A Long Ago Story

 

© Jeanne E Webster. All Rights Reserved

“Jesus loves me this I know…”

Curled up in bed, she finds no escape from Mommy’s piercing cries. Softly tiptoeing to the window sill, she  longingly looks up to the heavens, as if searching for an old friend. She believes her home is out there and a heavenly, loving Papa awaits her return. Since learning the “Jesus Loves Me” song at Vacation Bible School one summer, she drew much comfort and hope. Peering impatiently into the dark, starry expanse, she pleads with her Papa. “I don’t like it here anymore, Papa. Please send an angel to take me back home.”

Only five years old, she knows fear… fear of her stepfather. He’s hurting Mommy now, and she’s afraid she’ll soon be the next victim of his drunken rages. Trembling with dread and hatred, she hears him bellowing her name. The routine is humiliating. He forces her to remove her clothes and stand before him naked, then proceeds to beat her with his army belt. Glaring into his eyes with intense rage, she is most afraid of crying in front of him, not the pain he inflicts. He mustn’t know he has hurt her; she must remain strong. “Please, Papa. I’m so afraid. I want to come home.”

“For the Bible tells me so…”

Stumbling through school with average grades and many sick days, she grew slowly into an angry, stubborn, withdrawn young girl. Teachers comment on her report card, “She will not act like a young lady. She’s always fighting with the boys.”

Home life is chaotic. Constantly on guard when her depraved stepfather is present, she keeps mainly to her bedroom or stays outside until nightfall. His lack of morals is evident as he prowls the house, naked except for a newspaper shielding his privates. “Thank you, Papa, for making me strong and protecting me. I wish Mommy would be strong enough to leave this nasty person.  I asked her once why she puts up with the beatings. She said, ‘Because I love him.’”

“Watch over me, Lord.  I still want to come home but I don’t know how to make that happen.”

“Little ones to Him belong…”

Many years passed.   The young girl mellowed into a happily married mother of four. Life was good for the first few years, but overshadowing this semblance of normalcy was the Viet Nam war. “Papa, watch over my husband and protect him from harm and send him home to us soon. The kids really miss their daddy. Thank you.”

“They are weak but He is strong…”

Daddy returned from war a stranger, dishing out physical and mental abuse on a daily basis to the young wife. Physical battles ensued with resulting scratches and bruises. Before long Mommy had become the villain, according to Daddy. He encouraged the kids to hit her, declaring her an unfit mommy. The Sears & Roebuck catalog was searched routinely for a new mommy. Divorce ensued after Mommy got on a greyhound bus headed for nowhere, leaving her whole world behind and calling it quits to the abuse.

Due to the fierceness and severity of the divorce dynamics, the young mother had only one viable option regarding her children. She had to leave them in the care of their father. There were no safe houses, no support for abused families in those days, and she had no family support or a job. Her husband promised to shoot her if she applied for a divorce, removing the children out of state would result in a kidnapping charge, and both options were not in the best interest of the kids. A dead mom and a lifer-in-prison dad were not good alternatives. So she walked. And inside…died…for a long while.

“Please take care of my children, Papa, and protect them from harm. I know You are stronger than anything life can throw at them, and they are good kids. They are my life. I give them back into Your hands. I know I will see them again someday; that’s all that matters. I love you, Papa!”

Epilogue:
Long ago Anna B. Warner penned the song, “Jesus Loves Me.” A young woman took those words to heart and believed them and staked her life on them. Why? The Bible told her so! The Word of God is far mightier than abuse, fear, threats and even death itself.

Don’t You Care?

 

© Jeanne E Webster – All Rights Reserved

 

Mark 4:37 There arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship asleep on a pillow, and they awake him, and say unto him, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”

And he arose and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them: 

“Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly and said one to another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Jesus had preached to thousands from the deck of a large boat that day, expounding in parables the mysteries of God. Some Bible scholars believe our Lord used this method of teaching as judgment on the hearers’ spiritual dullness, yet leaving intact God’s willingness to enlighten and save them. Later, alone with His disciples, Jesus revealed to them these mysteries.

