The Meanderings of a Follower

“My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.”

                                                       Psalm 63:8

 The King James Version says, “my soul follows hard after thee.”  Some days I follow hard.  Some days I… meander.  I wander about a bit.  I am easily distracted by whatever is occupying my day.  I don’t take the most direct route in following my Savior.  Thankfully, I don’t have to do this Christian life thing on my own; that verse concludes with, “Your right hand holds me up.”

Whenever I’m not necessarily “following hard,” whenever I’m meandering God takes the initiative to pull me along.  He meets where I am and shows me wonderful glimpses of Himself wherever I happen to be.

So, in this blog, my intent is to share with you some of the discoveries I make about our magnificent God along the way.  I’m calling this blog:  The Meanderings of a Follower.

Theology from the ……….dog?

We have a Chiweenie (half Dachshund, half Chihuahua. Yes. They intentionally breed them.) His name is Dax, and He has quite stolen our hearts.

He’s a smart dog. You can’t say “car ride” or “go for a walk” without him running back and forth between you and the door. If you don’t move quickly enough for his liking (after several runs to the door and back,) he stops and looks up at you as if to say, “but, you said…” (His eye markings make his face very expressive.)

However….. He can be a stinker. He sometimes willfully disobeys. We have trained him so that we can let him out the back door and he stays in the back yard. We use a stake and tether to reinforce that lesson. If he ever ventures into the neighbor’s yard (usually because the geese have waddled up from the pond,) we put him on the leash when he goes out, for a couple of days.

One day he had been out back, and no one paid any attention to the fact that he hadn’t come back in. All of a sudden he came rushing in the door and began to bark frantically. He does that whenever someone comes to the door. I went to the door and sure enough a lady from down the street was there. She informed us that Dax had gone 2 doors down in the middle of the street. I politely thanked the neighbor and assured her that this behavior was not the norm.

After she left, I took Dax and decided, “Okay Buster, you’re getting a time-out.” I took him out back and reached for the cable. As I brought the latch to his collar ring he gave me another one of his faces.
“But, Daddy? Why? Don’t you love me anymore?”

My heart melted, but I hooked the latch anyway. I do love him, and I can’t bear the thought of him getting hurt. I walked away wondering how often I look into my heavenly Father’s eyes and cry, “Father, Why?,” only to have Him answer, “Because I love you.”


Fill ‘Er Up

Some weeks ago I made a confession in the Sunday morning service.  Once… about 18 years ago, I allowed myself to… run out of gasoline… with my (then two year old) son Alex in the truck.  If you want to hear that story, you will need to listen to the message recording.  The point here is that I’m guilty. I was an irresponsible parent. I ran out of gas.  I promised myself and my toddler son, whom I carried down the shoulder of the interstate, that it would never happen again.  I am happy to report that I have kept that promise.

Alex is twelve years older than his little brother, Josiah.

Josiah has never experienced the misfortune of his father running out of gas. Josiah has never been afraid of the cars whizzing past him just a few yards away.


Yet, it is Josiah who constantly asks me, “Do we have enough gas, Dad?”

He will stealthily unbuckle his seatbelt, lean forward in his seat and look over my shoulder to get a glimpse of the gas gauge. “Are you going to get gas today or tomorrow, Dad?”

“Josiah, we have half a tank. I will get gas in then next two or three days.” (A tank will last me seven to ten days.)  Sometimes I get annoyed.  Why doesn’t he trust me? I’m the adult; I take care of the gasoline.

“Josiah, trust me; I will take care of you.”

And then, it hits me.  Is this how God feels when I don’t trust Him?  I get anxious.  I worry.  Will he answer my prayer.  Is he paying attention to my situation? I try to lean over His shoulder to check the gas gauge.

Unlike me, God has never run out of gas.  If I can be trusted to get Josiah to school every morning, how much more can my heavenly father give good gifts to me?


Lessons From the Pool

Eight year old boys aren’t especially noted for self-control — especially where candy is involved.  This summer I had Josiah at swimming lessons and he was usually the only student in his group.  The last day of a two-week session is usually a “fun” day, and we had reached this “graduation” event.  As usual, Josiah was the only student, but he enjoyed the one-on-one attention from his instructor. As the session concluded, the guppies, and jellyfish, and dolphins, and sharks (names given to the various levels) plodded out of the water and began to towel-off.  Josiah was standing near an instructor who had a rather large group of younger children.

She was giving “dum-dum” suckers to each of her pupils. I could see it in his eyes; he desperately wanted one of those dum-dums.  Self-control is something we have been working on with Josiah, so, I watched.  She didn’t offer him one of the lollipops. (To be honest, it made me mad.)  Josiah held his tongue. So did I.  I helped him get ready and we left the pool.  When we got to the car, I asked him about it.

