I once caught a fox… in my underwear.

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It all started with a casual Sunday drive with my wife.

“Do you want to pick raspberries?” she asked. “I know a great place.”

Per her directions I drove to a posh neighborhood and parked in front of a palatial home.

“There is a walking path behind those houses and tons of ripe berries,” she said as she exited the SUV and opened the back tailgate. She pulled out two white buckets and a pair of bright orange coveralls. As she put them on over her clothing I thought, why does she need those? We’re just picking berries.

We followed the walking path and found enough berries to fill both of our buckets to the brim. I drooled thinking about the raspberry pies we’d bake.

When we arrived back at the car, my wife quickly removed her coveralls. I opened the car door.

“Wait! You can’t sit in the driver’s seat.”

“Why not?”

“We’ve been walking through poison ivy and I am extremely allergic!”

Ah, thus the need for coveralls. “What do you want me to do?”

“You have to take your clothes off and put them back here.”

So, as the sun sunk over the horizon, I hid behind the open car door and took off my shirt, jeans, socks and shoes. As she wouldn’t touch them, I had to quickly rush them to the back and race to get in the car before someone saw me. On the way home I prayed a police officer wouldn’t stop us for anything.

Now, you need to know this before I continue… We lived in a community out in the country where everyone has three to five acres. Many of my neighbors raised chickens as we did and the word was out that a fox had been seen. I didn’t want the fox to steal our chickens. Earlier I had placed a trap outside, but failed to set it yet.

As it was dark now, we entered our subdivision. I was glad we had a garage and garage opener for a speedy escape to sanctuary.  I didn’t want to be seen in my whitey tighties by the neighbors.

“There it is! There’s the fox!” she screamed pointing out the passenger side window.

Sure enough, a fox was in the neighbor’s front yard.

“We’ve got to kill it!” she said.

“But I don’t own a gun.”

“You have that BB gun, don’t you?”

I drove into our driveway, hitting the garage door opener and drove into the seclusion of the garage. I ran inside and retrieved the pistol, making sure it was loaded with BBs. I was getting frustrated.

As I drove back to where we saw the animal, I lowered my window. I figured I’d do a “drive by”. Alas, the fox had moved to the yard across the street. I handed the BB gun to my wife who refused to take it.

“I’m not gonna kill it. YOU kill it!”

At this point I was very frustrated. I stopped and got out of the vehicle. I marched to the front of the car and aimed the pistol at the fox. Eight shots. I missed him with all of them. It smirked and ran off into the dark. “Aghhh,” I yelled, and turned toward the car. It wasn’t till then that I realized that I was standing right in the headlights in the middle of the street in my subdivision as if I was the main attraction at the circus…in my underwear!

I slunk back into the car hoping one of the neighbors didn’t film the crazy guy standing in the street firing a gun…in nothing but his underwear! Totally embarrassed, knowing surely a video of me was about to be put on YouTube and go viral, I drove home and went out back and immediately set the trap baiting it with cat food…again hoping no one saw me.

After a fitful night’s sleep, I checked the trap, and lo and behold there was the fox! Beautiful reddish fur and black legs. A big bushy tail. It looked at me with mournful little eyes.

I called animal control to come get it and they said, “It’ll cost you 50 bucks. There’s been a lot of mange going around. We would just kill it.” I googled mange. “/mānj/ noun a skin disease of mammals caused by parasitic mites and occasionally communicable to humans. It typically causes severe itching, hair loss, and the formation of scabs and lesions. Foxes that get mange die in three or four months.”

“Okay, thank you, I can do that myself.” And save fifty bucks. I reloaded the BB gun and went outside. I fired all eight shots at close range. The BBs bounced off of the fox and made it MAD. Did you know that foxes bark like a dog? I didn’t. Frustrated again, I yelled, “I haven’t made a dent. I’ve hurt it and now it is mad. I don’t own a gun…but…I do own a sword…”

My uncle Sunny (Yes, that is his name) had given me an old Masonic Knights Templar sword. About four feet long, the blade was about an inch wide. It was VERY sharp at the end.

