A PROPER BURIAL

“Are you sure He’s dead?”

“A soldier pierced His side. He never flinched. The spirit has left Him. Yes, He’s dead.”

“What do we do now? We can’t leave Him there. Tomorrow’s Sabbath.”

Joseph looked around. His glance landed on the tomb he just had completed. “I’ll see if Pilate will give me permission to bury Him in my tomb. I’ll bring linen back with me.”

Nicodemus nodded. “I’ll get the myrrh and aloe. We must move quick. The sun is low.”

Joseph stared at the young men with him. “Don’t let Jesus out of your sight. If the soldiers take Him down before I get back tell them I’m off to see Pilate. Pray the LORD’s favor.”

Nicodemus turned to the young men with him. He grabbed the sleeve of the closest one. “Stay with Joseph. Carry the linen back for him” He pushed him off, then looked at the others. “Follow me. There are things to buy while there’s still time.”

****

When Nicodemus returned he found Jesus’ body still on the cross. His thoughts worked through the task at hand. “With the arms pulled out at the shoulders we should be able to take them to His sides if rigor mortise has set in.”

He glanced over at those still witnessing the event. Mary, Jesus’ mother, buried her face in John’s shoulder and sobbed deeply.

John caught Nic’s attention. “Do you need my help?”

Nicodemus shook his head. “No. There’s no need for you to become unclean, too. We have enough help to do this. You’re assignment is heavy enough.”

The centurion approached the soldiers standing nearby. “Take the body of Jesus down. These men will dispose of it.”

Nicodemus’ anger rose in his thoughts. “He’s not refuse. He’s the Messiah…I don’t know why He’s dead.”

Joseph showed up with the linens. “Clear this area for us. Lay enough strips down so He doesn’t touch the ground.”

The crew worked in silence as they meticulously prepared the body for burial as quickly as possible. The shadows were long when they finished.

Joseph stood. “Lift Him carefully. Follow me.”

Nicodemus walked next to Joseph. “Are you sure about this?”

Joseph stared ahead and kept marching. “I only thought I was having that tomb made for me. Whatever I have belongs to my Savior. I can get another one made.”

After the body was laid on the slab the men fought the stone across the opening. A glance at the western horizon displayed only half the sun.

Joseph walked away. “There’s nothing more we can do now. Everybody go home.”

****

The burial of Jesus was one of those events. Joseph of Arimathea was stationed at the foot of the cross for a divine reason.

He’d just completed a tomb for himself and his family. At least that was his original aspiration for that undertaking.

Tombs in Israel were reserved for the wealthy in that time. Graves were for the poor peasants. A man with means could have a cave hewn out of the rocky hillsides to place his dead body in after he was done with it. More slabs would be carved in there for other family members.

Matthew tells us this was Joseph’s tomb. So, in a literal sense Jesus took his place in death.

Luke and John point out that this tomb had never been used. A totally clean, in every sense of the term, environment was the place of Jesus’ body after He was done with it.

A new day began at sundown in that time. So Sabbath was near when Jesus died. The men needed to move with haste to accomplish this grim task before the law forbid any work being done. There would be no time for any ceremony.

John and the women witnessed at a distance as the preparations were completed.

It was important to all of them that Jesus be buried according to the customs established. It was urgent they do so rapidly. Only time for the essentials was prudent.

Let me stop and ask you an important question. Is there something in your life that you’d be willing to give God if He asked for it?

You may have to make a quick decision like Joseph did. Or, you’ll probably have time to think about it.

The ironic thing is the more likely you are to want to hold onto it, the more likely God will require it from you.

I don’t know what that thing is for you. It’s different for each of us. It may be your life savings you’ve squirreled away for retirement. Or, a marriage partner who walks out on you, or is diagnosed terminally. A wayward child may be your personal possession God wants you to let go of.

