Living the Dream

The rusty sedan had seen better days.  I assumed the person sitting in the driver seat had too. Pillows, rolls of paper towels, clothing, boxes and other belongings blocked any view the rear window ever had. Immediately my thoughts sped to hoarder, homeless, or person-in-need.

I walked past the parked car on my way into work. The building wasn’t open to the public for at least another hour.  As I approached the car to see if the person might need help,  the psychedelic bumper sticker caused me slow my pace and stare.  I blinked to make sure I read it correctly. It read “Living the Dream.”

Jeremiah-29-11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

When we absorb scripture, we realize the Creator of the Universe loves us. He wants the best for us. Before He set the stars in the heavens and formed boundaries of the seas, He thought of you and me.

Included within the thoughts of God are His personal plans for each of us. His plans transcend the doubts and fears of living on this earthly plain.  We could never conceive of the hope-filled plans God has for our lives. Plans that far exceed any of our expectations or design.

What is blocking your “rear view mirror” of the beautiful dream God has for you? What are you desperately clutching that is preventing you from opening your grasp to accept His gift for you?

We place boundaries on He who is boundless. Our trust is in what we can see, feel and touch rather than what He sets before us.  We cling to earthly possessions as if they can keep us safe or give us value rather than opening our hands to accept His gift for us.

God wants to help you live His dream for your life.

There could be a variety of reasons that brought this person to be in a beat up car stuffed  with their personal belongings on this early morning.  Maybe they were forced to live on the streets or in a box labeled, “Kenmore.” Whatever the circumstance causing them to be in a beat-up old car in a parking lot of a closed building, my prayer for them is they are willing and able to accept God’s love and dream for their life.

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Malchus-Healed to Believe

“I’m telling you the truth! My ear was in the dirt!”

Sitting in a local tavern, two men began discussing recent events. Everyone seemed to be at odds, choosing sides either to believe the man called Jesus was the Messiah or they declared he was a criminal.

For the last three years news of Jesus and His band of disciples spread like wildfire. Water turned into wine, people raised from the dead, and small amounts of food being multiplied to satisfy thousands were just some of the stories flying around.

Malchus paid no attention to the stories. How could they be true? He was busy advancing within the palace guard and remained focused on the jobs set before him. He wanted to make a name for himself and draw the attention of the king.

He had been in the court when Judas came telling the guard how they could arrest Jesus. Malchus became excited hoping he would be chosen for the team who would arrest this man claiming to be the Messiah. His desire came true when he heard his name called by the chief guard.

As a servant of the high priest, arresting prisoners was a part of the job, a normal course of events, nothing to write home about. But this arrest was going to be different. Arresting Jesus was definitely different, he could feel it.

Anticipating a fight, the large army of soldiers armed themselves for battle. Horses were saddled. Shields and swords were gathered as adrenaline pumped through their blood. Led by Judas the army headed to Gethsemane, the quiet place where Jesus and His followers were said to be praying.

The next moments would be forever etched in Malchus mind.

“Greetings, Rabbi!”, Judas said and then kissed Jesus.

“Friend, do what you came for,” replied Jesus.

Confusion invaded the solitude. Soldiers advanced, grabbed Jesus and He was arrested.  Jesus never uttered a word, never resisted. The expected fight never happened disappointing the army. Time seemed to stop, everyone just stood there.

Glinting metal caught Malchus eye as he turned his head toward the disciple named Peter. The sword came down faster than he could move out of its way. Cold steel came down hitting the side of his head forcing Malchus to his knees. Pain wretched his body. Blood pulsed from the side of his head. Malchus brought both hands to his head as he fell to his knees. He pried his eyes open to see his ear laying on the ground in the dirt.

Jesus, spoke. His words cut through the hysteria like a knife.

“No more of this!” Jesus said. Jesus reached out His hand, touched Malchus’ wound and instantly healed him.

Pain disappeared. Blood stopped flowing. Malchus’ heart continued to race. He couldn’t comprehend what just happened.

Time slowed to a crawl as Jesus met Malchus’ eyes. Malchus felt frozen. Jesus seemed to be looking into his very soul. Then, like a wave, Malchus felt love, indescribable love, flooding into his heart from this man who is said to be a criminal, Jesus.

