Restoration Day–An Easter Story

Praise

It’s finally spring once again; a time of rebirth and the hope of warmer days ahead. It’s a time when new life bursts forth from the cool damp ground or from the branches of once dormant blossoming beauties. Pollen aside, I love to take in all the newness that envelops our world, transforming our once gray world into a kaleidoscope of colors. Truly, hope blooms alongside the tulips and daffodils, the azaleas and the forsythias! For it reminds us that once, we were wondering around in the icy grips of winter, where there was more darkness than light, where optimism seemed to be swept away by the frigid cold winds of despair. And then one day, the sun came out and restoration began…

I have a confession to make; I’m kind of in to restoration and the shows that are offered on cable, whether it be the popular This Old House reruns or more current shows dealing with taking something old, be it an old Victorian house or an antique gramophone, and restoring it back to its’ former glory. I must look plain silly, sitting there in my recliner, mouth partially gaping open as I’m completely transfixed by these craftsmen who take an old unwanted house and start peeling back the layers, each dusty layer representing one or more decades until they finally uncover the original foundation and floors, the beauty that once was, yearning to be rediscovered once again. Then with painstaking efforts and unique God given talents, these craftsmen begin to restore, brick by brick, wall by wall, the decrepit house into the way it was originally meant to be when it was erected by the builder so long ago.

Did you know that God is in the restoration business as well? What do you think Easter is all about? I know most of you know or even have John 3:16 memorized: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. But what about John 3:17? For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. I’ve always thought that hope was born on Christmas Day, and I still do. For Jesus entered this world, our world, at a very dark time; God knew we needed a Savior because we needed to be saved from ourselves and our sinfulness. And so Jesus began his ministry, recruiting his disciples, simple humans like you and me, ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of the least of these; the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, the downtrodden. Jesus obeyed his Father’s will, up to and including death. They treated Jesus like a common criminal and hung him on a roughhewn wooden cross to die a horrific death and then, to be forgotten. Those who loved him, took his body and laid it in a borrowed tomb. The Romans sealed that tomb and placed soldiers to keep watch, lest his followers attempted to take the body and make unfounded claims. Jesus’ disciples scattered across the winds. While the Romans breathed a deep sigh of relief and the Sanhedrin was doing a happy dance, triumphantly giving each other “high fives” over Jesus’ death, for the bereaved followers of Christ, hope was also sealed in the tomb. And then Sunday came…

And the stone was rolled away, and Christ arose, and everything changed for humanity, and HOPE was restored; for it was Resurrection Day, but I would like to call it Restoration Day; let me explain.

Luke 19:9-10 reflects Jesus coming to Zacchaeus’ house, Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Zacchaeus was a despised man; a tax collector who, because of his diminutive size, had to shimmy up a tree to even see Jesus entering Jericho. Jesus saw something in Zacchaeus that no one else could see; a soul in need of restoration. That’s what Jesus sees in all of us; potential and a need for renewal. All we need to do is trust Him enough to let Him; to ask forgiveness for our sins, our wrong doings, and our bad attitudes, to surrender to the fact that we, indeed, are nothing more than a shabby, neglected and worn down bungalow in desperate need of restoration. And Jesus will do just that! (He IS a carpenter you know…) He’ll strip out the walls of deceit, strip the floors of shame and tear out every unnecessary piece of worn out despair until He lays you bare, to your very foundation on which He can build what you were intended to be all along; to be a child of God and obedient to do His will, not your own, to live with Him forever. 2 Corinthians 5:17   Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!

And so here we are, in the present and in the presence of a mortal enemy we call the Coronavirus or COVID19. It’s a virus that has crossed over every continent; across the borders of countries, oceans, neighborhoods, and not unlike Satan himself, is relentless and does not discriminate in its’ victims, despite their color, creed or socioeconomic status. This sinister nemesis has filled humankind with a paralyzing fear and has stripped away our false sense of security we once held on to so tightly, as if it was nothing more than vapor in the wind. Everything mankind has held in importance for so long, whether it be wealth, material possessions, entertainment, social activities or even food consumption seems to be threatened.

