The Bible tells us some things about Heaven but not too many. It certainly doesn't get into all the things we'll be doing for all of eternity. Sure, we'll sing and worship, but what about when we're not doing that?
While I can't guarantee exactly what you'll be doing in Heaven, I do think we may as well assume that we can do whatever we want. Feel free to stretch your imagination to its limit. This isn't your everyday trip planner we're talking about here. This is God. One thing I think we can assume about Heaven is that *we won't be disappointed*. Now, if you stretch your imagination to its limit, won't you be disappointed if you're told, "I'm sorry; you can't do that here...(not even in Heaven??)"
Recall again, this is God we're talking about. So, if you don't get to do the most amazing things that you imagine, guess what? God must have even better ideas! It wouldn't be so surprising after all, now would it? Recall what Ephesians 3:20 says about God. "...Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..."
That being said, feel free to imagine doing whatever you'd like in Heaven. Sure, you may never do it, but if not, that just means that you're doing even more amazing things for all eternity.
So throw all the laws of physics, space, and time out the window and begin to imagine a miniscule portion of all that Heaven can be.
How about being able to go to any place and time? You could witness all of history firsthand. You could watch the Bible heroes live out their stories. Watch Noah build the ark. See Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt. David's battle with Goliath. The birth of Jesus. Jesus' ministry, death, and resurrection. Watch the apostles spread the gospel...
What could you do with a sport? Play as long as you want without getting tired? Simulate your earthly body's stamina...until you decide you want to "reset"? Try someone else's stamina or skill level for yourself? A professional athlete's? Anyone who ever lived? Play as a hulking 300 pound muscleman? As a 5 year old girl? Never go after your ball (unless you want to)...have it reappear in your hand?
Relive the best times of your life? Live times of other people's lives? Be any age you want? Look like whoever or *whatever* you want (and still have everyone recognize you!)?
Impressed by Heaven yet? These are just my ideas. God is the one who's designing the place, and He's able to do immeasurably more than all I imagine...
I saw him sitting in his door,
Trembling as old men do;
His house was old; his barn was old,
And yet his eyes seemed new.
His eyes had seen three times my years
And kept a twinkle still,
Though they had looked at birth and death
And three graves on a hill.
"I will sit down with you," I said,
"And you will make me wise;
Tell me how you have kept the joy
Still burning in your eyes."
Then like an old-time orator
Impressively he rose;
"I make the most of all that comes,
The least of all that goes."
The jingling rhythm of his words
Echoes as old songs do,
Yet this had kept his eyes alight
Till he was ninety-two.
I just read "Woman Seeking Man"
advice on marriage.
I would like to offer my advice.
Keeping this simple, I have six children.
The first three married in normal style, the girls decided who
they wanted to marry and then asked me to attend the wedding,
or asked if I will agree with the choice.
The second three all asked God to take care of the arrangements.
Each of the first three are divorced or separated.
Each of the second three are in fine shape.
Freddy and the Lord stood by to observe a baseball game. The Lord's team was playing Satan's team.
The Lord's team was at bat, the score was tied zero to zero, and it was the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs. They continued to watch as a batter stepped up to the plate named "Love."
Love swung at the first pitch and hit a single, because "Love never fails."
The next batter was named Faith, who also got a single because Faith works with Love.
The next batter up was named Godly Wisdom. Satan wound up and threw the first pitch.
Godly Wisdom looked it over and let it pass: ball one. Three more pitches and Godly Wisdom walked because he never swings at what Satan throws.
The bases were now loaded. The Lord then turned to Freddy and told him He was now going to bring in His starplayer. Up to the plate stepped Grace. Freddy said, "He sure doesn't look like much!"
Satan's whole team relaxed when they saw Grace. Thinking he there was no way he could lose, Satan wound up and fired his first pitch. To the shock of everyone, Grace hit the ball harder than anyone had ever seen! However, Satan was not worried; his center fielder let very few get by.
He went up for the ball, but it went right through his glove, hit him on the head and sent him crashing on the ground; the roaring crowds went wild as the ball continued over the fence for a home run!
The Lord's team won!
The Lord then asked Freddy if he knew why Love, Faith, and Godly Wisdom could get on base but couldn't win the game. Freddy answered that he didn't know why.
