Monthly Archives: February 2021

Washing the Dishes

Revelation 21:5:  And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

I don’t know how you handle the dishwashing opportunities at your house. Growing up, my mom took care of that and the cooking, at least until she got a job. Then she solicited our help in comforting tones: “if someone doesn’t help me with the dishes, I’m not going to let you eat.”

We didn’t believe her until we left the dishes for her to do one evening. The next day I came downstairs, expecting breakfast, but there were no plates at my brother’s or my place. She and my dad had their usual spread.

I protested, “It’s child abuse not to feed us.”

“It’ll be worse than that if you don’t help me.”

I thought, she has a point and so until I went to college Ron and I washed the dishes. When we got a dishwasher and had it easier, we still had to put the dirty dishes in. I even complained about that (I was nothing if not determined), but she re-invoked her declaration.

The point of this is that we are called to help each other with all manner of things, the most important being the necessity of spiritual growth. This begins when we are born and accelerates when we accept Jesus as our Savior. The one who washed the feet of the disciples also washes our souls when we come to him. Praise God for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and for the way we can grow, past death and beyond. Amen.

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Wheels within Wheels

Ezekiel 1:16: This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel.

I don’t know if you have a history with bicycles. I know I do, from the fat-tired woman’s bike my family found in the woods while takin a walk. I learned to ride with that bike. Then my parents bought me a three-speed English racer (it really was from England) and then I acquired a ten-speed with the paycheck from my first “real job.”

I still have that bike, although I haven’t ridden it for years after I had a close encounter with a fire hydrant. I wasn’t hurt badly, but it made me think about doing any more biking. I keep the bike in our shed and hadn’t had it out for years. As I was looking for some potting soil for Becky, I noticed the bike and I realized that my bike-riding days were over. My balance is not so good, and that’s important to riding.

I also realized that each bike was an improvement on the one before, and I had reached the pinnacle with each bike and my ability to ride. So, no longer riding is a natural step. I’m not sad about it: rather, I have a calm acceptance, confident that I won’t have to encounter any more fire hydrants on a bike. I’ll probably donate the ten-speed.

I was thinking that, just as I went through the different bikes, God calls us to grow spiritually and become a better believer. And I think this isn’t a smooth path, but one strewn with obstacles and problems. But God is with us through all of this, until we grow to meet him and, I think, continue to grow.

Praise God for growth, both spiritual and otherwise, and praise God for God’s presence and love. Jude noted that God “is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us before God’s glorious presence without fault and with great joy” and so he does, world without end, amen.

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Two Wheels and a Realization

I don’t know what your history has been with bicycles. I think most of us have ridden one at various times and places. When I was about five, our family found a fat tired model during a walk in the woods. We took it home and I thought we were set (although I wasn’t big enough to ride it) but my mom insisted that we call the police. We did, and they said they would take it to the station and try to find the owner. They tried to make it fit in the trunk of their cruiser, but quickly realized it wouldn’t fit. So they gave it to us, but even I could see the bike would fit easily. The police were making a gift to us, and I was very happy.

After we moved to Fairfax, I learned to ride the big bike by the time-honored method of having someone run alongside me and hold the bike up. One time my uncle (who lived with us them for a while) was running alongside me holding on to the seat when suddenly he let go, leaving me on my own. I circled the yard, imploring him to come back until I tired and navigated into one of my mom’s bushes. Everyone found this very funny, except for me. And my mom.

I eventually learned to ride that machine and graduated to what we called an “English racer,” a bike made in England (go figure) with three speeds. I thought that was cool, and make the bike even cooler by taking the fenders off. I thought this would reduce the weigh of the apparatus and increase my speed, but it didn’t.

When we moved to a farm in Loudoun County, I didn’t think that much about bikes, preferring to think about cars. I got my license and had driven a few years when I decided to save the earth and buy another bike in 1971 with my first paycheck from my first real job. It had ten speeds and was extremely fast and light.

I still have that bike in my shed. I don’t go into the shed much anymore, but I had occasion to get some African violet fertilizer and potting soil for Becky and when I opened the shed, there lay my ten speed. I hadn’t ridden it since I narrowly missed running into a fire hydrant one day. That memory made me realize that my cycling days are over unless I use a senior tricycle, but I’m too vain for that.

The point of all this is that changes come to us all, and we can resist them (generally to no avail) or we can accept them and move on. I’m okay with that except if the change involves an adult tricycle.

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Rocking and Porches

Isaiah 41:13: For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

I don’t know if you’ve ever spent some time rocking on a front porch of a house. I know I did. Until I was in high school, my family and I went to Tennessee to visit relatives. There were a lot of them, and they all came at one time or another to my maternal grandmother’s house, which lay hard by a railroad track. When we heard the whistle, the children ran to the track for the candy and loose change that the train men threw to us.

The property had a hen house, a pump for water, a barn and some cows, and more to the subject here, a front porch with a swing which would take four people at one time, as long as one of them didn’t weigh very much. We rocked and talked and sometimes fell asleep. I felt warm and cared for. In fact, rocking on the porch was my favorite activity there, even more than candy, and that’s saying something.

I was thinking that being with God is like rocking on the porch. There we were safe and comfortable, and we knew we were loved by all those around us.

The house has been sold now, but I sometimes think of it and I smile. We do not only have memories like that: we also have a God who gathers us in mighty arms and tells us we are loved, both now and forever.

Praise God for the care he brings and for the promise of salvation that comforts us and keeps us going through it all. Amen.

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Isaiah 40:28: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

I don’t know if you think about change that much. I know I do, and lately I’ve been thinking about telephones and how they’ve changed. Many of you probably remember rotary dial phones, party lines and making a long distance call.

Now if we’re forced to use a dial phone (and don’t ask me where you could find one), it seems to take forever for the dial to do its duty. If you were making an emergency call, someone might be suffering while you dialed. And of course, the dial phone was replaced by the push button model—it was much faster.

We were on a party line when I was a lad, and I enjoyed listening in on our neighbors and their business. Such ill-gotten pleasure did not last long when my parents found out what I was doing. They took away my phone privileges, which didn’t bother me since there was no one I wanted to call. Eavesdropping was better.

Making a long distance call was a big deal. For one thing, we had to call the operator who put the call through. Then we had to decide whether we wanted a usual call or to make it collect or even—gasp—person to person, a relatively expensive proposition. Not that it bothered me since there was no one I knew who could take a person to person call.

Obviously, all the changes to phone service came as a result of changes, though enhanced services sometimes could be a problem. We carry our phones with us, which means we are accessible until we turn it off. And then there is the curse of unsolicited calls, which means that I can renew the warranty on my seventeen-year-old car or improve my medical insurance or have my roof fixed. I don’t need any of those, but they keep calling.

The point of all this is that change is a mixed blessing. We need some of these improvements, while others we really don’t need. God, as we know, never changes, and God is good, staying with us throughout our lives and beyond. Praise God for God’s eternal presence, given to us while we were yet sinners. His gift of love means that God will always with us, now and forever. Amen.

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