Talk to Me!

Jonah and Whale SharkNow the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows. 17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.    Jonah 1, selected verses.

I believe God speaks to us. It’s usually more in the form of signs for us to understand than actual words, although that still happens in this current time.  There are many instances of Jesus visiting Muslims in their dreams and in visions, because that’s the only way they can know of Him.

Sometimes I really wonder what’s happening in my life. I’ve got a good job, but lately it feels like the wheels are coming off.  Shall I brush up my resume’?  Do I have something to worry about here?

As these questions swirl, I had two job opportunities come to my attention out of the blue. I’m not quite a good match for either, even though they are both in my “sweet spot” as far as the discipline goes.

This reminded me of when I moved to Memphis for my current job after going through bankruptcy. I lost count of how many recruiters called me with inquiries for jobs I might be interested in.  NOW they show up??

It occurred to me in this instance that God is just showing me that He has this and this is where He wants me right now. What’s the message?

“Jeff, I know you’re getting the heeby-jeebies over your company’s current condition, but I’m still in control. Just to prove it, I’m going to send you two jobs that are almost perfect for you, but that you can’t really win.  Just to show you that I can whistle up whatever I want whenever I want.  If I want you somewhere else, I’ll get you there.  That just isn’t gonna happen right now.  So stop worrying and carry on.”

I didn’t hear a voice, but after prayer and reflection, this is the answer, the impression that formed in my mind. This is my interpretation of recent events.

I can see the message being similar when I got all of those recruiters calling after I moved to Memphis.

“I could’ve moved you anywhere, anytime. You just had to wait and go through some trials to get your where I wanted you, both physically and emotionally.  So hang in there.”

Does God talk to you? I’m sure He does…through events, “coincidences,” etc.  Here’s the thing, when you think God is sending you a message, pray about it.  Be careful of forcing your wishes into occurrences.  You might not get anything.  If not, don’t get hung up on it.  Either He doesn’t want you to know now, or ever, or maybe it’s simply the fact that stuff happens.

So hang in there. God has this.  He may explain why something happened.  He may use circumstances to funnel you into a course of action, like He did moving me to Memphis.

So that’s me sharing what I suddenly felt was a communication. Am I right?  Maybe, maybe not.  But then, my interpretation is pretty well in character with God, right?

Shaking the World

So Jesus said to them, “…for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”     Matthew 17:20

MountainI remember the first time I heard the verse from Matthew 17 and wondering what would happen if everyone decided to give that a go. I mean, there aren’t enough mountains, right?  I was young, and tended to take things very literally.

BBBIn a recent online discussion with fellow blogger, BeautyBeyondBones, the idea of doing something earth shattering for someone came up.  Sometimes we do that without any real effort.  Sometimes we do it and never even know it!

I remember someone coming to me once and telling me that I said something that completely changed his life for the better. I couldn’t even remember the visit let alone what I said.  As a college instructor I changed a young woman’s life, and didn’t even know it till after the term.  She came to my office, changed from blond to brunette.  She finally felt like shewas really smart after all and decided to leave behind the “dumb blond” she had always thought she was.  See Smart Blond.

We really shook the pillars of heaven, didn’t we, Wang?   Jack Burton: Big Trouble in Little Chinabig-trouble-little-china

When BeautyBeyondBones does something earth-shattering to help the followers of her blog – and she is very inspirational – she’s not sure she did that much.  I haven’t always known when I’ve made a contribution that made someone else’s life better, that “rocked their world.”  Or tossed their mountain into the sea.

Drink of water

Whoever gives a little one only a cup of cold water…  Matt 10:42

When you or I do something earth shattering for someone else, it isn’t always a Herculean effort on our part. When we live in faith, God works through us to help others.  God gives us spiritual gifts that we use to help those around us.  Just as a bird would find nothing amazing about flying or a fish about swimming, someone with a gift from God finds that changing someone else’s life can take little effort.

 

God can use anyone to accomplish His intended purpose, believers and unbelievers. God using Babylon and other wicked nations and people to accomplish His ends in the Bible are examples.  But here is the difference; when we perform good works through faith, when caring for others comes from acting on Jesus’ love to us, when it blooms as the fruit of the Spirit, we can do so much more than feed someone or give them money.  We can start to show them the way to God!

