Not Long Tales … August 20th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Underneath

Lance sat quietly staring at his hands.

They didn’t seem small—at least, he didn’t think so. But the bully who lived seven houses down on the right-hand side had made fun of them yesterday, in front of four or five guys, and worse, two girls.

It wasn’t easy being eleven years old, anyway you looked at it. But being ridiculed for your little hands in front of friends was more than humiliating. It was debilitating and left no recourse. After all, you couldn’t scream, “My hands are big!”

But Lance had anyway. And when he objected, everyone laughed at him. Because tears that were lurking in his eyes suddenly avalanched down his cheeks.

Lance hated summer vacation. As bad as school was—and it certainly had some really stinky things about it—at least your day was filled, and you didn’t have to try and figure out a reason for getting up in the first place.

It was especially difficult because Lance had a mother who insisted he “go out and play with the other kids.” She didn’t understand that he had just been targeted for having tiny paws.

Yes—he felt like a puppy being mocked by the big hound. He was afraid to leave his doorstep.

There was one friend who never deserted him—what you might call the saving face. His name was Jallus. Lance’s mother always referred to him as “the black boy” and Jallus’ mother called Lance “the white boy.” Sometimes the two buddies joked with each other, calling each other “black boy and white boy,” just to get the giggling going. Of course, it was ridiculous. Lance was the color of dirty sand and Jallus looked like chocolate milk diluted by water.

But the two boys needed each other, because the bully also told Jallus that his hands were puny. They found comfort in each other’s company.

But during this particular summer, Lance had discovered an escape. He hadn’t told anyone, not even his buddy, Jallus. In the back of the house, just underneath the steps, there was a piece of white lattice covering up the crawl space. There were a couple of screws missing from the top—just enough that Lance could pull it back, squeeze through and climb in beneath the house.

When he first discovered it, he was scared. His mind went crazy thinking about what might be in that crawl space, lurking to harm him. A rat, a snake—and most certainly, any variety of bugs made their homes in the sludge.

Yet it was so peaceful in there—especially on hot days, it was just a little cooler, and on rainy days it stayed dry, but gave Lance a front row seat on the beauty of the pelting rain. He adored the place.

He cleared it out a little bit. There was some trash—discarded bags of cement and rocks getting in the way of affording him total space. He sat in there for hours at a time thinking about life, small hands and his daddy. Lance had never actually met the fellow. He had departed before Lance had a full brain for knowing. His mother told him that his daddy probably loved him, but lived far, far away, in Mississippi. It made it nearly impossible to come and visit.

One day when he was snooping through his mother’s closet, he found a picture stuck in a box—a fellow sitting on a motorcycle, wearing a cowboy hat. He assumed it was his daddy. Sitting behind him on the bike was probably his mother, back when she was a girl.

Seeing that motorcycle reminded Lance of the time his mother said that his father had sent a birthday present of a bicycle. It came in a big, huge cardboard box, but it wasn’t put together. Mama had tried really hard to get all the bolts in the right places, but it was never right. So it just sat in the garage in a heap. Every once in a while, Lance would pull out a piece or two and play with the back wheel for a while. The bicycle was so much like the rest of his life—everything seemed to be there, but nothing came together.

But when Lance went underneath the house into his chamber of privacy, it was a whole different situation. He took a flashlight with him so he could keep an eye on the surroundings, in case he was invaded by one of nature’s uglies. He also found an old canteen in the garage, which he cleaned and filled with Kool-Aid, to sip on as time passed by. The Kool-Aid was so refreshing that the next time he brought a plastic bag of Gummi-bears. Goldfish crackers and M & M’s. It was so peaceful and satisfying.

Lance never thought he’d ever want peace. Being a boy, he was rather fond of chaos. But occasionally, he needed to feel like feeling was okay and nobody was staring, wondering what he was doing.

Sometimes he would lie on his back and listen to the floorboards creak—Mama preparing dinner in the kitchen. Sometimes she would sing. It made him feel so good when he heard her sing. Other times, she just talked to herself. He couldn’t hear what she said but could tell from the tone that it came from an unhappy place.

Summer persisted, as the summer sun often does.

Then one night, right before bedtime, sirens went off from the nearby town. Mama was frightened. She explained to Lance that the sirens meant there was a tornado coming. It didn’t take very long before great winds began to sweep by their house, rattling the windows and striking terror into their souls.