Feeling guilty and somewhat afraid, I stood with the sword outside the fox’s cage. I held the sword toward the fox and said, in a Spanish accent, “My name ees Jon Hopkins and chu were about to keell my cheecken’s. Prepare to die!” And I stabbed it in the heart. The brave fox reached around and did something totally unexpected. It BIT the sword. It was so cool, I got goose bumps! Then…it died. I slowly pulled out the bloody blade. To make myself feel better I told myself that it was gonna die probably in a month or two from mange anyway. And, like a hero in some fantasy movie, I had saved all the chickens of the neighborhood.

I put the fox in a box. A fox box. And buried him in the trash can with honors. I doubt I’ll ever have the bravado to bite the sword that’s killing me like it did.

Note: So far, I have not seen a video of me online.

My Favorite Blonde Joke

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I was out of work and desperately needed a job. I perused the want ads to no avail until I chanced upon the word “computers.” Gateway Computer Company was hiring, and I liked to play computer games, so I sent in my resume and got an interview. Back in the 90’s Gateway computers were the best on the market.

The day of the interview, I dressed in my best suit and tie. Uh… I learned later that computer geeks don’t wear suits and ties.

Sitting nervously in the waiting room, I picked up a magazine. It was about computers. Go figure. On the front it said, “The Top Ten DOS Commands.” I didn’t know what DOS was. So, I read the article and waited.

Finally, the interviewer called me into his office, and I sat in a wiggly chair in front of his cluttered desk. We introduced ourselves. He looked at my resume’. I’m sure he would see I had no computer experience or computer knowledge. After a while, he leaned back and asked, “Tell me…What are your favorite DOS commands.” I told him all that I remembered from my reading that magazine article. And… I got the job!

I worked for five years at Gateway as a phone computer technician. Each day was like crashing for a college exam! But I learned fast. And besides… all the answers were on the computer screen. I just had to read them to the customer.

Every day I answered random phone calls from users who had problems with their computers. I belonged to a team of technicians who all sat in a cubicle world. When things got boring, we shot each other with rubber bands and would bet on such things as who could get the customer to say the word “underwear.”

“Look under the left panel.”

“Under where?”

One day I received a call from a gentleman who couldn’t get a computer game for his children to work on his computer. He wanted to fix it before they got home from school. It was a known problem. An easy fix. The situation was that the video card in the computer would not display the correct video resolution to boot up the game for his kids to play. The fix? Reseat the video card. By that I mean take the computer apart, find the video card, unscrew it, remove it, and replace it back into the slot. Easy peasy stuff.

“Before we start, there is something you need to know,” he said.

“Okay?” I was ready for anything. “What is that, Sir?”

“I have been completely blind since birth.”

I didn’t know what to say. “Do you have someone in the house that can help do this?”

He laughed. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I can do this. Just tell me what to do.”

To make a long story short, he DID do it following my precise directions. The children’s game booted up perfectly.

“Thank you! Now I can surprise my kids!” he said.

I was so impressed I had to tell the other technicians. They all shot me with rubber bands.

A week later I received a similar call. The same problem. Same video card. Same fix. Only this time on the phone was a hysterical female, crying.

“My game doesn’t work.”

I gave her the information of what needed to be done to fix the problem. “It’s easy,” I told her.

Between sobs she cried, “I’ll never be able to do that!”

So…in what I thought would be the greatest encouragement, I calmly said, “Ma’am I’m sure you can do this. Why just last week I helped a blind man do the same thing.”

After a few whimpers she said, “That’s amazing. I’m blonde too!”

I put the call on mute so she wouldn’t hear my laughter. I quickly got back on the line and calmly talked her through the procedure to a positive result. She was so happy.

I wanted to tell the other techs… but stopped myself. The next day I brought a Gatling gun rubber-band shooter to work. This instrument of mass destruction could shoot 300 rubber bands in less than a minute. Needless to say, the team never bothered me again.

Job 29:15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.

Romans 2:19 “If you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?”

