Avalanche — Part 3

I clench my fists and scold that whimpering coward inside. Come on, man! You can’t just sit here and die!

I never have been one to just lie down and let circumstances run all over me. I’ve never looked to others — or to God — for help. When life gave me a kick I tried to kick it right back. I’ve always depended on my own wits and I’m going to do that now.

I’ve got to make a hole in the snowbank outside so I can get some fresh air. So I grab my pick, but know right away that’s a silly idea. There’s no room to swing it. I toss it aside and dig with my mitts until my hands are almost frozen. I shove at the snow, demanding it to move, until the futility of it all hits me in the face again. I may as well try digging through the mountain.

I flop on the cave floor and accept the truth: there’s no way I can dig myself out of this grave. I’m going to die here — maybe in a couple of hours.

What’s so fearful about dying anyway? You just lie down and close your eyes, and it’s over. Or is it?

Some folks say you wake up to a whole new world: some say it’s heaven or hell. I’ve had some preachers tell me God’s keeping records in a big book and when you die you stand before Him and are judged by what’s written in that book. What will He say to me? Have I been good enough to get a pass for Heaven?

Some tell you your whole life passes before your eyes just before you die and you get to review all the things you’ve done in this world. All your failings and mistakes. I lean my head back against the cold stone and contemplate what that procession might look like. Scenes of the past pop into my mind, decisions I made, things I’ve said, people I’ve loved, some fights I’ve been in.

I think about my lust for gold. Yep, I see it now for it what it is: lust. For me it’s been like an insatiable thirst. I wanted lots of it, I wanted to get it before the other guy, and keep it for myself. I wanted all the nice stuff money could buy, the security of a fat bank account that would keep me through my old age.

I think of a Bible verse I heard one time: “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul.” I sadly shake my head. No, I probably haven’t been good enough to join them saints when they go marching in.

For an instant I contemplate bargaining with God. I tell Him, “Lord, if you’ll just get me out of this situation, I’ll serve you forever. I’ll become the best Christian there ever was; I’ll be in church every Sunday, give my gold to the poor, become a preacher. Hey, Lord, I’ll even sing in the choir if that’s what You want.”

I remember other men who’ve made those same promises when they were in dire straits, and kept them, too. But I can name a few others who’ve have gone back on all their vows as soon as the circumstances changed.

Yeah, I could promise God all that, but what if there’s no miracle for me anyway? What if this is simply going to be my last day? A kind of acceptance settles into me. I need to make peace with my Maker now, if I can, because I’m going to be looking Him in the eye right shortly.

Even in the blackness I shut my eyes when I start to pray. “Are you there, God? Do you hear me? Do you know me? What’s going to happen when I die? Will you let me into your heaven? Will you — can you — forgive all the sins of my life?”

Soft as sifting snow, a few Bible verses slide into my thoughts. “God sent his only Son… whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Songs I learned as a gaffer at school, rehearsing them over and over for the Christmas program. Never would have dreamed I’d remember them here and now. “Peace on earth, goodwill to men… Unto you is born this day a Savior, which is Christ the Lord…” I contemplate the Good News we sang about then and wonder if it could be for me, too.

Another verse came into my mind, one I heard in a fiery sermon one day: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

I sigh another prayer. “Lord, is this an offer you’re making me, such a selfish sinner as I have been? You know I have nothing to give You in exchange. Except maybe this gold — and I guess it’s really Yours anyway, seeing You put it into the rock in the first place. But if You are hearing me and giving me this verse, if You can wash me pure as this snow outside today, and if You’re willing to do it, then I accept. I’ll give You whatever life I have left in this world and all my days in the next, if You’ll only clean me up and make me fit for Your heaven.”

I can never completely explain the peace that pours through me in that instant. I feel so light I could float, and so free. Suddenly I needed to be in the light so I fished a candle out of my pocket, lit it, and set it up on a chunk of wood. Symbolic, I guess.

For maybe an hour — you lose all sense of time in a place like that — I talk with God about my past, the people I knew, all the places I’d been. And He lets me know He’s been there with me, has seen and felt it all. Then He washes my past, forgives it all. I feel so new — like the fresh buds that pop out in springtime, even on an old tree. I’ve scoffed at the term a lot, but today I understand what “born again” really means.