The Lord explained, "If your love, faith, and wisdom had won the game, you would think you had done it by yourself. Love, Faith, and Wisdom will get you on base, but only My Grace can get you Home.
"For by Grace are you saved, it is a gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly." Psalm 84:11
After living what I felt was a "decent" life, my time on earth came to the end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a court house.
The doors opened, and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table. As I looked around, I saw the "prosecutor."
He was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen. I sat down and looked to my left and there sat My Attorney, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed so familiar to me; I felt I knew Him.
The corner door flew open and there appeared the Judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as He moved across the room. I couldn't take my eyes off of Him. As He took His seat behind the bench, He said, "Let us begin."
The prosecutor rose and said, "My name is Satan, and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell."
He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole, and times when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life, and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that I couldn't look at anyone, even my own Attorney, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.
As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at My Attorney who sat there silently not offering any form of defense at all. I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life - couldn't that at least equal out part of the harm I'd done?
Satan finished with a fury and said, "This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all that I have charged, and there is not a person who can prove otherwise."
When it was His turn, My Attorney first asked if He might approach the bench. The Judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan and beckoned Him to come forward. As He got up and started walking, I was able to see Him in His full splendor and majesty. I realized why He seemed so familiar; this was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Savior.
He stopped at the bench and softly said to the Judge, "Hi, Dad," and then He turned to address the court. "Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned. I won't deny any of these allegations. And, yes, the wage of sin is death, and this man deserves to be punished."
Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, "However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life, and he has accepted Me as his Savior, so he is Mine."
My Lord continued with, "His name is written in the book of life and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand yet. This man is not to be given justice but rather mercy."
As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at His Father and said, "There is nothing else that needs to be done. I've done it all."
The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from His lips... "This man is free. The penalty for him has already been paid in full. Case dismissed."
As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving, "I won't give up, I will win the next one."
I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, "Have you ever lost a case?"
Christ lovingly smiled and said, "Everyone that has come to Me and asked Me to represent them has received the same verdict as you, "PAID IN FULL."
It's Monday morning, a day like any other. You wake up, eat breakfast, kiss your wife and son goodbye, and go to work. You put in 8 hours. The day is done. As you drive home, you turn on the radio and search for a station:
"That was Rich Mullins with Awesome God. Hi, I'm Phil Davis on WKMO the big E-Z. And now for the weather: tonight partly cloudy with a sticky 80 degrees. For tomorrow: slightly muggy with a 50% chance of showers.
In the world today: The Bank of America Corp. said Friday it would cut as many as 10,000 jobs as it changes its focus from growing through mergers to becoming more profitable through use of technology and operating efficiency.
And finally tonight, a report from the remote village of Samair, India, where four villagers are dead after contracting a mysterious flu-like illness. Doctors are continuing their investigation into the deaths."
It's not influenza, but 3 or 4 fellows are dead. It's kind of interesting actually. They're sending some doctors over there to investigate it. After a few days have passed, you've forgotten all about it, but on Sunday while you're coming home from church, you hear another radio spot:
"What began with four villagers just days ago has now spread to over 30,000 people in the back hills of India. The center for Disease Control in Atlanta announced today that they are sending in a team of doctors to investigate and analyze this apparent new strain of flu. Officials from the CDC also reported that a main priority for the team would be to try and contain the outbreak before it spreads to the surrounding countries.
By Monday morning when you get up, it's the lead story:
"The "mystery flu" as it is now known has spread to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. The U.S. President released a statement today saying that he joins everyone in praying for the people of the infected countries and he is confident that all will go well in containing the outbreak and finding a cure. The president announced that the U.S. will provide medical aid to the countries that face this outbreak.
We have just received word that the president of France has closed all borders to that country. No flights from India, Pakistan, or any of the countries where this "mystery flu" has been reported will be allowed into the country. However, this action may have been taken to late; we have just confirmed that there is a man lying in a hospital room in Paris apparently dying of flu like symptoms. The "mystery flu" has hit Europe."
Panic strikes! As best they can tell, once you get it, you have it for a week and you don't know it. Then, you have four days of unbelievable symptoms. Then, you die. Britain closes its borders, but it's too late. It's already in South Hampton, Liverpool, and North Hampton. On Tuesday morning, the President addresses the Nation:
"We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin. The President of the United States is preparing to address the nation. We now go live to the White House"
"My fellow Americans, due to a national security risk, all flights to and from Europe and Asia have been canceled. If you have loved ones that are overseas, they will have to stay there until we contain or find a cure for this "mystery flu". I ask all Americans to pray that a quick resolution to this situation can be found."
