Monthly Archives: April 2020

Holding Back the Rain

In the Book of John, the last verse says: “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”  The crazy thing is, he was only talking about what Jesus did while He was here on earth.   After reading what John had to say, I wondered how many people have lived for Jesus, experienced His fantastic power, and died without recording their stories?  In my own short time here on earth, I have experienced a few such miraculous happenings, one of which happened back in the year that Elvis died, in 1977.

I was working as a framing contractor in the South Austin Cherry Creek area, it was springtime, and the weather was not helping me a bit.  I needed to come up with the money for my taxes, make payroll that week, and pay the other bills that were coming due.  In order for that to happen this house had to be completely finished by 2:00 that afternoon, and the paperwork turned in to the owners.  My partner, Edgar Lormand, had been telling me all day to relax.  Jesus was in control, and everything would work out.  Edgar was my mentor, as well as partner, but the clouds I could see on the horizon were telling me a different story.

“Hey, Rob, check out those clouds, don’t you think we should roll up the tools?” asked James, my lead carpenter, as he came around the building.  Edgar and I were standing on the 2nd row of roof sheathing desperately trying to get it all laid, nailed off, and dried in before the rain hit.  “Not yet, keep working,” Edgar answered for me.  I remember standing there on the roof looking at the black roll of clouds coming over the hill and just stopped.  “Let’s pray” he said, “God can hold it back for us.”  We stood there on the roof in front of those tough framing carpenters, raised our hands and commanded the rain to hold off by the power and authority of Jesus Christ.  

After our prayer I looked down and the guys just stood there staring at us like we were from Mars.  “Hey, go back to work,” I said, “it won’t rain on us until we finish.”  They had already put the tools they were working with in the truck so some of them climbed up with us and started rolling out the black felt.  The rain came at us like a wall of water, but when it got within a couple of hundred yards from us, it split and traveled to the North and South of us.  It was like we were in a bubble with some fine mist falling on the roof.  We worked like crazy for about 20 minutes and as the last roll of felt got stapled, the bubble collapsed, and we got drenched getting off the roof.

I’ve often wondered why I didn’t ask God to let us get off the roof first.   I know God will not always change my circumstances to fit what I think is the best solution; after all, He is God and knows what is best for me.  But there is something about putting ourselves on the line and displaying our trust and faith in Him publicly that He honors.  How much easier is it to just accept our circumstances and forget what Jesus said in Mark 11:23-24:  “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” 

Falling in Love

I talk a lot about total surrender to God, about denying self and dying to this old world, but unless we understand that process, its just words on the screen.  How can we be expected to leave everything, even our very identity, if we don’t find a better existence and identity?  I had been told about Jesus all my life and knew a lot of second hand info about Him, but it wasn’t until I actually met Him and fell in love with Him that I traded my right of self determination for the privilege of being under His sovereignty. 

So how do we fall in love with God?  The answer is the same as falling in love with anybody.  Since I’m a teller of stories, what better story to tell than my own of falling in love, leaving my world of singleness and finding the exact person I needed for unity.

The first time I saw her she was coming down the isle of our church behind Sister Kay, so I just got glimpse of her every so often.  Thinking I’d get a better view of this new girl, I stepped to one side but wouldn’t you know, Sister Kay came to a stop right in front of me and started talking to me.  Now I liked this lady, but what I really wanted was to talk to the chick behind her.  When my brain pushed through my 17 year old testosterone-laden fog, I heard her say “…so I was wondering if you could let her go with you to the youth group?”  Wait a minute, what did I miss?  “ Uh, sure, yes ma’am, sure, be happy to.”

So off we went to youth, just she and I, and I discovered she was Sister Kay’s sister, her name was Kathy, and she sat right beside me for the whole meeting.  I don’t remember anything else about that event because it was like I was sitting in a bubble with this good looking girl, and she only seemed interested in me.  I mean, she wasn’t even checking out Larry, the Pastor’s son who had a new GTO, or Terry, his good looking cousin who could get any girl he wanted.  No, she only talked quietly to me and looked directly into my eyes while we talked.

That day was a life changing event for me, because I had met someone who really liked me, not for my money which I had very little of, or my car, which was the family 1962 ford station wagon.   The only fly in this ointment of young love we were building was the fact that she lived 150 miles away.   On top of that, her old rural dad was very adamant she did not need to associate with a city kid who didn’t hunt and fish, didn’t like baseball or just about any other thing he considered important.

