Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
In I Samuel 18:5 we read about David, who was a very young man, but God chose him to do great things for the Kingdom. He was working in the palace of the King (Saul) and the Bible says "David behaved wisely wherever Saul sent him."
Further down in the chapter, verse 14, we read "David acted wisely in all his ways and succeeded and the Lord was with him."
Even further down in verse 30 it says, "David had more success in battle because he behaved himself more wisely than all Saul's servants."
Three times in one chapter we are told how David behaved wisely. What a message to young people! And...not only to young people, but to all of us. How much heart ache and misery could be avoided if all of us "behaved wisely."
Sad to say, later on, in II Samuel chapter 11 we see David NOT behaving wisely. He sent his men into battle without him. He should have been on the battlefield with them. Had he "behaved wisely" he would have been! He would not have been at home on his rooftop watching a woman bathe.
As I look back over my life, I realize more and more that all of the mistakes I made and all the sins I committed were because I wasn't behaving wisely. Perhaps I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of being on the battlefield fighting for right and for justice, I was walking around on my rooftop enjoying the cool evening breeze.
God has a job for each of us. We have to behave wisely though, and we have to pay attention when He tells us it is time to go into battle. My prayer for all of us, His followers, is that as time for the end draws near, we will listen to Him, behave wisely and be ready to go into battle at a moments notice.
Image: Study of King David, by Julia Margaret Cameron. Depicts Sir Henry Taylor, 1866.
It was Christmas Eve. Jason had to work at the tv studio so we packed all our Christmas food into laundry baskets, along with a festive table cloth, candles and a center piece and off we went to have Christmas eve dinner at the tv studio.
On the way home I had a text from our preacher, Paul. He asked if I could get in touch with Patsy, a widow who lives alone and has no family to care for her. He said he had tried to call and she wasn't answering the phone, I called and she answered. She said she was sick. When I called Paul back, he had already called an ambulance to go to her house. I called her back and told her to watch for it.
An hour and a half later, she called and said that the ambulance had never come! So Tommy and John boy went to get her and take her to the hospital. They left her and came home and got a shower because at this point we didn't know what was wrong.
At 11 o'clock p.m. she called that she thought they were going to keep her over night, so we went to bed. At 4 a.m. the hospital called for us to come and get her! WHAT??
So, the guys left to pick her up. On the way out of our parking lot they looked over at the church building and water was pouring out of the building, down the driveway and into the road. It was bitter cold here, so the water had frozen in the road and looked like an ice skating rink!
When they had gotten Patsy safely home they came back to the church. A pipe had broken in the ceiling and water was pouring into the church building, out the door and down the driveway. After turning the water off, and sweeping water out of the door, they finally got home around 8 a.m. got another shower, and headed out to get Patsy's prescription. (She has a kidney infection,)
This Christmas has taught me so much. The first thing it taught me is just how selfish I am. I had started to ask Patsy to come and spend Christmas day with us, and for purely selfish reasons, did not.
Second it taught me how the Lord always orchestrates things in our lives and how He always works things out for the good, if we but listen.
The most important thing it taught me though, is from now on I need to be aware of people around me who are alone and hurting, and invite them into the comfort and peace that our family has. I won't make the mistake again of wanting to keep Christmas just for our immediate family. There are "shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over their flocks by night" and they want to be invited in to see the Christ Child. What if they had stayed out in those cold, barren fields and never come to the manger?
He invites ALL to come and see Him. Why don't we?
We are doing a reading of the Polar Express in the Knox County Schools the three weeks before Christmas. We have decorated the inside of the Knoxville Dream Center book mobile to look like the inside of a train car. It's magical! We park out in front of the school and the kids come out and climb into the "train car" for a ride to the North pole.
They walk down a red carpet and sit in little red chairs. We read the story to them while they sip hot chocolate complete with marshmallows on top! After a few mishaps (we forget the coal every time so the kids have to sing a Christmas song in order to get enough Christmas Spirit to power the train!)...we are off to the North Pole!
We go to a new school every day and have 5 or 6 groups come to ride to the North Pole and we read the story to them. Every day as we leave, we ask what stories we each gathered from our time with the kids. Here are a few of my favorites.
Tommy said as he was passing out the hot chocolate, one little boy said "oh wow! I have never had hot chocolate before!" Every time I think of that my eyes fill up with tears. How much we take for granted!
Another little boy said on his way out..."this is the best day of my life!"
As the children leave they each get a silver bell (off Santa's sleigh, of course) and a candy cane. They step off the train into snow falling all around them. Today one of them looked at me and exclaimed in a voice full of wonder...."it really is snow!"
All of a sudden, it became that to me as well....REAL snow.
What could be better in life than hot chocolate and real snow? I'll tell you. The birth of Jesus.
All of a sudden our washing machine started dancing across the floor. No problem...just rearrange the clothes! Still dancing. After about 2 days of this, Tommy went to the internet to find out what was wrong.