Then I start to feel cold and sleepy. I stretch out on the floor and tell Him, “Thank You, Lord. I’m ready to go now, whenever You want to come for me.”

A few minutes later I hear a sound, another rumbling above me. I feel vibrations and hear thuds like falling rocks. Another avalanche! The noise is so fierce now I start shaking. This time even the cave seemed to shudder; instinctively I roll onto my belly and curl up, using my parka hood to cover my head. Is this the end, I wonder? My last minutes?

Suddenly I’m aware that the cave was filled with light. I lift my head, realizing the snow has tumbled away from the opening. I listen as the avalanche makes its way to the valley below. Finally all is silent. I crawl to the entrance and look outside, shutting my eyes against the dazzling sun. The clouds have almost all drifted away now; it’s a beautiful day.

Yes, it’s a glorious day to be alive!


Just before the battle Captain James looked over his troops and smiled. A number of them were seasoned warriors, battle-scarred and victorious; they’d stand at the forefront. A half dozen other troops, new to the King & Cause, he would put in the middle. They’d all had basic training and now joined the ranks, but they needed to improve their skills in an actual battle. Some were young and might become weary with heavy hand-to-hand combat against the foe; he didn’t want to see them blown away in the first skirmish so he placed them at the rear.

He noticed Frankie making practice thrusts with his sword. Frankie was one of the new recruits, on fire for the Cause, though some would call his nature bold and brash. He had a tendency to swing his weapon and his words a little carelessly, knocking a few noses out of joint at times, but this zeal was slowly being tempered by concern for the outfit as a whole.

“Frankie’s learning to be a team player,” James told his Aide one day. “I can see great potential. I really like his enthusiasm–just hope he doesn’t lose it all.”

“I think you should place Penny in the line-up next to Frankie for this next battle,” his Aide said. “She has an important lesson to learn this time.”

“You’re right,” said the Captain. “On the surface Penny seems like a timid sort, but I suspect she still has a lot of self-centredness to overcome. Too wrapped up in her own feelings. I’m really hoping that experiencing the glories of the war and seeing victories won will encourage her to stop focusing so much on herself and put her heart into the Cause.”

“Maybe seeing Frankie’s enthusiasm will draw her out, too,” he added. “Otherwise I wonder how long she’ll stand up as a soldier for the Lord. There’s no way any soldier can avoid conflict and a battlefield isn’t a bed of roses.” Captain James had done his best to prepare his troops, but in the heat of battle soldiers either toughened up or were fried. How would Penny react under fire?

He gave a few last instructions, then shouted, “Forward, March!” They were on their way to face the foe.

The field was hazy that day. Frankie, sword upright, thought he saw an enemy approaching from the left, close to Penny, and took a hefty swing in that direction. The enemy soldier nimbly jumped back and the tip of Frankie’s sword gave Penny a jab. Blood started to trickle down her arm.

“I’ve been wounded,” she shrieked.

“I am so sorry,” Frankie gasped. “I was trying to protect you.”

“But you wounded me,” she wailed.

“Look, everybody,” she yelled. “Frankie wounded me. Look at all this blood!” A few of the rear soldiers stopped to look at her arm.

Several front line soldiers, already full of gashes and stabs, turned to assess her injury. One said sympathetically, “I’m sorry this happened, but it’s not that serious. Just hold up your sword and concentrate on fighting the enemy.”

“But I’ve been WOUNDED, “ she screamed. “Look, my blood is pouring out!”

Captain James hurried over. He frowned at the minor injury and wondered how best to deal with the whimpering Penny. “If you can’t keep on fighting, then you’d better hurry to the Great Physician’s tent. He can heal it.”

“But I can’t. I’m wounded – just look at all this blood! And the pain is unbearable. There’s no way I can walk back to His tent. Someone will have to carry me.”

“I’ll help,” Frankie volunteered.

“Don’t you touch me, you jerk! You’ve caused enough trouble already.”

“But there was an enemy soldier right ready to slice you in half,” Frankie protested. “At least I thought I saw one.”

“Oh, yeah, right. You thought. You are SO careless.”

