Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

loose vowels — June 30, 2021

loose vowels

My little grandson wanted me to know about his health.  He said, “Mom gave me an enema to loosen up my vowels.”   “Vowels?”  Hmm I guess she must be a speech pathologist or maybe a proctologist. 

Life sometimes feels to me like a bowel loosening event.  You see – I tend to worry.  I think I’ve got enough worry to wrap around the world twice.   So, I worry – and it worries me that I worry.

Because – I am certain that the Lord wants me to be free of it. He said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34) In John 14:1 He said, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

I think it’s good to be concerned about the things over which I have control and for which I have responsibility – such as in providing for my family (1 Corinthians 5:8); or being a good husband (Ephesians 5:25) 

But, for that which is beyond the realm of my responsibility or control, there is no point in worrying.  And yet I do.

My son recently preached an excellent message at church and he referenced a verse that got me to thinking. At the time, Moses was tired and troubled. He had led the children of Israel along a desolate path through the wilderness. And the people had done things that stretched the meaning of dumb.

Moses was frantic, fearing that God was ready to abandon them.  That’s when the Lord said to him, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  (Exodus 33:14)

Moses and his followers all desperately needed rest.  They would eventually find it in the promised land, but it was also a rest that was available to them immediately because God would go with them.

It triggered a memory for me.  My dad took the family on a road trip when I was young.  He loaded mom and the five of us kids into a ‘56 Chevy wagon. 

We were cruising along through Florida farmland when the engine failed.  This was a problem. We were marooned beside a pasture full of cows and it was a far piece back to town. 

Dad, however, was a skilled mechanic.  He flipped up the hood and did some analysis, then walked to town.  He was gone for hours.

The rest of the family stayed.  The Florida sun beat down and the humidity was stifling.   My brother and I pelted each other with cow pies to pass the time.

I can remember thinking one thing, “How long is this going to take?”

I also remember what I did not think.  I didn’t worry that the engine was a goner.  I didn’t fret that we had lost so much time.  I didn’t despair over the cost of repair.  I didn’t worry that we would be stuck there forever.  I didn’t wonder if dad would come back.

Those worries never crossed my mind– because my dad was on the job.  I knew that he would take care of the problem – and he did. 

So, why can’t I carry that kind of faith into my adult life?  My Father in heaven is infinitely more knowledgeable and powerful than my earthly dad.  And He has never given me reason to question His love and commitment to me.   So why should I fret?   His presence is with me.  Why not rest in that?

I need to find a way to disrupt the sneaky undercurrent of worry that slithers through my mind. 

This is what I’ll do.  Whenever I find myself going down the secretive alley of worry, I will meet that fret by saying out loud, “No – my Father has this!”

Vocalizing it will serve as a cold shower.  It will disrupt the repetitive loop of worry in my mind.  The affirmation of my faith in Him will set me on the right path and invite Him to help me with my unbelief.

I am going to give it a try.  Will you join me?

A PRAYER: Lord, teach us to trust you with the simplicity of a child that we might win the war over worry.    

Scripture references are from the NET Bible ®

is tissue the issue? — April 1, 2020

is tissue the issue?

Was there anything to laugh about in 2001?  Sure was!   Let me tell you about Miss Alice. 

Just three weeks after 9-11 there was a second scare that gripped the nation.   A demented person had mailed envelopes with anthrax spores to several politicians and media types.

It was about that time that I visited my sweet elderly friend Alice.  When I arrived, I found her nervously pacing in front of her home while holding her hands in the air.

I asked, “What’s wrong, Miss Alice?”  She ignored my question and asked me to turn on the garden hose so she could rinse her hands. 

I offered to open her home so she could wash with soap, but she gave me a terse, “No.”

Evidently, she had a small exercise ball in her mini-van which she had used over the past five years to help her arthritic fingers.  But on that day, the seam broke and the filling got all over her hands

Unfortunately, the filling was a white powdery substance.  Well Miss Alice just knew that some diabolical terrorist had sneaked into her mini-van and filled her little exercise ball with anthrax in order to kill her.

So, I explained that it would take a brilliant terrorist to be able to hide the anthrax in that ball, so that five years later it would break open at the exact time that the other attacks were happening.  No response.

I tactfully tried to help her see that elderly ladies were not a high priority on the terrorist hit list.  She didn’t believe me.  Her fears were blocking her ears. 

That week, she called numerous state and federal agencies and eventually wore down a bureaucrat in Austin who agreed to test her exercise ball for anthrax.  I wish I could have listened in on that conversation!

Once again, our nation is gripped with national anxieties.  Some of it is appropriate.  We should be concerned about viral social interactions and about the financial chaos.

But our responses are sometimes silly.

An Irish man recently had a painful accident.  His wife vainly scoured the town looking for pain meds.  She stood in a line at one pharmacy and saw that the woman in front of her had the last 5 boxes of what she sought.  She asked if she might have some for her distressed husband.  The woman obliged, “and admitted she didn’t actually need the medicine, but they were the only ones left in the store so she thought she should buy them all in case she couldn’t get them again.”   

Craziness! 

Jesus’ sensible words help in times like these.   He told us in Matthew 6:34, “So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.”  NET Bible®

He prioritized concern for us.  He told us not to worry about what might happen tomorrow – with the stock market, or your job, or how you are going to cope with your bored-to-tears kids. 

Jesus wants us to plan for tomorrow (Luke 14:28-33) but He does not want us to worry about it.  

Then He gives us two reasons why.  First: “for tomorrow will worry about itself.” 

We know from our own experience that most of our tomorrow worries never materialize.   Issues tend to be resolved before tomorrow comes because we have a God who lovingly and sovereignly works things out for us.   Besides, we have no control over tomorrow no matter how carefully we plan.  

His second reason to forgo worry: “Today has enough trouble of its own.”  Sounds to me like Jesus was speaking from experience.  It is true, we need to spend our energies on managing the challenges that come to us each day.  We can control our response to these. 

But even with our daily concerns we can go overboard.  Which is why He also said “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…”  He spoke of the Father’s excellent care for the flowers of the field and the birds of the air and then asked.  “Aren’t you more valuable (to Him) than they are?”  (Matthew 6:25-26) Of course we are!  

So how do we manage the anxieties of today?  The prophet Isaiah suggested, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” – Isaiah 26:3 – KJV

That’s the Lord’s counsel on this matter.  Don’t let your fears were block your ears.

I asked my wife to proofread this piece for me.  She was prompted to ask, “Do you actually think of these verses at a time like this?”  Hmm!  I had to mull that question overnight. 

In the morning I said, “No I do not think of these specific verses, mostly because I have assimilated their truth over the years – but yes, these are the specific kinds of thoughts that filter through my mind.  If this were not the case, I would find myself depressed if not despairing. 

I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit to being anxious these days.  But when those toxic thoughts come, I try to redirect my mind to Him.  I count the ways He has loved me and mine in the past and trust Him to do so in the present.  It helps!

So, these are my thoughts for this week.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to run over to Miss Alice’ house to see if I can borrow a roll of toilet paper.

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