Amusement Park: The Hat, part 1

Amusement Park: The Hat, part 1

Amalia and Jesus walked slowly. They had been on many of the rides, and now they were happy just to spend a few moments just being together. No lessons. No adventures. No temptations. No surprises. Amalia sighed with pleasure.

As they meandered past rides she had been on, and rides she hadn’t, Amalia spotted a small shop she hadn’t seen before. “Souvenirs” was written on a large sign above the front door. Smiling, she tugged on Jesus’ hand. “Let’s go in there! I want to see what they have.”

The shop was amazing. Amalia gazed with wonder at the myriad of objects displayed on racks and counters, in boxes and tubs, and even hanging from the ceiling. She fingered a t-shirt with a picture of a large roller coaster with the matching words, “I Survived the Roller Coaster!” She rifled through the shirts and was amused that each ride seemed to have its own shirt, even the gentle merry-go-round. Moving on she found water bottles, key chains, magnets, tote bags, cups, post cards, wallets, lanyards, jewelry, flash lights, umbrellas, kites, and sandals. And she hadn’t even made it halfway through the shop yet. She was especially intrigued with the snow globes. There were so many of them, each containing a miniature replica of a ride. There was a tiny Ferris wheel in one that spun as she shook it. A train went around in a circle in another one. A third contained a tiny boat floating on turquoise water. She picked up one after another to watch the rides move, wishing she had enough money to buy each of them. Those would be so much fun to play with when she got home, and would help her to remember what she had learned while here. But knowing she didn’t, she gave them a sad little wave, and moved on.

While she moved further and further into the shop, she noticed that Jesus hadn’t said anything. He wasn’t even looking at the all the interesting things she was finding. He was looking at her. Puzzled, she wondered what He was thinking. But before she could ask Him, she was distracted by a large, colorful display. Hats! She loved hats! Trying on one after another, she knew this was the one thing in this whole shop she wouldn’t be able to resist. The only question was which one? The large, floppy ones with colorful bands? The beanies? The ones with flaps on the back to keep necks from getting sunburned? The soft felt ones with the playful feathers? And then she knew. A baseball styled cap’s bill would shade her eyes while the snug fit would keep the wind from blowing it off her head. Now… which color? Dismissing the bright colors, she considered the earth tones. They all looked so good, but eventually it came down to the faded teal blue or the dusty rose. Holding one in each hand, she turned to Jesus. “What do you think?”

“You don’t need a hat.”

“That’s not what I meant, but okay. Why don’t I need a hat?”

“You already have a few hats.”

“Those are just plain hats. Look! This one has the name of the amusement park on it. It will help me remember being here with you.”

“You don’t need a hat to remember. Get it if you really want it, but you don’t need it.”

Amalia frowned. She wanted a souvenir hat. Turning from Jesus, she decided on the blue one, and took it to the counter to pay for it.

Outside, new hat on her head, she continued walking with Jesus. But the delight she had 0710201250had walking with Him before entering the shop was missing. It was still a nice walk, but something was different. It was like something had come between them. Was it the hat? He had said to get it if she really wanted it so it wasn’t disobedience. Then what was it? She couldn’t put her finger on it, and eventually gave up, focusing on her hat instead. It was a great hat – so incredibly comfortable, and worked even better at shielding her eyes from the sun than she had hoped for. She couldn’t resist reaching up every few minutes to feel its comforting cotton texture, or to tap its sturdy bill. It was not just any hat. It was a hat that symbolized being with Jesus. This connection was so strong that touching the hat was almost like touching Himi, and her love for the hat deepened each time she did. How could anything this good be bad? Why would Jesus not want her to have this? Maybe she should ask Him again.

She turned to Him just in time to hear Him say, “…to go on before we leave.” She had been so consumed with her own thoughts that she hadn’t noticed Jesus had been talking to her.

“Sorry, what did you say?” she asked Him.

“Ah… so I have your attention again.” He smiled. “I was saying, there is a ride we need to go back to before we leave. Do you want to do it now?”

“Which one is it?”

“The haunted house.”