It was fixable, but required a special tool and by the time we bought the part, and the tool, it wouldn't pay us to fix it. (It's very old. It was here in the parsonage when we moved in.)
So...off to Home Depot we went. We picked out a washer that was going to cost about $700. Then I happened to think of something so I asked the clerk, "Do you have any scratch and dent?" He said he thought there was one on the back wall. Sure enough, there was one! It looked brand new and was half what the new one cost.
They don't deliver, scratch and dent, so John boy and I loaded it into the back of the car. (Tommy had had surgery on his hip so couldn't help.) We brought it into the house after John boy put his back to a very heavy shelf (full of stuff) in the laundry room and moved it enough to get the washer in the door. We hooked it up and started it up.
It screamed like a banshee. I have never heard a washer do that before so pretty sure it isn't supposed to happen. We started over, thinking we had done something wrong. NOPE! Once again, it screamed like a banshee.
So....off to Home Depot we went....again! After getting our money back we returned home. On the way, our friend Ross called and told us to get in touch with our preacher Paul. He said he might have a connection of a place to buy one at a reasonable price. We texted him and he texted back, "Just go next door to the warehouse and get the one in the kitchen there. It's practically new and is rarely used!"
So...off to the warehouse we went. Once again John boy and I maneuvered the washer in the door, and after moving the shelf once again (this washer was larger than the first one we bought!), we hooked up yet another washing machine.
This washer is used but looks brand new. It's the nicest washer I have every had, and it was free.
Tell me that the Lord doesn't provide. I'll tell you a story about a washing machine!
I was underneath the 640 by pass bridge in Knoxville this past Wednesday night, like I am most Wednesday nights. We serve anywhere from a hundred to 200 of the homeless community, a hot meal every Wednesday night. We also give out clothing, medical treatment, dental work and various other services.
This past Wednesday night, I glanced up from the desert table, where I usually work, and saw a girl walking across the vast lot where we set up each week. She had on her underpants and a skimpy top but nothing else! Just when I think I won't be surprised down there, I am! I noticed her walk by several times and I kept looking at those underpants and the bulges on her body. As she got a little closer, I also noticed big sores all over her legs.
As we finished up the evening and I was wiping down the tables, I glanced up once more and saw her.
I say "I saw her", but I really didn't. I only looked at her from the waist down!
When I got home, I asked the guys if they saw the girl under the bridge with only her underpants on. They both said, "Yes. It was April!" I said "no, it wasn't." They both said, "Yes it was!"
I have known April for many many years...probably 10 at least. I have seen her deteriorate out there on the street. She was a beautiful young girl when I first met her. Drugs and prostitution have just about destroyed her. Several times I thought I had talked her into going into rehab. She always backed out at the last minute.
I have never seen her in this bad a shape before. Her legs were covered with open, running sores. I expect the rest of her body was too. But.....I never looked past her legs. I never bothered to look into her face. For that I am ashamed.
She usually comes up to me the first thing when she is under the bridge. She hasn't been down there for several months. Maybe she didn't come up to me this time because she was ashamed. The place is big enough that a person can hide if they want to. Maybe she saw me NOT looking at her and stayed away.
Our Lord never looks on the outward appearance. He always looks on the heart. He does not PROSOPOLEMPSIA... the greek word for being a "respecter of persons."
This word also means "to lift up the face". In other words, HE does not come and put his hand under our chin, lift it up and look deep into our face and decide whether or not to love us. He looks deep into our heart.
I never even bothered to look into April's face.
That's when we were told to report to the hospital for Tommy's hip replacement surgery this past week. It doesn't seem like a whole week has gone by. As far as we know the surgery went well and he was home, walking, by 6 Monday evening.
Tommy and John thomas had already booked a gig at a church just outside Knoxville, so decided to go ahead with it last night..(almost a week since the surgery). The show has several costume changes, so I helped with the first one in the beginning, but Tommy managed the others on his own.
It was one of our best shows and best audiences. Not because of anything the guys did, but because of what the Lord did. It has not been an easy week for Tommy. I can always tell by looking at his eyes if he doesn't feel well. He had "raccoon" eyes all week. Plus his voice sounded weak when he talked.
On stage it seemed like the eyes were normal and his voice was as strong as it always is...especially when he played God.
Of course many prayers have been going up for Tommy, but for this particular night, I prayed for an extra anointing by the Holy Spirit, and I believe with all my heart that He answered that prayer. There is no way, in my opinion, that Tommy could have pulled off last night without the help of the Holy Spirit.
Why don't we depend on Him more?
Recently, we were in Benton, KY working on a disaster site.
A tornado swept through Benton this past December and left chaos in it's wake! Our friends, Scott and Trina Shipman, had people on site almost immediately. Teams have been working ever since. (Helping His Hands Disaster Relief)
It came down one road where there were three trailers sitting. Two were destroyed and one left standing. Go figure. Scott and Trina's teams have been working on houses for the people who lived in the two trailers. They have several more houses to build in the area.
