And after that …

(This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between any person or place and the real world is strictly accidental. Copyright © 2019, Henry E. Neufeld.)

Fifteen years and $250,000,000 later, Steven (never Steve) Porter got a sign.

There was a great wind

It was a stormy day, and as he was going to work, there was a gust of wind down the street, between the rows of tall buildings on either side. Debris flew wildly. People driving in rush hour traffic thought their cars might actually be moved. An old brick wall in front of a church collapsed, and the sign fell, concealing part of the writing.

Steven looked around after the gust of wind and saw the sign: It said:

“What Are You Doing HERE?”
Steven

It was partially hidden behind the pile of bricks resulting from the wind. The second line had read “Rev. Steven Branson,” but the “Rev.” had fallen off, and the “Branson” was blocked by the bricks.

For a minute, Steven found himself wondering if God might be behind the unusual gust of wind, but that thought was 15 years out of date in his thinking.

“Fighting this stinking traffic,” he muttered. “That’s what I’m doing here. Like everyone else.”

Meteorologists concluded that a very unusual combination of air pressure, movement, and heat had produced a freak wind. But only after they ran the circumstances through a super-computer a few times and tweaked the parameters.

And after the wind an earthquake

The earthquake as much more normal for this beautiful town in southern California. Steven was standing by the table on which he had just signed documents that would make him a few million more dollars when the building started to shake. He was on just the 12th floor of a much taller building, but still there was no escape.

It was only minutes later, however, that the building’s safety manager called for an evacuation. Steven was able to watch the collapse from several blocks away.

Another supercomputer worked out a scenario which would allow the earthquake resistant building to collapse in the way it did, while other damage in the city was quite trivial.

The lawyers didn’t accept the word of the supercomputer, and spent years in court making careers out of it.

And after the wind a fire

He’d lost his car in the collapse, but eventually he was able to leave the area of the collapse and get a ride home. Oddly, despite the collapse of one large building, the earthquake damage had been rather mild elsewhere in the city.

The cab drove along that same street with the row of buildings on either side. Steven thought he smelled smoke. Before he managed to frame a question for the cab driver, the inside of the cab was filling with smoke. He opened the door and jumped out, then stood beside the driver as the care went up in flames.

The car fire didn’t require a supercomputer to explain. There was a wiring fault. It was just a natural event.

The sound of silence

Steven turned and found himself facing the sign again.

“What Are You Doing HERE?”
Steven

It was the same one he’d seen that morning.

He looked at the church, and saw in his mind another church yard, as a younger Steven approached the building. The church council was meeting, and the subject would be whether they wanted to keep their young pastor, and whether he should be allowed to carry out some of his plans.

That younger Steven was to appear to explain himself. As he stood in front of the church, he decided he just didn’t want to put up with it any more. Why should he fight with the old fogies who ran the church?

He’d felt the tug of his calling, but he decided he turned away. He called the chairman of the council on the phone and resigned. He was very good at business. Very good.

He looked at the sign.

“What am I doing here?” he asked.

(With apologies to 1 Kings 19:8-18. Featured Image Credit: background from Adobe Stock, not public domain. Combination is my own.)

Thankful in All Things

In everything, give thanks.

At every time, even when it’s time to do something unpleasant,

In every place, even where you don’t want to go,

In every way, even sometimes in ways you find strange,

For every one, even the people you really don’t like,

For every privilege, even those you’d rather not acknowledge,

For every trial, even when they seem overwhelming,

For every blessing, even the ones so common you don’t notice,

In everything, give thanks.

(A free meditation on 1 Thessalonians 5:18a.)

Weariness

Why?

Why?

… says Jacob.
… asks Israel.

My Lord doesn’t even notice
As justice slinks away.

Don’t you know?
Haven’t you heard?

Eternal God, Creator of the Universe
Doesn’t tire
Doesn’t wear out.
Just try to find something
God doesn’t understand!

Giving strength to the weary
Great power to the powerless

Even the young tire out,
Young men stumble and fall.

Those who depend on God

Renew their strength.
Rise like eagles in flight.
Run without getting tired.
Walk without wearing out.

So why do you ask?

We are weary.
We can’t fly.
We do wear out.
We can’t see that God sees.

How long, Eternal God?

Hear our prayer for strength!

(Adapted from Isaiah 40:27-31. Image credit: Openclipart.org, imposed on one of my own photographs.)

God’s Perfect Calendar

Everything has its season.
Each purpose has its time.

A time for birth,
a time for death.

A time to put in,
a time to pull out.

A time to kill,
a time to heal.

A time to demolish,
a time to construct.

A time to cry,
a time to laugh.

A time to lament,
A time to jump for joy.

A time to scatter stones,
A time to gather them up.

A time for embrace,
a time for distance.

A time to search,
a time to let go.

A time to protect,
a time to throw away.

A time to tear,
a time to mend.

A time to shut up,
a time to speak up.

A time to love,
a time to hate.

