I Survived and Lived to Grow – #isalt


As I lay in the hospital bed, I could not help but think, “Will I ever be able to use my hand and leg again?”  When the doctors checked for feeling, I could feel the pressure of the needle but my body would not react to its force.  Depression began to worm its way into my psyche.   The doctor had told me that I would probably get most of my motion back but could not guarantee it.

After my release from the hospital, I continued to drag my right leg and watch as my right arm flapped in the wind.  Depression continued its work.  I began to wonder what life would be like with one less arm and one less leg.  No matter what happened, my arm and leg would be a reminder of my stupidity that fateful night, the night I was hit over the head with a hammer.  During my internal battle of and sorrow of “Why me” syndrome, I was reminded of my past.

When I was younger, I had made fun of people with physical disabilities.  It wasn’t because I enjoyed it, but rather to hide the pain inside of me for being different than other kids.  Instead of feeling compassion, I was a fighter.  I physically fought others for many years.  In my mind, if I made fun of others for their problems, mine would just go away.  However, I was so wrong about that.  Here I was, disabled, possibly permanently and began to understand the hurt and pain I once caused in others.

It was then I decided to plead with God.  I asked Him to give me back my leg so that I wouldn’t have to drag it everywhere, but if He felt I didn’t need my hand or arm, He could keep that.  Although I continued to fight the depression and anxiety of PTSD, I also knew that God would answer me, even if it wasn’t what I wanted.

The very next morning, I got up out of bed and realized something incredible.  I didn’t have to drag my leg anymore!  My prayer had been answered.  I was able to skip, hop, jump and walk like I did before my “accident”.  God had given me back my leg.  My hand and arm were a different story.

As time went on, I went to physical and occupational therapy for my arm and hand.  Today, I have full motion of my arm and most of the motion in my hand.  It was in this very situation, God taught me “I survived and lived to grow.”

Most of us survivors will wonder and ask the ‘why me’ question.  Why did I survive?  Why didn’t God take me?  Almost always the ‘why me’ question is not one of selfishness or pride, rather it is a way which we express our desire to grow.  We want to grow.  We want to become better than we were before.

Psalm 1 shares this very thought of living to grow:

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Have you ever gone camping and looked at a tree that grows next to a river?  Usually, the root structure is deep, the tree is properly nourished and if it is a fruit bearing tree, the tree has good juicy fruit.  If you look into the reason why, it is because of its deep roots.  The deeper the roots of a tree grow, the more likely it will withstand the hurricane force winds when the storm comes.

The same is true for us.  When we survive tragic events, if we have shallow roots, we will sway with every emotional thought that crosses our mind.  If our roots are deeper, we may falter with our emotions for a short time, but ultimately, we will stand tall once again after the storm is done.  We do not survive because we have deep roots, we survived so that God can teach us something and make us grow.

Just as the Psalmist stated, if we do what is right, if we avoid sin and if we read and study His word, our roots will grow deeper and our lives will become healthier.  This doesn’t mean we will heal physically completely, but it does mean that our mental and emotional state will be better because we have grown to trust in the Lord.  When we trust in Him, our lives will prosper.

When you have an opportunity, read Psalm 1 but also read Psalm 116.  The writer of Psalm 116 clearly shows how focus on the Lord is the very reason why we survive.  Below is an excerpt from Psalm 116…

I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”

 

When God spoke with Jeremiah, he stated the following in Jeremiah 26:11 (NASB):

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

God never intends for us to continue to suffer in the midst of our tragedies.  God intends for us to grow from our situations and grow closer to Him.  God does not intend to hurt us, in fact just the opposite.  God wants us to understand that He has a plan for us.  It is a plan to allow us to grow, bear fruit and help others with similar situations.  Growth is not something we do, rather it is the result of our relationship with God.  When we get closer to Him, we grow.  When we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, we grow.  When we read, study and pray, we grow.  When we let go of the feelings and emotions that keep us slaves to our situations, we grow.

Our lives have a purpose.  God desires for us to walk with Him toward His plan for our lives.  The question becomes what we will do with what we have been given.  As survivors, we have a unique opportunity to positively affect others through our growth.  We can express our compassion, explain our lessons and encourage others to continue to fight in this battle of survival.

Recently, the subject of growth has come up again.  Over the last few weeks, our church has seen two of our oldest trees collapse from wind and rain.  In both situations, little to no damage occurred but one of our Elders noticed something.  He stated that both trees didn’t have a good root structure.  Their roots were too shallow.   If the trees had deeper roots, then the tree would not have fallen.

The same holds true for us.  As we grow from our situation and grow toward God, we will discover at one time our roots may have been shallow, but now they begin to grow deeper toward the nourishment that God provides.  However, if we reject this growth, if we reject His plan for prospering us, we will end up like the fallen trees with shallow roots.  On the outside, we will appear healthy, but because our roots are shallow, our lives will fall and potentially hurt others.

If we grow in our relationship with God and move our lives closer to Him, He will give us water and nourishment which will make our roots grow deeper so that when tragic events occur, we will be able to withstand the storm.  The question becomes what will you do next?  Will you allow your tragic event to become a crutch toward depression or will you grow from it so that God can show His love toward others who are suffering the same way?  It’s your decision.  What will you do?

To hear what our pastor shared with us concerning growth, just use the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/lifechristhope/videos/1022463191227667

God bless and encourage someone today.

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The Hiking Trail


Have you ever felt lost?  For a moment, pretend you are hiking in the woods.  You are on a trail and understand how to read the trail marks.  As you follow the trail, you notice several intriguing items, a bird perched on a branch of a tall oak tree, the river which flows continuously and feeds all plants and trees by it or even the chipmunks which scurry around.  Just as you are admiring God’s creation you realize something, you’re no longer on the trail.  To add to your worry, you can’t see the trail marks either.  As you wander in the dense foliage, you come across another hiker (or so you thought).

The “hiker” tells you to turn around go back about 100 feet and look for the small birch tree.  It has a marking on it.  You turn around, run to the small birch tree and see the mark, only it isn’t a hiking mark.  There are four markings, long deep lines, stacked upon another.  You look at the hiking book you have and realize those are not just marks, they are the residual of a bear scratching at the tree.  Your anxiety kicks in.  Not only are you lost but the “hiker” just sent you into bear territory.  You need to move and quickly.

You turn left and decide that going in a straight line is best.  You look up to see the sun, but cannot.  The forest is so dense that it cuts out almost all of the sunlight.  It is as if the canopy of foliage has swallowed up the heavens, hiding the glory of the Most High.  Your anxiety begins to heighten.  Thoughts of dying in the woods from starvation, getting eaten by a bear or mountain lion and even drowning begin to the thought process.  You begin to wonder what your family is thinking.  Are you okay?  Are you hurt?  Are you still alive?  It is then you look up to the sliver of light creeping through the foliage and cry out to God.  You say, “Oh Lord, I am lost!  Get me out of here!  I can’t do this!  Please Lord, help me.  I’ll do anything you want, if you get me out of here!”  As you sit in silence, you wait and listen.  No response.

After a moment’s rest, you get up and begin to journey further.  You come across another would be hiker.  You ask, “Can you please help me?  I am trying to find the hiking marker so I can get back on the trail.”  The hiker turns and says, “Turn left and go about ½ mile.  There you will find an old oak tree with one of the markers you are looking for.”  You thank the hiker and begin moving toward the place he pointed out to you.

