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Musings 14, A Safety Net

I think back 16 years – to September 11, 2001. I saved the page from my Quotes For The Day calendar. A court jester approaches a superior, bowing gracefully. It must be Iago who speaks the words from Othello, Act 1, Scene l. “We cannot all be masters,” he says. We remember that Iago is devious, a scoundrel who comes between Othello, a Moor, and his white wife, Desdemona, causing murder and mayhem. Four hundred years ago, William Shakespeare wrote the play, and murder and mayhem persist, even magnified today.

Scoundrels accomplished evil deeds that September morning. On that Tuesday, three thousand miles away, Californians watched as evil  men crashed stolen planes into the World Trade Center, and the buildings came down in dust and debris, littering the ground with small pieces and broken bodies. The world gasped in horror. They broke our hearts, but not our will. There seemed to be no safety net to protect us from the wicked intentions of our enemies.

The site has been rebuilt, a testimony to human endeavor that flourishes under the auspices of a merciful God. Mistaken beliefs tore at the fabric of safety. We need to continue efforts to rebuild mistaken minds and hearts. The earth can be a dangerous home, but goodness prevails. Jesus said, “Love God and love your neighbor.” That should be our safety net.

(1 Peter 1: 3-4) Through Jesus there is hope in an inheritance that waits for us in heaven.

(Psalm 71: 16) I live in the strength of he Lord. I will speak of his righteousness.

(1 Peter 5: 8) Be sober and vigilant. Your adversary is the devil seeking to devour you.

(John 16: 33) In Jesus there is peace. In this world is tribulation. Be of good cheer. Jesus has overcome the world.



Musings 13, Slow Growth

Railroad crossings — mean go slow.

That old cow — is some cow’s beau.

Use Burma Shave!

The advertisement was posted on a series of five signs a short distance apart, and mother was driving the car slowly enough on the rural road that my sister and I could read them and giggle. We never questioned what Burma Shave had to do with running into a cow at a railroad crossing. The world of advertising was as foreign to us then as it is now. “When are we going to get there?” we would ask.

But the “go slow” part has intensified in meaning. How much do we miss because we are in a hurry? How many mistakes do we make by not slowing enough to check our work? Does haste make waste? Who said, “Darn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead.”

Taking time is a good sign. Savor the journey. Enjoy the trip. Relax. Don’t ask the driver, “When are we going to get there?” Find the joy in the moment.

(Psalm 143: 8) Cause me to hear thy loving kindness in the morning, for in thee do I trust.  Cause me to know the way I should travel.

(Hebrews 1: 1-2) God who in times past spoke to our fathers by the prophets in different ways, in these days he speaks to us in the son. (Listen!)

(Psalm 46: 10) Be  still and know that I am God.


Musings 12, Together

“We strolled the lane together.” In southern Texas the lanes have turned into rivers and the land into lakes.

“Laughed at the rain together.” Harvey, hurricane and tropical storm, left no one in the region laughing as it dumped rain for days, as much as 50 inches in some places, flooding homes and businesses. Three feet of water submerged roads, turning them into fast moving rivers. It is said to be the worst storm ever.

“One day we cried together.” Shelters are overcrowded with victims of the violent storm that lasted for days and wiped out entire neighborhoods. The death toll stands at 18, but some are still missing.

“We’ll always be – together.” Dramatic rescues were seen as people were taken from roof tops and rescued from submerged cars by heroic responders. States from across the country sent help to Texans in trouble. A convention center was available for the emergency. Somehow it sheltered 10,000 people. Food and water and blankets became available, and even baby diapers were provided. That’s how it is in this country. There are many willing and able to help those in trouble. It’s well worth noting that a disaster can bring out the best in people. God bless us, everyone of us, and hold us together.

(Genesis 28:15) And behold I am with thee and will keep thee. I will not leave thee.

(Joshua 1: 9) Be strong and of good courage, and be not afraid or dismayed. For the Lord is with thee wherever thou goeth.

(Psalm 48: 14) God is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even unto death.

Musings 11, Just Visiting

Musings 11, Just Visiting

I am relieved. The adolescent whale visiting in Newport Harbor  has left. He had enough sight-seeing in Newport Beach I suppose. Perhaps the food was not up to his expectation or the people were less than welcoming, but I am relieved. There was no untoward incident. He did not upset any boats, nor did he swallow any children, and best of all, he did not die, but swam away in late afternoon after a stay of at least six days in Back Bay Harbor, notably thinner. Coast Guards and Harbor Patrol must have breathed a sigh of relief.