Evening drew near and our Lord told them to sail across to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They soon departed the shore, having sent away the masses of people; their Master was at rest in the stern of the boat.
Quite rapidly, as happened often in that area, a vicious storm had developed, with gale-force winds hefting their muscle and pitching wave after wave of water into their boat. It soon became dangerously full, stoking the worst fears of the disciples. A day basking in the warmth of their master’s voice bearing witness of God’s love to the people had now ended in an evening of extreme terror.

Their first thoughts were, “Do something!” “Wake up!” “Don’t you care if we drown?!”

They were gut-cut afraid; out of their minds afraid. Where was the Watchman? The Master was present in the boat but asleep on a pillow. He was sleeping on His watch!

“Master! Master! Save us! We’re going to drown!”

How many times do we reach a like stress point and scream,  “Master! Save us!”

We know all too well Jesus is with us, see Him at peace among us, believe He is watching over us, yet we grow fearful, not necessarily of dying but of believing that Jesus can save us, no matter what storm thunders through our lives. It is said that faith dispels fear only in proportion to its strength.

After quickly rebuking the winds and the sea waters, Jesus scolded the disciples, and scolds us today, “O ye of little faith!”

Faith turns and flees the scene of terror, leaving only fingernail strength hanging to the dangling threads of our Master’s garment.

“Why are you so afraid?” Christ admonished His disciples, chiefly because of their little faith, not the lack of it.

Amid the tempest in our lives we too shrink back in fear . . . when suddenly the storm is over. He has hushed the howling of legions of marauding tribulations. He has stilled the storm; the waters have stopped and rise no more. We too utter a soul-deep gush of wonder:  “What manner of Man is this?!”

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O Thou, in all Thy might so far
~by Frederick L. Hosmer

O Thou, in all Thy might so far,
In all Thy love so near,
Beyond the range of sun and star,
And yet beside us here.

What heart can comprehend Thy Name,
Or, searching, find Thee out,
Who art within, a quickening Flame,
A Presence round about.

Yet though I know Thee but in part,
I ask not, Lord, for more;
Enough for me to know Thou art,
To love Thee and adore.

And dearer than all things I know
Is childlike faith to me,
That makes the darkest way I go
An open path to Thee.

(Written on the night of Hurricane Sandy, 2012, besetting the entire East coast, flooding New York City. A horrendous storm!)

Are You Marked?

a young chipping sparrow fresh from the nest

“Though lonely be thy path, fear not, for He

Who marks the sparrow fall is guarding thee.” 

–Anonymous

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© 2013 Jeanne E Webster.  All rights reserved and observed

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From dangers you crawl

Clutching your prayer shawl

Tremble you may

God still holds sway

Marking your soft place to fall.

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Winds may knock you down

Rains drench you and drown

Soaked like a sparrow

Sight becomes narrow

God marks you safe and sound.

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Peace shall forever reign

Turn frowns to joys again

Look upon His face

Fears shall displace

Your worries God shall restrain.

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Amen

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Fears are a Bear!

 

© Jeanne E Webster

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Is your spiritual life having a nap? Is it on an extended vacation from spiritual habits and nourishment? Yes, it happens to everyone. The world distracts our spiritual focus away from nurturing food and strengthening exercises, pleading instead to our physical nature with many urgent voices.  Fears are as abundant as television commercials during a two-hour movie.

“Help me!” demands a loved one coming down off a drug habit.

“You have 30 days to pay your rent or you’re out of here!” threatens an irate landlord.

A red-faced supervisor yells in your ear, “Close the deal by Friday or you’re fired!”

Everywhere we look there is turmoil, anxiety, fear, tension, and dread. What are we to do? Is this what life is all about? To put it succinctly, NO!

Jesus warns us to quit worrying about things that hinder our walk in the spirit. As Christians, we have precious encouragement, “Don’t worry about what tomorrow will bring you, for it will take care of itself.” (Matt. 6:34) What’s He saying here? Do not worry or become over-anxious.  Life is about living in the physical body while focusing on the spiritual body.

Ok, but why does He say this when all about us are fearful distractions? Could it be because we’re looking in all the wrong places for help?

He follows up with Matt. 6:33, “Don’t worry about what you will eat, what you will drink, or if you will be clothed.” Non-believers worry about those things! “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness…and all your needs will be provided to you.”

