n Directions, James Hamilton writes: "Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer.
"One man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn't find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch.
"Amazed, the men asked him how he found it.
" 'I closed the door,' the boy replied, 'lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.' "
Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear.
— Phillip Gunter Los Alamos, New Mexico
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nnie Dillard, in her book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, writes: "A couple summers ago I was walking along the edge of the island to see what I could see in the water, and mainly to scare frogs. ... At the end of the island I noticed a small green frog. He was exactly half in and half out of the water.
"He didn't jump; I crept closer. At last I knelt on the island's winterkilled grass, lost, dumbstruck, staring at the frog in the creek just four feet away. He was a very small frog with wide, dull eyes. And just as I looked at him, he slowly crumpled and began to sag. The spirit vanished from his eyes as if snuffed. His skin emptied and drooped; his very skull seemed to collapse and settle like a kicked tent.
"He was shrinking before my very eyes like a deflating football. I watched the taut, glistening skin on his shoulders ruck, rumple, and fall. Soon, part of his skin, formless as a pricked balloon, lay in floating folds like bright scum on top of the water: it was a monstrous and terrible thing. . . . An oval shadow hung in the water behind the drained frog: then the shadow glided away. The frog skin bag started to sink.
"I had read about the water bug, but never seen one. 'Giant water bug' is really the name of the creature, which is an enormous, heavy-bodied brown beetle. It eats insects, tadpoles, fish, and frogs. Its grasping forelegs are mighty and hooked inward. It seizes a victim with these legs, hugs it tight, and paralyzes it with enzymes injected during a vicious bite. That one bite is the only bite it ever takes. Through the puncture shoots the poison that dissolves the victim's muscles and bones and organs — all but the skin — and through it the giant water bug sucks out the victim's body, reduced to a juice."
Like this bug, our hidden sins can paralyze our spirit. And even though the effects may not show immediately, sooner or later, they suck the life out of us.
— Dave Goetz Wheaton, Illinois
n 1992 Kerrin-Lee Gartner of Calgary, Alberta became the first Canadian in history to win Olympic gold in the women's downhill. In Canada she was an immediate sensation.
Shortly after her victory, an announcer interviewing her commented that this must surely be the most significant day of her life.
"No," she replied. "The most significant day was the day of my marriage — but this ranks pretty high." Even the greatest of achievements cannot compare with the greatest of relationships.
— Gerald Cameron
I (c-rV\ Toronto, Ontario
ears ago a thunderstorm swept through southern Kentucky at the farm where my Clay-pool forebears have lived for six generations. In the orchard, the wind blew over an old pear tree that had been there as long as anybody could remember. My grandfather was grieved to lose the tree on which he had climbed as a boy and whose fruit he had eaten all his life.
A neighbor came by and said, "Doc, I'm really sorry to see your pear tree blown down."
"I'm sorry too," said my grandfather. "It was a real part of my past."
"What are you going to do?" the neighbor asked.
My grandfather paused for a moment and then said, "I'm going to pick the fruit and burn what's left."
That is the wise way to deal with many things in our past. We need to learn their lessons, enjoy their pleasures, and then go on with the present and the future.
— John Claypool Birmingham, Alabama
n the movie Casualties of War, Michael J. Fox plays Private Erikson, a soldier in Viet Nam who is part of a squad that abducts and rapes a young Vietnamese girl. He didn't participate in the crime. Afterward, as he strug-
gles with what has happened, he says to the other men in his squad, "Just because each of us might at any second be blown away, we're acting like we can do anything we want, as though it doesn't matter what we do. I'm thinking it's just the opposite. Because we might be dead in the next split-second, maybe we gotta be extra careful what we do. Because maybe it matters more. Maybe it matters more than we ever know."
Death, for all of us, is a breath away. And the nearer death is, the closer we are to answering to God for all we have said and done.
— Joel Sarrault Mt. Forest, Ontario
n the summer of 1989, Mark Wellman, a paraplegic, gained national recognition by climbing the sheer granite face of El Capitan in Yo-semite National Park. On the seventh and final day of his climb, the headlines of The Fresno Bee read Showing a will of granite. Accompanying the headline was a photo of Wellman being carried on the shoulders of his climbing companion Mike Corbett. A subtitle said, Paraplegic and partner prove no wall is too high
What many people did not know is that Mike Corbett scaled the face of El Capitan three times in order to help Mark Wellman pull himself up once.
— Greg Asimakoupoulos Concord, California
rom time to time, lobsters have to leave their shells. Apparently it is a necessary part of their growth process. While they are growing, they need their shell to protect them from being torn apart. And yet, as a result of having grown on the inside, their old shell must be abandoned. If they did not abandon it, their old shell would soon become their prison — and finally their casket.
The tricky part for the lobster is the brief period of time between when the old shell is discarded and the new one is formed. During that terribly vulnerable period, the transition must be scary to the lobster. Currents gleefully cartwheel you from coral to kelp. Hungry schools of fish are ready to make you a part of their food chain. For awhile at least, that old shell must look pretty good — even if it had begun to feel like your kid sister's girdle.
Sometimes lobsters die between shells. That's life and death in the ocean blue. Though sad, perhaps it's not as sad as the possibility of slowly suffocating in a shell that no longer fits.
We are not so different from lobsters. If we did not have a shell — a structure, a framework — within which to grow, then I doubt any of us would have made it this far.
Even so, change and growth are necessary for survival. Discipleship means being so committed to Christ that when he bids us to follow, to change, to risk, to grow, to leave our "shells" behind, we do what he asks.
y — Brent Mitchell Ceres, California
omedian Emo Philips tells this story: In conversation with a person I had recently met, I asked, "Are you Protestant or Catholic?" My new acquaintance replied, "Protestant." I said, "Me too! What franchise?" He answered, "Baptist."
"Me too!" I said. "Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?"
"Northern Baptist," he replied. "Me too!" I shouted.
We continued to go back and forth. Finally I asked, "Northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1879 or Northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1912?"
He replied, "Northern conservative fundamentalist Baptist, Great Lakes Region, Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!"
— New Republic
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arren Bennis, in Why Leaders Can't Lead, writes:
"The flying Wallendas are perhaps the world's greatest family of aerialists and tightrope walkers. . . . I was struck with [Karl Wallenda's] capacity for concentration on the intention, the task, the decision. I was even more intrigued when, several months later, Wallenda fell to his death while walking a tightrope without a safety net between two high-rise buildings in San Juan, Puerto Rico. . . . Later, Wallenda's wife said that before her husband had fallen, for the first time since she had known him, he had been concentrating on falling, instead of on walking the tightrope. He had personally supervised the attachment of the guide wires, which he had never done before."
Often the difference between success and failure, life and death, is the direction we're looking.
— Rex Bonar Olathe, Kansas
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