The Legacy of Prayer: A Short Story

One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
~ Psalm 145:4, NKJV ~

A long time ago, a little boy and his daddy went to the family pier to fish. It was their time together, away from mama and the noisy, but loving sisters. Just the two of them, the dad telling his son stories about when he was growing up, going fishing with his daddy, and the war that changed their lives forever.

Those two were inseparable—dad and son—fishing every morning for their breakfast, the elder passing on to the younger the truth and wisdom gained from his daddy and the book of life. The dad would look at his son and always ask God to help his son grow up like His Son, “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

But then, all too soon, a new war started; it was bigger and the worst the world had ever experienced. The boy’s daddy knew that the time would come when he would announce that he would join in the fight for freedom, so he prayed fervently for God’s hand to be upon his only son.

They went fishing one last time on a fine summer’s morning. The dad was sober in thought at what his son was going to see, praying for his mind and heart to endure and bear the things he would experience. The son was jubilant at the surprise he had in store for his daddy, and at the thought that he was following in his daddy’s footsteps in serving his country.

When they arrived at the pier, there it was, a brand new chair, bolted to the pier. “I had it ‘specially made for you, Daddy! Ain’t she grand! I bolted it to the pier so that come rain or wind, it wouldn’t fall over and you wouldn’t have to worry ‘bout it, or you, falling into the lake! And behind here, is the cover; all you gotta do is bring it over and tuck it under here!”

The dad gazed at his son with eyes that were misting over with love, “Mighty thoughtful of you, Son; mighty thoughtful!” God heard impassioned, mighty prayers from the pair that day, as He watched the daddy sitting in his new chair and the son by his feet, his head on his daddy’s knees. And in His love, He blessed them both.

The dad went fishing every day, sitting in his chair praying for his son’s safety and return. He longed to hear his son’s footsteps on the pier and his voice say, “I’m back, Daddy.” God met him there every day. He also comforted and reminded him that He loved his son; that He was his “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

One morning, while sitting in his chair deep in thought and prayer over his son, his pastor walked up to him. He handed him a telegram. “The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your son, James Cameron Williams…was killed in action…” He felt the familiar tightness in his chest and pain in his left hand. He looked up at his friend, then turned his face heavenward and cried out to his God.

The son eventually came home, after he and his crew mates were rescued from an island in the South Pacific. With great effort and trembling, he walked up to the pier and saw the chair. He removed the cover and sat in it. His eyes scanned the horizon and he prayed. A warm breeze touched his face, the water twinkled with the sunlight, and as it lapped against the pier, it seemed to say, “I’m here for you, Son; I’m here for you.” Tears fell from his eyes; he covered his face with his hands and cried to the God of his father to help him live his life in honor of the best man he’d ever known—his daddy.

The son got married and had not one, but three sons. Each morning, they’d walk out to the pier to go fishing for their breakfast. Each son had a turn in uncovering the chair and sitting in it, while the others sat on the edge of the pier. Their daddy told them stories of his daddy and granddaddy. In between he’d pray for his sons, just like his daddy did for him, “Lord, help my sons to grow ‘in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.'”

Afterwards, the son that sat in the chair would cover it up; his daddy would touch it and say, “Until tomorrow, daddy.” There wasn’t a day that went by without one of the sons saying, “I wish granddaddy was here.” And their daddy would say, “He is, son; he is.”

The chair stands to this day, a testament to the love between a father and son, and the enduring legacy of how one generation affects the next through their prayers.

Salton Sea Pier and Chair, by David Gregg © 2019.

*”The characters in this story are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.”

Posted in Family, Love, Parents, Prayer | Tagged , , ,

“Thanks for the Sandwich!”

All of you together are Christ’s body,
and each of you is a part of it.
~ 1 Corinthians 12:27, NLT ~

My friend told me a story about his grandmother. It went something like this: “When my grandmother was growing up, if she was out in the neighborhood, and got hungry, she’d go into one of the houses and make herself a sandwich!”

