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At the beginning of each year, we have the good intention to achieve new and important goals. But I can’t recall a time when I’ve intentionally given up anything to the point of death. I’m not referring to the giving of my time, or putting extra money in a collection plate, or filling someone’s gas tank. All of those things are within my power. The type of sacrifice I’m speaking of is one that hurts through the marrow of your bones; a sacrifice you’ve chosen to perform that causes great spiritual and emotional anguish.
The one real life example that comes to mind is a situation one of our brothers is in today. He’s been accused of stealing money from the church, but unbeknown to his accusers he and another brother are the ones who donated money to make needed repairs to the church building when the church didn’t have enough funds to pay for the repairs. The accuser is threatening to take one of the brothers to court, claiming he’s been threatened with bodily harm. Of course, there’s no basis for this accusation, but the accusation embellishes the accuser’s point so he can acquire sympathy and support from others.
The question is this: Who will back down? Who will deny themselves? And how did things escalate to this point?
Testosterone is high and each man’s pride is at stake. One saying: “You better pray because I’m not backing down for anybody.” The other saying: “I’ve been at this church forever and there’s no way an outsider is gonna come in here and take over my church.”
Is it possible to clamp down on your pride and fall to your knees before the Lord and give him your burden? What happens to us when we face encounters like this? Are we so bent on getting our way that we lose focus on the Word of God? Does it no longer matter what we’ve been taught by the scriptures? As I await your comments to these questions, and perhaps the sharing of your own stories in similar situations in the church, read about another sacrifice that was made, one that, despite all the noise, was given out of a unimpeded freewill to save others.
John Griffith, the Bridge Operator
(Originally posted on CRI at http://www.equip.org/hank_speaks_out/john-griffith-the-bridge-operator/ )
This is a story that takes place in the roaring 20’s in Oklahoma:
John Griffith was in his early twenties. He was newly married and full of optimism. Along with his lovely wife, he had been blessed with a beautiful baby. He was living the American dream. But then came 1929—the Great Stock Market Crash—the shattering of the American economy that devastated John’s dreams. The winds that howled through Oklahoma were strangely symbolic of the gale force that was sweeping away his hopes and his dreams. And so, brokenhearted, John packed up his few possessions, and with his wife and his little son, headed East in an old Ford Model A. They made their way to the edge of the mighty Mississippi River and found a job tending one of the great railroad bridges there.
Day after day, John would sit in the control room and direct the enormous gears of the immense bridge over the mighty river. He would look out wistfully as bulky barges and splendid ships glided gracefully under his elevated bridge. Each day, he looked on sadly as those ships carried with them his shattered dreams and his visions of far-off places and exotic destinations.
It wasn’t until 1937 that a new dream began to be birthed in John’s heart. His young son was now eight years old and John had begun to catch a vision for a new life, a life in which Greg, his little son, would work shoulder to shoulder with him. The first day of this new life dawned and brought with it new hope and fresh purpose. Excitedly, they packed their lunches and headed off towards the immense bridge.
Greg looked on in wide-eyed amazement as his Dad pressed down the huge lever that raised and lowered the vast bridge. As he watched, he thought that his father must surely be the greatest man alive. He marveled that his Dad could singlehandedly control the movements of such a stupendous structure.
Before they knew it, Noon time had arrived. John had just elevated the bridge and allowed some scheduled ships to pass through. And then taking his son by the hand, they headed off towards lunch.
As they ate, John told his son in vivid detail stories about the marvelous destinations of the ships that glided below them. Enveloped in a world of thought, he related story after story, his son hanging on his every word.
Then, suddenly, in the midst of telling a tale about the time that the river had overflowed its banks, he and his son were startled back to reality by the shrieking whistle of a distant train. Looking at his watch in disbelief, John saw that it was already 1:07. Immediately he remembered that the bridge was still raised and that the Memphis Express would be by in just minutes.
In the calmest tone he could muster he instructed his son “Stay put.” Quickly, he leaped to his feet, he jumped onto the catwalk. As the precious seconds flew by, he ran at full-tilt to the steer ladder leading into the control house.
Once in, he searched the river to make sure that no ships were in sight. And then, as he had been trained to do, he looked straight down beneath the bridge to make certain nothing was below. As his eyes moved downward, he saw something so horrifying that his heart froze in his chest. For there, below him in the massive gearbox that housed the colossal gears that moved the gigantic bridge, was his beloved son.
Apparently Greg had tried to follow his dad but had fallen off the catwalk. Even now he was wedged between the teeth of two main cogs in the gear box. Although he appeared to be conscious, John could see that his son’s leg had already begun to bleed. Then an even more horrifying thought flashed through his mind. Lowering the bridge would mean killing the apple of his eye.
