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Is that a Knock at the Door?

Stories
Contents
“Is that a Knock at the Door?” by Keith Wagner
“Living with a Thankful Spirit” by Keith Wagner
“A Child of the Living God” by Peter Andrew Smith


Is that a Knock at the Door?
by Keith Wagner
Luke 11:1-13


Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night? One time while sleeping I heard a knock at the door. I thought I was dreaming. Eventually the knock woke me up. At first I thought the knock was coming from next door. Then I realized someone was knocking at my door. Since it was in the middle of the night I could either ignore the knock or respond. The knock didn’t quit, so I put on my robe and went downstairs to open the door. When I turned on the light there was a police officer standing on the porch. I wondered what the problem was. At the time I was new to the neighborhood. The officer wanted to inform me that my garage door was standing open. I thanked him, closed the garage door and returned to bed.

As you can see it took me awhile to respond to the knock on the door. Sometimes it takes God time to respond to our knocks as well. Like the man in the story, he had a family to protect and care for just as God does. The man didn’t respond immediately but he did respond. Just because God doesn’t respond to us immediately doesn’t mean God doesn’t care or that God is unaware of our needs.

The neighbor in the parable most likely represents God. God is like a friend who can always be called upon, even in the middle of the night. It may appear that the neighbor didn’t care at first but eventually he did.

Since we live in a culture that is influenced heavily by instant gratification, we want everything now. We want a door to life like the door at Walmart. It opens immediately when you arrive and it is open 24 hours a day. However, the door to God is more like the door to a catalog store. Just as you have to wait to receive your purchase, sometimes we have to wait on God for an answer.

God’s time is endless or infinite. God always has the time to listen to us. It is we who keep the doors of God closed because we have timers. The doors don’t open for us because we have conditions, time frames, agendas and deadlines. Our door is a door with a timer. It is only open at certain times because we live by the clock.

Dr. C.C. Albertson once wrote this about time: “It might be wise for us to take a little inventory of our resources as to time and review our habits of using it. There are 168 hours in each week. Fifty-six of them we spend in sleep. Of the remaining 112 hours, we devote 48 to labor. This leaves 64 hours, of which we can assign 12 hours for our daily meals. That means we have 52 hours of active life to devote to special purposes. If God deserves a tenth then we only have to give God 5.2 hours. If only one hour is used for worship then we still have 4.2 hours for our spiritual wellbeing. That gives us plenty of time for bible study, reading the scripture and daily prayer. And, we still have 45 hours a week left for chores and personal entertainment.”

God’s resources are vast in comparison to our own. We lack, but God does not. God wants us to have access to God’s unlimited resources but we want to be in control of what we receive.

In 1928, a happy, ambitious young nursing student was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Her family sent her to a nursing home in Saranac Lake. She remained there in bed for twenty-one years. Most people would have given up, seeing no possibility of an open door. Isabel Smith did not give up. She was near death on several occasions but she never ceased to pursue the art of living. She read voraciously, wrote letters, studied geography and taught other patients to read and write. She walked through one open door after another.

While ill she met a kind gentleman who was also a patient at the sanitarium. She dreamed of marrying him and having a little house in the mountains. She kept her dream and in 1948 they were married. She then wrote a book about all the good things of her life. Wish I Might, was published in 1955. Isabel Smith earned enough royalties from her book to buy a mountain retreat.

“Seek, and you will find,” was Isabel Smith’s motto. Not all our lives may turn out quite like Isabel Smith’s. Hopefully we won’t have to endure years of illness and suffering. But Smith never hesitated to find a door that led to something new. She walked through them and she received the bounty of God’s resources.

* * *

Living with a Thankful Spirit
by Keith Wagner
Colossians 2:6-15

Ten years ago I experienced the death of both my mother and dad. They both died in the same month, just three weeks apart. My wife and I flew to Orlando, Florida, to be with my family both times and I did the eulogy. It was a time of overwhelming grief and great sadness. My mother died first and her death was sudden. My dad became ill two weeks later and died in a hospital after surgery.

Like most people I went through the stages of grief, shock, denial, anger, grief and resolution over a period of time. What moved me to resolution was to cease lamenting about their death and my personal loss and begin being grateful for the two, loving parents God had given me.

As Paul said to the Colossians, who were grieving over the death of Jesus, “Let your hearts overflow with thankfulness.”

Back in 1988, a Polish railway worker named Jan Grzebski, was hit by a train. He lived ... but only barely. For the next 19 years (until the year 2007) Grzebski was in a coma. He awoke in 2007 to a whole new world. Nineteen years earlier, Poland was a communist state. Grzebski noted that back then meat was rationed and there were huge lines at nearly every gas station. There were only tea and vinegar in the shops.

But 19 years later, he awoke to a free nation where he said there were "people on the streets with cell phones and there are so many goods in the shops it makes my head spin." But something puzzled him. He said, "What amazes me is all these people who walk around with their mobile phones and yet they never stop moaning." These people have freedom, and food and wealth greater than Poland had had for decades. But Grzebski awoke from his coma to find that all they seemed to want to do was grumble.

