Life or Death?

High school is difficult in some ways. All the parties, keeping up with homework, and not disappointing the peers with their high expectations.

Dating is fun but who knew what was expected to be popular with the guys. The new girl at school is pretty with her tanned body, long brown hair, and pretty, but shy, smile.

She learns pretty quickly what is expected if she’s to be in the “in crowd” and is convinced by those “in the know” this is the only way to  be popular.

After months of emotional turmoil and pressure from parents and friends, she sits in the waiting room filling out the forms. A woman stands by making sure she doesn’t leave. She’s been told sweetly, “This is the right thing to do. It’s in your best interest, and your whole future is ahead of you.”

She places her hand on the area where she feels movement. Maybe a foot has pressed against her belly. Or maybe it was a hand reaching out. A tear slides down her cheek. She suddenly stands to leave and the woman grabs her arm to stop her. “You can’t leave!” the woman demands.

The door opens and a Man enters. He stands quietly and says nothing. The young girl looks at Him with pleading eyes. He steps up beside her and gently sits her down. The woman leaves the room thinking its the boyfriend here to talk sense into her.

The girl leans into the Man and sobs tears of fear, shame, and sorrow. His hand gently strokes her back and He whispers, “This child you are carrying, I knew before he was conceived. I formed him in your womb. Bless this child and call him David, for he will be a mighty man of God.”

The woman returns as the Man stands. The girl grabs His arm. He gently helps her stand and they start to walk toward the door. The woman screams, “You can’t do this! We need that kids tissues!”

Fury rises in the Man, He spins around to face her and with anger and all Authority He states emphatically, “Get behind me Satan!”

The woman slithers away.

(Sue’s version) Jeremiah 1:5

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The Tree

Fred has had a rough life. His childhood was filled with hurt, pain, disappointment, betrayal, and abuse. Mom and Dad didn’t know the Lord and made fun of those “high and mighty do-gooders.”

As the years came and gone he was bullied in school, made lower grades than the other kids, and wore out-of-style clothing. He hid his hurt and anger but never understood why life was just so hard. “Life’s not fair,” others would tell him but it didn’t ease his anger.

As an adult his anger has turned to bitterness. He growls at people in response to their attempts to show him kindness. He pushes others away in his self-imposed prison. The lesson of “trust no-one” runs hot through his veins.

Sitting on a bus bench, waiting for the bus to carry him to his menial job, the pain hits him like a train. He falls off the bench in a crumpled ball groaning and screaming.

In the ambulance he is in and out of consciousness and the scream of the siren sounds far away. He isn’t aware when the gurney speedily rolls him down the halls of the hospital into the operating room.

Slowly his eyes begin to flutter open and he see’s a Man with a white coat, a stethoscope around His neck standing next to his bed. With confusion, blurred vision, and a mouth feeling like cotton, he asks, “Who are you?”

The Man looks at him and replies, “I am the I Am. You’ve just had surgery.”

“Surgery!” He growls. “Surgery for what? What did you do to me?”

Lowering the surgical mask from His face, the Man replies seriously, “You had a huge tree inside you. The roots ran deep. I removed it.”

“What!? What do you mean a tree and roots!?” Fred demands. He tries to sit up in the bed but can’t.

“You have had much hurt and disappointment. You have let your past take control of your life and it became a giant tree of hatred and anger with very deep bitter roots. You forgave no one but now you are free to do so.”

The Man turns and leaves the room leaving Fred shedding tears of understanding and relief.

(Sue’s version) Hebrews 12:15

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Invisible Protection

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The young lady giggles as she swings her boyfriends hand back and forth as they leave the sandy beach walking side by side. They stop at a window in the side of a building and buy a slice of pizza each. Finding a bench under a tall Palm tree the young man says a quick thank you to the Lord for their food and they take big bites out of their pizza.

Sitting in the shade they chat about the world’s problems and finish eating their pizza. “There isn’t much we can do about what’s going on in the world,” the girl says.

“Sure there is!” the boy replies.

“What? We’re only two people, how can we solve the world’s problems?”

“Well, we can’t solve the world’s problems but we can take a stand with others. You know the Lord said ‘where two or three are gathered in His name, He is present.”‘

“Yeah, but…”

The boy cuts her off. “If we got a bunch of kids together at school and started a prayer group I’ll bet we could make a difference.”

“But what would we pray about?” The girl wipes her face with a napkin.

“I don’t know. Maybe angels around our school. God has warring angels, I’ll bet they’d guard us!”

The girl laughs and stands. “The school won’t let us do that, silly!”

“But don’t you see? That’s where we can make a difference!” The boy states enthusiastically.

She looks at him for a long moment, and begins walking toward the beach.

“Well, what do you think?” He asks and quickly walks up beside her.

“Whatever,” she states and keeps walking.

“God said we have guardian angels and I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be asking around and see if we can get enough kids to join in.”

Reaching the water, the girl laughs, shoves her boyfriend playfully and darts out into the water “You do that,” she yells, and dives into a wave.

A Man has heard them and grins His approval.

(Sue’s version) Psalm 91:11 – Matthew 18:20

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Pure Joy

She walks down the street seemingly without a care in the world. Her blonde hair swishing down her tanned back and the flip-flops on her feet make a slapping sound on the pavement.

Her heart is full and with a glint in her eyes and a smile on her face she faces the day with a heart filled with hope and joy. In the distance she hears the sounds of seagulls as they swoop and dive near the oceans waters. She is anticipating the cool water on this hot summer day.

She throws her blanket on the hot sand while slipping the flip-flops off and pulls the “Love God – Love people” T-shirt over her head and tosses it onto the blanket. She heads for the cool water.