“The haunted house? Why do we have to do that one again?” Amalia thought of the different rooms, and how hard some of them were. She didn’t want to go back to those. Not even the mountain one. Although the top was incredible, she was not yet ready to repeat the brutal journey to get there.

“There’s a room in there that we skipped.”

Amalia brightened with the realization she wouldn’t have to go through any of those difficult rooms again. “A room we skipped? How did we do that? Which one?”

“I didn’t think you were ready for it, so I didn’t take you through it. But I think now would be a good time.”

“What’s the room like?”

“Well, that would be spoiling the surprise, wouldn’t it? You’ll just have to wait and see.”

Amalia thought for a few minutes. None of the rides had been as they had looked. Each contained something totally unexpected. Was she up for another of His “surprises”? Well, if He said this was a good time, then it must be a good time. She would just have to trust Him.

“Sure, let’s do it.”

 

To be continued.

Amusement Park: Boat Ride

Amusement Park: Boat Ride

“I’ll meet you on the other side,” Jesus said as He helped Amalia into the little yellow boat.

“You’re not coming with me?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll still be with you, but in a different way.”

Amalia’s smile faded. She liked His presence, and wasn’t thrilled to have to be on this ride without it. True, this was just a little boat in a large pool with clear emerald water, as benign as a ride could get, but that didn’t really matter. She wanted to feel His presence. She watched, already missing Him, as He walked away and disappeared around a corner.

Turning her attention to the boat, she noticed two things right off. First, there was a steering wheel. Good, she liked having some control. Second, there was no source of power. No on/off switch. No accelerator to step on. No throttle to pull. How was she supposed to get this boat moving? And why a steering wheel if she couldn’t control the boat? It didn’t make sense.

Amalia looked around for someone in charge, but of the few people she saw, no one looked like a park employee. There were a few other boats moving around. Maybe one of them could help her out. “Hey!” she called, hands curved around her mouth. “How do you get this boat to go?”  When no one answered, she stood up and yelled, “HEY! A LITTLE HELP, PLEASE!” Still, no one appeared to hear her.

She sat back down. Now what? She considered her options. She could continue to yell for help. She could just sit there and wait for the ride controller to show up. Or she could leave.

Fine. She didn’t want to go on this ride anyway. At least not without Jesus. This was not what she thought it would be. She should just get off this stupid boat, and walk around to the other side of the pool. It’s not that far.

Grumbling, she stood up. But before she could step out, a voice called to her. “What are you doing? You’re going to tip the boat over! Sit down!”

Looking down, she noticed the boat was indeed rocking. She looked back up at the man who was running towards her. “Where have you been? I wouldn’t have had to stand up if you had been here doing your job!”

“Sorry, I had an emergency,” he managed between gulps of air. “My …”

“I don’t care.” Amalia cut in as she flopped back on to the seat. “Just get this boat going.”

“Well, you have to do that.”

“Don’t you think I’ve tried that? There’s no power switch or accelerator!” She frowned at the man. “Hurry up, will you? I’m supposed to meet someone on the other side.”

“It doesn’t run on that kind of power. It…”

Amalia interrupted again. “I don’t care what kind of power it runs on. Get it moving!” She could feel the anger taking control inside her, but she didn’t care. He could have gotten someone to take his place before running off for his “emergency”. He probably just wanted some pizza.

The man’s voice became hard. “Like I was saying, it runs on…”

“And like I was saying, I don’t care.”

“Lady, you’d better quit interrupting me or I’m going to make you leave.” He pointed towards the center of the park. “There’s plenty of other rides to complain about.”

“I want this one. Make this boat move.”

Through a clenched mouth, he said, “You have to use the steering wheel.”

Amalia raised her eyebrows and glared at him. “Are you dumb? Steering wheels are for guiding, not for power.” She ignored the conviction of wrongdoing that was growing inside her. If this man wasn’t being so difficult, she wouldn’t have to act like this.

“Me? At least I’m smart enough to know how to make the boat go. Quit being a jerk long enough for me to tell you.” He pointed his finger at the wheel. “This steering wheel is different. All you have to do is…”

Frustrated, she hit the steering wheel. The boat gave a jerk, knocking her back in her seat.

