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.

 

Bella – part 11 Humiliation

“Strange? Like what?” Amanda looked at Bella as she sipped on her coffee in the church lobby.

“Like… they… aren’t like other people. Like… maybe… they’re not from here.”

“Well, Pastor Toby and Jude have been here longer than I have so I can’t speak on where they might be from. But I do agree that they aren’t like other people.”

“How so?”

“They’re nicer. They’re good all the time. Everyone else I know have times when they’re selfish or maybe do something that hurts someone else. But Toby and Jude never do. They are always supportive, loving, and kind no matter what I say or what I do.”

“Sounds too good to be true,” muttered Bella.

“You would think so, but in the ten years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen them be anything but good.”

“Haven’t you wondered about their background? Where they came from?”

“Sure, sometimes, when I first joined this church. I asked a few people and got a few crazy answers, but mostly I was told they had always been here. And after talking with them, I came to believe that also.”

“What were some of the crazy answers you got?”

Amanda looked curiously at Bella. “Why do you ask?”

Bella thought about pretending it wasn’t so important, that she was just curious. But she decided to be upfront.

“They just seem out of this world. Like they’re not only not from here, but they aren’t from anywhere near here. Like they are from a whole other world.”

“Ah, yes. They do say things sometimes that is so opposite to what we hear all around us. And their values are very different. I can see how you might think that And maybe you’re right. Maybe they are from another world. But they’re here now, and that’s all that matters to me.”

“So, you’re saying they might be aliens?”

“Maybe, but they don’t have any accents or anything that would suggest which country.”

“No,” Bella said slowly. “Not another country. Another world. Another planet.”

Amanda stared at her and then burst out laughing. “Who put you up to this? Was it Robert? Robert is always kidding me about my love for sci fi.” She looked around, still laughing. “Robert! Where are you?”

Bella, feeling foolish and not wanting to involve anyone else in this, forced a laugh and said, “Um, no. I don’t even know Robert. It’s just me and my stupid sense of humor. Sorry.”

“Oh, no problem. I needed a good laugh.” Amanda stood up. “It was a pleasure meeting you. Let me know if you have any other… questions.” Still laughing, Amanda waved and headed to the kitchen.

Bella got up and thought about finding someone else to talk to when she heard a burst of laughter come from the kitchen. Amanda! She must have told everyone about their conversation. Humiliated, Bella looked around for the nearest exit door, then quickly joined the people who were headed that way.

“Hey, watch where you’re going!” growled a voice. She looked up just in time to avoid bumping into a man who was carrying a toddler.

“Sorry,” she said. She veered away from him and ran into a lady who was handing out IMG_20180804_082909664bulletins. The bulletins went flying, causing the lady to yell out.

“Sorry,” Bella said again, embarrassed. As she bent over to help gather them back up, she heard a loud grunt as someone tripped over her and landed with a crash.

“What are you doing?” cried the lady with the bulletins. “Stand up. You’re in the way.”

“I was trying to help you pick up the papers.”

“I don’t need your help.” She frowned and pointed to the door. “I can handle this. You just go ahead and leave.”

As Bella, eyes filling with tears, hurried through the door, she heard a voice behind her.  “Aw, don’t be so rough on her. She didn’t mean to trip me. It was my own fault for not watching where I was going.”

Bella slowed a bit and chanced a glance behind her. A man was speaking to the bulletin lady as he got back on his feet, but his eyes were on Bella.

“Wait up,” he called when they made eye contact.

She waited for him on the other side of the door. “Are you OK?,” she began as soon as he caught up. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to trip you.”

“I’m fine. I’m more worried about you. I didn’t want you to leave upset.” he said, taking her arm and directing her to the side of the large number of people streaming through the doors.

“Thanks, but I’m fine. Have a great day.” Relieved that he hadn’t gotten hurt, Amanda tried to leave. She felt humiliated and confused, and needed time to think which she always did best when alone. But the guy holding her arm wasn’t letting go.

 

Bella stories:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really Part 1 Part 2

Bella part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Mary’s Heart in Martha’s Body

She couldn’t go back to sleep. Why did they say that? Did they think her friend loved Jesus more than she did? And here she was carrying the greater load in serving them? It was totally upsetting and hurtful to her and she resented them for it.

To be honest, she didn’t really get that bible story anyway. If Martha didn’t serve, who would? Certainly not Mary, who didn’t even lift a finger to help. Actually, she had always thought of Mary as being lazy and self-centered – she wanted to spend time with Jesus so she did, not caring in the least that she had left everything for her sister to carry. Forcing her sister to carry more than she should have had to carry. If Mary had stayed with Martha to help finish the preparations, they both could have sat at Jesus’ feet.

And she was being called a Martha? Like she would rather stay in the kitchen serving than be with Jesus? Like she didn’t love Him enough to want to spend time with Him?

She still didn’t get it – but what she did get was a revelation of her resentment towards people who forced her into the Martha role.  It wasn’t fair for them to do that to her. The injustice of it hurt her. That and other injustices done to her over the years, especially when she was a young child, kept returning to her as she lay in bed not sleeping.

So she did the only thing she knew to do. She prayed.

“Jesus, I don’t understand all this. All I know is it hurts. But I forgive them for saying what they did and ask that You deliver me from the resentment and pain that has filled me.”

She fell back asleep and dreamed of a barracuda. A poor innocent barracuda that was about to be sacrificed in the name of entertainment. Upset at the injustice, she went to the people in charge and told them it was wrong and that she would tell the authorities about it if they didn’t stop it.

She woke again, puzzled.

“Lord, what’s this about?”

“Injustice. You have been treated unfairly in life.  I can release you from the past, to free you for the future. Just don’t worry about things so much.”

“So I really am like Martha?” she asked, heart sinking.

