Friday, March 09, 2012
If life was easy...
If life was easy it would be boring. It is the hard times, the difficulties that make us strong and resilient. Of course there are times we wish it wasn’t quite as hard and sure could use a break, a little vacation from difficulties so to speak. But such is life, always full of surprises and challenges. I see it has once again been a while since I wrote in this blog so there is lots of catching up to do.
Just had a call from my friend, Ricardo. We talked a bit about church and things. He apologized for not contacting me despite my sending text messages to keep in touch. I expressed that my concern was he had been told something by the gossips, who had been an integral part of us being kicked out of the church, that had caused him to withdraw from us. He assured me that this was not the case and said that the fact is no one at that church says a word about me, and that the church seems to be full of secrets no one talks about. How sad it makes me to hear this, and I understand how it must grieve God’s heart too. Jesus said that the world would know we were His followers by our love. That is love for each other and love for all those who do not know God. So what happens that would cause a church, a group of people, to grow so cold and uncaring, meantime so proud of their “spirituality”? I will quote Jesus as found in Mathew 13 "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: " 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'
There is a slow progressive falling away that happens when you purposely harden your heart to what you know God wants you to do. Sometimes it is not so slow but often it happens at such a gradual rate that it is unnoticed by the person. Kind of like the story about boiling a frog. If you turn the heat up slowly the frog’s body gets used to the heat and it is unaware of the danger it is in, until it is too late. In the quote from Isaiah Jesus made we see that the hearts have become calloused. That happens over time as you work. My wife has once again picked up her guitar and the process of building up callouses on her finger tips is a slow and sometimes painful one. A heart becomes calloused in the same way, a little more with each compromise. These people “Hardly hear” with their ears because they only listen to what they want to hear. And notice that they purposely “Close their eyes”, a conscious act of their will to refuse to see what is before them. Stubbornly stiffening their necks, apparently not caring or acknowledging that they are in open rebellion to God. I pray for them still, every day.
Meantime, back on the farm things are moving along. I ordered strawberry plants and finally got them all planted. There are two kinds so I planted them in different parts of the farm. The ones out farthest already got hit by critters, I assume rabbits, so I made cages for them. I think I may need to make hundreds of these little cages for future plantings for the rabbits did incredible damage last year, forcing me to replant hundreds of cantaloupe several times. They aren’t hard to make, just time consuming.
I’ve been working in Odessa, helping one of my Kairos brothers build a custom truck for the oil field. It pays decent but sure is hard on my body. I am dealing with lots of heavy steel but the hard part isn’t the weight as much as it is working at countertop level. Lifting comes with a price but for me washing dishes creates lots of pain from having to bend over just slightly. I am grateful for the pain medication for sure. The work is really enjoyable as it involves lots of creativity. Jim has built several of these trucks before so he knows what they will look like, but for me right now it is just lots of little (and some not so little) parts cut so size and welded together so it is fascinating to see how it is slowly coming together.
It is a 90 mile round trip for me to go to Jim’s shop and Tuesday, as I drove to work, something blew on the truck. I drove the last 20 miles slowly on the shoulder of the interstate with my flashers on as the diesel popped and shook. It is parked at Jim’s place still. We pulled the valve cover that is on the side of the V-8 diesel that is easy to get to, hoping that this was the side the problem was on as getting to the other side requires pulling the turbo charger and intake manifold. We got lucky. There are two shafts that the rocker arms rotate on and one of them had broken, bending a pushrod and thus preventing the valve from opening. I ordered the parts for around eighty bucks and should be able to easily install them when they arrive next Tuesday. What a relief because if there was a bad valve or perhaps one broke inside the engine, it would require pulling the head and all kinds of expensive work we don’t have money for.
This morning we woke up to no water. The well pump has been going downhill for some time now, getting weaker and producing all kinds of shredded pvc plastic that has plugged up all our faucets, shower head, and everything else. I walked the half mile to the well and confirmed it no longer worked. Nuts. Called the guy who put it in and he didn’t seem anxious to work on it, giving us the number of someone else. Called him and he said he was booked up for a day or three. Called a third company, that I was referred to for another project we are working on, that will require a well to be drilled, and he will send a crew out as soon as they get done with the job they were on. Fortunately I have some barrels with rain water in them so we can use buckets to flush the toilet with. But till it gets fixed there is no bathwater, dishwater, or anything else.
Fortunately we had some light rain so the strawberries are watered. It is cold as all get out here, with 40 to 60 mph wind gusts blowing the cold right through the house. I am out of firewood but had some old oak pallets stacked in the back I am cutting up and burning for some heat. Still we are wearing our coats inside the house. There are some who delight in any hardship we endure. The religious ones probably see this as some kind of justification for their actions, saying “See, God is punishing them”. I see hardship as opportunity for God to show His providence, how He provides for those He loves. Hardships also teach us to depend on God, to practice our faith.
So today I am stuck at home. We are down to one vehicle and Cherie drove that to her job. I would have gone with her and driven the truck back but it is getting a new master brake cylinder put on. Thought the brakes just needed bleeding but guess we weren’t going to be that lucky.
I can do some research on that other project while stuck here and perhaps make some more plant cages. It’s pretty cold but I have a good coat. There are some areas to prepare for planting and plenty to do around the farm. With me working in Odessa there has been little time left to prepare for this year’s growing season and there is lots of preparing to do. But bills have to be paid and Jim asked me to help him just when we needed the funds. I see this too as the hand of God, providing just what we need when we need it.
Kairos prison ministry is gearing up for another 4 day event at the Fort Stockton prison as well as one at the prison in Lamesa. Doing two of these events together is quite taxing on both our time and resources. As always my heart goes out to those in need. We are surrounded by all sorts of needs, and I desperately want to help all we come in contact with, but am unable to. We know people who are wealthy and successful, yet so unfulfilled in life. We know those who are on the opposite side of the spectrum, who live on the “other side of the tracks” and not considered “acceptable” by some, who deem themselves better than others. All of them have the same basic need, and that is to know God, to truly believe in Him and submit their will to His. Rich and poor are all in the same boat, with the same answer available to them. God so loves the world, all of us, that He gave His only Son, so all who believe and turn away from what they know is wrong are forgiven totally. It’s a lifestyle change and brings with it a new life. All the old stuff passes away and all things become new.