“… push on the steering wheel.”

Still glaring, she tentatively pushed on the wheel. The boat moved forward.

“To move backwards, just…”

“I think I got it,” Amalia didn’t let him finish. “I’m not stupid.”

She pushed down more firmly, and felt gratified when the boat leapt forward. Finally!0627200525 (2)

Without looking back, she sped off towards the center of the pool. She was in no mood to enjoy the ride. She just wanted to get to the other side as quickly as she could.

You shouldn’t have acted like that. Go back and apologize.

The thought startled her, but she pushed it away. She liked the feeling of power her anger had given her. She had a right to it. That man had not been doing his job. Besides, he wasn’t so nice to her either. And he had ruined this ride for her. How was she supposed to enjoy a leisurely trip across the pool when she had to hurry to meet Jesus now?

But the thought wouldn’t stay away. Each time it returned, she countered it with excuses, allowing the anger to build inside. It was his fault because he broke a park rule by leaving a ride unattended. It wasn’t fair that the other boat riders got to ride before she did. There should have been a how-to sign posted. Besides that guy wasn’t important, he just a worker. He deserved to be treated like that for delaying her ride and treating her so disrespectfully. Maybe he would think twice before doing that to someone else. He sure wouldn’t have acted that way if Jesus had been there. Yeah, if Jesus had been there, everything would have been great. Jesus should never have left her.

A splash of cold water on her face broke through her self-justification. The pool no longer looked like an emerald mirror. It was rough and growing rougher by the minute. She struggled to control the wheel as the waves crashed into her again and again. Scared now, she tried to orientate herself. She could no longer see the far edge of the pool. In fact, she could not see any edges. All she could see was water. Rough, angry water. Giving up trying to control the wheel, she held on to the sides of the boat as it rocked violently from side to side. Waves began to break over her now, and she watched with horror as the bottom filled with water. She was going to sink!

“Jesus! Help me!”

Not getting a response, she called out again. “Jesus, please save me!”

Again, no response. Did Jesus abandon her? Surely not. He promised to always be with her. So where was He? What was keeping Him from helping her?

She called out over and over, thinking maybe He hadn’t heard her over the sound of the waves. But she was met with silence each time. Finally, exhausted and hoarse, she slumped in her seat. The water was now chest high. She closed her eyes. “Jesus, You said You’d be with me even if I couldn’t see You. I’m going to hold on to your promise, and wait for You to answer.”

You shouldn’t have acted like that. Go back and apologize.

That same thought again, but this time, she acknowledged her wrongdoing. “I’m sorry. I was wrong to get angry. I was wrong to treat that man like that. It doesn’t matter how he treated me, I did not act as You have taught me. I did not treat him as I would have wanted to be treated by him. I sinned against You, and I have no excuse. I’m sorry for that, and for my disobedience. Please forgive me. I will do as You say. I will apologize to him, if I don’t die out here first.”

BOOM!

She jumped as one word, one mighty majestic word, boomed like thunder across the waters. “PEACE!” Instantly the waves receded and the pool became as still as glass. Amalia looked around in wonder. He did it! Jesus had saved her!

Standing up, not caring that the boat rocked, she raised her arms high. “I can’t see You, but I know You’re here! Sin has no place with You, for you are a holy God! When I confessed my sin, You were quick to forgive me. You are powerful and glorious!”

After worshiping for a while longer, Amalia sat back down, and continued across the pool to where Jesus was waiting for her.

“So, how was your ride?” He asked as he helped her out of the boat.

She thought about it for a minute. So many adjectives came to mind: powerful, scary, wet, weird, unexpected, convicting, horrible… But she settled on one.

“Educational.”

“Educational?”

“I learned some things that I hope I never forget.” She started walking back towards the park employee to deliver her apology.

“Like what?”

“God and sin do not mix. God is incredibly more powerful than I had thought. And God is quick to forgive.”

Jesus smiled. “Then that was one amazing ride.”