We all need to come to the place where we recognize God’s sovereignty over everything. Our plans may need to give way to His ways. Only a personal relationship developed on deep trust can take that step of faith.

I pray you come to that point before the test comes. It will still be difficult to let your burden go into God’s divine hands, but your soul will be able to sleep at night when you do so willingly.

Everything is working together for your good, to become like Jesus, and God’s glory, to establish His kingdom. The question before us now is. Are you going to be a willing participant, or not?

Nicodemus hid in the dark of night to visit Jesus early in His ministry. He boldly became part of the team to bury Jesus at the end of it. His personal relationship obviously deepened in time.

I pray yours does, too. So does God. That’s why He gave us His only Son’s life.

He knew there’d be no other way for us to return to Him.

He gave us His all. Are you willing to reciprocate?

I’ll see you later.   Wade

The summertime price for living in Texas

August in Texas is a challenge for most of us. This summer hasn’t been as bad as previous ones, but we’re beginning to feel at home now.

97 degrees is the average high temperature for this time of year. I’m grateful for every day we’ve stayed below 90 thus far. We’ve been near or at 100 fairly regularly lately. This old man is feeling it more than ever.

I’m sure it didn’t help that I got stuck in a truck with no working air conditioner twice this month. Even with drinking everything legal for a conservative Christian I’m still drained.

I keep reassuring myself we’re one day closer to fall. It doesn’t work. I’m still tired.

We’ve gotten more rain this summer than usual, too. The lawn cracks are just starting to appear and they’re small enough I don’t have to avoid them. Normally I have to watch to make sure I don’t sprain an ankle all the way up to my knee from such a mis-step.

There’s still a big divot left over from last summer I have to detour. But I’m conditioned to do that automatically now.

Yeah, I still run at 100 degrees. My schedule won’t allow for any other time for such exercise. I’ve kept myself healthy enough that I know missing a week of running would be more hazardous to my health that straining through the drain of Texas swelter.

Of course “running” at 100 degrees is much different than running at say 70 degrees.

An August run looks something like this. I fill a water bottle before I head out the door. At ten minutes I wipe the first sweat off my brow and take a drink of water. At fifteen minutes I stop to wipe my head with my shirt tail and gulp more water. Fifteen steps later I’m wiping more sweat that’s stinging my eyes. Repeat at twelve steps and swallow more water. Ten steps later I tear my shirt attempting to sop up more sweat, then chug the last of the water. I pray for a working drinking fountain so I can refill my bottle. After I stagger across the parking lot to what looks like a fountain I discover they shut the water off since they’re not scheduling any activities for that city park this time of year. What were they thinking?

Now you know why Texans are so tough. I’ve relived that scenario several times. Yeah, I’m a full-fledged Texan now.

A couple of weeks ago I came across another guy running toward me, so I decided to conduct a quick on-the-spot interview.

I asked one question: “So, are we crazy or desperate?”

I chuckled at the speed of his reply and the surety in his voice. “Crazy” was all he could muster.

So, as I was hoping I stepped on the proper one of the two sidewalks I saw to get back home while licking the cotton out of my mouth I thought a question to myself. Is there anything else I feel is this important that I’ll persevere through so much adversity?

Then I thought about my writing journey and answered a decisive “Yes.”

Writing is so much a part of me I can’t imagine not doing it. It’s more important than exercising. It ranks right up there with breathing and eating chocolate. It’s that vital to my existence.

That’s why I pull my computer out during a lunch break to write three more paragraphs on the proposal I’m fixin’ to send out this weekend. (Yeah, “Fixin” is Texan)

That’s why I gave up watching television for entertainment. It took too much time and energy away from my writing.

That’s why I keep putting these blog posts out every week. It’s an outlet for my creative juices.

The real “why” that I write is the fact that it’s a direct gift from God Himself. I firmly believe that.

I don’t want to be that guy in the parable of the talents who buried my talent. I want to be one of the guys Jesus smiles at and says, “Well done.”

