Saturday, May 21, 2016


Ecclesiastes 10:10       
If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.

Click. Click. Darkness comes. I make my way down the long hallway that I have walked a million times as a child. Making sure all the
lights are off and everyone is safe. It's a routine I seen my dad do alot growing up in this house. Everywhere I look I see
him. When I look in the mirror, I see him. Now. .I am him.
Ghost and shadows peek out at me from every crevice and crack. No where that I turn, do I not see a memory. And as I dig through
and try to put the house in order. I busily hang up my work uniforms from the dryer. And I tear up. So much loss, so much
pain, so much emptiness lies between these walls. I've come home. But not exactly in the way I would have liked. My ex and I try to
reconcile the hurt and bitterness. But we do it from a distance. Me in my camp, and she in hers. No shortage of advice from
friends and coworkers. Ready and willing to advise. Kind of like coming to a person's aid when the house has already burned
down with a bucket of water. Kind of pointless.
We talk.. we disagree...we remember...we search for that old feeling. We walk and look at the moon. "Pretty night." I agree.
We kiss, exchange pleasantries. We say I love you. And then she goes back to her camp.
I stay up, going outside by moonlight. I hear the sounds of whippoorwills calling to each other traveling over the hills. And I look at the old tree in the front yard. It is a nice night. The moonbeams show the
part of the tree that's alive and the part that is dead.
"Lightning struck part of the tree and killed it," Mom said from earlier. I had kissed everyone good night after checking
around the house. So they were all asleep. I had went outside and stood there looking at the massive pen oak. "Dad, had
planted that tree 40 years ago," Mom had chimed in. "No saving it. It's lived its usefulness."
I glance up at the tall structure with its branches spread out covering the night sky. One half was covered in leaves. The
other side was lifeless, not a single sprout of green on it. Yet, it stood like this. What a odd looking form this was.
You know my life had been like this tree. Starting out as a tiny point...and sprouting in so many different directions.
Reaching for the warmth of the life giving sun. And growing deep roots to absorb the water from the rains. My roots run deep
in this same soil. And I reached for the Son in the many different directions of my life. And I left a track record by the
twists and turns of my own branches.
But like this tree...I wasn't gonna get out of here unscarred. My hands were scarred from years of work and worry. And my arms
and legs from so many fights with working the soil around the old home place here. But my heart was the one thing that had been
struck by lightning and was burned to the center. No longer experiencing the joys I felt as a carefree youth. No I came back
home to find find my heart. I no longer recognize myself in the smiling pictures anymore. I only feel a sense of loss.
I look upon the fleeting childhood of my children in the pictures arranged on the wall. And I watch my mother sleeping...
the lady who once carried strong...was now feeble and frail. I look to the one I've always loved drive away and
do we find our way back home? back to us...
...  we try to, "work this out" as its come to
be called.
I take my axe and give my emotions a physical manifestation. "God.. I will not loose one more living thing here. I will save
this tree. So...I swing it with all my might. Not letting the detriment of a lousy old chainsaw  stop me. No if it won't
work...I'll do this the hard way...the only way I know how. Bit by bit. Whack! The axe head chops out a piece. Its like being
stopped suddenly it in a car. The abruptness of a sudden stop to something really shakes the body. But it felt good. Good to
see progress. Whack. Whack. Whack. Making my way around the dead trunk. She had split into three trunks. Eyeballing to the side
I see the burn of the lightning mark. My hands hurt...cut after cut...I made my way around. I push my hair out of my eyes as
the sweat burns them.
Crack! Almost there...oof oof...goes thru my mind as I take my long arms back to strike it a few more times. My muscles burn
from exhaustion.
Whack! Crackkkkkkk.....Thump. Its down. I feel my heart stop for a minute. In that heart dropped...a dead a piece of
it. How many more vines and dead tree parts must I eliminate to save this place? And how much more hurt and bitterness
must I overcome to get my heart to beat again?...only time will tell.
But I know this. I can't fail. As I recall  my dream from many years ago....I recount the vast number of countless faces that would come from my
lineage. I take a deep breath and let loose a deep sigh. I say to myself," Not tonight. Not tonight. Tonight...I will push back the darkness. I will cut the veil. I will see
what is on the other side. And as I had looked into my children's eyes...I saw the generations yet to come.
And they will know that I suffered like they will, I lost like they will, I hurt like they will, I experienced pain like they will,
I wept like they will...and I got lost in the dark like they will. But that I took the darkness and pierced it with an instrument shaped...
shaped like a cross. And though I missed the mark alot. The One who went before me had already pierced the darkness and the tree with
just his hands and feet, too. Amen."
Lance Gargus
"A dull axe never loves grindstones, but a keen workman does; and he puts his tool on them in order that it may be sharp. And men do not like grinding; but they are dull for the purposes which God designs to work out with them, and therefore He is grinding them."

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Living Golden Rule

My father taught me many things, but at the top of the list he taught me to treat people with live the Golden Rule. "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise," as in Luke 6:31. Sometimes the best examples are lived.

I remember one particular instance of him teaching this "life lesson" as if it were yesterday. Dad was always involved in politics and knew many influential people in town. He never ran for office but he was very active in civic affairs. They would stop him if they saw him out and talk for what seemed hours on end as I stood there.

This particular day we stopped at the store, and this fellow came up dressed in tattered clothes. His hair was unkempt, not to mention the scraggly beard on his face. I thought,"What a character this guy must be!" Strangely my father recognized him. "Surely, this must be somebody Dad knows from ministering," was my conclusion, since he was after all an elder in the church. Dad greeted him as if he were the most important person he ever met. He gave a firm handshake and proceeded to talk to him about his son who had been in a car accident the month before. He empathized, he asked questions, he listened, and he listened some more. I kept looking at the clock, and when the man finally left, I asked,"Dad, why did you spend so much time with him? He's nobody important." Dad then looked me, then shook his head,"Son, let's talk."

He said,"If you don't remember anything else I tell you, remember this. Treat others the way you would want to be treated." He said,"I know this isn't the first time you have heard it, but I want you to truly understand it, because if you had understood, you never would have said what you said." We sat there on that bench in front of the store and talked about the deeper meaning of the Golden Rule. To me, I shall never find in my lifetime, a truer example of the Living Golden Rule than he in my life.

I recently heard someone say, "If you teach your child the Golden Rule, you will have left them an estate of incalculable value." Truer words were never spoken.


Lance Gargus
"The most important of life's battles is the one we fight daily in the silent chambers of the soul."