 

 

 

 

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Burning Sandals

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He walked in like a Hollywood movie star who was in-adept at being incognito. Shorts, bright patterned shirt, unbuttoned from the top to reveal a Brillo-pad of chest hair. Tall. Wide shoulders. Worn out flip flops. And sunglasses on a cloudy day.

Not knowing he had walked into a Christian book store he asked, “You got any magazines?”

“Sorry, no magazines. People in the coffee shop just read them and leave them lying around as if we were a library or a doctor’s office. Are you from out of town?”

“Yes.”

I love engaging the customers. “What brings you to town?”

“I’m looking for the place that made my sandals.”

I glanced at his flip flops. “Are you talking about Birkenstocks shoe store down the street?”

“No, not there.” He came up to the counter and removed his sunglasses. “A few years back I had these really good sandals but lost one. I need to replace it.”

“You lost it?”

“Yes. I was a dancer for Elton John.”

Looking at his build, I could see that. “What happened?”

“Well, I was up on stage dancing to the song Tiny Dancer. After the song we took a break, and someone called out to me. I knelt down at the front end of the stage and he introduced himself. He was a photographer and he loved my sandals. He ask me if he could take a picture of them.”

I was hooked. A sandal. A dancer for a famous person. A mystery to solve. Wow.

“I told the man, yes, with one stipulation. That he send me a copy of the pic when it was developed. And that is how I lost my sandal,” he said matter-of-factly.

I was confused. “Did he steal it?”

“No. I got the picture in the mail and he had only taken a picture of only one of my sandals. ONE.”

I wrinkled my forehead.

He seemed to get agitated and slapped the counter. “And that’s why I lost my one sandal.”

“Wow, that’s interesting. Did you find the shoe store?”

“Yes and no. The place burnt down….AND THAT IS WHY THE WORLD IS GOING TO END IN FIRE!”

Before I could say anything, like I was sorry for his loss or something, he continued on and on quoting rock songs that mentioned fire to prove his point. I listened intently. Then he put on his sunglasses and leaned in.

“And did you know that the government is hiding all the UFOs in Western Kansas?”

I thought, Where? Kansas is nothing but miles and miles of nothing but miles.

He continued talking about aliens. When he took a breath, I asked him if he had a web site.

He handed me a business card. Yup. He had one.

I immediately got online to view the website. It was full of conspiracy Mumbo Jumbo—nothing made any sense. I was not surprised.

We said goodbyes. As he sauntered away, I thought of the verse in the Bible, “The day of the Lord will come as a robber comes. The heavens will pass away with a loud noise. The sun and moon and stars will burn up. The earth and all that is in it will be burned up.” 2nd Peter 3:10 and… all because of that man’s sandal.

 

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Precious Love

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Some people call him the Wizard. Or “that Precious Love guy”. I call him Rob. He called me… Sir Jonathan Moonshadow. Of course, that is not my real name. He says that when he looks at me, he sees the color blue. He likes blue. And yellow. He is a painter. He wears two hats at the same time. One an artist’s cap and on top of that—a cowboy hat. Black round glasses balance askance atop his thin nose making it difficult to see his eyes. His long dark hair and long scraggly black beard looks like a Brillo-pad exploded on his face. Lightening-like streaks of white scatter through this midnight tanglement.

His mouth never moved the same way twice when he talked, especially when he was smoking his cheap corncob pipe. He is thin, and when walking away, his shoulders look like someone forgot to take the clothes hanger out of his shirt.

I met him at my place of employment over eight years ago. I worked at a Christian bookstore that also had a coffee shop and an art gallery. Placed in a college town, it was frequented by students, preachers, and once in a while the ever-present homeless men and women of the town.

Rob came in and looked at the art. That is all. He didn’t talk to anyone. Didn’t look at the books. Didn’t get any coffee. At first, I took him for one of the indigents. Someone no one would ever speak to.

I said a kind ‘hello” to him every time he came in to no response. He was known for being extremely rude to people.