What gift has He given you to use in adversity?

Keep smiling.   Wade

AN ELDER SEEKER

“Do you really want to see Him this much?”

Nicodemus wrapped his outer cloak over his shoulders. “I need to speak to Jesus face-to-face in order to see if He’s the One we’re to wait for. The Council can’t agree on doing this officially, so I must go at night. Even though it feels like I’m breaking the law somehow.”

“Are you sure He’ll speak with you?”

Nicodemus nodded as he strode to the door. “One of His followers, John, has made arrangements for me to convene tonight. I’ll let you know what I learn when I get back.”

“Godspeed, my friend.”

He looked both ways after closing the door. The streets were empty. Though a life-long resident of Jerusalem the way seemed unfamiliar in the dark. John met him outside the city gate and led him to his encounter.

Jesus greeted him with a hug.

Nicodemus stepped back. “Rabbi, we recognize You as One sent by God because of the miracles You do. Only God can do what You do.”

Jesus placed a hand on his shoulder. “I tell you plainly, to see the kingdom of God one must be born again.”

Nicodemus hoped for a light so he could search Jesus’ eyes. “How can an old man be born a second time? There’s no way for me to re-enter my mother’s womb and experience birth again.”

Jesus sat on a stone and motioned for His guest to sit on an adjacent one. “You are thinking of a physical birth. That must come first, but a spiritual birth must follow. One is visual while the other is of another world. The wind is an entity you can’t see, yet you know it because of its effects. The same holds true here as well.”

Nicodemus sat forward and tipped his head. “Help me understand this.”

Jesus sat up straight. “You’re a Pharisee, a teacher of Israel, yet you don’t understand this. I’m telling you of earthly things to help you know this. How can I make you accept my witness if you’re blind to what I say? I have come to the world from heaven for you. As Moses raised the serpent up in the wilderness so must the Son of Man be lifted up, too. Those who look upon Him will be saved. Those who don’t are condemned already. I have come as a light to this dark place to show the light. But, men love to wallow in the darkness to hide their intentions. A lover of truth will come to the light so God will smile on him.”

****

God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son, whoever believes Him will live forever.

Do you believe Jesus?

Are His words still a riddle to you?

His words will remain a riddle until you do accept Him for who He says He is. Yeah, I know, that sounds like a riddle, too. Trust me, this step of faith is required for you to make sense of any of this.

As one of Israel’s Pharisees Nicodemus had a firm grasp of what we call the Old Testament portion of the Bible. He’d spent his life studying the nuances of the laws. The prophets’ messages were scrutinized for their meanings as well. Psalms were sung on a regular basis.

Yet, Jesus’ words remained a riddle to him. Nic was stuck on the literal aspects of Jesus’ message to the detriment of his belief. He couldn’t see past what he’d experienced to step into the unknown.

Faith is believing what we can’t see, but trusting it to be real.

Jesus even pulled a story from the life of the beloved Moses to make His point to Nic. The time Moses lifted up a bronze serpent became His object lesson. Nicodemus would recall this one quickly. We find it in Numbers 21:4-9.

People were dying from snake bites after they complained to God about this never-ending journey. Moses was told to make a replica of the snakes and lift it up for people to see. People who’d been bitten would live if they merely looked at Moses’ “snake”.

At least two things would have jumped out in Nic’s mind:

1. Moses said a greater prophet than him would one day appear. Nicodemus’ goal was to see if Jesus was that Prophet. Jesus did His best to tell him “Yes, I am that man.”

2. When Jesus claimed He’d be lifted up as well to save people Nic would have prophetic proof when the crucifixion occurred. We’ll see how Nicodemus responded by the time of that event in due time.

I’d like to tell you Nicodemus walked away from that nighttime encounter a changed man. But, I’d only be guessing since the Bible doesn’t tell us that.

