I’ve considered time since I was a small child. One of my first time-related memories is of an incident which happened when I was no more than five or six. I’d been playing next door, in my grandparents yard. With my bare hands, I pulled a prickly weed from the ground. It must have been a thistle, but I didn’t think it was. Whatever this demon-plant was, my small hand was now filled with painful and tiny, itchy barbs. It hurt. My first inclination was to cry.
This memory is as clear and life-altering as if it were only yesterday. I looked down at my hand, and I remember thinking: A few moments ago, all was well. In a day, maybe two, all will be well once again. Only now, in the moment as I stood there looking at my hand, it is painful. And my young mind reasoned that… just as the philosopher said, “This too will pass.” This was a giant stepping stone for me and for my future, setting the path for my outlook on life.
Perhaps that’s why I hold so dear the wonderful memories from my past. I’ve learned to hold close and remember and celebrate the little joys and victories of yesteryear. I’m determined to honor those good memories with happiness and thankfulness. And I’ve chosen to keep those distasteful and painful remembrances at arm’s length.
I most definitely consider this time related blessing a ‘God-thing!’
As I’ve often said, I dream every night. All of my dreams contain many people and places that I know… some from the past, others from the present. But… fact and fiction (dream) are confusingly mingled. Last’s night’s dream made a unique story, so I share it with you.
I found myself in a beautiful woodsy park, a state park? Off behind me was a large rustic lodge. It was obvious that whatever meeting or gathering was held there was over, as people were leaving. I was there to pick up my Youngers daughter Molly, and two of her friends. I saw them awaiting me up ahead, at the edge of large parking lot. I pulled into a parking spot.
The girls all looked to be in their late teens. I didn’t recognize Molly’s two friends. The three girls were dressed exactly alike, in long red ‘costume like’ dresses, of the type that classical dancers wear. They get into my smallish blue vehicle.
It had been raining, and the ground was soft, wet and mushy. I backed up while turning to the right, then pulled forward… and right into a deep mud-bog! We were stuck. Nothing I could do would free the vehicle. I looked around, seeking help. But the lot was completely empty! From the back seat, one of the girls said that’d she’d call 911. Fine by me!
Soon a policeman drove up. He walked over to our vehicle and told us that he’ll have us out in a jiffy. “I do this all the time,” he replied. “Move over, I’ll take it from here.”
I moved over to the passenger side, and the office got in. He cranked the vehicle and moved forward no more that six inches, then reversed and backed up and equal amount. He did this three or four times, inching farther and farther each time. On the last time forward, we were free! “See, I told you I’d have you out in a jiffy,” replied the officer.
No sooner than the words had left his mouth, when suddenly a large cow reared up on the side of the car, on my side. Its rear feet were on the ground, and the front feet and legs stretched across the top. Seeing what had just happened, the officer suddenly drew his weapon, and aiming across the front seat (and across me)! He fired… striking the cow! It let out one mournful howl and sank to the ground.
“W-w-why did you shoot the cow?” I asked.
“Well, it was blocking your exit,” he replied. “Now you’re free to go!”
With that, he got out of our car and returned to his vehicle and drove away.
About that time, out of seemingly nowhere, a TV news crew of two showed up. “We got it all on tape!” The news lady said. “What made him shoot the cow?”
Writing fiction is a genre wherein future and past are not constrained by reason. The impossible is possible and the unexpected is to be expected. The following story is an example—
He stood at the bathroom mirror shaving, preparing for just another Tuesday workday when this truth settled into his being. It was strange, but this finality didn’t rattle him as one might think it should, though it did surprise him. He just knew. It was as simple as that. It was not so much a revelation as it was a realization, a simple distinct knowledge. Today would be his day to die, though he didn’t know exactly when… or how.
Gazing at his image in the foggy mirror, his singular thought was to tell himself goodbye. “That’s funny,” he thought. Still, continuing to be in the mode of ‘life as we know it’ he wondered, “What to do? Do I go to work as usual? Do I attempt some last grand hurrah? Do I tell folks good-bye?”
For the first time in a long while, he felt totally out of control. Perhaps ‘out of touch’ was a better term for this new reality of his final day of life. He firmly understood that this was reality. The Grim Reaper had an arm around his shoulder, and yet, he was not afraid.