To sum it up, Jesus tells us that God is still in charge of our lives; He knows our every need. “For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of these things.” (Matt. 6:32b) What assurance! What Reassurance! Our heavenly Father knows. Think about it. God is the creator of all things, even us, and planned the world’s itinerary from the beginning to its end. And here we are, worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow. “O ye of little faith!” (Matt. 6:30)

Phil. 4:6-7 May I be anxious for nothing, and in all things by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, may I make my needs known to You; and I know that Your peace, which surpasses all understanding, will guard my heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Amen

Sleep Well

© Jeanne E Webster

Remember when we were toddlers and the carefree daylight abandoned us to that ugly black darkness called night?  Our bedtime drama began with a hug and kiss and recitation of our prayers.  Sleep well!  The light switch clicked off.  Then it was time…the hour of darkness swooped upon our innocent spirits; panic screeched a fiery course through our veins.   They crept along the walls, hid in the closets, and stirred ever so slightly underneath the bed, those menacing, creepy shadows.  Meanness dominated the dark hours and horrified us.  We were sore afraid.  But then morning came and past horrors dissolved into the light of day.  Levity reigned supreme once again.

 

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”  ― Plato

What terror lurks in the daylight that men should be afraid?  John relates to us the teaching of our Lord Jesus:

“Jesus cried and said…I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.   And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.   He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”  John 12:46-48  

Do not fear the One Who offers eternal life.  Come to the Lord while it is yet day.

Shalom

Fools Rush In

© Jeanne E Webster

Proverbs 1:20-33 KJV

20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:   21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,   22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?   23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.   24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;   25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:   26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;   27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.   28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:   29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord:   30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.   31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.   32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.   33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

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My mother used to say, “Straighten up and act like somebody!”  By that I knew she hadn’t approved of my latest behavior and was rebuking me in her own gentle way.  Those she has passed on through this life, I still hear her words of wisdom in the still night air as I chide myself for my faults of the day.   “Jeanne, straighten up!”  Ok, Mom.

Pray for those folks who are playing the fool.  It’s easy being a fool in life; it’s harder to listen to well-meaning advice.

There is a story on this topic that illustrates Solomon’s point here:

“On a mango tree in a jungle, there lived many birds. They were happy in their small nests. Before the onset of the rainy season, all the animal of the jungle repaired their homes. The birds also made their homes more secure.

Many birds brought twigs and leaves and others wove their nests. “We should also store some food for our children,” chirped one of the birds. And they collected food until they had enough to see them through the rainy season. They kept themselves busy preparing for the tough times.

Soon the rains came. It was followed by thunder and lighting. All the animals and birds stayed in their homes.   It continued raining for many days.

One day a wet monkey in the rain came into the forest. He sat on a branch, shivering with cold, water dripping from its body.

The poor monkey tried his best to get shelter, but in vain. The leaves were not enough to save him from the rains. “Brrr! It is so cold!” said the monkey.

The birds were watching all this. They felt sorry for the monkey but there was little they could do for him. One of them said, “Brother! Our small nests are not enough to give you shelter.”

Another bird said, “All of us prepared for the rainy season. If you had, you would not be in this piteous situation.”

“How dare you tell me what to do?” said the monkey, growling at the bird. The monkey angrily pounced on the bird’s nest, tore it and threw it on the ground. The bird and her chicks were helpless.

The poor bird thought, “Fools never value good advice. It is better not to advise them.”

Good story.

Shalom

A Piece of Peace

Image

© Jeanne E Webster

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Gone are the worthy grades in school

The family get-togethers at the pool

The drugs keep telling him he’s cool

…doesn’t realize he’s playing the fool

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She’s waiting tables and turning tricks

Mind’s cloudy…nothing seems to click

Known on the street as one cute chick

…doesn’t realize she’s getting really sick

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Preaching sermons Sunday morns and night

Those Bible verses he can so easily cite

A bottle of booze he’s hidden out of sight

…struggling to step back into the Light.

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People everywhere are battling each day

Failing yet trying to get back up some way

Keeping those demons somehow at bay

Oh, Lord, bring peace into their souls today

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Lord, we all need your peace in our souls today.