Thoughts and Stories

Coming Home

“An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand” (Isaiah 1:3, NASB).

     The confines of the familiar field were now forgotten as the small brown horse realized she was in the open territory on the other side of the fence. In the moment, she realized there were no perimeters holding her from recklessly venturing into the beckoning unknown. She could sense she had the freedom to run with the wind as far as her stout and sturdy legs could travel. Racing along the busy highway unaware of the dangers of speeding vehicles, she just ran and ran with abandon.

The drivers on the roadway saw her, and became worried about the little horse with her flowing wheat colored tail and mane, darting and trotting along-side them. They wondered who to call or what to do, to return the mare to the safety of her pen.

The little horse became scared of the sounds, smells and even of her freedom itself. I tried to call her name, but she would not listen. I tried to coax her to follow me, but she would not come. Instead she headed at full speed for steep cliff on the edge of the deeper woods. She was far and away faster than my human legs could travel. I slipped and fell numerous times as I tumbled down the treacherous bank through the briars and musky timber. At the bottom of the hill midst the thorns, burning nettle and damp mire … she stood panting. There was our little horse with her huge dark eyes finally recognizing me as her friend. She came quickly and nuzzled her sweating head against my right leg. I put my hand on her neck just behind her ear and tried to soothe her with some quieting words, “It’s okay … we’ll go home.” Now she only wanted to be close to me, as her face persistently nudged my leg during the uneventful journey home.

We should know our loving Heavenly Father as a simply and significantly as any animal knows its master. Yet we like any horse, can become intoxicated with the freedom beyond the confines of His designs for our safety and protection. We sometimes run with abandon in our selfishness and sin venturing into the unknown, naïvely unaware of the dangers along the highways of life. We do not know that we do not know and in those moments we do not understand His provision and purpose. So we plunge over the cliff ending up very unsure and scared midst the briars, muck and burning nettle.

What a joy to have our Heavenly Father come and find us and gently walk beside us as we journey back home to be with Him. There is nothing anywhere in the world like the mercy, compassion, grace and love our Heavenly Father gives to us over and over when we have gone astray. Thanks be to our Heavenly Father who loves us with such a great love.

“‘Come now and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow; through they be like crimson, they will be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18, NASB).
Suggested Reading – Isaiah 1

Source –          Devotion “Going Home” October 7, 2014

A revelation in fire and the small voice …

Is it the spectacular or is it the common that we find our deepest moments of faith? Which were of greater significance; the tender words of Christ spoken with compassion or the miracles that burst forth he calmed the sea or healed the sick. At times the gentle words of Jesus nudged people to believe in him and at other times the unbelievable was hardly noticed. Cannot God speak in the smallest of moments just as he does in the mightiest of deeds?

For a week or so, I had been praying to be in the right place at the right time to be used by God for his good. On a cold morning during the first few days of November, I had awoken with a start at 4:30 A.M., eyes wide open, with a distinctive feeling that today was an appointed day for God to use me.

Just a few hours later, this earlier prayer was even again on my lips, as a cloud of steam appeared on the side of the highway just ahead of me. As I got closer, the car from which the steam was rising was beginning to burn. Bright orange flames were appearing around the bottom of the engine area and ugly black smoke was billowing skyward. As I came to a stop, I realized a man was still sitting in the car. I jumped out and ran up to the side window and told the man that he needed to exit the car immediately, to which he replied, “It’s not that bad, it is only a blown head gasket.” Someplace along the timeline in this fiery morning, I dialed “911” and spoke to the dispatcher describing the incredible event sensing the tiniest bit of relief when she said, “They are on their way.”