But there is still hope! Maybe this is just the wakeup call our world needs today; to help us strip the unnecessary and reset our priorities! Perhaps this is the largest restoration project this world has ever seen since Noah’s time! Nevertheless, it’s time we reevaluate our lives and allow our lives to be stripped of whatever is of little value, until we stand before God, our souls laid bare and ready to be fully restored! Are you prepared to have YOUR own Restoration Day?

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Thought of the Day

Thought of the Day–It’s February 29th: a good reminder that even time needs an adjustment every four years. Who are we, as simple humans to resist God’s desire to make adjustments in our lives? For He loves us enough to want to correct and discipline, so we might become more like Him.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Entering the New Year With Hope

Someone once stated, “Men plan, God laughs” and looking back at your previous year, perhaps you can relate!  My wife and I sure have had our share of trials at times these past few years; a couple of those trials even followed us into the following New Year.  And while some folks are busily jotting down their New Year’s resolutions and planning every week for the next year, others are facing the upcoming new year AND new decade with the “same stuff, different year” philosophy.  But just for an instant, a brief moment in time, if you look at your new calendar just right, you’ll see it; a blank slate, an empty page, a blossoming hope for better days ahead.

Sure, I’ve been one of those resolution driven individuals who would charge into the New Year touting remarks like, “I will strive to eat better” or “I will endeavor to exercise more consistently and get in better shape” or even “I will attempt to be the best version of myself”…whatever that means? Without some thought, planning and preparation, many jump into these resolutions and burn themselves out after only a couple of weeks.  I’ve touted the first two “resolutions” and reflected below is a sampling of my personal experiences.

A few years (or so) ago, my wife and I joined Weight Watchers to shed some weight and generally feel better.  I was doing pretty well, getting into the groove of eating certain foods that was considered healthy and, being a creature of habit, ate these same foods on a regular basis.  On one occasion at our WW group meeting, I had a particularly good weight loss week, and so I was encouraged to share what I had been doing.  Being rather proud of myself and that week’s accomplishments, I proceeded to share with the group what I routinely ate for breakfast.  There were audible gasps throughout the group and I thought the one lady in the third row was going to pass out right there; it seems what I thought was normal and healthy for me had exceeded 98% of the group member’s point total for half the day!  “You must have great metabolism” they said…whatever…

The other activity I would dabble in at times was exercise.  As those of you who know me can attest, I’m not exactly the poster child for Mr. Olympia.  However, exercise is the catalyst that helps me lose weight and keeps my health in check.  I remember one particular early morning, dragging my carcass into the local YMCA to work out before work.  I always began my morning routine warming up, most of the time on the Elliptical machine.  As luck would have it that morning, the only machine open was beside the most perfect specimen of a human being.  I’m pretty sure that he turned his machine on the “MEGA MACHO” setting for his sixty minutes of pure bliss, complete with a dumb bell in one hand, a power drink in the other, while pouring over a book in front of him.  If he did sweat, I’m sure the one drop that dribbled down the side of his head smelled like Irish Spring.  I, on the other hand, turned my machine on the desired setting of “NINJA TURTLE”.  After five minutes on the machine, I appeared to have just completed an ice bucket challenge, for sweat was pouring from every pore.  I swear I was getting stares like, “you ARE going to clean that area up, aren’t you?”…yeah, whatever…

Many times in our lives, we are railroaded into believing a misplaced opinion or criticism and it, well, gets us off track from meeting our goals, resolutions and/or dreams until they are never realized; they never come to fruition.  We have to be determined to focus on the prize before us, to block out all outside negative influences if we want to see our hopes and dreams become a certainty.  But here’s another train of thought; what if your goal/dream/hope was only a selfish want that should never have been realized anyway?  What if that goal you’re spending so much time and energy attempting to birth is out of line with your needs or the needs of your family; more importantly, what if it’s directly out of line with God’s will for your life?

The hymnist, William Mote, penned the first few lines of his beloved hymn, The Solid Rock, which reflects how we must align our hopes, dreams and goals. “My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”  Once our hopes are based on God’s will and not our own, the future becomes so much brighter and a lot less scary.  For if we truly believe everything we see, hear and read in the media, social media and print, from impeachment proceedings to rampant crime statistics, hope would scarcely be found.  It’s only when we completely rely on God’s will for our lives, does our future shine with the brilliant hope of tomorrow and eternity; for even death itself doesn’t have the fatal sting when we are one of His own.  Romans 8:23-25 states, “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  Yep, we can hold on to the hope of something greater one day; but for now, we have to be patient AND obedient to the will of our loving Heavenly Father.

