Friday, January 16, 2015

God On Broadband (Google Images)
Why don’t you go home? You’ve been at this for more than thirty years. You don’t owe anything to anyone after all these years of service.

I’m mulling the words over in my mind. What is it that keeps me here? It’s not like anyone is depending on me to stay. No, I’ve been very careful to NOT become indispensable, not to be the tool, but to help believers form their own tools cultivating for themselves the ground God wants to bless with abundant spiritual growth. If they were more dependent, I could convince myself that I couldn’t leave them.

You’re the author of your own redundancy. You’ve equipped them well enough to work yourself out of a job. So, go somewhere else! Your gifts are portable.

I think I’ve done all I can do; all God wanted me to do. In any case, I haven’t got another generation-of-disciples-to-equip in me. I can’t repeat the process anymore, that spark is gone. I can no longer return after Home Assignment and pick up where I left off. For one thing, there isn’t anything now to pick up after. For another, the Lord has called me to go in a different direction, to fulfill a dream.

So, go home.

I can’t. The Lord has changed the mission, but I don’t have any indication that the place is any different. Besides, any major changes in location for me have always come from phone calls out of the clear blue sky at unexpected moments.

If you’re waiting for a phone call these days, you may wait forever —you’ve been “on hold” for a while now.

Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t wait for a phone call — being that specific is kind of like putting God in a box. Maybe I’m hoping for some catastrophic event to happen: earthquake, coup, getting my pink slip in the mail. I’d be forced to leave. The latter won’t happen — missionaries seldom get fired — and I really don’t want to go through the former. I’m paralyzed, waiting for something to happen, and I don’t understand why!

Someone is going to be issuing you a dose of Prozac any minute now. You must be going through a mid-life crisis. It could be too many traumatic changes and stresses over these last few years. You’re depressed. Remember, a general, non-specific feeling of unhappiness is one of the signs.

And talking to myself is a sign of … ? Anyway, I’m eating, sleeping, socializing, and working well. I like this country as much as I like my own — most of the time. I love this apartment with its “view-to-die-for.” On top of all that, I have been allowed the freedom to follow my dream and go in a new direction with the blessing of my superiors.

Then why are you so unsettled? Why are you having such a hard time getting down to making the dream a reality, to posting your mileage signs on the highway of your new direction? Why are you waiting for a phone call?

I’ve waited so long for this, and now that it’s here, I’m afraid that it won’t be what I have imagined it to be. Part of me doesn’t want it to be as good as the other part of me dreams it will be. Maybe the wait for the phone call is just my way of putting off the fulfilling of the dream, so that its culmination doesn’t become a stumbling block, an idol, or a false source of satisfaction. If I hold off the source of temporal joy, then I can hang on more tightly to the source of eternal joy.

Do you think you know yourself so well, that you can be sure you’d dethrone God with a dream? Do you really believe He gave you the chance to go in this direction, to make this dream a reality, if He didn’t want you to go there, if you were going to fail Him once you arrived? Location has nothing to do with this, does it?

I guess not. Gifts, like dreams, are portable. I can use them, and live them out anywhere. Also, I’m not talking to myself, am I?

It started out that way, but I eavesdrop a lot. A friend of mine once said that I would never lead you where I couldn’t keep you. He was right. Now go, enjoy living out the dream, whatever it takes you. Consider this your phone call.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Greenborough Circle Chronicles: Tibby's Tail

A winter came and went before someone moved into Number 55, Greenborough
Google Images
Circle. At the end of June, a large moving van pulled up in front of the house. The neighbours watched from behind shuttered and curtained windows as a houseful of goods was unloaded. A thin, yellow tabby also watched from the shelter of the cedar hedge behind the tool shed. The quiet of the empty house and yard had made the shed a safe haven for the stray. She had wintered there, sliding in and out through a gap between the door and its frame.

The house was stale with the scent of despair and loneliness. The human who had once occupied it had been gone for a long, long time, even before physically abandoning its rooms.* As windows and doors sprang open to receive the new occupants, the house seemed to take a deep, relieved, breath.

“But I measured …” protested Thomas Tibbits.

“…the doors, not width of the curve in hall,” finished his wife, Sarah.

Their king-size bed wouldn’t make the corner. They ended up parking the mattress and the box spring in the garage.

Once the truck was unloaded, the movers backed it out of the driveway and headed out to the main road. Quiet again reigned on the Circle though chaos still ruled in the house, as boxes and bags were shuffled around and unpacked.

The only useable beds were those belonging to Jason and Michael, the Tibbits’ sons. As soon as the delivery pizza had been consumed, they were sent off to get reacquainted with them.

