faith of a child! Oh, that God would help us all to have that kind of faith. Here, I had been feeling sorry for this man, and all the time he was more blessed than me. I asked God to help me stop dead in my tracks and begin to pray when someone needed prayer. I asked God to help me pray out loud where ever I am and not care what others may think. I thanked God for putting this small, simple little man in my circle and helping me to see that he was really a giant amongst men.
Dear father God …. Please help me have the faith of a child!
© 2010 Eduardo Padilla
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We say that we’re ready to lend a hand,
When we see our brother falter and slip
Will we bear the message of courage,
Might we be quite possibly the first
When we see our brother struggle and grieve
© 2010 Joseph L. Campanello
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A Stroll Through Paradise
Before my stroke in 1999, I didn’t spend much time chatting with those of lesser health, who lingered by street corners, being noticed as someone yet alive.
After my stroke, I became one of them, and now, through prayer and support from family and friends, I know how to live. I really do as I shuffle along a route similar to theirs, now understanding the world they live in.
Walking in Truro, Nova Scotia is more like meeting a feast of personalities. Angels are definitely around us. And they come in the form of laughter and smiles from people often missed as they gather in little towns such as this.
As others hurry to work, Angels in Paradise may be overlooked. A slower pace easily brings them into view. When encountered, Angels are unduly labeled the "walking wounded" of society.
Since my own encounter with a serious illness, causing slowness in my daily walk, more meaningful moments have been drawn to my attention. And these very Angels have enriched my flagging spirit.
It was my joy to discover Ralph, a man of darker skin and whiter teeth, who hailed me on the street. After many conversations, it is now "Hello Richard," instead of simply "Hey." His red baseball cap continues to attract my attention, and I no longer wonder why so many deliberately stop and chat with the man.
He is a dispenser of wisdom, unused to foul language, cheerful in spite of weather conditions and moves from one selected corner of Inglis street to other stations. His eager shuffle captures my admiration.
Then there is Hank. He saunters along, window-washing pole slung over his shoulder, pail of water in the other hand. Are his blue-painted running shoes a giveaway to his eccentricity? I can attest to the fact he is sane.
Hank carries himself with mature pride. No one knows much about his past, where he worked, if he had a family or how old he really is. Merry eyes belie the cracks of skin across his face.
This man has a closet full of creative urges. He works away in the lateness of each night, preparing his theme for next day’s journey downtown.
And everyone notices him when adorned in his latest creation, green painted hat a sash of green across his chest, green pants and similar colored running shoes. "Haven’t figured out how to carve a shillelagh yet," he proudly boasts.
There goes Greg, stilt-like in his walk, as he maneuvers a tall frame around crowds of urgency. Beginning quite early he walks the streets of Truro, like some guardian of the town. Arm and leg movements visibly strained due to his car accident some twenty years before.
But that was then, and this is now. Once I too hurried on by with a wave and an admonition about the weather. Now I can barely keep up to that walking wonder. Limbs stretch forward each day, dispensing a will to overcome his limitations. And I feel privileged to inhale his cheerfulness, his vigor.
Then there’s Dave, hat pressed tightly to his forehead. He can’t afford to lose it to the wind, since steps are slow in the event of needed chase. Some wrongly state he is a "challenged" person, unable to contribute much to society. I call him, "Special."
I see him as a painting on a canvas. His colors are a never-ending smile. When he fixes his gaze in one’s direction, you can sense the depth of peace within his heart. And I seek to absorb that contentment. The steady movement of his broom across the asphalt, dust pan in hand at MacQuarries parking lot; he is a fixture upon the scene, valuable as any cherished antique.
Watch carefully, as his wife nearby has only eyes for her man. Inside her breast is her own bucket of love, ready to be shared.
Each of these angels, are monitors during my daily walk. Yes, once I too hurried on by, off to some important destination, eyes focused on my wristwatch, not wishing to be delayed. So busy, and more concerned was I for a meeting, coming up sooner than a coffee break.
Each day remains the same for so many hurried persons; their bustle in life, worrying and heading gosh knows where. Some destinations call to them as a mother loon anxious for her baby chicks. And when they arrive, perhaps continue on with unfulfilled lives.
Sadly, amid another day, some unknowingly have passed through Paradise. Not realizing that love, caring and blessings from nearby Angels are waiting to be dispensed. All it takes is a moment of hesitation, a glance, perhaps a pause.
Stop, visit and listen. I am now humbled to be among them.
© 2010 Richard L. ProvencherRichard L. Provencher’s writing combines God’s gift of Nature, with life’s issues. He believes words should inspire others to live meaningful lives. Prayers help him recover from a stroke in 1999. He and his wife, Esther, married 35 years, attend Abundant Life Victory Church in Bible Hill, adjacent Truro, Nova Scotia, where they live. They are volunteer singers in area nursing homes and help provide weekly meals for the homeless. Richard also enjoys writing poetry.
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Give me love…
Give me strength…
Give me wisdom…
Give me courage…
Give me health…
Give me pardon…
Give me discipline…
To do all these things
© 2010 Judith Kittredge
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