“Yes, daughter. Sweet daughter,” He said, voice full of love. “You are like Martha in that you get so worked up about things. You don’t need to worry if things will get done.  I’ll make sure what needs to be done does get done. I am here, involved, and I will bring about all that needs to be done. Relax in Me. I will give you the desire to do the things I want you to do. The rest I can handle. Don’t sweat over it. ”

“Do I at least have Mary’s heart? I love listening to You.”

“Yes, you have Mary’s heart. I know your love for Me. But you have been forced into a role I didn’t create for you. IMG_20180511_161925872As you are freed from the past, you will be free to be who I made you to be.”

“How do I get free?”

“Give it to Me -your resentments , your pain. Continually give it to Me. Forgive those involved. Listen for My directions. Practice letting go. I won’t treat you unfairly. As you see My faithfulness, you will be able to relax more.”

As she got ready for the day, she thought about His words. And came up with a plan. When things had to get done, instead of trying to get everything to happen herself, she would say…

“I wonder how Jesus is going to make this happen.”

Then all she needed to do was wait and watch and listen. Like Mary.

I Need a Shower

For the last week, she felt dirty. Grimy. Well, not exactly. She knew each time she asked for forgiveness, she was forgiven. But that was more like a sponge bath. She knew she was clean, but she didn’t feel clean.

“Lord, I need a shower,” she told Him. “I need to be drenched in your forgiveness.”

She wondered how to make that happen.  Prayer? Confession? Fasting? Maybe she should talk with her pastor.

However, unseen by her, God had received her request and was making preparations His own way.

The night following her prayer, she was at the weekly prayer meeting. At the time for the teaching, one of the leaders stood up.

“Instead of a message tonight,” he said. “I think we need to all stand and repent before God. I don’t know why, but I think it’s important that we do that tonight.”

So she stood up with the others, and closed her eyes, and saw herself standing before the Father.

“Father, I’m sorry…” she began.

“Come here, Child,” He said with His arms open wide. She climbed up into His lap and snuggled with Him for awhile. Then, without anyone saying anything, she knew she was to go stand in front of Jesus.

“Are you ready?” Jesus asked her.

She nodded.

He poured His blood over her, cleansing her just as she had asked. But He didn’t stop there. After his blood, He poured His Spirit over her. Like a wax job, she thought, to preserve and protect me! And she worshipped her God in song.

IMG_20180330_042522002

Later, thinking about it, she was amazed all over again. God had been good to fulfill her desire so quickly. Even more, He had not asked her to grovel, begging His forgiveness. He had given it freely! She didn’t have to do anything. He had done it all!

Just Like… The Kitten in the Woods

“Let’s try this trail!” My son pointed to a narrow trail through a little piece of woods that bordered the street we were bicycling on.

“It looks hard,” I answered. “Maybe we should get off our bikes.”  Inside, I was picturing riding down the steep slope, hitting that hump at the bottom, and flying off into the trees.

“Nah, we can handle it,” my husband said as he took off, my son right behind him.

My daughter and I watched the boys disappear over the hump, then turned to look at each other.

“You go next,” I told my daughter. I still wasn’t sure this was a smart thing for a middle aged lady to do.

After watching her navigate the path as smoothly as the boys, I cautiously started off. Gaining speed, I almost screamed when I hit the hump but managed to stay on the bike even as I made the turn that lay right behind it. When I came to a stop, the others cheered. We walked our bikes a few more steps around some branches when my daughter stopped us.

“Do you hear that?” she asked.

We listened quietly a few minutes before we heard it too.

Just like I heard you when you called to Me.

“It’s coming from over there.” My husband pointed across the little stream that ran by the trail.

It took a few more minutes before we spotted the tiny gray form. It was on the other side of the stream, meowing pitifully. It would look at us, then try to cross the cold water. After several unsuccessful tries,  it gave up and paced up and down the edge of the water, looking at us as it continued to cry. She couldn’t get to us, so we decided to find a way to get to her.

Just like I did when I went to the cross for you.

It wasn’t until we got back home with the tiny kitten that we discovered just how bad a shape she was in.

cassi - CopyShe was very young, probably less than a month, wet, cold, covered with fleas. One eye was closed, covered with a brown crusty film, and her other eye wasn’t that much better off. There was a smelly discharge coming from her ears, and she had a kind of wheezing cough.

Just like you were when I found you.

Even so, we fell in love with her immediately. We saw past the disease and filth to the vulnerable and sweet kitten that she was.

Just like I see past all your sins and failures to the lovely treasure you are.

Even though we couldn’t imagine loving her any more than we already did, we knew we couldn’t leave her in that condition.

Just like I couldn’t leave you in your condition.

“She’s going to the vet first thing tomorrow,” my husband said. “She looks pretty sick.”

“She must be hungry. What can we feed her?” I asked. We had some dog food in the house but no cat food.

“We can ask next door,” my daughter said. “They have a cat.”

“Good idea!”

Our neighbor was generous but the kitten couldn’t eat any of the dry cat food.

“Maybe she’s too young. What else can we try? She has to eat something before tomorrow.” I said.

“What about tuna fish?” my son asked.

“Sure, we could try,” my husband replied. He went inside, and returned a moment later with a small dish of tuna.

As soon as the kitten smelled it, she attacked it like she hadn’t eaten in days. Mostly likely, she hadn’t.

Just like I feed you what you can handle.

Over the next week, her health improved dramatically as we applied the medicine the vet had given us. She didn’t like it and fought us at times, but we knew it was necessary if she was going to return to full health.

Just like how you are healing as I work in you, even if you resist at times.

After a month, you couldn’t tell that she had ever been sick. Cassi was healthy in every way, and had became my daughter’s best friend!

Just like you,  My friend!

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