Within 4 days, our Nation has been plunged into an unbelievable fear. People are selling little masks for your face. People are talking about what will happen if the "mystery flu" comes to this country, and preachers on Tuesday are saying, "It's the scourge of God." It's Wednesday night, and you are at a church prayer meeting when somebody runs in from the parking lot and says, "Quick, turn on a radio!"
And while the church listens to a little transistor radio with a microphone stuck up to it, the announcement is made:
"We can now confirm that there are two women in a Long Island hospital dying of the "mystery flu". Within hours, it is expected to spread across the county. The center for disease control announced that it has personnel working around the clock to find a vaccine for this new deadly strain of flu. We now have reports of outbreaks in California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida and Massachusetts. It's as though it's sweeping in from the borders."
In a desperate effort to slow the spread of the disease, the President institutes Martial Law. It seems like forever that you are locked up in your house with plastic taped over the windows and ventilation ducts. Nobody is allowed outside but the military patrolling the streets and men in yellow environmental suits going from door to door collecting bodies and loading them onto large flatbed trucks to be taken away and burnt. Things seem very bleak. You and your family spend hours praying for salvation to come. Just when things seem their bleakest, a ray of light pierces the darkness. As you are listening to the new updates on the radio, an announcement comes across the emergency broadcasting system
"This is not a test. I repeat, this is not a test. The President of the United States has activated the emergency broadcasting system to announce that a cure for the mystery flu can be found. The code has been broken, and a vaccine can be made. It's going to take the blood of someone who hasn't been infected, and so the President is asking all Americans to go to your local hospital and have a blood sample taken. It's imperative that everyone be tested. We thank you in advance for your cooperation in this time of national emergency."
You go to the hospital and stand around scared with your neighbors, wondering what in the world is going on and if this is the end of the world. Suddenly, a young lady comes running out of the hospital screaming. She's yelling a name and waving a clipboard. What? She yells it again! Your son tugs on your jacket and says, "Daddy, that's me!"
Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy. "Wait a minute, hold it!"
"It's okay. His blood is clean. His blood is pure. We want to make sure he doesn't have the disease. We think he's got the right type!"
Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses, crying and hugging one another - some are even laughing. It's the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week. An old doctor walks up to you.
"Thank you, sir. Your son hasn't contracted the disease. His blood type is perfect. It's clean. It is pure, and we can use it to make the vaccine."
As the word begins to spread all across the parking lot full of folks, people are screaming and praying and laughing and crying. But then the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your wife aside.
"May we see you for a moment? We didn't realize that the donor would be a minor, and we need you to sign a consent form."
You begin to sign and then you see that the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty. "H-h-how many pints?" And that is when the old doctor's smile fades.
"We had no idea it would be a little child. We weren't prepared. We need it all!"
"You don't understand. We are talking about the whole world here! Please sign. There is no other way! We need it all. Will you sign?"
In numb silence, you do. They offer you a moment alone with your son before they begin. Can you walk back? Can you walk back to that room where he sits on a table to answer his question, "Daddy? Mommy? What's going on?"
Can you take his hands and say, "Son, your mommy and I love you very much, and we would never ever let anything happen to you that didn't just have to be. Do you understand that?"
When that old doctor comes back in and says, "I'm sorry, we've - we've got to get started. People all over the world are dying!"
Can you leave? Can you walk out while your son is saying, "Dad? Mom? Why are you leaving me?"
Next week, when they have the ceremony to honor your son, some folks sleep through it, some don't come because they go to the lake, and some come with a pretentious smile and just pretend to care. Would you want to jump up and say?
"My son died! Don't you care?"
Is that what God wants to say?
"My son died! Don't you know how much I care?"
Six-year-old Dan decided one Saturday morning to fix his parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor.
He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten.
Dan was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was getting very bad.
He didn't know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove, and he didn't know how the stove worked! Suddenly, he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor. Frantically, he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky.
Just then he saw Dad standing at the door. Big crocodile tears welled up in Dan's eyes. All he'd wanted to do was something good, but he'd made a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him.
Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process. That's how God deals with us. We try to do something good in life, but it turns into a mess. Our marriage gets all sticky, we insult a friend, we can't stand our job, or our health goes sour.
Sometimes, we just stand there in tears because we can't think of anything else to do. That's when God picks us up and loves us and forgives us, even though some of our mess gets all over Him.
But just because we might mess up, we can't stop trying for God or for others. Sooner or later, we'll get it right, and then they'll be glad we tried.
More Month Than Money
More month than money is a staple in our household.
As a single, disabled mother of two (one in college) on a fixed
income, saying that money is tight is an understatement.
Our living situation dictated that we move from the overpriced
rented apartment we had been in for nearly three years to
something more affordable.
Divine providence led us to a wonderful house that the owners
needed to sell right away because the wife's job had moved to
another state. Blessing #1, the mortgage payment would be
significantly less than our apartment had been.
A few months later I felt led to donate money to my church's
world hunger drive. I gave a few dollars, but felt God telling
me that local families were hungry, too. So, I planned to
gather a few canned goods and staples to take to the local food
bank, but, again, seemed to hear God telling me that cash was
the way to go.
"But I can barely pay my family's bills now. How can
I afford to give money to feed other families?" I thought.
I figured God must somehow be affiliated with Nike because His
response was, "Just do it."
I did as instructed, wondering which bill I could skip paying
About a week later I received a letter from the title company
that handled my home purchase. It stated that the enclosed
check was a refund for hazard insurance.
I had no idea what that meant, and really didn't care.
All I knew was that, once again, God showed His faithfulness.
The check was for 20 times more than I had donated to the local
Helping Someone Else
Helping someone else instead of yourself.
My parents have a guesthouse and even with
this guesthouse, we end up scraping by every month. Yes, it causes
a lot of unhappiness here at home but, God always makes sure that
we get through that month.
Anyway, here in South Africa they are giving everyone with an ID, a
free decoder and dish because the analog signals would be switched off
in September. So, yesterday five men came around to put the dish up
and connect it to the decoder. Since I'm blind, I didn't know that
there were five guys instead of two as I had thought. I asked them if
they wanted something to eat with a cup of coffee. They answered, "Yes," and told me that they haven't eaten that morning before they left to put up all the dishes they had with them.
My father wasn't pleased with me and promptly called me into the house and gave me a lecture about giving food away to strangers and that there were five men out there and not just one or two. I nearly burst into tears because I had no idea that there were that many people out there.
I only wanted to do something and make them feel appreciated. My mom told my dad off and went to the kitchen to make the men each a sandwich. My dad's a good person, don't get me wrong here. It's just well, he doesn't always like to share what little we have for ourselves.
I fetched two tins of corn beef and gave them to my mom who made a nice mixture with chutney and tomato sauce. I got five cups out and made some coffee for the guys. We didn't have enough bread but, it was enough for the guys and my mom. Mom ended up cutting her hand on one of the tins and I felt horrible about that even if it wasn't my fault.
When the guys left, they were happy and said thanks for the food and coffee. This morning dad got some money and put it into the bank so that everything that needs to be paid could get paid. It's still not enough but, I know that everything will be okay. My Grandma used to give what little she had to her kids and in return, she always got more back.
I believe in helping others because I had done it in boarding school and
college and always got more back than what I'd given away.
Mom's like that too and well, helping others always gives me a happy
feeling, like I've won a million.
Thanks for this story, it reminded me that our Heavenly Father is always
looking out for his children.
The Penalty For Sin
God sees how the world is.
God: I made them with the ability to choose to do good or evil, and they chose to do evil...
God looks off into the distance with a disappointed look on His face.
God: Being perfectly just, I cannot ignore their blatant evilness.
God: In my infinite wisdom, I know the only suitable punishment is death. Justice must be served.
God looks sternly ahead with a clenched fist.
God's expression becomes troubled.
God: How can I give them death? I LOVE them. The penalty must be paid. But how can their penalty be paid when the cost is so high?
God hangs His head and a single tear falls. He then raises His head and looks ahead with conviction through tears.
God: *I* will pay the penalty.
And so Jesus was born into this world, to do something for us, something big, something we couldn't do ourselves... Jesus wiped the slate clean.
Satan sees how the world is.