 

 

 


Scriptures:

Psalm 69:1-3  Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

Jonah 2:2-5a  saying, “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.” The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me…

Psalm 32:1-5 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Psalm 29:2-4  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

 

Exhausted?

Exhausted?

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Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God,

The Creator of the end of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

His understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,

And to he who has no might, he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,

And young men shall fall exhausted;

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles;

They shall run and not be weary;

They shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Amusement Park: Bungee Jump

Amusement Park: Bungee Jump

“Are you ready?” the man asked as he did a final check on the straps.

Amalia wasn’t so sure. It had sounded doable from down below, but from up here, it looked insane. Jump out into nothingness, with only a bungee cord attached to her? How does He talk her into these things? 0614202153 (2)

 

She looked down again at the tiny X. Her target. Second thoughts plagued her as her heart tried to beat its way out of her chest. Maybe He was just testing her, like He had with Abraham. Maybe He would stop her before she stepped off the edge. Or maybe she had heard Him wrong. Maybe there was another way down, one that provided more security. Like an elevator. She turned around to ask Him, but He was not there.

Panic joined her fear, and she began to shake. Wasn’t He going to jump with her? He promised He’d always be with her. Didn’t that include impossible things, like this jump?

She looked back over the edge of the platform again.

No, no… she couldn’t do it. She could not make herself walk off that platform no matter what He had said.

“You can trust Me,” He had said.

“Do not fear,” He had said.

“I will be with you,” He had said.

“You were made for this,” He had said.

But now that it was actually time for that first step, she regretted ever agreeing to it. Turning around, she opened her mouth to tell the man that she had changed her mind, but stopped when she saw him shake his head. “No turning back,” he told her, gesturing for her to turn back around. “You may as well get it done. The longer you procrastinate, the harder it will be.”

Dismayed, and with a sense of fatality, she turned back to the great expanse of nothingness. She had no idea what was going to happen, but if she had to jump, then jump she would. If she perished, it would be God’s fault, since He was the one who got into this predicament.

She took the smallest steps she could, inch by inch, until she got to the edge. Breathing rapidly, not daring to look down again, she lifted a foot. And froze. She couldn’t do it. She just didn’t have it in her to continue.

“Yes, you do,” came a soft, encouraging whisper from deep within her. “Because I’m in you. Don’t trust what you fear; trust what I’ve promised.”

Grasping tightly to that voice, she stepped off.

It was just as terrifying as she had thought. The target grew quickly until it was all she saw. She was going to crash! But just as that thought formed in her mind, she was jerked back up into the air. The bungee cord! She had forgotten about that!

Her second descent wasn’t near as frightening as the initial one. A calmness now rose up in her, and she began to enjoy herself. This time, as she neared the target, she was confident the bungee cord would save her.

Her joy and sense of freedom, a freedom filled with the Presence inside her, increased on each subsequent fall. By the time the ride was over and she was standing on the X, she was hooked. She couldn’t wait until she could jump off into nothingness again.

“Amalia, well done!” Jesus congratulated her as He walked up.

“Jesus! That was amazing! I want to do it again!”

He laughed. “You will get many chances. Each time I ask you to speak to someone about Me, especially to people who may ridicule or persecute you, it will be like jumping off that platform. But don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you. Remember that I am in you, strengthening you from the inside, and that my love for you will keep you safe.”

Amalia wasn’t too sure about the ‘ridicule’ and ‘persecution’ parts, but the rest was exciting. More chances to jump with Him? Anytime!

 


 

How often do we let fear of what others say stop us from going where God sends us? How do you deal with that fear?

 

Scriptures:

Matt 28:19-20  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Proverbs 29:25 (ESV)  The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Heb 11:1 (By Faith) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Heb 11:8 By faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going.

Heb 11:17-19  By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

1 Cor 2:5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Amusement Park: Helicopter Ride

Amusement Park: Helicopter ride

“Ready to go higher?” Jesus asked.

“Higher? If we go any higher we’re going to…” Amalia froze. He didn’t really mean that, did He? This was supposed to be a restful ride, nothing scary. She stared at Him, unable to voice her fear. 0614202137 (2)

His eyes twinkled back at her. “Yup. And you’ll love it. So do you want to go higher with Me?”