After I finished laughing, I asked him when and where this happened. He said it was probably in the early 1940s and in a small neighborhood in San Diego. Everyone knew each other really well and trusted each other. We joked about his grandmother leaving little notes that said, “Thanks for the sandwich! By the way, you’re out of bread!” Every time I think about his grandmother, I laugh. It’s such a delightful story.

By now, you might know how my mind works:  I can’t help thinking what it was like to live in a place where the bond of trust was so solid that a hungry child could confidently go into another house and make a sandwich. The people in this neighborhood must have known and loved each other, because trust can’t be given to those we don’t know nor love.

This led us to talking about how Christians can go anywhere in the world, meet other believers, and immediately have a solid bond of love and trust. Not because of who we are, but because of Jesus and how He’s united us into one body, through His love.

His love transcends time and place and all differences between us. We may not be able to confidently go into our neighbors’ houses and make sandwiches for ourselves when we’re hungry (that’s called trespassing and theft today), but we can go into God’s house and help ourselves to all His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

Drawing by Cathy Clark @ 2016

One of the promises the Lord’s given to us as His body, is that we’re all going to be together for eternity with Him. I’m not able to meet my friend’s grandmother because she lives in other city, but if she goes home to Jesus before I do, I’m going to enjoy hearing her tell us that story!

Keep looking up, because we’ll soon fly away home and be gathered to Him! Our Bridegroom, Jesus, will be waiting with open arms for all of us! Do you wonder what it’ll be like to confidently enter into the “hall” where we’re going to partake of the marriage supper of Lamb? I do! I can hardly wait!

If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, just ask Him to take you “just as you are,” and He will envelope you in His arms of love. We’re told that, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’… For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:9-11,13, NLT).

Abba, Father, we’re grateful that You’ve united us into one body of believers through Jesus Christ, our Lord. That though we are so diverse in so many different ways, His love binds us together. Soon, we’ll be singing a new song of praise and adoration to our King, our Bridegroom, as we celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb. And like my friend’s grandmother, who entered a neighbor’s house with confidence to get something to eat, all–who are willing to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord—will be able enter in and share in the wedding feast. We look forward to that time, Abba. In the meantime, help us to love each other as Jesus loves us, so that the world may know that we are His disciples (John 13:34-35, NIV). In the name of Jesus, and for Your glory. Amen.

 

Posted in Approaching God, Children, Children's stories, Family, Friends | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

My Refuge, My Shield, and My Hope!

You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.
~ Psalm 119:114, NKJV ~

Life got more difficult mid-December, and continues today, but God has been and “is a refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble,” as Psalm 46:1 says. He is continually proving that He is with us, that He is our refuge and shield, and our hope.

Before Christmas, I bought a small gift for my husband. I saw the keyring with the word, “HOPE” on it and was drawn to it. On the reverse side it read, “You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:114.

While going over the receipt, I saw that I had been charged the wrong price; I put it and the keyring somewhere to return it, but I lost it. I found it after Christmas and returned it to the store. Believe it or not, I promptly forgot where I left it—again. But the Lord is so good and understanding, He knows the right time for gifts to be given. I found it again on Wednesday, January 9th, placed it in my Bible study bag, and forgot about it. (Yes, I know, third time!)

Friday night (January 11th) Noah and I went to our local Christian bookstore. It was here that the Lord chose to strengthen and encourage my heart, and remind me of Don’s gift.

God encouraged my heart.

I’ve heard people say, “God works in mysterious ways.” Well, I don’t know about that, but I can attest to the fact that He does work!

A friend works at the store. She and I got to talking (while she was checking me out) and we discovered that things are going on in our families that need to prayer. When she was putting my items into a bag, she gave me one of their giveaways—a bracelet. Then she handed another one to me, “This one is for Noah.” I looked at them and almost burst into tears. They both had the same word on it, the one word I was not expecting—HOPE.