Slowly Malchus rose to his feet.

The soldiers yanked Jesus to his feet and led him away.

The disciples fled in fear.

Malchus was left alone.

Malchus tried to gather his senses as he walked home. Thoughts bounced around his head as he tried to make sense of it all. Breaking it down step by step; the guard gathered to arrest a criminal named Jesus, Judas kissed Him, the guards arrested Jesus, his ear was cut off. Then Jesus, this man who was supposed to be a criminal, touched him and healed him.

None of this made any sense. How could this healer be a criminal? Why didn’t Jesus fight back or resist arrest? Why did all of Jesus’ followers run away? What the heck just happened?

Now, two days later, he still had no answers. He would have asked Jesus questions, but He was dead. Jesus had been crucified between two other criminals.

Malchus held the tankard of ale in his hands as he tried to sort through the last few days’ events. His friend tried hard not to roll his eyes as he listened to the story. Obviously, Malchus was crazy. Finishing their drinks they parted company. Maybe a good night’s sleep would help settle his thoughts.

Sunday morning Malchus woke. Without thinking he touched his ear finding it still healed. He didn’t have to be at the palace guard until Monday so he decided to take a walk.  Mindlessly he walked through the town while he relived the strange events in his mind.

His walk brought him a short distance from a tomb.

The sound of weeping snapped him out of his stupor. He spied a weeping woman prostrate in front of a tomb with a large rock next to the opening. A man stood before the woman.  Malchus overheard him say, “Mary.”

Wait a minute! That man? That man was Jesus! He wasn’t dead! He was alive!

Malchus fell to his knees. Truth stood before him hitting him harder than the blow of the sword.

Jesus was alive.

He was not dead.

The man, thought to be a criminal, was the long-awaited Messiah. He had been healed by the Son of God.

Malchus heart softened to accept the seed of faith planted in his soul.

From the Seed of Trust Grows Faith

“What do you mean? Why do we all have to go to your house?”

Rahab gathered her family together and was begging them to listen to her. Her story was preposterous, but these days were tense, everyone in the town knew they were on the brink of a siege.

Her family knew full-well of her “profession” and didn’t want to be associated with it. They didn’t discuss this apple who seemed to have fallen so far away from their family tree.  Now Rahab was spinning this unbelievable story about these “special” men who had come to her house.

Normally only men “visited”  Rahab’s house and usually under the cover of night. The women who lived there did so out of necessity; having to support themselves in some way.  But these two male visitors were different, sent by Joshua, on a mission to spy out their land.

Rahab had heard how the Lord of these men had dried up the Red Sea. She heard how Sihon and Og, two Amorite kings and more this Lord had completely destroyed. Now these men of God were here, in her land; Rahab knew things were going to get ugly.

They asked only for a place to hide.  The men needed protection.  They were being hunted by the king of Jericho who wanted them dead.  Rahab hid them on the roof of her house, covered them with flax and gave them instructions not to move.

The king of Jericho sent a threatening message to Rahab, “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”

Rahab began her necessary lie, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” The kings messengers left heading down the road Rahab pointed to.

Thoughts flew through her head as she prepared a place for the spies to spend the night. What was she going to do?  She needed protection for her and her family when the fighting broke out.

Rahab pleaded with the men, “I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. “ She continued, “Now then please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you.”

The men, grateful for the protection and the hospitality of Rahab, assured her, “Our lives for your lives!”

Could Rahab trust the promise of these strangers? Trusting men was not her forte’.  But did she have a choice?

Plans were made and the course set for the coming days. Rahab was relieved, yet still anxious because there was so much that still had to be done; the first of which was to getting her entire family to believe her and to come to her home.

After great pleading, Rahab’s family came to her house and were spared. Three days passed. The pursuers gave up and went back to the king of Jericho without their spoils.

Trust gave birth to righteousness; faith was born. Rahab was relieved yet still anxious-there was so much that had to be done.  The first of which was to get her family on-board with this plan and then to get them all to her house.

Story based on Joshua 2