“Josiah, you saw that teacher giving suckers to her students, didn’t you?”
“Yes, Daddy.”
“You wanted one, didn’t you?”
“Yes, Daddy.”

I told him how proud I was of him for using his self-control, and that I was going to reward his behavior by getting him a treat way better than a silly, old, sucker. So, I took him to Steak ‘n Shake for a milkshake (I think as much to appease my offense as a parent having their child excluded, as to reinforce his good choice.)

I have to wonder, though, how many milkshakes have I missed out on, because I had to have the sucker.
“It’s not fair, God!”
“I want what they have!”
“Why can’t I have a sucker, now?”

Well, possibly, because there is a milkshake waiting in the wings.


Lessons from the Doctor’s office

I had a skin cancer removed from my temple this past spring. (Nothing serious, the doctor said that it should never give me any trouble again.) When the nurse was prepping me for the sutures, she informed me that the doctor would stitch an area larger than the incision.
Sure, fine.
Then he began to stitch, and stitch, and stitch, and…..stitch.
I thought to myself, “Geez, I’m going to look like Frankenstein’s monster, by the time he gets through.”
Eventually, he finished, and I decided that I now know what a quilt feels like.
Then the nurse began to bandage the sutures.
She bandaged, and bandaged, and bandaged, and …bandaged.
I changed my mind, “Frankenstein, nothing; I’m going to look like the Mummy.”
It certainly seemed like overkill. I obliged—going around for several days with my arms extended in my best mummy impersonation.
Today, it is very hard to detect that an incision was made at all. (My older son, Alex, is bummed. He thought a scar would be very cool.)
The doctor knew what he was doing. The suture line had to be long enough to keep the site from puckering.

Sometimes, God has to do surgery in our lives. I may be painful, appear unnecessary, seem excess. But, He knows what He is doing. He needs to cut the cancers out of our souls. And, many times, the healing process, is longer and more invasive than the surgery.
Fear not! When He is done, there won’t be any sign that there was ever a problem before.

More Theology from the Munchkin

“Til You are my one desire
Til You are my one true love
Til you are my breath, my everything
Lord please keep making me.”
We were singing this song at church a couple of weeks ago when Josiah (my 6 year old) taps on my side. “Daddy,when will God get tired of making us?”
I was glad that he was paying attention and wanted to process what he was hearing.  However, to be honest, I was slightly annoyed that he was distracting me from worship…’s a great song.
Where do I go?
“God doesn’t get tired.”?
“Just keeping singing,and we’ll talk about it later.”?
“When we see Jesus, we shall be like Him.”?
“God’s mercies are new every morning.”?
All this in about 2 seconds. Yet the decision really wasn’t that hard.
“Josiah, God loves you so much that He will always help you be the person He knows you can be.”
Josiah was satisfied with the answer and returned to worshipping.
I drove home from church that day feeling extremely grateful.
Thanks, Lord, for still making me.

The Finish Line

One week to go… until graduation.

In this blog I share quite a bit about my younger son, Josiah.  This morning, my mind is on my first born, Alex. In 9 days he will graduate from High School, and we are all soooo ready for it.  His mom and I know the great potential Alex has, and we have been his cheering section… All right, we pushed… Actually, some days, we get behind him, lodge our shoulders in his back and HEAVE. Some seniors are coasting toward graduation right now; not Alex.  He has 2 papers, 2 major tests, and THEN finals.  (Someone remind me why we loaded his last semester with such difficult classes.) He is so burned out on school; they call it senioritis.

He tells me, “Senioritis is a real thing, Dad, and I have a bad case.”

Terminal, I think.

Still, we cheer him on (read that: shove.) We were discussing what to put on his graduation cake.   I suggested, “How about, ‘Congratulations, Alex. You did it.’”

“What do you mean, ‘YOU did it’?” Teresa asked.  “WE did it,”

Some days it feels like it.  But, no, Alex read the books.  Alex took the tests.  Alex wrote the papers. Alex worked the math problems (whatever it is you do in Finite Math.)  Alex did it.  We cheered.  We are so very proud of the person he has become.  He has a love for God, and for people.  What more could we ask for; yet he gives us more.  He is intelligent, witty, thoughtful.  I guess that’s why we push so hard; he has so much in him, and we want to let it all out.

You know, you have a cheering section too. Hebrews chapter 12 says that we are surrounded by a crowd of spectators cheering us on to finish our race.  When you have those days when you’re tired of life, your own variety of “Senioritis,” listen carefully. They’re cheering, calling your name:  “I know this test is hard, but keep running; you’re almost to the finish line!  You can do it!” And you have a heavenly father, up there; He is so very proud of the person you’ve become.  He wants to spur you on to the greatest of what you have inside. He cheers…pushes…shoves us through the next lesson, the next test.  He knows you will succeed; He’s there to help.  So, buckle down, chin up, press forward.  There is such a prize waiting for you at the end.