One-day he stood in front of a painting that I did not like, and I told him so. He came over to the counter and we struck up a short conversation about our favorite painters. His was Vincent Van Gough. I told him I was a writer. He said he also wrote. Poems. He shared a poem with me that he wrote. I told him I really liked it so he wrote it down for me in what looked like alien hieroglyphics. Unreadable to anyone but him. I remember one line: “the leaves of three dust winds”.

Not long after our first meeting, my wife of thirty years passed away. Sudden and unexpected. For some reason, I talked to Rob about her a lot. Without knowing it, he helped me grieve by just listening. He let me listen to him talk of his days when he was an up and coming artist. And his younger days of abuse and difficulty with his family. Rob ofttimes vehemently shared his hatred for his mother through clinched teeth and spittle on his wire-haired chin. But mostly, he shared new poems and talked often of his favorite person in history—Wild Bill Hickok. When he said goodbye, he always raised both hands in peace signs and said, “Precious Love.”

At times our discussions leaned toward spiritual themes. They usually ended with him storming out loudly cussing Jesus.

After coming in several times a week for a few years, he came in one day and yelled at me. He was not doing well, and he thought I said something about him he didn’t like. I would never do something like that. To me people are people, whoever they are they deserve kindness. I didn’t see him for several months after that except when he would walk by the store window and flip me off.

Then I heard he was hit by a car.

Not long after that, he unexpectedly came into the store and apologized. “I don’t even remember why I was mad at you,” he said. He shared with me about the accident. He woke up in the emergency room and… walked out. He said he was still having some physical problems since then.

He invited me to his birthday party at a place that sold hot-dogs he liked. I was the only friend that came to his party. I bought him some exotic pipe tobacco as a present.

After several years, I began to converse online with a kind woman in Texas. Being so far away, I told Rob, “Nothing will ever come of it.” He said sarcastically, “Sure it won’t.” He enjoyed listening to my stories about Valorie and our long-distance dates where, although miles apart, we attended the same movies, watched The Voice on TV together, and talked for long hours over the phone.

One day Rob appeared very sad. He’d seen a movie about slavery. It really bothered him. He asked me, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” I gave him a standard answer and asked if I could pray for him. Holding his hand over the counter I prayed for his sadness. “God loves you,” I said. “Precious Love,” he replied.

Our behind the counter, in front of the counter friendship grew. Then came a day after seven years that Rob asked me out of the blue, “When did you become a Christian?” I gave him my testimony of accepting Jesus as my Savior when I was nine years old. I explained to him what the Sunday School teacher that day had called the “Roman’s Road”. As I talked of Jesus’ death on the cross and forgiveness of sin, Rob held his head down. His hats bobbed like boats on a stormy sea. When he looked up tears fell like rain into his midnight sky beard. We prayed together, and he asked Jesus to save him. It was the first time we ever hugged.

We had good times until I told him I decided to marry Valorie and was going to move away. He slammed the door on his way out. I could hear him cursing as he crossed the street.

I bought him a parting gift of a Meerschaum pipe carved like Wild Bill Hickok hoping he would come in again before I left. I prayed he would.

The weekend before my last day of work at the bookstore he came in, we said good byes, and I gave him the pipe. “I will miss you terribly, my friend. But I will see you again in heaven,” I said. When leaving, he started to give me the peace signs, but he stopped, fumbled a little as if not knowing what to do with his hands, and said, “God bless you, Sir Jonathan Moonshadow.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Reminiscing

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Reminiscing

I relive memories

And depths of love

Garnered from things once shared.

Romance, music, poetry,

Scenes of emotional depth,

Long forgotten moments

That lodged into my heart

Like injuries of younger days.

I revel in the mystery

And wonder that I was not so clueless

To these brief moments

That moved me long-ago.

So, I close my eyes on those days and sigh.

And dream with memories eye.

                                      Jon Hopkins 7/20/2015

 

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Last Year at this time

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This is a poem I wrote last year at this time. Praise God He has brought me through it and has blessed me with so many things this year.

“A New Year’s Introspection”

I cannot stand outside my own house and look in my window.

When gazing inward there is no mirror to reflect what is real.

Phantoms of pains past haunt me.