As you approach the area the second hiker told you about, you remember the first “hiker”.  Would this hiker also send you into a den of horror and terror?  You begin to have second thoughts.  You stutter for a moment, but remember your family needs you, so you continue to approach the area.  You see the tree from a distance and run toward it.  At this moment, you see a marking on the tree.  It is a small hole.  As you look closer, you notice there are several small holes all over the tree.  At that moment, you take a look at your hiking book and realize those are woodpecker holes.  You read that woodpeckers create these holes when looking for bugs they can eat.  It is then you realize the old oak tree is not even alive.  It may look alive, but on the inside, it is as rotten as an apple sitting in the sun on a hot summer day.  Your anxiety peaks.  Your heart feels like it could come out of your chest.  Nausea enters your stomach, your hands begin to tremble and sweat drenches your shirt, your greatest fears become an alternate reality for you.  You cry out to God again.  “Lord!”, you scream.  “Please, please, please, get me out of here!  I’m sorry for going off the trail!  I’m sorry for whatever I did to get here!  Please Lord, get me home!.”  You again sit in silence, waiting for a reply, but none come.  Only the sound of the gentle breeze or an occasional chirping bird is all you hear.  You begin to doubt.  “Why won’t God answer?  Why has He left me here?”  You begin to cry in desperation.

As you sit and wonder what your death will be, you open your bag for a small snack and water to try and get rid of the nausea.  As you rummage through your bag, you grab a bag of trail mix and yank it out of the bag.  But something else came out with it, your hiking book.  It falls on the ground.  As you eat your snack you stare at the book.  Two thoughts come across your mind.  The first thought says, “Pick it up and read it.”  The second thought says, “It didn’t help you before.  What makes you think it can help now?”  You toy with each of these thoughts trying to make sense of each of them.  On one hand, if you read the hiking book, you’ll learn a lot, but will that help you in this predicament?  On the other hand, it only told you about what you see.  You don’t ever remember reading about trail markings.  Both thoughts seem hopeless.  Both thoughts have the same risk factor.  One thought may lead to safety, while the other one may lead to your demise.  But which thought was which?  Which one will lead you to safety?

The story isn’t quite finished, but I wanted to pause to ask you, as you read this story, how did it make you feel?  Did you begin to worry?  Did an actual situation come to mind?  Maybe you felt nauseas?  Maybe your hands began to tremble?  Did your heart race while you read this?  Did a panic attack begin?  Which thought do you feel is the correct one?  Should you look at the hiker’s book or should you discover another way?  Which would you choose?  Let’s get back with the story to find out.

Suddenly, there is a refreshing cool breeze.  The feeling of calmness begins to take root inside your mind.  You close your eyes and begin to count backwards from 10 to 1, taking slow deep breaths with every number counted.  The thoughts in your mind begin to have an order.  Instead of irrational thoughts leading to irrational behavior, you begin to put the pieces of this crazy puzzle together.  You look down and notice something odd, something you never noticed before.  There is a hand-written note on the inside cover.

You pick up the hiker’s book and read the inscription:

Dear Reader,

This book is based on what I found while hiking these trails.  It contains all you need to survive your journey, no matter what trail you are on.  This book contains which foods you can eat and which ones to avoid.  It will guide you from one trail to the next in order to ensure you avoid any potential threats, such as bear and mountain lion dens.  It will also guide you as an educator so that you will not be surprised at what surrounds you.  This book is my gift to you.  I have sent this book to other hikers as well.  If you come across another hiker but they do not have or listen to my words contained in this book, avoid their advice.  They do not have your best interest at heart, no matter how nice they may be.  I know these woods and trails, because I created them.  I paved the way for you to enjoy what God has created.

                                                                                                       With love and affection,

                                                                                                                     The Trailblazer

At that moment, you realize you had the answers all along.  You begin to study the book, rather than read it.  You notice chapters and notes that you had not seen before.  You read about the delicious fruit on one trail and the refreshing waters on another.  You read about the dense forest and its beauty but also recognize the warning of darkness on this trail.  It is then you realize, the trail you need is less than a mile away.  Now instead of anxiety and worry, you feel a peace you have not felt for some time.

You begin to remember how you received this book.  The older gentleman who passed it along to you, telling you to read and study the book before you journey into the forest.  He said he was like you and someone had passed this to him and now he would like to pass it to you.  You remember his joy and excitement to tell you what he had seen along his journey.  You remember his excitement easily flowed from his being to yours.

Upon graciously accepting this book, a joy and excitement about your journey came over you.  You couldn’t wait to prepare and begin.  Memories of the countless hours you spent preparing for this journey.  You remember what it felt like to be a kid again.  Never did you think your journey would end up like this, but now you remember the hope you once had.  It was because of this book that you were able to find your trail and continue on your journey.

Just like the Trailblazer’s hiking book, we too have a book that will guide us on our journey in this life.  It is called the Bible.  The Bible has everything we need to not just survive this life, but thrive.  It shows us where the nourishment is and what places, things or people to avoid.

2 Timothy 3:16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

16 (A)All Scripture is [a]inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for [b]training in righteousness…

This means that no matter our situation, no matter how struggle, no matter our mountain top experience, the Bible has everything that we need.  It contains encouragement during our times of struggle.  It contains praise during our time of flourishing.  It contains words of wisdom for advice and words of rebuke for our rebellion.  The Bible gives us the guidelines for a prosperous life and warnings of problematic one.

Just like in our story, we have a trailblazer as well.  His name is Jesus Christ.  He created this world, came to this world in order that He might trailblaze a way back to the Father.  It was His life, death and resurrection which allow us to live this life (and the next) with confidence, love and servitude.  It is only because of what He did that we can have eternal life with Him.

This Sunday is Resurrection Sunday.  It is a time where we reflect and rejoice on what Jesus Christ did.  We will hear about His sacrifice but rejoice in knowing that He lives!  Not only that but we can also rejoice because He will return and make all things new one day.

Revelation 22:12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

12 “Behold, (A)I am coming quickly, and My (B)reward is with Me, (C)to render to every man [a]according to what he has done.

Like the hiker in the story, all we need to do is open up the Bible, read and study its words and ask God to guide our hearts and minds into whatever He desires for us.  Everything we need for this life is contained in the Bible and the greatest part is that our “trailblazer” lives and wants us to know Him better.  Take time this week to open up the Bible and discover the greatest story ever written….  Jesus Christ is alive and well!  He has Risen!

God bless and encourage someone today.

Creator of the Eclipse


There is something about watching the wonders of the heavens that makes mankind realize how small we really are.

Today, across the United States, we had the extreme privilege of watching a solar eclipse.  For some it was a glimpse of how God has placed order on the universe.  For others, it was a totality of awe and wonder.  No matter how we may have experienced this event, one thing is for sure, there is order to our universe.

I remember in 1979 when I first experienced what a solar eclipse was like.  Our teacher had each of us create a shoebox pinhole viewer.  We watched as the bright small dot, became encompassed by the darkness of the moon.  It wasn’t a total eclipse but it began my interest and love of nature and the heavens.

As I watched today, I thought of Psalm 8.  As a nation, we looked up to the heavens and applauded in amazement as God’s creation did exactly what it was commanded to do on this very day.  No longer did we ask about racism.  No longer did we fear the terrorist.  No longer did we wonder what the Republican or Democrat was standing for.  No longer did we focus on our fears, anxieties or problems.  We focused on God’s creation, thereby focusing our attention on what He was doing at that very moment.

When we focus on our problems, we take our eyes off of the heavens.  When we focus on our anxieties, we no longer look up and wonder what God is doing.  When we focus on what God is doing, we forget about our problems.  When we focus on God and His creation, we realize that our problems are a mere flash of existence that doesn’t even make a dent in the view of eternity.

For 2 minutes today, each of us made a conscience decision to look up to the heavens, forget about our problems and re-focus our attention to the Creator of the Eclipse.  Read Psalm 8 and exclaim, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

God bless and encourage someone today.

*Psalm 8[a]

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name(A) in all the earth!