Satan: Haha! All these people are sinners! Not a single one is good! They'll all be thrown into the unquenchable fire!
God: You're wrong, Satan. They're square with the house. Their penalty has been paid in full.
Father and Son, Spirit and Human. Jesus died for us, and it's not just a short bout of pain and suffering to be compared with aeons of the comforts of heavenly realms. God is eternal. He's outside of time. Everything He's ever done is part of Him every "instant" for eternity. From God's perspective, Jesus is on the cross forever for us.
To speak metaphorically using the concept of time, Jesus' physical pain and suffering and God's heartache of seeing His innocent son crucified are such a vivid "memory" to God, it's as if the crucifixion is happening right now.
He made this a part of Himself forever for us even though He knew even the "best" of us would often spit in His face and say, "I don't need your ways. I don't need your love. I can take care of myself."
A man's daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed.
The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. "I guess you were expecting me," he said. "No, who are you?" said the father. "I'm the new minister at your church," he replied. "When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up." "Oh yeah, the chair," said the bedridden man. "Would you mind closing the door?"
Puzzled, the minister shut the door. "I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter," said the man. "But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer," the old man continued, "until one day, about four years ago, my best friend said to me, 'Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus.
Here is what I suggest. Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It's not spooky because He promised, "I'll be with you always." Then, just speak to Him in the same way you're doing with me right now.'
So, I tried it, and I've liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I'm careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she'd either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm."
The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church. Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon.
"Did he die in peace?" he asked. "Yes, when I left the house about two o' clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?"
The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, "I wish we could all go like that."
What is it like to be a Christian?
It is like being a pumpkin that is carved into a jack-o-lantern.
God picks us from the pumpkin patch and brings us in from the field. The Bible says He selects us out of the world. We are in the world but no longer of the world. Jesus said, "As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." (John 15:19)
God washes all the "dirt" off the outside that we received from being around all the other pumpkins. All the outside influences of our former life must be cleaned up.
God carefully removes all the "yucky stuff" called "sin" from the inside. He then changes us from the inside out by the Power of His Word. That's why it is important to meet with the church and learn God's Word.
He carves a new smiling face. Our countenance is changed by the power of His presence in our life. We then become so grateful. It can even show on our face!
Finally, God puts His light inside of us to shine for all the world to see.
In a mountain village in Europe a long time ago, a nobleman wondered what gift he could present to his townspeople. At last he decided to build them a church. No one saw the complete plans for the church until it was finished. When the people gathered, they marvelled at it's beauty.
Then someone asked,"But where are the lamps? How will it be lighted?" The nobleman pointed to some brackets in the walls. then he gave them each family a lamp, asking them to bring these with them each time they came to worship.
"Each time you are in church, the area where you are seated will be lighted," the nobleman said. "Each time you are not here, that area will be dark. this is to remind you that whenever you fail to come to church, some part of God's house will be dark."
When I was very young, my father had one of the first telephones
in our neighborhood.
I remember well, the polished old case fastened to the wall and
the shiny receiver on the side of the box. I was too little to
reach the telephone but used to listen with fascination when my
mother would talk to it.
Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device
lived an amazing person and her name was "Information Please"
and there was nothing she did not know.
"Information Please" could supply anybody's number and the
My first personal experience with this genie-in-a-bottle came
one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor.
Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my
finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible but there didn't
seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to
give me sympathy.
I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally
arriving at the stairway. The telephone!
Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and held it to my
"Information Please," I said into the mouthpiece just above my
head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.
"I hurt my finger," I wailed into the phone. The tears came
readily enough now that I had an audience.
"Isn't your mother home?" came the question.
"Nobody's home but me," I blubbered.
"Are you bleeding?" the voice asked.
"No," I replied. "I hit my finger with a hammer and it hurts."
"Can you open your icebox?" she asked. I said I could.
"Then chip off a piece of ice and hold it to your finger," said
After that, I called "Information Please" for everything.
I asked her for help with my geography and she told me where
Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me that
my pet chipmunk, which I had caught in the park just the day
before, would eat fruit and nuts.
Then there was the time Petey, our pet canary died. I called
"Information Please" and told her the sad story.
She listened, then said the usual thing grown ups say to soothe
a child. But, I was inconsolable.
I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully
and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of
feathers on the bottom of a cage?"
