Archives June 2024

Too Soon Gone

gray and brown mountain

Life has a way of distracting us and narrowing us. When my children were growing up, one of our favorite ‘shows’ came about on Saturday. We would gather to watch Bob Ross work his magic, turning a blank canvas into a world of beauty and wonder, usually containing one of those blasted, happy trees, right where and when you thought the painting just fine the way it looked.

Bob had a gentle way of speaking that made us want to listen and watch. At some point, I learned that he had been a drill sergeant, which shocked me, but he had resolved to never raise his voice after he left the military. And his afro haircut came about because he couldn’t afford regular haircuts on a regular basis. The afro wasn’t his first choice. How funny.

We could have watched into the fading sunset, yet his life came to an end abruptly, and we mourned (and in some ways still mourn) his passing. With his passing went Pea-pod the pocket squirrel, the happy trees and their happy accidents as well as his easy manner and words, “Let me show you what you can do …”.

In life, there are variations of this wonderful type of person. It could be a father, mother, grandparent, neighbor, or friend—Some kind of encourager. And oddly enough, encouragement comes in different forms. With Bob Ross, he became a gentle encourager as a painter, however, as a drill sergeant? Not so gentle, but an encourager of different sorts.

I look at those days. We weren’t avid television watchers and we kept it simple.  My children laugh at shows such as Lawrence Welk, and they loved watching Bob Ross, Reading Rainbow, and …

I wonder where those days have gone and I’m saddened. I’m not fearful as many people would have us be. I’m just saddened. We know that the ship has sailed, the water has passed under the bridge and life won’t be the same. Life won’t be the same not because it can’t be, but because of choices that are made.

“Reality can not be ignored except at a price; and the longer the ignorance is persisted in, the higher and more terrible becomes the price that must be paid.” Aldous Huxley~

I first became acquainted with Huxley in connection to his “Brave New World”. I was shocked and dismayed at the story. Unlike Bob Ross, I know very little about Huxley, other than he was a writer born in 1894 and died in 1963. I’ve lived a very sheltered life as there are a number of ‘must reads’ that I’ve not read and I probably should have. However, at this stage in life, I think maybe I’ll pass on most of those must-reads.

I have read Animal Farm, but not 1984, by George Orwell, and only recently read (parts of) Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. I’ve come to the question, I’m sure George Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning, and Ayn Rand as well, wrote her works as a warning, and to expound her new religion. This made me wonder, did Huxley write his Brave New World in the same vein?

The reality is we live in a distorted world where what is truth is being replaced by stupidity—replaced by lies. Then we are supposed to pretend the lies are true … but they aren’t. And yes, we pay the price and it is becoming a terrible price.

Historically, people often looked at science fiction writers and pointed out the many times their projections became reality. Now, we can point to those previously mentioned novels and see how they have also become reality, and not in a good way. The twisting of reality shows that the way God designs things is the way it runs best. The wistful observations through the years entitled ‘the good old days’, as we drift farther from godliness, underline this truth. The following scriptures sum up the situation:

“Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?” (Ecclesiastes 7:13)

“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29)

People—Christians have asked “Surely this has to be the end times. Things are so awful, I look for Christ’s return any moment.”

Indeed, we entered the ‘last days’ when Christ was crucified, and even then believers were looking for his return at any moment, and … one thing I do know, Christ will come and it doesn’t hinge on me.

Many things have come and passed, the good with the bad. People have mourned for both. More than likely some mourned the passing of the Roaring Twenties, but although the Roaring twenties may have roared they were only good for some people, and not real good for anyone.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Years ago someone in my hearing stated that ‘sin is what makes life fun’. I didn’t put that in quotes since it isn’t an exact quote, it’s the gist of the statement. Pardon me, however that’s a bold-faced lie and a slap at God.

That statement makes me weep, and to come from someone professing Christianity? That hurts even worse. Sin is what put Christ on the cross. I can think of many things that are fun. Sin only ruins true fun.

“And if you think tough men are dangerous, just wait until you see what weak men are capable of.” Jordan Peterson~

So, what do we draw in conclusion? It’s not like Ernie drawing a cow, or a dinosaur, for that matter. It’s like, I wish we lived in a world of Bob Ross. A world of neighbors who ‘do unto others as you would like done unto you’, and what they have in mind is good. But we don’t, we live in a world of weak men (and women, and they are just as dangerous).