It was not a coincidence that our bracelets had the same word as Don’s keyring!

Before we left, my friend and I prayed for each other.  Right there by the entrance, in the store, in front of the window with people passing by on the outside, and other customers shopping in the store, we spoke our hearts to our Lord and Savior and were encouraged.

Once home, I gave Don his Christmas gift and Noah the bracelet. I told them the story of the keyring and added that of the bracelets. These were symbols of His presence, love, and exhortation to hope.

As hard as it’s been for us, God’s presence and gifts, both tangible and intangible, are comforting and strengthening us. Several verses keep coming up, over and over again:

Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (NKJV)

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.'” (NIV)

Lamentations 3:22-26,

“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘Therefore I hope in Him!'”

“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the LORD.” (NKJV)

Psalm 73:25-26,

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (NIV)

Do you have setbacks or adversity in your life right now? Hope in the living God. He knows what you’re going through and wants to help you through it. He hears your prayers and knows your struggles. He won’t forsake you; He’s walking beside you—you’re not alone.

Choose to worship Him, daily, to keep you from looking at your situation and spiraling into worry and despair. He hears every thought and sees every tear drop; He knows what you need.

Abba, Father, You always hold us close, but closer still when we have difficulties. You know our frailties. You comfort, encourage, strengthen, and sustain us. You love and meet us wherever we are. Your presence makes fear and anxiety flee. We get perspective and peace because “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105, NKJV).

You fight for us because the enemy of our souls is actively trying to keep us from You, Your peace, and all that You have for us. You protect us and set an angel around us to fight for, protect, and strengthen us.

Abba, keep us from growing weary and losing heart. Your presence comforts, fortifies, and gives us hope. You’re like water to a thirsty man and food to one who is fainting—You nourish and keep us going. We usually “do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chronicles 20:12, NKJV).

Thank You, Abba, for loving and caring for us, for being present with us, and giving us hope. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Posted in Christian Life, Difficulties, Encouragement, Family, God Speaks, God's Presence, Trusting God | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Where the Shoes of Peace Take You

Stand, therefore, with…
your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.
~ Ephesians 6:15 ~

The Christmas cards needed to be mailed and I needed to buy chicken drumsticks. I called the supermarket where I buy them — they didn’t have any. I called another location, and they had them. So off I went to the post office and to buy the chicken.

After I left the post office, I thought, “Hey, there’s another location closer than the one that has the chicken, so I’ll go there instead.” Less than a mile after I headed in that direction, I thought to call them to make sure they had the chicken drumsticks. I parked the car and waited for the meat department to answer — and they didn’t have any. So, I headed off to the one location that had the chicken.

I walked into the store, got three packages, and walked to the cashier. Four of the five cashiers had long lines; the “Express” line only had two ahead of me. As I waited for the cashier to take care of the customers before me, I looked at her face. It was careworn and my thought was, “This woman has lived a hard life. Pray for her.” Well, I greeted her, then thanked her for helping me.

As I walked away, I said, “What’s your name?”

“Maria.”

“I’ll be praying for you, Maria, because you look like you need it.”

She said, “Thank you.”

I walked away and was by the third cashier stand when I felt that I needed to go back. I turned around and saw the sign, “Restrooms” straight ahead of me. I asked another cashier if I could leave the bagged chicken on the counter, she said I could. I walked past  Maria’s check stand.

When I came out Maria walked quickly toward me and said, “Thank you for praying for me.” Large tears were running down her cheek. I asked her what to pray for, she told me her son. I asked her for his name and how I could pray for him, “A—. He’s on drugs.”

So, right there, in that private little place the Lord gave us, a concise prayer went upward for Maria and A—. She returned to her post with a smile.

Then, I remembered this Scripture verse card in my wallet. I jotted a quick note to her that I was asking the Lord to deliver her son from the drugs and into Him, and the peace and comfort of the LORD for her.