I am a board member of a Christian charity called Friends of Russian Orphans, F.O.R.O.  This is their mission statement: Friends of Russian Orphans (“FORO”) is an American mission organization, dedicated to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ to Russian orphans and their caregivers through practical assistance and friendship programs.

Bathroom-Stalls-CommercialWe’ve rewired orphanages that were in danger of burning down, replaced holes in the floor over sewage lines with REAL TOILETS, complete with stalls! We’ve paid for education programs to be introduced into some orphanages.  We’ve also introduced Jesus to them in places where we were allowed to.  Showing we did more than talk, we gained credibility and could begin to work with their souls in addition to bodies and minds.

One of our programs was hosting a group of orphans from a Russian orphanage here in the states for two weeks, ten kids or so, accompanied by a couple caregivers from the orphanage to chaperone their travels and help with communication. Each child stayed with a host family, had their own bedroom, went to Vacation Bible School, the zoo, swimming, all sorts of things.

Over half were adopted by their host families over the three years we could do this. The orphanages reported noticeably improved behavior from those who weren’t.  They had seen what a real family can be like, and tried to bring that back with them, buoyed with the hope that life CAN get better!

The last time we were able to do this, one of the chaperones just seemed to be an old sourpuss, some crusty, Russian government employee. We couldn’t help feeling a bit put off that we had paid for her travel along with the rest and she couldn’t show a little courtesy in return.

We would give the chaperones a treat every time of a shopping trip to Chicago for a couple days. FORO’s founder has a sister there, and she put the chaperones up at her house.

Old Crusty got one daughter’s bedroom. The daughter’s white confirmation Bible was on the bed stand.

BibleThe next morning the chaperone came to the kitchen looking like she’d been up all night. The white Bible was in her hand.  She had indeed been up all night, reading God’s Gospel.  All she could say was something along the lines that she had never known any of this.  She was devastated, but…changed.  She wanted to get her own Bible to take home with her, so they spent a good part of the day finding a white confirmation Bible just like the one she read.

They prayed with her, and she accepted Jesus as her Saviour.

Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.    Luke 15:10

It was just a shopping trip from Toledo to Chicago. It was a daughter letting a stranger sleep in her room.  It was a Bible just left where it always was.

But those things shattered her earth, rocked her world, changed her life, tossed her mountain into the sea, and shook the pillars of heaven with the joy of angels over one sinner who repented.

Not bad. For a shopping trip.

32 Years of Marriage

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”   Genesis 2:24

This is the third time I’ve commemorated our wedding anniversary on my blog. First was Thirty Years Together in 2015 and 31 Years: A Marriage Album last year.

This year I’m not just looking back at 32 years with my Sweet Julie. This past year I’m feeling more and more happy with being her husband.  I just want time with her.  That’s hard when the job has me traveling so much.  I want to watch movies with her, travel with her, and do whatever else we can think of.  Together.

I’ll turn 60 in June. I’ve been caught up short at the fact that I’m much closer to my end than my beginning.  Given my family history, well, we’re not especially long-lived folks.

However much future I have left, I want to be spent enjoying each other. Whether it’s sitting silently at home reading or taking a trip – long or short – I just want to enjoy her.  I want to listen to her laugh, feel her warmth next to me, tease each other about the same idiosyncrasies as we have for the last 32 years, have countless more Saturday mornings at Panera with a pastry, our books, and talks.

I’d like to revisit Paris and just watch her sipping her “Café’ American” coffee in the little park behind Notre Dame as she did before. Maybe there will be one more new overseas adventure.  Who knows?  Scotland?  Australia?

I’d enjoy another fall Saturday riding our bicycles around Put-In-Bay out in Lake Erie. I remember doing that the fall after my heart surgery.  Fatigued, she had me lay down on some lush grass and sat there next to me as I napped in the fall sunshine.

There are so many good memories, I find myself hungrier for more. I want that now more than I ever have.

