Shoutin’ “Whoooaaa” Before We Hit the Ground

Dirt road through the |]], near

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is part of the blog chain. This month’s theme is memory, and here’s one of mine. Check out my friend’s blogs on their day from the list on the right.

My uncle’s old pickup bounced noisily along the dirt lane leading to his farm. My cousins and I sat on the tailgate and dangled our feet inches from the ground. We slumped against each other, exhausted from a day in the fields. But, the freedom of the open truck bed and the breeze from the movement began to revive us. Soon we were shouting over the truck noise and laughing as each pretended their intent to push another off the tailgate.

When the truck hit a bump, the sagging suspension allowed our feet to scrape the dirt. After a few times, we made a game of it. We inched closer to the edge and stretched our legs to see who could let their feet slide the longest.

It became precarious when we hit two bumps in a row. The first would cause us to stretch out and the second would bounce us quickly again, moving us closer to the edge.

I looked down and watched the dirt and grass between the ruts move steadily by. We weren’t going fast so it wasn’t zipping by – just a steady pace. I reasoned that if I was bounced off at that speed, I could just keep my legs moving and stand up.

At the next pair of bumps I got to try my theory out. As we hit the first one, we all stretched out, giggling at what by now we understood to be danger. The second bump was more of a hole. The tires went deep and then quickly up to the top, sending the truck’s rear end into the air. With that, my rear end bounced off the tailgate and when it came down, I was too near the edge to stop. I scrambled for a handhold but found none.

I whooped out a long “Whooooaaaa!” as I sailed off the truck, and flailed my feet in hopes of remaining upright. But, my theory had at least one fatal flaw. I had not considered the direction I was facing. If a mishap occurred, I would come off the truck backward. No matter how good you are, you can’t run backward as fast as forward.

That was proven as my feet hit the ground. Rather than showing any semblance of uprightness, my back and then my head followed quickly onto the dirt. I slid awhile, came to a stop and lay there in the middle of the road.

By then my cousins’ shouts had alerted my uncle to stop, and they jumped out of the truck and dashed back to see if I was hurt. The slide had torn my shirt and scraped my back – but thankfully, there were no broken bones and nothing more serious than a nice goose-egg from the head banging.

I thought I had it figured out. I knew I was on the edge but kept inching closer. Surely, my plan would take me through. If I was bounced, or pulled, or pushed over the line, I could easily use my own strength to keep straight. But, as I lay in the road staring up at the sky, it was clear my own strength had been useless – either to prevent me from falling as I kept tempting danger, or to hold me up once the boundary had been crossed.

It’s not unusual for us humans to think we’re stronger or smarter or quicker than we really are. Sadly, it’s also not unusual for us believers to walk close to the edge of temptation, relying on our own strength.

We read of Samson and Delilah in the Book of Judges. Each time she asked how he could be defeated, he became more arrogant in his answers. Finally, he told her cutting his hair was the secret.

That night Delilah had someone shave Samson’s head while he slept, and then she cried out the Philistines were there. He jumped up, ready to defeat them as before, but found he had no strength. His hair had been cut, but the real problem was that God had left him – and Samson didn’t even know it. He had toyed with temptation and eventually crossed the line. Samson quickly found that without God, his own strength was useless.

“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.” (Pro. 4:14-15 ESV). God knows our tendency to think we can handle temptation on our own, and He knows that we will fail if we try. His Word has many verses like these, that warn us with verbs like “avoid”, “turn away”, “depart” and the one that expresses it most dramatically – “flee!”.

We shouldn’t be walking close to the edge – we should be running the other way, because our strength will not keep us from being bounced, pushed or pulled over the line where temptation gives way to sin.

But, thankfully, God has not left us to our own strength. The Bible also has many verses that promise He will be our strength. If we take the warnings to heart and trust in His promises and His power, we won’t find ourselves whooping out a “Whooooaaaa!”, flailing our feet and hoping to stay out of the dirt on our own.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

The Cardinals Hatched!

The Cardinals Hatched

Here’s a picture of the cardinals that hatched last week. They’ve actually grown enough now and left the nest, so I have put the net down over the blueberries. I think the birds have gotten some but it looks like there are still a lot left for the harvest.

