For the last 20 years I have presented the Gospel to each new youth at the highly secure prison for the kids ages 13 to 19 at Gainesville, Texas. It is the first time that most any of them have stopped “running on the streets” and had the time to think about their life. Most every one made a decision to make God part of their life. After our hour+ together I would write each one a letter. As a result I corresponded more with many of them. And in each letter I would enclose a group of short stories or poems. They really liked them, especially those with an emotional message. You probably would not believe how many locked-up prison boys have loved theses little stories, and read them over and over.
In my soon to be published book I enclosed a long list of those short stories in the Appendix. Since the prison boys liked them so much, I thought you may like to see some of them. So, here is a 22nd group of them for you. And you are welcome to share them with others.
Two little brothers once decided to dig a deep hole behind their house. As they were working, a couple of other little boys stopped by to watch.
“What are you doing?” asked one of the visitors.
“We’re going to dig a hole all the way through the earth!” one of the brothers volunteered excitedly.
The other boys began to laugh, telling the brothers that digging a hole all the way through the earth was impossible. After a long silence, one of the diggers picked up a jar full of spiders, worms, insects and interesting stones. He removed the lid and showed the wonderful contents to the scoffing visitors.
Then he said confidently, “Even if we don’t dig all the way through the earth, look what we found along the way!”
Their goal was far too ambitious, but it did cause them to dig. That is what a goal is for, to cause us to move in the direction we have chosen. In other words, to set us to digging!
But not every goal will be fully achieved. Not every job will end successfully. Not every relationship will endure. Not every hope will come to pass. Not every love will last. Not every endeavor will be completed. Not every dream will be realized.
But when you fall short of your aim, perhaps you can say, “Yes, but look at what I found along the way!
Look at the wonderful things which have come into my life because I tried to do something!”
It is in the digging that life is lived, and it is the joy in the journey that truly matters!
Over 20 years ago I read a fictional story about a device that would allow you to live forever.
The operation of the device was simple. It was just a portal that you walked through, and when you walked through five years were added to your life.
There was no cost, at least not in terms of money.
Each time you walked through and gained five years, five years were removed from your memory. The good thing was, you could choose which five-year period would be erased.
As the story was told, no one ever walked through because no one could find five years that they wanted to give up.
Suppose I had that opportunity? Could I choose five years to give up? All have had periods in their lives rougher than others.
…times of economic strain
…times of ailing and aching bodies.
…times of romantic loneliness, turmoil, or heartbreak.
…times of fear and uncertainty.
…times of prosperity and plenty.
…times exhilarating youthful energy and vitality.
…times where love conquers all.
…times where we can’t wait until tomorrow.
What were the worst five years of my life? Would I erase those if I could?
The tough times made me stronger, wiser, and more appreciative of the easy times.
The tough times are just as much a part of who I am and why I am who I am as the easy times.
I can look outside on a freezing day and appreciate warmth because as a teenager I carried newspapers at 4a.m. each morning on a bicycle. My hands and feet were nearly frozen daily. Would I give up those five years of the freezing paper route? Not hardly.
Each age has its beauty and its strain, its pleasure and its pain and with any piece missing,
we are not the same.
What I read 20 years ago was just a story. There is only one true way to get eternal life. That is also a portal.
It does not require that you erase anything of the past, just get one thing straight in the present that automatically washes away all sins of the past.
“Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.” Matt 7:14
The brand-new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work.
They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc., and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.
On December 19 a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.
On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in.
One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.
By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.
She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.
Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was white as a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?” The pastor explained.
The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria .
The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria . When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave.
Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the Church. The pastor insisted on driving her home; that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.
What a wonderful service they had three days later on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great.
At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.
The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike.
He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.
The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.
(True Story – submitted by Pastor Rob Reid)
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