Just one more thing to consider; we all go through different seasons in our lives.  Just as storms come and go, even though the storm may be severe at the time, they eventually blow over and the sun shines once more.  So it is with the situation you currently face; God may not remove the storm clouds from your life, but he’s definitely there beside you to walk with you through the storm.  What a comforting thought that reinforces our hope for tomorrow as we step into a new year AND a new decade!So, what does your new year look like?  Are you already frazzled from all the upcoming self-proclaimed goals, resolutions and deadlines you have laid out for yourself or are you going to listen and act based on God’s will for your life?  My goal for this next year is to strive to nestle closer to the One who knows me best and loves me most.  And perhaps my hope is to dismantle this annex I’ve built over time on to God’s temple; I know that is my physician’s hope as well…

All I Want For Christmas Is Some Peace and Quiet

I was rummaging through some old papers and documents the other day when I ran across this little gem from an English Composition class.  This was an argumentative paper that reflected just the opposite of a topic that the writer strongly believed in; I chose Christmas.  Now here comes the disclaimer; I love everything about Christmas!  As you read through this narrative, you may notice that there are distinctive undertones of cynicism, yet between the recesses of the lines and words, there are significant truth bombs more relevant now than ever.  I hope you enjoy reading, “All I Want For Christmas is Some Peace and Quiet”!

Here it comes again.  I can see it in the stress-etched faces of passers-by, eyes fixated in terror.  Soon there will be no turning back for anyone; no credit card will be left untouched.  As Thanksgiving approaches, one has a sense of urgency and uneasiness, of unjustified dread.  Unjustified that is, until you are stretched out on your favorite sofa, channel surging one evening and you come across a commercial just bursting with holiday cheer.  It is only then that panic permeates your entire body, leaving you numb and listless.  Santa Claus is coming to town again, corrupting your children and robbing you blind in the process.

Not that there is anything wrong with the holiday season.  Peace, good will toward men is a very noble reason to celebrate Christmas, not to mention the Christ child’s birthday.  But given today’s emphasis on sensationalism and commercialism, the three wise men would do well to present gifts of Prozac, Valium, and Ritalin.  The distorted, commercialized ritual of Christmas begins with shopping for the unappreciative, followed by the search for the elusive perfect tree, and finally climaxes with the distribution of gifts to family members, immediately followed by the requests for the receipts of such sought after gifts.  So why DO we do this to ourselves?

Shopping has always been a fun, leisurely sport, enjoyed typically by those who actually have money to spend.  But when the Christmas season hits, it is every man, woman and shoplifter for him or her self.  Mothers and wives exchange their aprons and pot holders for pepper spray and baseball bats, anything that will give them an advantage over the other toy hoarding citizens that no doubt have already given one of their kidneys for the newest gizmo on the market.  One week before Christmas, everyone is so dazed and confused, they continue to buy that something special for individuals not even on their Christmas list.  All that matters now is that we have sufficient gifts for whomever may drop by; the mailman, the minister, the local orphanage—it is of no consequence; just be prepared.  As the shopping comes to an end, there is a slight pain in the pit of the stomach as you realize, “Man, I have to wrap up all of this crap!”  After all the gifts are beautifully wrapped, we try to stuff the mini mall of merchandise under a tree that only has a floor to tree clearance capable of accommodating a comic book.

Finding that special tree has always been an exercise in tolerance and ambition.  Some folks like to travel the hillsides, scanning the horizon for anything that still looks green, spruce like and big enough to withstand the weight of five tinsel laden boxes of holiday cheer.  Others prefer to wander through the fire retardant forests of Walmart, torn between the permanently snow laden pine or the ever famous, one piece, sit and trim.  Finding the right tree is the easy part; trimming the tree can be suicidal.  There is an unwritten rule that a string of Christmas lights will work as long as they are not attached to the tree.  Once applied, the Christmas tree lights have a mind of their own.  Rule number two deals with the application of decorative bulbs and garland.  No matter how many boxes of tinsel you have, it is just not quite enough.  The last rule applies to the tree itself.  There are always five times as many gifts as there is room under the tree to place them.  But why worry; the gifts will soon be given to family and friends anyway, right?