Our whale traveled north and was sighted hugging coastal waters near Seal Beach and later Los Angeles. Most grey whales have completed their annual 12,000 mile West Coast migration from the lagoons of Baja California and are busy feeding in the shallow waters of the Bering Sea. I hope our visitor makes the connection in deeper waters.

We are reminded of our own journeys. We sometimes lose our sense of direction and wander in unfamiliar and dangerous paths where we are deprived of the life-giving force of our God. Jesus provides the life boat. We may grow tired of the visit, but we can always return to safe shores. The Bible shows the way to return to righteousness. Eventually we are welcomed into the arms of our Heavenly Father, perhaps only slightly the worse from the rigors of the journey. Now, isn’t that a whale of a tale?

(John 14: 20) At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

(Psalm 25: 7) Remember not the sins of my youth nor my transgressions. According to thy mercy, remember me for thy goodness sake, O Lord.

(Proverbs 23: 18) Surely there is an end  (to your journey), and your expectation shall not be cut off. You will be rewarded and your hope will not be disappointed.


Musings 10, A Whale Tale

A young gray whale is swimming around in the shallow waters of Back Bay Harbor in Newport Beach. He has been noticed in several coastal waters from San Diego to Dana Point. The 20 foot long mammal has been amusing visitors, not causing any trouble, but the Coast Guard and Harbor Control do not know what to do with him (or her). He appears to be losing weight, and they are concerned that he might die in the harbor, so they are trying to entice him to leave voluntarily, but he turns away in the wrong direction. Why is he being recalcitrant? He can’t be getting enough food, and there are no other whales to keep him company. Why does he linger?

We might as well ask Jonah, a prophet working for God in the 8th century, what he was thinking when he disobeyed God. Legend says God told Jonah to go to Ninevah, capital of the wicked city of the Assyrians. When he headed for southern Spain instead, he was thrown overboard and swallowed by a whale, where he remained for three days until the whale spit him up on shore. Jonah got the message and went to Ninevah where he preached and made a difference.

Surely God’s eyes are on this lost whale. I see a sermon in that.

(Jonah 1:17) And Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

(Matthew 12: 41) Jesus said, “The people of Ninevah repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here – but you refuse to repent.”

(Ephesians 5: 8-10) Be followers of God. Be children of God. You were once in darkness but now are the light of the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Musings 9, Endurance

I have heard that old age is not for the faint-hearted, but for many years I disregarded that information. Now I know it for a fact. Like many things affected by time, we wear out.

A recent cartoon in the funny papers, papers which seem to grow less funny, Dennis the Menace watches Mr. Wilson on his knees in the garden. “When will you be done, Mr. Wilson?” Dennis asks. “Me and Joey just want to watch you get up.”

The tribulations of aging are many, but we oldsters just don’t want to give up our gardens, even when “getting up” hurts, and we need to rely on the assistance of the near-by trowel to rise.

Hopefully we have acquired “endurance”, the quality that enables us to persevere in spite of difficulty. Endurance, the ability to suffer, was required to a great degree in Jesus, who exemplified remarkable endurance as he suffered on the cross. We have celebrated his patient endurance for over two thousand years, and we subside in trust and love. In this life some suffering is to be expected, and we must develop a patient endurance.

(Revelation 1: 9) John wrote, “I am your brother and your partner in suffering, and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us.”

(Romans 8: 17) We are the heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must share his suffering.

(Philippians 2: 14-15) Do everything without complaining or arguing. Live clean innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.


Musings 8, The Waiting Room

Waiting has become so necessary that many offices and businesses offer a place to wait. Shopping centers court attention by providing comfortable places for customers or their companions to wait.

I watch a couple strolling down the busy streets of Balboa Island, a small island between the ocean and the bay beset with tourists. She is occupied looking into shop windows while he is scanning the curbside for places to sit and wait. Ah, he must have thought, a bench at last. She finds a shop in which to browse, while he waits patiently, in some degree of comfort.

I like the waiting room in one doctor’s office. He provides a TV with videos of health information. Lest I have forgotten, I am reminded to eat healthy foods and exercise. My book lies forgotten. Usually he keeps close to his schedule, reducing the waiting time.

We all have reasons to wait, and a waiting room or a well placed bench is a good use of space. God does not say we must be uncomfortable while we wait.

(Psalm 27: 14) Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart.

(Joshua 1: 9) Be strong and of good courage, for the Lord is with you wherever you go.

(Hebrew 6: 15) Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.