Monday, January 07, 2013

Great sorrow this week, but looking for joy

1/7/13 Monday
          This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice in it and be glad. This quote is found in Psalm 118. There are days that I have great difficulty rejoicing and being glad. There are days when I wonder where God is and how it is He had made that particular day because of the things that happen. But I must force my thoughts to not dwell on these things and work hard to find positive things to rejoice about. Depression has reared its head again, brought on by many things. The principle catalyst of this depression has been that our puppy was run over and died.

          Wednesday I let the dogs out as soon as it was daylight, as we usually do. 20 minutes later I went out to start Cherie’s car so it will warm up and called for the dogs as always, to insure they are all here and ok. They all ran up except Maisey. So I called for Maisey again and walked to the back, figuring she had gone exploring further back as she sometimes did. Then I saw her. She was on the ridge next to the dirt road that leads to the barns of our neighbor farmer. She was struggling to drag herself forward with just her front paws, wagging her tail barely as she tried to answer my call. My heart sank. I ran to her and could tell something was very wrong so picked her up and carried her to the house. Calling Cherie I said “There’s something wrong with Maisey” and laid her on our bed.

          We could find no marks other than a skinned area on her leg. We petted and comforted her as I desperately made calls to our vet. We left a message because the vet doesn’t open till 8:30. She called us and we rushed Maisey to her office. Maisey’s condition worsened. Cherie called her work to say she would not be in and went with me. Maisey passed just as we laid her on the vet’s examination table. Our hearts broke.

     We love our pets deeply and they provide so much joy and encouragement each day. As Cherie said “Maisey was the life of the party”, always full of energy and always demanding pets and love. She had stolen our hearts shortly after we brought her home from the widow we help. She woke us up every morning with lots of enthusiastic kisses, she greeted us with equal enthusiasm. How this hurts to even write about it.

          I had prayed that God would protect this sweet animal for our hearts have been broken many times now as we lost the others, but that seemed to not do any good. I’ve asked God many times now “Why?” but I ask that about much of what we see in this world.

What stirs my anger is that the farmer, who ran Maisey over as he drove to his barn, did not bother to stop, did not bother to honk his horn or get our attention to say “your dog got run over”. I understand that Maisey probably ran out in front of his truck and suspect there was nothing he could do, or at least hope so. What saddens me is the total lack of decency, of any compassion or care for their neighbor. The cold heart and callousness disturb me for I always hope for others to behave in ways they could be proud of. Was it just cowardice that caused them to keep on driving? Or did they just not care? I don’t know. I stood on the road as they left for lunch, waved to them wondering if they would be men enough to at least stop and say anything. They kept going. I guess that as long as I hope for the best I will find myself often disappointed with others.
Good bye Maisey, we loved you well and you loved us back.

But we now have a hole in our hearts. It will fade in time as so many other hurts have, but they will always be there and there will always be reminders. This adds to the other difficulties of life out here on the farm and makes it harder for my wife to fight of the despair she wrestles with as we struggle to get anywhere. We dream of success and we dream of acceptance in this small town but those dreams seem impossibly far away. It is hard to keep going some days, hard to even want to try, for it seems like we are all alone out here. We have some good friends in Midland but that seems quite a distance away at times.
In the midst of all this I have decided to go out and ask for some help. It’s time to do something and there are doors opening I dearly want to go through. The old store on the highway is for sale. I knew the first day I saw it years ago that it is a goldmine waiting to happen. Right at the exit of the interstate it is a prime piece of real estate. Unfortunately we have never established credit since we got married, frankly were not able to due to bankruptcies and my disabilities that made getting work hard.

It is frustrating to sit on 75 acres of good farm land but not have the means to farm it. It’s frustrating to see so many things that can be done to earn a good honest income and get on our feet but have the rug pulled out from under us every step of the way. It’s frustrating in so many ways. We have had many help us out with immediate needs like transportation and we are eternally grateful for that, they are a good testimony of what Christians should do. But while we appreciate the fish what we really need is a fishing pole. It’s like the old Chinese proverb. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

          I don’t want a handout. I am looking for partners who will invest in us and with us. There is little question that we can make good money and earn them a good return on any investment. In the past we have had “friends” who turned out to be more interested in helping themselves than helping us. One couple, after looking into our oil well and mineral lease, brought a document for me to sign, saying “Just sign this and we will take care of things”. I read it despite his pressure to quickly sign it and it would have given them 75% of the royalties on our well and 100% authority regarding anything to do with the mineral rights. When I objected Steve said “But we are giving you 25% of the royalties” as if it were a fine gift based on their generosity, evidently hoping my brain damage was so severe or I was so stupid that I would not see through his deceit. When I refused they slammed the door on our relationship, turning bitter and mean.

          Another person was going to “help” but ended up pressuring me to sell some of our land. When I wouldn’t bow to that he had me call others, who also only wanted to buy my land. Trying to explain that I was not willing to sell my inheritance and that I desired to turn the land into an income producing property that would provide for us a long term income was like talking into the wind. Come to find out that was his main interest and I later learned that he was out buying land to develop, which is fine, but again his heart was on serving himself and it is clear that our wellbeing fell far behind his self-interest. That relationship is strained as well.

