Archives For praise

Roach Motel

October 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

roach motel

I used to live here. This is a google street view screen shot of where I used to live. It was a long time ago. The place doesn’t look any better than it did back then.

No heat, no AC, about 100 square feet of living space. I had a sleeper sofa and a 13″ tv, a little bitty fridge was built in and it had a small sink and a single burner on top. The person who lived there before me must have had a dog because of the smell and the fleas.

There were asbestos ceiling tiles, dark fake wood paneling, and a single, bare light bulb hanging down from the middle of the ceiling, which was plugged into the only outlet in the room. Basically it was an extension cord with a light spliced on at one end, and it was stapled to the wall and across the ceiling. And yes, it had a pull-chain on it.

The bathroom was 5×5 and had a 5 gallon water heater. I would fill the tub up with hot water only, wait 30 minutes and fill it again for a lukewarm bath. The door would not lock or stay shut. It had a padlock on the outside, and I put a box in front of the door at night.

I lived here for a year. The rent was $100 a month, plus utilities and cable tv. When I moved in I was making $0. I didn’t know where I would end up or how long I would be allowed to stay.

None of this was the worst part. Not even close. The worst part was the roaches. Now, in a regular home, if you get up at night and turn a light on, there might be a roach, but it’ll disappear pretty quickly – under the sofa, behind the fridge. This is when you know it’s time to get an exterminator out.

The roaches in my little slice of heaven had no shame at all. They didn’t bother hiding because this was their domain. I was the interloper. They would sit and stare at me, waiting for me to go to sleep so they could try to eat my face off.

I tried to get rid of them. I complained to the landlord and she gave me a can of spray. Which they laughed at. I tried glue traps next. I was going through about 12 a week and didn’t put a dent in them. I didn’t know what to do next.

Now, at that time I was working at a local Ace Hardware. I had a lot of roach related items to choose from. Bombs, glue traps, sprays, powders. The only thing I never tried was a roach motel – I figured, I’m already living in one, why buy another. So as a last resort, I got a pack of 4 bug bombs.

I knew I was going to be gone for a weekend, so I set off all 4 of them on a Friday night, and went on my way. I came back on Sunday around 5. When I opened the door, this nasty, greasy mist came out and hit me in the face. It was covering everything. I turned on the light, expecting to see a bunch of dead bugs. Out of the literally hundreds of roaches, maybe only 5 had been killed, and I’m pretty sure they died of old age, or maybe a laughter induced aneurysm.

So I did the only thing I could do. I gave the owner two weeks notice and found a better place. A way better place. A nice little place.

When I did that, a lot of things changed. I got promoted at work, I met Cheryl, I got a new to me car that actually ran, and I started getting heathy. It’s a wonder how healthy a person can be who doesn’t have bugs crawling all over them at night.

None of this is a metaphor. It’s all true. But on the other hand it is a metaphor because I was in a very dark place – physically yes, I lived in Satan’s armpit, but it was really bad mentally and spiritually as well. I was depressed and felt abandoned – by friends, by family and by God. All my dreams were crushed, my spirit was crushed. I felt like I deserved to be where I was because I was a terrible person, and terrible people suffered like I was suffering.

Did I ever mention my neighbor? A very old man. VERY very old. He coughed all night and during the day he watched soaps. One day I was working on my car, trying to get it running, and he came out with some iced tea for me. He asked me if I went to church anywhere, and I said no, I had been a pastor, but now I’m working at Ace.

He invited me to come to his church, and I did. Just a sweet little church out in the middle of nowhere. After a time, I became their youth pastor. I was so messed up when I went there, but they were patient with me, very gracious, very loving. I didn’t do much more than play games with the kids on Wednesday nights and lead singing on Sundays. But they loved me and after a time, I began to feel better about everything. And then I met Cheryl somewhere along the way and we moved to Texas and got married.

Listen – it was no accident – not any of it. The roach motel, the old man, the church, meeting my wife. God led me through all of that. He was with me at rock bottom when I had roaches biting at my fingers, and he is with me where I am today.

The situation is, I still need a little rescuing. Who doesn’t, right? We all go through times where we forget that God is there, that he’s real, that he is in control. But he is. Things are so great right now! Family is good, cars are running, we have a nice house and great kids. Any or all of that might change tomorrow. But today I will praise God for what he has given me, and when tomorrow comes, I will continue to praise even if its all torn away.

My lesson from the pit was to learn to be thankful – and I am so thankful!

