Along the River

the first of a string of cold nights
and mild days are a welcome
change

I am not outside at my usual
time so the stillness and quiet
are very refreshing

I can hear the drone of a lawn
being cut probably at the church
and a siren far away

add a loud bird and I think it may
be stereo another lawn being
cut on the other distant side of me

my tea went from sipping hot to
cool enough to gulp if I want to
with less than half a cup left

do you know what is missing
my steno pad as I opted to bring
my laptop outside for the first

time so my Namiki fountain pen
already a relic by age alone is now
a sure sign of my past

thirty-five years ago or so on a
day like today I’d walk from my
Kaserne to a bench along the

Nahe River to sit and fill a
notebook with all the woe is
me of the day and to pray

or cry

no cell phones and no PCs really
just a few word processors at
work using large CP/M disks and

floppies I think
about one sip of cold tea to go

you know the same God who
used to hear my cries then
as I looked out over the river

hears me now

I for one am glad that some
things don’t change and God
is one of those things

my father God has never
forgotten one of my tears as
we sat along the river

Who I Was

It is a warm seventy-five for
a day in February, with a
refreshing gust of wind from
time to time.

One street over, the same
dog that barked its head off
yesterday is doing it today.

I’d guess that it was the same
train that went through with
a different engineer because

the horn blasts were new. It
was two shorts and long. Rest
and repeat. Rest and repeat.

What came next I couldn’t see.
It came and went too fast to go
take a look. The sound of a

military jet was so ear breaking
awesome, I was ready to reenlist
on the spot!

For me, twenty years in the army
flashed by with the sound of the
jet. That dog is still barking.

Daily I am faced with the reality
that I can no longer do what I
loved to do so long ago and not
so long ago.

I must be content with the things
I can do now. As I have gotten
older I rather do more, not less.

The Lord knows our limitations,
but we serve a God who shows us
his unlimited grace.

I trust God will open yet another
door I now cannot see. The dog is
tiring. I, too, may be tired.

But I do not tire of your grace or
your love for me. Age has stepped
in but my time is in your hands.

By your unending grace, I can serve
you as I am now because you are
the God who made me who I was

with the knowledge of who I was
to become.

On Loan

I could not imagine what it was like
living without running water until
the other day when the pipes froze.

Then the rain came. The icicles on
every house in town started to melt
and running water returned.

But it was my recent tooth extraction
that reminded me how frail humankind
is. True, we are wonderfully and

fearfully made, but fragile. As I was
listening to the whir of the drill and
occasional cracking sounds, I was also

reminded I was never destined to be a
dentist. Not my gift. You see, whether
or not you believe in God, He is the

giver of gifts. All gifts. For example:

Two farmers are neighbors. One does
not believe in God; and the other does
believe in God. But God gives to both.

God provides rain for both of them.

Hence, it is apparent that my new
dentist and his staff are amazing and
love what they do. So, my dear reader,

be thankful for the skills and the gifts
you have. No matter how hard you
worked to learn to do what you do and

love to do, use your gifts well, because
God delights in excellence as they are
His gifts. On loan to us for a season.

Into the Void

a lovely summer day in the middle
of winter and before a deep freeze
hits us this coming weekend

my thoughts are far from here
preoccupied with dreams
unrealized hopes unfulfilled

new thoughts and dreams tip my
world off of its axis but the Lord
has brought me through worse

the sound of a train whistle brings
me back to the here and now as
my thoughts chug forward

when my spiritual discernment
is at an all-time low God’s
unfailing love spills into the void

Return to Normal

I was sitting outback thinking about things. One of the things I thought about was the concept or yearning of humankind to have a strong desire to “return to normal.” That is when it hit me and I realized that to return to normal is not possible.

The hope that our lives or the world will return to normal is false hope and misplaced faith.

Ever since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, original sin made it impossible to return to normal—to be holy and walk with God.

Before Adam and Eve fell from grace and sinned, their relationship with Almighty God was the eternal standard for normal. Humankind created in the image of God was holy and walked with God, in other words, Adam and Eve were in constant fellowship with God which can only happen in the absence of sin because God is Holy. Holy is God’s character. Holy is who or what he is. So, that which is holy and sin cannot occupy the same space.

After Satan deceived Eve and her husband in the Garden of Eden, they sinned by not obeying God, but rather by believing Satan’s lie that they too could be like God, meaning they could be God if they ate from the tree of Good and Evil which God prohibited them to do.

From that point in time to the present day all humanity inherits the condition of sin and at birth is not holy and separated from God. The sin condition in humankind prohibits a relationship with God because God is without sin. Remember what I said? Here is an example. Remember Moses and the Burning Bush?

As Moses approached the Burning Bush that was not being consumed by the fire, he heard God’s voice. God told Moses to take of his sandals because he was standing on Holy Ground. The sandals represent all that is not holy, all that is man-made—that which is sin and cannot be one with God.

Ever since the Fall of Man, sin made it impossible for Adam and Eve to return to normal—to be Holy and walk with God—in a full close loving relationship with God.

A relationship with God is deeper and more personal than one can imagine. God (the Father), Jesus (the Son), and the Holy Spirit are described as God in three persons, the Trinity and all three of them were present in the Creation of the World. For all things were created by Him (Jesus) and for Him (Jesus).

You might say we are wired to seek God and a way to return to normal. God made humankind that way. The good news is that God (the Holy, Almighty one) planned to bring humankind back into relationship with himself after Satan (the Bad, the Evil one) deceived Adam and Eve.

The bad news is Satan. He is known as the Prince and Power of the Air and creates havoc on earth against God and against all who believe in God.

While God made a way for humankind to return to Him and be with Him forever (the eternal view), Satan has promoted a “return to normal” (his world view) in every generation to keep humankind in sin and separated from God which ends in death for humankind, not eternal life with God.

You see, with Satan’s world view, a “return to normal” is never a constant. Rather, Satan directs changes constantly, like shifting sand, to move the world and humanity in the direction he wants it to go, e.g., antichrist, to Hell, etc. These things are part of the “spiritual warfare” that the Apostle Paul spoke of late in the first century.

The Apostle Paul also explained simply how one might “return to normal” and walk with God by faith, as follows:

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead [after Jesus died on the cross for all sin], you will be saved [receive the gift of eternal life with God]. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew or Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:8-13 ESV; text in brackets here are mine.)

My hope for you, dear reader, and for all of humankind, as we move into the new year (with COVID so it seems) is this:

Do not hope to “return to normal” before COVID. It is impossible. There is true north and there is true normal. Return to normal by returning to God by saying the words of Paul above. Confess in the quiet of your own heart to God and you will return to normal and be with God for all eternity.

For those of us who believe in God, our return to normal is always in front of us not behind us.

God bless and Happy New Year.