With a sigh Captain James called two of his strongest men. “Can you take her back behind the lines and leave her in the hands of the Great Physician.”

“But Captain, we can’t hardly spare any men,” another soldier said. “We won’t be able to take the enemy bunker and rescue the prisoners they’ve captured.”

“We have to protect our own troops, too. We must get her off the battlefield; the enemy will cut her to ribbons if she just stands here. You and Mike go with her; if needs be, pick her up and carry her.”

“The crybaby. She’s got two good legs; she can walk,” Mike grumbled.

“But I’ve been wounded,” Penny wailed. “How can I be expected to walk? Don’t you guys have any compassion? When I get back to headquarters I’m requesting a transfer.”

“It’s all my fault,” Frankie moaned. “I should have been more careful. But I really thought I was helping her. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a soldier?” He tossed his sword down.

Captain James put a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Frankie, the King called you and you enlisted, so of course you’re cut out to be a soldier. In every war there are wounded people–and some are a lot more easily wounded than others. But don’t let this discourage you or I’ll be out TWO soldiers. Pick up your sword and do the best you can. We have a war to fight.”

So Frankie grabbed his sword and hurried to join the battle again, resolving to be more careful in future.

Right then an enemy soldier sneaked up behind Captain James and whispered. “You are one lousy commander. You should never have put those two beside each other. Because of your poor decision one of your soldiers is down and another may feel so guilty he’ll give up the fight, too.”

The Captain ran his hand through his hair. “Yeah. Maybe it is my fault. I should have arranged them differently.” He fell to his knees and cried, “Lord forgive me!”

His Aide hurried over and put the enemy soldier to flight. He took the Captain by the arm, lifted him up and gave him a kind pat on the back. “Don’t listen to his lies. You did your best, Sir. And the Great Physician is well able to heal her.”

“If she wants it badly enough. I hate to say it, but some folks seem to take a strange delight in their pain. Their moment of glory, kind of.”

“Well, let’s hope she rallies. The Great Physician will do His utmost to work with her.”

Meanwhile, back on the medical bench by the Great Physician’s tent, Penny sat watching her blood drip on the ground and re-examining the pain of it all. She wished the Great Physician would show up once and heal her. By and by another soldier joined her on the bench. He had a gaping head wound and one arm was almost severed.

“Man, are you ever bleeding,” Penny said, sliding farther down the bench. She didn’t need his blood splattering on her yet, too.

“Caught in major enemy fire. I’m needing the Great Physician real bad,” he said weakly.

“I do, too. See this deep wound, all this blood. Got it from a fellow soldier, too. Supposed to be, anyway. I think he’s a real yoyo.”

“My only son was killed by a drunk driver. Never fought such a battle in my life. But I won!” The man’s eyes shone. “I was able to forgive that young man.

“You forgave him? The scum! He didn’t deserve it.”

“Maybe not, but I need healing for the pain I’m feeling every day – and I wouldn’t be here getting that help if I were still so bin the awful pit of bitterness. I’m so thankful to be delivered from that place!”

“Besides, everybody needs forgiveness once in awhile,” he added. “Really, none of us deserve it.”

Penny frowned. He sounded weird; must be that head wound was muddling his thinking. She returned her gaze to her wound; thankfully it was still dripping. The Great Physician needed to see just how bad it was.

Awhile later she looked up and saw the man who’d been beside her walking away, erect and pain-free even though his one arm was gone. Right then a horrible thought came to her: what if she ’d need to have her arm amputated, too? She sure hoped Frankie got a few good slashes himself. He needed to suffer, too.

But the Great Physician must have come by and she hadn’t noticed. Why hadn’t she seen Him. Why wasn’t His voice loud enough for her to hear? Or had He not called her? Didn’t He care about her? She could bleed to death sitting here.

Penny didn’t realize that the Great Physician HAD come by, at least a dozen times, and gently called her name. She was so focused on her injury she hadn’t even noticed. She’s still sitting there waiting to be healed.

Story by Christine Goodnough, Originally posted July 11, 2012


A Dip in the Pity-Puddle

Spring took a big step backward yesterday; the temperature dropped to -20 C last night and is supposed to go down to -24 tonight. (That’s -8 and -11 F) and stay cool all weekend.

