Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
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.
John boy and I are reading Pilgrim's Progress, the second most read book in the world next to the Bible. I read it years ago, but am finding it even better today. We recently saw an animated version of it, and it was excellent.
I am barely into it, and have come to the part where the pilgrim, Christian, comes to a slough. He and a fellow traveler (Pliable) fall into it. It is called the Slough of Despond. It is a place where all the fears, doubts and discouraging apprehensions in a person settle. "It is not the pleasure of the King that this place should remain so bad." (Isaiah 35:3,4) but many have been swallowed up in it!
There are, however, "good and substantial" steps that have been placed at the slough, but because this slough "spews our it's filth" these steps are hardly seen.
Wow! What a word for the world we live in today. Everywhere one looks it seems there is a slough. It is encouraging to know, however, that there are steps (if we but have eyes to see) that lead out of the slough! Praying for all of us to see those steps!
Not if you are a Christian! The Bible says, "Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done; He came to serve, not to be served---and then to give away His life in exchange for many who are held hostage." (Mark 10:43-45 Message Bible)
And don't wait to be asked. If you see a need jump in and start serving. Do you think a slave asked his Master if he needed help with something? No! He was constantly on alert...watching carefully to see what his master needed.
Recently we were carrying equipment and props into a church building. (a common occurrence with us!) Several young men (about 4 as I recall) were sitting just inside the door. They asked if we needed help. We said it was ok that we could do it. I know I know...we should have said SURE...but we kind of thought it was obvious. I am used to being a "roadie". It's what we do. We carry in, set up, perform, then tear down.
I am not saying we were not at fault. Maybe we should have said we needed help. I am just saying, don't even ask. Just jump up and start helping. I believe that after awhile you will begin to understand this verse more than you have ever understood it.
Being a slave or a servant, requires work. It requires being uncomfortable. It requires a bit of sweat and strain and inconvenience. But, I believe most of all that it requires watchfulness...attentiveness...,and, especially...copying the Master, who has set the example. Do you know of another Master of slaves who has ever set the example? We have that kind of Master. Let's follow Him!
Several months ago we took some friends on a picnic to Watauga Lake in Elizabethton. It's one of our favorite places and we have had many picnics in that beautiful spot.
I always take a pretty red and white checked table cloth and flowers for the table. If the bush with purple berries is in bloom at the lake, I wait till I get there and break off a couple of branches from that for my "flowers." (I actually bought one of those bushes for my yard many years ago. It's called Beauty Berry, if I remember correctly. There is one that blooms in winter called Winter Berry--with red berries. I want to get one of those too!)
Anyway, back to the picnic: Steve and Cindy Bates went with us on the picnic, and she couldn't get over that I brought flowers for the table. She went on and on about it. I, of course, having done it all these years, did not give it a second thought.
This weekend, the guys went to Cindy and Steve's church in Wise, VA. I couldn't go because I was taking care of Jason's animals while he was in California visiting our Grandson. When they came home, Cindy had sent me a beautiful Begonia already potted! What a treasure! I am sure she figured out how much I liked flowers from the aforementioned picnic, but she had no idea how excited I would be to get this beautiful potted plant.
I sat it beside the back door where I see it every time I go in or out of the house. It reminds me of how God has blessed us with the beauty of flowers, but most of all how He has blessed us with the beauty of friendship. Thanks Cindy.