Panicked, his mind probed in every direction, frantically searching for solutions. In his mind’s eye, he saw himself grabbing a coiled rope, climbing down the ladder, running down the catwalk, securing the rope, sliding down towards his son, pulling him back to safety. Then in an instant, he would move back down towards the control lever and thrust it down just in time for the oncoming train.
As soon as these thoughts appeared, he realized the futility of his plan. Instantly he knew there just wouldn’t be enough time. Frustration began to beat on John’s brow, terror written over every inch of his face. His mind darted here and there, vainly searching for yet another solution.
His agonized mind considered the four hundred people that were moving inextricably closer and closer to the bridge. Soon the train would come roaring out of the trees with tremendous speed, but this was his son…his only son…his pride…his joy.
He knew in a moment there was only one thing he could do. He knew he would have to do it. And so, burying his face under his left arm, he plunged down the lever. The cries of his son were quickly drowned out by the relentless sound of the bridge as it ground slowly into position. With only seconds to spare, the Memphis Express—with its 400 passengers—roared out of the trees and across the mighty bridge.
John Griffith lifted his tear-stained face and looked into the windows of the passing train. A businessman was reading the morning newspaper. A uniformed conductor was glancing nonchalantly as his large vest pocket watch. Ladies were already sipping their afternoon tea in the dining cars. A small boy, looking strangely like his own son, pushed a long thin spoon into a large dish of ice cream. Many of the passengers seemed to be engaged in idle conversation or careless laughter.
No one even looked his way. No one even cast a glance at the giant gear box that housed the mangled remains of his hopes and his dreams.
In anguish he pounded the glass in the control room. He cried out “What’s the matter with you people? Don’t you know? Don’t you care? Don’t you know I’ve sacrificed my son for you? What’s wrong with you?”
No one answered. No one heard. No one even looked. Not one of them seemed to care. And then, as suddenly as it had happened, it was over. The train disappeared moving rapidly across the bridge and out over the horizon.
Even now as I retell this story, I’m moved by emotion. For this is but a faint glimpse of what the Father did in sacrificing his Son to atone for the sins of the world. Unlike the Memphis Express, however, an express that caught John Griffith by surprise, God in His great love and according to His sovereign will and purpose, determined to sacrifice his Son so that we might live. Not only so, but the consummate love of Christ is demonstrated in that He was not accidentally caught as was John’s son. Rather, He willingly sacrificed his life for the sins of mankind.
Well, the story of course doesn’t end there. Three days later, Jesus arose from the grave. For this reason, we celebrate throughout the year and particularly during Easter, the broken body, the shed blood, the mangled remains of our Savior with joy, because Jesus overcame death and the grave through His resurrection. Moreover, like Jesus, we too shall rise. You, I, John Griffith, his son, and those who believe, we will live forever with our resurrected Lord in Paradise Restored.
This story was taken from The Christian Research Institute and can be found at: http://www.equip.org/hank_speaks_out/john-griffith-the-bridge-operator/
Keeping in mind God’s sacrifice for us, is it really so hard to give of yourself in order to serve or save others? Is it not godly for us to suffer for what is right rather than escalating a situation and making it worse? (I Peter 3:8-22) And isn’t it moments like these that reveal who we really are in Christ Jesus?
What’s your agenda? Are you willing to deny yourself for the cause of Christ Jesus?
by Donna B. Comeaux
Need another nudge toward forgiveness?
While many of us celebrate Mother’s Day, rarely do we stop and think of those who didn’t have fond memories of their mother. Scars of childhood heal, but aren’t forgotten. Instead of refreshing those old wounds, I want to help you think deeper about this day that has been set aside to commemorate our mothers.
God gave birth to each of us and formed us with intricate and meticulous detail. He knows the number of hairs on our heads, our mannerisms, our past, and our future. He’s forgiven our wrong and he’s not ignorant of the wrong set against us. Though many of our homes weren’t homes at all, still we pressed forward. I can’t help but remember the story of King Josiah and the evil all around him at a very early age. Yet, King Josiah didn’t sulk or retaliate. He got busy cleaning the household of God, encouraging those around him to do the same.
Each one of us has a place carved out just for us. When we reach out and take the hand of another and pass along peace, love, and goodwill, we get it back from a different hand, and thus, we are reminded that no man is an island. Though we may want to, we can’t go at life all alone. Together we make up the body of Jesus Christ. I may be a shoulder, but you may be a hand, and your brother might be a knee. It doesn’t matter what part you play, what your role in life may be, we all fit together to form the body of Jesus Christ. And each part of the body encourages the other to press ahead. And no part of the body is superior to the other part, for there is only one head—Jesus Christ.
