“Churches are full of nothing but hypocrites.” — Quote attributed to many
Hypocrite — a word that is used to describe somebody who is not real. Is often associated with a sneer or turning up of the lip when speaking of a particular individual that is in question.
For example, the word has seen an uptick in usage over the last few years particularly as it applies to people in politics or in religion.
The word hypocrite actually stems from the Greek word ὑποκριτής or hupokrites. The word is used approximately 20 times in the New Testament Scriptures including several times by the Lord Jesus Christ.
The origin of the word referred to a person who was an actor or a stage player of which Greek and Romans were quite fond. The actor or stage player would represent or pretend to be something or someone that he was not in real life. The actor would often wear or hold a mask in front of his or her face when playing the false part.
When an ancient Greek or Roman then heard an individual called a hypocrite, they would immediately recognize that the person in question was an actor or they were considered to two-faced.
EVERY person can be a hypocrite to some degree or another. For example, have you ever gone to work, church, or the store and met up with somebody who is but an acquaintance? The other person then asks, “Oh hi, how are you today?”
They may not really have any interest in you but are simply being polite. If this is the case, then they are being a hypocrite or two-faced.
In return, you force a smile, despite the fact that life is a struggle and you may be under the weather, and respond, “Fine, doing just fine.” Sadly, you have once again become a hypocrite or two-faced towards another human being.
Why is this important to learn and understand?
Very simple — Churches are often made up of people who are hurting JUST like you. They want to be REAL but have been told by society and culture that you don’t express your feelings to people who are not close to you.A church is like an island in a vast lake providing sanctuary from the storms of life.
Asone who served as a pastor and as an overseas missionary church planter, I have seen a lot of hypocrites. In fact, I have even played the part of an actor at times myself. It is not something I am proud of, nor is this confession a means to make light of how I have responded to others.
Is it true that there are churches that are not worth the time of day?
Yes, bad theology and a lack of true love for others mean some that classify themselves as a “church” should be studiously avoided because they are dangerous.
However, for a person to avoid church with the excuse that it is only full of hypocrites is nothing more than an excuse. It reveals the truth that you have not faced up to the reality that you and I are also hypocrites when things don’t go our way.
If the church is going to be avoided, then do yourself and others a favor and tell the real reason, not lame excuses. Using lame excuses simply places you in the same camp as the people you claim to be avoiding.
There are bad apples in EVERY aspect of life.There are hypocrites in EVERY workplace.There are hypocrites in EVERY church.
The question you should be asking is this –
If every church member were just like me, then what kind of church would my church be?
In other words, you can and should have a role to play wherever you and your family choose to attend. There are hundreds of millions around the world who are in a much tougher situation than you and I are or will ever be in.
It should not matter what you wear, how much you make, or the kind of car you drive.The true church should be a reflection of the glory that will be seen in heaven when it is ALL about Jesus Christ.
Church should be an opportunity to be real, to be genuine, to be honest, and where we are willing to love and serve others because that is what Christ calls all true Christians to do.
To do otherwise makes you and me nothing more than a hypocrite.
Like your parents, but the next step up, grandparents can instill a mixture of emotions. As a little one, they could coerce obedience by promising to tell your parents whether you had been good or not. It was only in later years that you realized they probably wouldn’t say a word if you had been bad.
As parents, grandparents probably raised their children with a firm hand, but with age tend to mellow which means grandchildren probably get away with much more than their parents ever did.
Some things never change though.
The mother who insisted she was not hungry when the last piece of bread, or meat, or even pie beckoned to the stomach of an eight-year-old is probably the grandmother who does the same when you went to visit them.
The father who was a military veteran and instilled strict discipline in the ranks is probably the same grandfather who will sneak with you out of the garage down to the local ice cream store or bakery after making you promise not to tell grandma that something has spoiled your dinner.
While some grandparents never learn, others have had the privilege of helping the next generation to learn and grow. Some grandparents undermine the parents, while others are careful to help instill respect, loyalty, and honesty.
Mygrandparents were the good kind of grandparents. I never knew my maternal grandfather as he passed away when my mother was only sixteen, I spent many years loving my maternal grandmother and the man she married after being a widow for 18 years. We called him Grandpa and he was everything you could ask for in a proper British gentleman.