You have set your glory(B)
in the heavens.(C)
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold(D) against your enemies,
to silence the foe(E) and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,(F)
the work of your fingers,(G)
the moon and the stars,(H)
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?[c](I)

You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e](J)
and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.(K)
You made them rulers(L) over the works of your hands;(M)
you put everything under their[g] feet:(N)
all flocks and herds,(O)
and the animals of the wild,(P)
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,(Q)
all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!(R)

*Taken from the NIV

From the Depths


As he sat in the hospital waiting for the doctor’s word on his son, Ron pondered every conceivable question.  Why is this happening?  What did my son do to deserve this type of treatment?  What is the purpose in all of this?  As questions continued to arise, he placed his tear-filled eyes into his hands and wept like all was lost.  It was then he began to remember happier times.

Six years earlier, Ron and his wife, Barbara, had been surprised by the news that she was pregnant.  Although the child was unplanned by them, they understood God had bigger plans for this child.  They began to adjust their lives anticipating the arrival of their little baby.  Ron worked feverishly to ensure that most of the necessary construction on his house was completed, while Barbara picked out colors and cribs.

After the arrival of their baby boy, things went well for them.  He began to grow as most children do, making up words, playing with their toys and learning to say, “No.”  For the first five years of his life, David appeared to develop normally.  It wasn’t until the elementary school called indicating that David failed a hearing test.

David had experienced ear infections for most of his life.  Sometimes medication didn’t work, sometimes it did.  In all cases, it appeared that he was healed every time.  There were no “red flags’ that entered the mind of Ron or Barbara.  Now their biggest fear became a reality.  David had a tumor that needed to be removed, otherwise he could die.

The doctor called it cholesteatoma tumor, a non-cancerous tumor inside the ear that eats away at bones and cartilage.  Normally, it wasn’t fatal, but in David’s case, they feared that due to the size of the tumor, it would begin to eat at the base of the skull.  It was the worst news they had ever heard.  Never did either of them understand how or why this happened.  The doctor speculated David may have been born with it, while another possibility was one of his earlier infections created the tumor.  In either case, no one knew how or where this tumor came from.

Ron had sat with his son in the waiting room of the hospital.  He watched his son play with various toys as if there was nothing wrong.  The anesthesiologist entered the room with a smile on his face.  He carried a small cup of clear liquid and called David over to him.  David gladly took the drink and within minutes began to feel sleepy.  Ron and Barbara knew the time had come for doctors to attempt to remove the tumor.

Ron dressed in the suit provided by the hospital.  Dressed in white from head to toe, Ron didn’t cry.  In his mind, he didn’t have time for that.  This time was for David.  His son needed him more than ever.  Fully dressed, Ron picked up his son and carried him down the hallway.  As Ron looked back, he could see Barbara place her head on her mother’s shoulder and cry like the world was lost.  Not being able to bear the sight, Ron turned his head and followed the nurse.

They approached a small room, where every electronic contraption could be found.  Large lights were overhead, a heart rate monitor was to his right and the operating table was straight ahead.  Behind the table was where the anesthesiologist stood waiting for David to ensure he was fully asleep.  Looking around, the doctor stood there encouraging Ron with a smile as if to indicate that all would be okay.  Ron doubting the situation wanted to run with his son in his arms, but knew that wouldn’t be the best decision.  David had this foreign tumor and it needed to be removed.

Ron carefully placed David on the table before him.  The doctor placed a mask on David’s face and asked Ron to leave.  Ron leaned over his son, kissed his head and whispered, “Don’t worry, everything will be alright.  Jesus is with you.”  It was then that faith turned into a reality.  Did Ron really believe this?  Was what he read really true?  Was God really with his son through this?  Ron lifted his head, nodded at the doctor to say, “He is in your hands now”, turned and walked away.

The poor nurse assigned to escort Ron back to the waiting area, placed her hand on his back and said, “Everything will be okay.  Your son is in the best hands.”  Not desiring to listen to anyone or hear any words of encouragement, Ron just turned to the nurse and crudely stated, “Please be quiet.  I don’t want to talk with you right now.”  The nurse, having wisdom, just smiled and continued the silent walk back to the waiting area.

After checking on his wife, Ron decided it was time for him to get some air.  He told Barbara that he was going outside.  Barbara didn’t acknowledge Ron, but Ron understood that she heard him but didn’t care because her baby boy was undergoing surgery.  Ron slowly turned toward the door and walked outside picking up his cell phone.

As Ron stood in the sun he decided to call one of his friends, Bobby.  Bobby had helped Ron understand many different situations in life.  Bobby was a temporary pastor at his church and had walked with him through the process, thus far.  Now Ron needed to work through this so Bobby was his best choice.  The phone rang and Ron heard the comforting voice of his dear friend.

“Ron, how are you?  How is everything with David?” asked Bobby.

“He’s in surgery right now”, stated Ron with an exacting voice.

“So then the question is… how are you?”

With tears in his eyes and a fluttering voice Ron shared, “Bobby, I don’t understand.  God gave us this child.  Why did He allow this to happen?  David didn’t do anything to deserve this.  Why is this happening?”

With the wisdom of God on his mind and sympathy in his voice, Bobby said, “I wish I could understand, but I cannot.  Have you cried out to God and ask Him?”

“No.  Right now I am angry with God and don’t want him to be angry with me.”

“Bobby, didn’t Job cry out to God?  Don’t you think he was angry?  He lost everything, his home, his worldly wealth, his health and even all of his children.  Even King David cried out to God in his time in need.  In fact, on the cross, Jesus cried out, ‘Father, why have you forsaken me?’ Cry out to Him.  He will answer”, encouraged Bobby.

Ron thanked him for his time and comfort and agreed that crying out to God directly was the best way to understand the situation.  Although, Ron didn’t feel like talking with God, he understood that was the only way to possibly get answers to his questions.

As he sat in the hospital waiting for the doctor’s word on his son, Ron pondered every conceivable question.  Why is this happening?  What did my son do to deserve this type of treatment?  What is the purpose in all of this?  As questions continued to arise, he placed his tear-filled eyes into his hands and wept like all was lost.  He cried out to God and said, “Why?  Why is this happening?  What has David done to deserve this?  There are so many others out there who have done worse, so why can’t you punish them?”

No answer came.  As Ron continued to cry out to God but over the course of the next few hours, the questions became demands.  “God, why aren’t you answering me?!  I demand an answer.  I can’t handle this situation.  You said you wouldn’t give me anything I can’t handle.  God, where are you?!”

Again, no answer came.  Just as Ron was giving up on his prayers, the doctor came out, still clothed in hospital scrubs.  As she approached, she told them, “Ron, Barbara.  I want to let you know that David is doing okay.  He is currently resting but unfortunately, he will have to do this again in six months.  We attempted to get all of it but we cannot do any more until then.  I know it has been over five hours, but the next surgery shouldn’t be long.  After David wakes up, you can take him home.”

Another surgery?  Ron and Barbara didn’t fully understand why their precious little boy needed anther surgery but trusted the doctor for her experience and knowledge.  Questions flooded Ron’s mind once again.  What was happening?  Why to his little boy?  All he could do is get his son, take him home and give him the care he needed.

Six months later, the second surgery came.  Once again, they found themselves in the waiting room with their son.  Again, the questions flooded Ron’s mind.  As they waited for the doctor, their son was in the play area putting together some puzzles.  Not far from David, was another little boy who appeared to be crying and whimpering in his mother’s arms.  Curious about the situation David approached the little boy and asked, “Why are you crying?”

The boy’s mother replied, “He has to go into surgery.”

Overhearing David’s conversation, Barbara asked the crying boy’s mother, “Oh, what kind of surgery?”