Family gatherings have always been the mainstay of the holidays.  One can almost feel the anxiety and irritation rising from the depths in anticipation of another “encounter”.  The location may vary, even the time frame may hover within two weeks of Christmas but the “encounter” remains a constant.  The gathering begins with the initial greeting at the door.  While still clinging to a favorite relative, you begin to scan the interior of the house for a “safe place”, a little bit of territory to call your own.  Next comes a little chitchat, a review of deaths from the previous year and a little catch up on the families’ aches and pains.  Any potential discussions relating to recent surgeries are reserved for the holiday meal.  While the adults are wasting away the hours bemusing themselves with nonsense, the children are circling around the gifts, perfecting their scotch tap removing skills, and preparing for the impending gift opening frenzy.  When the time arrives to open the gifts, the kids are oblivious to anything around them except for the shiny new toys unwrapped by other kids.  Their sense of greed overwhelms their sense of excitement and a squabble is sure to ensue.

The parents, on the other hand, have a more succinct sense of dread as everyone sits around in the circle of judgment and waits their turn.  One by one, the adults open their gifts as everyone else waits for the recipient’s reaction.  It is wise at this time to “psych out” the spectators with a broad smile and approving nod; sharing your real impressions of the gift can wait until the interesting drive home.

Again, that nagging thought crosses the mind, why DO we do this to ourselves.  It is time to start shopping for compliments for one another, not for the material trash we bestow upon our friends and family.  Wouldn’t it be better to embellish someone’s self-esteem than to spend hundreds of dollars prettying up a dead tree?  When it comes to family gatherings, I think that all of us would enjoy the Christmas holiday just a little more if we could just drop the dramatics and be ourselves.  Christmas is all about the Christ child, childlike fun and tradition, not unwarranted guilt and obligation.  So go ahead and deck the halls with boughs of holly; I’ll be the contented one in the corner, having a very merry Christmas of my very own.

Finding the Thanks in Thanksgiving

laughter

Every season seems to evoke its’ own set of memories which reflects perhaps that same time of year so many years ago or possibly a not so distant past. For many, the Thanksgiving holiday triggers the feeling of warmth, of family, of pumpkin spice and football games, of fun and food and thankfulness. Unfortunately, however, this holiday has often times been reduced to a well-worn speed bump, as folks rush toward the Christmas holiday; just a Black Friday Eve, a commercial high jump into the commercially charged holiday season.

As a kid, growing up in my parent’s house in SE Ohio, Thanksgiving was an unwritten commitment on the calendar, an assumption made that if mom was cooking, you had better be on your death bed rather than miss Thanksgiving dinner! I never really thought too much about being thankful during this time, unless you count being thankful when the event was finally over; when the last sheet of saran wrap was finally snapped off the roll and carefully wrapped over and around the last dish of left overs. It seemed to me to be a very stress filled time, consisting of a whirlwind of activities, all culminating into one feast laden smorgasbord laid out in the middle of a large table surrounded by elbow to elbow humans, passing around dishes of delicacies and plates of plenty with the intricacy and synchronicity of a well-choreographed dance. But I digress; let me take you with me to a time when life seemed simpler and mislaid worries of a young lad was unwarranted and unnecessary.

The Thanksgiving season in Ohio varies from year to year in regards to what type of moisture falls from the sky but there remains one constant; gray skies. Like dove gray colored cotton batting that hung over the surrounding countryside, possibly for the next several months to come, the gloomy gray heavens seemed to blend with the browns and tans of the bare trees and dead leaves dispersed throughout the landscape. Often times, the cool crisp breezes were accompanied by an occasional flake of snow, dancing and floating lazily downward. Inside the house looking out the front window, the desolate scene was made complete by the condensation hugging the single pane windows, giving an official nod to the chilling temperatures outside.

