Thursday, October 31, 2013

A place of Clean Hands

A week before I was four years old my baby brother was born. While my mother was at the hospital I went to stay with my grandmother and grandfather Cloyd. They ran a dairy farm which meant there was plenty of dirt to play in. But having a great belief in cleanliness my grandmother scrubbed me up real good before they took me home. Honestly, you have never been scrubbed until you have been scrubbed by Ada Cloyd with a bar of lava soap. Upon my return home I discovered that my Aunt Zuma, Uncle John and their three children Rhonda, Richard, and Rozi had also come to inspect this new baby that had arrived in our family. My cousin Rozi, who was about two years older than me, for some reason was sitting beside the bassinette where my newborn brother lay. I went over to inspect this bundle of joy that everyone seemed in awe of. I reached out my hand to touch my baby brother only to be greeted with a sharp rebuke from my cousin Rozi. In a loud protective voice she shouted “Get your dirty hands off that baby”! I obeyed. I am certain I did not say a word but I remember processing in my mind that she surely has no idea about the cleansing experience I had just endured not more than an hour earlier. I have never forgotten that moment. Surely it is one of my earliest memories. As for Rozi, I suspect I was in my late teens when we last saw each other. I am glad we were able to reconnect via facebook about two years ago. About two weeks ago Rozi became ill and could not eat and grew weak. When she went to the hospital it was discovered that she had two tumors on her liver that had metastasized from other parts of her body. Her demise was quick. Her kidneys failed and by the time her sister, brother, and father got to her side she was basically unable to communicate. Death came painfully but quickly. Her family is left to weep even as they are grateful for a merciful end. I am weeping and praying with them. I am sorry it had to be this way. But let me give a personal word to Rozi: Thanks for a beautiful memory that has lingered with me for 52 years. I am sure there was a crowd to greet you when you passed through the heavenly gate. But be cautious lest you are tempted to go on hygiene patrol. Be assured that all the residents of heaven have clean hands.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pill Organizers

I had a breakdown this morning. For years I have had trouble remembering to take my blood pressure medicine. Some days I have forgotten. Usually my body gives me a reminder of that about mid-day. I am certain there have been some days when I have taken my meds but thought I had not so I took them again. So three or four years ago I bought one of those pill organizers. Actually I must have bought a...n organizer twice because I found two this morning when I went to search for one. Yes, that is right; today I filled the compartments of the weekly pill organizer. I always thought this was for old people. While I am not yet ready to claim that mantle I do want to get old. Doing something that makes me feel older is a little frightening to me. However I have a growing fear of what could happen if I failed to properly take my medications. But please allow me the dignity of hedging a little bit. I began using the pill organizer not because I am getting older but because I am getting wiser.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Plus Members and Regular Members

My cell phone rings. I answer “hello”. Without identification the caller states “yes, I am a plus member and I just want to be a regular member”. I asked “sir, who am I speaking with”? My next question would have been “sir, what are you a plus member of that you wish to become a regular member of”? I was anxious to have had a little fun with the caller. But I suppose he recognized that he had the wrong number and without uttering another word ended the call.

I was left to wonder what organization he was a plus member of. I wondered why someone who was a plus member would want to become a regular member. Surely being a plus member entitled one to more benefits. Of course being a regular member probably cost less. Perhaps the caller had decided that the cost of plus membership was not effective. Maybe he simply could not afford it. Maybe he was not all that interested in the organization but still wanted to be a member.

Now I am a churchman. If my church had tiered membership I might have thought it was one of my church folks calling to tell me they wanted to downgrade their membership. But while we do not have tiered membership we do have plus members. Plus members voluntarily have a greater commitment and greater participation in the church. But that alone does not make them plus members. To really be a plus member you have to have a great love and commitment to the Lord Christ. I have been blessed with a lot of plus members over the years. They have made the work of the church successful. They have made my life a lot easier.

But sadly over the years I have seen some people who once were plus members decide to become regular members. Maybe we worked them to hard and they became tired and experienced burnout. Maybe they fell into sin and became ashamed. Maybe they just got to busy and lost some of their love for the Lord. For whatever reason they “became weary in well doing”(Gal. 6:9) and they released themselves from the responsibility of being a plus member. They began to watch more and do less. It is a lot easier to audit church than it is to do the work required.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

He Showed Me His Life

Last week when traveling to North Carolina I made a stop in Laurel County KY and visited with my Aunt Wilma. Together we took a drive and went to see my father’s first cousin Roy Links. Roy is 82 years old. With the exception of his time in the army during the Korean Conflict he has lived within 3 miles of where he was born. Throughout all these years he has made his living as a farmer raising tobacco and cattle. He stopped raising tobacco 20 years ago. But he still raises full-blooded Charolais cattle. He began developing this herd 50 years ago and at the age of 82 he is still proudly raising and marketing this breed. Roy’s health is failing. He suffers with Parkinson’s disease. He has good days and bad days. He gets tired easily and has to rest often. But with the assistance of his wife Imogene and a hired hand he keeps the farm operation going. When you visit with him the conversation revolves around farming. One gets the feeling that the farm is what keeps him going. Some folks, perhaps most folks, would have quit long ago. But quitting or retiring does not interest Roy. Farming is what he knows. It is what he wants to do. I understand those sentiments. I left the farm long ago but my heart wanders there often.

About an hour into our three hour visit Roy and I took a ride. We got in his pickup and he gave me a tour. When he was a young man he began buying farms when they became available. Over the years he has bought 5 or 6 small tracts of ground and has had rental arrangements on other parcels. He took me to all those places. He talked about when he got them and even how much he gave for some of them. He has built numerous barns and other buildings on these properties. Many of these structures have been built from timber cut from his land. He has taken advantage of soil conservation practices and has improved the fertility of the land. He has been a good farmer. He has taken pride in what he has done. Yet one cannot help but notice a tinge of sorrow that age and health now prohibit him from doing all he would like to do. As we are driving from place to place it occurs to me that in reality Roy is showing me his life. It has been a life of hard work. It has been an honest and productive life. It has been a life of accomplishment and satisfaction. It has been a simple life. But it has been a good life.

I am grateful for the time I spent with Roy. It was a worthwhile journey that revealed an interesting story. As I reflected upon our time together I sensed a longing in my heart. For in a different time with a different set of circumstances with different decisions my life might have told a similar story. One only goes through life once so I think I will forego regret. Instead I will treasure the memory of an afternoon when one man took the time to tell me and show me the story of his life.

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