Front and Center

“. . . You will find him if you look for him with all your heart . . .” (Deut. 4:29).

The little girl ran out on the platform with her hands holding up the hem of her dress as if she were waiting to take a bow. She tiptoed, half skipped, tiptoed again, and then bounced until she reached her appointed spot. The dancers then came together in a circle of white.

It was the annual children’s program and all the dancers began to move keeping a watchful eye on each other, all but the little girl who tiptoed, half skipped, tiptoed and bounced. She kept looking toward my section. She would twirl then look towards the left side, row 4. All the girls raised their hands gracefully then dropped to the floor, arms stretched forward and heads bent down. All except for one who was looking towards the left side, row 4. She kept holding up her head, stretching to look over her shoulder and smiling.

I was so curious that I finally looked to my right near row 4 and found the object of the girl’s attention, her mother. She was waving her hand up and down, trying to encourage her daughter to keep her head down. The girls got back up, made a few more turns and exited the platform. Some were skipping, some running, all except one who was trailing behind and looking towards the left side, row 4.

I sat there smiling until the Lord spoke to my heart in such an endearing way. “Daughter, I want you to look for Me as you dance.”

I thought of all the times I have busily gone about doing what I thought was important and never once stopped to see if He was there with me. I have danced through life, going through the motions, running in circles and not once looking up to acknowledge His presence.

Now I try to make a conscience effort to look for the Lord as I go through my dance called life. Whether I tiptoe, half skip, or bounce I look towards the left side, row 4. The amazing thing is that I never find Him on row 4 – He is always front and center, His gaze only on me.

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Daddy’s Shoes

My dad’s side of the closet was filled with shoes that reflected his love of life. He had his polished wingtips in which he had walked the pavement of many cities, office buildings, and textile plants at home and around the world. The golf shoes came out on weekends or any other day he could sneak to the course. If a Saturday came and he was not playing golf, he could be found wearing his mud-caked brogans and working in the showy flowerbeds that were the envy of the neighborhood. Dock siders were worn when the weather was good for fishing, and hunting boots were always dug out from under the pile when the hunting season began. In his earlier years, he also had his basketball high-tops, cleats for baseball then softball, and boating shoes for our many trips to the lake for a day of picnicking, skiing, and tubing.

But then the call came.  “Daddy went to the doctor today and they have found a spot on his lung.” I felt an awful weight come upon me and then the room began to spin. Everything around me felt different to the point I wondered if the earth just missed a rotation of its very axis.

In the months that followed, his side of the closet stayed full and disheveled with all different pairs of shoes, but some of them began to collect dust. The hunting boots were the first because after a June diagnosis the effects of chemo in the fall kept him from going on the once anticipated hunting trip with his buddies. He kept wearing his wingtips as he continued to work, however they no longer walked pavements around the world. As he grew weaker, they even covered less area of the parking lot pavement because a new sign was added outside the entrance that read “Mr. King’s Parking Spot.” Oh, he was forever the optimist—he tried to wear his brogans and keep the weeds out of his once pristine flowerbeds and he even carried his golf shoes to the course in an effort to play. Soon, those too began to collect dust from being placed aside.

We eventually bought him a new pair of slippers because his pair didn’t have enough traction and we were afraid he would fall as he shuffled down the hall where he once chased us as children to our bedrooms for a quick good night. This once healthy 6’3’’ man, who had traveled the world and enjoyed life to the fullest, was now wearing only his slippers.

It was a non-descript day in March when the van drove through our circular drive to deliver the hospital bed. He no longer wore any of the shoes that were his companions through the years. Now there were no shoes, only thick socks that kept his feet warm as they were gently placed on small white pillows the Hospice nurse brought to the house for his comfort.

The week before his death, I sat at the foot of his hospital bed and cradled his feet and thought of the scripture that reads “How beautiful are the feet of those that preach good news.” I knew that his feet were beautiful because through his pain and suffering he continued to share his testimony and the good news of Jesus Christ to his family and friends.

No shoes were needed as he passed from this life to eternal life. No shoes were needed as he slipped away from our whispers of “Daddy, we love you” to Jesus saying “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” No shoes were needed as his feeble cancer-ridden body was replaced with his new glorified body. His feet no longer needed the dust-collecting array of shoes in the closet by his hospital bed in his bedroom that spring night he died. I thought he was living life to the fullest considering all the shoes he collected, but now I realize that Daddy’s shoes were just a covering for his journey here on earth, for he had reached his final destination – heaven. Streets of gold, no shoes required.

Conversations

I love to hear you speak Lord.

You are the voice in my head and spirit that beckons me to respond.

It may be with a force that demands action or a gentle nudge to guide my way.

At times you softly speak to encourage, correct, or instruct.

Other times you whisper.

I really like the whispers . . . those are the times I have to lean in with my heart and listen ever so closely to what You are saying to me.

Help me, Lord, to be faithful, eager and open to You always. Help me to communicate the truths that are found in Your Word – truths about Your grace, salvation, acceptance and especially Your love.

I am here . . . I am listening . . .  I am waiting . . .  and even when I don’t hear You, by faith I still feel Your heartbeat and know You are near.

Stand Your Ground

Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground . . .” (Eph. 6:13).

God is in the process of raising up mighty warriors. He has not called us to be defeated, but has given us everything we need to be victorious. He has also given us a will, so I want to encourage you to:

Put the buckle of truth around your waist,
Put your breastplate of righteousness over your heart;
Fit your feet with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace;
Take the shield of faith which will help you extinguish ALL the flaming arrows the enemy sends your way;
Take the helmet of salvation and put it over your head to protect your mind from untruths;
Take the sword of the spirit – God’s Word – and hide it in your heart. Be ready to speak His Word at any time.
Pray! Communicate with the commander of this army, our mighty commander, Jesus Christ!

Do this daily and you will be able to SUCCESSFULLY “Stand your Ground.”

God Has Our Back

You hem me in ­– behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” Psa. 139:7.

I was stuck, paralyzed with fear. I had gone as far as I could while carrying a 30-pound backpack, walking on blistered feet, and fighting scratched arms and hands. But I had to move . . . I could not stay. Terrified, I looked at my options. Ahead of me—the side of a rock that I had to scale. Behind me—the grove of tree limbs and roots that hid the drop off I knew was waiting below. The other hikers in the group were either ahead of me coaxing me upward, or behind me encouraging me onward. I was truly stuck and fear had its grip on me.

I have often thought of the terrifying time I experienced on the side of that mountain many years ago; holding on to the spindly seedling with my foot forced in the crack of a rock, while looking at the drop behind and the steep climb before me. At the time I had no choice but to put my confidence in the other hikers.  Since that experience I have learned that in life we may have mountains before us we must climb. Sometimes in the middle of the climb, we find ourselves stuck, paralyzed with fear. We have gone too far to turn back, but what is ahead is even more frightening. The fear and anguish can become so great we just stop moving. But no peace can be found while hanging on the side of a mountain in total fear.

After much help and encouragement from the more experienced hikers, I did climb to the top of that mountain. Since then I have endured a variety of “mountain” experiences, however, the peace that comes from knowing God is with me and that He has His hand on me helps keep the fear away. Next time you find yourself stuck on the side of a mountain paralyzed with fear, remember, God not only has your back, He has you completely hemmed in—He is behind you, and before you. And if you rest in this fact, and are very still, you may actually feel His hand as He lays it upon you.