The waves crash against her back and she laughs. She splashes happily in the salty waves and glances up at the sun. Oh what joy she feels as the worries, concerns, and frustrations of the past week are washed out to sea as the waves strip them from her.

Standing waist deep in the water she sees a Man approaching her. His dark skin glints in the sun and his beard drips with water. He dives under the water as a large wave crashes down over them and upon rising when the wave has passed He laughs joyfully.

She laughs and says hello as he shakes the water out of His long hair. She stretches out her arms wide, throws her head back, and shouts, “How can anyone not believe in God?”

The Man smiles broadly.

(Sue’s version) Psalm 146:6 – Romans 1:20

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The Cat

The day began bright and sunny and the woman went about her daily chores. She stopped by her office to quickly check her e-mail and suddenly her world seemed to turn upside down.

Reading the last of the short e-mail sudden anger boils up within her. The day is now shot as she stomps about her living room with questions broiling through her mind. In a very short time her strong faith has taken a sucker punch to the gut.

By sundown tears continue to flow, not only from the anger within, but from the devastating news and the confusing thoughts screaming through her mind. Sorrow fills her heart but the anger and confusion overrides all feelings of empathy and sorrow. How can God do this!? screams in her mind.

By bed time her tears continue to flow and sleep is non-existent. The news she received pounds through her mind over and over and then other events, past events, intrude. Her anger boils until she feels she will go crazy. By the wee hours she is exhausted yet sleep will not come. Angry thoughts, thoughts of an unloving God, thoughts of how everything she has believed is hog wash inundate her mind.

Without realizing she has dozed off she’s embroiled in a dream. In the dream she is on a tight rope and at the far end of the tight rope a large black panther is creeping toward her. Step by step he comes closer with teeth bared and a riveting intent on killing her.

He gets close enough that she suddenly and viciously kicks the panther as hard as she can. He flies off the tight rope, but returns.  Again, he slowly stalks his prey. Hunkered down with piercing eyes focused and teeth gleaming through a low vicious growl, he moves slowly and purposefully.

She cocks her leg once again and when the big cat raises its paw to rip her wide open with his deadly claws, she kicks with all her might and hears a painful yelp from the cat as he falls into the abyss below.

Suddenly waking up, with heart racing, and jagged breathing, she sees a Man standing at the foot of her bed.

She blinks.

“Now you know where the anger and confusion is coming from,” the Man states and disappears.

(Sue’s version) 1Tim. 4:1 – 1Peter 5:8 – John 10:10

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Man’s Free Will

The wind howls through the mountain pass. Dark clouds roll across the sky. The Man looks up as He takes hold of the long gnarled branch He’s using as a walking stick. He grips it more tightly. The path is narrow and treacherous.

Walking carefully across the rocky path He stops for just a moment. Glancing up He sees an eagle off in the distance. His majestic wings spread wide and as though floating on the currents, the eagle glides with the wind.

The Man walks a little further and stops again when He hears the screech of a hawk. He smiles as He watches the bird flutter to a stop at the top of a tree.

Rain begins to suddenly pour from the sky and He lifts His face allowing the large drops to pelt His bearded face. His hair is soon soaked, His beard drips and squinting His eyes closed He sticks His tongue out to catch the drops of rain.

“Oh Father, what a beautiful and glorious sight,” He whispers. Rain pelts His head, His shoulders, His back and soon He is dripping wet. It doesn’t bother Him as He continues to follow the narrow path.

He comes across a man sitting on a stump under the protective arms of a large Oak tree. He walks to Him and says hello. The stranger looks tired but says nothing. The Man offers him His canteen of water and says, “Here, drink. It’s living water.”

The stranger hesitates and snarls, “What’s the difference, water is water?” He suddenly snatches the canteen from the Man’s hand and gulps thirstily.

“I am the Living Water.” The Man replies. “Whoever drinks of My water will never thirst.” The man hands the now empty canteen back to the Man; grunts, swipes a hand across his mouth and beard and stands.

“Thanks for the water,” he states gruffly as he tugs at his pants waist, stretches, and without another word walks on down the narrow path. The Man watches as the stranger approaches a Y in the path. He stops and looks to the narrow path, then the wider path. He runs his hand through his long wet hair as though trying to decide which path to take. He glances back at the Man watching him.

“Father help him to choose the right path.” The Man whispers. Continuing to watch the stranger, the Man lowers His head, swipes at a tear, as the other man steps onto the wide path and disappears.

(Sue’s version) Matthew 7:14 – John 4:14

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Are We Attentive to God’s Needs?

The desert is hot and humid. The sun beats down on a lone tree. It’s arms reaching out as though seeking the moisture that kisses its leaves.

The heat is oppressing but the dew from the night still lingers. The strong gnarled trunk stands majestically holding up the arms of time.

Beneath the shade of the old tree at an old rock kneels a Man. His head bowed and drops of sweat drip down His cheeks. His silent prayer becomes agonizing as His sweat turns to blood and drips down forever staining the rock.

“Take this cup” His anguished voice pleads.

Men that He has called friends slouch a few yards away, asleep. They hear not the anguished cry of their friend, the Man they called friend.

Tears stream, blood red sweat pours as the Man kneels with His head hanging low. “Not My will but Thine,” He finally whispers as  His friends snore.

After some time He slowly, painfully, rises. He walks toward His friends and sees they are sound asleep. He stands silently looking down at them.

Slowly the closed eyes of His friends begin to open and they look up at the Man and make no apology as they rub their calloused hands across their eyes and beards.

“So you could not watch with Me an hour?”* The Man states.

His friends say nothing.

The Man waits a moment.

Silence.

The Man finally turns and walks slowly away leaving his friends,  slouched and yawning.

*Matthew 26:36-56

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