“And, what about us, dear?” said Sarah sweetly, “now that we can’t get our bed down the hall.”

“We’ll sleep on the hide-a-bed. It’s set up in the guest room. Tomorrow I’ll figure out how to get the mattress and box spring around the corner.” Thomas was, after all, an engineer. It would be embarrassing if he couldn’t come up with a solution.

“Uh-huh,” Mrs. Tibbits said. She was already wondering how to turn the garage into a master bedroom.

Exhaustion and excitement brought on deep and dreamless sleep for all the members of the Tibbits’ household on that first night. No one heard, or felt, the stealthy entrance of the tabby, just a bit before dawn arrived to welcome a new day of moving-in madness. She had cautiously slunk across the yard and entered through the open kitchen window. The cat had never been in the house before and her natural curiosity overcame her.

Later that morning, Sarah worked at organizing the kitchen and the boys occupied themselves in their bedrooms, making their own creative design disaster out of the contents of their boxes and bags. Thomas folded the hideaway up with a sigh of satisfaction. Tonight they would sleep in their own room on their own mattress. By the end of the day, 55 Greenborough Circle looked more like a home and less like a landfill.

The enclave of Greenborough Circle was made up of older ranch-style houses, built when recreation rooms were relegated to the basement. Sarah Tibbits had already decided that the spare bedroom upstairs could play that role in their lives while they worked on some home improvement in the lower regions of the house. The boys happily settled in to watching television and playing computer games from the comfort of the sofa-cum-bed.

It was Michael, in one of those rare quiet moments in what was temporary designated as the family room, who first saw it.

“Mom, come quick, there’s a snake in here.” After the words left his mouth, Michael repented of them. Mom was not the one to call about snakes. Happily, Thomas, still on holidays from work while he got their new home in order, was the one who responded to the call. Sarah was right behind him—emphasis on the “behind.”

“Where’s this snake?” questioned Thomas.

“There,” said Michael, pointing to the bottom corner of the sofa bed. The tip of a long, thin, “something” was visible. It twitched, and Sarah let out a high squeak.

Thomas approached, his mind accessing stored memories.

“Relax,” he said. “There are no poisonous snakes in this area.”

The “something” twitched again, and Thomas drew back in horror.

“It’s not a snake, and it’s INSIDE the sofa bed,” he exclaimed. It didn’t take an engineer to know that inside a sofa bed there isn’t any room for anything except, well, the mattress and the springs that make up the bed part of the dynamic sleeping duo.

Fearing what could await them all, Thomas carefully removed the cushions from the sofa, handed them back to his wife, and then pulled on the tab that released the bed.

Hours later, a somewhat flattened tabby purred contentedly in Michael Tibbits’ lap.

“How did she get in there?” queried Jason.

“I guess she came in the night your mom and I had to sleep on the hideaway. She must have sought shelter under the sofa while the bed was still unmade. When I started to fold it back up, she was too frightened to come out and got stuck between the springs and the back of the sofa.”**

“Why didn’t she cry?” asked Michael.

His mother raised her eyebrows in mock incredulity as she looked over at her youngest.

“And, you two would have heard her with the television at full volume, or with that silly music playing that accompanies your computer games? If she hadn’t managed to get her tail out, we wouldn’t have noticed her until …” Sarah voice trailed off. The thought was too gruesome to contemplate.

Jason looked over at the sleeping tabby. “So, do we keep her, or what?”

Thomas rubbed his chin, exchanging a meaningful glance with his wife.

“Well, we’ll have to check to make sure she doesn’t belong to any of our new neighbours first. I doubt it, considering how thin she is, and the absence of a tag. I guess we owe her that much since we squashed her in a sofa bed for two days without food and water…”

“…And jumped on her,” added Sarah.

“…But you guys will have to look after her,” their father continued.

Jason tried for a “It-really-doesn’t-matter-to-me” look, while Michael’s enthusiasm threatened to pop him, and the cat, out of the recliner appropriated for the cat’s “healing” process.

So it was that a stray tabby found a new home at Number 55, Greenborough Circle. They named her, “Tibby,” though Michael created a computerized pedigree for her and carefully wrote out “Tibby Tibbits’ Tail” on the certificate. Love is sometimes spelled with three T’s.

And Tibby? Well, according to her new family, she became the best cat in the world. She was no fool: The house was certainly a long step up from the tool shed.

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourself were suffering” —Hebrews 13:2-3.

See The Greenborough Circle Chronicles, Buster’s Bones ( for details
* Based on an actual happening