Resolutions fall lifeless to the floor.

When I take the next step into darkness, what will I bring with me?

Scars. Memories. Consequences. Fears.

Moments I cling to like handfuls of smoke.

And grieves too heavy to bear.

Lord, speak to my heart and remind me of goodness.

Map out where you kept pace with me on the path.

Show me what could have been worse.

And where I strayed from you.

Help me walk away from the echo of my own regrets.

Weave meaning into memories on my guilt eaten soul.

Motivate my heart toward good today.

And give me the strength to venture on.

 

 

Overcoming Fear

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I love to write deeply. By doing so I learn about myself.

Yesterday, I was writing when I chanced upon things that I had written down from my inner searching to discover motives and characterization for my novel. I ran across a question I had asked of myself, but I have yet to answer. I wrote, “by that time dad was gone… there was no more putting cans up at that point… so I wonder at what point did I stop being afraid in my life?”

Someone told me they didn’t understand my post. Some background story was necessary. Basically, my father was an alcoholic. We feared his coming home so much that we would stack food cans in front of the door to alarm us. He is gone now. I should no longer be afraid. At times, I still am.

I have worked with teens who have been through the horrible trauma of abuse and even though the threat was gone, they still feared Dad would come home at any moment, or that he was around the next corner waiting to harm them. At what point does someone like that give up those fears, and by giving them up, do they become more vulnerable? I asked myself if there will be a time when my book’s character no longer fears. How do I show that? How do I show it in my own life?

There are actual fears such as the fear of my dad when I was younger. The terror I would have when he would come into the room and the threat of danger immobilized me. But not only that, I also had of the fear of pleasing others. It is basically a fear of rejection, the fear of what life, or others, may do to me.

Fear distorts our thinking. We fear what we cannot overcome or what we cannot control. We fear that what is in front of us is far beyond our abilities to conquer. We feel powerless. We feel impotent. The enemies seem all powerful. We fear death. We even fear our own happiness and success. We are uncertain that our own resources—our own strengths—are not good enough to overcome the problem.  We want to escape. Fear produces flight. Anger attacks, but fear escapes.

Fear is not wrong. The question we must ask is which way does fear move us? Yes, fear produces flight, but what is the direction of our flight? In the book, “The Princes of Albion,” the young twin boys, Jachin and Boaz, play in a Wheatfield. They call it their “sanctuary.” That is because it’s the place they escape to hide from their father and his drunken rages. While they are in the field, a bird suddenly flies into Jachin’s tunic. (his shirt) His brother doesn’t believe him at first. They hear the cry of a hawk up above and realize that the bird is trying to escape danger.

When we try to protect ourselves, what we should do is fly to the protector. Fly to something that is greater than us. In our life, we either fear the world or we fear God. God is not impotent as we are, God is omnipotent.

It is okay to feel fear. Big fears make small ones go away. For instance, my daily fears of doing my work well to please my boss, or whether my bills are going to be paid are real fears. Will I say something that will make someone not like me? Those fears go away if someone in my family is in a car accident and I fear for their life. Big fears make small ones go away. I guarantee that when my mother was in an accident I wasn’t thinking whether my bills were going to be paid. Fearing God is a big fear.

We are terrified of love. We even fear God’s love. Love is a scary thing and a lot of times we don’t believe that God loves us enough to take care of our little problems. The Bible says that love casts out fear. It’s God’s love toward us and his willingness to be concerned about our lives that we forget and focus on our small fears instead. We forget that It is His power that can take care of our problems and give us peace over our fears. When we trust in him, we are no longer helpless. We are no longer powerless. Fear is a flight away from harm to a safe place without hurt just like the little bird in Jachin’s shirt.

When you fear, submit to God instead of demanding control or success to overcome the thing you fear. Acknowledge it it’s real. There’s something to be afraid of. Acknowledging it tells us something about ourselves. We should then struggle with why we do not trust God in this matter. Is God all of a sudden not powerful? Are we looking to ourselves and our own lack of ability?

