Friday, June 12, 2020

Well done, good and faithful servant

Tomorrow morning, my hometown is saying goodbye to one of the best men I have ever been blessed to know. Joe "Buster" Powell was one of those special people that are hard to really describe in words. He was the most honest, true, humble, hardworking man, a soft soul who could put anyone at ease. His heart was for his farm, his people (and if you ever met Buster, you were his people), and most importantly his God.

When I was growing up, Buster served as a deacon at First Baptist in Green Forest. The deacons took turns on Sunday mornings, with a different man reading a Scripture and saying an opening prayer each week. I always looked forward to Buster's turn--he could preach a better sermon in that five minutes than most of us could in a full day. He usually had a story from his farm to share, something he had noticed the week before because Buster was so much better than most of us at noticing the little ways God speaks. And then he would pray.

I've heard a lot of prayers through the years, usually full of words people use to try to sound fancy and holy. I've heard people who didn't seem to be doing much more than just putting on a show for everybody who was listening. Listening to Buster, though, was getting to eavesdrop on a private conversation between friends. He spoke to God like no one else I've ever heard, and James 5:16 has no better example than Buster Powell--

"Your prayers are powerful when they are rooted in a righteous life."

There are people who fake humbleness, who talk down about themselves because they are searching for compliments, but Buster always displayed true humbleness and humility. I can still hear him talking to God, saying, "Thank You for being so good to just an ol' farmer like me." Buster's life was an incredible picture of a righteous life, a life lived in testament to the Savior he loved.

I don't truly know what stepping into Heaven is like, but I can imagine the joy on Buster's face when he stepped through the gates. I see his great big smile when his beautiful bride, the sweet Miss Freida, stepped forward to welcome him. I can imagine the reunion with friends and family who had gone on before him. More than that, though, I can see the happy tears when his God spoke the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  


And on the 8th day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker!”. So, God made a farmer!
God said I need somebody to get up before dawn and milk cows and work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board. So, God made a farmer!
I need somebody with strong arms. Strong enough to rustle a calf, yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry and have to wait for lunch until his wife is done feeding and visiting with the ladies and telling them to be sure to come back real soon…and mean it. So, God made a farmer!
God said “I need somebody that can shape an ax handle, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire make a harness out of hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And…who, at planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty hour week by Tuesday noon. Then, pain’n from “tractor back”, put in another seventy two hours. So, God made a farmer!
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop on mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So, God made a farmer!
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees, heave bails and yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink combed pullets…and who will stop his mower for an hour to mend the broken leg of a meadow lark. So, God made a farmer!
It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight…and not cut corners. Somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed…and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody to replenish the self feeder and then finish a hard days work with a five mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who’d laugh and then sigh…and then respond with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does”. So, God made a farmer!

~from Paul Harvey's monologue

Monday, June 1, 2020

Hope for a broken world

I've been trying to figure out what to write, but I'm at a loss for words. That's not a normal thing for me...words are my strength (the written word, at least). Right now, though, my thoughts and feelings and words are all jumbled up in my brain. It's like a big knot--a lot like when I've got a ball of yarn that's gotten all mixed up and tangled. I start pulling on one thing and start to think that I'm making progress, but then the knot just starts getting tighter. So I move to a new piece and start pulling on it...only to find that it is connected to the knot in another way.

Right now, I wish I could tie all my thoughts together. I wish I could come up with a nice, neat way to explain all the chaos that's in the world right now. But to be honest, I just don't understand.

I don't understand why people seem to think that violence makes things better.
I don't understand how burning down businesses honors a life senselessly taken.
I don't understand why everyone wants to rush to judgement, no matter which side they are on.
I don't understand why skin color has ever been an issue.
I don't understand why we let the media control us with fear and sensationalism.
I don't understand why people turn to yelling, insults, and hatred in an effort to "convince" people to change.

Our world is broken--it has been for a long time. You don't heal a broken world by breaking more, by causing division, or by spewing hatred.

The only way to heal a broken world is through the One who was broken for us.

"But He was hurt because of us; He suffered so.
Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed Him.
He endured the breaking that made us whole.
The injuries He suffered became our healing.
We all have wandered off, like shepherdless sheep,
scattered by our aimless striving and endless pursuits;
The Eternal One laid on Him, this silent sufferer,
the sins of us all."
Isaiah 53:5&6

We live in a world that needs to realize that there is only way to heal--we have to turn to the Healer. There isn't anything else in this world that can take all the hurt and all the pain away. There isn't a protest or a riot or an earthly court that is going to change the hearts and souls of man.

Our only hope is Jesus.

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