"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Guardian Angel has a heart....sorta.

As usual with Angel's appearance, a sharp crack rattles my sleep. Yet, this time, instead of her normal whiny, grating and phlegmy voice, I am blasted awake by a thunderous female roar of "What In The Hell Do You Think You Are Doing? You ******** Idiot!" (well, she did not actually say asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, etc, but you get that point.

As usual, I snap awake realizing that I am standing in the back yard, in the privet, next to the creek bank which is high and raging because, well, because the rain is pouring down and the thunderous roar of Angel is only matched by the thunder and lightning show in the sky. And, as usual, I am clad only in my "Bad Christian" t-shirt and boxers. And I'm drenched. And angry. And, slightly scared of HER.

"Don't Ignore Me, You Weasel. I Asked You A Question!" she roars again as my head began to pound. "What In The Hell Do You Think You Are Doing??!!" And, it slowly begins to dawn on me what she means. Yet, I try to play it off like the Artful Dodger, Fun Guy that I am.

She is perched on a tree trunk that almost spanks the racing creek, her bent and tarnished halo glistening in the rain. Her spotted and stained, torn robe has been hitched up a little with some honeysuckle vine so that she isn't exposing any of herself. Her one good wing and her one broken and raggedy wing are both shining with water and when the sky lights up with lightning, they both look almost new. In fact, the water is causing some type of freakish glow around her that is giving her a type of beautiful, heavenly, (almost) angelic appearance. Her wet cigarette hanging from her fingers gives a little edge back to her, but I can forget about that.

Like I said, I know why she is here and, as usual, try to launch into measly excuses and reasons and diversions to how Micheal is behaving these days.

I try starting, "Hi Angel, good to see you again...."  "STOP IT AND SHUT UP," comes out of the darkness and I'm not sure for a moment whether it is her or, gulp, the Father.

"You see, Angel, I've been going through a really, really bad time lately and am struggling every day," I start. "I 'm not sure what..."

"Oh, Whine, Whine, Whine! Just cry me a bucket full you ungrateful toad. Oh, I've lost one of my best friends. WHINE! Oh, I'm having a bad day. WHINE! Oh, I'm so depressed. WHINE!"

"But, Angel, my doctor has diagnosed me with PTSD, and..."

"Don't You Think The Father and I Know That?" She continues to screech. "What I Am Here for is to Find Out Why You Were Lying In Bed Thinking about How Many Pills You have in your Cabinet and How Many "It" Might Take to end....to End YOU! Have You Lost Your Freaking Mind?!"

I stand there with no excuse, because it was the truth. I stand there in the pouring rain in my back yard, standing (almost literally) naked before God and my Guardian Angel. And I had no answer.

Her voice softened a little. "Look over your shoulder, you selfish foolish critter. Look at the windows in your home. There is a family in there that loves you more than anything. Look around your neighborhood. You have neighbors who also love you and your family."

"I know, Angel, I know..."

"Shut up and let me finish. It's rare that I get this kind of assignment, especially for you, because you are usually so well grounded. Now, you're just thinking stupid. Think about all the people on Facebook who write you and send you notes of love and encouragement EVERY DAY and pray for you EVERY DAY! And you are all crazy because one freaking person in Father's Universe decides he doesn't like you. Sheesh, You Are So Stupid." There is silence for a minute, then, in a quieter voice I hear, "but you're stupid in kind of a cute way.

"Listen, jerk. With all the crap that Micheal Elliott puts me and those Tybee people through, I don't have the strength to say this more than once. He wears me out. But, put this in your head and remember it... Forever....'cause I don't want to have to come back here again. The Father Loves You! He Loves You! As messed up and crazy as you think you are, and as messed up and crazy as I know you are.....God Loves You.

"He created the doctors and the doctors who can help you through this....trust them on His behalf. Don't be afraid, Father and I are with you. He created friends who have battled the same demon illnesses that you are battling.....trust them and don't be afraid to call them."