Haunted memories of your mother should be traded for the spiritual blessings you bestow upon others. Giving speaks volumes about God’s love reigning in you. A rose from your garden and placed upon the collar of the least expected expresses love beyond words. An e-mail message or a handwritten note to someone you’ve never had the pleasure of knowing fills their lives with immeasureable assurance that our God is still alive.
When we allow God to free us from our past and unleash our future, in spite of many trials and downfalls, we can’t help but focus on the hope within us. This hope is love, joy, peace, and contentment, and to one day be free from bondage and rest in him.
Like our preacher once said, “Your past explains you, but it doesn’t lock you in.”
Look forward to the coming holiday and rejoice. Your past is overshadowed by your future. “For God so loved the world that he gave up his son.” No matter what you’ve been through, your memories bring you to your knees in spiritual thanksgiving that God never forgot about you. Your very life attests to his mercy.
Stand in the place God has carved out for you. Be a good mother to those around you in spite of your past. Sow good seed. Love and don’t grow weary. For God reached inside your mother’s womb and intricately made you and placed you where you are today. Give him glory for bringing you out of your past and into His future. Make your day special by giving to the motherless.
Make this day and everyday special in his sight. For God is love . . . and he is in love with you.
Happy Mother’s Day.
II Corinthians 5:16-21
15and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 16Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
48But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 50“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6Then I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” 7But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. 8“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.
Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Author, Poet
Several years ago, my husband and I wondered where we should relocate. I got distracted by his shaky hands. I thought about aging. My aging. His aging. That hadn’t worried me before, but I found myself suddenly wondering what in the world would I do without him. I plummeted into a funnel of nostalgic memories.
Our wedding day came to mind—me in a light blue mini dress; he in his red OU jacket. I couldn’t have been one hundred pounds dried and powdered down. A strappling six feet tall, he had a buffed, muscular body, a flawless wide and naughty grin. His afro-styled hair—thick, neatly edged. Fuzz on his upper lip highlighted a handsome, stubbled face. Romantic at heart, he had serenaded me, whisked me off my weightless feet, and swung me around while swearing to care for me all the days of his life. Like so many giddy females before me, I bought into that line. (By the way, guys, that line still works.)
Now, I wondered how long it would be before I might have to take care of him. Unable to face the possibility of losing him, I grabbed his hand with both of mine and looked into his dark brown eyes.
“Should I be worried?” I asked.
“What? What are you talking about?” He frowned and pulled away.
“Your hands. They’re shaking.”
“So. What about it?”
“How long has this been going on?”
“It happens sometimes. I don’t have any other symptoms so it’s nothing. Now, will you stay focused. We need to make a decision to take this job or not. Will it be Savannah? Or Washington?”
As important as the decision to change jobs and move away from home was, I couldn’t indulge in the activity of decision-making that day. I had to figure out how much longer he would be with me.
I got off the couch and moseyed into the kitchen, to the dining room, then upstairs to the bedroom where I cried my eyes out. Rustling leaves tapped against my skylight window above my tub. The sight brought me back to our younger days soon after we married.
I remember walking to the OU campus where I worked at the Law School as a word processor. Our first fall together was a lonely one for me. The strappling football player I married was like a soldier called off to war—gone more in those fall months than I’d expected. I thought we should spend more time together. But when he wasn’t away playing in a football game, he’d be at practice or studying half the night.
I’d only seen snow once in my life. As a young girl, about eleven, it snowed in the deep south for a small portion of the day. It was gone by morning. But outside my office window in mid-October, snow flurries fell from Norman, Oklahoma’s overcast sky. Unbelievable to me, I ran out into the cold and stood on the sidewalk and looked at God’s wonder. Within moments the flurries turned to large flakes and gusty winds forced me back inside.
Right now I ask myself: “Has it really been that long? Forty-one long years?” It didn’t seem that long ago when young football players’ wives and girlfriends laughed and giggled as they dressed for the OU games. We stayed up half the night doing each other’s hair and eating whatever we wanted. After the game, we parted ways, mainly because our chrisitianity wouldn’t allow us to mingle with late night drinkers and party half-naked.
When I heard my husband’s footsteps climb the stairs that day, I was forced to return to my dilemma. After I had dried my eyes, I braced for an inquisition.
“What are you doing? Why did you leave? I thought we would decide this together?” he had asked.
“I can’t do this right now. Can we try again tomorrow?”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“I’m not sure. I think the idea of moving scares me.”
“Well, you think it over. I’m going to the store. You want anything?”
I shook my head. Before I could stop him, he was gone.
