Tag Archives: writer

Playing the What-If Game

what-if-700-X-4501-300x195I’ve always hated “what if” questions. My husband, however, loves the “what if” game. What if I had a mullet, would you still love me? What if –insert movie star or famous musician name here — walked through those doors, what would you do? What if cows could talk?

Now why these seem fairly non-threatening questions with obvious answers, I’ve still never liked this game, simply because it seemed like a waste of time asking questions that we already know the answer to. (It also might be due to the fact that when you teach middle schoolers you spend most of your day fielding questions that have obvious answers.) Today, however, I want to pose a “what if” that isn’t so easy to answer.

What if God asked you to do something that you know would cause pain and fear, and possibly even be life-threatening? I don’t know about you, but that’s a question that has no easy answer. It’s the kind of question that pushes our faith to the limit, makes us question everything we know about God, the Bible, and our Christian life. Unfortunately, although the question has no easy answer, if it’s asked by God then it has an obvious one – “here I am, send me.”

I realize that Jesus was faced with this exact question and his response was appropriate yet hard fought in prayer. But sometimes my human mind thinks of course Jesus would say yes to whatever, He was God after all. But in Acts 21, Paul is faced with this same type of question.

After several days of visiting, a prophet from Judea by the name of Agabus came down to see us. He went right up to Paul, took Paul’s belt, and in a dramatic gesture, tied himself up, hands and feet. He said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: The Jews in Jerusalem are going to tie up the man who owns this belt just like this and hand him over to godless unbelievers.”

Paul had a trip planned the Jerusalem, but now was faced with the idea that when he got there it would go completely awry. Don’t know about you but I think I’d be planning a trip somewhere else or maybe it would be a great time for a stay-cation. Even Paul’s friends suggested he “not be stubborn and persist in going” (verse 12). Paul’s response was just as it should be and one that we must learn to make ourselves.

Why all this hysteria? Why do you insist on making a scene and making it even harder for me? You’re looking at this backwards. This issue in Jerusalem is not what they do to me, whether the arrest or murder, but what the Master Jesus does through my obedience. Can’t you see that?

Paul did go to Jerusalem. He was imprisoned for 2 years for something he did not do. Then he traveled on ship for a trial. The ship was wrecked. He went without food for two weeks. Then got bit by a snake. Sounds like the prophet had been right in his prediction of what would happen if Paul went to Jerusalem.

But Paul was also right in his response as well. Throughout all the pain and fear, hundreds of people, both prisoners and authorities, heard Paul’s testimony and the news that Jesus died for their sins. Not only that but after the shipwreck, when they reached the island of Malta, many people were healed. Paul kept right on speaking of his innocence and preaching the gospel to anyone who would hear.

What if that were me? (Back to the dreaded question) What if you were warned that the road ahead of you would be fraught with problems, pain, and life-threatening situations, would you still choose to walk the road? What if your pain and problems allowed others to come to know Christ, would you keep walking that road?  Oh, right now, I believe all of us would speak a resounding and very spiritual YES! But honestly, I’m not sure we would go willingly and our yes would be more of a whisper and a prayer of please God don’t make me do this.

Immediately, I can think of a road that God asked me to walk. I will say I didn’t get any warning that it was coming — in fact, I was blindsided by it. However, looking back I can honestly say that the road brought me exactly where I needed to be, but more than that I brought me to a place of joy.

I have shared this life-altering painful road experience with my friends as well. Several asked me to walk their road with them. I did, but what I’m always so astounded by is that as we look back, we  cannot believe the good that came out of the ugliest of situations. The marriage rocked by infidelity, drug abuse, and emotional wrenching. The forced career change accompanied by the forced income decrease. The sickness that threatens life and the future of a family. Some of these travelers had warnings, but others found themselves on their road unexpectedly.

While we can ponder for quite a while the “what if” of walking a difficult road, I think there’s a better question. What if we didn’t walk that road? Where would our lives be right now? How would our relationship with Christ be: stale, vibrant, indifferent? I don’t know about you, but those are the roads I don’t want to avoid, for those are the ones that brought me closer to Christ and enabled me to discover who I am a little bit more each time. So maybe as it relates to my spiritual life, the “what if” game isn’t one I mind playing at all. At least it gives me a chance to tell about what God has done in my life and that’s never wasted time.

What if you left a comment and told us how you felt about the what ifs in your life?
(Sorry I couldn’t resist.)

Edition: Original Flash Fiction

Wednesday Reads WideJust for fun today, I’m doing something a little different. Today, you get to read an original flash fiction story by me!  It is Wednesday Reads after all. Hope you enjoy!