I’m not concerned about Nicodemus at this point, his life is over. I’m concerned about you. Have you been made new by Jesus’ words, yet? Or, do you still prefer to walk in darkness?

Jesus claimed to be a light come down from heaven to shine God’s love to all who believe. My goal is to reflect His light to you so you see His truth and love poured out for you.

You have a choice to make, my friend. Will you accept Jesus at His word and follow Him into the light?

Or will you continue to stumble in the dark because it’s so familiar to you?

I don’t know how much clearer I can make it to you. I pray God’s Spirit clears the confusion up in your mind today.

We know Nicodemus had a few years to sort things out in his life. We don’t know how much time you have for this decision.

Once you cross that threshold of death your eternal destiny is secured.

Heaven is known as a place with no shadows.

Hell is a place of utter darkness.

That’s the ultimate riddle for everybody to respond to.

Choose to walk in God’s light and my closing is for you.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Lessons from my summer of the toddlers

Well, my summer of volunteering with my church’s early childhood education department has officially come to an end. They all get promoted to new classrooms next week and the regular volunteers resume their ministry positions.

One part of me will miss the little tykes. Another part of me is ready to get back into my rut of living with adults again. I’m on the call list to fill in when a shortage arises during the year, so I’ll be back.

Some of them left a lasting impression on me.

When you look up the word “mischievous” in the dictionary there’s a picture of Evan there. His smile always conveyed that message to me. He can be a bit of a clown, perhaps acting is in his future.

Reid has a few adjustment issues to deal with. He can change from a cry to a full-out laugh in less than a minute. He does appreciate being read to, too. I hope he enjoys my books when he can read on his own.

Henry has some leadership potential in him. With the right guidance he’ll go far. I hope he’s well grounded in Jesus when his time to shine comes.

Sweet Emily will make a great mom someday. She stood out in a room full of boys in more ways than one.

Olivia’s parents need to keep a close eye on her. She can steal a heart quickly. I pray for God’s protection over her as she matures.

The twins, Merritt and Marlowe, need a very patient hand to love them right now. In time they’ll be strong.

These little stinkers taught me a few lessons along the way as well.

When a mom warns you to hold her son facing away from you because of his inability to keep breakfast down from his intense crying, either do as she says or hold him so close he feels your love coming from your soul. I chose the latter option and we got along fine.

To keep toddler juice from getting on your clothes don’t tip boys upside-down after they’ve had something to drink, especially if you’re planning on picking up groceries on the way home.

A hug and some one-on-one time is always appreciated. I had three kids trying to sit on my lap during story time and another standing behind me. Who says men can’t impact kids in a positive way?

The most important toy in a room full of them is the one in someone else’s hand. Why don’t we ever outgrow that one?

The caretaker in the room is quickly discarded when Dad shows up. I couldn’t convince Reid to let me take him home after his family arrived. I don’t blame him. As soon as my heavenly Father calls for me ain’t nobody else getting my attention or affection, neither.

Now that I’ve lived to tell about my summer of the toddlers I’m ready for my next adventure.

How about becoming a full-fledged author, God? *hint*hint*

Keep smiling.   Wade

Faithfulness Rewarded

Simeon awoke with a smile on his face. “In my calculations it’s been forty days since the angels appeared to the shepherds near Bethlehem. Are You coming today, my Lord?”

A peace filled his soul as he dressed and ate breakfast. “Yes, today I shall see my redeemer face-to-face.”

He left his cane by the door when he exited and marched to the temple. The smile never left his countenance. He scanned the people mulling around the outer courtyard. The young couples held his attention the longest. Nothing in him stirred from looking at them so he entered the outer court of women.

The confusion today seemed higher than normal, but Simeon kept searching the throngs. He almost felt a tap on his shoulder, so he spun around. His gaze landed on the couple carrying a baby and a cage with two doves. “I’m here.” He knew only he could hear that voice.

Simeon was glad the young man seemed transfixed on the architecture of the temple. He didn’t want to lose them in this crowd. The girl was reaching up stroking the soft beard when Simeon arrived.