I’m reminded not to let time be wasted, because when you have a fine wife every second is precious. We have a trip coming up this year to plan.  There are more holidays.  There are more times with both of our daughters.  There are more evenings spent with friends.

And not a few Saturday mornings with a pastry, a good book, and a chat with the love of my life, my Jewel.

Uncaged

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.   John 16:33DSC_1777

We got a German shepherd when I was still in grade school. Dad named her Duchess.  She was still growing, less than a year old.  Having been abused, she wasn’t much of a puppy.  She simply hid under a bench in the back yard.  I literally had to drag her out from under there.  Playful?  She had no idea.

I don’t know what was done to her, but it couldn’t have been good. Yelling, beating, starving…whatever it was pretty well killed the puppy in her.

It’s amazing what love can do. We loved her, fed her, and taught her to play with us.

That was summer. When the first snowfall came, Mom held her indoors despite her begging to get let out to…go to the “bathroom.”  When we got home, out she went, and she just went nuts with joy, chasing snowflakes, rolling in the thin layer on the grass, trying to catch snowballs that exploded in her mouth.  It was a hoot!

The garage was just a couple feet away from our chain-link fence. There was plenty of room around the other three sides.  I taught her to play chase around the garage.  Once she had the hang of that, I started a round of chasing her.  She would look back to make sure I was following.  This time, however, I let her go, and I ran in the opposite direction.  Carefully coming around the last corner, I spied her looking back, expecting me to show up behind her.  She jumped in the air when shouted at her and then gave me one of those looks that convince you dogs can indeed laugh!

After that, she wanted to chase me to turn the tables on moi!

Duchess went from being caged to uncaged. Even with the physical door gone, she had been too scared to come out of the real cage of her fear.  She eventually came into the world when she knew she could trust us.

There were times she had to be scolded, got hurt doing something…usually in the basement. She HATED the vet.  And the vacuum cleaner.  Life was not always smooth sailing for her, but with her faithful humans smoothing the way, life was a whole lot better than it would have been otherwise.

As I mentioned in my last article, life is terminal. This is Satan’s planet right now, making it a real $h*t place to be much of the time.  We’ve all been abused and knocked around.  Some a whole lot more than others.  Either way, it’s hard to leave the cage even when the Jesus has opened the door.

God forgets sins. We remember them.

We know we deserve the cage. God loves us too much to care.

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

That means there are still snowflakes to chase and garages to run around in this world.

Put your faith in God, accept Jesus, and ask the Holy Spirit to make His home in your heart. And, if you think chasing snow is fun, wait till you finally transition from being marginally alive here to fully alive with God!

It’s OK

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”   Joshua 1:9

I’m sitting here in my office, looking out the window at the sunshine. I just had a good night’s sleep in a comfy bed next to my wife.  Food’s no problem…not at my weight.

“NORM! Whatcha up to?”

“My perfect weight if I was 6 foot 5.” From Cheers.

I have a good job, company car, two beautiful daughters, and a wonderful wife.

I shouldn’t have any of it. Like a lot of people, I suppose, I did stupid things when I was younger.  I doubt I even realize all of them.  My life could’ve taken a drastic turn anywhere along the way.  God has, for whatever reason, spared me the worst consequences of conscious decisions and just sheer stupidity.

He’s literally preserved my life four times when, by all rights, I should be dead. I get my physical makeup from The Shallow End of the Gene Pool.  Heart attack, double bypass, gangrene, and a really bad allergic reaction.  To my heart medicine.  Oh, the irony!

Why am I still alive? I don’t know, specifically.  I can only assume God isn’t done with me yet.  Maybe there are a whole string of little things He wants me to do before my dirt nap.  Maybe there’s one, big, glorious homerun ball to smash over the fence for Him.  I’d like that, but I’m thinking it’s more of the string of little things.

I mean, look at the size of my blog, right? But I’m still motivated to write, so I figure I’m still doing something He wants me to do.

I could bemoan my less than stellar physique, especially considering how healthy and strong I was right up to my bypass surgery. I could, and have been pretty upset…ok, bitter…about layoffs and foreclosure.  I’m still here, though, with a nice house, the aforementioned job, etc.

