Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

stop it already! — September 22, 2021

stop it already!

Life is wearing on me like that crazy day at the State Fair.  My daughter wanted to ride Pharaoh’s Fury.  This carnival favorite features a giant ship, that rocks on a pendulum creating a sense of weightlessness.

She asked me to go with her.  No way! I get dizzy in a rocking chair.  But she pleaded so my reluctant daddy heart walked the plank with her.

The boat got to rockin’ and my stomach got to heavin.’ Back and forth – forever it seemed.  As I groaned for relief, the ride finally began to slow.

But the operator saw no one else in line.  So he yelled out, “Do you all want to go again?”  I whimpered “no,” but the cheers prevailed.  So, I suffered a second plague with the Pharaoh.

Once it stopped, I wobbled over to a bench and took the next 30 minutes to find my stomach. 

________________

Well, its déjà vu all over again. 

The world has suffered through a horrendous year of the virus, until the morbid ride finally began to slow.  But it has revved up again and we are all thoroughly sick of it.

We are used to having smart people who quickly and decisively solve our problems.  But this ride just won’t end.

As to the who or the how it got started, I won’t venture to say.  BUT I am certain I know who can stop it.

In the past, the Lord has stepped in and halted plague and pestilence.  2 Samuel 24:25 says, “And the Lord accepted prayers for the land, and the plague was removed from Israel.”

Prayer was the key then, but our prayers seem to go unanswered today.  Why is that?

The apostle Paul was beset by what he called a “thorn in the flesh.”   This thorn was a metaphor for a seriously painful situation in Paul’s life – something that he could barely endure. 

We don’t know for sure what it was. Some conjecture that it was a problem with his eyesight.  Others suggest that it referred to a tenacious persecutor.

According to 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul spent a season in prayer asking God to remove the thorn.  God was silent. The thorn dug in, so he spent a second season in prayer. God was silent.  The wound was getting infected, so he spent a third season in prayer.   He pleaded with God to hit the kill switch to the wretched ride. 

God said no to His faithful servant – the amazing apostle Paul, but He did tell him why.  He said, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  (v. 10)

Paul was an accomplished person.  He even boasted about the things he achieved prior to his conversion.  (Philippians 3:2-6).   No doubt, he was sometimes tempted to bring his do-it-yourself mentality to the work of the ministry. 

So, God allowed the thorn to remain, to remind Paul that his intelligence, and strength and ingenuity may be great, but it was insufficient.   It was only in a state of weakness and affliction that Paul could sense his need and fully experience God’s strength. 

Me too!  I intellectually know that I need the Lord, but it often takes difficulty to remind me of it.  And though it’s crazy, many who live on this planet don’t believe they need God at all.

God has the might to remove our plague, but He doesn’t seem to have the motivation.

When I was a kid, I wanted to get rich, so I signed-on with a mail-order company to sell personalized Christmas cards.  But I had to sell in the summer months to allow time to process the orders.

Do you know how many people buy Christmas cards in July?   No – even less than that.  I didn’t even make enough money to pay what I owed for the sample book.   My dad quickly sized up the situation and knew that I needed to be bailed out – but he waited. 

For weeks – he waited – until I finally realized my mistake and that I needed my dad and the help he could bring.

I wonder if that’s what God may be waiting on?

A PRAYER: God, this ride is just too much for us.  Please tell us what we need to know.

This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com

May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Scripture references are from the NET Bible®

toilet training — February 6, 2019

toilet training

There are some prayers that I wish the Lord would not answer!  I was removing the toilet in the master bath because the drain was clogged with roots.  At the same time my wife was in the living room thinking, “Lord I would really like to have one of those newer taller models.  It might help me with the pain in my hips.”  

Meanwhile, I lugged the toilet out to the garage and just as I arrived, the Lord answered her prayer.  The bowl slipped from my hands and shattered on the concrete.  Oh well, if I had been a better husband I would have bought her a new toilet anyway.

I am glad that God says yes to my prayers.  My prayer journal is filled, cover to cover with the evidence of God’s positive response to my pleas.  But sometimes he says no. 

The apostle Paul had some kind of difficulty.  He called it his “thorn in the flesh.”   He wrote, “I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.” (2 Cor. 12:8-10; the NET Bible)

Paul asked God over three different seasons of time to remove that thorn.  God said no!   “You need the thorn to remind you that you need Me and my power as you live your life.”   

How infinite is this wisdom that sees what is and what could be.  And how gracious of God to say no when to say yes would limit or hurt us. 

My wife thought she might be in labor with our first born.  It was 4 a.m. and there was a foot of freshly fallen snow on the ground.  I didn’t want to make that drive to the hospital unless I knew for sure it was time, so I prayed, “Lord, if it’s time, would you cause her water to break?”  The intervals between her mild contractions were growing shorter – but still no water.  

The doctor said he thought it was a false alarm, but that we should go to the hospital anyway.   We literally snowplowed our way there with snow higher than our VW running boards. 

They examined my wife and found that she was dilated 90% of the way.  But they also discovered that the baby was breech and the cord was between her and the exit.  (you know what I mean!)   The doctor broke out into a cold sweat and did a C-section in record time.   

Had God answered my prayer back at the house, my beautiful baby girl would have suffocated in the womb.  

Thank You, Lord for saying yes so often to us, but thank You as well for saying no to our short-sighted self-centered prayers.

PS: Here is a song by my beautiful baby girl. Enjoy!

The Love of God. Vocals: Bethany Bergman

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