A master electrician and professor at a local British college, I can remember visiting them and him asking me to help him “do some repairs up in the attic.” A stately man, he carefully took off his suit jacket and worked his way up the ladder still wearing a sweater, pressed dress shirt, and a tie (with a double Windsor knot). Knowing nothing about electrical wiring, he made me feel important as though I had actually done the work.
Grandma, or Nanny as she was preferably called, could bake up a storm. Tarts, sausage rolls, scones, and all things British helped keep appetites at bay. She always had a faint smell of lavender and she was meticulous about her clothing and hair. Til the day she died at almost 87, she had a full head of dark brown hair with no more than a handful of gray or white hairs.
My paternal grandmother abandoned her family when my dad was little, but we did know and spend time with my paternal grandfather. Distance and careers kept us from visiting as often as I would have liked, but he knew he was loved. Laying carpet, tile, and linoleum until he was in his 70’s, he taught me the importance of hard work.
On one visit when I was about ten, we drive across the US to visit him. While there, he kept us entertained while still working hard. In his 70’s, he could still run circles around what I can do in my 50’s. During the visit, my parents bought him a brand-new wallet as his was falling apart. I asked for the wallet, but my parents didn’t think it was of any value and it was thrown away. We left the next evening and headed back across the US. All I could think of was a wallet in the trashcan behind the house, but it was eventually forgotten.
Years later, I visited my grandfather down in Mexico with my own little family that we had just started. During that time, the previous visit when I was ten entered the conversation and it triggered the memory of that old wallet. I shared the story with my grandfather and we laughed about what makes a memory. Reaching into his back pocket, he pulled out a newer wallet and asked me if I would like to have it. I was very surprised, but insisted that I had a newer wallet myself and wanted him to keep what he had. He never had a great deal of money or possessions, but he was just Grandpa. He was the type of person that would give you what you needed and even what you wanted whether he could afford it or not.
My stories could probably fill books of all the things they did for us and with us, but the one common factor was their love for us. They didn’t always agree with our decision any more than our parents did, but they stood with us especially when life was difficult.
Asa grandfather myself now, I look at past generations and realize the rich heritage that was left to me. Sadly, we are not allowed to spend time with our grandson due to a nasty divorce, but I can only pray that one day that little fellow will know that we tried to be there for him. I hope that like my own grandfathers, and my children’s grandfathers, that I will be a rock to help guide through life but do so with as much graciousness and love as I was shown.
All of my grandparents are now gone, but their memories live on. I wish I would have taken more time than I did, but when you are young, you think that with a full life ahead of you that they do as well.
My goal is to be the kind of grandfather to my grandchildren that they will one day be to their own grandchildren. If I do it right and they follow in the footsteps that I have followed before me, then I will have succeeded.
Currently, I am in the process of finishing my second book which is a memoir of my first visit to Liberia, West Africa in 2007.
This small country used to be prosperous, but a devastating 14-year civil war absolutely decimated it. Infrastructure such as electricity and running water is only now starting to come back to better standards but mainly only in places like the capital of Monrovia. Traveling outside of Monrovia will find badly damaged unpaved roads that are almost impassable during the rainy season.
Villages and towns across the vast majority of Liberia still have no electricity or running water. Many villages have wells provided by a variety of NGOs (non-government organizations), but the jobs were not finished. I have personally seen and stayed in villages where the well was dug but the proper equipment to procure the water at the surface was non-existent.
The 14-year civil war killed an estimated 10% of the population and left thousands of children as orphans. The war caused a massive drop in the economy by over 90% and made it the 4th poorest country in the world in 2007. Those able to gain employment made an average of $1 per day.
Many still do not work and a published rate of literacy at 60% means that many have no ability do not have the necessary skills to do more than farm. Education is compulsory for children up to 16, but this is rarely enforced. More times than not, teachers are not available outside of Monrovia and the students who get passed to the next grade do so because the parents can bribe the system.
It was to this country that I took my first trip in January 2007. I visited parts of the country under the control of the United Nations, which is probably one of the most corrupt organizations in the world. Soldiers were often left to their own devices. Theft and sexual abuse of the locals was common. None of those involved in these crimes were ever punished. Any crime by the UN would be overlooked as long as a bribe was easily forthcoming.