The turkey made its’ appearance a couple days in advance as it hung around in the refrigerator until the lifeless carcass was deemed thoroughly thawed. The night before Thanksgiving, mom would lay out several pieces of bread so they could grow stale (dry out), to be used in the dressing the next day. Mom made two types of dressing: regular sage dressing with celery, egg and other ingredients and the other, the same sage dressing enhanced with oysters. I always interrogated mom regarding which was the “enhanced” dressing, lest I get hold of a slimy surprise within my portion of goodness. Very early on Thanksgiving morning, mom would get up, prepare the dressings and proceed to have her way with the celebrated bird, cleaning it and giving it a little dance before filling the cavity with dressing, providing a deep tissue Oleo massage, seasoning the ample fowl and throwing it in the oven. It always struck me with a sense of wonderment how mom could actually create such a feast with a regular four burner electric stove with a two rack oven. All I knew was that it smelled really good, while I was content to lie on the living room floor, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.

The time for the feast finally arrived with the presentation of turkey, dressings, mashed potatoes, candied yams, rolls, cranberry sauce (canned of course, shaken out of the silver vessel into a crystal bowl and sliced evenly with a butter knife no less), green beans, corn, sweet gherkins and deviled eggs. After a request was made on who wanted what to drink, everyone filed in around the wood grain laminate table, capable of extending out with not one but two leaves, depending on the crowd for that year. There was an unofficial seating chart or more like pecking order that ensued; Dad at the head of the table, mom on one side of him so she could get up and down to meet the needs of guests, older siblings and their spouses or friends filled in from eldest to youngest until all of the high backed, vinyl green floral print chairs were filled. The overflow landed at the “kid’s table”. Being the youngest of six, I was very familiar with the kid’s table. In fact, after I got married and we had a child of our own, we would at times, find ourselves back at the kid’s table, with knees touching the bottom of the table top! Before we ate, we always said a corporate prayer that we had adopted as our family prayer; “God is great, God is good and we thank Him for our food. By His goodness all are fed, give us Lord our daily bread. Amen”.

After the meal was finished and the desserts were handed out, (pumpkin pie was the staple dessert followed by some kind of cake) folks would start migrating to other rooms. The men would naturally gravitate to the living room to watch the game but would ultimately end up snoring like bears in a den. That left the daughters and daughter-in-laws to perform a visual game of rock-paper-scissors to see who would wash and dry the large stack of dirty dishes. Mom was exempt of course, since she prepared the feast. After that, it was an afternoon of playing table games (five hundred rummy, dominoes and Aggravation being the favorites), talking and perhaps taking a walk if the weather permitted until finally, the leftovers were divvied out and the families left, one by one.

You may be asking yourself why I would go into such details to describe an event that took place so long ago and the answer is quite simple. It’s to remind you of what’s important, to trigger similar memories and experiences of your very own and to think once again upon the many blessings God has bestowed on you these past however many years. We take so much for granted, that those we love so much and hold so dear to our hearts will always be with us, but that isn’t necessarily true. We need to learn to appreciate each moment more, whether it be just a regular day or something pretty spectacular with those around us, to cherish the sound of a giggling child or the wisdom wrapped up and presented to you by a dear old friend or loved one. Thanksgiving is not all about the food, football games or how clean your house is; rather it’s about counting your blessings and allowing these present times to become the blessings you will count tomorrow.

Many changes have occurred since we once sat around that old table. Beloved faces no longer grace us with their presence; so many family members have scattered across this great land of ours. But one thing still remains; Love. The love we have for one another binds us through both the times of celebration and those moments of grief. God’s greatest blessings are all around us if we only take the time to look. And the act of being thankful is to be exercised every day, not just on one holiday. This year, take the time to find the “thanks” in Thanksgiving. Try looking around your own table of family and friends; breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to God for your own many blessings, both big and small.

Family Thanksgiving

Fall’s March Madness

Springboro Band 1999

Even though I wrote this twenty years ago while our own daughter was in marching band, this reflection still holds true today.  For there are thousands of band parents and family members that embrace fall as their time; when their own beloved teenagers transform into musical warriors…enjoy!