Nodding slowly, she knew she’d go anywhere Jesus wanted to take her. She wasn’t sure if He meant the same thing she feared, but just in case, she held on tighter. If this helicopter broke free and went off into space, she wanted to be ready.

The small helicopter thus far had been moving in a slow, mechanical way. Although she controlled the up and down movements, the long metal bar to which it was attached kept it from going too high or too low as it revolved around a center column. It kept her safe from dangerous extremes. Now Jesus spoke of going higher. Heart beating faster, she waited to see what He meant.

He took the controls, and they began climbing.

At first nothing seemed to change.. She looked at Jesus and waited. When was He going to do His thing? Something totally unexpected and crazy and marvelous? But they just kept rising and revolving as they had been doing since they got on this ride. Should she ask Him about it? Or should she keep quiet? Maybe He’d forget and they could just finish the ride in a safe and ordinary way.

A few minutes passed. They were still rising.

She looked at Him again. The smile on His face was bigger, brighter, and more joyous than she had ever seen. Not just His smile – his whole body seemed to be brighter, reflecting the light that streamed down on Him.

No, not just on Him, on both of them.

Wait… the light was not streaming down on Him. It was streaming out from Him. He was the source of the light, which was growing more brilliant by the minute.

She was about to say something, but he stopped her.

“Shhh. Just take it in.” He whispered.

She sat back, noting that they were still rising, and let her eyes wander as she focused on the light’s sensation. The warmth she expected. But there was something else about it, something she couldn’t quite identify. Something good. Like she was being hugged from the inside out with the longest, most passionate hug she’d ever experienced. Tears filled her eyes as she surrendered to the embrace.

Too soon, she heard Jesus whisper. “Amy, Me beloved, look down.”

She did, and gasped. The amusement park looked the size of a flea circus.

“We’re so high! How…?” She shook her head. She didn’t’ need an explanation. Jesus had done His thing.

“This is how great My love for you is. And even greater. When you go through rough times, remember what you’ve experienced today. My love will be just as great then as it is now.”

The love, still flowing through her as she stared at the tiny rides below, filled her so completely that all she could do was nod. Slowly, as they descended, the light’s brilliancy dimmed to ordinary light. Disappointed, she tried to hang on to the inner embrace, but that feeling was also slowly fading away. By the time they joined the other helicopters, still revolving around the center column, it was all but a memory. A memory she was going to hang on to as long as she could.

 


 

Has anyone else experienced the loving embrace of God? What was it like for you?

 

Scriptures:

Psalm 103:11  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

Psalm 46:10  “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!”

1 John 4:16  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

John 8:12 (I Am the Light of the World) Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

One is Not Like the Other

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Although there are similarities:

Both are round.

Both are the color of silver.

Both are the same size.

They feel similar, and sound similar when dropped.

Both shine in the sun.

these small round disks are not the same.

 

The center of one disk contains a face, the right face. The face of Franklin Roosevelt. With any other face, it would have no value and be considered a counterfeit. But with the right face, it can be trusted as legal tender.

 

The center of the other disk is empty. It has no value for purchasing anything. If an attempt is made to use it for that purpose, it would be rejected, and the person trusting in it would end up empty handed.

 

 

Just like spiritual belief systems.

Some spiritual belief systems have a face in its center, others do not. The ones without a face are empty. Of the spiritual belief systems with a face – the ones promising a way to heaven – that face has to be the right face.

And that right face is Jesus. He is the only way to the Father. Any other face is a fake, a counterfeit, and those trusting in it will end up empty handed.

 

Whose face in the center of your disk?

 

Job 15:31 Let him not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself, for emptiness will be his payment.

John 14:6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No no one comes to the Father except through me.”

Acts 4:12  And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Messy Threads

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As I looked at the wing I just finished stitching, I saw the messy threads and knew I wouldn’t be able to use it like that. It would mar the beauty of the angel bear I was working on.  It also made me think of times when my life felt just as messy.