By this point, I could not tell whether it was the rain or the tears running down my face, but I knew I felt loved and safe for the first time in weeks and months. I couldn't bring myself to look up at my Guardian Angel, because I couldn't bear to see the Love of God coming from her. And then, she whispered....

"Now, boy. I have one word of advice for you. Get your eyes back on Father where they belong. Simple. Don't look for problems. Just keep your eyes above. I'm here watching out for you along with Father, Son and the Spirit. You are Never Alone."

I could tell she was ready to leave and was expecting some sweet closing when she swooped toward me and swatted the back of my head in true Leroy Jethro Gibbs fashion. "So, there! You've been Touched By An Angel!!" And if you weren't pumped full of anti-psychotic medication, I'd treat you to a beer up on the Square. But, we'll do that later!"  And she was gone.

I stood there in the rain and hollered to the darkness, "Gee Whiz, Angel! Couldn't you at least pop me back in bed and outa this rain?" CRACK! I was back in my bed, and quickly noticed I was still wearing the wet Bad Christian t-shirt and boxers.....except now, the word BAD had been torn off.

And for today my friends, this has been another story of Jimmy and his Guardian Angel.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Jesus and the Hot Glue Gun

  I am somewhat a collector of religious artifacts. A wall of many crosses that people have brought me from all over the world, including the Holy Land, takes up one wall in my bedroom. Some are handmade by master woodcraftsmen, some are simple a couple splinters of wood nailed together. But, they were all gifts and are special to see first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.
  I also have several mezuzahs which came from Israel. Some are metal with beautiful stones inlaid, one is inexpensive Lucite with Hebrew art and one is made from olive wood. Two of them have kosher parchments inside with the Shema and other Hebrew documents.

  Recently, a good friend brought me set of prayer beads from Jerusalem made of olive wood. They can also serve as a rosary for our friends of the Catholic faith, but they are also used by Protestants as prayer beads as they bring their adoration, confessions, thanks, and supplications to God. At the bottom is a cross with an inlaid picture of Jesus. It is a beautiful piece of religious art and I always carry it in my pocket. When things get tough, I feel a sense of God’s presence when I put my hand in my pocket and can feel the reminder of prayers.

  Well, the other day when I was emptying my pockets at the end of day, I noticed that the cross (and Jesus) had come unknotted and was missing. Searching frantically through my pockets, the floor and everywhere I could think, I finally found Jesus on the floor under my recliner where I guess he had slipped out of my pocket and under the chair when I stood up. My sausage-like fingers could not get the strands of cord back through the holes in the cross and get secure knots tied. I knew it would just come loose again. So, I resorted to the one item no home should be without. The glue gun. I heated that thing up, used a needle threader to get the strands back through the holes, clumsily tied a couple knots, and....hot glued it on every available surface.

   After I finished this procedure, and my thoughts began to flow, I realized how we often lose Jesus. In this country, it is very difficult to grow up without some knowledge of Jesus, whether you choose to become a believer or not. Jesus is everywhere. So, how do we lose Him?

  We can lose Jesus by just ignoring His desires for us. To love Him and to love others. To share His Name and His love with those around us. We can lose Jesus by allowing the ways of the world to take control of our lives. The television shows we watch, the movies we see, the jokes we tell, the language we use, and so on. All these can become a part of our life so quickly that Jesus is shoved to the back and eventually lost. You can lose Jesus by the friends and associates you choose and the places you hang out. Mainly, however, you can lose Jesus by not staying faithful to His House and to His people. It’s so easy, especially this time of year, to take a Sunday off for a “day at the lake” or to just catch up on sleep or yard work. Then, the next Sunday, maybe we decide to go to a ballgame and before long, we’ve missed several Sundays of fellowship in God’s House with God’s people. And that is where our strength comes from and that is where we can keep Jesus in our lives.

  It would be so much easier if ministers could just hot-glue Jesus onto our backs permanently, but they can’t. It is up to them and to us to encourage each other in the faith. You can be the glue for someone else.

  And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.