“Tubes.  It’s a pretty long surgery, about an one and a half hours.”

Barbara just smiled and said, “I understand.  Our son needs surgery in his ears too.”

The boy’s mother responded, “Tubes?”

Barbara mustered all of the strength she could find and replied, “No.  I wish it was.  My son is having another surgery to remove a cholesteatoma tumor.”

“Oh I’m sorry.  Here I am crying over this silly procedure, while your son has a more serious situation”, the boy’s mother stated while wiping tears from her eyes.

Barbara responded, “Don’t worry about it.  Our son already had one surgery, so this should be his last.”

“How long is your son’s surgery?” asked the mother.

“The first one was about six hours but this one should only be two or three hours.”

The other mother appeared shocked and the look on her face resembled that of a statue with the expression of shock and disbelief.  Barbara and the boy’s mother continued their conversation when something incredible happened.  David turned toward the boy and said, “Let’s play a game” and took the boy by the hand and led him to the video game console.

“What just happened?” asked the boy’s mother.

Ron realized that something special was happening.  He had seen God work before, but never like this.  God was working through his son in order to bring comfort and compassion.  Before the mother could ask the question a second time, Ron responded, “God is working through my son to reach your son.”

It was about that time that the anesthesiologist came forward and called David’s name.  Once again, David was given a small drink which made him “sleepy”.  Ron then picked up his son and carried him back to the same operating table they had visited six months prior.  He laid his little boy down, kissed him once again and smiled at the doctor to acknowledge his approval of her skills.

A couple of hours passed and Ron and Barbara waited patiently for the doctor’s good word.  No one came.  They inquired from the front desk, who called for the doctor, but no response came.  “What’s happening?  Why is it taking it so long?” were questions that raced through their minds.  Another hour passes, no word from the doctor.  After another six hour surgery, the doctor emerged with a smile on her face.

“I’m sorry I didn’t respond earlier, but there were minor complications.  The tumor had grown back so we needed to remove the tumor again and continue with the second stage of surgery.  Your son is resting now but all is well.  I believe we got it totally this time”, said the doctor with confidence.

Ron and Barbara finally felt relief.  Their son had been healed.  Ron still questioned God, but realized that the battle was over.  Their son would completely recover from his ailment.  He may not be able to hear but at least he would live.  Satisfied with the doctor’s results, they took David home and cared for him.

A few years went by and there was no sign of the tumor.  Only the scar behind his ear became the evidence of a prior complication.  One afternoon, Barbara took David to the doctor for a routine checkup.  It was there, the world was turned upside down once again.  The doctor warned, “I am sorry but the tumor grew back.”

Devastated by the news, Barbara asked, “Is it fatal?”

The doctor turned and said, “No.  It is operable, but I recommend a full ear canal wall down.”

Seeing the confused look on Barbara’s face, the doctor continued, “It means that he will no longer have an ear canal.  We will remove it completely, so that if this ever happens in the future, we can take care of it right here.”

This news brought a sense of relief to Barbara, but how would she tell Ron?  He had been questioning God since the last two surgeries.  Would he completely flip out and turn away from God or would he respond by going to God?  This, unfortunately, was a risk she was going to have to take.  No matter the outcome, she would stand by Ron and pray that he would respond properly.

She picked up her cell phone and dialed Ron at work.

“Hello”, said Ron.

“Hi honey”, Barbara stated with hesitancy.

“What’s wrong Barb?”

“David needs another surgery.”

The news was crushing.  It was as if his heart had been ripped out of his chest and placed into a trash compactor.  Everything hurt.  His body, mind and soul ached with pain beyond comparison.  It was then Barbara interrupted his self pity session, “Ron.  It’s operable.  The doctor will remove his ear canal and remove the tumor once again.  Once completed, they will be able to do it in the office so that David doesn’t have to go through this again.”

There was some sense of comfort to that news, even though his life felt crushed.  At least David would only have to go through this one more time.  Ron, however, knew that he needed to carry his little boy once again and place him onto the operating table.  The toughest of tasks he ever encountered was once again upon him.  Would he be able to do it again?  Would he loose his mind?  As he contemplated each of these questions, he remembered his first thought, ‘At least David would only have to go through this one more time.’

Weeks went by as Barbara and Ron prepared David for the final surgery.  Day after day they would answer David’s questions.  “Why is this happening to me?  Is God really there?  What will happen after this surgery?  Will I get sick again from the ‘sleepy medicine’?”  David has a number of significant and relevant questions.  After the first two surgeries, David had gotten very sick and didn’t want to leave the hospital.  Although the doctors and nurses gave him an anti-nausea shot, David’s body continued to react negatively.  Vomiting, stomach cramps, headaches and pain surrounded David after every surgery.  For David, the nightmare was going to continue.  Was this going to ever end?

On one occasion, David asked Ron, “Daddy, is Jesus really with me during my surgery?”

Understanding the fear in David’s mind, Ron responded, “Absolutely.  Jesus is always with you.  He never leaves us alone.”

“How do we know?” asked David.

Holding back the tears, Ron responded, “Jesus told us this in the Bible”.  It was then Ron waited for the response he thought he would get.  However, David was to respond in a different manner.

“Well, Daddy.  If you believe that, then so do I.  I love you, Daddy”.

No longer could Ron hold back his feelings.  Tears began streaming down his cheeks.  He opened his arms and David gladly embraced his father giving comfort and relief.  Attempting to control his composure, Ron looked into David’s eyes and said, “Thank you.  You helped Daddy today.”

“How?” asked David with a curious look.

“You helped me believe what God has told me.”

“What did he tell you?”

“He told me that this wasn’t about me.  It was about you.  God told me He was going to use these problems for your life.  I don’t know exactly what this means, but I do trust Him to complete the work He has started.”

David smiled.  He didn’t quite understand what Ron meant, but he knew if his daddy was happy then so was he.

The day of the final surgery came.  Once again, the anesthesiologist gave David the “sleepy medicine” but this time asked him a question.

“David, now that you are older.  Do you want to walk in on your own or would you like a wheelchair?”

David thought for a moment and looked up at Ron as if to ask for his approval.

“Would you like for me to carry you in again?” asked Ron.

David then looked at the anesthesiologist and with a sense of confidence and said, “I think I will walk in.  Can my daddy come too?”

With a smile on his face the anesthesiologist looked at Ron while bending down to David’s height and said, “Sure.  He can come too.”

David then grabbed Ron’s hand and walked down the hospital corridors to the operating room.  This was the first time David had seen it with his own eyes.  The other two times, David remembered falling asleep while waiting.  Fear began to encompass the young boy’s mind and body.  He knew he couldn’t turn back but he was scared.  David turned to Ron and asked, “Daddy, can you stay with me until I fall asleep?”

Ron smiled and said, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

They entered the operating room and Ron picked up David and placed him on the table.  While the doctors prepared the anesthesia machine, David held Ron’s hand.  Recognizing David’s fear, Ron bent over to kiss David.  He then assisted the doctors in placing the mask over David’s nose and mouth.  Ron then told David, “Remember, Jesus is with you and I’ll be right here when you wake up.”

David continued to hold Ron’s hand, gripping Ron tighter and tighter to let him know that David didn’t want his daddy to leave.  A few seconds later, David’s eyes drew heavy and his hand slowly released Ron’s hand.  Ron then knew it was the doctor’s moment.  Ron turned to the doctor and said, “This is my boy.  Please take care of him.”

The doctor acknowledged Ron and said, “As a parent, you have my word.”

Ron turned around and met the nurse in the hallway who was to assist him in getting back to the waiting area.  As Ron met up with Barbara, he embraced his wife and comforted her once again.  Both knew this was the last surgery, but it still didn’t make it any easier.  Emotions flared from one extreme to the next, from happiness to sadness, from smiling to depression.  Each moment was different from the next.  As they once again waited for the doctor to say she was done, Ron decided to take a walk outside.

