Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reading the Red and Praying the Power

Taking a line from my favorite movie trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, I put myself in Bilbo's place and say, with paper and pen, "Where to begin?"

"Ah, yes!"  The pen is dipped into the inkwell, I sit back, ponder, pray, put the pen down, pray some more.  I think of Jesus teaching, speaking from an elevated spot - He comes into focus.

He invites me, "Come to me, all - that means you, Ed - who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:27-29)

From there I am transported back to my desk.  I pick up my pen, and the pen remembers that to build a house you must make the foundation sure.  So, as you read the foundation being dug, here, for what will be these series of blog posts and/or studies and/or ramblings - remember that this all begins and ends with JESUS.

There is Joy in the Journey!

Let's start this journey with my PRIDE.  I know, I know, this is a peculiar start, but after I share this with you, gentle reader, this journey will make sense - foundations need time to settle and firm up - to become solid - if you hope to build a house on firm footing.  How wonderful of the Lord to build a life founded in Him - to use good solid ROCK that you - that I - stumble upon.  Better to stumble, stub your foot on, trip over such a ROCK, than for this ROCK to fall on you - fall on ME - and be ground to powder.  (Matthew 21:44)

Anyway, Pride - MY Pride . . .

I am a proud man.  I pride myself by being equipped by the Lord with a strong back - and a stubborn streak to finish what I start.  I have always taken this "equipping" to my workplace.  I've been a bookseller for three decades and am currently employed by a corporate bookselling giant in the shipping and receiving department.  My old fashioned work ethic makes me the strong man to handle the volume of heavy work that is required to keep inventory on the floor for bookstore enthusiasts.  Shipping and receiving in such a venue is a job for young, strong, able bodied persons.  At age 56, I feel that I still belong in this category.  A workhorse my whole life - why should being middle-aged change that?

Recently, we were shipping out textbook returns on pallets.  Now, each box weighs about 50-60 pounds with 35 boxes to a pallet.  You do the math.  Consider this particular day, I am loading FOUR pallets of books onto the truck.  I don't ask for help, after all - I don't need it.  I take the pallet jack, plug it into the pallet, pump the jack up, roll the pallet up to the dock deck, push the hydrolic button to lift the platform to be level with the truck.

It's cold outside and condensation has formed on the platform - it's slippery on the dock.  I admit, I don't have the right shoes for this kind of work.

I get two pallets in and have two more to go.  I set up the third pallet stand to roll it onto the platform - this is the heaviest one of all - probably weighing about 1,600 pounds to a ton (no fooling)!  I strain to pull it onto the platform.  It's not going anywhere.  I muster all my physical might - but NOT  my vocal cords to yell for help.  Pulling up the incline to the platform, my foot slips on the damp flooring and I fall - about two feet - on my backside.  I don't think I land too hard - I really don't even remember.

The truck driver sees this and assists me in putting the rest of the pallets in, and off he goes.  I go on with my day - not thinking much of my fall.  I get bumps and bruises all the time in this type of work - just another day at the office.

Over the course of four days back pain grew steadily worse.  This happened on a Thursday - by the following Tuesday I couldn't even tie my shoes.  I actually had to call in sick - and I NEVER do that!  I spent the morning with a chiropracter.  X-rays revealed a herniated disc.  Not only that - but, also come to visit - and stay a while - was the marvelous pain of the sciatic nerve to keep company with the pain in the back.  The sciatic condition has the pleasure of traveling from my damaged disc, down my right leg, all the way to the bottom of my right foot.

THE RESULT:  I am out of work for ten weeks.  No lifting.  No pulling.  No loading.  Just rest and rehabilitation.  Removed from my former comfort zone - I am now living in a totally new place.  And, sorry - there's just no room for PRIDE in that place.

From day one of my convalescence, I started a new chapter in my BIble reading - now that I would have the time to commit to it.  In the past, I've read through the Bible at least half a dozen times - basically blasting through, never stopping long enough to really hear the Lord.  Oh, sure - some of it definitely stuck to the sides of my heart and brain - but never stopping to smell the fresh air or dine at the roadside table.  I mean - I'm a guy - and when they travel, guys like to get there.  We hate to stop.  We like to get there in the shortest possible time.  NOT this time, however!