We went down to paint the inside and to put flooring down. The down side of the trip was the weather. It got up to a hundred degrees every day! We got all the walls sanded, primed and painted. We started on the flooring the last day and got two rooms partially finished before we had to come home.
It was advertised as family week, so people were encouraged to bring their children. Scott and Trina's two Grandchildren came...Toby and Keelie. They were amazing! Toby had wonderful jokes (why did the chicken go to the store? To buy eggs!)
Keelie was working in the room with Tommy and me one day scraping and sanding walls and I looked at her and said "Keelie...you have the most beautiful hair!" (Golden and shiney and curly like Goldilocks!) She looked me up and down for a minute, then said, "You have pretty glasses!"
AH! The innocence of children!
A few years back I wrote a blog about getting a road sign put up in Knoxville to honor my friend Maxine Raines who is the founder of Lost Sheep Ministry. I was telling Jason about the night the city council voted on whether or not to do it and he said I should write about it in my blog.
It took me a year to get the sign approved. I had to pay a non-refundable fee. Every time I called someone to ask about it, they sent me somewhere else. I ended up coming back to the first person I contacted and he finally helped me push it through,
There are several signs in Knoxville to honor certain people. Sometimes they are brown rather than green. Her's is green. The street where I wanted Maxine's sign to go is a very short street (McGee Ave.) that ends up under the bridge where 100-300 homeless people are fed a hot meal every Wednesday night. In the 35 years that Lost Sheep has been doing this, they have never missed a Wednesday night. I thought some sort of sign should mark that street.
The night the city council met to vote on whether or not to place a sign there, I decided to go to the meeting. I parked down the hill off the main street, and walked to the court house. I went to the only court house I knew as a child growing up in Knoxville. It was completely dark!
I started walking down the sidewalk in the dark (there were no street lights) and all of a sudden I saw two people sitting on a bench. It was two of the homeless people we feed underneath the 640 bridge every Wednesday night! I stopped to talk and told them why I was there. They, of course, were excited since they knew and loved Maxine.
They pointed me to a new building further down the sidewalk and told me that all the city council meetings took place in the new building.
I went to the meeting, the sign was approved and it now stands at the top of the road leading underneath the bridge.
How appropriate that two of the homeless whom Maxine loved and served, pointed the way for me to be at a meeting that had a very important agenda.....honoring Maxine.
I can't remember where I was or who I was with, but I dreamed I was going to watch a movie with friends.
When we got to the place where the movie was being shown (it was not a theater) I rushed in so that I could be first and get a front row seat. I glared at anyone who got in my way!
As the dream progressed, something in my brain clicked and I thought, "What in the world is wrong with me? I need to stand back and let everyone else be seated first, and then find my seat!"
"The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:45
They say that things happen in threes. Since spring, I have had 4 very significant things happen.
First my dear, sweet Maggie darlin' (what I called her) went to be with the Lord. She had asked that I speak at her funeral, so I did. I have never done that before, but I decided that if Maggie wanted it, then I could and would do it.
Maggie was one of those friends whom you know beyond the shadow of a doubt will "never leave you or forsake you". In all the years of her friendship, I never one time doubted her love for me. I miss her. I got a rose from her casket and it sits in a vase on my desk.
Just a few weeks ago my wonderful "Annea" went to be with the Lord. Her name is Andrea, but I always called her Annea. (Another dear friend's daughter is named Andrea. She and John thomas are the same age and when they were babies, he called her Annea...hence MY Annnea got her name!) That friend left this earth several years ago. We had been friends for over 50 years!
Annea and I talked via email almost every day. I never had to wonder if I should say or not say certain things because I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that she would always have my "6". I got a rose from her casket at well and it is in the same vase on my desk next to Maggie darlin'.
The next to go to meet Jesus was my cousin Barb. I never knew life without Barb in it. Our two families were like one when I was growing up and like Maggie and Andrea, my cousin loved the Lord and served him her whole life. Watching the lives of these 3 girls had a huge impact on me and are a huge part of the reason I follow Jesus.
Last in the list, is my dear friend, Hank. We buried his body just this past week. For the past 20 or so years, we have held a revival at a church in Dot, Virginia. Hank has been to every one of those meetings. He and his wife, Kay, have loved us and cared for us as if we were part of their (huge!) family! (And we ARE!)
Hank was an elder in the church and his wife and I are like sisters. Every year she cooks enough food for us to feed an army. Both were always quiet with gentle spirits.
When we went to Hank's funeral, Kay hugged me and sobbed that she didn't know what she would do without him. I feel the same.
All of the 4 people above have left a huge hole on this planet. I expect from the air it looks like a crater! They have also left a crater like hole in my heart.
I wonder what kind of hole I will leave. I want to love like they did I want to serve like they did. I want to make a difference like they did. I want to see them again.