Rev. Jerry Drummonds
The Whistle …
My dad - Rev. G. Vaughn Drummonds - taught me so much about himself, as well as about God the Father, in such a way that the many lessons were life changers for me. There is one occasion that came to mind just the other day.
It was an early summer evening in Alma, Michigan. I was 10 or eleven years old and my friends and I would play as long as we possibly could. And that means until we were called in to finally end the day.
The rule was simple in our safe little neighborhood of unlocked doors of the early 1960's. When you are summoned, you get home right then, no delays. And the manner in which I was ordered home was as unique as my dad himself. It was his very very BIG whistle! The sound of his whistle was so loud it scared most if they were very close when it sounded. And was so unique I knew without question it was his!
On this particular evening I got so engrossed in our neighborhood fun that I kept venturing further and further away from home. I lost total contact with the reality that the time of being called to come in had come and gone.
Then suddenly there he was ... standing not far from his running car with door open and his incredibly unique stare, arms folded, waiting for my return to reality to kick in. He had been driving around the blocks of our home searching for me for quite some time.
"What are you doing here?!" came the question.
I had no answer of course as I was being ushered unceremoniously toward the car.
"I was worried sick about you! I couldn't find you anywhere! You didn't answer my whistle, or come to my call! I thought something had happened to you!"
And then it came.
"Do you know why you can only go so far from the house when you play?" he asked.
"Yeah." I mumbled. "So I will come home when I am supposed to."
I was so hoping that answer was the right one so there would be no more questions. But of course it wasn't over just yet.
"That's right. But there is an even more important reason than that. And that is this … ”
And then came. The words I will never forget.
"When I whistle—and you are close enough for you to hear me—that means that if you really needed me I could find you and get to you. It means I can always help you no matter what. It means you are within my reach. Don't you ever forget that!”
And I never did.
That lesson impacted my thinking from that day to this.
And with respect to my Heavenly Father, the premise is exactly the same. He wants me to stay close within the sound of His call. It is when I wander off and loose focus of Him and His voice that danger is lurking. And He reminds me of that in much the same way as my dad did that summer evening of my boyhood. It is with a sense of urgency, with the supreme motive being my safety. It is fatherly love in its purest sense. And it is as simple as this verse in Isaiah that says, "Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live ... " (Isaiah 55:3a NKJV)
That was an uncomfortable moment when it happened way back as a youngster in Alma, Michigan in the 1960's, but I am so thankful for a dad who was watching over me ... always ready to make sure I safely found my way home.
If we “incline our ear” to the One who cares most about our safety and well-being, we will always find our way home.
Just a thought …
A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner.
In their rush to catch their plane home, and with tickets and briefcases in hand, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples.
Apples flew everywhere!
Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly-missed boarding.
ALL BUT ONE!!! that is.
He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his emotions and suddenly felt a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had just been overturned. He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their destination and to explain to her—in his well chosen words—why he was having to take a later flight home.
He then returned to the terminal where the apples were still all over the terminal floor. When he saw what he and his buddies had caused, he was glad he did come back because the 16-year-old girl, manning her little apple stand, was totally blind!
There she was, sitting on the floor next to the mess, softly crying, tears streaming down her cheeks in hurt and frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her. People were moving hurriedly about, kicking an occasional apple, no one paying attention to her plight—no one stopping to lend a hand—no one to care for this helpless young one in need.
The salesman knelt on the floor with her and began gathering up the apples. He put them back on the table and then helped organize her display. As he did all of this, he couldn’t help but notice that many of them had become battered and bruised. These he set aside in another basket. When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $50 for the damage we caused. Are you okay?" She nodded through her tears.
He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."
As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind young girl called out to him.
He paused and turned to look back into those blinded eyes.
She continued, "Are you Jesus?"
He stopped in mid-stride flabbergasted and embarrassed at the question.
He slowly turned back and said, "No … in reality, I am nothing like Jesus. He is good, kind, caring, loving, and would never have destroyed your display in the first place only to run away.
The girl gently nodded.
“I only asked because I prayed for Jesus to help me gather the apples, and suddenly … there you were. He must have sent you then to help me. Thank you for listening to Jesus, Mister."
He moved back toward her, softly placed his hand upon her head, bade her farewell, and slowly made his way to catch a later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul. He couldn’t stop hearing the echo of that young girl’s voice over and over again in his mind: "Are you Jesus?"
Soooo. Has anyone ever mistaken you for Jesus because of a touch of kindness that came directly from you to them?
That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus, to make such a difference in someone’s world, that they are sure they caught a glimpse of Him in you.
Have we ever interacted with a person in need in such a way that they could not tell the difference between us and the presence of Jesus?
As we live and interact with a world that hopes with all they are that there really is a Jesus, will they come face to face with His reality because they have come face to face with you?
Just think. Most of the world will never experience His genuine love, life and grace—unless they encounter it, and Him, through us.
How might it change the way you live to be reminded that you may be the only Jesus a person will ever meet on their journey through life?
Just a thought.
I grew up with practical grandparents. A grandmother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen before they had a name for it.
A grandfather who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. I once sat on the back porch with him as he took a brand new pair of shoes out of a shoe-box, putting his old ones into the now emptied box. “Grandpa, how long does a pair of shoes last you?” a twelve year old me asked. “Oh, about ten years,” came back the answer. “Where did you find shoes exactly like the ones you have worn for so long?” was the next question. “Oh … I bought these two pair at the same time,” he said.