Without introduction Simeon lifted the child from the mother’s arm.

Joseph stepped in his direction. “Simeon?”

A tear landed on the blanket. “I can now die in peace since I have seen the redemption of Israel with my eyes. You shall be a light to the Gentiles, little One.”

Simeon lightly stroked the child’s cheek. The infant suckled as He slept.

The old man looked at the couple. “This One will cause many in Israel to rise and fall, He’ll be spoken against and will reveal many heart-motives.”

He gazed into the mother’s eyes and lowered his eyebrows. “A sword will pierce your soul.”

A thin old woman approached the gathering. “Is that Him, Simeon?”

Simeon stepped up to her and slipped the child in her arms. “Yes, Anna. The Savior has arrived. Do you want to hold Him?”

Anna took a half-step back. “No, I might drop…”

She shook as Jesus was placed in her embrace. “He’s so perfect.”

Joseph chuckled. “Yes, He literally is.”

Her tear fell on His cheek. Jesus fussed, but never awoke.

“I’m sorry, my Lord. The last thing I want to do is make You upset.”

Anna gave Jesus back to Mary. Then she grabbed the sleeve of a man walking by. “He’s here! The Lord is here today. Salvation has come to us.”

The man glanced at Mary. “I’m sorry, we’re in a hurry. We have a store to run. We must make our sacrifices quickly.”

Anna did her best to introduce Jesus to as many as would believe her. Some approached the family. Others waved in their direction. Many tried their best to avoid the crazy old lady.

*****

Don’t you just love God all the more when He chooses to hold up two used-up old people in the Christmas story?

Neither Simeon nor Anna were born into the priestly tribe. Yet, both of them spent their time in the temple.

Simeon, we’re told, was filled with the Holy Spirit when that was out-of-the-ordinary. Anna was called a prophetess. I’d say they were upstanding citizens in God’s eyes.

God gave them the spotlight when they acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah in His infancy. That’s what made them so unusual.

The sad part of this is the fact that two centuries after this event it’s still out of the norm to acknowledge who Jesus is.

Even after Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, healed many diseases and raised people from the dead, most folks won’t believe what Anna insisted is true.

The most amazing feature of Jesus is the fact He raised himself from the dead. Yeah, let that soak into your psyche.

Sadly most people don’t think about that occurrence much, if at all. I guess that’s what separates those of us empowered by the Holy Spirit now and those who aren’t.

“So, if Jesus already came to earth as the Messiah is there anything left for us to look forward to?”

I’m glad you asked. Because the answer is a resounding “YES.”

We haven’t seen the last of Jesus on this earth. Not by a long-shot.

The first time Jesus came to us He came in humility as a baby to offer himself as the sacrifice we needed to bridge the gap created by sin. That gap is in our relationship with God.

If you want a personal relationship with the creator of the universe you must acknowledge your lack of ability to reach God on your own efforts. The perfectly holy God can’t commune with imperfect people.

That’s why God came down as one of us, Jesus. The man, Jesus, never sinned when He lived with us. That’s what made Him the only sacrifice acceptable to God to mediate between God and us.

For those of us who accept Jesus’ death as the substitutionary death we deserved to die, and believe His resurrection from the dead proves His power over our greatest enemy, we’re given an adoption into God’s personal family.

We can now take advantage of God’s Holy Spirit in us to help us overcome sin’s control over us. Our new life’s purpose is to become more like Jesus in everything we do.

You may also see some of us straining an ear to hear a trumpet blast. If you catch us glancing at the eastern sky its because we’re anticipating Jesus coming back to establish the kingdom He’ll rule on earth.

Before that happens many of us are yearning for Jesus to take us home suddenly so we’ll avoid the cataclysm that’ll occur before that time.

You see, Simeon and Anna aren’t the last people to look for Jesus to come to them. I’m looking, too.