I may have fussed a bit in my previous blog about them building the nest, but I actually thought it pretty neat. God’s creation is amazing.

As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings,” Deuteronomy 32:11 NKJV

The mother eagle stirs up the nest to make it uncomfortable for the young ones to stay. But then she provides  the means and help for them to leave.  Like the mother eagle, God will provide the means for what He is telling us it’s time to do.

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Devil or Angel?

Devil's Trumpet

Devil's Trumpet

In the garden, as in life, there are angels and there are devils – such as the angel’s trumpet and the devil’s trumpet plants.

If you look closely at each plant with its beautiful flowers, it’s easy to distinguish between them. The structure of the bush and shape and texture of the leaves make it obvious the flowers are from different plants. But, if you take the flowers away from the plants and compare them, it’s not so simple. That’s a good analogy to what the Bible tells us – when a new and beautiful idea or plan (or person) comes into our life, it’s good to make sure what “bush” they’re coming from. (“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14.)

Angel's Trumpet

Angel's Trumpet

 I don’t know how each plant got its name but there are two characteristics that possibly led to it. The bell end of the devil’s trumpet comes from the  ground and points up – as if from Hell, blasting out at Heaven. The angel’s trumpet is the opposite – as if from Heaven, blasting out at Hell.
The most interesting fact is, while the angel’s trumpet flowers remain for several days, the devil’s trumpet blooms at night and the flower dies the next morning after it sees the light of day.
(“For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” John 3:20)

The Patience of Toads

We often hear about the patience of Job, but have you ever considered the patience of toads?  Our house must be located in prime toad territory because we have a multitude of the little critters that hop out from under bushes and other hiding places each night in search of bugs.  There’s a group that gathers under the light on the carport and another group that fans out across the patio finding the patches where the security light on the power pole shines through the birch tree limbs.  Two of the toads spend the day under the moss roses in a planter on the back porch.  At night they scramble over the edge of the container, plop down on the bricks and hop to any light that is shining through the glass in the back door. 

The toads are not alone in their search for tasty bug treats. The green tree frogs also hang around – literally.  They’re the ones with enlarged pads on their toes that give them the ability to crawl up the side of the house and even stick to the ceiling upside down. 

The tree frogs attach themselves to the glass in our back door and spend the night waiting a short time and moving, waiting a little more and moving – they rarely stay in one spot for more than a minute or two and then impatiently move on in search of better hunting.

But the toads don’t seem to feel the need to do much moving.  A toad can sit for an hour in the exact same location, waiting for a wandering bug to land in the few square inches in front of him that are within range of an outstretched tongue and a quick lunge.  I don’t know how many bugs that a toad can catch in a night but apparently there are enough to make them fat and keep them coming back and sitting patiently night after night.

It’s written in the Bible that God provides for all of his creation – that would include bugs for toads.  While not realizing it, the toads do acknowledge that fact and trust in it by going each night to a good spot, sitting and waiting, and then acting when the opportunity shows itself.

Perhaps we could learn from the toads’ example.  God provides for His children too and gives us blessings and opportunities to serve Him, but we can’t find those while sitting alone in a hiding place.  We must first move closer to the Light, drawing nearer to God by studying His Word, communicating with Him through prayer, and exercising our faith through obedience.  During this process we shouldn’t be rushing about like the tree frogs trying to find what God would have us do.  Instead it requires patience like the waiting toads.  God will lead us in what He wants us to do but the timing will be up to Him.  If we wait patiently and trust in His faithfulness He will give us opportunities and when those are presented, that’s when we must act.  If we wait on God and then follow His purpose and timing, we will receive blessings from above – and they’re guaranteed to be better than those that the toads receive!

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”  Isa 40:31 KJV

Getting Started

As the tagline says, I approach life from the perspective of a Christian man, but I don’t pretend to have everything figured out. I have to do a lot of thinking, or pondering, as I like to call it. The results of that can range from serious to humorous, but I’m told that what I write does give others something to think about too. Hopefully that will be the case here.