 

0602201436
This kind of mess required something that could cut threads without damaging the wing. And I knew just the right tool – my embroidery scissors with the curved tip. But that tool had to be used correctly.

 

 

0602201437b
After a while, I was tired and wanted to stop. So many threads had been cut, but there were still many left. The wing was looking better than before, and I was tempted to let it go, but I knew the job wasn’t finished. So I continued.

 

 

0602201439
Finished, and beautiful! Now I could use it for the purpose I made it for. I am always amazed at the how much better the wings look once the threads are removed.

 

That’ when we need to get out God’s scissors and start clipping. If we allow Him to help, and not stop once we start feeling better, we will be amazed at how much better we will be able to do what He created us to do. And we will see beauty where once there was just a mess.

 

Is your life a mess? Don’t get discouraged. Get clipping!

 

Heb 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

 

Amusement Park: Swinging Box

Amusement Park: Swinging Box

“How about that ride?” Jesus pointed to a box hanging by four poles from a horizontal bar.  “I love riding this one!”

Amalia agreed, and they climbed in. “This swing is supposed to be able to go all the way around, right?”

“Yes, if you keep working at it.”

“I’m ready.”

Amalia waited. But nothing happened. No motor came on to move them. The box remained stationary.

“Is this ride broken? Why isn’t it swinging?”

“It’s waiting for you.”

“For me? What do I have to do? I’m already inside, standing up, holding on to the wall handles. I’m ready. So why doesn’t someone push the button to get this ride moving?” She leaned out the window. “Hey, anybody out there?”

“Amalia, You have to get it moving.”

“How do I do that?” She studied the walls, ceiling, and floor. “There are no buttons in here either.”

“The power comes from your body. You have to move, and then the box will move.”

“Oh, okay, if I have to.” She began hopping, jumping from foot to foot. The box jiggled, 0605202043 (2)but didn’t start swinging. She jumped harder, willing the box to swing, but it only jiggled more violently. “Come on, box! Why are you just jiggling? Start swinging!”  Frustrated at the lack of desired response, she looked at Jesus. He was laughing.

 

“Why are You laughing?”

“I’m laughing at the confusion this box must have, being jumped on like that. It’s reacting exactly as it should to what you are doing.”

“What do you mean? I’m trying as hard as I can to get it to swing, but it just bounces!”

“I know. But have you noticed that when you jump up and down, the box does the same?”

“How else am I supposed to get it to move?” Amalia frowned. “Besides, I like jumping.”

“Think about how a swing works. Specific movements are required. Any other movements won’t result in the swing moving in the direction it was made to move. You know, it’s kind of like when you do acts of service for people. You have to fit your actions to what they need. If you do only what you like or want, you won’t get worthwhile results.”

“What do you mean?”

“When you help people, you want to make their lives a little better, right? You want to bring them some happiness, share some love, or meet a need they have. But what if you only did what you wanted? What if someone needed their yard mowed, but you only liked to give food. If you went to them with food, they wouldn’t be very appreciative. They might be confused, or maybe even hurt that you weren’t really thinking about them.”

“Okay, I think I get it. “ She imagined sitting on a swing, and focused on which movements the swing needed her body to make into order to move. “Oh, I have to shift my weight frontwards and backwards.”

Amalia rocked back and forth. The box began to swing slightly. “It’s working!”

“Great! Keep going!”

After a while, sweaty from the effort, Amalia stopped moving. “Jesus, this is too hard. I’ve done my best, but I can only get halfway up. Can You help me?”

“I thought you’d never ask!”

He threw His weight with hers, and the box quickly climbed higher with each swing. Soon the momentum of the box’s movements added to their effort, and Amalia found that she didn’t have to work as hard at it as she had at the beginning.

“This is fantastic!” Amalia laughed aloud.

With Jesus grinning by her side, they continued shifting their weight, and the box climbed even higher. Higher and higher and higher, until they were directly above the horizontal bar. They lingered there just a moment, before swinging back down, and up the other side until they were above the horizontal bar again.

Amalia marveled. To be suspended up in the air like that had to be one of the most fascinating experiences she’s ever had.