Once there, Ron decided it was time to do business with God.  He hated the random thoughts that flooded his mind and wanted help to get them in order.  Standing by the ledge, Ron gripped it with both hands, looked up toward the sky and said, “Lord.  I know you are in control of all things.  You have shown me how faithful you are.  Even when I am not faithful, you are.  Please let me know if this is truly the last surgery.  I know you won’t give your children anything they can’t handle, but I am not sure if Barbara, David or I can go through this again.”

Ron then patiently waited for a response.  Almost immediately, his random thoughts became order.  Where there was disorder in his mind, now had a sense of organization.  As Ron searched his thoughts, he was reminded something Jesus told his disciples.  He remembered that during his final meal with his disciples, after his resurrection, Jesus told them to “baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.  Teaching them everything I command to you.”

Although Ron didn’t believe in trusting his thoughts normally, nor did he believe in numerology, Ron believed that this portion of God’s work was going to be complete.  He thought to himself, “The first surgery was for the Father, the second for the Son and this one for the Holy Spirit.  All of these surgeries were so that each member of the God-head could take part in working in David’s life.  Each one desired to do a work but each work was with one purpose, to bring David closer to God.”

Excited to hear this word from God, Ron immediately shared it with Barbara.  Although they would not have confirmation for years to come, Ron believed that God was done with teaching David this way.  It was God’s special way of reaching out to David and carrying him through the dark times of his life.  It was in their darkest moment, that God revealed Himself to their hurting souls.

“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.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. “ – Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

The Shadow of Death


He awoke with sudden shock which made his hands shake, his heart race and nausea filled his stomach.  As he tried to gain his composure, his mind raced with possibilities.  Where was he?  What happened?  How did he get here?  With every possible answer, came another question and with every question, fear entered his mind.

In order to attempt composure, he remembered songs that his mother had sung when he was a little boy.  Every night, his mother would sit at his bedside and make up songs about the day.  She sang soft and sweet.  Every song, a lullaby.  Every note, a soothing agent.  No matter how bad or good his day went, she always sang with her gentle, soothing voice.  Even the angriest of animals would be lulled to sleep when she sang.

Once he was ready to sleep, she would sing her last note and say, “Goodnight my David.  Remember, Jesus never sleeps.”

“Jesus never sleeps”, David thought.  Unfortunately, this gave no consolation to his current predicament.  He knew his eyes were open, but nothing could be seen.  Neither height, nor depth, nor width of his surroundings were known to him.  Darkness enveloped his very being.  All he knew, was when he stretched out his hands, no walls or ceiling were present.  Only the floor was detected, a dirt floor with some small rocks.  Again, the thoughts raced, “Where am I?  How did I get here?  Am I blind?”  The unknown became the messenger of fear.  The more his realization of the unknown, the more he feared.

“Hello!” David cried.  “Is anyone out there?  Help!”

No answer came.  Only the echo of his own voice.  Again David cried out, “HELP!  I can’t see!  Anyone, please help me.”

Frozen with fear, David felt he couldn’t move because he couldn’t see.  If he moved, how would he know where to go?  Would he fall?  What if something attacked him?  How would he defend himself without sight?  His fears became so great that his mind tortured his soul with such force that his body responded with paralysis.

Moments later, he heard a voice, “David.  Are you there?”

David thought to himself, “I must be hearing things.”

The voice came a second time, “David.  Are you there?”

Knowing, beyond doubt, David cried out, “Yes! I’m here!  Help me!”

“Follow my voice.  It’s the only way!”

David thought, “How can I follow a voice?  What if they bring me deeper into this place?  What if this is a trap?”  Gaining some composure, David yelled, “How can I trust you?”

“Follow my voice.  It’s the only way”, the voice said a second time.

“But how can I trust you?”

“Follow my voice.  It’s the only way.”

Although David knew he didn’t have many options, he also understood that following this voice may be the only way to survive.  With extreme caution, David bent down on his hands and knees and began his journey crawling in the direction he thought the voice was coming from.

“That’s it David, crawl toward me”, the voice exclaimed.

While David continued his crawl, he realized the voice had exclaimed something extraordinary.  The voice knew he was crawling.  He couldn’t see anything or anyone, so how did the voice know he was on his hands and knees?  David began to fear again.  What if this voice was leading him away from the exit?  Would there be enough air for him to breathe?  Suddenly, David stopped and sat with his legs crossed, as he didn’t know what was around him.

“Why did you stop, David?”

“How did you know I stopped?”

“David, follow my voice.  It’s the only way.”

David didn’t know what to do.  Was he to continue his journey or sit there and wonder how he would survive this ordeal?  Almost instantaneously, David remembered something else his mother had done with him as a child; she held his hand until he fell asleep.  Every night she sang, his mother would also hold his hand as if to reassure him that everything was going to be okay.   Her tender touch would bring his mind to ease and his heart to calm.

“David, follow my voice.  It’s the only way”, the voice said again and again.  Every few minutes the voice would reach out and call to David to start his journey again.  Over and over, the voice called to him, sometimes loud, sometimes soft.  It was then David began to analyze the voice.  It was a soothing, soft man’s voice.  It was as if the voice understood his feelings and gently called out to David.  The times which were louder, David felt that the voice wanted a response.  The softer times, the voice just wanted to let him know it was still there.

After thinking of his mother, he decided to continue his journey on all fours once again.  David propped himself to the awkward position and began to travel toward the voice once more.  It was then David noticed his hands and knees began to hurt.  Rawness started to encroach on his flesh.  Movement led to pain and pain to fear.  Suddenly, David felt moisture on his hands and knees.  He didn’t hear water so could only assume the crawl had taken a toll on him.  He feared he was starting to bleed.  David didn’t understand why this was happening to him or why.

The voice cried out, “David.  Get up and walk.  It’s the only way.”

David got up as if to say, “I trust you”.  Although attempting to stand bore more pain, a different kind of pain, he knew the voice was right.  From his crawl position, he was able to get to his feet.  After a moment of stretching his muscles into proper position, he started to take his first steps.

Each step was more daunting than the next.  He wasn’t sure how to walk in the dark as like most people, rely on sight to accomplish this task.  With each step he stumbled.  Left in front of right and right in front of left was the mantra he repeated to himself.  Every so often, he would fall from a loose rock or dizziness.  He would then hear the voice and get back up and continue the journey step by step.

Without warning, he saw a white dot in the distance.  What was it?  Could it be?  A sliver of light appeared in front of him.  When he saw the light, it changed his mentality and attitude.  He realized that fear was gone and pain was diminishing.  It was then he heard, “David, continue toward the light.  It’s the only way.”

David wanted to run and even tried.  However, when he ran, he would fall causing pain and fear to reenter into his body, mind and soul.  He decided that walking was the better of choices.  At least he would only stumble occasionally.  With every step, the light grew and when the light grew, so did hope.  David knew the end of his journey was in sight, or so he thought.

Suddenly, David took one wrong step and fell.  His fall was not like the others.  He fell on his back and slid hard and fast.  As he slid, he tried to stop but could not.  Finally, he slowed down and came to a stop.  As he rolled over to prop himself up, he looked around and didn’t see the light.  What had happened?  Did he slide that far back?  Fear and pain began to grow while he felt hope was lost.  He sat down once again and cried.

“David, follow my voice.  It’s the only way”, the voice called out.

Like before, the voice called out over and over again as if to motivate David to continue his journey.  This time, David did not wallow in fear and pain.  He called back, “Okay, I’ll try again.”

The voice said, “When I tell you, reach to your left.”