We need to remember God’s acts and the things that He has done in the past. Such as those miracles in the Old Testament and in our lives. Remember the testimony of friends of the things that God has done for them. Let God’s love remove our fear.

What do I mean by fearing God? I don’t mean a “reverential awe.” I mean be afraid of Him. God has the ability to do whatever he pleases. He has the ability to cast us in hell. It is the great fear of separation from God for eternity that moves us. He loved us so much he sent Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sins (The things that separate us from God). He desires a loving caring relationship with us as our protector and our provider. You will either fear the world or you fear God. Fear Him.

I certainly don’t negate the fact that fears linger and are triggered when least expected. Some may do things to overcome them. Take Karate, do meditation, push it aside, years of therapy. But when something big happens, that is beyond your control, such as your wife dying or someone you love being diagnosed with cancer, where do you fly to then?

So, the question was… at what point do you give up your fears? The answer is… the moment that you trust God with the circumstance. You fly into his tunic with the feeling that the thing that you are afraid of, can be overcome by Him. By giving those fears up would you become vulnerable? You already are. Recognize that. By giving up your fears to Him, you give it to the One who is all powerful and can handle any problem. Let His love conquer your fears.

Jon Hopkins

6/15/2017

The Formula: Part Two

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I arrived to the cabin in the middle of nowhere on a Thursday evening, settled in, and started praying. When I grew tired, I read in my bible.  My empty tummy was constantly on my mind.

I don’t remember what I read. But I didn’t do like a friend of mine in Bible college who opened the Scripture and placed his finger on the page and read this: “Judas went out and hung himself.” He said, “That’s not what God wants me to do.” He opened it again, finger down on a verse that this time said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might;” Uh… that wasn’t it either. One more time: “What you are about to do, do quickly.” He closed his Bible and said, “I think I’ll ask someone else.” Nope, I just read some in the Old Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs to start off.

I told God that I didn’t understand what was happening in my life. I needed answers. What was I doing wrong?

I slept well that night and began again early the next morning. When I was not praying or reading, or thinking about food, I would go on a walk in the woods and cry out to God.

Friday evening it came. A migraine. One of the worst. I had brought no meds. No shots. Not even an aspirin.

I knelt by my bed and held my head while I called out to God. “Take these away from me!”

Nothing.

“God, please remove this pain!”

Silence.

“Lord, will you take this migraine?”

“No.” It was almost audible. No?

“Why not?” I wailed.

A long pause then very softly, “ I want you to give them to me.”

Ah, yes, there is a difference between taking and giving. I prayed harder giving the migraines, the pain, my health to Him. I didn’t stop there. I gave Him everything I could think of. My family, each by name. Even extended family, in-laws and outlaws. I listed all I owned even the socks and shoes I had on my feet. “God I give you my ministry. And…. My life.”

Kneeling quietly, still in pain, I passed out there beside the bed.

When I woke up I was still on the floor. Cold and cramped, but my head didn’t hurt anymore. I went straight to my routine. No food- only water – and Bible and prayer as if nothing had really happened. My headache was gone, but I didn’t deserve it.

That afternoon as I walked, I told God I was tired of trying to do everything. All I did in life was by my own strength and I couldn’t do it anymore. I did not please others, the pastor, my wife, or the teens I worked with. I was a failure. I talked it through until a formula began to form in my mind. “All I’ve done was of my own power, by the pastor’s direction, to the teens.” I knew that wasn’t right. I tried again. “All I do can’t be like that. It can’t be of my pastor, through my talents, to the teens.” And again, “Of God, through my own strength, to God’s glory.” After going through the many combinations, I realized that no, it had to be this and only this: “Of Him, Through Him, and To Him.” I was satisfied. This was the only formula that was correct. And I had been doing it all wrong. On the walk back, I asked God for forgiveness and told Him I would follow this formula from now on.

A peace came over me when I reached the cabin again. I wasn’t even hungry anymore. That was what I needed. Not food. Not a cure. I needed a formula to hang my life on.

That night I slept well. No migraine. I returned home that day. I wondered if God had really let me give them to Him.