A black bird crossed my path this afternoon – not a raven but a genuine blackbird. We took a trip to Outlook and saw Canada geese as well; a few of them were sitting on an ice floe in the river. It’s still pretty cold for the poor birds!

The Lord spoke to me about self-pity a few mornings ago. I was feeling really bad for the way a certain situation had turned out, something I’d gotten involved in on behalf of a friend. I’d had a talk with someone, hoping to explain my friend’s problem, but my listener had reacted negatively and later tongue-lashed my friend.

Of course I felt quite upset when I heard this from my friend. Instead of helping matters I seemingly had made them worse. The next morning I sat mulling this over, feeling blue, despairing of any improvement in the situation. Then the Lord asked me in a gentle way, “How much of your feeling here is actually self-pity?”


But I opened my mind to that question and could see that, yeah, some of my feelings really do stem from a well disguised self-pity. Then a strange thing happened: as I admitted it, that “blue cloud” lifted and the whole thing didn’t look half as bad.

When Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” He was serious. It really does!

“Even our tears need washing in the blood of Christ before they can be acceptable.”

I was talking to my friend again this morning, encouraging her to pray about the issues that are troubling her. I feel that God is the only one who can really help her and she agreed with that, but she can’t bring herself to believe in, or talk to, Someone she can’t see. That’s a tough one! Or is it?

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”  Matthew 7:7-8

(Part of this was posted simultaneously on “Inspirational Thoughts.”)

Do Not Grow Weary…

Along Life's Path...

IM000248.JPG(an acrostic prayer)

Dearest Father, we humbly come to this hour to present ourselves again as sinners in need of Your mercy.

Open us to the washing of Your grace, dear God, as You continue to gather us as a hen gathers her chicks.

No one among us is worthy to call upon Your name, Father, except through the sacrifice of Your Son.

Obstinate we are, Father. We are opinionated, unyielding, and inflexible at times. We feel adamant about our own goodness, Father. Please forgive us, Lord, as we have been too much like this world in which we live.

Tailor us to fit Your will instead of us wanting to tailor You to fit us, Father.

Grant to us the spirit to stay the course for You and not grow weary in doing Your will for Your sake, O God.

Recover us…

View original post 233 more words

Fractured Phrases

Note from me:
Lilly has come up with a good list of what NOT to say in the way of consolation.

A p r o n h e a d -- Lilly

159 - Copy

It’s only money

is easy to say when you have some.

This too shall pass

only applies to the things that do, not the things that don’t.

Get over it

is harder to do when you feel flat under it.

Cheer up

is hard to master when you are down.

I’ll be praying for you

is only good when it is real and not just a God bless you after a sneeze.

View original post

Ed’s Accident: His Report



    Early one Monday morning Ed Zeller, a farmer near Prattleboro, was pulling his stock trailer down the road, taking a few steers to the stockyards at Loquacious. Feeling drowsy all of a sudden, he decided he’d better get out and walk around a bit—and he saw a good place to pull over not far ahead.

As he slowed down and pulled into the siding, he saw a Department of Highways truck pull away. A brand new litter container sat on a post at the edge of the road ahead of him. Ed nodded his approval. Maybe there won’t be so much trash blowing around now, he thought.

However, as he drove closer a gust of wind tore the container off the post and tossed it in front of his truck. Ed swerved a bit and bounced through a pothole, but couldn’t avoid hitting it. He felt the crunch as his wheels hit the rigid plastic and heard thumps as the steers were jostled around by his manoeuvres. As he stopped and reached for his door handle, several unkind thoughts flashed through his mind about the Highways Department’s ability to bolt something down properly.

At that instant his cell phone rang and he paused to answer it. A local realtor was wondering how interested he was in that piece of land he’d been looking at last week and if he’d consider it at a lower price. Ed gave the man his attention for a moment before getting out to check on things. After all, the damage was already done; a minute more wouldn’t make any difference.

While Ed was on the phone one of the steers bumped against the back door and it swung open. Deciding they’d had enough of this ride—and maybe a mite suspicious about their ultimate destination—all four of them jumped out.

They were heading into the ditch when Ed caught sight of them in his side mirror. He ended his call and jumped out of the truck. Hurrying behind the vehicle he glanced toward the crunched litter container, then back at the open trailer door. He shook his head. “Now how did that happen?”