He finished dressing. Looking in the mirror as he combed his hair, he once again bid his reflection good-bye, and walked out the door. He didn’t bother to lock-up. Why bother? Let who ever have whatever, he’d no need of it after today. All those treasures had no chains on him anymore. It was a most invigorating, yet calming feeling. He walked to his car with a pronounced bounce in each step.
As he was about to drive past he local mom-and-pop grocery story, he realized that the sky had never been bluer, the sun never brighter. Could it be that a person felt the most freedom when they were free of life itself? This seemed to be so. Wow! He smiled a rich, warm smile. Wow, oh Wow, oh Wow!
A small crowd gathered around the vehicle that had just rolled to a stop against the side of the small grocery store. The impact against the wall had been rather gentle. The dead driver still sat erect, his head tilted slightly back, with a huge grin on his face, as if dreaming sweetly.
We didn’t have NCIS when I was growing up. We didn’t even have TV. TV didn’t come to town until I was in the 5th grade. We had ‘The Shadow’ and ‘Dragnet’ on radio… and personally, I had THE GLOBE DETECTIVE AGENCY just across the street from my house!
On the corner of Peabody and Evergreen, at 801, resided the Welchels, a middle aged couple who operated the detective agency from their home. They were, wording it thoughtfully and respectfully, ‘different.’
I live at 802 for the first 19 years of my live. Mrs. Welchel was a semi-friend type of person, who ventured out of the house to shop, or for what ever purpose. But I can’t say that I ever once witnessed him leaving the premises, or even venturing onto the front porch for that matter. There were however, frequent ‘visitors’ there, who parked either in front of the house, usually, around the corner on Peabody. The Welchels owned and managed the agency… these come and go ‘visitors’ were the legs and ‘eyes’ of the company.
I was inside that house (front room only) less than 1/2 a dozen times, if that many. He was a large man, usually sitting behind that was to me a HUGE desk, that was always VERY CLUTTERED. On it were stacked with reams and reams of paper! And usually, at least one cat was sitting on a stack of paper like a fully paper-weight.
I have memory of her that will never fade — of her standing at the front door and in a shrill voice, calling the cats inside… “Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty”…. all strung out like that and run together as if it was one long word!
As an elective, I took ‘Shop’ in junior high. It was wood shop, no metals, as it was basically an introductory class. But, we learned a lot! One gem I took away from the class is to always use the right tool for the job. That’s stood me well for all these years, and it applies to far more than just woodworking!
Words too are tools. They’re the ‘implements’ by which we convey spoken thought from one to another. If we use the incorrect word-tool we run the risk of making a mess in the transferring of our thoughts to someone else. It’s much like using a sledge hammer to drive an upholstery tack… or a small tack hammer to drive in a tent stake. Use the proper tool! Choose your words carefully… and accurately!
No doubt, no word in the English language is thrown about more carelessly and more inaccurately that the word LOVE. Example: ‘On a hot day, I love nothing more than a icey cold malted milkshake.” Not only is that inaccurate, misleading, and ambiguous, it’s also wrong! The proper word-tool here is like! It could never be love… unless that is, you’re really wierd!
Like is an emotional leaning toward someone or something. But like has it’s limits – limits in height, width, and depth – and time. Likes have a tendence to shift and change. Like actually means to enjoy, appreciate, fancy, be fond of, admire, delight in, or to be smitten with.
Love, on the otherhand, is a deeper and more intense emotion. Love goes and will remain in situations where like will morph, will fade, and will fail. Love is not just adoration, but attachment, devotion, allegiance, and above all – commitment.
We all agree that it’s possible and normal to like and not to love. But it’s also possible to love and not like! We find this difficult to comprehend because we tend to consider that love is simply an extension of like. It’s not. The perfect example of human to human love is a mother’s love for her child! She will continue to love the child even if that child grows to become a dispicable, sadistic murderer. Although she’s repelled by what that child may have done and by what they have become, she will continue to love them! She’ll not LIKE who they’ve become and what they’ve done… yet she LOVES them still.
Love and like are a million miles from being the same!