After that day she went back home and life went on for both of us.  We went to school, found other people to be interested in, and occasionally saw each other when she would come back for a visit.  I’d always try to sneak in a date with Kathy but her dad was a good dad who loved his daughter and stood firm, none of that was going to happen.  I finally accepted that seeing her at church and talking out in the hallway was the best I could do and tried my best to be friendly with her dad.

Eventually she finished her senior year at High school and as the Valedictorian of her class, was going to give the speech at the ceremony.  Much to my surprise I got an invitation from her sister to attend the ceremony, and when Kathy looked out at the people in Rochelle High’s auditorium, there I sat with her family.   

Looking back at that night, I remember it was like looking down a tunnel and at the end there stood Kathy.  She was talking away about going out to meet the new world and all that stuff, but I didn’t really pay that much attention.  All I could see was her, and from that moment I knew I was so in love nothing else was important.  In fact after the graduation, we went on our first, and only true date.  I remember we were sitting in the car just talking about our dreams and such, and I grabbed her hand and said “Kathy, will you marry me?”   Yeah, I know, I’m pretty impulsive. 

She, as I have eventually found out, is as methodical a person as God ever created, and promptly told me: “No, I’ve got things going on, just got a job in Brownwood, got my first car, and I’m moving in with my great aunt.”  I saw right away that I had a bit more work to do.

For the next 7 months I drove over a hundred miles each way to visit her every other Friday.  By then her dad decided he’d have to teach me to hunt and fish so that worked out and her mom laid the best table I had ever encountered.   Man, what’s not to like.  The best thing that happened was we had time to get to know each other.  The worst thing was the wear and tear on my 1965 Fairlane that had a 390 big block, 4 barrel Holley carb and 4 on the floor.  That old beast would snort and get it if you pushed it, and push it I did-getting back to where my heart stayed.  So as they say, the rest is history.  We tied the knot 48 years ago and it’s been a wonderful journey.  

Falling in love with another human being is what God established when He created us.  But He also created us to be in love with Him, and why most folks go through life looking for something to fill the void only He can fill.  So how do we fall in love with Jesus?  First we meet Him, either by being introduced by a friend, or by simply seeking for Him on our own.   We meet Him, and talk to Him face to face, heart to heart, and His Spirit flows back to us.  The first time you encounter God’s Spirit it is a life-changing event.

Second we need to spend time getting to know Him by reading His Word, singing to Him, talking to Him and hanging out with Him.  I’m not big on creating a formula on how this should transpire, but Luke records how it happened to the original church in the Book of Acts.  That is a great place to start reading about how falling in love with Jesus will affect a person.  

The deeper we fall in love with Jesus, the more we want of Him.  

Down on the Farm

Have you ever given something your very best effort and it was not enough?  God gave me a lesson I’ll never forget about letting Him take care of things I can’t seem to do on my own.  

I had sold a couple of bull calves to a neighbor and needed to take them to him.   It was summertime and cattle don’t like to go to the barn when there is plenty of grass to munch on.  Eventually I was able to herd them all into the pens, separated the calves and got the largest one in the trailer, but the smaller one got excited, jumped the 5’ fence like a deer and ran off into the woods.  I took the one calf over to the neighbor and promised to bring the other as soon as possible.  The next afternoon, before I left the house, I prayed a very simple prayer and asked God to help me pen the calf.  Imagine my surprise when I reached the corrals and saw the calf standing in the pen along with a cow and a small calf.  Saying a quick “thank you Jesus”, I shut the gate and proceeded to slowly move the animals into the loading chute, which led to the trailer.  Now that calf weighed about 800 lbs. and it decided that going into the chute was not going to happen.  I worked for about fifteen minutes repeatedly getting him to the chute, only to have him break every time and try to knock me over.

This calf was getting wilder by the minute as he was totally scared and confused by the proceedings and I remembered how God had penned him for me.  Once again I prayed another simple prayer for help and immediately felt a strong urge to just stop and be still.  While standing off to the side I watched the calf trembling all over, with its head and tail up high, and spraying snot with every breath.  This was one disturbed animal.  Then I quietly said to God: “Lord, you put him in the pen and I’m not doing very well at getting him in the trailer.  Would you please help me here?”  As I said these words, I was looking at the calf and instantly his head and tail came down and his body relaxed.  He walked around the cow, went over to the chute, went down it, hopped into the trailer, turned around and looked at me.  I was right behind him so it only took a few seconds to close the trailer gate.  

I was so overcome and humbled that the God of creation would even care about my little problems that I fell down on my knees in that dirty cow lot and sobbed out my thanks to Him. Looking back, I realize I’m so blessed to have this memory during our current circumstances because I know He holds me in the hollow of His hands.  So I urge you, climb up here with me, let’s get real still, and watch Him do His thing.