He said a silent prayer as he surveyed the steers grazing in the ditch. Lord, I’m going to need a miracle here. There’s no way I’ll get those critters back in this trailer again unless You send some angels to help me.

Looking over the situation again, he resigned himself to the probability of losing those steers one way or another. Thankfully they were in the ditch right now and would likely head into the field beyond. If they didn’t, his best hope was that someone with a rifle would come along so he could shoot them before they ran out onto the highway and caused an accident.

Ed took off his cap and ran his hand through his graying hair. Dragging dead steers wouldn’t be easy, either. He wasn’t so young anymore.

Ed was standing at the roadside wondering how to begin when another pickup drove into the siding and stopped just behind the crumpled litter container. A friendly-looking young fellow got out of the truck.

He came and stood quietly beside Ed for a minute before he spoke. “See you have a bit of a problem.”

“You said it.”  Ed shook his head. “I don’t know how they got out. Surely the weight of a steer wouldn’t pop the latch?”

“Fairly new trailer you got there, right?”

“Yeah. I haven’t used it much yet.”

“I was reading an article in the Equine Chronicle lately. It said you’ve got to watch out with some of these newer trailers; the latch may slip out of place when you go over some bad bumps. Apparently one horseman lost a valuable stallion when his trailer door opened after he’d hit a rough spot in the road. The horse jumped—or fell—onto the highway and was hit.”

“Oh, my. Well, thank God that didn’t happen to my steers! It was that litter can. They’d just installed it. I saw the truck drive away as I was pulling in.”

“Probably didn’t do the best job of bolting it down.”

“Let’s not go there. I may express more sentiments than I should. But still, this was a pretty small bump to shake a latch loose.”

The stranger kicked a stone with the toe of his boot. “Did you come through that patch of construction about three miles west?”

Ed mentally retraced his route. “Yeah, I remember bouncing over some bumps back there. Once I was past I never thought any more of it.”

“Could be that’s where the latch slipped out, or the shaking maybe loosened things up and this was the stick that broke the donkey’s back.”

“Maybe. Sure glad I was off the highway when those steers decided to test it out.”

Ed remembered how he had felt sleepy all of a sudden, the reason he’d made this stop. Thank You, Lord, for that, he prayed.

“Anyway,” he continued, “then I got a phone call. This time it’s really true, that bit about the phone ringing at the worst possible moment.” He gave himself a mental kick for taking the time to answer. Had he only known…

But now what? He took a few steps toward the steers and they looked up from their grazing. He moved closer and they turned and trotted away, just far enough to let Ed know they weren’t going to give up their freedom.

Ed stopped. “I have a rope behind the seat in my truck. Think you could get it for me, young man?”

“I’d be happy to oblige, sir. Do you fancy holding a rodeo?” The young man chuckled. “I can see us chasing them beasts to kingdom come and back.” He waved toward the open field behind them. “But are you sure you’re up to that kind of a run?”

Ed’s gaze swept over the field. “No, I guess not. Got a rifle in your truck? I’d phone my son but by the time he gets here, they could be back and forth across the highway a dozen times.”

“Yeah, I do—if worst comes to worst.” The young man was quiet for a moment, obviously contemplating the pros and cons of that solution. Then he grinned. “You know, I’ve got a few bags of feed oats in the back of my pickup. Why don’t I grab one and maybe we can lure the steers into the trailer?”

Ed grasped the ray of hope. “It’s worth a try. If you’re willing to part with your oats, we’ve got nothing to lose. I’d gladly pay you for a dozen bags if we could get these steers loaded.” He opened the trailer doors wide and slid out a thick board he used as a ramp.

“Let’s give it a shot then.” The young man ran back to his pickup, jumped in and hoisted a bag of oats over the side toward Ed.

Ed grabbed it and carried it to where the steers were grazing. The animals looked up with interest as he tore the bag open. Ed poured out the oats in little piles, closer and closer to the trailer, and the animals followed, chowing down as they came. He poured a pile on the ramp and the steers pushed each other to be first at it. When he poured a bunch on the floor of the stock trailer the animals ran up the ramp and into the trailer.

