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Peace Self Care

God’s Psychiatry

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 39:18 (NIV

In 2007, after a second bout with cancer, my dad died. I realize this isn’t the most engaging starting sentence, but please stay with me.


A few months after dad passed, my wife and I were visiting with mom in the home they shared. Longing to reconnect with my dad in some way, I ended up in the workshop out back, where he and I bonded over many a project.

I walked out and bumped open the door, which had been closed so long it was stuck shut. The work bench was cluttered with tools and an assortment of nuts and bolts. Dad must have left them when he no longer felt like puttering around the shop. “I NEED to tidy things up,” I thought outloud; “He had a place for everything and everything in its place.”

But I couldn’t. I simply didn’t know where all the stuff went. Standing there holding a mason jar full of orphaned stove bolts, I started to cry. But then I looked up and saw Big Mouth Billy Bass on the wall, a gift from one of my father’s fishing buddies.

I reached up and gave Billy’s red button a push, just for old-time’s sake, and he came to life: flapping his tail and singing that famous Bobby McFaren song—“Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

But here’s the miracle, that silly fish always started at the beginning, but not today. This time God fast forwarded to the part I really needed to hear–where Billy raises his head, looks at you and sings, “🎶Don’t Worry, Be Happy🎶.”

The Lord (and my dad) wanted me to drop the mantle of over- responsibility I’d taken upon myself. It was a most comforting feeling.

Have you had a, “Big Mouth Billy Bass” type encounter with God?

I’d love to hear about it!

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the one most dear to you.

Matthew 5:4 (MSG)

PS: today would have been dad’s 85th birthday.

Categories
Christian Blog forgiveness

Weeds Are Flowers Too

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”

A.A. Milne

If the guys on my dorm hallway at seminary had been the twelve disciples, then *Sean Fitzpatrick would have been Peter. Too say that ‘Surly Sean,’ as he was known, was rough around the edges is putting it kindly. Brash, quick tempered and occasionally foul-mouthed, he was far from the typical divinity student.
Sean looked like a shorter version of Tom Selleck, from the show Magnum P.I.–right down to the shorts and Hawaiian shirt. And just like the character on television, he was always ready with a playful insult.

I asked one of the other guys on the hall, “What’s with this dude?!” My friend told me that Sean came to seminary after his father died of a heart attack while they were on a hunting trip. The grieving young man was adrift, so his pastor suggested he come cross-country to attend seminary–thinking it might help the healing process. But Sean only lasted one semester; training to be a pastor was NOT his calling. This was no surprise to the rest of us.

Nevertheless, as I got to know my fractious neighbor, I realized he was a true brother in Christ who just happened to come from a different place than I did. Sean told me of growing up in Philadelphia, where Irish kids like him walked down the middle of the street to avoid being mugged. It was unimaginable, to a small town boy like me, who grew up where people seldom locked their doors.

We lost touch after he left seminary, but something told me Sean was back in Philly. So three years later, I looked him up. He was married and a recent father to a baby daughter. I reminded him that the last time we’d talked he insulted me. I won’t repeat what he said–this is a G-rated blog–but to him, these were terms of endearment. However, three years later, he couldn’t believe he’d talked to me like that! Clearly, Surly had sweetened. He even thanked me for being a good friend during a tough time in his life.

There are lots of ‘Seans’ out there, people who aren’t exactly like you or me, people who are hurting. And God loves them too. Remember one of the nicknames Jesus’ enemies gave Him? They called him a ‘Friend of Sinners’ (Matthew 7:43).

When Sean showed up at a seminary, he was like Zacchaeus in the Bible, up in a tree looking for Jesus. But most of us pious would be pastors avoided him, because we thought weeds aren’t really flowers. We were wrong.

For the son of man came to seek and save the lost.

Luke 19:10

*not his real name.

Categories
Christian Blog Uncategorized

What was that, God?

Photo by Alireza Attari on Unsplash

I once heard a story about a little boy who misheard part of the Lord’s Prayer. Where it says, “forgive us our trespasses,” he thought the people at church were saying, “forgive us our trash baskets.”

There’s actually a term for this. According to Dictionary.com, a word or phrase resulting from a mishearing of another word or phrase is called a mondegreen. In many cases, the misinterpretation gives the original phrase a new meaning. Like in the song, Purple Haze, when Jimmy Hendrix sings, “Scuse me while I kiss the sky,” but the listener hears, “Scuse me while I kiss this guy.”

I wonder, do mondegreens sometimes happen when God speaks to us? After all, He doesn’t think or work the same way we do (Isaiah 55:9), so it stands to reason that His instructions could easily be lost in translation.

God: “You have enough stuff.”
Me: “I need a new truck!”

Or maybe we clearly hear what God says, but creatively interpret the meaning. This mistake cost Saul his kingdom, in 1 Samuel chapter 13, when he offered up burnt offerings to God as a stand-in for the prophet Samuel.

Something like this happened to me the year I turned forty, but not with such dire results. I clearly heard the Holy Spirit say, “It’s time to get the music started.” I interpreted this to mean that I needed to begin a Christian concert ministry, record albums, and pitch my songs to Nashville publishers. To me, it was all or nothing–throwing the entirety of God’s resources up in the air at once.

But the Lord had something else in mind. He opened a door for my wife and me to share music in nursing homes and assisted living centers, making seniors feel better by singing their favorite hymns. My own gospel songs never made it to Nashville, but they still touched people–a few at a time. I know, because they told me so. Clearly, God’s plan to, “get the music started,” meant something more like passing out a bag of nickels one at time, rather than my grandiose ideas.

So that’s my, “What was that, God?” story.

Have you ever misheard God or misinterpreted what He said to you? If so, please share. I’d love to hear about it.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/09/05/what-was-that-god/