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Sunday, April 8, 2012

If A Sparrow Falls

The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove when he was baptized. I’m thinking maybe he has descended upon me in the form of a sparrow, hallelujah.
My first angelic encounter with the little winged wonders of creation occurred some time before I made Jesus my Lord and was born again. I can’t say to the day when the little sparrow came into my furnace, but I know it was fall, because it was getting chilly; which is why I flipped the nearby switch on the wall and went out to the living room to adjust the thermostat. Just as I did that there was a whooshing sound and rustling coming from down the hallway. I had to take off the front panel and remove the blower motor to get that cute little guy out of there. When I think about it now I’m surprised that it so easily let me pick it up and that it stayed so calmly in my hand until I opened the back door and released it.
I put the blower motor back on the furnace, replaced the front panel, flipped the switch, and headed for the living room to once again set the thermostat; but just before I got it within firing range I heard that same whooshing and rustling sound again. I turned the thermostat back down.
That’s when my husband started to pay attention because I shouted, “What in the world is that bird doing back in the furnace?!!!”
I went down the hallway, took the front panel off, removed the blower motor and gently picked up the little bird from inside the furnace and this time, I went all the way around to the front door and released it. I went back down the hallway, put the blower motor back on, replaced the front panel, flipped the switch, and went back out to the living room to set the thermostat. I felt the click; I heard the familiar rumble signaling that the furnace was getting ready to fire up. Then I heard another sound that was becoming familiar ‒ it was a whoosh and a flutter.
I shouted at my husband, “I CANNOT believe it. That bird went right back up there and right back down into the furnace!”
I turned the thermostat back down, went down the hallway, flipped the switch, removed the front panel and took out the blower motor; but this time it was way down inside, rustling around at the bottom of the furnace and there was no way I could reach it.
Sometimes I’m not the quickest person in the world, but even though I wasn’t saved, I read the Bible almost every day. I remembered Jesus talking about sparrows (Matthew 10:29) and he said, “…one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
          So I prayed a silent prayer to God, “If you will just get that bird to come up out of there, I promise, I won’t turn the furnace on.” Why I prayed that, I don’t know; for some reason, it seemed appropriate.
          Then an incredible thing happened ‒ that little grey bird came hopping up out of that furnace all by itself! It hopped up onto the furnace ledge and hopped down onto the floor. It was all smoky, and its little tail feathers were almost totally burned off. I picked it up, cuddling it as gently as I could, wrapping it in a towel. “I’m sorry little birdie.” I said, “I’m so sorry.” and set it carefully in a box in the middle bedroom. It stayed there quietly until the next morning. When the repair men I called came to look at the furnace it had gone on to its reward, hallelujah.
And oh, by the way, if I had been successful in turning on the furnace, it would have blown us up. There was a gas valve sticking out an inch or so on the side of the furnace and according to the repair men, it was damaged or loose somehow, probably by us moving furniture down the hallway or something or other, and if that furnace had started running it would have blown our house up!
We lived in that mobile home for twenty years and never before or after that time did we ever have a bird come in through the furnace vent.
If you knew how many times God has saved your life, how amazed you would be! Which brings me to the heart of my story, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Hallelujah!
That’s actually just the beginning of the ‘birds of my life’. When we moved to our house there were two beautiful pigeons on the roof. I think they were love birds, hallelujah. I didn’t see them again until just before we moved. One of them was perched on the basketball hoop that was next to the house near our driveway. It seemed so close, almost within arm’s reach as I looked up and spoke ‘pretty bird words’ to it. I was so amazed when, instead of flying away, it side-stepped all the way around the hoop until it was right above me and seemed to be really paying attention; and not only that, but the other one came over to the edge of the roof and peered down at me with just as much interest!
After we moved to our new apartment I was in the kitchen doing dishes one day and I was crying because we had lost the house and because of a host of other reasons; feeling very much let down because of all the things I had been expecting God to do for me. When suddenly I turned around and there was a flock of little birds, I’m almost sure were Chickadees, trying to stand on the window ledge and the air-conditioner that was next to it, and it was almost like they were trying to get in. It seemed so ridiculous to me because they must have stayed there for fifteen minutes, vying for a spot on the ledge, and totally ignoring me though I was right there staring at them. God used those little birds to remind me, hallelujah.
I was feeling seriously sorry for myself and depressed and weepy one day when I went out to hang clothes on the line, not because I had to hang clothes on the line, I love to do that; but because of my family not being together. Suddenly, there was a loud whooshing noise, like something big and heavy falling into the center of a small patch of weeds, that I think used to be a garden, near my clothes lines. I had to stop what I was doing and stare in amazement at the patch of weeds, waiting to see if I could tell what it was.
Maybe I’m finally getting kind of used to God speaking to me in the way that he does, in the way that only he can, because I wasn’t as amazed as I probably should have been when I saw Robins come marching out of the center of that patch of weeds. I don’t know how many there were because it all seemed so surreal; there could have been 10 or 20 of them. They marched off in all directions, but two of them marched right up to me, and one just kept coming, and kept looking right at me. I looked right back at it and said, “Okay.” It still stayed right there, walking back and forth and looking right up at me, so I said, “Okay, Lord, I get it… okay.” and tears of relief filled my eyes. I knew my God hadn’t forgotten me; and I’ll never forget how that flock of Robins hanged around me all the time I was out there that day, hallelujah.
And this is my prayer for you that you may be able to see in unmistakable ways, how God has not forgotten you, my friend, in Jesus name. Amen. Hallelujah!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Prostitute Who Came in From the Cold - Origins