The Lord spoke to me - I was listening - flat on my back now, I had nowhere to go, nothing to do - BUT listen.  He put this into my spirit:

"Read the Red, and Pray the Power."

I was to slow down, read the Bible - very slowly - ALL the red letters in my Bible that you find in the New Testament causing the Words of Jesus to jump off the page.  I was to look up the Greek and Hebrew original words and definitions of these Words - and not move on until the Lord was finished with me - till I got ALL the nourishment I could get out of the passage.

I was to READ - THINK - PRAY - and LIVE each passage studied.  This WORD, this BIBLE, these RED LETTERS, were HIS direct Word to me - to INSTRUCT me - FEED me - CHANGE me - and MOVE me onto a new course - a new path in my walk with Him - to JOURNAL THIS JOURNEY.

"Okay," I said to myself - "Let's start!"

The first Red Letters I came to were in Matthew 3:15.  In my wounded state, I was eager for the Lord to show me His way, to speak to me - right where I was at.  I had asked, "Why now?  Why am I hurt when my co-workers need me most?"  You see - it was fast approaching the Thanksgiving and Christmas break and the"rush" of the holiday season.  In the retail world, this is when all hands must be on deck and ready to work the longest and in some cases - most trying of days to please the public fervor for material goods.  And, here I was - unable to wait on customers or to do much of anything except - WAIT ON THE LORD.

Jesus never fails.  Matthew 3:15 reads:

"Permit it at this time; (let it b e so now) for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."

I know that the text deals with Jesus allowing John to Baptize Him - but the Lord was speaking to me - directly addressing my current situation.  In my spirit, I felt the Lord say to me:

"Let it be so now.  I'm going to use this time to BREAK you - to RE-MAKE you - MOLD you into MY IMAGE.  I'm taking you on this journey.  You need not run from it - but EMBRACE it - this is a  GIFT - not a curse.  You need to lighten your load, pack properly, and, oh, by the way - you need better shoes!  Better equipment!"

So, I didn't run away.  I ran to it.  During this time, He has led me through the most repentant, most sincere prayers of my Christian experience.  He emptied me of the garbage in my past.  I gave Him my past - my present - my future.  I not only re-opened my heart to Him, but I threw open every nook, every cranny, every closet, every dresser drawer, every cabinet. I threw open the windows, the shutters, the doors to the basements in my heart.  He was to inhabit everything - like the hymnist writes, "Not a mite do I withhold!"

These red letters are to me, His Footprints.  I hear Him say, "This is the way, walk in it."  With my NEW NO-SLIP SHOES!

I walk ever so slowly, ever so carefully.  I sit down, I take a rest, I eat, but, most importantly, I LISTEN.  With being still, and knowing that He is God, I HEAR His conversation with me - His challenge as recorded in Luke 10:21, "How do you read it?"   And, from its cousin verse in Matthew 18:12, "What do you think?"

So . . what do YOU think?

Just a simple sheep grazing in solitude and contemplation - in quietness and contentment - I know PEACE.  And, as I enjoy good hospitality - I want to share here, from my SHEEP'S PEN - the fruit of following our Shepherd.


  1. Yes, and Amen! Happy Valentine's Day, dear. I love you and am so honored to be a part of what the Lord is doing in and through your life with the advent of The Sheep's Pen. Can't be more joyful to have you join us in Blogland!

    I love you!

  2. Wow, Ed, the Lord certainly got your attention. Sometimes it takes a lot. He does know what He's doing, and I love it that you responded in the way you did. I'm also glad that your wife has encouraged you in this venture of blogging. My husband started blogging about a year before I did. The main thing he does now is book reviews. You might want to check out his blog. Here's the url:
    I'm glad you chose to share on Spiritual Sundays. I'll be looking forward to reading future posts.