I hope you join me in this effort.

Look me up when we get to heaven. Don’t worry about running out of time once we get there.

We’ll have all eternity to be introduced.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

The ingredients for a successful pity party per Jonah

On the forty-first day after Jonah made his proclamation to the king of the Assyrians in the capital of Nineveh Jonah sent up a prayer. “Isn’t this what I said wouldn’t happen, God? I knew You were compassionate and gracious. You hate to bring calamity on those who repent. Now the Assyrians are still in power because You won’t bring the judgement on them they deserve. This is exactly why I hopped a boat for Tarshish to begin with. Just let me die right here and now.”

Jonah heard God’s response. “Do you have a right to be angry?”

He marched east of the city, made a crude shelter and sat down. He stared at Nineveh just in case God relented about His relenting and destroyed it after all. A plant grew rapidly over our reluctant evangelist and brought great relief from the sun’s glare.

As the sun set over the great city Jonah drifted off to sleep. As the sun rose the next morning Jonah smiled at the plant God grew for him. He kept up his vigil to see Nineveh destroyed once and for all.

The wind became hot on his back as the sun scorched his head. The plant wilted before it gave the anticipated shaded relief from it’s leaves.

Jonah griped another prayer. “Just let me die and get it over with. Why drag it out like this?”

God’s voice was loud and clear. “Do you have a right to be mad at the plant?”

Jonah spit. “I do. I’m mad enough to die.”

God spoke once more. “You’re more concerned over that plant that you had no control over than you are about the 120,000 folks in Nineveh. Why wouldn’t I have compassion on so many people?”

****

So ends the saga of the soggy, sagging, pitiful prophet of God.

Which brings me back to my original question: was Jonah hard of hearing or hard of loving?

I would venture to guess he was hard of loving. These Assyrians had a history of being the meanest, nastiest, foulest folks on the face of the earth. Who wouldn’t want to see them get what they deserved? And, who would want to see them live to see another day during their lifetime?

Jonah’s hatred for these people was so strong he didn’t want to carry out God’s plan of redemption even after he carried it out.

So how did God respond to His chosen vessel? The same way He did with Job–with questions. The questions boil down to the same basic one: “Which one of us is God in this situation?”

I pose a couple of questions for us.

Is there a person, or people group, you’d rather see wiped off the face of the earth than reach with the gospel message?

Is there a situation you’re mad about how God is handling it?

Take some serious introspection time to delve into your answers before you do answer them. You may be surprised at your responses.

After you’ve faced your demons ask yourself: “Who is God in this circumstance?”

Trust Him to do what’s best. He IS in control.

Keep smiling.   Wade

A DELAYED BLESSING

Elizabeth set the ingredients out for her special unleavened bread. Zacharias would be home soon. She knew how much he loved her fresh bread. The 23rd Psalm hummed from her mouth.

A hand on each side startled her. Flour went everywhere, including her hair.

She spun around and found her husband smiling from ear-to-ear. She noticed a sack and a scroll on the table.

Zacharias stepped back, pointed at her then at himself. He folded his arms with his palms facing upward and rocked side-to-side. The smile in his eyes was one Elizabeth recognized from the past.

She slapped his arm. “You scared me to death, old man. What ‘s got into you? You’re usually talking non-stop about what happened at the temple while you were on duty. How old was that juice they served? I think it was beginning to work.”

He walked to the table and returned with a mandrake.

She smiled. “That’s what I like about being married to a priest. You guys get the first-fruits of everything. I was just in the market and I couldn’t find any of these.”

He raised the fruit to her mouth and winked.

Her teeth broke the surface and splashed juice down her chin. Her thoughts immediately returned to the years they ate these to try to conceive. A twinge of heart-ache broke her again.

His finger wiped the nectar from her chin before he took a bite. Once they finished that piece he dusted flour from her hair before he led her by the hand to the bed.