David didn’t understand what the voice meant, but since the voice brought him to the light, he figured the voice knew something he didn’t.  David continued his slow journey step by step.  This time he didn’t stumble as much.  He barely tripped or fell.  After what seemed like hours, David heard the voice call to him once again, “Reach to your left”.

Trusting the voice, David reached out with this left hand and slowly moved it toward his left, circling up and down attempting to grasp at whatever may have been there.   At that moment, it felt like, something brushed his fingers.  He wasn’t sure, got on his knees and reached out with both hands.  After a few minutes of flailing his arms in front of him, David gripped the object that brushed his hand.  To his surprise, the object felt braided and course.  It was a rope.  He gripped the rope with both hands and raised himself to his feet.

As he held the rope, he looked up and saw the light again.  This time, it was bigger than ever.  It appeared to be almost the size of a full moon on a clear summer night.  David then realized his journey was going to end.  Once again, fear and pain seemed to be swept away by the freedom of hope.

David started to reflect on this journey and realized one question remained, how did he get there to begin with?  He remembered hiking in the woods and pitching his tent.  He remembered the fire he created to keep warn and cook some food.  He remembered falling asleep and waking up to a noise outside of his tent.  He remembered wanting to fall back asleep but kept tossing and turning due to the anxiety he felt from the forest noises.

As he continued to climb, he thought to himself, “Maybe this is a dream?  Maybe this isn’t real.”  He continued to rummage through various thoughts and scenarios in an effort to answer his questions.  However, just as before, no answer came.  It was then David realized that he hadn’t heard the voice in a while.  He stopped climbing to rest and catch his breath.  David then shouted, “Voice, are you still there?”

No answer came.

“Voice”, he said a second time, “Are you still there?”

Again, no answer came.

David mumbled, “I knew you would leave me.  Everyone else has.”  As David wallowed in his state of loneliness, he realized that the light was not only peering but also exposing his surroundings.  David looked around and noticed he was surrounded by dirt and rocks.  David realized he was in a cave.  He also noticed that a small, shallow body of water was within reach.  It was then David realized how thirsty he was.  As the feeling of thirst grew, David willed himself to his feet and began to walk toward the body of water.  Then David heard something strange, it was running water.

Bending down, he dipped his hands into the body of water and took a long drink.  He had hoped the water was not contaminated but without thinking, he drank the water until his thirst was satisfied.  After a few more minutes of rest, David felt that he needed to continue to leave this place, this cave of fear and pain.  He rose from his spot, walked over to the rope and continued his climb.

What seemed like days later, David was able to let go of the rope.  The incline became flat.  David realized his journey was about to end.  He could now see the outside world.  Hope then became belief.  David now knew he was about to leave this cave of fear and pain.  As David reached the opening to the cave, he heard the voice once again, “David.  Welcome to my fields.”

David looked around but didn’t see anyone.  He responded, “Where are you?”

“I am here, but you cannot see me right now”, the voice exclaimed.  “Listen to my words and obey my commands.”

David wasn’t sure if he wanted to listen or obey but decided to respond rather harshly, “You left me!  I was alone in there and you left me.  I cried out to you but you did not respond.  Why?”

The voice responded, “Who was it that led you to the light?  Who was it that led you to the rope?  Who was it that placed you there?  Who was it that subdued your fear and pain?”

David couldn’t respond.  He lowered his head feeling weakness and shame.  David then recognized, the voice had been with him the entire journey.  While David sulked with shame and disbelief, the voice said, “My son, don’t feel shame or disbelief.  You followed my voice.  You followed my light.  Well done.  Now I have something else for you to do.  Look behind you.”

David lifted his head and slowly turned around.  He saw a torch, some food and a container to hold water on a large boulder.  As he walked toward the items on the boulder, the voice said to him, “Take those items and go back into the cave.  There search the cave and look for others who have heard my voice or seen my light.  Help them on their journey.  Encourage them that the end is near.  Teach them about the rope, how to trust in the voice and light and not to worry about the ‘what if’ thoughts.  Lead them out of the cave and into this field.”

David looked up and asked, “But how will I know who they are?  How many are there?  Why did you place us there?”  Questions ravaged his mind.  He was confused as to what had really happened.

“David”, the voice said, “Do you remember last night when you cried out to me?  When you asked me to help you out of your problems?”

Suddenly, David remembered that just before he fell asleep, he cried out to God asking him for help.  He didn’t want to waste his life and wanted a new direction.  It was then David realized who he was talking to.

“Lord, forgive my doubt”, David responded.

With a sense of compassion, the voice said to David, “Do not worry about how many or why.  All I ask is that you do what I commanded you.  Others need you.  I need you.  Therefore, go and enter the cave.  Help others believe.”

David gripped the items on the boulder.  He approached the opening to the cave and lit the torch.  One last question plagued his mind, “How will I know when my task is done?”

The voice responded, “When you see Me, then you will be finished.”

“When will I see you?” asked David.

“When you are finished”, the voice responded.

David realized every answer had a question, but not every question deserved an answer.              As he entered the mouth of the cave, he saw an inscription on the wall.  The inscription said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.”  David then remembered the words of his mother, “Jesus never sleeps.”  With comfort on his mind and with a sigh of anticipation, David entered the cave and searched for others that were like him.  Those that are afraid.  Those that are hurting.  Those who have no hope.  As David found others, he would tell them about his journey, his struggles and his discoveries.  He would remind them about the voice and show them the light.  David now lived the journey that once overtook him with fear and pain.  Finally, David understood that this life was not about him.  It was about finding and helping others to see the Light and hear the voice of God.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been give to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Jesus Christ.  (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

God Bless and encourage someone today.

Upon the Sacred Sand


The waves gently crashed against the shore.  White caps caressed the sand.  As the water progressed along the sand, Allen knew not all was well.

He had just received word that his life was to be shortened.  Not fully understanding the circumstances, he walked at the edge, where the water meets the sand.  What was this about?  Why him and not someone else?

Doctors had warned him earlier in life that his lifestyle was harmful.  As a teenager, he had been subject to the wars of the streets.  His parents divorced.  His mother an alcoholic. His father absent.  It wasn’t until he met Rolo that Allen understood what acceptance was about.

Rolo was the leader of a local gang that ruled the streets.  He led a group of hoodlums and reprobates.  But one thing Rolo understood, if someone needed to feel accepted, he was the guy.

Rolo was the one who raised Allen during his formidable years.  He showed Allen how most rejected him, but only a few accepted him.  In order for Allen to feel accepted, all he needed to do is sell some “pharmaceutical” products to other teens.  Allen believed Rolo and thus began his journey down a funnel cloud of destruction.

Over the next few years, Allen would eventually get hooked on the drugs he sold.  Getting high and crashing became the norm.  In the morning, he would get high in order to handle his day.  As evening came, he would begin to crash but would intervene with another dose of drugs.

Regularly, he would wake up with blurred vision of lights and white suited people surrounding him.  The nurses and doctors would strap his hands and feet to subdue his temper while regaining true consciousnesses.  Several times, he remembered how the warning shots fired over his mind and body.  He had been told his life was on the line and several times almost lost the battle.

One time as he left the hospital, a homeless man stopped him and asked for help.  At first, Allen thought to himself, “Whatever!  I need help too.”  Instead of responding to the homeless man’s request, Allen just rolled his eyes and kept on walking.  The homeless man persisted, “Please help me.  I haven’t eaten and need food.”  Allen ignored the man and continued to walk, crossing the busy city street.

As Allen entered the busy intersection, he continued to hear the homeless man cry out for help.  Allen turned to acknowledge the man’s cries with a response of hatred and fear.  He lifted his head, opened his mouth and shouted, “Leave me alone!  You’re not the only one who needs help, you homeless…”

Allen was not given the opportunity to finish his sentence when he noticed the frail homeless man entered the intersection.  Suddenly and without warning, a taxi broadsided the homeless man separating his body and soul.  It was then Allen realized life was too short to continue down a path of destruction.

