Extraordinary Things

Today’s Monday School is about friends and faith and the extraordinary things that can happen when those come together.

The story is told in three of the Gospels….Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In my opinion, the one in Luke is the better story. This is a familiar story to some of us but when I read it Saturday morning it meant something to me it’s never meant before.

I won’t type out the story but it’s found in Luke 5:17-26. It begins with “on one of those days” and ends with “we have seen extraordinary things today.” A lot happens between those two phrases with the religious people and Jesus’ authority, but I want to focus on the man and his friends.

The man couldn’t walk and he had friends. Good friends. The kind that lived like it matters and helped their friend be well. They carried the man on his mat through the streets to the home where a crowd gathered to hear Jesus teach. The doorway was blocked because of the crowd so the men carried their friend up to the roof and lowered him down in front of Jesus.

And when Jesus saw their faith…..”

Jesus didn’t ask a question and the men didn’t speak to Jesus. Jesus saw their faith. The faith that wavered when the crowd was too thick to get their friend in through the door. The faith that grew weary of the long haul through the streets and the one up to the roof. The faith that thought the whole thing was crazy and wondered if it was even worth it. The faith that wanted to give up.

But faith is stronger with friends. When this friend’s faith wavered, that friend’s didn’t. When three of them wanted to turn around and wait until the crowd was gone, the other one was determined. When two of them thought they were too exhausted to go on, the other two cheered them on. When one of them wanted to give up on it all, the other ones patiently reminded him of their paralyzed friend’s need. And let’s not forget about the faith of the man on the mat. It took a lot of guts and even more trust to let his friends carry him around on his mat, then lower him through a roof.

And every step was worth it when Jesus spoke to the man. First, Jesus met the man’s deepest soul need and forgave his sins. Then he took care of his physical need and made him walk again.  

Jesus saw their faith. Certainly not perfect faith, maybe not great faith, but a stronger faith because they were together. The faith that made them do the hard work of helping their friend. The faith to keep going, one hard step after another.

The people were filled with awe and said, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

The Extra Mile

It’s today and not Wednesday anymore. And Wednesdays are my usual day for posting my Live Like it Matters Challenges. I started to write last night even though it was past my bedtime but then my 18 year old son needed to talk. So we did. For an hour. I treasure our face to face talks because they don’t happen as often as they used to. It was worth the loss of sleep and not posting last night.

I witnessed something earlier this week and just knew that it would turn into a challenge. I was right.

This week I want you to go the extra mile. We’ve all heard the saying “go the extra mile”. These words of Jesus are recorded in Matthew 5:41: “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” This is a hard teaching and one vastly different than most of us live, even when we claim we are kind and loving.

The extra mile isn’t easy. Especially if we’re forced to go the first one.

Most of us know the saying to mean to make an extra effort, or to go above and beyond what is required. I watched a garbage man (is that what they’re still called?) going the extra mile on Monday. After lifting the garbage can with the mechanical arm and dumping the trash into the back of the truck, the waste disposal man (I like that better) parked the garbage truck, climbed down from his seat, picked up the garbage container and walked it down the very long driveway to the side of the older home. I pass this home daily and have noticed that the garbage container is frequently at the side of the road, tipped over a lot of times. He must have noticed, too.

Then he went the extra mile. He did his job, then he went further. Because I know that walking a resident’s garbage can to the side of the house is not in his job description. He did something beyond what was required……something thoughtful and kind……..something extra. The ordinariness of his job turned extraordinary the moment he decided to do the “extra” thing.

What can you do this week to go the extra mile? What ordinary task can you turn extraordinary?  grocerystore(produce)

As I finish issuing you this challenge, my husband called to ask if I was going to the store. I had not planned on it. I was just there last night. What in the world could we need? I want to go straight home and change and go outside and talk to the kids and cook dinner so that I can get in the bed early. He knows that and said he could go but wanted to check with me first. But he’s been working a lot lately.

So instead of going straight home like I want to, I’m going to the grocery story for my husband. I’m going the extra mile.

This ordinary grocery store run just turned extraordinary.

High Cotton

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The corn has been harvested. The hay has been baled. The dried up corn stalks are tied to lamp posts downtown on Main Street and the square hay bales line the sides of a trailer for a hayride. Scarecrows and Jack-o-lanterns greet the shoppers as they stroll along the brick sidewalks.

But the cotton hasn’t been harvested. Not all of it anyway. It’s snowy white in the fields on my country roads. Before it’s harvested I pull to the side of the road, walk into the field and get a stalk of cotton to place in an old milk jar for a fall decoration in my living room. But I’d better hurry.

IMG_2720The plants are bursting with the fluffy white stuff so the big machines are getting ready to do their work. After the machines roll over the fields all that will be left will be acres and acres of flattened brown stalks which will fade into the landscape. The cotton will be baled into huge rectangles and sit there until trucks pick them up.

I drive past these fields every ordinary day unaware of all that happens there. A family’s livelihood and hard work. Not thinking about what comes from those fields will be made into tee shirts and blankets and warm cozy socks.

We were walkin’ in high cotton,

Old times there are not forgotten,

Those fertile fields are never far away.

    From High Cotton by Alabama

In response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge Nostalgia.