A friend of mine was commenting on what was then some recent news stories, and there was something very shocking and very violent and seemingly unexplainable that had happened within a family. It was an ugly story really. He concluded with a comment that was based on an old country song he knew, "No one knows what goes on behind closed doors." Actually, that's not true.
The party had been going just fine until a doctor who was there got very offended by something another guest said. He was in a rage! He stormed out and slammed the door behind him. Someone said, "At last he's gone." The host corrected him. "No, he's not gone. That's a closet."
It was one very hot day, and my granddaughter and I were watching some horses. One-by-one they made their way to the little pond to take in some more water. Now, this big old grey horse decided drinking wasn't enough. He didn't just get a little of the pond in him, he got into the pond and lay down in the water. He splashed around a little, stayed there for a while and finally pulled his big old body out of the water. Relating what she saw to her world, my granddaughter said, "He's taking a bath!" If that was his intention, I had bad news for that horse. He got out of that murky water with his light gray coat covered with dirt! So much for getting clean!
I'm kind of a strange tourist. When I was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I asked to be taken to a graveyard that overlooks the ocean. There, I walked through rows of these grave markers that have no name but the same date - April 15, 1912. That's the night the Titanic sank, and those are some of its unidentified victims. Not too long ago, the Titanic showed up again on the evening news. Lillian Asplund, the last American survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, died at age 99. It's believed that there might have been just two survivors left at that point, both in England. Those names and the name of every passenger are listed on a big wall at the end of an exhibit I attended called the Titanic Artifacts Exhibit. I got to experience that exhibit as it toured America's great museums years ago. The list indicated whether the person was a first, second, or third class passenger, or a crewman. But no matter what their class, every one of those 2,200 people appeared on one of two lists.
Gary was a summer lifeguard on a beach in Southern California, which is kind of a nice job. During his training, he heard some information that seemed so bizarre to him he just didn't believe it. The trainers told him that most people they tried to rescue would resent and even resist their assistance. Clearly, that just didn't make sense. Anyone who was in trouble - like life-or-death trouble - would surely welcome help, right? No. Then we got to Gary's first rescue. The man who was in trouble cursed at the man who was trying to save him. He kicked, he clawed, and he did everything in his power to fight off his rescuer.
He first showed up in the 1930s. And I do not remember that firsthand! Then they made movies about him in the 21st Century. One of America's most enduring superheroes. Here's a clue from the '50s TV show about him, "Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...Superman!" The Superman story begins with the meltdown of the planet Krypton and the decision by one of its leaders to save his son by launching him in this small rocket he has built. Destination: Earth. In one of the movies about the guy in the red cape and the blue suit with the big letter "S," his father sees that the people of earth need some help, and he says these words: "I'm sending them my only son."
She's one of those ladies with an infectious laugh and a lot of mischief in her eyes. Recently, she painted a word picture of an incident from her childhood that left us all really laughing. She was three, her brother was four; the youngest of eleven children. One day the two youngsters were watching ice skaters on TV, and that inspired her brother to suggest that they try to ice skate in the kitchen by spreading butter across the entire kitchen floor. What a great idea! And that's what they did - laughing all the way. They were having a ball, sliding across that floor like future Olympians, until Mom walked in. They "skated" over to the corner farthest from the door as their mother headed toward them with fire in her eyes. Can you picture this? "Ain't Momma happy, ain't nobody happy!" Right? She didn't have her skates on. She fell to the floor. The kids laughed, and Mom couldn't get to them to punish them! Wrong. She went out and got a bucket of hot water and started cleaning the butter off the kitchen floor. She began at the kitchen door and steadily worked her way to the corner where two children cowered; their entire short lives were flashing before them. There was no escape.
Children can be so refreshing. They tell it like it is, and they often see it like it is better than we grownups do. Our little granddaughter was asking questions about Jesus for several months. One thing her parents had repeatedly explained to her was how Jesus cleans our hearts from the sins that we've done. Because she was young, Mom and Dad didn't push her; they just responded to her natural questions. Well, eventually, she told her daddy that she was, in her words, "afraid of sin." That's not a bad thing to be afraid of. The next day she said, "Daddy, I want to ask Jesus in my heart." And in her simple, childlike way, that's exactly what she did. Not long afterwards, she joyfully told my wife, "Grandma, I have Jesus in my heart." Grandma told her that was a happy thing. Then Grandma began to talk about how Mommy has Jesus in her heart, and Daddy has Jesus in his heart, her Grandma and Granddad, and her aunt and uncle. Suddenly she began to shake her head. She said, "No, no, no! Only children have Jesus!"
It was the kind of news that no expectant parents want to get from their obstetrician. The doctor told them that a recent sonogram revealed that their baby had a 1-in-10,000 heart condition. Their unborn son had a potentially devastating hole in his heart. They had to deliver the baby early, so He was pretty small, but they went ahead and they performed open-heart surgery on his heart that was only the size of a nickel. He made it, and I was privileged to be there in infant intensive care the first time that his father got to hold him - tubes and all. There, in the middle of his tiny chest, there was this 2 & 1/2-inch wound, covered by a bandage. On the one hand, it was a pretty hard thing for a daddy to see his little son, actually his only son, with that big wound. But that wound was the only way his heart could be healed.
It's late at night and I finally made it to my motel room. It's been a long day. I want a midnight snack or at least a can of soda. As I step outside my room, I hear the "whirr" of vending machines just down the hall. I stand in front of that thing, pondering my hardest decision of the day. Then I put my money in and I push the button. Usually, I get what I just paid for, but not always. Sometimes nothing comes. I push the button again, and again, and again. Not only do I not get my selection, but the coin return isn't working either. Those most frustrating times of all, when you're desperate enough to try again, and maybe again, putting in your money - and still nothing in return.