The two of them lived in a very simple house. There was no upstairs, no basement. Just the one floor—and Mama had no idea what to do. She was looking for a safe place for them to hide from the danger, but she couldn’t move. Her head turned, her eyes peering in all directions, as if waiting for someone to give her instructions.

All of a sudden, she prayed—no, nearly screeched, “Oh, Jesus! Help us!” Just about that time, a tree blew over in the front yard and landed on the top of the house, mashing in the roof.

Lance looked at his mother. He knew two things—she wasn’t going to move, and Jesus wasn’t going to stop the storm.

He took his Mama by the hand and started to walk toward the back door. She wouldn’t come. He pulled a little harder, but she resisted. Then, as if inspired by forces far beyond his understanding, Lance decided to run out the back door, figuring that Mama just might follow, terrified that Lance would be swallowed by the big twister.

As he ran toward the door and opened it, the screen flew back, broke off and landed on the ground. He hurried down the steps and when he reached the landing, he looked back. Sure enough, there was his mama, faithful lady that she was, chasing him.

He slid around the steps and over to the lattice, pulling back as hard as he could, to make room for him and also his mother to get in. He climbed into his precious space. She trailed, peeking inside. “What are you doing?” she asked.

Lance realized there was no time to explain, so he whispered. “Trust me, Mama. Trust me.”

She stared at him for a moment, trying to make out his image in the darkened space, and then wiggled forward as he grabbed her hands and pulled her down to sit next to him. As soon as she was seated, they heard a cracking—breaking glass and horrible thumps coming from all directions. They sat in the dark, holding each other and breathing heavily, hoping…hoping there would be a life left for them, since they would still be living.

Then, as quickly as it began, it was over. There was just the sound of rain splashing against the broken lattice. Mama shivered. Both of them were afraid to move.

Lance thought his mom would eventually release her grip, but she stayed where she was, squeezing him. He could hear her heart pounding. Finally, after a few moments, she relaxed. Her arms came free, and she wrapped them around her knees. She took four, maybe five, deep breaths.

He watched her. Either there was more light or his eyes had adjusted, because he could see her face clearly. She looked like a little girl. After all, that’s what bad storms do—they turn us all into children.

He leaned over and stroked her hair. “Mama,” he said, “what do you think about my place? I call it ‘Underneath.’”

Her eyes filled with tears as she looked around with her limited view and managed, “I like what you’ve done with it.”

She started to move, as if she was going to head out of the protection. Lance grabbed her arm. “Let’s not,” he said. “There’s no need for us to find out anything right now. You see, if we don’t know, then we don’t know.”

He offered her a drink from the canteen and some Gummi-bears. She accepted, putting a Gummi in her mouth and then taking a swig from the canteen. She emitted a tiny giggle.

Lance reached over and grabbed her hand. “Mama, this is where I come to get away from all my storms.”

Her face brightened, with a glint of understanding. She scooted across on her bottom, pulled him close to her and hugged like she had never hugged before.

The two just stayed there, hugging, crying and breathing in unison…

Underneath.

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Ask Jonathots… July 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Last year my friend’s fiancé drowned in a flood. He is very bitter and blames God. What can I say to him?

Before we discuss what you can say to him, let me ask you a question: is it possible that this fiance would have drowned in a flood if there were no God?

In other words, are there floods on Earth? Does water rise? Do people find themselves caught in odd circumstances? And does water filling the lungs kill a person?

The question that’s actually being posed is, “Should God intervene in every situation to eliminate death and destruction?”

And if He were to do that, how would He determine when it was time for someone to actually pass on? In other words, if there were no bad things that happened in life, would there be good things that happen, or just sameness?

We appreciate blessing because we’re fully aware of the possibility of difficulty.

We appreciate our loved ones because we know we’re mortal and susceptible to termination.

So if there were no God, how could one get rid of humans from Earth to make room for more humans? Would we be satisfied with that system, or decry it for its unfairness?

God had an important decision: How could He create a Natural Order which could be studied, but also does its best to keep things even so that the rain and the sunshine “fall on the just and the unjust?”

And after developing this system, was God willing to take the criticism from those who presently feel cheated, and receive too much praise from the ones who are overly confident?

  • Equity.
  • Fairness.
  • Justice.

The best thing God could offer was a clear statement to humanity–study the face of the sky and learn the ways of Nature.