And then it got better. On the next swing up, instead of lingering at the top, it kept moving. It continued down the back, then up and over again, making complete circles around the horizontal bar.

Amalia couldn’t contain her enthusiasm. “More! More!”

“That’s enough for now. Your body isn’t ready to maintain this for long. You need to take time to rest.”

Disappointed as the box slowly settled to a gentle swing, and then to a stop, Amalia realized her body was indeed spent. Jesus was right. She did need a rest.

And then, she reassured herself, she would get Him to take her up on this ride again.

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

How do you know what people need?

All comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated!

 

Scriptures:

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Romans 12:10-11 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Mark 6:30-31a The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest for a while.

Dear Little Weed Puller (From Someone Who Loves You Series)

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Dear Little Weed Puller,

Look at you, so focused on pulling those weeds. You are not overwhelmed with the large number of weeds around you. You are not worried that the job is too big for you. You are not frustrated because they are delaying your walk. You saw a need, and you stopped to take care of it, secure in the knowledge that I was there watching over you. You didn’t know, but you brought a delightful smile to my heart. And for that, I thank you.

As Always,

Someone Who Loves You

 

Gal 6:10  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

 

Do you hear God speaking to you in these letters? If so, it’s no coincidence.  As I write to my new granddaughter, I can hear God speaking to me. And my prayer is that you can also hear Him speaking to you for He loves us even more than I love my granddaughter.

Amusement Park: Bumper Cars

Amusement Park: Bumper Cars

Amalia knew where she wanted to go next. The one ride she would have some control. She wanted to have her hands on the steering wheel for a change, instead of be driven by something she couldn’t see. Jesus agreed to give her that chance, and they made their way to the bumper cars.

“Hey, this is new.” Amalia pointed to a sign. “This ride has a prize. First one to it gets it. This is going to be even more fun than I thought.”

She picked out a red car, her favorite color, and climbed in. Jesus stood by the entrance gate.

“Jesus, aren’t You coming?”

“I thought you wanted to be in control.”

“I do, but I still want You with me. Please, come ride this with me.”

She smiled as He climbed in next to her. Seat belts fastened, foot on the pedal, and hands on the steering wheel, Amalia studied the arena. Cars were lined up all along the edges. As soon as the power was turned on, she knew they would all be heading for the prize, taking the shortest route possible. That meant they would all be heading across the center.

“Jesus,” she whispered, “I have a plan. If I can avoid the center, I can get past the massive gridlock the other cars will make in the center by going around the perimeter, and get to the prize first.”

“You think that will work?” He whispered back. “What if they all have the same idea?”

“I doubt it, but to make sure, I’ll wait a few minutes before starting off.”

“Okay, let’s see what happens.”

Sure enough, as soon as the power was on, fifteen cars headed for the center. A few other cars seem to be having trouble moving, or had the same idea as Amalia.

“See? I told You! Now watch as I sneak around and grab the prize.”

Amalia maneuvered the car slowly around the edge, only moving towards the center when going around cars still parked along the wall. As she passed them, she noticed that they were actually empty. No wonder they had not moved – easy obstacles to avoid.

As she turned the last corner, she saw victory right before her. Excited, she stepped on the peddle, and turned to Jesus, “See? My plan wor…”

BAM!

Thrown forward, Amalia jerked herself off the steering wheel.  0604202136 (2)

“Hey! I was here first!”

“So what? I’m here now!”

“Move out of my way!”

“You move!”

While Amalia argued with the driver of the brown car, a yellow car shot past them towards the prize.

“Hey!” Amalia threw her car in reverse, backed up as fast as she could, then took off full speed after the yellow car. “Oh, no you don’t!”

The yellow car came to a sudden halt as it crashed into a green car. Amalia whooped and rushed past both. Waving at the drivers furiously trying to untangle their cars, Amalia turned to Jesus. “This is fun! I can feel the prize in my hands already!”

