Friday, May 25, 2007

Who Would Hide Me?

During danger he will keep me safe in his shelter. He will hide me in his Holy Tent, or he will keep me safe on a high mountain. Psalm 27:5 (New Century Version)

In Joseph Heller’s novel, Good as Gold, two men discuss friendship. One recalls the story of a Jewish man, who lived in Germany during his childhood. He and his family escaped the terror of Hitler because of courageous folks who hid them. During the conversation, one man asks the other longtime coworker, “Would you hide me?”

Ask a friend this question and you cut through shallow skin and into heart muscle. While researching for this article, I dialed my longtime friend Doris Allen and told her the story I just wrote for you. I didn’t phone to ask her the question. I called to thank her. I knew the answer.

Heller’s fiction grew out of real, horrific happenings. The Hebrew word “olah” means “burnt sacrifice.” Later, Greek words “holo” (whole) and “caustos” (burned) combined to form holocaust, a term used to describe the systematic murder of Jews by Nazi Germany.

Survivor David Katz wrote about his family and the Holocaust. After being separated from his parents, David, age 13, walked a five month journey to occupied France, mostly by moonlight. In hiding and disguise for several years, he found his first real bed and good night’s rest in the home of a Catholic priest. When the Gestapo prowled, the priest hid David inside an attic wall.

Other Jews left through underground networks. Some were shielded in outhouses, forests, behind false walls, and haylofts. During this time, plenty of folk turned their neighbors in for harboring Jews. Indoctrinated German children even turned in their own parents.

Julian Bilecki, a skinny teenager in Poland, and his family hid up to 23 refugees for several years in an underground bunker. In the winter, members of the rescue family jumped from tree to tree bringing food to the bunker to avoid leaving a trail of footprints in the snow.

Later from the United States, many of the bunker survivors sent gifts to the Bileckis, who remained poor. Eventually, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous flew Julian Bilecki and his son to the United States to reunite with some of the people the Belecki family had helped.

Mrs. Grau Schnitzer, who was 9 when sheltered, met him at the airport and spoke to him in Russian and Ukranian, “God should be praised for this moment, and thanks for all your goodness.”

Pettiness and possessions pale, moving into the background, when deep inquiries about life surface. What are your answers to these questions?

Who would I hide?

Who would hide me?

You may reach Cathy at

PS Thanks to Mike Cope (blog and article in Christian Standard) and Darryl Tippens (book: Pilgrim Heart) where I first read the question: Who would hide me?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Chatter Not the Truth

A country preacher complained to one of his members who missed church the previous Sunday. The farmer explained, "I had haying to do. It was over in the back field where no one could see me working on a Sunday.”

"But God saw you," the preacher protested. "I know that, but He's not a gossip like the folks around here."

Gossip has been on my mind. In the laundry room while folding dish towels and sheets, I contemplated gossip. Not behind-the-back talk that I planned to do, but I thought about one more reason not to gossip.

When one says too much about a person or tells information not needed, the listener, especially if they’ve never met the person being talked about, may use the information to make a wrong judgment.

If the person being spoken about is unknown to the hearer, they can be influenced by the verbal portrayal. Praise or slander can sway the listener.

Bible proverbs have quite a bit to “say” about word exchanges, but here is my favorite: “Those who guard their mouths and tongues keep themselves from calamity” (Proverbs 21:23). James says learning to tame the tongue is an aim at perfection.

Some defend tittle-tattle saying, “If it’s true, it’s not gossip.” Pardon me, but I don’t want all the true things about my life bantered about. At times, even if something is true, prudence calls one to “chatter not the truth” (I don’t remember where I read that, but I like it.)

C. S. Lewis in “God in the Dock” said it’s best when we can “[a]bstain from all thinking about others unless your duties as a teacher or parent make it necessary to think about them.”

He suggests that when we’re our thoughts are tempted to stagnate on others’ faults that we “simply shove them away.” Instead of character assassinations, Lewis encourages considering our own bungles: “Of all the awkward people in your house or job there is only one whom you can improve very much.”