As Allen walked the beach, also he remembered how he met his wife.  Ruth was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.  He had seen her from a distance in the deli for several months, but never had the nerve to approach her.  Once while he was sitting and staring at her, she turned, tilted her head, winked and smiled the most comforting smile.  A few minutes later it was Ruth who approached him.

Not long after they met, Ruth and Allen got married.  Unfortunately, like his parents, his marriage didn’t last long.  He had begun to drink again and ended up in an angry stupor night after night.  Fight after fight both Ruth and Allen flung insults and negativity.  After six months of marriage, Ruth walked out never to return.

Now five years later, a pain had entered his stomach.  At first, he thought it was simply a diet problem but as it intensified day after day, he decided to go to the hospital to see if they had a solution to his problem.  After several days of tests, the doctors found a mass near the outside of his stomach.  Within 24 hours, Allen finally knew what ailed him, stage four cancer.

When he inquired how this was possible, the doctors told him that years of abuse lead to days til death.  No matter what they wanted to try, it would never extend the weeks he had left.  Knowing this he opted to leave the hospital.

He walked and walked, not returning home, but instead entered the beach.  Now as he walked remembering both the good and bad, he looked toward the sunny blue sky and cried, “Lord, why me?  Why now?”

As the words left his mouth he felt a hand on his shoulder and a whisper in his ear, “Is everything alright?”  Allen slowly turned and saw a man walking with him.  With tears in his eyes, Allen responded, “I’m dying.”

The man softly said, “Are you sure?”

Allen whimpered a simple, “Yes.”

The man and Allen spoke for several hours, mostly talking about Allen’s past but laughing occasionally from some funny stories.  Allen felt comforted by the man’s words.  The man spoke words of encouragement and truth.  He told Allen about another man who died for his enemies.  A man who felt that all people were important.  He explained that if acceptance was to be realized, Allen had to let go of his life.  Allen didn’t fully understand what he meant, but it felt good.

As he started to feel better, Allen turned to the man and asked, “What is your name?”

The man had disappeared.  Allen desperately turned in circles looking as far as the eye could see.  There was no one around.  Was it the cancer?  Was he so distraught that his mind began to hallucinate?  Was he going insane?

In an instant, he realized what had just happened.  The mysterious unnamed man was speaking of himself.  Could it really be him?  Could the man really been the famous Jesus Christ?  Allen looked back to the sky while the ocean caressed his feet and cried, “I believe.  Please don’t leave me.”

There was no answer.  He cried and cried, “Please don’t leave me.”  Again no answer.  After a few minutes of tears and despair, Allen realized the man would not return.  He fell to his knees, covered his face and quietly wept.

As his head began to fill with guilt from past sins, he raised his hands toward heaven and said, “Lord. I believe.”  At that very moment, he felt a sense of joy and peace.  It was a feeling he never had before.  He knew that even if he didn’t continue this life, there was another life that he could look forward to.

Suddenly, a distant figure appeared.  Allen raised his head and saw the outline of a person.  He jumped to his feet and began to run shouting, “You came back.  You came back!”

As he approached the figure, he realized the person he saw was different than the mysterious man.  This person had long hair and curves that were of no man.  Disappointed, Allen stopped running and once again fell to his knees.

The distant person then began to jog toward him.  In a matter of seconds, Allen could hear the cries of the person.  “Allen, honey.  I did come back.”  It was Ruth.  Allen then raised himself to his feet, held out his arms and hugged Ruth with such love and peace.  They kissed for a few moments and spoke of how they both met a mysterious man.  It was at that moment they realized, God had visited them both.  Allen then knew he was standing upon sacred sand.

God bless and encourage someone today.

Serpula – Chapter 2


Here is the latest installment of Serpula.  Comments are always welcome…

The air was the cleanest it had been for some time.  Since the Serpula had shown mankind the atmospheric purification process, people no longer needed protective suits and breathing apparatus to walk around the City of Ruins or its surroundings.  The only radiation present was that from the sun and even that was no longer a burden on mankind.  The atmospheric purification process had allows humans to live longer than ever before.  Even in the City of Ruins, one could live a hundred years and still feel youthful and energetic.

      However, there were still necessities in this lost, decrepit city.  The necessary supplies for the day were all that was required; food and water and protection for security.  Food and water were necessary from the outside.  As there were no legitimate inhabitants, none of the electricity from the main land, was sent.  Therefore, the city became the nomad land of generations past.  One for self and none for all.  This was the main reason security was necessary.  Unfortunately, no one wanted to be a security officer in the abandoned city and the Serpula felt the city was not worth their time.  If not for a weapon and his skill with hand to hand combat, the wanderers and vagabonds would ransack his camp, beat him and leave him for dead.

      As Peter hiked down what was once the main thoroughfare, called Broadway, he noted the various and sometimes comical signs on the buildings.  An old toy store called Tim’s Toys and Such.  A coffee shop called Corner Coffee, and many convenience stores all with old rusted signs that squeaked in the gentle cool breeze.  Broken display windows exposed the mannequins and antiquated electronics.  Most of the clothing stores had been ransacked by the hidden, mysterious and violent inhabitants of the city.  Store by store, Peter wrote down the natural and unnatural deterioration of the city’s architecture in an effort to put together a story of ancient times.  As a historian that was his primary goal.  As an amateur archeological enthusiast, the digging was to be done at another time.

      Peter looked down at his watch which displayed the time, date and weather.  Weather was the most important as you never knew when an approaching storm was coming.  Even thought the atmosphere was clean, storms had grown in strength and severity over the past half century.  Hurricanes had become a yearly phenomenon.  Although this wasn’t the season for hurricanes, it was the season for surprise rain storms.  If you didn’t seek protection from the elements, you may become ill and unprotected from nature, wanderers or criminals.

      As he studied his watch, he realized he was slightly behind schedule.  He thought to himself, “If I cannot finish today, I will have to make this trek tomorrow as well.”  The thought of camping out overnight crossed his mind, but his safety would have been at risk.  As he pondered his options, he felt it best to get to the study sight, work for a couple of hours and then make the hike back toward his safe haven.  At least he would have food, water and electricity based on a small solar generator he made during his university days.  At least, he wouldn’t have to worry about stories of the old city rummaging through his mind at rapid pace.

      Everyone had been told and believed that the City of Ruins “citizens” were ruthless, violent and desperate.  A small population of men and women who claimed the Serpula were the enemy were the main inhabitants.  They felt that the laws of peace and prosperity were immoral, unethical and against the laws of an ancient mystical god.  Peter thought they were mostly insane, but the Serpula felt it important to have them banned from society.

      Stories had been told to him as a child about an archaeologist who after exploring the midtown area, was surrounded, beaten and left for dead.  It had been so horrible that his own family couldn’t identify his body once it was discovered floating in the river between the City of Ruins and coast of Eastern Kingdom.  That was why protection was so important.  At least Peter would have a chance to protect himself in the sight of danger.  Peter knew he had to finish what he started today.

      After an hour and a half of walking, he arrived at the study sight.  The shorter buildings and abandoned eateries told him this area was more residential than it was business.  Tables and chairs were rusted, missing portions of legs so that they were either leaning or toppled.  Awnings were torn and graffiti dressed walls.

      The graffiti were indications of who was there.  The markings were an old design of a skull with a cross on top of its head.  This design was the mark of the Psychotics, a group of people who thought they saw and heard things that weren’t really there.  Due to their psychosis, they were the most violent and most desperate.  He had encountered them when he first arrived at another location north of where he was staying.  Once, when he was documenting his observances of the sight, a man came out running toward him shouting, “Take heed of the dogs.  Take heed of the dogs.”