Yet somehow here I was in this moment and this place by God’s mighty hand. “No, no, your car is on fire,” I exclaimed. Moving slowly, he hesitantly began to leave the car as I gently tugged on his arm, but he also wanted to go around to the front and look under the hood. “No we can’t … Sir … we have to get out of here, right now …now,” I nervously spoke as I tried again to get him to move away from the fiery danger. Finally he responded to my frantic words as we stepped back from this heart pounding scenario. The flames began to leap higher and soon his car was a huge fireball. The interior burned like it was made of gasoline and the tires began to blow up like bombs. Within a few minutes, his wife came driving up. She said to me, “My husband has suffered some light strokes and moves pretty slowly,” before telling her husband to get in her car as she cautiously maneuvered through the congested roadway. Now the spectacle became a reproduction of a movie set, with sheriff sirens blaring, fireman working and gawking drivers coming dangerously close to causing additional accidents as they strained to look at the drama in full production.

After a few minutes the sheriff said to me, “You are free to go” and it all seemed so surreal.  Sometime in all of this, I shook the old man’s hand. He had smiled and said, “Thanks so much, I don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t come along.” I slowly turned and walked away taking in some deep deliberate gasps of air, which I hadn’t noticed I had needed until that moment. I sat for what seemed like hours but was probably just a few minutes in my truck and wondered about God’s powerful hand in this fiery encounter.

At the end of the day as I was falling off to sleep; a simple thought broke through as I pondered the events of the day. God was with me in the spectacular but he was also with me in the many moments during the day when I did not even sense Him. He was with me as I tried to motivate the older man to flee from the impending danger and he was with me in the countless words that I had spoken all throughout the day. It should not have taken a revelation in a fire for me to understand anew; God’s mighty power and his small voice can both proclaim his love for those listen. I know what happened in the fiery scene earlier in the day but I don’t really know what God did with my words spoken by his grace throughout the rest of the day. Whether God moves in the common or the spectacular is not something to argue about. Our delight should be in the intimate involvement of God in our lives as His children. God can and will use any moment to deliver his messages whether in fiery miraculous spectacles or the smallest of voices that speak to those that are listening.  2006 srm


Finding significance at the second hand store …

It was around 12:00 noon and even though I was in town to visit people, I didn’t want to show up uninvited at someone’s door while they were eating. So I decided to go in a second hand store for a short time. I was browsing in the store when the owner struck up a conversation with me. I eventually put my items by the register and she checked me out. We talked for a while afterwards and it came out that I was a pastor. “So, you’re a pastor,” the woman pried a bit in an awkward manner, “Is it wrong to decide for someone whether they should live or die?” I was unsure about what exactly she was asking and so I inquired as to the situation. She was uneasy in her asking and I had no idea of the direction of the conversation or how I would answer such a difficult question. My short browsing time was changing before my eyes as she began to tear up and as the emotion began to come forth.

“I’m struggling with all they are putting on me,” she exhaled in voice and desperation. “I don’t know what to do,” she further explained. As I listened, compassion started filling my heart, the extra time I had to fill for just a few minutes was now lost in time unfolding in this woman’s story. Her husband had severe dementia among multiple health problems and she had been asked to decide about “end of life decisions” for her husband. She was obviously unsure and desperate about how to decide.

I asked gently about her feelings and when and what exactly did she have to decide? Minutes could now be measured in units of tens as I journeyed along the events of her life and the placement of her husband in a nursing home because she could not take care of him. I reassured her that although the law allows decisions to made on “end of life” directives that she didn’t have to decide right now. I looked into her eyes and spoke about the fact that these decisions were immensely difficult for anyone and the overwhelming anxiety that she was feeling was quite normal. I asked her if she was a believer and she nodded. I reached out my hand and asked if I could pray with her about her husband and the momentous decisions she faced. I cannot remember the words that I prayed other than the context and my sincere pleading that our God come and comfort her with the peace that only He can give. No words came out after the prayer except a simple “thank you” even as hardly noticeable flow of tears was coming from the corners of her eyes. I left and stepped into the sunshine.

As I made my way to my car, I was completely overwhelmed with God’s timing in our lives. How does something like this come about? What started as insignificant time had before my eyes been transformed into another “calling upon God” powerful and significant moment in time in my life. As I sat for a few seconds in my car, debating where I should go next, I became completely enveloped in the incomprehensible reality that I worship a living God. Not only a God that directs our paths but uses us to show His compassionate love to others on those very same paths we are walking. Incredible simply incredible. srm 11-08


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