Like many people, I’ve had to wade through a fair amount of ka-ka to get here, and there’s no assurance there won’t be more. But here’s the thing –

It’s OK, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

This is Satan’s world. Everything in it is riddled with sin.  Life is terminal.  We start dying the moment we’re born.  But –

It’s OK, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

So I keep going, pieces falling off as I continue to rattle and clank down the road like the worst beater car you’ve ever seen. But –

It’s OK, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

The end of your body isn’t the end of your life when you walk with God and have Jesus in your heart. Death on earth is when the good times start.  Oh, I grant you some people go ugly, some in their sleep.  I’ve been close, and it can be painful.  But, having been that close to the grave four different times in four different ways, I know it’s not as bad as I’ve imagined before.  Not fun, but doable.

When my time comes, I’ll face it as best I can. How well will I actually do?  Can’t say.  But I can tell you this –

It’ll be OK, for the Lord, my God is with me wherever I go.

When your trials come, try to relax. Be one with Jesus and the Father.  Open your heart to the Holy Spirit.  When you feel yourself slipping away from this earth and this body just remember –

It’s OK, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Homeward Bound

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.   Ephesians 6:12

I’ve seen some pretty spectacular places. I’ve driven through the heart of the Smoky Mountains and even took the Dragon’s Tail a couple times (Google it).  I grew up near Lake Erie and spent a fair amount of time in those waters.  I’ve driven through the beautiful desolation of west Texas and its panhandle.  My dad took my sister and I to watch a meteor shower with his astronomy club when we were young.

It’s a beautiful, natural world we live, considering that it’s lost something since the Fall of Adam and Eve. I can only imagine what it was before.  I can only imagine what awaits us!  If the Milky Way, the Alps, or the Grand Canyon takes your breath away, imagine how it will all look in a sinless, pristine state.

I had a friend who had a near death experience. His story was much like many other.  What he saw was so much more real than being here on earth!  Colors were brighter and music sweeter.

The world I see now has beauty, but things always get ruined by people. Control is a myth.  Governments and nation states are simply an accepted construct in our society.  Most places on earth have no such notions.  Europe and the USA are exceptions.  Are there any truly government controlled countries south of Texas?  Not when you consider the dangers of traveling across that border.

Afghanistan, Syria, and pick almost any “country” in Africa; they are more tribal than governmental.

Even in America government control is not what I was taught from an early age. Police are not necessarily your friends, the government is not necessarily here to help you, and our best chance of a happy life is, to quote a friend, fly above the weeds and below the radar insofar as getting noticed by the government goes.

Our true home awaits us. Earth has too much sin, too much fighting, too much disappointment.  We can barely deal with each other at times.  The spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places are too much for us. Just as in Daniel, God’s angels wage war all around us, doing their best to protect us.  This is, however, Satan’s place and time.  We all have a rough go here.

My heart is homeward bound. I no longer fear death.  I’ve been very close 3 times now; none were fun, but none were the horror I’ve imagined.  I know how my dear friend Dale Sheply died; his was a good leaving.  With so much danger and sin surrounding, prowling after us, I look forward to that time of transition from being alive to being ALIVE!

We’ll have the mansions Jesus left to prepare for us, and God Himself will be our light; no sun will be needed. Angels will sing, the saints will praise God, and we will walk in a new Earth.

In the meantime, I want to let others know that they can look forward to this too. I’d rather the people I know are there with me.  I’d want to see all of the smiling faces I know now be there smiling at me still.  So I try.  I try to set an example, I try to talk, I try to somehow let them all know there is a way to secure their future in that beautiful place with God.

My most earnest prayer is that we are all homeward bound!

Live Fearlessly!

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.    1 John 4:18 [Full Chapter]

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.    Luke 12:7

I recently found it necessary to verbally slap a friend upside her pretty, little head. You see, she’s living in fear.  Mind you, she’s done some very brave things, battled some very real demons, but she’s gone timid as of late, and, well, it has to do with relationships and age.  That’s where we all fall down, right?

We all get scared when it comes to putting ourselves out there, whether it’s looking for love or a job. Job interviews give us the cold sweats.  Finding ourselves in the vicinity of a cute guy or girls give us a case of the heminah-heminahs.