You’re almost there, Alex. One more week.


More Theology from the Munchkin

It’s nice to know where you’re going in life. As I shared one Sunday in church, Josiah shared with me one day his vocational aspirations.  “Daddy,” he said.

“Yes, Josiah,” I answered.

“When I grow up, I want to be a ninja,”  (pause) “and work at Six Flags.”

“Daddy,” he asked, “how do you become a ninja?”

I guess the path to becoming a ride operator at Six Flags was evident to him.

I can just see the wonder in his mind’s eye as he envisioned these career choices in child-like amazement. The glory of helping all of mankind with your ninja skills; the thrill of getting to earn money while playing with roller coasters.

I could see his justification; I just couldn’t share it.  I guess my hopes for my six year old are more practical, more grand, and, yes, more lucrative. I can see so much more for him than he can see for himself at this point.

I began thinking, I wonder if my heavenly Father looks down at me and chuckles under his breath: “Oh Richard my plans are greater than yours.  They are more than you can ask, think, or imagine.”

All the while my imagination is captivated with ninjas and the Screamin’ Eagle.

Father, please let me see with your eyes.

Now, if only the 18 year old knew what he wanted to do.

Ordinary Day

I wish I could say that I woke-up to an amazing day.  A day filled with miracles and passion, but… I didn’t. Today… is an ordinary day.  I helped the family get out the door (my son forgot his backpack so I had to take it to him,) got myself out the door. The dog went to his crate by himself, so that was good.  Today is (so far) an ordinary day.  I shaved, showered, brushed my teeth, took my regimen of supplements… I prayed, but do you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t contemplate the deity of Christ.  It’s just not on my daily routine (you know, right after flossing.)  But as we are approaching Easter, it really should be.  The reality of “who Jesus is” should nudge and squish its way into our thoughts.  The fact of Jesus declaring himself the son of God is what propelled the religious leaders of His day to proclaim, “Crucify Him!”  If He isn’t “God incarnate,” very God come to earth as a man, then it doesn’t really matter who He is.  BUT, if He, as God, took the punishment for all the evil in my life, well then everything changes.  Each sunrise should cause me to envision Him as John did in the book of Revelation:  radiant, powerful, victorious over death, hell and the grave!  How did I ever get halfway through my day without seeing Him like this? I think, I think I’ll continue to see Him standing at the right hand of God, in all of His wonder all day.  If I’m smart, I’ll wake-up tomorrow morning the same way.

More Theology from the Munchkin

One day, during the morning commute, my son Josiah decided it was a good time to discuss the eternal attributes of our omnipotent God.

He started out, “Daddy.”

“Yes, Josiah.”

“God can do anything,” he announced.

“You’re right, He can.”

“God can do anything.  He could even squirt ketchup out of His ears, but He would never do that.”

You know, that kid was right.  God could squirt ketchup out of His ears, if he so desired.  However I agree with his assessment that God would forgo his ketchup squirting prerogative.

People sometimes doubt God’s existence, citing questions like, “Can God create a rock too big for Him to lift?”  Sometimes, adults need to just realize that “God would never do that.”

Can God create a rock too heavy for Himself to lift?  Please, that would be equivalent to squirting ketchup out of His ears.


Theology from the munchkin

3 years ago, during prayer, I found myself calling out  “I want you, Jesus.”  Immediately my thoughts were drawn to my (then) 3 year old son, Josiah.  Whenever Josiah felt separated from one of us and wanted us to hold him, he expressed it that same way:  “I want you Daddy.”  I began making comparisons between Josiah’s calling out to me, and my calling on Jesus.  When Josiah calls “I want you Daddy” the reality is that he had me all along.  He has my heart; he has my attention; he has my provision; he has me.  His need is to experience my love for him.  When I can, I envelope his little body in my arms and squeeze him so tightly he feels he might burst.  I want him to know my love.  However, sometimes (like when I’m driving and he’s in his carseat,) I can’t express my love to him physically. At those times I reassure him verbally, “I want you, too, Josiah.”  It’s not a hug, it can’t be felt, but it is no less valid, no less real. Yet, he usually is not satisfied with my reassurance, and reasserts, “I want you Daddy.”  Maybe…maybe I’m a lot like a three year old.  I sense the need to be reassured that I am loved and accepted.  God often wraps me in His eternal arms and squeezes me so powerfully I feel I might burst.  But other times, when I don’t sense His arms, I can still know His love because of His Word spoken to me.  I must be able to pick up the Bible and find his love expressed to me in His Words. Still, a bear hug is good.