Case in point: I was heading out on tour this year to California when I realized that the weather patterns were forbidding such a maneuver. I changed my itinerary. I based that decision on what I knew about El Nino, and how I have seen it work in the past. I ended up not being caught up in floods and blizzards, but instead, continuing my work unabated.

I used the greatest blessing–it’s called knowledge.

So what do you say to your friend?

I don’t know.

I don’t know what he can hear.

Sometimes it’s just better to hug people until they get their wits about them again.

 

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Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

Click here to get your copy now!

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Listen! Stop! Look! … July 21, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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stop look listen

Listen!

Don’t assume you’ve heard it all.

Allow your brain a chance to receive the freshness of a new insight.

People are always telling you their story.

They will let you know where it hurts.

They will inform you of what they need.

Sometimes they bury the lead under a joke.

Often they disguise the anguish beneath religiosity.

But listen.

Allow yourself to believe there’s more.

He that has an ear, let him hear.

Stop!

Yes, cease to believe that you’ve heard it all and know it all.

Don’t try to fix people.

Find a way to input them in the space they’ve provided.

Stop trying to save the world.

Instead, give people a chance to grow.

Don’t be so sure you know the will of God.

Because after all, it’s not His will that any should perish.

Don’t allow yourself to be so far behind the times that you’re chasing truth.

Stop repeating things that don’t work.

Start anticipating fresh blessings every day.

Look!

  • For ways to bless people.
  • For ways to hug people.
  • For ways to touch people.
  • For ways to make people laugh.
  • For ways to drop a dollar at just the right moment.
  • For ways to learn.
  • For ways to avoid too much work.
  • For ways to lift a burden.
  • For ways to establish your humanity.
  • For ways to be forgiving.
  • For ways to be vulnerable.
  • For ways to accept that people are the closest thing to God you will see today.

Listen!

Get your ears on.

Stop!

Selling an agenda.

Look!

For God.

He’s out there.

 

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Arizona morning

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

G-23: Console or Counsel?… May 9, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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murderPerhaps the most important discovery in understanding life is an accurate representation of what has happened and what didn’t happen. Arriving at that story line and discovering the truth of the matter not only allows for clarification but permits us to go forward with a bit of intelligence.

Man and woman had two sons. It was a by-product of their love and also their horniness.

Like every other set of parents that followed them, they had no idea what they were doing. Parenting is not a science, nor is it a religion; rather, it is a game of chance.

Since there were two children, there were two different interpretations of the family goals. One son grew up diligent, straight as an arrow and willing to accept the spiritual principles of the household. The other grew up sympathetic to the cause, but in search of short-cuts and ways to limit his involvement.

Yet man and woman loved them both.

Not so much the brothers to each other, though. Because the danger with the righteousness possessed by the one sibling is that it can quickly become self-righteousness. And the danger with short-cuts, as pursued by the other brother, is that they often take you down dark alleys.

So a conflict arises and it’s time to decide how to resolve the breach.

Do you counsel or do you console?

Humans quickly become addicted to consolation. Matter of fact, even those who have committed atrocities still find themselves hunkered down in a bunker at the end of their journey, desiring a hug.

On the other hand, the human family is not quite as receptive to counsel–because at the root of all counsel is the proposition that we must stay involved to improve our situation. Giving up is so much more fun. Admitting that things are impossible and beyond our scope is often comforting.

So when God comes and talks to the one boy who is very sad and crestfallen by his lack of approval over a recent offering, God offers counsel. I know we tend to believe that God is a consoler, but actually, a careful viewing of His style will tell you that He firmly believes in humanity and considers us capable of following advice. The advice was concise:

“If you do well, you’re going to succeed. If you don’t you’re going to fail, and then, if you feel sorry for yourself, worse things will happen.”

That was it. No pat on the back; no “nice try, kid.”

The young man found no consolation in being told to do better, so he started hunting for a victim. One day he found his brother in a field and they argued.

Please understand–it was an argument. That means that the straight-as-an-arrow brother decided to stick the tip of that arrow into his brother, to make a point. His righteousness gained a bit of piety. And of course, when people are already pissed off, it doesn’t help to remind them how inadequate they are.

The end result was a murder.

I think it’s safe to say that if we were rating God as a counselor, we might just have to give Him a fairly low score on this adventure. This is why we learn from spiritual discovery that there is a time to console and a time to counsel.

  • You console when you encounter people and there’s only pain.
  • You counsel when there’s pain … but also the first fruits of questioning.

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

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