When I arrived on one of two commercial flights in and out of the country per week, I learned within three hours that I had been duped. Scammed into leaving the comforts of my home in England, I simply wanted to get back on a plane and get out of the steaming jungles of this country for which I had no love.
Over the course of the next two weeks, my heart and mind changed. To this day, I still have a great love for the people of Liberia despite what occurred both on that trip, subsequent trips, and later a move that almost cost the lives of my oldest daughter and myself due to multiple cases of typhoid and malaria.
During my trip, I had the privilege of visiting a few marketplaces where I saw some of the incredible workmanship that goes into West African national costumes. Most of them were out of my budget, but I managed to have enough to purchase gifts for my wife and my children.
The final few days were a flurry of activity as I preached and taught in several locations. Preaching while standing in buildings with metal roofs, the temperatures soared well above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In one location, I taught while just around the corner children as young as three or four scrounged in a trash dump looking for scraps of food or something to try and salvage.
My first trip to Liberia made me realize that I was rich. I could not keep up with the expatriates who had companies footing the bill. My role there was a teacher and I had paid my own way to and from the country. However, I was blessed by the richness that I found in the hearts of the people.
My showers were done with one scoop at a time out of a large 55 gallon water bucket. In a land where many were happy to get one meal a day, I learned to appreciate oatmeal every morning for breakfast with a cup of strong coffee. In the evening, one of the local pastors and his family prepared a lovely Liberian meal. It was only towards the end of my visit that I realized that they had provided meat for me at the expense of not getting any themselves.
In one of my last preaching opportunities, the people had prepared a wonderful smelling meal. It tasted really good and each person kept insisting that I get some of the meat in the pot. By now, I understood what they were doing and with my stomach already giving me problems, I was able to encourage them to share.
At the end of the meeting, they asked me to step to the front for a “robing.” Imagine my surprise when the leaders of the church pulled out one of the most exquisite outfits I had ever seen. It was fit for a king or a tribal chief, yet, they were giving it to me.
In my heart, I did not deserve such respect. I had only sought to teach them the Bible, but they were honoring me. It was not until my second trip back to Liberia that I understood what that gift had cost that small congregation. They had given sacrificially in so many ways in order to give the absolute best that they could.
That outfit has traveled with me everywhere I have gone for the last twelve years. It holds a special place in my heart, but not because of the material nor because of the amount of money that Liberian outfit cost. The garments are special because they were given from a heart of love and out of appreciation for what they had learned.
Today, I am in constant contact with some of the people I was able to train. They have never asked me for one single dollar, even though this is common in many parts of West Africa. Each email or phone call always concludes with them telling me thank you again for going to Liberia.
The road of life has never been easy. I have long struggled with health issues, some of them that brought me close to death. However, in the midst of all the struggles, even when living deep, DEEP in the steamy jungles of Liberia, West Africa, we never went without a meal and we have managed to always pay our bills.
Now, I tend to be the kind of person who likes things to be a certain way. In the early years of our marriage, life was difficult on many levels. This was especially true when it came to finances. We can remember having to determine whether we wanted to live off of rice and beans or macaroni and ground beef in order to purchase necessities for our babies.
It seemed that every time we managed to save just a little that another big bill would show up. I was already working two jobs (1 full-time, and 1 part-time) for about 65 hours per week just to make ends meet. My wife and I only had one vehicle and still only have one to this day, but we were thankful that our situation was much better than most of the world.
Ok, let’s rewind to that last sentence and try to clarify.
You see, while I was working as a word processing specialist in the day, and then loading boxes into big trucks at all hours, I was NOT actually being very thankful. However, my wife was thankful because it allowed her to be a stay-at-home mom.
One incident that remains me to this day is just as clear as if it had just happened. The main reason is probably because it helped me to adjust my attitude on life.
In approximately 1991 or 1992, we lived in the US state of North Carolina. We were hoping to purchase a little home, but could never seem to save up enough to even pay our monthly bills.
One hot August day, we took our station wagon (an estate for UK readers) to the mechanic and learned it was going to take about $400 to make necessary repairs. That was a lot of money in the early 90’s and we had only managed to just save up about $500 or $600 in the bank account.