I had a newspaper route for ten years and I encountered all kinds of people deep into the night. A lot of them became friends. I looked forward to seeing them on a regular basis, I guess largely because I knew they looked forward to my arrival; and that was the main reason why I enjoyed my job. I was always welcome and actually ‘sought after’. Most everyone anxiously anticipated my arrival; the store clerks were happy because the customers would be happy, and the customers were happy to finally get their daily paper, even if it was late, at least most of them were. I had over thirty store accounts and boxes to reach and even if I didn’t leave the dock before 3, I still was finished with my route by 5am. I’m laying the groundwork for all the reasons why I was in a hurry, not just a hurry ‒ a BIG hurry. And even though I used my radar detector religiously, I still have copies of the speeding tickets to prove it!
But you know what they say about schedules being made to be broken. Even though I had my blinders on and kept my focus on my job; there are people who become stranded and sometimes one has to take into consideration the gravity of a need. I never said, “No.” to anyone who asked me for a ride. Even if they had to hang with me for the rest of my route before I could drop them off. Even that didn’t happen too often because my route covered the furthest south and the furthest east of Rockford and began and ended downtown. For a while, I had two routes that also stretched out to the farthest west and north! So I really had little reason to refuse someone a ride if it was truly needed. I met a lot of interesting people that way; and I always made sure they knew that God was the one who saw their need and who put me there just at the right time and that, as it was usually the case, if I had left the dock five minutes earlier or five minutes later, we would have missed each other.
One winter we had a lot of snow, and one particular night, it was piling up all around me. I had to fill a box at a motel on 11th Street and the wind sweeping down the street from the north was so cold I could barely stand to be out of my van for the thirty seconds it took me to insert the key and fill the box. The sidewalks were impassable, and the snow plows were having difficulty keeping the streets cleared so that even with tall boots, a person would have trouble finding a suitable pathway.
 I was genuinely surprised to see her emerge from the lobby as I was filling the newspaper box. She was scantily clad in high heels and a designer jacket. She leaned into the wind and trudged out into the street. I was still trying to warm my hands up in front of the heater vent in my van as I passed her by. I was glad that my van was high enough off the ground to glide over the piles of snow that were steadily getting deeper between the tire tracks in the street. To be able to make a new path into the parking lots, I did a lot of coasting without my brakes. I filled the box at Burger King in this manner even though getting in and out of the parking lot took extra time because I always went all the way around the building and came out the other side and I had to make my own path through the snow. She walked up to my van and asked as clearly as she could with frozen lips, “Do you ever give people rides?”
I said, “Yes, I do give people rides.” She was very glad, and so was I because I couldn’t imagine anyone walking in that cold. And you know, sometimes there are appointments in life and I knew we had encountered one because I only had two more boxes to do and the second one was exactly two houses away from where she lived!
 I pulled in to do the first box and when I got back in the van she said, “I can tell by the music playing on your radio that you’re a Christian.”
I nodded.
Then she asked, “Will you pray for me?”
I went past the last box because I had to turn around anyway and then she said, “You can let me off here.”
 I said, “Okay, what do you want to pray about?”
She said, “I want God to help me make a decision to do something I know I’ve needed to do for a long time. I need to change my life.”
I said, “God will not only do that for you, but He will make it look easy. Amen.” God dropped that special faith down into my spirit and I had perfect faith to believe that He would do it. Hallelujah! Nothing was ever said about who she was, or what she did indeed want God to do for her, but to me, she was the ‘Prostitute Who Came in From the Cold’, and shortly after that I told my pastor about my idea for the book series, number two of which is in the kiln of the fire of the everlasting love of God Almighty, Savior of all mankind and especially anyone who will humble themselves and call upon His name. And JESUS is His name. Hallelujah!
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