That week I met with my pastor. I told him of my weekend getting alone to talk with God. And about the miracle of the life-changing formula He gave me.

He sat back in his chair. Rubbed his chin and grabbed for his Bible. “Do you know that is in the Bible?”

“No.” I thought it was original because I had to work through and eliminate so many things to come to that conclusion. “I have never heard or read it before.” I told him.

He turned to Romans 11:36 and read, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

“Let me see that!” I thought he made it up and was kidding me. Yet, there it was on the page in black and white, right above the verse that says we are to give our lives as a living sacrifice. I noted it said “give” and not “Lord, take my life as a living sacrifice.” There is a difference. I was shocked. I had no idea.

A week went by and no migraines. Two weeks. A month, and I began to look at what I was doing differently. Different food? Medicine? No, nothing. Two months, three, then six months went by with no headaches.

That was around twenty years ago. I have not had a migraine since that Friday I prayed by the bedside in the cabin.

And… the formula still rings true. It changed my life. Everything is “Of Him, through Him, and to Him.” Whether it is my writing. My Job. Ministry. Or even how I treat my own children.

You know, we look for God in the little things. The inches, the minutes. The things that didn’t happen that could’ve. I found Him in a great thing. How do you measure a changed life?

And oh, yeah, some advice: don’t eat a big meal after fasting for three days. Good idea, bad idea.

 

The Formula: part one

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Miracles happen every day. Most times we ignore them and they go unacknowledged.

We tend to measure God in inches, seconds, and by how well we feel.

“One half inch to the left and that bullet would’ve killed me.”

“If we had left for that trip ten seconds earlier, that would be us in that wreck on the highway!”

“My knee stopped hurting. It’s a miracle!”

Now, I don’t discount these things as possible godly interventions, but it seems to me that our measurement should be much broader. Why should we limit God to inches and seconds? He is much bigger than that. I have learned to measure God by His direct actions in my heart that change my life dramatically.

One such miracle began my second year in college. What seemed to start as a healing miracle became so much more.

They began. My first experience was right after finals. I thought my head would burst. I vomited and rode the waves of pain in my dorm room thinking it was just stress.

As the years progressed they became worse and increased in frequency. In the meantime, I graduated, got married, fathered two children, and worked a fantastic job in the field of psychology.

While at work one day, I said I was ill and didn’t wait to be released. I left. My head was killing me. When I got in the car, I vomited. I stumbled back into the building. It was the first time I experienced hyperventilation from the pain. I passed out. My boss called 911, and I was taken to the hospital to spend the night in intensive care. They thought I was dying. So, did I. It would not be the last time I rode in an ambulance for this.

The doctors declared that my problem was called “vaso-constrictor rhinitis.” Basically, my blood vessels in my sinus were overly sensitive to temperature changes, and that in turn triggered migraines.

Once, I was at a professional baseball game with friends sitting in the cool of the shade. However, the sun moved—as it is prone to do—and I soon sat in the heat. They carried me out of the ballpark.

Doctors attempted many things to give me relief. They changed my diet and prescribed various medicines. I began injecting a common migraine medicine called Imitrex that normally cost ninety dollars a shot. There were some days that I was directed to take as many as three shots to quell the migraine to no avail.

After years of suffering, the condition affected my work. I requested to be put on part time work status. At the same time, I also worked as a youth pastor at a church. I struggled to keep that position without it affecting my ministry, but I was now having three to five migraines per week.

Totally frustrated, I talked with my pastor.

“What should I do?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

“Why is God doing this to me?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you should ask Him.”

I wanted answers, wasn’t he the connection to God? Past laying-on-of-hands for healing from several groups didn’t even make a dent in my malady. Even an exorcism at this point would be welcome.

Devastated, I drove home from that meeting and told my wife that I needed to get a way for a few days and talk to God. She always supported me. We called a friend.

“Can I borrow your cabin by the lake for a few days?”

“Whatever you need, come get the keys.”

I picked up my bible, grabbed a change of clothes, and kissed my wife goodbye. I set out to do something I had never done before—fast and pray.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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