Yup. A brand new pair of shoes sat in his closet for ten years before he pulled them out to enjoy, all the while replacing the shoe soles at least once and the heels twice on a worn out pair of shoes he just couldn’t throw away.
Their marriage was as solid as anything this earth ever produced. Their dreams were focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away.
I can see them now, grandpa in dress brown trousers, plaid shirt and a hat that coordinated in color with his trousers. And grandma in a house dress printed in happy blues and yellows, an apron that covered her entire dress, and a dish-towel in hand.
They seldom threw things away. There was always a need, a time, and a way to fix things. A curtain rod that needed straightening, the kitchen radio with a suddenly blown and replaced tube, the screen door that needed a new screen, the hem in a dress, a darned sock. Things were kept.
It was their way of life, and sometimes it made me a little crazy. All that fixing and re-fixing, canning the same menu of vegetables and jams every season, that little savings bank book containing numbers, notes, and check marks. I can’t think of a time when I witnessed them being wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more.
But then my grandmother died. The last time I saw her was holding her hand in a hospital room in Toledo, Ohio. “You can come back from this grandma. You have so many times,” an eighteen year old me said in an effort to inspire her to rally. “Not this time honey,” came back the reply. And she was gone.
And on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of a hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there just isn't any more. No more fixing. The unfixable item is encountered.
Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away … never to return. So while we have it, it's best we love it. While we have it, it’s best we care for it … And fix it when it's broken … And heal it when it is sick.
This is true. For old cars. For dogs with bad hips. For children with bad report cards. For marriages that seem to have broken. And aging parents and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it—everyone.
Because we are worth it. And we have been them with a bad report or we will be them, aged and able to count the summers left to us on a single hand.
Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away, or a classmate we grew up with.
There are just some things that can’t be replaced. Some things that make life important, like people we know who are special. And so, we need to keep them close!
If you are reading this it is because to me you are a “Keeper”.
That is why I have posted this for all my Keepers to see and read (on Facebook where I call my Keepers — Friends). Maybe there is someone in your life that needs to know they are a “Keeper.” So now it's your turn to send this, or a similar message, to those people that are Keepers in your life.
Someone once said, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrived, and it is only by that meeting that a whole new world was born.”
Now that’s the definition of a Keeper!
Just a thought …
One day, a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on multiple sheets of paper—leaving three spaces between each name.
Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each one of their classmates and write it down next to their name. Nice things to say about each other didn’t come naturally for fifth graders, but once they began the process, it seemed to became for them … dare I say, meaningful.
It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment. And as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers filled with unusually warm classmate thoughts to their teacher.
That Saturday, the teacher had a project of her own. She wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. So, with 29 students in the class, each child had nice things said about them 28 times by their classmates.
The following Monday she gave each student his or her list. The first few moments, as each student scan the words written about them, a created pin drop silence blanketed the class as an early fear gripped each of the readers in wonder of what might have been said about them. But before long, the entire class was smiling—and a buzz of excitement began to fill the room.
“Really?” she heard one student whisper.
“I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!” came a thought from another.
“I didn't know others liked me so much,” was another of the most often heard comments.
The teacher never mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents—but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and with one another. A different kind of ambiance filled her class for the rest of the year. Her students seemed to genuinely enjoy spending time with each other.
Time quickly passed. That group of students moved on.
Several years later, one of the students, Mark was his name, was killed in service for his country. The teacher attended the funeral of that special student she remembered so fondly from that particular group of fifth graders.
She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature, so perfect.
The church was packed with mourners that day—especially with Mark’s classmate friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the final individual to file past and bless the coffin and the one lying inside.
She made eye contact with the now grown classmates. She could tell they wanted to speak with her but the moment wasn’t quite right.
After the funeral, most of the fallen warrior’s former classmates, friends and family went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with the teacher of their son.
As she stood there wondering what to say or do next, one of the soldiers, who acted as pallbearer, came up to her and asked, “Were you Mark's fifth grade teacher?” She nodded: “yes” then he said, “Mark talked about you a lot.”
At that moment Mark’s parents entered in …
“We want to show you something,” his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.”
Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been folded, taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.
“Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark's mother said. “As you can see, Mark treasured it.”
All of Mark's former classmates had started to gather around when they heard mention of the list.
Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home.”
Jason’s wife said, “Jason asked me to put his list in our wedding album.”
“I have my list too,” Marilyn said. “It's in my diary.”
Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her purse, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. “I carry this with me at all times,” Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued, “I think we all saved our lists.”
In that moment, the teacher simply sat down and cried. She didn’t know what else to do.
She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again. She cried because a group of fifth graders grew up knowing they were valued and highly thought of by their peers. And she cried because the One who created her to be a teacher really did use her life to accomplish something special in the lives of those entrusted to her.
We seldom spend time thinking about the fact that life for all of us will end one day. And we don't know when that day will arrive. Make sure you tell the people you love that you truly do care care about them and think so very highly of them. And don’t be afraid to tell them exactly why they are special to you, even if it takes a list. You’ll never know how much they will appreciate it, value it, even treasure it by carrying their list, verbal or written, with them wherever they go in life.
And you will never know how much you may actually have change their lives for the better. After all, when people know without a doubt that someone believes in them, life has so much more meaning.
Share with them your list … before it is too late.
Just a thought.