CURMUDGEON…SAFE AT HOME
The latest Birds and blooms, fall magazine has a story about migrating raptors that fascinate all ‘bird-watchers’. They look for ‘thermals’, which are rising columns of air that form when the sun heats up the earth to help them soar. If one applied this article’s information and used the word SON for sun, it portrays God’s transformation for us. Old Doc thought it was a fitting opening for my article
“The fervent prayer of a righteous man gaineth much,” James ensures all Pilgrims. I must admit I suffer way too much ambivalence each time I read this passage or spend time contemplating its veracity. I do this for several reasons I don’t care to discuss, but, God knows.
Scripture tells us that the angels in heaven rejoice when a new babe in Christ is born. Those of us who have been faithful to God and his Son’s work on earth, and we do believe the Bible is Divine, for our entire adult life, may still choke on the chicken-bone that clearly indicates the ‘child of God’, from ten years old, or the ninety year old ‘child of God’ an hour before one dies, receives the same inheritance Those workers in the vineyard that Jesus taught about had the same problem reconciling the fairness of this outcome. A hired ‘field-hand’ working three hours and he received the same pay as my eight hours! Preposterous!
My! What a wonderful mighty God we serve! Pilgrims, if it were up to us, this clear example of unfairness would never happen, right? Good thing for us God doesn’t pay-no-mind to fairness, just Righteousness.
I met this curmudgeon a few years ago, and he was some ‘piece of work’. He can regale you with stories about his past, including his stint in the military that highly entertains, but, I was quite sure left a lot of room for Pinocchio to puncture the frivolity.
He was in ‘Special Forces’, UDT (underwater demolition team), before the formation of the famous Navy Frogman forces…and he couldn’t swim. I know, it seems incredulous, but he was very good at blowing things up. He said he nearly drown, several time during his training. Really…who could have thought that, huh? Ha ha
Some of his stories raise the hair on one’s arm. He admits he should have been dead many years ago for all the ‘bone-headed’ shenanigans, and many of them worthy of a court-martial and brig time, he chose to be involved in. He can show you the scars and bullet wounds. His mantra: “If I knew I’d live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”
From a ‘hard-scrabble’ youth to the halls of Penn State, he was a ‘self-made’ man, and a deprecating scholar of the ‘first class’. He blew hot into every challenge that came his way, and he found success, he says, “The hard-way.” Like the mythical Phoenix, he rose from the ashes of bankruptcy, twice, and found success in the demolition business. Why not? He was good at blowing things up.
Pilgrims, old Doc has come to the conclusion there must be a speck of curmudgeon in us, for we too possess a streak of rebellion that was designed to view God on the horizon, but not too close. I believe the walk for a man with God is filled with more potholes than women because our greatest need is respect. Walking and talking with God, on our knees, doesn’t seem a healthy way to know you have respect in the world.
One way a man accomplishes this task is to live your life recklessly and dare the God of heaven to halt you. Man often thinks God is going to interfere in his life and demand he wear a halo; and he just can’t allow himself to be submissive. If he does, he believes he may lose the best part of whom he likes. He may have been a ‘wild-ass’ of a man’ when he was young, but, older, he seeks a moral path, but uses just enough profanity to keep the ‘macho’ part he is most comfortable owning, and to let God know he is coming his direction, but, he prefers it to be on his terms and on his timetable.
I can attest to this sad truth. It is true, Christians, who possess Sunday School Attendance ribbons that reach to their navel, often clash with these’ ‘Johnny-come-lately’ converts. Doc knows this is true. The very first rural church I served, it only took me a couple of weeks to get into spiritual ‘hot-water’. After my first sermon, an Elder approached me and let me know I was committing a sin because I used the NIV Bible to preach and quote scripture: King James Bible was the only divine Bible! After my sermon, a woman approached me and asked me to pay a visit with an elderly man she was caring for. She wanted him to accept Jesus before he died. I made a visit that afternoon. He was on his death-bed. He was ninety three. The woman and I read scripture, prayed, and he talked about his life of sin. His tears were part of his confession and repentance as he accepted Jesus as his Savior. He was too ill to move him to the church’s baptistery. She helped me move him and he was baptized in the bathtub. The woman came to the church’s Sunday Night service and gave a testimonial regarding this man becoming a ‘child of God’. She thanked me for helping her get him into heaven, for he died in the morning. The church elders didn’t rejoice. They chastised me for baptizing a heathen. They cast aspersions about the woman and her ‘care’ for the man. She never returned to the church; I was gone in a few months.