Going to my bank, I pulled up to the ATM Cash Machine while muttering under my breath about how unfair life was treating us. Ok, another confession, my wife was sitting beside me with our babies in the back, but I was actually complaining about how unfair life was treating me.
I took out my wallet, grabbed my ATM card and jammed it into the machine. In a careless manner, I punched in my PIN code and waited.
The machine hummed and whirred and then spit my card back out. On the screen, the words “ERROR — INVALID CODE” appeared.
Already frustrated, I verified the PIN code with my wife and jammed the card back into the machine. Slowly, with great deliberation, and muttering quite profusely, I slowly entered my PIN once again.
The machine hummed and whirred and then spit my card back out. On the screen, the words “ERROR — INVALID CODE” appeared again.
By now, I was quite furious. Life was going downhill once again and I could not even access my bank account.
The sun was setting low in the sky and I had a lucid moment and thought that maybe a reflection on the machine was not allowing my PIN code to go through.
Putting the car in Park, I stepped out of my vehicle and stood close to the machine. I had the presence of mind to know that if you entered the PIN code incorrectly three times in quick succession that the machine would swallow your card. This would have created an even bigger headache as it was almost 5pm on a Friday evening.
Not so carefully and with only a cursory glance at my card, I jammed it into the machine for my third and final attempt while muttering about stupid banks and how they conspired to keep my money just when I needed it the most.
Quicker than Jack being nimble while jumping over the candlestick, I mashed the CANCEL button for all that I was worth. The machine whirred and hummed before FINALLY reluctantly spitting out my card.
With my wife sitting quite calmly in her seat watching me, I waved my card at her as she just laughed. I am sure she was laughing WITH me and not AT me, but I suddenly felt very, VERY foolish when I realized that the card in my hand was NOT my debit card.
It was my Driver’s License!
North Carolina had recently introduced a magnetic stripe on the back and with the sun’s bright glare I had mistaken my driver’s license for my debit card. Yes, that is the story that I am sticking with — it MUST have been the sun!
Even to this day, almost 20 years later, I still keep my driver’s license together in my wallet with my debit cards. Every time I pull up to an ATM machine, I never fail to remember the story of how I had to be taught a lesson in humility.
Since that time, we have moved to England twice, to Liberia, West Africa, and now reside permanently in the USA. Through the years, that experience has helped me to realize how truly blessed my family and I have been. Never hungry and richer in so many ways more than the vast majority of the world, I know that I need to take time to assess each situation that we encounter.
Is it really worth getting angry or upset when God has been so good to me?
Does my life have to be in such a hurry that I cannot take enough time to verify which card I am trying to put into the ATM?
If I am in that much of a hurry, then there are probably other things wrong in my mind and heart that need to be dealt with.
My life may not be what I was hoping when I was younger. My bank accounts will probably never reflect the savings I wish they had. My car may not be the best, biggest, or fastest. However, what I have is far more than I deserve.
Take time to slow down today.
PS — I pulled out the correct card with my wife still laughing at me and gently inserted it into the ATM Cash Machine which promptly delivered the required $400 I needed to pay the bill.
Etched permanently in her mind were the memories. Memories of days when life was different. Memories of a time when she and her husband didn’t fight so often. Memories of precious moments that swelled her heart to overflowing with gratitude and love.
But that was before that fateful day in October three years ago. Had three years already come and gone? Misery so easily swallows the days like the darkness envelopes the land when the sun goes down.
Sipping their coffee, Sue and Greg stared at their phones. Social media seemed to rule their lives and the downward spiral seemed to grow more and more out of control. The plug had been pulled and the bathwater gurgled viciously as it was sucked into the underground world where it had originated.
Three years ago, Matthew was their pride and joy. He was their only child and had recently started pre-kindergarten. Every day he loved coming home to tell them all that he had learned and his childish prattle filled their evenings — at least when they listened.
Too often, time was spent on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or a host of other social websites. Each night, they really had nothing to show for their efforts, and Matthew slept soundly while hoping for more of their time. Even a little bit would have been better than nothing, but 280 characters seemed to be more important to the two people he loved more than anything else in the world.
Each day that he went to class was filled with a craft activity. This produced any number of handprints, pictures drawn with crayons that often escaped the confining lines, or art projects made from popsicle sticks.