      Without hesitation, Peter had used his hand to hand combat skills to take him down.  He didn’t want to harm him, but as this Psychotic attacked him, he felt the need to protect himself.  As Peter locked the stranger in a classic choke hold, he heard the man whisper, “Take heed of the dogs.  They are like the donkey of old.”  With that, Peter let go as to not kill him but simply render him immobile.  Peter then understood the necessity of a weapon other than his hands.

      For years, Peter had studied the ancient martial art form, Akido.  As far back as he could remember, he would study under his master, Toshiharu Nagasaki.  An older but gentle man, Toshiharu pushed Peter to excel at whatever he put his mind to.  At first, Peter felt Toshiharu was too demanding, but he learned over time that the demands of the art were specific, humbleness, control and discipline.  If it wasn’t for Akido, Peter would never have learned to succeed in life.  Peter knew he couldn’t stay for long but one building caught his eye.

      Although its walls appeared to be crumbing, the architecture told him it was built around the early 1900s.  Nearly eight hundred years had passed since the building had its first inhabitants.  The distinguished lines, the castle style top and the crumbling plaster enticed Peter’s imagination.  What was it like?  How did people live in these conditions?  As he thought about these things, a noise from within the building captured his attention.

      “Hello?” Peter asked, “Is anyone there?”

      No answer came, yet the noise happened again.

      “Hello?  Is anyone there?  I don’t want to hurt you,” Peter asked a second time.

      Once again, no answer came.  The noise sounded like a deer that had been wounded and was crying for help.  Disobeying his instincts, Peter began to approach the building with his weapon of choice in hand, an old samurai sword.  Light and well crafted, Peter had the ability to wield this sword and use it appropriately.  In order for him to accept the position by the government, he had to prove that he was able to protect himself as no military personnel were allowed to enter the city.

      The city had become a prison island of sorts.  The military was allowed to drop criminals off, but no residence could be taken other than that of historic or archaeological in nature.  And even that was done at one’s own risk.  Convict and drop off.  Nothing else, nothing more.  Sometimes, the military would simply throw the convicts overboard and told them to swim to the island and make bets to see who would survive.  On occasion, the captain would turn away and the soldiers would take bets on how many they could pick off before they reached shore.  Most times, the convicts would drown as they never learned how to swim.  Either way, the world had gotten rid of the criminals.  Understanding this, Peter still felt the need to write a true story based on the historical discoveries of this old city.

      The noise sounded for a third time.  This time it was louder than before.  Peter slowly released his sword from its sheath, readying himself for any possible attack.  As he cautiously opened the door, he peered around the room.  He saw the layers of dust and dirt indicating centuries of neglect.  A single wooden desk still stood while the old style office chair had two wheels missing.  Above the desk was a mirror that had clouded with time.  To the left a window with broken glass.  To the right, a closet door.  He entered the room and shone a flashlight with the intent to continue on this quest.

      Again the noise became louder.  Peter knew he was walking in the right direction.  As he walked toward the back of the room, he noted another door with frosted glass and what appeared to be a light moving back and forth behind it.  Peter turned off his light, gripped his sword with both hands and tapped on the door.

      “Hello,” Peter shouted.  “Is anybody there?”

      No answer came from behind the door.  The light continued to move back and forth.  Peter thought, “Maybe it’s nothing.  Maybe it’s an optical illusion.”  His instincts told him to leave, but his curiosity got the better of him.  What or who was behind the door?  How were they getting light when no electricity flowed through this place?  Whatever or whomever it was, Peter knew he was in for a possible fight.

      As he approached the door, reached for the handle and silently turned it.  As the door opened, it creaked loudly as a cry for help.  He looked around to discover the origin of the horrific sound.  As he looked around, he saw an old non-working light swinging, swinging and a hole in the wall that led to the outside.  Suddenly, a bird swooped down and hit the old light making it swing.  “That’s all it was.  A clumsy bird”, Peter thought smiling, while giving a sigh of relief.

      Again the noise became louder and more frequent.  This time, Peter knew the noise was with him in the room.  As he looked around, he saw a closet with the door hanging half off.  The top hinge had rusted and disintegrated by the rain, while the bottom hinge was nearly gone as well.   He heard the noise and knew it was coming from inside there.

      Peter approached the closet and placed his sword in front of him, ready to protect himself from whatever or whomever may appear.  “Last warning”, Peter exclaimed.  When Peter was in striking range, he kicked the door into the closet.  He cleared the door with one hand and what he saw was not so shocking.  Two cats.  Two simple alley cats.  They had gotten through the hole in the wall and were in the process of doing what cats do during certain seasons, mating.

      Peter began to laugh.  How ridiculous could he have been?  The thoughts of someone hurting and left for dead had raced through his mind.  Yet in all of this, all it was were cats.  Simply cats.  As he continued to laugh his hearty laugh, his phone rang.

      Peter opened his pack and took out a flat thin touchscreen device.  The device rang with vigor.  He had equipped his device with Serpula technology called, Everlasting Sight, a method of taking a voice pattern and making it a three dimensional projection.  They had given mankind this technology soon after their first arrival.  They wanted to make a positive impact on mankind and show they were peaceful beings, overseeing mankind’s evolution.  He swiped his finger from left to right and an image immediately appeared just above the screen in three dimensions.

      “Peter, honey, it’s mom”, said the female image.

      “Hi mom.  How are things?”

      Peter’s mother was a distinguished short grey haired woman.  Prior to her business days, she was a stay at home mother.  However, no matter what she did or where she was, she always had a smile and appeared to be the most distinguished person in the room.  Well dressed and a face that looked younger than her hair, she could make a chaotic room, orderly simply by entering the room.  Her presence commanded respect and order.

      “Things are fine here.  I was just calling to find out when you’re coming home, honey”, she voiced intently.

      “By the end of the week, I hope.  It depends on how much I can get done over the next couple of days”, Peter answered.

      “The end of the week?  You told me that last week and the week before.  Are you sure this time?  Your father and I miss you and are concerned about your safety with the upcoming winter.”

      “Yes mom.  I am sure this time.”

      “How are you getting off that retched island?”

      “Military convoy.  They should dock this week.  My boss has requested that I take some time off to recoup.”

      “Recoup?  From what?  What happened?  Are you hurt?  Did one of those criminals attack you?”  Peter’s mother asked with worry.

      “Stay calm mom.  I’m not hurt and no one has attacked me.  It’s just that I’ve been here for five years and my boss feels that some vacation is in order.  That’s all.”

      “Oh, okay honey”, his mother said with calmness.  In the background a door was opened and another voice was heard.  His mother quickly turned and said, “I’m in here, dear.  Peter, your father’s home.  Did you want to speak with him?”

      “I can’t mom.  I have to go.  I only have another hour before, I start to lose daylight.  I have to be sure to get back to my apartment before then and it took me an hour and a half to get here.”

      “Okay honey.  Well finish up and get back there in a hurry.  I love you and please be safe.”

      “I love you too mom.”

      “Promise me that you will be home by the end of the week, no exceptions.”

      “I promise mom.  So long as the transport is there, I will be home on Friday.  Bye.”

      “Bye, Peter.”

      As both hung up the phone, Peter thought, “I’d better start heading back to write my report.”  Peter put away his sword, picked up his bag and started to head back to his apartment.  Another day, another discovery even if it only was a couple of felines.  At least when he arrived at his apartment, there was food ratios and a cold sponge bath waiting.  He quickly turned around and started his journey back.  In a few days, he would be home eating a home cooked meal.  That was definitely something he was looking forward to.