Lonely No More

The click of the automatic coffee maker dispelled the morning’s silence and woke Henry. Rolling up to a seated position, he paused on the edge of the bed. “Ruthie, dear, the coffee’s brewing.” He turned, hoping his voice roused her, to find her pillow untouched. Tears rimmed his eyes as he stared at the fluffed pillow. It had been six months already. Why did the memory rip through him every morning like it had happened yesterday? Why did his brain still see her standing in the kitchen pouring coffee?

Henry slowly rose to his full height and donned his slippers. Without thinking, he grabbed his robe and headed toward the kitchen. The droll of amber liquid stopped, and the house returned to silence once again. Closing his eyes, he breathed in the coffee’s earthy sweetness and filled his cup. He shuffled toward the table, the weight of a thousand mornings shared with Ruthie pulled behind him like boxcars on a train. How many more must he endure without her cup sitting expectantly beside his?

Henry shivered as he touched the nearby window, where pockets of snow lined each pane. Just last night the porch chairs stood expectantly waiting for their usual evening occupants, but mere hours transformed the entire porch into a perfectly stitched white blanket. Beyond the glass, the rising sun brought shadows into light compelling Henry’s gaze toward footprints. One set, undisturbed, led away from Ruthie’s porch chair and down the steps. Who would be on the porch during a middle-of-the-night snowfall?

Grabbing his toboggan, Henry headed out into the snow-covered morning, leaving his coffee behind. Punching his hands deep into his robe pockets, he followed the footprint trail, pausing where the visitor paused — in front of the old tree swing. What trespasser stops for a brief jaunt on a swing?

Henry took another step toward the swing, stumbled, and grabbed the rope for stability. A smile captured his blue-hued lips. Countless times, Ruthie had followed the same path on summer evenings. While fireflies danced in the dusk, Henry pushed, she swung, and together they dreamed of the future. Now, he pushed the swing only to send it toward the morning sunlight and scatter the snowflakes.

Their life together had flown by. The kids were born, grown, and out the door before he’d finished his second cup of morning coffee. Then it was just he and Ruthie again. Still young. Still dreaming of the future. But now there was nothing but lonely waiting.

The rustle of trees interrupted the silence, and Henry turned to see branches bouncing as the weight of the snow fell from their limbs. The footprints extended beyond the tree’s edge, so he followed. His wet slippers stepped into each footprint so as not to miss their leading. The chill of winter air snuck through the fabric of his pajamas, and Henry shivered as he stepped in the last footprint, which ended in a small clearing on the edge of their property. A chuckle bubbled up and boomed through the snow-laden trees. How long ago had he and Ruthie slipped away for some alone time in this exact spot? The children were too scared to venture this far from the house, but it was the perfect hideout for “romance.” Well, that’s what Ruthie called it. He had a different word.

A fully formed snowman stood cheerily a few feet away. The usual coal eyes, carrot nose, and stick arms accompanied a pink and green toboggan. A snow-woman! Beside the daintily dressed snowwoman sat a half-rolled snow-boulder. Henry’s chest tightened and a familiar burn formed in his throat. He couldn’t leave her alone in the cold.

Henry cupped a handful of snow and packed it hard. Another handful and another brought forth the snow-partner. Pulling a few items from the pine tree audience, he decorated the snowman’s face then donned its head with his own toboggan. He stood before the pair — his heart pounding and his breath short. What a cute couple! Even their toboggans matched.

Stepping closer to the snow-woman, Henry reached for her toboggan. It slipped from his hand. Steadying himself against the snow-plumped body, he reached for it again. The familiar green thread slid between his fingers. Ruthie’s empty nest moments had been filled with hours of knitting. His green birthday toboggan was a mate to her own pink and green version. And there it sat upon the head of the snow-woman. Had the footprint visitor borrowed it?

With a furrowed brow, he sat down in front of the pair, propped his elbow on his knee, and rested his cheek in his palm. He thoughts swirled around like snowflakes caught in the wind. Ruthie had always loved the mornings after a snowfall. Had she gotten up earlier than he to enjoy this one? Where could she have gone? She wasn’t in the kitchen by the coffee pot. Maybe, he had seen her in the garden? Yes, there were lots of flowers. He just couldn’t remember the place.

Henry yawned and closed his eyes. He just needed to rest his eyes while he waited for Ruthie to return. Tucking the pink and green toboggan beneath his head, he laid down in the snow. She’d be here any minute, and they could laugh together about the snow pair. Maybe she’d even bring him a cup of coffee.

The police found Henry the next day, pink and green toboggan tucked under his head with a smile on his face. A snow-formed pair of lovers stood before him. The girl was missing her hat, but the boy was dressed perfectly in a robe-cum-scarf, a hand-knitted green toboggan, and a pair of black slippers. Neither the snow-woman nor Henry was lonely anymore.

 

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