Spiritual ‘Russian Roulette’ is a dangerous game. Many people do win; but, many more lose. One never knows when God’s Life Calendar runs out of pages and runs out of time
You gotta love a curmudgeon that begins to change, before God rearranges, and they begin to witness to friends and family about the importance of eternity with Jesus, while they are still roaming around in No-man’s Land.
Pilgrims, if our heart is ‘hardened’, I’m positive God uses the events in our life to lead us to Him. Good or bad, it doesn’t make any difference.
For instance, I recall there was a family that once attended the church, but had suddenly stopped attending, and I paid a visit to their house and had coffee and a long visit with him concerning the family’s absence from our services. After a litany of excuses, he ‘kissed me out the door’. The next Sunday, while I was teaching a Sunday School class, in the midst, he and his wife burst into the room. He marched up front and began to confess sin and repent of his falling out of love with Jesus. He had a bandage on his head. His testimony: he and the family were on their way to catch some fish at a nearby lake, and their car was hit crossing an intersection. The other driver died; they were shook up, but alive and well. He was convinced that the accident and their survival were God’s signal and message he needed to get his life right with God. While I was serving that church, he and his family remained ‘on fire’ for the Lord.
The author, Calder, in his book: Men and Marriage, writes that men are ‘barbarians’, and God uses women to domesticate them. My curmudgeon friend has a unique ‘courtship’ story. His wife, second marriage for both, the daughter of a very conservative Scottish preacher and a ‘lady’ in every sense of the word, told him “If he didn’t marry her, he’d be the dumbest SOB on the earth!” He told me, “When she said that, he knew she was his kind of woman.” They are a ‘matched pair and both are eighty plus, and still madly in love.
He’s the ex-trained Navy military demolition bomb-setter and killer, hard as nails, strong as an ox, but she runs Marathons. She has been ordered by her doctor to ‘slow down’ on her running…so she just runs thirty miles a week! His problem with swimming when he served in the UDT Special Forces bled over into his civilian life: he rode a bike while she ran her miles. He could ride well; he just had a problem stopping. In the past, he had a few scrapes, but nothing serious.
I think he probably rides the bike like he drives his Lexus couple! I rode with him ONE time! Recently, he upgraded his bike. The new one was fancy and had its brakes system on the handle bars. I rode this type years ago and I recall how dangerous that brake system can be if you squeeze too much with one hand when making a stop. Now, he too knows this outcome!
He and his wife were out getting their exercise, when he tried to stop, quickly, and he was thrown from it onto the road. Somehow the bike landed on top of him. He was in a heap and hurt so badly he couldn’t get up. His wife, a half mile ahead, looked back and didn’t see him, and she became alarmed. She began to back-track. She said, “At first, I thought the vision on the road was a bear.” She couldn’t rescue him; he was too heavy to lift. Perhaps, this is where God intervened, because his accident was near a ‘guard-rail’. She suggested he scoot on his rear and get to the rail. He said, “In addition to my shoulder, hip and knee killing him with pain, he’s butt was rubbed raw before he could get to the railing. A Forest Ranger arrived, shortly, and he tried to give his bike away. He no longer has a bike!
I’m not sure, but, perhaps Pilgrims, God spoke to him while he was lying on the road. “Son, son, what a mess you’ve got yourself in,” I can imagine Jesus telling the curmudgeon. “Here you are eighty plus, to old and too weak to get up, and you been attending that church for over a decade and your still one more fall away from spending an eternity with the man in red tights. Old man, you could have landed on your head and died.”
Dear friends of ours and theirs, who used to Winter here at Lake Cumberland, he is a retired preacher, heard about his accident and they made a detour on their trip from Florida so they could visit him and pray for him. The curmudgeon’s wife, and us celebrated in worship, while he convalesced at home. Monday morning he called and told us the Good News: he had been baptized by our preacher in the lake. In great physical pain, he came home to be with the Lord and become a ‘child of the Kingdom’.
His voice was filled with emotion as he told me about this great event in his life. He did say, “Just give me a machine gun, and I’m ready to fight for the Lord.” He does have some ‘rough edges’; but, he told me the following Sunday, he stubbed his toe, badly, and he didn’t even cuss.”
Pilgrims, the Apostle Paul writes that we have enmity (hatred) for God while we are yet sinners. For me, this means we are all curmudgeons! Praise Jesus! He can and will bring all who call upon his name safely home. My friend and I will share eternity together for we have caught a Heavenly migrating thermal.