During my career as a pastor I learned that most people are stuck and unable to live happily because they are still grieving over some loss. Perhaps like me they experienced a family death. Or maybe they lost a career, a home or even a dream. Until they move from grief to thankfulness they will never find peace and contentment.

One time a gentleman saw a boy steal a flower from his flower garden. He went forth quietly in a roundabout way to meet the boy and, coming up behind him, laid his hand on the boy's shoulder, saying: "Now, my boy, answer me one question: Which is the best flower in my garden?" The boy, finding no escape, looked around and after a few minutes' pause, said, "That rose is best," as he pointed to a beautiful moss rose.

The gentleman, still keeping one hand on the boy's shoulder, reached out his other hand and, plucking the rose in all its beauty, gave it to the boy. As he released him he said, "There, take it, my boy." The boy was amazed. Looking into the face of his strange benefactor, he said, "Aren’t you going to have me punished, sir?" "No," was the reply; "But since I am going to give you the best flower in my garden, I don’t want you to ever steal from my flower beds again.” The boy replied, “Never, sir, not as long as I live."

The boy learned his lesson. Undoubtedly he will make mistakes in his future as we all do. However, the gentlemen’s pardon will remain with him forever. The boy was grateful for his new found freedom and replied by saying to the gentleman, “Sir, isn’t there some little errand I can do for you?" From that time on the boy became a willing servant of his friend.

* * *

A Child of the Living God
by Peter Andrew Smith
Hosea 1:2-10

Larry sat at the table with a stack of bills in front of him. There was a statement from the divorce lawyer, one from the rental agency of the apartment, and the usual electric, phone, insurance, and credit card statements. He looked at his computer to check his bank balance and quickly realized it would take everything he had. He let out a loud sigh. What had happened to his life?

It seemed like just yesterday he was working a great job, owned a great house in a good neighbourhood, came home to a loving wife and family each night, and enjoyed the weekends at the golf club. Money was never a problem and they enjoyed the finest things in life. Now he sat alone in a dingy apartment wondering how he could possibly get through to the next paycheck. He crossed his arms. How could things have fallen apart so quickly?

Sure maybe he could have been more attentive to Julia but the truth was that their marriage had grown stale and lifeless years earlier. They had been passionate about each other when they first married but with careers and raising the girls they had grown apart. Maybe the day Kelly showed up at the office as the new consultant he shouldn’t have been so taken by her. The truth was, though, she was the exact opposite of Julia. She laughed at his jokes, went out of her way to spend time with him, and made him feel like a young man again. Larry sighed again.

Things had happened so quickly. First it was just extra time working at the office together. Then they shared working lunches and occasionally dinners. He looked over at the calendar on the wall. He should never have gone to the conference by himself knowing that Kelly was going to be there. One thing led to another and for a while he thought he had everything. The truth was, though, that breaking his marriage vows was when he lost everything. First it was his self respect with all the lying and sneaking around, then it was his job when management found out he was sleeping with someone in his department, and then his family when Julia divorced him. Even Kelly dumped him when she discovered he was married. Larry was truly alone.

He clicked on the computer and brought up a picture from the family gathering two summers before all that happened. Everyone looked so happy. He wished he could turn the clock back and erase what he’d done. At least the girls were grown with families of their own. That meant he didn’t have to face them each day or openly admit what he had done to their mother. The contact with both Beth and Sally had been cool but civil since the divorce. Now that Beth was a mother herself, Larry dreaded each conversation with her because he knew that the excuses, the reasons, meant nothing compared to the pain and hurt he had brought on the family. He suspected and feared in his heart that both of his daughters actually hated him.

His phone pinged and his eyebrows went up. Beth rarely sent him a message that way. Your granddaughter’s baptism is on Sunday. We would like you to come. Larry stared at the message for the longest time. He started to type an excuse for why he couldn’t attend but stopped. He really wanted to go. He really wanted to see them. Are you sure it’s okay that I come? It seemed to take forever before the phone pinged again. I want you there and Mom knows you will be there.

Larry felt his eyes fill up. He knew that it would be as hard to go up the stairs at the church as it would be to see the people he had hurt so much by his actions. God must really despise him for what he had done and all the pain he had caused. The truth was that perhaps Larry had once been a good man but that was long in the past.

He closed his eyes and thought about what he should do, whether he was worthy to go to church and witness his granddaughter’s baptism. And then the most surprising thing happened. He felt a certainty that he should go. He picked up his phone. I would be honored to be there. When the phone pinged again with the details Larry pushed the bills to one side and started to cry.

Larry missed being the person he used to be before the affair. He missed church. He missed God. With tears rolling down his cheeks, he closed his eyes and for the first time in a long time started to pray saying “God forgive me...”


*****************************************

StoryShare, July 28, 2019 issue.

Copyright 2019 by CSS Publishing Company, Inc., Lima, Ohio.

All rights reserved. Subscribers to the StoryShare service may print and use this material as it was intended in sermons, in worship and classroom settings, in brief devotions, in radio spots, and as newsletter fillers. No additional permission is required from the publisher for such use by subscribers only. Inquiries should be addressed to permissions@csspub.com or to Permissions, CSS Publishing Company, Inc., 5450 N. Dixie Highway, Lima, Ohio 45807.
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