          We have had people throw up scriptures to explain why they didn’t want to get involved financially. It is always strange to me how people get the bible to say what they want. A simple “We don’t want to do that” would have been fine and very acceptable. But no, they have to make it a religious justification. Really? Do you want to go there? Because I am very aware of what the Bible says and for that matter what God’s opinion is on this. Money is more often than not where things get difficult when it comes to Christianity. Jesus had a lot to say about that subject, as does the rest of the Bible. "Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High” (Luke 6)

          This is hard for anyone to follow. Loving our enemies and those who mistreat us is tough, period. But Jesus practiced what He preached. As He was dying on the cross He said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Make note though that Jesus tells us to look forward, to that final day, when we all get our rewards in heaven. We don’t do these things for earthly rewards, but for eternal ones. It is hard to keep in mind that our time on earth is short and that when we stand before God on that final day what is really important becomes reality. “Treat others the way you want them to treat you” is a good basic standard, rule of thumb, we should use when it comes to decision making.

          Here is a story that many of us are familiar with. It is when the rich young man came to Jesus. How many times have we heard about that camel going through the eye of a needle? Quite a few I am sure. Jesus was purposely pointing out how we all tend to cling to our money. It is our security in many ways and security is always hard to surrender. This is found in Mark chapter 10.

          As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life ?"  And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good ? No one is good except God alone. "You know the commandments, 'DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'  And he said to Him, "Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up."  Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, "One thing you lack : go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven ; and come, follow Me."  But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.  And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God !"  The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God !  "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  They were even more astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved ?"  Looking at them, Jesus said, "With people it is impossible, but not with God ; for all things are possible with God."  Peter began to say to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You."  Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake,  but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions ; and in the age to come, eternal life.

          The key here is we should have our treasures in heaven. Again, we need to think eternally, to understand that our time here on earth is like our resume, our job application for heaven. Jesus said, or better yet, promised, that we will be rewarded HERE ON EARTH for what we surrender for God and the ultimate reward is eternal life. The world is watching us all the time. What we do is examined by others and what they think of God and those who wear the Christian label is based on what they see. Now we can’t do much about all the blatant bad stuff done by hypocrites but we can all be lights in the darkness and be shining examples of how it is supposed to be.

Comprehend, please, that Jesus is God and the one who will judge us on that final day. So what He says are the words of God and wisdom would say to take heed to them. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal ; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mathew 6)

Money is not bad. In fact God blesses many of us with wealth and health. It is when your love of money becomes stronger than your love and trust in God that what is good becomes bad. Greed is called idolatry several times in the Bible and an idol is simply that which you worship and place higher than God. Paul explained it this way in his letter to Timothy “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”

We have seen this in others many times in many ways. It’s that greed, that “I want this” which has caused many to falter or even fall from the faith. “Oh, I must be a good steward of what God gave me” I was told but the sad truth was the person saying this really was simply making an excuse and justifying greed and his desire to hang on to what he had. Much as the rich young ruler went away sad when Jesus suggested he sell what he had and give it away. Does Jesus want us all to sell all our possessions and give it away? I really don’t think so, but He does want us to make sure NOTHING is more important that God.

It’s perhaps easier for me to discuss this than others, because we don’t have much but also because I once had 3 companies with over 100 employees, that on paper was worth over a million bucks and I lost it all. Went from that to wandering homeless carrying all I owned in a garbage bag. And I died too. That makes the reality that we all must stand before God very substantial.
Do I want help to make me rich again? No. Would these plans bring wealth? Yes. I do very much want to provide for my wife and bring her some peace and comfort but I understand that with that comes a danger. It has been the pattern again and again in the Bible that when God’s people got fat and comfortable they would become proud, confident, and walk away from God into sin. I want to use all I have to bring as many to the Lord as possible, to bring life where there is death. Everything we build will glorify the Lord. We will provide jobs for those who need safe places to work, where there are fewer temptations and the things that bring death. We want the world to see what God can do and what His people can accomplish when they come together with the right mind. That’s what I want. Whatever I do, in word or deed, I want to do for the Glory of God. It should never be “look what I did” but “Look what God did”.

I cut some firewood yesterday from a dead tree that has been on the ground next to the service road going to Midland for as long as we remember. I hope the people who own it don’t mind. I suspect they would be grateful as it was in front of an abandoned building and they had to drag it away to make room. But we are running short of firewood and there are the coldest days of the year ahead.

That’s it for now. The truck is still at the mechanic’s shop and hasn’t moved in months. I stop by every chance I get and always hear “Tomorrow, I promise”. It broke down in July so that’s a lot of tomorrows. He was burglarized on new year’s day an they took all or most of his tools. Talked to him about God last week and will continue to pray for him.

There are things to do and I must get over this sadness and depression, kick myself in the butt and get moving. The diesel need to get inspected and to do that I must get a tire mounted that isn’t bald. I have one but it has a pin hole leak they won’t fix because it is almost on the sidewall. I’ll have them put it on and put stop leak in the tire. There is always something.

It was interesting to see the article on the front page of the Stanton paper showing the new RV park being put in on the abandoned golf course. He put 20 spots in and they were snapped up in a day with 150 calls for more spaces. So 60 or so more spots are being built. The builder is doing this to provide funds to rehabilitate the old golf course, that they estimate will require millions. There it is in clear black and white, that RV parks are good money but I can’t seem to get any interest in building one our land. Perhaps that will change as I aggressively seek investors. I can offer a tremendous return on investment for sure. If interested let me know. We already have some who said they would help but the more the better it will be.

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