Beliefnet
Safe Place with Ruth Graham

I shared with you earlier this year that I am reading through the Bible. I’m using the Daily Walk Bible in the New Living Translation. I try to do this every other year. This weekend I was finishing up Psalms – started Proverbs this morning. It always amazes me how much I forget or new things I see!

Anyway, yesterday I was reading Psalm 147. It is a Psalm written by King David praising God for Jerusalem’s restoration and prosperity. It talks about God rebuilding Jerusalem and bringing the exiles back. Then there is this verse: “He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds.” Then it goes on to say that He counts the stars and calls them by name, His powers are absolute and His understanding is beyond comprehension. And the rest of the chapter is about God’s control over all things: nature, nations, political systems and people…all things.

The Psalmist writes things like: “He sends orders to the world – how swiftly His word flies!” , “He hurls the hail like stones…He sends the winds and the ice thaws…” In the middle all of the glorious and powerful things God does, I love that little sentence, “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”

You’d think God would be too busy doing all His wonderful and powerful works to even notice one with a broken-heart. Much less pause what He is doing to heal the one who has a broken heart plus take the time to bandage their wounds. One with a broken heart is not comforted by almighty power or absolute glory. That would be overwhelming to someone hurting. They need gentle comfort and understanding care.

When you go to the doctor or ER with a wound the doctor takes charge. You feel cared for, safe. The doctor has to get close to you.  He has to put his hands on you.  The first thing he does is stop the bleeding and remove any debris in the wound. That can hurt but you know it is necessary for healing. He works to get good access to the area that is wounded. He will also be sure to keep you warm and as comfortable as possible. He’ll rinse the wound out, and apply some anti-bacterial cream then he’ll evaluate it and bandage it.

When we are broken-hearted, when we are wounded, God comes close. He’s never too busy running the universe to stop and care for your needs. He is our safe place – our “ER”. But we need to take it to Him. Then He goes to work to stop the bleeding and clean out our wound with repentance and forgiveness. He wants to make you whole.

Yes, He counts the stars and calls them by name; He is sovereign over all things but He is never too busy to care for you personally. He knows you intimately. He knows your suffering. He will tenderly care for you and see that you get whole.

I shared with you that I have a cat. Everyone says she is “fat”. I say she just has sort legs. She is a good companion though lately when I’m away she likes to get up on my bed which she knows she is not supposed to do. Or she, like Goldilocks, tries out every bed and every chair. It wouldn’t be so bad but she shed! Big time. She is great and I wear a lot of black. I sue a lot of that sticky roller stuff!

Anyway, each morning when I get up she is waiting outside my bedroom door. I guess she hears the water running in my bathroom and knows I am awake. So she wait until I open the door. She has trained me to feed her first. She get 2/3 c. of weight control, indoor-cat, cat food. And I add 3 “treats” to her bowl. Plus I freshen her water. Once she has that she comes back to my room to stretch out on my rug and take her morning bath and siesta.

If the sun is up, she finds a sunny spot on the rug and luxuriates in that spot. One morning recently she settled down in a spot by my front door. I was just a narrow spot of sunlight. She seemed happy. But my room had a large sun-bathed spot – she chose to ignore it.

Isn’t that true of us?  At least of me. I am so easily satisfied with a small part of God’s blessing when He has given me everything to enjoy. I live as if He is a stingy God. He isn’t – He is lavish, abundant, exuberant, extravagant, generous, prodigal. Prodigal? That’s a word we think doesn’t belong there. We’ve always heard of the “Prodigal Son” and he was rebellious. Well, “prodigal ” means: wastefully or recklessly extravagant, giving profusely, lavishly abundant… Pastor Tim Keller has a book titled, The Prodigal God. It’s true. God is a prodigal God.

Next time yo see a sunrise or sunset, think of that. Next time you hear the chorus of birds in the morning, remember that. When you examine a flower blossom closely, remember how lavish God is.

It is amazing when you step away – so much changes so quickly. I turned off my cable. I don’t get the newspaper. I feel cut off from news…but I had become so immersed in it that I felt the Lord tell me I needed to take a break. I don’t know if you have noticed that even the introductory music for the news shows creates tension! It just isn’t good for health.  Plus the cable was getting so expensive! I didn’t need all those channels. I only really watched two – sometimes a third local channel for the weather forecast. Political rancor was getting to me.

Why can’t both sides work together for the good of all? It seems some have a personal vendetta and won’t cooperate no matter what. They don’t care about this country; they just want to gum up the works. Shame on them. Where are the statesmen? And when someone does try to do a good thing, the other side tears them to shreds or belittle them. Who would want to serve this country under these circumstances? We are tearing ourselves apart.

I do have the Internet to look at each day to see what is going on. Yesterday before church, I quickly checked the Web and was so saddened to learn of the attack in London – again. The photos and news reports were disturbing. I am of the opinion that Britain – all of Europe – has been too lax in its immigration policies. It has become a haven for radical Islamists and perhaps it is too late. They are trying to close the barn door after the cows got out. I hope it will be a warning for this country.

For years I have said that our freedoms are going to hang us. And they are. Political correctness has gone amuck. The freedom of speech has been taken to extremes. If we express how we feel or think, we are labeled as an extremist, homophobe, racist, anti-Christian, anti-semitic…it’s nuts! So many labels. No longer is there an open forum for honest dialogue where we can agree to disagree yet remain friends. Instead, there are personal attacks and sometimes – too often – a gunshot!

My grandfather and father, and Uncle Clayton Bell gave me a great lesson – to disagree “tooth and claw” with someone over an issue but then go out to lunch together. I observed it up close and personal. I heard people criticize my father or grandfather, most of it, in my mind, very unfair. But they never spoke ill of anyone. One time when I was defending my father he rebuked me for being unkind in my remarks about the one who was criticizing him! I don’t think I ever heard him be critical of anyone.

Invariably, he tried to see it from the other person’s viewpoint and he would steer me that way as well. He tried to understand what they were saying and why they said it and then learn from them. He was terrific about that. It was always a learning opportunity for him. He didn’t automatically get defensive. Like I do, sadly. I am sure there were deep wounds but he didn’t nurse or rehearse them. What an example! I know many around the world admire him – but none more than me!

 

 

 

 

Some one sent his to me in an email…I thought it was worth passing along.It is long but worth the read. Enjoy!

Twenty years ago, in Nashville , Tennessee , during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA’s (American Baseball Coaches Assoc) convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there. I learned  in 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy? After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage. Then, finally … “You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer. “That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?” Another long pause. “Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach. “That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?” “Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident. “You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?” “Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison. “Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”…………“Seventeen inches!” “RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues? “Seventeen inches!” “SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him down to the minor leagues; to Pocatello !” he hollered. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. If you can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause.

“Coaches… what do we do when your best player shows up late to practice? or when our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate? ” The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We let them slide and just widen the plate!”

Pause.

Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence.

He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

“And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate! We see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch.”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: “If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …” With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “…We have dark days ahead!.”

Note: Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91.

“Don’t widen the plate.”