Elizabeth spent the next five months wondering why she ever envied other women who complained about morning-sickness.

****

After five months she couldn’t put off going to the market. Zac just couldn’t seem to be able to communicate what she needed.

Her women friends stared at her as she approached. A gust of wind blew her clothes against her belly. The news spread quicker than a wildfire.

****

A month later Elizabeth was preparing lunch when the door opened. She looked over her shoulder to see Zac tapping the scroll again and staring at the corner of the room.

“Aunt Elizabeth…”

The voice of Mary sent the fetus in her womb for a loop. Not a mere twitch of restlessness, either. No, this was sheer joy. Elizabeth spun around and faced her niece. She didn’t know where the sudden awareness came from, but her mouth spoke her heart.

“Who am I that the mother of my Lord should grace me with her presence? Blessed are you for believing the word spoken to you and blessed is He in your womb. My own child danced at the sound of your voice.”

Mary rushed to her and they shared a special embrace that would extend through the next three months.

****

I’m sure Elizabeth didn’t know the course her life would take. Who does? I’m sure she wouldn’t want to trade that moment of commonality with Mary for a dozen children.

The stigma she carried around like a plague her entire life vanished in that second. Those two women carried the two most anticipated boys in human history.

I’m confident she was convinced her time of usefulness was long gone. We can only guess how many times she cried herself to sleep when she imagined a crib in the corner of the room.

But then God stepped in and changed her whole experience. Her wait was over. Her son would go on to become the one who would prepare hearts for the Messiah.

What regrets are you carrying around on your shoulders? What breaks your heart whenever you think about it?

Give it to God. He stays awake all night already. He longs to carry that burden for you. But, you have to bring it to Him and set it at the foot of His throne.

Then, expect a surprise. He may not bring about the outcome you expect. It will likely be better.

I think Elizabeth was extremely content with her own pregnancy. Then, Mary comes along with the One who was greater than her own fetus.

The three months those two women shared had to be the most precious for each of them.

God has a way of breaking our limited anticipations in His time, especially when we have to wait for an answer.

I have a feeling Elizabeth mentored Mary in countless ways, while Mary advised Elizabeth in prenatal care from her experiences with her own mother carrying Mary’s younger siblings. These are merely a writer’s ponderings, but why wouldn’t God grant a double blessing this way?

I hope you’ve established a community of peers around you. Make sure they’re heading the same God-honoring direction you long to go. No friends are better than the wrong friends.

Make the effort to seek out others you hope to emulate and those you hope to guide.

If you’re younger look for someone who’ll guide you in your decisions. You’d be surprised how many elder women would love to share their experiences with someone. You’ll never know if you never ask.

Older women should seek out a promising younger woman to lead. Many would love to be coached in their life. You’ll never connect if you don’t get to know them.

These same principals apply to men as well.

You may be brushed aside by someone who’s too busy. Perhaps they’re in a stage of life where they don’t have extra time to help another out. Maybe they’re in the process of learning the priority of importance.

Do your best to keep enough margin in your life to be able to help others out. Not everything is about making money. Impacting people is more long-lasting. One-on-one seems to have the strongest impact.

The choice is yours. You can go through life concentrating on meeting your own desires and goals. Or, you can help others along their road of life.

It’s been my experience as a truck driver that the best people share the road.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Okay, I admit it. I’m socially challenged.

Events have made it so I finally have to make a public admission.

“My name is Wade and I’m socially challenged.”

There, I’ve said it. Now watch my video where I explain why I can’t hide my ineptness any longer.

Keep smiling.   Wade

AN INITIAL DOUBT

Zacharias strained to see the lots as they were cast to see who would be chosen to present the incense offering in the temple. It was a long time since he’d been in the mix this far along. Others started chanting his name to try to get the lots to cast in his favor. He knew he’d influenced many in his years as a priest. Now he blushed.