Someone asked the question in a writers’ group I’m in about Biblical examples of do-overs. Of course, Peter turned from his denial of Christ, Paul turned from his persecution of Christ, someone (on the group) mentioned John Mark turned back.

A blank canvas if you would. I don’t believe that our blank canvas will end like the first one. And we have been warned. We are there.

Do overs? The biggest do-over:

“And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:21-23)

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:3-10)

FAITH

yellow and purple clouds
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

We have arrived here. So, here we are, trying to write glorious truths simply with simple words. What do you feel? What do you need? When combined it comes to, what do you feel you need?

The sun is shining pleasantly and so far it’s been cool. The breeze—and we use that word lovingly usually with a smile, laugh, or smirk—wafted in my sliding door/window earlier. In making a story, I told Old Fuzzy, the breeze had me plastered against the far wall, and I had to fight my way back to the door/window to slide it shut, leaving only a small crack for air …

Yes, a good story and entertaining, even if not quite true. Old Fuzzy opted to head out to a more profitable pasture, or in reality,a more profitable field. We’ve experienced for several years a drought. Water levels fell and were at dangerous levels. In the last few months, the pendulum swung the other way. We have received abundant amounts of welcome rainfall. As usual, there is a double-edged sword.

The old proverb says, “All sunshine makes a desert.” And whereas that may be true, forty days and forty nights of rain “a deluge makes” as well. As in all of life, it takes both sunshine and rain in the right amounts to sustain life. At one point we needed the rain, and then we needed some dry weather in order to plant field crops as well as garden plants.

I gave up hope of getting the crops in last week. We don’t plant a large cash crop acreage but we still must have dry weather for the planting. It seemed as if between the rain and storms, we were coming to the point where there wouldn’t be enough time to finish the growth and maturity cycle by the end of summer.

So, today everything came together. The tractor worked, the planter had been repaired, the bags of seed were ready, and against all odds, the weather cooperated. Now, the field crop is in. I’m thankful.

Of course, I wish we could have all our ducks in a row—The ability to do what we need to do in an organized time and manner. Yet, no matter how hard I try there is always a worm in the ear somewhere. Always a wrinkle in life and I find that the best-laid plans of mice and men, not only don’t go as intended, but they will not go as planned.

Back to the idea of what we feel we need. In this case, I felt I needed dry weather in which to plant crops and garden. Though that could be part of what we did need, a large part of what I always need is a huge dose of faith. I know what I have is a small faith, and the struggle is real.

It’s easy to say, Thy will be done, when there isn’t a test. When everything is going the way we want, we’re doing well. When we aren’t getting what we want, and we let it go—that’s difficult.

A practical takeaway from this is … I don’t know. We know what Jesus tells his disciples. “Oh ye of little faith.” We also know his example of faith and deep prayer. I’m sometimes reminded of a passage from one of my favorite books, Laddie, by Gene Stratton Porter.

The passage deals with Little Sister’s older sister preparing to marry her sweetheart, Peter. For some reason, Sally has an emotional outburst concerning who the guest list will be, and as she’s speaking, she’s also tearing at a bonnet in her hands, and nearly crying, saying “I don’t care …”

Her father calms her by saying, “Which means that you do care, very much.” And he continues by giving her a slate to write who her choice of guests might be. Often when we say things like, I don’t care, as Father Stanton said, it means we do care very much.

Perhaps, if we first admit, Lord I do care very much here. I am trying to believe you have my best interest at heart. I’m asking you to help me to not just believe, but trust. And in the end, help me to accept your will along with that trust.

Over the years, I’ve acknowledged when Jesus says:

(Luke 17:6) “And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”

That points to us as not having sufficient faith. I have accepted it as something that would always be true. I would always be lacking in faith, no matter what I did. That isn’t the way it must be. Unless we choose not to grow our faith.

People affirm that at the point when they stopped kicking on the floor, trying to influence God to ‘see it their way’, life changed for the better for them.

I admit, that I usually find myself still kicking on the floor—I don’t know why, perhaps I’m more comfortable kicking on the floor.

“And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.”(Luke 17:5)