I only have one section of a cross-stitch project left to do that I started about 15 years ago, a 2-inch square window. The design is a country scene: a black iron pot-belly stove with a blue coffee pot, a wooden chair with a gray cat sleeping in it, braided rug, and basket of apples, with a pretty curtained window behind.
The backside is a faded image of the pattern. The details can’t be seen, such as the face of the gray cat, only a gray blob. This present life is like the backside of the cross-stitch picture—only a faded image of the real life. The life we are living today is “cross-stitching” our eternal home. Every day you live makes another stitch in the pattern of your life.
Bright yellow is stitched by the happy occasions of your life. The blues are from the tranquil days. The golds and silvers are not how much money you have, but from the treasures of family and good friends. The browns and blacks from the hard days of life—financial set-backs, marital problems, family misunderstandings, health problems. Red stitches are true love, pink and blue for the precious children of your life. Oranges for the beautiful sunsets, white for the snowfalls, gray for your senior years.
This present life is not the real life. It is a temporary training session, a preparation place for the life to come. Paul reminded us that the things we see are not the eternal things, because they are temporary and will pass away some day.
“While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:18 NKJV
This life is passing away, day by day. One day your life on earth will be finished.
When you cross over to your permanent eternal home, what will your life look like then?
I learned to drive in Drivers Ed in 10th grade in high school, but my Uncle Cecil trained me in many skills. He had me practicing my parallel parking skills in downtown Vinita in front of the Center Theatre at 9 o’clock on Saturday night when one show got out and the other was starting.
We Vinita kids honed our skills driving up and down Main Street every Friday night after the football game. I wish I had kept track of how many miles I actually drove those 3 years.
I went to work for SBC in 1971 as a telephone operator and put many miles on my vehicles over the 13 years I worked that job. Then I transferred into the network department, and since we drove company vehicles, we had to take on-the-job drivers’ training and yearly driving tests.
One of the most important things I learned from the Southwestern Bell drivers’ training was to scan the road a mile ahead of you, as far as you could see, to anticipate any hazard that might occur, so you could take evasive action.
Most of us drive one block at a time, instead of looking ahead. In Tulsa traffic, you’ll miss your exit that way. You should be planning ahead and looking for an opening in traffic two miles ahead of your exit. It takes training.
We should train our spirits to take the long view, to look ahead, further and further down the road.
”I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1
Raise your eyes up from your feet, where you are watching each step, the drudgery of everyday life. Don’t look at life one step, one day at a time. That may be how you are living your life right now, but lift up your eyes to the Hills of Glory. Your help is on the way. The Lord God of heaven has a plan.
Take the long view.
I recently held a letter in my own hands written by my great grandmother Mary May (Slankard) Hightower in 1929 to her son and daughter-in-law, my grandparents. It was in a box of papers that looked as though they would disintegrate and fly away if I breathed hard on them. I carefully unfolded the letter and brushed the dust off with a soft-bristle paintbrush, then placed it in an acid-free archival-quality clear plastic sleeve to protect it.
Those letters she wrote reveal something of my family that I might not have known. It always seemed to me that my family was not very well educated, but here I was reading letters, handwritten letters, written by my supposedly uneducated great grandmother who was born in 1867 and died in 1953. She wrote 5 pages of her life—how she missed her son and daughter-in-law, what the weather was like, what she was growing in her garden. She talked of being thankful that the Lord was helping her in an illness. She had clear handwriting, and wrote using clear language.
On the 1880 census, my great grandmother was 12 and going to school. In 1900 she was 34 and had been married 15 years, had five children from ages 3-14, and could read, write, and speak English, according to the census. Her three older children were in school and two of them could read, write, and speak English. Her 7-year-old was able to speak English but couldn’t read or write yet. These were my family who I considered uneducated.
I don’t think that my great grandmother knew she was writing a letter that would be read by her future descendants but she had something she wanted to communicate and God saw that it was important enough for it to be preserved for her great grandchildren and other descendants to come.
“Write down for the coming generation what the Lord has done, so that people not yet born will praise him.” Psalm 102:18. Good News Translation.
We have the ability to use our words to communicate with future generations.֎
I was hungry for fish. Money was tight, so I had tried begging my fisherman neighbor but he told me that he’d given away his last catch and his freezer was empty.
I remember praying a simple prayer, like “Jesus, I’d sure like to have some fish to eat.” About 2 p.m. a kid from down the street rang the doorbell. This family had 3 or 4 little kids under 10 years old and they tormented me a lot, running in and out of my house all day long just like it was their own.
“Mom said to ask you if you want some fish.” I was shocked. Was the Lord going to answer my prayer through them? Of course I said yes, and started to get the sink ready to clean them. Here came that kid again with a plate of fresh fried crappie hot off the fire. “Mom cooked these fish but us kids don’t like ’em,” and ran off to play.
That reminds me of another time that Jesus supplied the fish. It happened right after Jesus rose from the dead. Peter was discouraged and thinking about going back to his old life. He told his friends, “I’m going fishing.” They said, “We’ll go with you.” But they fished all night and caught nothing. When dawn broke, Jesus stood on the beach and called, “Boys, did you catch any fish? Do you have anything to eat with your bread?” They said, “No!”
He said to them, “ Cast your net on the right side of the boat,” and they caught so many they couldn’t haul them all in. When Peter realized it was Jesus, he jumped off the boat and swam to shore. John 21:6. NKJV.
Jesus already had a fire going, and fish and bread ready to eat. “Come and eat, boys.” The feast in heaven may just be crappie and fresh fried hushpuppies, cooked by Jesus Himself.
My mother gave me my Uncle Otis’ crank wall phone a while back but I’ve never found a place to hang it. It’s a wooden box just like the one you see in the movies, that hangs on the wall with a handle you turn, a earpiece, and a mouthpiece. I remember being fascinated with it when I saw it hanging on his wall in Albuquerque in 1958 when we stopped at his home on our way to California. It has been adapted to use as a dial-tone phone. That phone is over 100 years old.
I have my grandmother’s black dial desk phone too, with the clear plastic label in the center of the dial with her phone number neatly typed on it. She used it right up until she passed away in 1985. That phone is at least 50 years old.
I still have my own blue Slimline phone which I keep in the bedroom. I don’t keep it hooked up, since it has a loud ringer which can’t be turned off. That phone is about 41 years old.
We are now a throw-away society. It costs as much to fix something as to buy a new one. Many people are cancelling their landline phone and opting for only a cell phone. Some people get a new cell phone once a year when their contract runs out and throw away the old one.
If I were God, I would have been sorely tempted to discard Adam and Eve after they sinned. After all, they were the only human beings alive. God could have easily created a new couple to take the place of Adam and Eve, and start all over with His plan, but He couldn’t do it. He created them himself out of the love in His heart, and, even when they failed, He had a plan to redeem them, because we aren’t disposable.
“Long before he [God] laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.” Ephesians 1:4 The Message Bible.
Before He create the world, God had you and me on His mind in love.