“You think so? You might want…”

Amalia hit the steering wheel again as a pink car slammed into her from behind. Frowning, she turned slightly away from the prize to go around a stationary car, only to find her way blocked by purple car. Turned even further towards the center, Amalia grew frustrated. The prize was so close, and now she was being forced to move in a different direction. No longer confident she would get to the prize first, and not even remembering that Jesus was in the car with her, she began bumping into any car in her way, hoping the impact would remove them from her path. But it just made things worse.

“Turn to the left.”

The whisper was so quiet, she wasn’t sure she had heard it correctly. Turn left? But that would take her even further from the prize. It didn’t make sense. She decided to ignore it as she saw a way opening up to her right. Rushing towards it, she got there just as the brown car did. As the pink car crashed into her again, she was pushed into the brown car. A green car swooped up on her right at the same time as a blue car did the same on her left. She was blocked on all sides! Maybe turning right had not been the best decision. Maybe she should have listened to that whisper.

It took a few minutes for the cars to untangle, and then Amalia was free again. She looked around to orient herself. The prize was now behind her. Frowning, she watched the movement of the other cars for a moment. A few seemed to be heading towards the prize, but most were heading in other directions. That was a relief. She wasn’t competing against everyone. But the ones she was competing against were closer to the prize than she was. Time for a new strategy.

As she moved slowly along her newly planned route, things seemed to be working out just as she had hoped. She was closing in on the prize, and as the yellow car moved off to its right, the path opened and she had a straight shot towards the prize.

“Turn to the right.”

That whisper again. But why right? There was nothing in her way so turning aside made no sense. She decided to ignore it again, and floored the pedal under her foot.

Crash! A red car came careening around the yellow car and ran solidly into her left side. Amalia straightened up, yelled at the driver, and then tried to go forward only to be stopped by two cars bumping into each other right in front of her. She would have to back up again.

Totally frustrated, yet not willing to give up, Amalia backed only as far as she had to before turning to the right. Turn to the right? Isn’t that what the voice has whispered? Maybe she should have listened.

“Wait.”

The whisper yet again. This time Amalia decided to obey. What did she have to lose? None of her plans had worked out. She watched the other drivers disentangle and start off again, only to have new cars create another gridlock.

“Go right.”

She stepped on the pedal and turned right even though it looked like she was heading right into path of an oncoming orange car. Closing her eyes, she kept going, anticipating a crash, but trusting the whisper. Nothing. No crash. Not even a bump. Amalia opened her eyes. The orange car had turned off, and there was now only one thing in front of Amalia. And it wasn’t a car. The prize dangled from a rope an arm’s length away. Amalia quickly swooped in and grabbed it.

“I got it! I got it!”

She held it to her chest and looked around. No one was watching. No one seemed to care. Except maybe the driver of the brown car. But he looked like he had something in his arms too, and he was grinning from ear to ear. Then she remembered Jesus.

“I got it, Jesus!”

“I see.”

“But I’m a little confused. My plans – the ones that made sense – weren’t working out, but when I listened to the whisper, even though it didn’t make sense, I won.

“Yeah, about that. Your plans don’t always work out because you have limited sight, and can only see in the present. I see the whole picture, and I know the future. So I always know the best way to get anywhere.”

“That was You?”

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t I recognize Your voice?”

“You were too busy focusing on your own plans.”

“Then why didn’t You speak louder?”

“I didn’t need to. You heard Me. Either you were going to listen, or not. Speaking louder wouldn’t have changed that.”

Amalia’s face turned red. “’I’m sorry. I didn’t listen at first, and I even forgot You were with me.”

“I forgive you. You listened in the end, and that’s what counts.”

As they climbed out of the car, Amalia remembered something else. “What about that guy in the brown car? Why does he look so happy? He acts like he won.”

“He did. You both did. The prize is like heaven, and the rope is like Me. I hold out the prize to all who want it badly enough to go for it, and to persevere when things get crazy. There are others here who won also.”

Amalia danced to the exit, holding her prize in one hand, and Jesus’ hand in her other. This ride had not worked out like she expected. It had worked out even better.

 

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Does anyone besides me have a life that feels like a bumper car ride?

 

 

Scriptures:

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Proverbs 12:15  The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 14:12 (also Proverbs 16:25) There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

Philippians 3:15  I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.