Where are you right now? Mentally, physically, spiritually? Thank God for it even if you can’t see anything to be thankful for. He will hear you, and things will improve. I didn’t just get lucky, I was blessed, and the same God that pulled me out of the roach motel wants to bless you too! Learn to give thanks in everything, and everything will change in your life!

 

water balloon

My daughter Trinity just got back from Crazy MixUp Camp 2012. Looks like she had a great time! This was her first camp experience, except for those years when I was a Youth pastor – I think she was 6 months old, 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 during those years, so I’m sure she doesn’t remember.

I saw a pic or two that the camp posted on their Facebook page. Seriously – I’ve said this for years – the thing I miss most about ministry is summer camp! I never missed a year between 1979 and 2003.

Trinity came home with all kinds of ideas for games that we all had to experience as a family. As a former rec guy, I saw a spark in her – creativity, fun, organization skills. It all kinda falls apart when you take a game built for 500 and try it with a family of 4 though. Still, we had a great time tonight just playing!

The culmination though was when Trinity nailed me in the head with a water balloon. She threw, I dodged, it was a fake, she really threw and it got me good – one of the only ones tonight that actually popped on contact. The look on her face was priceless, then I pretended like I was mad and about to throw her over the back fence – even more family fun!

While Trinity was at camp, I went into her room every night and prayed for her – just like I have every night since the day she was born. She wasn’t in her room, obviously, but I still prayed – that God would speak to her, that the Holy Spirit would teach her, that Jesus would walk beside her. I know people always think great things about their kids – but Trinity is very special. God shows her things, she speaks the things she is shown, and they come to life.

I don’t know what God is going to do with my little girl, but I pray it’s big things! I pray that she won’t be weighed down by worldly things. I pray that her sense of curiosity is never satisfied. I pray that God would inhabit her praises and that no matter what, she will walk with him her whole life.

My Grandmother used to pray for those things for me. Looking back, it was just around the time she died that I lost my way. I know she prayed for me daily, and I prayed for her, too. She was an exceptional woman – loving, kind, gracious, forgiving. Even when I was the opposite, she still loved me, and in that she showed me that God still loved me, too.

While Trinity was away at camp, I had the opportunity to go to a special service at my church called Habitation. Many people have been healed physically and spiritually during this time, many people have heard powerful words from God.

When we got to the church last night, I immediately felt tension – like I was being pulled apart on the inside. I went into the worship center and there were already close to 1000 people there – and I was an hour early! They do a prayer service right before Habitation, and all during that portion more and more people poured in. By the time the actual service started, the place was full! They had printed 1500 handouts and were not even close to having enough. I mean the place was full! At least 3000 people, all with one thing in mind – growing closer to God!

Back to my feeling of tension – All of a sudden I didn’t want to be there. People talked to me and I was grouchy. I was really being attacked I think – and I generally don’t think that way to be honest. I wanted to go home. I wanted to watch reruns of House. Anything except for be at church.

They prayed, they sang, people testified, and then I knew what it was – the whole night was revolving around gratitude – to God for the wonderful things he has done and for the things he has given us. And it dawned on me that I am so ungrateful!

My expecation was that God would provide, that I would be successful, that if I did what he wanted, nothing would ever stand in my way. And when it didn’t happen the way I wanted I shut God out – I stopped praising because the blessings stopped coming. Or maybe it was the other way around, now that I have some perspective.

I stopped praising because I got full of myself. I stopped praising because I was in charge of my life. I stopped praising because I became my own god. And when I put myself on the throne, God stopped blessing. Oh, he still loved me, he still gave me a good job, he still gave me life and breath. But the rest was all me and under my reign it all fell to pieces.

I was reminded last night that every good thing comes from God and that there is so much good in my life, so much to be grateful for! My beautiful wife Cheryl, my beautiful daughters Trinity and Zoey, my house, my job, my truck – and beyond that, my health, the health of my family, that God loves me in spite of me being me, that he loved me enough to forgive me, that he called me to do great things!

I often wonder if it’s too late – if I’m too old, if anyone even cares – then I remember that it’s not about who cares or my age or how much I have failed in the past. It’s about my willingness to praise God and show him that I am thankful for the little things. When I can praise him, from deep within, when I can meet with him, spirit to Spirit – that’s like getting busted in the head with a water balloon! It comes out of nowhere and changes your perspective on everything! When God invades your space, there’s no telling what might happen – he might even renew your calling, let you know you’re not a has been, you’re not too old or too broken – he might just give you hope!