That which affects one’s welfare or happiness. A matter of interest to someone. The adposition before the matter of interest is usually over, about or for.
(Adposition – the meaning of that complicated word is: An element that combines syntactically with a phrase and indicates how that phrase should be interpreted in the surrounding content. The key words here are; phrase, interpreted, and content.
Similar words for concern are: Deal with, cover, discuss, examine, to address, study, look into, to inquire about, regard. Basically, to be concerned about something means to take it into consideration.
Worry, the definition
Worry is having a strong feeling of anxiety. To be troubled, to give way to mental anxiety.
Similar words for worry are: Anxiety, apprehension, fear, uneasiness, dread, misgiving, apprehensiveness, uncertainty, having the willies.
A wise teacher once told me, ‘It is what it is.’ then they explained that remark my saying, ‘It’s not necessarily what you think it is.’ This little truism is why the stage magician can so easily trick us.
When we consider the meanings of these two words, concern and worry, we see that concern pertains to things and events which we have a distinct control over… that is: We the ability and opportunity to altar the perceived outcome. However, worry is a mental activity involving things and events over which we have no control, neither do we have the opportunity nor the ability to change them. Worry is a hopeless and helpless state of mind. Basically worry is futile!
If you are on a roller-coaster, and you discover that this in NOT fun, you decide that YOU WANT OFF…now! If the ride has an emergency button, you hit it, and get off. That’s exercising your CONCERN, and doing something about it. However, if you decide to suck it up and RIDE… and suddenly, at the top of the tallest peak, the car jumps the tracks… and now your hurtling toward the ground! This is the time to WORRY! You’ll soon crash into the ground and you’re helpless to do one thing about it!
There are numerous words in the English language which we incorrectly believe to be of similar in meaning. Repeat a falsehood often enough and it begins to sound like truth. Movies and TV have told us for years that sex outside of marriage (fornication) is simply ‘making love.’ There’s a lot of sex in the world today that’s far, far removed from anything remotely like love.
That said, I’ve acquired the label of a ‘worrier.’
Am I concerned about some things that appear not to concern others? Yes.
I’m sure that you’re heard the expression, ‘There goes an accident about to happen.’ We use this to express our opinion that we perceive that all of the elements are in place for an accident to happen. Notice the use of the words opinion and perceive.
The same holds true for the word worry. I’ve acquired the label of a ‘worrier’ because I’m perceived to be worrying, therefore, others people’s opinion is that I ‘surely must be’ worrying. But I’m not. I’m concerned.
It’s been said that one of the ‘biggest words’ in the English language is ‘IF’.
Think of ‘if’ as a fork in the road… where we have a choice of which path to take. After we’ve taken the wrong path, then we recognize our error and we wish that we’d taken the other path… we look back and reflect. But now it’s too late to WORRY about it. We’ve already where we don’t want to be!
But back at that fork in the road, when we pause and consider carefully the consequences of possibly making the wrong decision, that’s concern. That’s our opportunity to do something about our decision, to weigh our options, to gather the facts.
I also ‘guilty’ of telling a lot of stories from my past. I memory banks of filled with unique and unusual stories to tell.
I’m reminded of a family vacation event which happen in the early 1950s. We were in Colorado at the time, in an arid, mountainous, ‘bad-lands’ region. The purpose was to see an old abandoned gold mining town.
Dad spotted a tour-guide JEEP, with driver-guide and 3 or 4 sight-seers. A sign on the side of the jeep proclaimed that it took visitors up to the actual mine. “Let’s follow them!” Said Dad. And we did. We followed them UP THE MOUNTAIN.
I was of course, excited. Mom and my sister were worried. It was NOT a paved road up the mountain, and it was NOT wide. It proved to be a winding, one-jeep wide road…with no guard rails. Occasionally, the jeep ahead would stop and the folks would turn and shake their heads in disbelief. We continued to follow.
Being a back seat passenger, and an obedient son, there was not much I could do about my darkening situation. My excitement had long sense morphed into what I perceived to be CONCERN and straight thru into full-blown WORRY. In a few more difficult yards, Dad also had begun to be genuinely concerned!