As I walked back to get my grocery bag, I gave it to her. Her countenance was different—more at peace than before.

Here’s my encouragement to you. It’s Christmas. Many people are struggling with different things, but if our eyes are open and our “feet [are] sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace,” the Lord will guide you to those who need to know that He loves and cares for them.

I called the same supermarket chain, in three different locations, for chicken drumsticks. Only one had them. I truly believe the Lord guided me to the store I went to because He wanted to bless a woman who was hurting for her son. He also blessed me.

If you are struggling with anything right now, know that the God who created all things, knows you and loves you. He hears your prayers; He “knows the things you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8).

The Lord opened the door to peace and comfort to Maria. He also gave her hope. Will you be instrument of peace for someone today?

Abba, help us to “Stand, therefore, with… [our] feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace,” and to be instruments of peace to a world that is lost and dying and needs to hear that You love and care for them.

The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate, be with you this Christmas and in the year to come. May you walk in step with the Spirit so that He leads you to where you need to be. In the name above all names, Jesus, amen.

Posted in Encouragement, Lessons from God, Opportunities, Serving God, Things Happen | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Old, But Still Useful

Been sick lately and this photo kept coming to mind. Thought I’d repost it. Enjoy.

The Cracker-Barrel

The glory of the young is their strength;
the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.
~ Proverbs 20:29 (New Living Translation) ~

It’s a beautiful Lord’s day in southern Cal. The sunlight is brilliant and radiating warmth; the sky is blue; the breeze is gentle, but crisp; and hummingbirds flit from one Bird of Paradise to the next, each time plunging in to drink of its life-sustaining nectar.

There was a time in my life when I could flit, like a hummingbird, from activity to activity, taking in moments of life. But like this wagon, those years are now memories.

This wagon is old and weather beaten. It had value and usefulness to the person or people who owned it. Though it was discarded a long time ago, it has beauty and usefulness; it brings completeness to this scene. Without this wagon, the space would be lacking character…

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When the Winds Come…

 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations,
knowing that tribulation produces perseverance
and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
~ Romans 5:3-4 (NKJV) ~

This weekend we had storms that brought lightning and thunder. It was cold, dark, and moist, but by mid-Sunday morning, the sun was out and its warmth felt good. This morning, I woke up to howling winds a little after 4 am and closed the windows that were open. I was able to go back to sleep, but when I woke up, the winds sounded more like stationary jets revving their engines. The winds were steady at 22 mph, but the gusts were even stronger at about 45 mph!

When I looked out the living room window, one tree was down and it looked like another was about to topple over. As I looked at the downed tree, I saw that a combination of things had made it fall:  The rains softened the earth and the tree roots were shallow.

The Romans 5 verses were sent to me by a friend last week, and they came to mind as I looked at the tree. My relationship with and trust in the Lord determines whether I’ll be able to “glory in tribulations.” If it’s not strong and I haven’t grown in the knowledge of who He is, then I won’t have strong and long roots to keep me in place.

Billy Graham said, “The Christians of the early church believed that ‘the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us’ (Romans 8:18). Thus they could regard present difficulties as of little consequence and could endure them with patience and cheerfulness.” I ask myself, then, “Do I? Will I be able to stand strong in the Lord, or topple when the strong winds of adversity come into my life?”

This afternoon, the maintenance crew came and cut up the tree, but placed the stump back into the ground. God is gracious, kind, loving, and merciful; He’ll make sure to place us upright and replant us in Himself. I have to remember, too, to not grow prideful nor deceive myself into thinking that I can handle any situation He allows in my life. I can only be assured of one thing, God is with me and for me. He has promised to abide in me as I abide in Him. This tree stump will be a constant reminder that in myself is no strength nor ability to stand in adversity, but that in Christ, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Father, we look to You because You’re mindful of us and care for us, as Psalm 8:4 says. We ask that You give us eyes to see the things that You allow to “befall” us, with Your eyes, so that we can “glory in tribulations,” develop perseverance, character, and hope. May we know that we know that You’re present with us and will get us through the adversities You allow to come into our lives. May we also know that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Firmly plant us, Father, by the streams of living water, that we may in due season, bear good fruit, for Your glory and honor and praise (Psalm 1:3). In the name of Jesus, amen.