It did not take long for the lad to fill up every empty space on the massive fridge, and going into his parents’ office he found the tape dispenser. Availing himself of the sticky substance, he spread the love around different parts of the kitchen, up the stairs, on the walls in his room, and even on the walls of the office.
Sadly, the little fellow learned quickly that his latest labor of love was not able to compete with whatever Dad and Mom found so interesting on their handheld devices. They seemed to like the first few things he had done and no matter how much his teacher praised his latest efforts, praise at home was not as forthcoming.
More than once he had come home to find that some of his projects were missing, but his mommy insisted that she was only taking them down to make room for the new ones that would come home on Friday.
There was only a little twinge of guilt on her part for the little white lie she told. To be honest, she and Greg had grown quickly tired of the pictures and projects. They did not match the décor and while they loved their little boy, priorities demanded more time at work. When they returned home each evening, they just wanted to relax.
Leaving for the final day of class, Matthew knew that his parents would really like the latest project that each of the students had worked so hard to get just right. He was sure that they would finally take some time to look at what he had done.
Picking up his crayons, glitter, and glue, he spent the morning finishing his masterpiece. Mrs. Johnson asked each student what their project was called and Matthew proudly announced that his was called, “Nighttime at My House.”
The crudely drawn stick figures showed a modest house in which the little boy was watching something on the tv in his bedroom. Downstairs, two individuals sat in two different rooms holding a phone or a tablet. Hearts decorated each room along with clouds that seemed to swirl above the suburban style house.
Class done for the day, Matthew rushed out to catch the bus home. Maybe they would put his art on the fridge all by themselves. Mommy and Daddy would be happy that he had done such a good job drawing and coloring.
Arriving home, he rushed into the kitchen to share his picture which he pulled out from its crumpled position in his bookbag. Mommy was preparing a meal and talking to somebody on the phone. Trying to get her attention, his excitement seemed to upset her. Snapping at him, she told him to go outside and play until she was done on the phone.
“But Mommy, I want to show you my picture.”
“Matthew, go outside and play. I will be done in a few minutes.”
Tears filled his eyes as he took his ball outside. Maybe Daddy would take time to look at his picture when he came home in a few minutes.
Inside the house, Sue giggled as her friend told her about something that happened at the office almost a week ago. The thought of Matthew and his latest project was a long way from her mind and heart when her world turned upside down.
A scream filled the air along with the sounds of screeching brakes. It was instantaneous with the sickening thud of a body being hit.
Instinctively, she knew.
Discarding her precious phone, she screamed uncontrollably as she raced out to the porch. All she could see was a small bloody bundle in the middle of the street. It seemed to have the same striped red shirt that Matthew always wanted to wear.
Sipping her coffee, her heart hurt as she put down the phone and looked over to the fridge. Matthew’s last project was right in the middle of the big stainless-steel door. Unsure of how to speak to each other, the couple found it easier to retreat inside their little bubbles instead of facing the world.
Life was full of regrets. For Matthew, it was too late. Change never happened. But for the two that made up his little world, change was still possible.
The colors were a little faded, and there was not as much glitter on the picture now, but Matthew’s presence was still present and it was a mocking reminder of what could have been had they simply done things differently.
Getting up from her chair, she went to the fridge and slid the magnets to one side. Tears fell as she walked back to the kitchen table.
Something had to give and taking a long overdue cue from the memory of Matthew, Sue stood beside Greg and placed her hand on his arm.
“Honey…”. She paused and waited til he looked up from his phone.
“Greg, I think we should spend time together instead of with our phones.”
A long silence swallowed the room and seemed to suck even the air out of her lungs as she waited.
Looking at the picture, he seemed to understand clearly for the first time what Matthew had been trying to portray to both of them. Three years was a long time to live with grief when you try to handle it on your own.
Tears formed in his own eyes and laying aside his own precious phone, he reached up and took her hand in his own.
“I agree, Sue. I believe that is what Matthew would have wanted from both of us.”
The sterile room diminished as the hologram came to life. Vibrant lights in flux flowed like waves of water as they reflected the images of a being that could never be embraced.
Laws were not made to be broken, especially on Terra. Had the watcher lived on any of the geo-colonies surrounding each base on Luna, or even one of the two terra-habitats on Mars, then life would have been different.