As the garage door sounded below, I remembered our first car—a two-door, green Gremlin. It lasted two months before we had it towed to wreckage. Then many months later, after weeks of walking everywhere we went, we bought a four-door blue and white Chevy Impala. A heavy car that proved reliable for the two years we had it. He saved money by doing repairs on the car himself. He made sure I was safe.
He’s spoiled me over the years. I’m as rotten as a teenage girl. I bat my eyes and get any and everything I want. I pout. He appeases. I throw a tantrum. He caters to my every whim.
I look toward heaven and sometimes I plead with God to let me go first. I can’t stand to watch him grow old. I can’t watch him wither away like that. But no matter how loud I cry, my pleas go unanswered. God is nothing like my husband. He can’t be tricked or manipulated. In a way I appreciate God’s silence because sometimes I’m not sure I fully understand what I’m asking from him. It’s not until my spirit is calm that I conclude there’s no comfort in me going before my husband. Death will be hard for us both no matter who goes first.
But he’s not gone yet. Years later, he’s still here with me. He’s healthy. Aging, but healthy. I realize that he’s not the only one getting old. So am I. I smile as I wonder how is he seeing me. Am I still the woman of his dreams? He still spoils me, so I guess I am.
That day long ago, I finally collapsed in a chair and waited for his return from the store. I was anxious. I wanted to press my head to his chest and hear his heartbeat. I wanted to gaze my large brown eyes into his then touch his stubbled face, kiss him warm and tender, grab his large linebacker hands and wrap them around my bulging waistline.
Although our hair is thinner now, our waistlines have disappeared, and we’ve been robbed of our youth, we still have each other. It took me a while, fighting against time, trying harder to control the process of aging, before I realized that it no longer matters how old we get or what condition we’re in when faced with our departure. As long as my husband’s love lives in me, he’s never far away. God is walking me through a process, daily teaching me to spend more of my days enjoying the moments rather than fearing the inevitable.
Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Novelist, Poet
“. . . I will show my love to the one I called ‘not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘not my people,’
‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”
Some of us can trace our genealogy as far back as two hundred years. It’s fun to go on these fact-finding adventures. While going through your genealogy, did you discover an adopted son or daughter? How did that make you feel? Did you feel some resentment over the fact that a member of your family isn’t really a member of your family; not by blood anyway. Well, we too have been adopted, spiritually adopted, through the blood of Jesus. And with this blood-stained, spiritual adoption comes an inheritance.
God declares it’s the children of promise who will be regarded as Abraham’s offspring. Not the children of natural birth.
Too often we get caught up in pedigrees, losing our spiritual self-worth to lowly men of stature. I have a father who has more wealth than any man. He provides me with loads of forgiveness and isn’t stingy with his mercy. He protects me, soothes me, sends ministering angels when I’m in despair, and provides a hedge of protection when danger nears.
My greatest of grandfathers are Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and David. A host of my brothers come from their loins, but Jesus is my favorite. Through him we are made special.
Prayer: God, please help me remember you care about me and that I’m loved by you.
Think: If someone stripped you of all your accomplishments, what would you have left?
Read: Romans 9; Romans 2:28; Galatians 4:23
Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Poet, Novelist
New book: “Selfish Ambition” – http://www.bn.com
A Christian Romance
“. . . Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Everyday it seems I’m climbing a mountain against my will. I stand at the foot of my mountain of trouble wondering if I’ll ever make it to the top. Just when I get my footing, I slip on razor sharp words that rip me in two. Breathless, I continue my climb only to fall onto a past I thought I had left behind. In terrible agony, I drench in self-pity, convinced I’ll never know God’s love.
During my treacherous climb, I failed to realize God is with me every step of the way. I can’t see him. Sometimes, I can’t feel him. But he’s there. “For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths.” (Proverbs 5:21)
Prayer: Lord, no matter what my circumstance, help me see your glory.
Think: How did God bring you out of your troubles? When did you notice his presence?
Read: Hebrews 4:12-13; II Corinthians 4:16-18
My husband knows how much I love the R&B artist, Kem. When he ran across this new song today, he sent it to me. This was his way of saying “I love you.” After hearing the song, I had to whip out a poem. Good or bad, here it is:
Once upon a time when love was young and tender
Two love birds decided to make it last forever
To keep their love alive filled with joy and laughter
He charmed and serenaded her with inviting gestures
Since that day so long ago, love refused to age
Now both are smiling, happy to turn another page.
Take time to wrap your loved one in a tight embrace today.
Hope you enjoyed the video. I was all smiles when I saw how one bird hopped to be next to the other one. Isn’t love wonderful?
Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Poet, Novelist
NOTE: Donna’s short story “Selfish Ambition” will be published in Ruby for Women in the Fall Issue (September). See the Summer Issue for a synopsis of this new novel.