The final cast brought a cheer and many slaps on the back to the elder statesman. Preparations commenced for the ceremonial offering. The rope attached to his ankle brought a chill up his spine. A stark reminder of the times he’d pulled others out from behind the heavy curtain that separated men from God.

The shaking in his hands stopped, surprisingly, when he walked behind the veil. The pounding in his chest remained. “Please don’t give out now.”

The many years of training others on this protocol brought about a smooth end to this sacred ritual.

One more look at the altar brought a thought to mind. “This has been a climax for my priestly life. The only thing that could have come close would have been holding my own son in my arms.”

The sudden appearance of an angel sent Zacharias to the floor. His foot came within an inch of touching the base of the altar. The rope pulled up next to him. His attention was fixed on the angel’s calm, yet commanding, voice.

“Don’t be afraid, Zacharias, God has heard your prayer. Elizabeth will conceive a son to you. You are to name him John. He will bring many back to God and prepare their hearts for the kingdom.”

Zacharias trembled as he stood. “But, we’re too old for children. How can I know this for sure?”

The angel’s eyes widened. “I am Gabriel. God, Himself, told me to give you this message. You shall be mute until John is born.”

Zacharias raised his hand to protest, but his voice was silent. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he fell to his knees alone.

He replayed the scene in his mind. He realized Gabriel was talking about a prophesied forerunner for the Messiah. A smile found his face as he recalled the angel’s last words, “…until John is born.”

“It’s not too late for me. John will still be born to fulfill his mission. My mission is to help conceive him. God isn’t through with me, yet.” The thoughts raised the old man to his feet and sent him out to face the crowd that awaited him. He couldn’t wait for his duty time at the temple to end so he could break the news to Elizabeth.

****

If you don’t find hope in Zacharias’ story go back and read it again.

We find a priest who was devout in his treatment of God, yet remained childless.

We aren’t told whether he’d ever been selected by lot to ever enter the Holy of Holies in the temple before this time. If not he must have been convinced God had forgotten him completely by now.

We have a man near the end of his life wondering if he still had anything to contribute. With no legacy of a son who would remember him or what he did?

Then, in a matter of minutes, God stepped in with the most remarkable set of events to make the most amazing announcement of all time.

This over-the-hill, down-and-out priest was going to be used to begin the advent of God coming to us in our form.

The four hundred year silence of God to His chosen people was officially ended by an angelic visit to a common priest.

If you know God as well as I do it doesn’t surprise you in the least to see Him use someone whose life looks the least likely to be used in the manner God chooses to use.

I don’t know about you, but that gives me hope and comfort. This shy kid who grew up on a small farm on the edge of nowhere may still be used for something great by our awesome God. He can use you, too.

This Webster’s definition of great may be quite different from God’s definition of great, for me and for you.

My writing and speaking may reach thousands for the kingdom. Then again, it may just reach one who will reach the thousands, perhaps millions, for God.

The results are up to God. The work is up to us.

Do the thing God has given you today. Do it to the best of your ability for His glory. If you don’t have time to finish it today work on it when you can until the job is complete on your end.

It may be a simple thing for you. Perhaps a phone call you keep putting off, or an email you need to send. God has plans for your efforts, but it won’t get accomplished until you do your part.

Zacharias’ call was to enjoy intercourse with his wife. That’s all God told him to do to accomplish His will for him. That simple act set off a course of events that changed the world.

You’ll never know the repercussions of your action until you complete it.

That action may take time to complete. My writing friends will attest to the fact a book takes a long time to finish. I have one I’ve been laboring on for over five years now. I’m nearing the end of edits before I send it off to a publisher to see if they’re interested in taking it the next step in its journey. Its a labor of love, but a hard chore at times.

Sometimes I have to squeeze time into my workday in a truck to work on it. Sometimes it sits for days without anything being done because of time constraints. I trust it’s all in God’s timing as I do my part.

Then, the results are up to God.

I’ll see you later.   Wade