She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly,
"You must remember that there are other worlds to sing in."
Somehow, I felt better.
Another day I was on the telephone. "Information Please."
"Information," said the now familiar voice.
"How do you spell fix?" I asked.
All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest.
When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to
Boston. I missed my friend very much. "Information Please"
belonged in that old wooden box back home and somehow I never
thought of trying the tall, new shiny phone that sat on the
table in the hall.
As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood
conversations never really left me. Often in moments of doubt
and perplexity, I would recall the serene sense of security I
I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was
to have spent her time on a little boy.
A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down
in Seattle. I had about half-an-hour or so between planes.
I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister who lived
Then, without thinking about what I was doing, I dialed my
hometown operator and said, "Information Please."
Miraculously, I heard the small clear voice I knew so well.
I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying,
"Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"
There was a long pause.
Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must be
healed by now."
I laughed, "So it's really still you," I said. "I wonder if you
have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?"
"I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your calls meant to
me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your
I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and
asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my
"Please do," she said. "Just ask for Sally."
Three months later, I was back in Seattle.
A different voice answered,
"Information." I asked for Sally.
"Are you a friend?" she said.
"Yes, a very old friend," I answered.
"I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said.
"Sally had been working part time in the last few years because
she was sick.
She died five weeks ago."
Before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute. Are you Paul?"
"Well, Sally left a message for you.
She wrote it down in case you called when she was too sick to
Let me read it to you." The note said,
"Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in.
He'll know what I mean."
I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.
Never underestimate the impression you make on others.
The Cookie Thief
The woman arrived at an airport one night
With several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shop,
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.
She was engrossed in her book but happened to see,
That the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be,
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between,
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.
So she munched the cookies and watched the clock,
As the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
Thinking, "If I wasn't so nice, I would blacken his eye."
With each cookie she took, he took one too,
When only one was left, she wondered what he would do.
With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh,
He took the last cookie and broke it in half.
He offered her half, as he ate the other,
She snatched it from him and thought... ooh, brother!
This guy has some nerve and he's also rude,
Why he didn't even show any gratitude!
She had never known when she had been so galled,
And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate,
Refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.
She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat,
Then she sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise,
There was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.
If mine are here, she moaned in despair,
The others were his, and he tried to share.
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief!
How many times have we absolutely known that something was a
certain way, only to discover later that what we believed to be
true was not?
Keep an open mind and an open heart, because you just never
know, you might be eating someone else's cookies....
Tall Prayer Answers
A girl went to a party, but she ended up staying longer than planned and had to walk home alone. She wasn't afraid because it was a small town and she lived only a few blocks away. As she walked along under the tall elm trees, she asked God to keep her safe from harm and danger.
When she reached the alley, which was a shortcut to her house, she decided to take it.
However, halfway down the alley she noticed a man standing at the end as though he were waiting for her. She became uneasy and began to pray, asking for God's protection. A comforting feeling of quietness and security wrapped around her, and she felt as though someone was walking with her. When she reached the end of the alley, she walked right past the man and arrived home safely.
The following day, she read in the newspaper that a young woman had been raped in the same alley just twenty minutes after she had been there. Feeling overwhelmed by this tragedy and the fact that it could have been her, she began to weep. Thanking the Lord for her safety and to help this young woman, she decided to go to the police station.
She felt she could recognize the man, so she told them her story. The police asked her if she would be willing to look at a lineup to see if she could identify him. She agreed and immediately pointed out the man she had seen in the alley the night before. When the man was told he had been identified, he immediately broke down and confessed.
The officer thanked her for her bravery and asked if there was anything they could do for her. She asked if they would ask the man one question. She was curious as to why he had not attacked her. When the policeman asked him, he answered, "Because she wasn't alone. She had two tall men walking on either side of her."
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings.
As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I have liked". I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.
A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I have betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I have given," "Jokes I Have Laughed at." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've yelled at my brothers". Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.
Often, there were many more cards than I expected, sometimes, fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting, each signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked "TV Shows I have watched", I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content.
I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In insane frenzy, I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it... The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle, and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.
And then the tears came. I began to weep: sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him.
No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch his response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally, He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands, and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things, but He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.
Then, He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted, rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant, it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side.
He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There were still cards to be written.
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