  3. Enjoyed your post. I am now a follower! I do a lot of musing and my wife says it is sometimes "ranting." :-)

  4. A blessing to meet you...Kathy's other half. I am sorry my husband is not into computers as I am sure he would be blessed by your post. Ruth

  5. I feel so blessed to have found you. I think I will take the journey right along with you. Your sweet talented wife has led us to you and your new blog and I am grateful. So I will be following you.
    I am sorry you were hurt but look what has come out of it. I understand the unloading pallets and the pallet jack, I was a supervisor and had to use a pallet jack. Retail took a hit along with everyone and women had to do the jobs like men...I didn't mean to get sidetracked. I love the fact that now I have someone to follow and learn from. The Lord does let us know what we need and when we need it. Thanks, Love your new blog.

  6. Ed,
    I'm sorry you are injured but so glad you've had time to rest,and do all this reading and studying God's word. You've turned something unfortunate into an opportunity and a blessing! I'm glad you have found this way, blogging, to share with us the important lessons you are learning.
    May you continue to be healed and truly enjoy the adventure of blogging. I am friend and follower of your lovely wife, and now proud to be your newest follower!

  7. Fellow Sheep,
    I am here at your blog through the link at your wife's blog, that I stumbled upon through a "pink Saturday link up".
    I so appreciate your candid premier blog post.
    It is definitely true, that us females dominate the blog world.
    Spilling our guts, describing every detail and emotion being our forte.
    A Christian male perspective should be very interesting.
    The Lord has been leading me over and over again to the truth and need to: slow down, give thanks, and that hard times are the most teachable times; which I do not have to tell you,is exactly what you spoke of.
    Blessings on your journey.


  8. Dear Ed,
    All I can say is, WOW & THANK YOU, for being REAL & HONEST! Pride & stubborness are very painful, no pun intended, to have broken, but also rewarding at the same time. I, constantly, am asking God to be louder than me, but HE is constantly, quietly & ever so lovingly, asking me to stop, shut my mouth, & listen to HIM! <3 Of course, unfortunately, I don't always listen...hhmmm...
    Thank you again & looking forward to your next posting!

  9. Hello Ed...a friend of your very dear wife, Lady Linda here! Congrats on your adventure into Blogland.
    I can tell you are going to enjoy the journey.
    Lady Linda

  10. Ed, Welcome to Blog Land! (By the way, I love your blog background - it's the one I chose, too!!)

    This was a thought-provoking post. I thoroughly enjoyed it. One thing I wanted to say is that I understand what you're saying about reading the Bible. This year I am reading through the Chronological Bible - I have never done that. But next year I am considering just doing the NT, or maybe even just the Gospels.

    I love how God speaks to us, when we take the time to LISTEN. Can't wait to hear more about what He's saying to you!


  11. Hello Ed - welcome to the blogshere!
    I was blessed by reading your post today, and look forward to following your journey.
    I'm sure your darling wife will be a great help to your blogging endeavours!
    She is a bright blessing to all of us who've found her friendship and benefited from her gift for joy.. especially the "hard-earned" joy!
    I remember Kathy asking for prayer for you when you injured your back, and I'm glad to hear that you can at least move around a little bit now. Praise God!
    As for your struggle with stubborness and pride..well, dear brother - you are certainly not alone with that one!
    God's mercy has a way of tripping us up and making us finally face the very thing we keep stubbling over :-)
    He is so kind.
    He knows exactly how to stop us in our tracks and set us on a much better path,lol!
    Well, it's lovely to meet you, Ed.
    I pray the Lord will bless your sacred space here, and use your words for His glory's sake, and give His sweet shalom too!
    in Christ,

  12. Good to see you in print! Finally getting your dues paid I see! God is speaking to all of us, if only we have ears to hear! Your words, "Read the Red, Pray the Power," got me thinking about "red letter" Bibles! In my research I found that this renovation is of recent times going back to 1901, by a man named Lous Klopsch, editor of Christian Herald magazine. Mr. Klopsch created this bible after reading a passage from scripture, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20), he thought of printing all of Jesus’ words in red, the color of his blood." Interesting background! Best of the best to you!


I welcome your comments and conversation as we enter into His Story together!

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