Some days I feel just like a Kindergartner, a beginning learner. My husband is fond of saying, “Get out your Big Chief Tablet.” Oh, the truth of it.

Jesus said to remove the timber protruding from my eye before trying to finger-pinch the speck of sawdust out of a friend’s eye.

The farmer was right. God doesn’t like gossip. He likes to cure it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Mother's Hand-Me-Downs

Mother’s Day contests abound. The Internet, television, radio, newspapers, and magazines call for entrants and offer prizes if contestants can tell why their Mom is a “Super Mom.” Or one contest queries, “What is your favorite memory about your mother?”

Another contest asked mothers to send in photos of their favorite family moments. Perhaps the contest judges received candid shots of families at home or posed with pets.

But, cameras don’t always capture the moments we remember. For many adult children, favorite moments about mothers are stored in our lofts. Moms hand off a lot of stuff that is never captured on film such as values, caresses, cooking lessons, recipes, genes, likes and dislikes.

Stored in my memory bank are three favorite movie-shorts of my mom. When I was about nine, I heard Mother talking in our tiny bathroom. I knew spying was wrong but peeked through the keyhole anyway and saw her kneeling and praying. I received a gift that day, a hand-me-down, a prayer of faith.

I suspect it might have been a prayer of desperation poured out one summer day when we’d spilled enough KOOL-AID to drown the cat and slammed the door the gazillionth time.

The second image is Mother’s antics. I especially remember the times she conned the kitchen broom into a waltz. From those memory flashes, she hands down humor.

The third image is of her bent over the sewing machine, guiding yards of fabric under the pressure foot while the needle click-clacked. Out came Sunday clothes, costumes, and curtains. Corduroys, brocades, piqué, gingham checks — all became clothing rivaling any garment bought off of a retail rack. The hand-me-down was selflessness.

Selflessness may be the most outstanding characteristic of moms. Mothers are sturdy, surviving for years on crusts, the last lick of peanut butter, and cat naps.

Tenneva Jordan said, “A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people promptly announces she never did care for pie.”

God said through the prophet Micah that mothers in pleasant homes were intended blessings for children (2:9). If you are a mother, learn the lesson of hand-me-downs. Pass along some good stuff.

If your mom is alive, tell her about the snapshots stored in your heart -- the ones only you can see.

Care to comment or share a memory about your mom?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Pig Trails and Highways

Recently, a surveyor told us that his field crew often machetes their way onto dense undergrowth properties. Have you ever walked into the woods when you had to push limbs out of the way and step through brush cover? With no path visible did it look as though your feet were the first to tread that section of earth?

Years ago, in pasture lands, the cows might have been the first to make tracks as they walked to watering holes. Cow trails snake all over our farm. In most of those areas, the cows have hoofed the grass and wild rose bushes down to a bare dirt lane.

I prefer a path that’s been walked before.

The book of Esther reminded me how God sees around bends in the road. While I have no foreknowledge of exactly what will happen in the days ahead, God does. Again and again in the Bible, I see God walking two steps, ten years, and centuries ahead to arrange future events to meet his children’s needs.

Esther’s early placement in the palace to intercede for the Jews doomed for annihilation; Daniel the dream interpreter placed in the court of King Darius: the deceiver Jacob allowed to escape Esau’s wrath — all walked down a specific road because God directed their futures.

When teaching his followers how to pray, Jesus told them, “[Y]our Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). In my own life, I’ve found this to be true. And another Houston family did, too.

Preacher Ron Hill had kidney failure and needed a kidney transplant. The usual testing of family members began, and his 36-year-old son was found to be a perfect match. You might ask, what’s so unusual about that? His son Tony was adopted 36 years earlier. God walked ahead of this godly family and prepared for an advance need.

When you turn the next calendar page, know that God extends his hand, take hold and follow him. Brambles and briars or a smooth cement walkway may wait around the corner of tomorrow.

Give thanks because God lives in today and tomorrow. He knows your needs. He is watching.

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