That’s not how God intends us to live! Paul’s letter to Philemon is about doing the right things in life, both as regards God and people:

Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.    Philemon 1:21

Confidence! That’s how we need to live; confidently, fearlessly!

Job interviews: do you realize you are in the driver’s seat? The person interviewing you gets paid to make a tough, very expensive decision in hiring someone.  But your perfect love can cast out fear!  You are there to help that person!  Be nice, be sympathetic, be helpful.  Don’t be fearful!  And remember you are interviewing them too!  You BOTH need to make a good decision.  If the interviewer isn’t your cup of tea, you might not want to work for him or her.  Taking the job, even if offered, might be a bad idea!

Perfect love casts out fear. Love the other person, recognize their situation, and be the job candidate God would want you to be – your very best self!

Relationships. Hoo boy!  Here we go.  Do you understand that most everyone is just as afraid and nervous as you?  Are you checking someone out?  Maybe they are checking you out too.  But both scared, little mice scurry along, too afraid to take a chance.

OK, you might make a fool of yourself. It can happen.  But you’ll never see that person again anyway, so who really cares?

They might be nice and still say no, and that’s OK.

They might say yes. From there, maybe things will work out, maybe not.

Example: MANY years ago I had a gym membership and swam a one mile workout in the lap pool. Adjacent to that was a hot tub.  So I’d do my mile and then relax in the tub.  Once evening a nice young lady was in there too.  We chatted.  No ring.  I asked her out.  Well, she was married.  The ring was off so she wouldn’t lose it.  I could’ve felt foolish, but why?  I apologized.  She said no need.  Before she left, she thanked me!  It was nice to know she was attractive!

Love casts out fear. I was nice.  She was nice.  We both won that evening.  She got a great compliment.  I got a no that would’ve been a yes if she was single.  We both went home feeling good.

Believe it or not, I did that one or two other times too. Did I feel foolish?  Aw, heck no!  It was kinda funny every time, and she always left feeling desirable.

Love doesn’t have to be romantic and sexy. Love can be as simple as being nice to people.  It can be as simple as, “Hey, I’m looking for someone, and you seem nice.  How about we spend some time?”  For all you know, they wish they had the courage to do that.

Live fearlessly, my friends! Above are merely two examples to get you to a bigger idea – have confidence.  If you don’t’ have it, act like it.  The mind tends to follow the body.  Feeling down?  Smile.  Keep smiling.  Your mood will improve.

In other words – Fake It Till You Make It! Go forward with God’s peace in you.  Act like He’s got your back, because He does.  If you stumble, He’ll  help you back up.  You will find more success than failure!

Broken In

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.   Psalm 119:105

That has a comfy sort of feel to it, doesn’t it? Think slippers.  Favorite baseball hat.  College sweatshirt.

I had that feeling this morning as I opened my poor, old…I mean broken in bible.  I had bought a smaller, newer one last year to travel with, because my long-time friend is getting pretty…broken in.

The print isn’t too small. It seems to just willingly open to where I want to go.  Psalm 119?  All I have to do is spot the right place to crack it open, and I’m pretty close.  The same with almost any other part of it.

Between my broken in bible, which dates back before 1980, and the verse above I have a picture in my mind of a traveler at night, walking through a forest with a hooded cape. He holds an old-style lantern in front of him by the looped handle on top.  There is darkness all around, but the lamp gives enough light to keep him from stumbling over anything in his path.  Together, they are a like a gliding snow globe, floating through the night.

The past is dark behind him as memories shift, alter; maybe even disappear. The future is even darker.  He can anticipate when he sees the path start to bend as the light feathers it into view.  He cannot know whether there is a fallen tree, a washout, or smooth track ahead, but continues in the light he has.

I’m getting broken in also. The bible verses come to mind easier than in previous years, even if I have trouble finding them in my paged friend.  God’s lessons, both Biblical and practical, continue to soften the rough edges, loosen the stiffness of habit and pride, making me more and more of what He had intended for me since Adam and Eve.  Whether I always like it or not.

Getting broken in works both ways when it comes to a good bible and its owner.