A time for war,
a time for peace.

–Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

A calendar divine
with blocks of time for all,
on every page a plan,
a way to rise or fall.

They say it’s very great,
God’s timing never fails.
His planning fills the need,
that nothing ill derails.

But when I check the list,
there’s war and death and weeds.
Along with planting seeds,
There’s room for angry deeds.

I’d like a plan with peace,
with laughter, rhyme, and life.
I want to plant and grow,
but never spark such strife!

So why does God send death,
to follow after birth?
And why a time to smash,
To weed or foster dearth?

But then I hear a voice,
that asks me how I live.
There’s time for war or peace,
but which one will I give?

God’s plan has lots of space,
to fill with what will last.
Or not! He makes you free,
to kill or break or blast.

And though it’s true that birth,
in death will always end.
The way you fill that space,
Will echo without end.

Psalm 50

Asaf’s Song

Yahweh, God over gods spoke
Summoning the world
from farthest east to utter west.

From Zion, his perfect beauty
Blazes out everywhere.

Our God is coming, and will not be silenced
Devouring fire leads,
Powerful wind surrounds.

He calls to the skies above and the ground below
to judge his people.

Gather to me
my faithful friends,
my covenant-bound,
my full worshipers.

They will proclaim my justice to the skies,
that God is the one who judges.

Listen to me, realms above, and I will speak.
Attend, Israel, and I will give you my testimony.
I am the God over all gods.

It’s not for your sacrifices that I will find you right,
Nor your continual burnt offerings.

I won’t take a bull from your house,
Nor sheep or goat from your fold.

Each animal living in the forest is mine,
Flocks and herds on unnumbered hills.

I know each and every bird in the wild,
Even the crickets are in my care.

If I get hungry, I won’t tell you,
Because everything in the universe is mine!

Do you think I eat bulls?
Or drink goat’s blood?

Offer God your thanks,
Keep your word for God Most High!

Then call on me when you’re in trouble,
I’ll save you and you’ll honor me.

But if you’re wicked, here’s my message:
Why are you talking about my commands?
Why do you even mention my covenant?

You hate to be corrected,
You discard my words like garbage.
To see a thief is to love him.
Adulterers are your best friends.

Your mouth is evil’s publicist,
Lying is your tongue’s vocation.
Your brother is a favored target,
and your sister is not exempt.

You did these things and kept silent.
You thought I was like you.
But I’ll rebuke you and confront you face-to-face!

Understand this, you who forget God,
Lest He destroy you and there is none to save.

The one who honors me offers thanks,
Following my path.
I will show him my salvation.

(Featured image credit: Openclipart.org)

Like David (A Meditation on Psalm 51)

Like David, I can

 

Approach God

Because God is

Giving

Loving

Forgiving

Fully cleansing.

 

Confess

Because I am a

Sinner

Displeaser

Prisoner

Veteran wrongdoer.

 

Rejoice

Because God

Teaches

Enlightens

Washes

Songs restores.

 

Be restored

Because God is

Creator

Restorer

Granter

Willing deliverer.

 

Proclaim

Because I’m

Singing

Praising

Sacrificing

Witness giving.

 

Be family

Because I am

Blessed

Prospered

Restored

Fully offered.


(Copyright 2018, Henry E. Neufeld. Image credit Openclipart.org.)

What Was It Like?

When God said, “Let there be light!”
What was it like?

An explosion of sound
Like rolling thunder
Clashing cymbals
Booming drums
Or a wildly cheering crowd?

Or maybe it was glorious music
An engaging ballad,
An organ performance
A symphony
A marching band
Perhaps an explosion of rock and roll.

Perhaps it was a sweet solo,
A Capella words with power
A soprano reaching star high notes
A bass rattling the foundations
A rich contralto
Or a rapper’s energy and rhythm.

Or maybe the Word had no sound
An explosion of light and color
Beauty illumined by soundless word
Dreams of mysterious symbols
Sculptures of thought and design
Even substantial structures of emotions.

Even that might be insufficient, so
A blueprint stretching infinitely
Connections intricate and planned
Mechanisms carrying unresisted power
Measurements of incomprehensible precision
A song, a picture, a word, an action, divine.

Or just God’s Word.
“And there was.”

Dedicated to James Kristian McClellan. Maybe it’s you!

Give the Creator the Credit Due – A Poetic Response to Psalm 148

Give the Creator the credit that’s due.

Shine forth

Distant galaxies
Glowing nebulas
Giant stars
Blackest holes.

Go out

Angels bright
Seraphim flashing
Winds blowing
Flames burning.

Since God is the maker, the builder, designer,
Our lifegiver, ruler, sustainer, refiner.

Learn of him

Scientist
Physicist
Astronomer
Chemist

Tell of him

Historian
Sociologist
Theologian
Philosopher

Give the creator the credit that’s due.

(With additional credit to Psalm 19 and Psalm 104. Featured image credit: Openclipart.org.)