The translation for this song is (note, there are variations):

How Shall We Repay? How shall we repay such immense love— giving up your life for sinful men? In return you receive this humble offering, this humble offering, Lord Jesus, that comes from my heart. This humble offering, Lord Jesus, that comes from my heart. When night’s mantle comes upon us, my teary eyes I’ll fix upon you. Looking up, I’ll see the stars, knowing that beyond them, as a loving Father, you watch over me. Knowing that beyond them, as a loving Father, you watch over me. I can’t repay you with silver or gold, for such sacrifice on my behalf. I’ve got nothing to give you for loving me so much; receive this song, along with my tears, as well as my heart. Receive this song, along with my tears, as well as my heart.

Posted in Christian Life, Christianity, Lessons from God, Things Happen, Trusting God | Tagged , , ,

“It’s a BIG Pumpkin!”

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone
who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect…
~ 1 Peter 3:15 ~

Did I really look like a big pumpkin?!

This week I went on an errand to the local Walmart. Two young men were outside the store asking for donations to an organization. They saw me coming, and one of them said, “Hey! Look! It’s a BIG pumpkin!” He had a big grin on his face and was not being disrespectful, so I smiled at them.

I couldn’t blame him for calling me a “BIG pumpkin!” because I was wearing burnt orange Bermuda shorts and a pumpkin colored t-shirt.

I walked into the store and got what I needed. When I went outside and walked toward them, the same young man, said, “She’s back! It’s the BIG pumpkin lady! And she’s ready for Halloween!”

I replied, “I don’t celebrate Halloween.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean to make fun of you by calling you a BIG pumpkin,” he said.

I smiled, “You didn’t. I just want you to know that I’m a true follower of Jesus Christ. And to be honest with you, light and darkness don’t mix.”

The other young man said, “Yea, Jesus is in all of us.”

To which I responded, “No, He’s not. I was a big time sinner, and He was not in me then. But He came to me and found me when I needed Him the most and I gave my heart to Him.”

They both stared at me like I was speaking a foreign language, so I spoke of something they might know. “You know how Linus has that big pumpkin he waits for on Halloween?” Blank stares. “You know, from Charlie Brown’s Halloween movie about a great, big pumpkin that Linus waits for every year to visit him?” Their eyes opened in recognition and they nodded up and down.

“Well, think of that huge pumpkin as a backpack on my back. It had all my sins in it and I couldn’t carry it anymore because it was so heavy and unbearable. When Jesus found me and I gave my life to Him, He took it away!”

They politely listened, though I knew they were getting antsy. After a few more pleasantries, I walked away. But, I heard one say to another, “Hey, I didn’t mean to get a sermon out of…” I didn’t hear the rest of it, but it’s an encounter I don’t want forget. I hope they don’t either, so that tiny seed about Jesus will somehow break through their hearts and take root. I’d like to see them in heaven one day.

The lesson is to always be ready to give a brief testimony of who Jesus Christ is, “making the most of every opportunity” that presents itself. Paul helps us to understand this in Ephesians 5:8-17:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Father, thank You for the opportunities You place before us to be able to testify of Your Son, Jesus, with respect and gentleness, and sometimes, with humor. We ask You to help these young men, and those to whom You lead us, come to know how much You love them—its width, length, height, and depth. In Jesus’ name, the name above all names, the name that is mighty to save, amen.

Posted in Answered Prayer, Christian Life, Christianity, Encouragement, Jesus, Lessons from God, Opportunities, Things Happen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,