My Day Job

So, because he (Paul) was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers.    Acts 18:3

Here I am, back on the road.  The New Year has officially started, and the travelling part ofhot-car my job has resumed.  That means less hours to write and keep up with my blog.  I certainly wish that I didn’t have to spend so much time on the road and could replace it with something more…important; like writing posts that try to help spread the Gospel, to contribute something, anything to that message.

Then I remembered that St. Paul was a tent-maker by trade. That was his day job, which allowed him his first pursuit, being a Pharisee, and later on his second calling, Apostle for Jesus.

I wonder how many times he might have resented having to make tents, if ever. His passion for the Gospel certainly should have had him chomping at the bit to be “All Jesus, All the Time!”

I certainly would like to be able to be “All Jesus, All the Time,” but one does need to make a living. Paul even used his vocation as an example to others in humility.  He made the point at least once that he could ask for their support with the authority of his apostleship, but he wanted no back door whispers.  He wanted others to never allow pride to interfere with their own lives and witness to the Gospel.

There were those who did serve as organizers of the gifts given to the early church on a full time basis and lived off the offerings given. Nothing wrong with that.  The Apostles themselves arranged that system.

But Paul wanted to give no on any reason to call his preaching into question. He wanted to set an example to those who might succumb to the temptation of laziness.

I’m also reminded of the curse of sin that became Adam’s lot from Genesis 3:

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. weeds18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread

I don’t have thistles, but I certainly have barriers and trials in my job, as do we all.

Clearly, I better not quit my day job. Partly, this is my share in Adam’s curse.  Clearly, my witness is worthless if I lazily mooch off others.  Plus, I’ve witnessed to plenty of people in my travels, whether restaurant workers, hotel staff, or a captive audience in the seat next to me on a flight.

With the right attitude, the right approach, our day job IS our Gospel job!

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.    John 14:2

I’m having trouble sleeping tonight. I often lay on the couch and drift off with a movie buzzing softly in the background.  Tonight I’m in my office on the computer watching YouTube videos.  I’ve come across Gordon Lightfoot videos; original recordings from the 70’s with collages of pictures and live performances as late as 2016.  He’s 78 now and still giving concerts.

Right now All the Lovely Ladies is playing, a bittersweet ballad. Earlier was Don Quixote, The House You Live In, and what is arguably his greatest song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Fitz went down in a winter storm in Lake Superior in the 70’s. Lightfoot was a fan of the Great Lakes and sailing.  He wrote the ballad for the Fitz just for himself, really.  At six minutes, he knew it was too long to ever get radio play, but it was such a great song it forced its way onto the airwaves and into the culture.

I saw the Edmund Fitzgerald tour when he came to Toledo, OH. It was a very special night.  The Fitz’s captain was from Toledo, and his family were Lightfoot’s special guests that night.

You could hear the “wind in the wire make a tattletale sound” on the slide guitar and the drums breaking “waves over the railing.”

I see pictures of the powerful musician and balladeer from then and the slight man the years have made. I’m reminded of my own time of strength and the wear of four decades since.

I get this way sometimes; maudlin, teary, wishing I had one more shot at my prime, to do something better with it perhaps. I’m told it’s a common thing for bypass patients to come to easy tears.  Indulge me…it’s after midnight.  I’m feeling like the ol’ Fitz on the bottom of Lake Superior, split and unable to float.

What hope do I have now that I’m much closer to death than I was when Gordon mourned The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in Toledo over 40 years ago?

Jesus. I know that when this body finally calls it quits, when the pump can no longer be repaired, and the surgeons can’t pull one last life-saving procedure out of the operating theatre…I will be young again.  I’ll be clothed with my perfect body and moving into the mansion Jesus promised to prepare for all of us.  Tonight’s tears of memory and regrets are turning to tears of hope and longing.

Someday in the ever closer future, there will be one more period of tears. Tears of joy!

If you’ve never really heard Gordon Lightfoot’s ballads, try the titles I mentioned at the top for starters.  If you’re wondering what you’re going to do when your body’s time ends, whether from age or accident, call out to Jesus.  He’s always around, listening for anyone who wants to talk.