Around the next tight little bend in the road, we came upon a narrow place that was less narrow than we’d seen in quite a while. ‘Wide place’ was NOT a suitable definition. But to Dad, he saw it as a glimmer of hope in desperate times.
Backing down the mountain was NOT an option… that would be an open invitation to disaster. Somehow he had to get the car headed in the other direction. It was no simple task, and not one for the faint hearted. But somehow, inch by precarious inch, he maneuvered that big ole Chrysler back and forth, front bumper touching solid rock walls, and rear tires coming to with a quarter of an inch to a sheer drop-off. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Ahead the jeep came to a stop. Vacationeers had their cameras out. And when Dad made that last maneuver, and we could finally retrace our path down the mountain… everyone in the jeep let out a cheer! We in the Chrysler let out an equally loud sigh of relief.
I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the definitions of CONCERN and WORRY, and how they affected all of us involved that day, than this exciting up and down the mountain adventure!
Every so often we encounter someone who’s attitude and outlook is, let’s say,‘out of sorts.’ They’re everything but cheerful, friendly, and hospitable. OK… they’re cranky, cross, and crabby… even grouchy, irritable, testy, and surly. Obviously they have a burr under their saddle.
It’s so easy to pont fingers, to shout ‘button up buttercup,’ and to challenge them for acting out and acting up like they are. In times like that, we’re glad that we’re not like them!
But we are.
As children of God, most of the time we’re hard-headed children. And as children of God, we try to think of ourselves as bright, beautiful, and as perfect as is our Heavenly Father. But we’re not.
Sometimes, God allows some sweet soul to hear the trigger click, and they ‘go off’ with a crabby ‘bang’ that wounds us. But… in God’s big picture (in which He knows all and everything) He’s simply using ‘crabby’ as a temporary mirror, held up before us, so that we can see a clear reflection of ourselves!
In John 8:7 Jesus said…
‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone’
Oops! Do I see myself in the mirror? Yes, I believe I do. Sorry Lord.
The song ‘On The Road Again’ was made famous by Willie Nelson, or perhaps it was the other way around. It’s definitely NOT a song related to my mother! My mom was more closely paired to the movie, ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’
Mom was born February 25, 1915 in rural Mississippi, the daughter of a railroad engineer. Dad was born July 6, 1910, in Carthage, Mississippi, the son of a self-sufficient farmer. They met and fell in love in Carthage in the early 1930s, where both lived. Dad was twenty-two when they married, and she was seventeen.
Through thick and thin, World War Two, the threat of instant atomic annihilation… and me… they were steadfast friends, lovers, and husband and wife for the remainder of their long and very happy lives.
Yet, both were strong-willed, unique individuals. Only their love for one another was stronger – thank God!
When they married, Dad was working for a small up-start grocery firm. He began as a lowly stock-boy, and had worked his way up to manager of one of the company’s stores in Jackson, Mississippi by the time they married. They rented an apartment only yards from the store, so Dad simply walked to work. Dad’s work-ethic reasoning was: why should his vehicle take up a potential customer’s spot?
Dad taught Mom to drive; however, he asked her NOT to drive the car until she had her license. I used the words ‘asked Mom’ because ‘told Mom’ sounds too harsh and demanding. In today’s world, that’s not politically correct. But this was in the 1930s, where ‘told’ would be both politically acceptable and strongly reasonable. My law-abiding, plan-ahead, cover-all-the-bases-father reasoned that 1) Driving without a license was against the law, 2) IF she had an accident, she’d probably NOT be covered on the auto’s insurance, and 3) RESPONSIBLE people don’t take UNNECESSARY chances. No doubt, he used the word ‘told.’
Girls will be girls they say. And one of Mom’s lady-friends dropped by to invite her to go along with her into town. They’d take the bus. Instead, they took the car! Mom drove. She was on the road again when she shouldn’t outta be. Wouldn’t you know it? This would be the one day that Dad inexplicably came home in the middle of the day. Oops!
This was a ‘big deal’ to Dad. To him, it crossed more that one line. Mom didn’t agree with what she saw as his un-reasonable attitude. The embers of anger were quickly fed by the wind of words. And Mom, in her unique and amazing way, drew a line in the sand. I don’t know the exact words she used, but she basically stated: “If that’s the way you feel, OK. That settles it. Since you’re so firm that I was oh so wrong, I promise you here and now, that it will NEVER happen again. And it will never happen again, because it CAN’T happen again… because I’m NEVER, EVER going to drive again! So there!”