Ed nodded and the young man jumped forward to slide the ramp back into the trailer. He shut and latched the doors, then went around to open the side door and let Ed out.

Before Ed left the trailer one of the steers managed to give him a hard kick in the leg. Revenge, he decided, and felt like kicking the beast back, then reminded himself that temper’s a weakness one should never indulge. Yes, he’d be limping for awhile, but the steers were loaded and he was ready to roll. He’d take his lumps and count his blessings.

Next Ed pulled out his wallet and paid the young man for his oats, then shook his hand. “Didn’t get your name yet.”

“Tyler Stafford. I live two miles north and four miles west of here, down by Pleasant Vale.”

“Well, Tyler, when I saw what I was facing I prayed the Lord to send an angel to help me. I guess you filled the bill.”

The young man laughed. “Well I could be—probably should be—a lot more of an angel than I am, but I’m glad to have helped you out.”

“God is good and forgives us when we admit our faults. If you remember that, you won’t go far wrong. Now I’d better get these animals to Loquacious.”

He dusted off his jeans. “If you’re ever near Prattleboro, Tyler, stop in. You can ask around for Ed Zeller. Everyone knows me. I’d be glad to repay this favour somehow. Come for a barbeque some night—and bring the family.”

“Sounds good. I may just do that.” Tyler headed back to his truck, dragging the litter container off the road as he passed. “I guess the Department of Highways will be able to see they didn’t fasten this thing well enough,” he called over his shoulder.

Ed laughed and got back into his truck. Before starting the engine he looked up into the blue sky. “Lord. You are downright amazing!”

Conclusion Tomorrow

Since I recently published an article on Getting the Facts Straight, I decided to post this story, in two parts, for your enjoyment and to further make my point. 🙂

This is one of the stories in my upcoming book Silver Morning Song and I welcome your comments. But remember: it’s undeniably, absolutely, irrefutably, inescapably COPYRIGHT MATERIAL.

The People Remember


Poppies toss freely in the breeze; they don’t know
the earth-shuddering rumble of tanks.

The larks sing joyously overhead; they don’t know
the song-drowning roar of cannons.

Pigeons bob peacefully along city streets; they don’t know
the terror of bomb-ignited infernos.

The people know.  Every year they remember
in silence; they pray they’ll never hear
the thunder of bombers overhead,
the scream of anti-aircraft guns,
the tramp of military boots.
God help us.

Christine Goodnough

Praying on A Snowy Day

Once upon a time….

Brandon got up on Wednesday and looked out the window on a very white world.  Like any eight-year old he was delighted to see a deep blanket of fresh snow on the ground and the air full of flakes swirling on a gusty wind.  His joy was complete when his mom told him school had been cancelled because it was so stormy.

He quickly dressed and before long he and his sister were at the breakfast table with radiant smiles, talking of the fun times they’d have today.  First there was lots of snow to shovel, then they’d have great fun on the small skating rink their dad had made for them.

They trooped out the door soon after breakfast and spent several hours having fun in the snow.  When they were thoroughly chilled they came in and played games.  The hours flew by; Brandon was dismayed to find that a ‘Snow day’ goes by twice as fast as a day in the classroom.

That night at the supper table Brandon and his sister heard their mom and dad talking about all the snow and wondering if the wind would let up before morning.  If not, school would be likely be cancelled again tomorrow.  He and his sister beamed at each other.  In bed that night Brandon smiled as he listened to the snow zinging on his window.

Thursday was another Snow day; again the children filled it with indoor and outdoor fun.  To top it off, soon after dinner the snow storm was over and the wind died down, so being outside was much more pleasant.  The sun came out and made the snow sticky so they built a huge snowman before supper.

Back at school on Friday morning, the teacher asked the class if they’d all made good use of their two-day holiday.  The children responded with a chorus of “yeah” and “we had so much fun.”

She asked a few others what they’d done and listened to their reports of snowmen, sledding, and games played.  Then she asked Brandon,  “And what did you do on those two Snow days?”

“I prayed the whole time.”

Teacher’s eyes opened in surprise.  “And what were you praying for that much?  Is someone sick at your house?”

Brandon grinned.  “No.  I was just praying for more and more and more snow.”