Along with brilliant colors and cool crisp nights, autumn ushers in activities that have long been anticipated. Football games, fall festivals and pumpkin patches are each eagerly welcomed with enthusiasm as multitudes of folks try to take advantage of the last remaining weeks of good weather. However, there is one spectator sport that is usually overlooked at this time of year, even though it is just as exciting as the other fall events. High school marching band competitions have more to offer the public than just a pleasurable experience for the eye and ear. A marching band can be a source of pride for a local community, county or even a state. For the supporters of the marching band, a high school marching band invitational can be more thrilling and rewarding than the proverbial, Friday night, high school football game. The 20th Annual Troy Invitational was a perfect platform to prove this point.

A very cold, stiff breeze from the North swept over Troy High School stadium, converting the aluminum bleachers into what seemed to be cold, marble mausoleum benches. Mother Nature’s treachery had turned this early October weekend into a frigid preview of the oncoming winter’s wrath. Squirrels scampered about on the green just north of the stadium, trying to locate last minute morsels that could be stored away for the long haul. The sun was just setting, playing hide and seek behind drifting clouds. The sun’s rays warmed the face and gave a temporary reprieve from the cutting wind. The aroma of popcorn and hot chocolate mingled together as it wafted past the nostrils of hungry patrons waiting to be seated in the stadium.

Parents, relatives, friends, and music lovers representing different school districts began to fill the stands. The entourage, wearing the school colors of choice, carried everything necessary to cheer on their band as well as an ample supply of blankets, hats, and gloves to help combat the numbing cold. As individuals began making their way into the stadium, the school colors they wore became an instant identifier, attracting other like members into their self-proclaimed cheering sections. These colorful groups of spectators made the stadium appear as if it were draped by a giant’s patchwork quilt. Trophy laden tables were displayed in front of the spectators; the trophies served as laurels given for a battle well fought. The anxious crowd fidgeted with anticipation as the first band prepared for war.

The first ensemble meandered onto the field and began to perform a “fingernails across the chalkboard” rendition of “Hooray for Hollywood”. The field commander fought for control of the unruly mob of musicians but reluctantly resigned herself to follow the laboring beat of the bass drum. The color guard cautiously pranced around while watching one another, unsure of the next routine. Tonight was not the night for this unit to clinch a victory; another weekend perhaps. All eyes were already staring at the next band to engage in musical combat.

The Springboro High School marching band stepped on the field with a confidence and self-assurance worthy of their reputation as a tough opponent. The musicians wore royal blue and black uniforms accentuated by a silver sequined sash across the chest. The performance began with a dramatic fanfare, followed by an intricate African beat. The color guard moved and gyrated to the music, transforming bright, colorful flags into spinning, hypnotic dervishes. The band continued moving from one complex formation to another, horns resonating melodies and exchanging fluent harmonies with the woodwinds. The performance ended as it had begun, with the same addictive fanfare. In the stands, the cold lifeless spectators sprang into animation as the crowd stood to their feed in applause. For a brief moment, the stadium belonged to the one hundred plus teenagers on the field. But only for a fleeting moment, for as in real life, there always seems to be bigger and better competition to battle against.

As the competition came closer to the finale, the largest marching units prepared to perform. The full, rich sounds that radiated from the field could only come from a band with over two hundred plus instruments. Grove City would be the easy victor tonight, take the Grand Champion award. In actuality, all of the performers were victorious; they were true winners.

The next time you are at a football game and the band marches out on the field during the halftime show, remember this. They are not actually there to entertain you; it is just another practice. The real competitive performance occurs every weekend in front of family, friends, and others who give up their fall afternoons to become band supporters.

This dedicated group of encouragers will cheer with enthusiasm whether or not their band is the best or worst. They will sit in the stands through sun, wind, rain, or snow just to offer one more, “YOU CAN DO IT!”. And their favorite band will gratefully respond back with a melodic, “THANK YOU”.

Loyalty Binds Me

crown enhanced

This past fall and winter, an unfortunate series of circumstances occurred which resulted in a couple of necessary surgeries.  Without going into gruesome details, let’s just say the whole experience didn’t sit very well with me.

