Monthly Archives: August 2021

Blakely’s Fears

When we adopted Blakely, our second beautiful Irish setter (the first one having recently died), he was fifteen months old, lively and gangly and bright. What we didn’t know until we got home with him was that he was full of fear. Blakely was afraid of white men, big sticks, any loud noise, and especially storms. We quickly learned Blakely would run from anything that threatened him, even if it was an innocent mop being shaken. Charles made him a nice pen to keep him safe. He dug out from under it. We set it on a concrete slab. He leaped over the high sides. Finally, we laid down radio wire around our huge yard and we thought that was going to do it.

Storms were his biggest fear and he could detect one long before we saw a dark cloud or heard a rumble of thunder. If Blakely was indoors he hid behind a toilet, under a bed, or in a closet. It was a sure sign a storm was coming when he started rooting for a safe place. He was known to be quite destructive during his panics. He might chew a plastic trash holder to bits, shred a rolled-up sleeping bag, and cause irreparable damage to rugs, window screens, fresh folded laundry and dryer lint hoses.

If we were gone when a storm came and Blakely was outside he would leap over the high sides of his pen and run. That was the way Blakely faced his fears. He ran. We found him several miles from home sometimes, sometimes in a neighbor’s dark shed. Even though he normally would stop short of that radio fence whose buzz hurt his ears, when he was afraid, he ran right over it.

Once, after Blakely had been gone about three days and we’d almost lost hope of seeing him again, we heard him barking. Running out, we saw our big red dog standing just beyond his radio fence line pleading for reentry. I went to him and, with my hand on his collar, he stepped across the dreaded buzz. As we fondled and fussed over him we found all four of his feet almost raw from his fearsome run. After a big meal and more petting he settled in his favorite porch corner and looked at me as if to say “I’ll never do that again.” But we both knew he would.

I’ve often thought, when remembering our dear old Blakely, how we are so much like him. We let fears take the joy out of our lives. We lean on our own ability to run or otherwise overcome, then, finally, we return whimpering to our Master to take us back in. And, just as we always welcomed Blakely home, so does our forgiving God open His arms to us.

Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. Psalms 89:33

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Immeasurable Treasure

Last week I wrote about treasure that is marred, yet still a treasure. I wrote that we who belong to Him are treasures in God’s eyes, no matter how flawed. We are the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8), the sheep of His pasture (Psalms 100:3), the hidden shafts in His quiver (Isaiah 49:2), and even His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).

This week I’d like to turn the telescope around, so to speak, and focus on the immeasurable treasure we have in God and His kingdom.

Jesus told a parable (earthly story with a heavenly meaning) about a man who discovered a plot of land that had something extremely valuable on it. Could have been oil, I guess, or gold maybe. The man went and sold everything he had to buy that plot of land. Jesus said this man’s story portrayed how much the kingdom of God is worth, immeasurable treasure, worth so much a man would give anything for it.

You’ve found treasure before, maybe not digging at your back door the way we did when we found the old saw. But treasure, yes! You found your car fob after frantic hunting, you found your phone underneath your car seat gone stone dead, you found a $100 bill you’d dropped in a WalMart parking lot thinking never to see it again. It is such a thrill to get those things back in your hands. Even if the finder is someone who makes fun of your stupidity in leaving your car fob stuck in a cup of pencils, or your glasses in plain view on the foyer table, you can take the ribbing because you’re so glad to have your object, your treasure, back.

There are unnecessary but precious treasures you find again after many years. For me it was a letter to me from my Dad, the only letter he, who died when I was sixteen, ever wrote me. It had been packed away in a box of teenage keepers to be found so many years later. I was looking at my recipes one day and found a postcard, penny postcard, with a recipe for making cornbread sent me by my mother when I was a new bride in 1966. It might be a picture we’d not seen in forever, or a pair of special earrings, maybe one special earring lost from the other.

Then there are treasures you didn’t know existed but you come upon with a burst of joy: a hand size petoskey stone on the shore of Lake Michigan, a whole beautiful star fish right at your feet as you walk the St.George Island beach, or simply a sunset that makes you exclaim, “Thank you, God!”

Some of the very best treasures are the intangible ones like the sunset. You can’t hold them in your hand but you can hide them in your heart: the hugs of grandchildren (well, children too!), a phone call from a friend at just the right time, a word of encouragement, an answer to prayer, the sight of a bird making a joyful flight.

No matter how precious, for which of these would we sell everything we had in order to possess? It’s a probing question. Would we give anything?

I had a music teacher once who said to me, “Don’t tell me you would give anything to be able to play as I do. Just go ahead and give anything.” St. Paul yearned over the unbelievers around him and said “I would give up my own place in heaven if then you could take my place.” A sign tucked around in various places at our church reads something like “What would you give so others could hear the gospel?”

Immeasurable treasure. The kingdom of God within you. Would you give anything to have that? Yet, it is free! Jesus did give anything, everything, so that we might have this treasure. Our works are good only to express our gratitude to Him and, hopefully, lead others to trust Him. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8

You are God’s treasure. And He is our immeasurable treasure! “Christ in you the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27. Greater is He who is within you than he that is without.

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Treasure, Nevertheless

A saying by Albertina Walker many of us taped to our mirrors years ago or tacked to our bulletin boards says: “Be patient with me please. God is not finished with me.”

Those words came to me as I was remembering the day Charles and I were digging and came upon a very unusual quarry.

We were digging one spring day in a lily bed near the back door of our 150-year-old log house. The lilies needed dividing and resetting. At first when one of us struck something hard under the surface we thought it was a rock even though Grady County does not claim to be rocky. (I have looked in vain for interesting small rocks to use in children’s crafts.) Still, what else could it be? When we realized that over an area of several feet we were hitting something hard, something level, I began to get excited.

“Maybe it’s a big treasure chest,” I exclaimed, “something buried before the Civil War, maybe silver, ancient relics, maybe even gold medallions!”

We dug harder, striking again and again this very hard, wide something. Surely it was treasure of some kind. Charles wasn’t completely enthusiastic, always approaching everything with a practical viewpoint. Whoever living in south Georgia in the 1850’s would have even possessed silver and gold? But even he began to get curious as we uncovered more and more of a rusty metal surface.

Finally we exposed the very edges of this curious object, not smooth edges, no old lock or hinges, not a square box but a circular object about 4″ across. The edges all around were spiky with sharp teeth. “An old circular saw blade,” Charles said with a touch of awe in his voice.

After we’d wrestled the thing out of its place we discovered an open boxed-in cavity underneath and could only surmise it was a grease trap for this old house whose kitchen had been converted and even moved more than once. The saw blade had been “recycled” as a cover for the grease trap. “Smart thinking,” remarked Charles who then began to speculate about how old the blade might be and its life before burial. He leaned it up against the rugged wall of an old shed left over from farm days and showed it off proudly to everyone who showed interest.

I was disappointed our discovery wasn’t hidden treasure but I began to catch Charles’s enthusiasm for the historical value of the rusty artifice.

When we moved across town there was no doubt we would bring the saw blade with us. Charles leaned it against a big pine tree where it receives curious looks and we can tell our fragmented story.

Not a chest full of gold medallions. But a treasure nevertheless. It reminds me often that I, even rusty and rough around the edges, am treasured by my Master who sought me and bought me. That goes for you too. Think of yourself today as a treasure.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

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