While both the Luna and Mars colonies managed to avoid the devastation that had transformed the countries of Earth into a raging inferno. Like all previous wars, the Tundra War of 2083 had produced no real winners. The entire planet had gone to war over the massive minerals stores that had been discovered in both polar regions.
At the beginning of the 21stcentury, nobody listened when a handful of scientists warned of the impending danger. Apart from a few military or scientific outposts, little was even known of the regions except that it was cold — very cold.
When the Yellowstone Fault revealed its true colors in 2023, the cataclysmic events that followed wiped out a large swath of the population across the mid-western US states. The aftermath forced temperatures to plummet across Europe while turning places like the equatorial region into a moderate region.
With rapidly dropping temperatures, people by the millions fled south. Governments unprepared for mass defection of their populations found no tax base and thousands of cities from the United Kingdom and across the Baltic countries of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Russia were emptied. Those who did not move died. Iceland, Scotland, Greenland, and the northern provinces of Canada never stood a chance.
With the plummeting temperatures, scientists worked to design new technology that would help heat the colder climates. The intention was to help redistribute the population that had almost become unsustainable.
The finding of the new previously unknown element changed the face of the world’s remaining governments. Each wanted to control what was uncontrollable, and a new arms race formed quickly with the major players being China and India in the Asian theater, the Kenya-Ghana Empire handled all affairs on the African continent, while the poorer Union of Socialist Republics of Brazil and Venezuela finalized the quaternion of nation-states.
The former superpowers of Russia and the USA had been devastated by the natural disasters and were no longer players on just about any front.
The Tundra War of 2083 was as brutal as it was short. The fight for extracting the new mineral brought misery to billions when the military might of China and the Kenya-Ghana Empire both opted for a nuclear option to remove the precious metal.
On May 13, 2083, the little blue planet known as Earth decided it could finally take no more. The repeated nuclear explosions from deep within the ground resulted in a shift in both magnetic poles. The devastation of Yellowstone paled in comparison as faults previously unknown erupted across the globe. Fully 80% of the remaining world population was dead within one month. What the crushing weight of the lava and volcanic dust did not kill was finished off by the deadly methane gasses that swept around the globe.
Billions lay right where they had died. There was no way to bury them and nature was left to take its full course. For those who remained, the leader of the island known as Zimbabwe rose quickly to power and brought a semblance of order.
Order that came at a steep price. Over the next few decades and with the world almost totally united under one leader, expenditures for health went into overdrive.
Within fifty years, great advances made life on Terra much better across the areas that were inhabitable. Due to the nuclear wastelands, the inhabitable areas only accounted for about 15% of the world’s surface.
Under the Zimbabwean Regime known simply now as ZR, crime was practically eradicated. Those who were alive were simply glad to live in areas where life had been prolonged indefinitely.
In other circumstances, the planet would be considered a paradise. Yet, one thing was missing. Science had developed to the point where humans could produce new offspring without the need of human touch. Everything was sterile and touching was against the law.
The ZR mandated that humans could not touch for any reason. Handshakes, hugs, kisses, or any similar contact resulted in stiff penalties. For those who refused to obey the law, the penalties became more severe until the day that the ZR passed the mandate that demanded execution for those who disobeyed.
Convict ZR-349017 faced the hologram and watched the images unfold. It reminded him of his transgression, but being one of the elders he was permitted to view the life of the one son that he was leaving behind.
Although father and son had never met, the sequencing compusystem showed through the hologram the child’s life that resulted from the birth out of that father’s DNA. The new being, like all new beings born on Terra, learned to interacted with each person yet without touch. No hugs from a parent were permitted. No bruised knees from falling ever had a tender kiss. Each new life being was raised in total isolation to ensure the law was kept.
The hologram show came to an end. The dimmed lights came back to life and a disembodied voice sounded from the speaker in the small confines of the detention box.
“Convict ZR-349017, do you understand the charges and the penalty that has been given for attempting to touch another life being?”
The man felt each of his advanced years as he nodded almost imperceptibly. Pausing for a moment as he reflected on all the changes he had seen take place, he finally spoke.
“How can you not understand that humans are gregarious? We are social creatures and we will soon come to extinction if ZR and Terra forces all life beings to live with no human contact from others.”