And she didn’t!
I can remember, when I was still riding a tricycle, and my little sister was a baby in arms and trips to the pediatrician were often for both of us… that Dad would beg and plead with Mom to please, please, PLEASE get your drivers license… DRIVE! He actually promised her that he’d buy her any car she wanted! But it was to no avail. Mom’s clandestine shopping trip downtown was the last time she sat behind the wheel of an automobile! Ever!!!
I’ve always believed that my family was one-of-a-kind. And if this doesn’t prove it, nothing does. But what is so amazing is that this not so tiny ‘wound’ in their relationship healed so utterly and completely. It really left no scars! By the time I was was learning to drive, it was simply an accepted fact that Mrs. Murphy did not drive. Didn’t want to. She just wasn’t going to do it. Period. And friends and family alike accepted this fact as ‘gospel truth.’
I just thought of someone else with an anti-driving mentality… Sheldon Cooper!
After Mommy and Daddy, one of the first words a child learns to say is WHY? It’s a word that parents will hear countless times! Even our Heavenly Father is asked this question! We’ve made WHY a very important part of our vocabulary. Don’t get me wrong: It’s most often a good thing to ask why! We learn things when we ask why… things we might have missed had we not asked.
My father illustrated this principle with one of the most powerful lessons he ever taught me. He did this in a story he told during the late 1940s. I was perhaps only in 1st or 2nd grade.
Our family was traveling from our home in Jackson, MS to Delhi, LA to visit his sister and family. This was in pre-interstate days, and much of our route was along two-lane US Highway 80.
Before reaching Vicksburg, where we’d cross the mighty Mississippi River, we crossed numerous smaller bridges spanning other rivers and creeks. As we approached one particular bridge (one that Dad referred to as the ‘new’ bridge) he told me the following story.
Years before, he said, there’d been a terrible storm with extremely heavy rains. The rain came down in torrents, making it difficult to see ahead. Rivers and creeks suddenly flooded and overflowed. And the bridge ahead (of us) suddenly washed away! One by one, because they could not see ahead clearly, drivers failed to stop in time and drove off and into the raging water below, to be swept away.
But one old black man, was driving slowly, and cautiously. He saw the danger ahead… and stopped! Then, he ran back down the highway, and frantically tried to warn approaching vehicles of the danger ahead.
But this was 1940s Mississippi. Ours was a land peopled by two separate and separated races… races divided by more than simply skin color. Sadly, then we were separated by trust, or rather, a lack of trust. Needlessly, irrational false-fear kept others from seeing the warning… and from failing to ask ‘why?’ They swerved around their potential savior and proceed on, into their watery deaths.
Thankfully, someone using their brain (and heart) stopped… and then another. Finally the ‘lemming-march’ was halted.
Although It was a quick lesson, told while driving across a simple bridge along an old asphalt highway, that story had a tremendous impact on me. The amazing thing is, it taught me a multitude of life-lessons, lessons which have stood with me for a life-time! It taught me far more than that it’s ok to ask why?
As he told it, Dad probably had no idea of the lasting impact it would have upon my life. He told it as if it were 100% true, and I’m certain that it is! My Dad was not one to make up stories… unless he admitted to the fiction. But try as I might, I’ve never been able to verify this event… as sad as it was. That old fellow who risked life and limb to save others, should be honored, should be remembered!
I hope that somehow, somewhere, that old fellow knows that the story of what he did meant a lot to me when I heard about it… and that it still does today!
This is not ‘preaching to the choir.’ If anything, it’s preaching to the preacher. Yours truly being the preacher in this case. I need this message more than most! This study has been real eye opener, and a heart convicter. The subject is an ageless dilemma, as old as time itself. If we’re honest, it’s an issue which lies at the very heart of our greatest victories and accomplishments. It’s also at the root of our greatest mistakes and failures.
Perhaps it would be wise to take a closer look at these all-important but small five-letter words, WANTS and NEEDS, and how they relate to our walk with God.