While recuperating in the weeks that followed, I started reading the Kingfountain series, which is a set of nine books written by Jeff Wheeler and which came highly recommended by a friend of mine.  The fictional series reflected a medieval time, complete with lords and ladies, good and evil, heroes and villains, and of course, kings and queens.  Well written and full of twists and turns, it was an easy task to devour one book after another.  But there was one common thread that bound the series; one united mindset that set the hero aside from all the others.  It was a profound thought, a vow turned lifestyle, an utterance and motto in which the hero and others like him wholeheartedly lived and yes, ultimately died declaring…”Loyalty Binds Me”.

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word “loyalty” as: implying a faithfulness that is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray.  One definition of the dictionary also describes the word “binds” as: to make a firm commitment for.  Together, these two words combine to form an impenetrable covenant.  Owen, the consummate hero in the series, takes this oath so seriously that he risks his own life to overthrow the evil king he serves under in order to ensure the rightful heir is secured as king of Ceredigion.

Back in the present day, the here and now, commonly called reality, we don’t hear so much about loyalty any more.  In fact, we seem to see a lot of just the opposite; a mindset of disloyalty or unfaithfulness has unfortunately become commonplace.  Whether one is disloyal to one’s job, spouse, church, friends, country or even God,  the attitude of being disloyal or unfaithful can turn a life, marriage, business and/or community completely up…side…down.  You could argue that your workplace does not support you, that your spouse doesn’t attempt to communicate or understand you, that if God really loved us, He wouldn’t allow bad things to happen to good people or any of the other situations just mentioned.  Once the seed of unfaithfulness and doubt is planted, it can and often times does yield a harvest full of heartache and regret.  For once you are familiar with unfaithfulness in one area of your life, it becomes easier to allow it to seep into ALL areas of your life.

We all, at times, question the validity of the difficult situations we face.  It is in those times, we want to rush forward and take matters into our own hands, making rash decisions as opposed to just hunkering down to pray and wait; wait for the solution to present itself, for the door of opportunity to open, for the green light to proceed to the next season in our life, to hear His still small voice inside saying, “trust in Me, believe in Me, I have this…let go, trust and obey”.

The poem reflected below describes the cement that loyalty creates, binding together the areas of your life that show the cracks and wear of the everyday life.  Simply stated, regardless of the challenging areas of your life—never give up!

 

 

Loyalty Binds Me

Always working behind the eight ball, wading through this day of stress

The stack of work never seems to lessen, my calendar’s a mess,

But I have to pause and thank the Lord that He gave this job to me

So I can use my God given abilities, to provide for my family.

You see loyalty binds me to the place I work with all its’ ups and downs

They say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, I must be muscle bound,

But I’ll be faithful to my place of work until the time to move on has come

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, tempting as it is for some.

∞∞

Harsh words were used, doors were slammed, hurt feelings lying on the floor

Our relationship’s in shambles, I don’t know if I can take it anymore,

What has happened, where was the breakdown, how did we end up in such a mess?

My love for you has been waning but it’s both our faults I guess.

But loyalty binds me, my hope realigns me to know our love is true

Though difficulties come, I’m pressing on to faithfully see us through,

So let’s keep striving, not just surviving to build a solid marital core

I can’t wait, till we again embrace and say those words, I love you more.

∞∞

Here I am Lord, once again Lord, pleading deep inside

I haven’t heard your voice for so long it seems and my doubts begin to rise,

I know you are the great I AM, and I am one of the least of these

So forgive me for my impatience but please listen to my pleas.

I know I’ve caused a lot of pain in life by my own cursed hands

By not trusting in You and not waiting on you, building on sinking sands,

But I believe in You still and always will, I’m asking for a second chance

Please don’t give up on me, love and forgive me please, restore our great romance.

For loyalty binds me, your Love realigns me to the place where you want me to be

By faith I know, You are there even though at times I cannot hear you or see,

My hope is in you, my very salvation too, you are my provider of comfort and peace

Yeshua I pray, be my champion always, my Redeemer, my Savior, my Priest.

Yes, Your grace is what binds me, your mercy positions me to a place of perfect peace

Only Your love alone will lead me on until one day my last breath will cease,

Until that day comes, I must tarry on and be obedient to do my Father’s will

To push towards that prize, until I open my eyes and see your radiant face, oh what a thrill!

Observations on life and Spiritual Implications