“Convict ZR-349017, the law must be obeyed and the penalty must be upheld.”
“I understand. The law must be obeyed and the penalty must be upheld.” The old man intoned.
Stretching out upon the termination shelf, a tear trickled from each eye as he took his last breaths.
The door to the chamber hummed open as a younger life being entered the room. Reading his instruments, he verified that the penalty had been upheld. Turning to leave, he looked and noticed the two tears that still rested on each cheek of the old man.
Something turned in the young man’s heart and without thinking, he made his first human contact and wiped the tears off the old face.
You see, I was born in a town northeast of London, England. However, I now live in the far western US state of Wyoming. The difference between the two is like night and day.
The county where I was born has approximately 200,000 more people than in the entire state where I now reside.
England has a moderate climate with four seasons — winter, spring, fall, and rainy!
Wyoming has a tropical climate — oh wait, never mind, I was thinking of somewhere else for a minute. The climate here also produces four seasons — winter, arctic, spring (with possible snow flurries) and summer/fall (scheduled for 3 weeks in July in 2019).
I am currently writing a long way from home — a very long way.
This last week I traveled from one part of the US to another while helping my parents move from one state to another state. During this week, I have been apart from my immediate family who I love very much. However, today is the day that I get on an airplane and go back to Wyoming.
As I have pondered the differences from one state to the next, I am also reminded of how blessed I am that I have the ability to travel.
My travels have taken me to about 17 countries and 47 out of 50 states. I have seen a lot of beautiful places and a few places that I would rather not live if at all possible.
While I contemplate on traveling though, I am reminded of those who have not. This may be due to their financial constraints or maybe just no interest. A few years ago, I remember asking one individual if they had ever traveled outside of the US. The response was surprising when they revealed that they had never even traveled outside of their own county, much less their state.
We had the privilege of teaching national pastors and church leaders in Liberia, West Africa. We met people who were born, grew up, got married, and still live in the same village with the furthest they have ever gone being one village away from their own. In all likelihood, those people will die never having traveled more than two or three miles from their homes.
I am preparing for a trip a long way from home — a very long way.
No, I do not mean when I board a plane later today to go back to my home. I am preparing for the trip that comes to all people. It is not something we can escape. Speaking of death is morbid for many, yet, every culture and society in the world have learned to prepare themselves for the inevitable.
Some fear death and the unknown. Nobody has ever gone to the other side and returned to describe it. Even in the Holy Scriptures we read of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ and how He was put to death, was buried, and rose again on the third day. Yet, conspicuously absent is any reference to what was on the other side of the curtain called death. The only record from Jesus we have is that He is going to the house of the Father to prepare a place for all true believers to live when they die. Nothing more.
The Bible does record a few instances where the dead were brought back to life, yet, not one person has described what it looks like. One record indicates that the apostle Paul died and went to heaven, yet he tells us that it is not possible to write down the glories of what he saw.
At the end of the Bible, the apostle John was given a vision in which he saw some of the things that are found in heaven. It is absolutely impossible to even hazard a guess as to what it truly looks like.
What I find sad though in my journeys a long way from my homes is that very few seem to be preparing. They live only for themselves or for the moment with no concerns about what the future holds.
For me, I was born at an early age. LOL. I can vividly recollect memories of things and people I met when I was just two or three years old. Then I blinked and I was looking up at the teenagers and could not wait to learn to drive. I blinked again and I was a teenager wanting to find somebody I could marry and have children. However, I did not stop blinking and 20, 30, 40, and now 50 came and went.
I have to consider what I have been doing for I do not have much of my life left. My strongest years are behind me but hopefully my wisest years are still ahead. My hair is no longer full and dark brown, but gets thinner with more gray every month. I am not the thin 127 lbs. I was when I got married and every extra pound I carry now gets harder to remove.
For all my travels though, I have seen much. I have learned much. I have no regrets about what I have accomplished, but there are things I wish I could have redone or goals that I would have pushed through to complete.
Like the picture above, the way ahead turns and winds its way through hills and mountains. I cannot see or even know what life will push my way as I travel through some of those valleys. Some will be difficult and painful while others will be filled with joy. The road I see though looks forward and does not dwell on that which is behind.
Yet, I cannot change the past so I look forward to the future and enjoy the present.