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 ®

manatease! — June 27, 2019

manatease!

Jim Johnson

The family was basking in the sultry waters off St. Petersburg Beach.  Our insatiably curious nine-year-old grandson was towing his Styrofoam boogie board through the surf.  His grandma was nearby to keep an eye on him.   

There was some commotion beyond him.  An aggregation of playful manatees had been spotted by some swimmers.  (An aggregation is manatee-speak for group – kind of like a congregation but better swimmers).  He began to furiously plow his way through the pounding waves, but then realized his grandma would love to see them too.  So, he yelled for her, “Mamo, there are some manatees.  Let’s go.”  He was all about manatees. 

On the drive to Florida we had talked about maybe seeing a manatee.  The family had fun exchanging original manatee jokes.  “How does a manatee start his car?”  With a manaKey!   “What does a manatee do for fun?”  ManaSki!  “What does a manatee do in the bathroom?  Wrong!  He takes a manaShower! 

A manatee really is something to see.  He is typically close to thirteen feet long and weighs about thirteen hundred lbs.  He has two flippers, a big paddle for a tail, folds of flesh, deep set eyes and a puffy forlorn looking face. 

An elephant, his closest relative, beats a manatee in the looks department hands down.   I sometimes wonder if the manatee was the last animal that God created.  Maybe He began with a big mass of grey flesh, shaped up its bulging form but then said, “I’m tired – that’s good enough.” 

One thing for sure, the boy was determined to see those creatures and to share the experience with his grandma.  She saw the people gathered near the manatees, but she also saw the relentless white capped waves that were coming her way.  She figured that they would be aggregating in Texas by the time she got out there. 

She tried anyway.  She pushed through the waves, wiping the salt from her eyes, while grandson bobbed around her like a cork on the water. But, it just wasn’t happening.   She stopped and began to turn in defeat when he pleaded, “Please Mamo, come on.  Please.  You can get on my boogie board and I will pull you.” 

Oh my! What a picture that conjures up?   An impossible task for him, to be sure. 

I wonder if that’s what Paul meant when he said, “love believes all things?”  (1 Cor. 13:7)  NET Bible® Out of his love for his mammo and the urge to share the moment with her, he believed he could and would tow her to the destination.   

An amazing love – the kind of love that may be the missing ingredient of life! 

Her husband was a hard man and she decided that she could not endure him any longer.  The marriage hung on for another 18 months, but it was really over the moment she failed to believe that things could change.  

He was a jerk!  He sure was, but what might happen if she were to possess a love that believed all things? 

What if she believed 1 Peter 3:1-2 which says that a wife can win a jerk of a husband over without nagging or coercion, but by the Christlike way in which she relates to him? 

What if she believed that the presence of Christ within her, could empower her to love him even though it felt impossible?

What if she were to accept by faith that God’s design for marriage is “till death do we part” and that God, the one who brought them together, would do His part to help them repair what was broken?    

What if she believed that her husband could become the husband and father he needed to be, once Christ took hold of his life? 

What if she were to believe the crazy idea that God could actually rekindle a fire in her heart for her husband? 

If only her love were to believe all things!

My grandson didn’t have the muscle, but he sure had the heart.  His grandma had a heart too and it melted before such devotion.  So, she turned and moved again toward the creatures but not before they began to move toward her.  And they met.  And they played together.  And then they moved on.  Texas was waiting.

His love prevailed.  Yours can too!

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