We all need God. That’s a no-brainer! The issue is – simple wants and needs are never a simple issue for us to grasp – to neither understand or to accept.
First, we should return to the basics, in an attempt to understand the meanings of the terms need and want.
NEEDS: The following is a short list of things we need.
Water. We must have water to survive! A high percentage of our bodies are made up of water itself. Without water, we become a dead, dry, shriveled corpse… like a mummy!
Oxygen. We must have oxygen to breath. Otherwise we suffocate.
Warmth. We don’t have thick and furry flesh. Our bodies (without clothing) are incapable of sustaining us in low temperatures.
Food. We need nourishing food to sustain our bodies, to give it energy, to help it to grow and remain healthy. Otherwise, we grow sick, weak, and die. The key word here is ‘nourishing.’
These are of course the very basics. Take any one of them away, and you’ll not have a long lifetime. Now let’s look at this same list as viewed as wants.
Water. Although most any water will do, we want Perrier, Evian, Glacéau, you know, the good stuff, pure and unfiltered, from some ancient un-polluted source, cold and delightful. Ahhhh. That’s GOOD!
Oxygen. We buy air purifiers for our home and our offices. They spew out purified air, washed free of impurities, and laced with the fresh scent of jungle flowers. Wow! We complain about, hey… what’s that stink?
Warmth. A coat? No, not just any coat will do. What’s popular this year? What are our favorite movie and sports star wearing this year? What’s ‘in’ and what’s ‘out’? Do I look good in beige? Let’s look on-line!
Food. Yes, I’m here to eat. But that’s only a portion of the equation. I want to be entertained, to be served, to be pampered with food-stuffs that delight and brings joy to my pallet. Pigs eat. I prefer to dine! Dinner should satisfy more than simply my requirement for food.
There’s most often a vast gap between needs and wants. Needs usually determine what we are. Wants often determine what we’ve become or are becoming.
We often compare our physical wants and needs when we’re faced with decisions in life and daily living. That’s good! That’s the way it should be. But do we ever compare our spiritualwants to our spiritual needs?
When we realize there actually is such a thing as spiritual wants and spiritual needs, do we understand that the difference between the two has a tremendous impact upon our relationship to God?
There’s an old hymn that’s seldom sung today that speaks of our need of God.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
It was written in 1872 by Annie S. Hawks, and the words are as true today as they were then. As Christians, we all agree that we need God! But what does ‘needing’ Him actually mean? Don’t we believe that it means all of Him? And by ‘all’ don’t we understand that to mean every bit of Him that we are capable of having?
God has a will. And God also has a plan. And His will and His plan reach down to us on a personal, one-on-one level! Alone, we’re both hopeless and helpless. And our hopelessness and helplessness means that we need Him, and we need to know His plan and His will for our lives.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
God put a tremendous amount of trust in us! Among the many wondrous things He’s given to us, He also gave us (allowed us) to have a will of our own. Our will is a blessing, but we can turn it into a curse. God elected to allow us to choose Him! And although it’s obvious that we need Him… we fall victim to the power of the enemy and allow this miraculous gift of will to freely operate in the realm of wants. God has wants also, and He wants us to join Him someday in Heaven. But He’s allowed us to have a will like as unto His, and this will allows us to have wants, many which are dangerous, and even physically and spiritually fatal!
Jeremiah quoted God saying…
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
We need to allow God to have full reign in out lives. He knows what’s best for us, and His best are far better than anything we could ever imagine! And yet, he speaks and tells us that He has plans to give us hope and a future… and we stand and reply to Him that we’re using our ‘trump-card’ of will… and that we’d decided to do things our way… the way we want to! WOW! Been there. Done that. Lived to regret it!
I think we all understand that needs are important. But do we also realize that wants are equally as important… because wants can be dangerous, damaging, and fatal! This is true in the social, physical realm and especially true spiritually!
Lord, I don’t know the answers. But you do. I don’t understand half of the what’s and few of the why’s. But you do. I can’t see what’s ahead, but you can. I don’t know the way, but you do. Lord, I can’t. But you can. I need Thee, oh, I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee. Oh bless me now my savior. I come to Thee. Amen