Catching Cursing Caleb

Part VII – Opportunities!

The friendship between Aaron, Caleb and Jed continued to grow.  When they weren’t working they were communicating by social media or by phone about their latest discoveries in the scriptures.  Jed began to impart some of his knowledge and skill as a musician to the other two men.  At the same time, he took some of the rough edge off their appearance.  After the fire, they were so certain that God was protecting them, and had a purpose for them that all three were eager to visit the village church.
When Sunday came, they sat in the rear of the church trying to be inconspicuous.  However, when Jed began to sing with the congregation, there was no more hiding.  People noticed, and they liked what they heard.  After their third visit to the church, instead of heading straight for the door, the three friends divided according to their interests.  The worship leader and another man went to talk with Jed in one corner near the front of the church.
Meanwhile, Aaron had brought a treat for the kids:  popsicles–a long string of them wrapped in cellophane.  He approached a mother with three children in the back of the church and asked her if he could give the suckers to her children.  Once he began giving out the candy, other children flocked to him.  His quick wit and gentle smile, not to mention his Santa-like laugh and appearance, made him an instant success with the kids.
The director of the children’s church watched him for a while before approaching him:  “Would you be willing to help with out children’s ministries?”
“Would, I ever!  That would be great.”  He chuckled, his eyes twinkled, and his large stomach and black beard shook with his laughter.
Caleb smiled at the apparent success of his friends.  He had his own agenda.  He approached the pastor hoping that the answer would not be “Yes!”  “I don’t mean to be critical,  but I did notice that the ceiling logs and boards need revarnishing, and the wood floor needs polishing.  My buddies and I are in lull between jobs.  I wonder if it would be ok if we did some sprucing up in here.”
The pastor looked at Caleb closely.  Could he trust this man whom he had seen only a few times.  He would have to supervise carefully.  “Yessss,” he answered slowly.  “I guess you could do some work on those ceiling boards.  This A-frame structure was built thirty years ago and hasn’t had any work done on it in a long time.  You can come after eight am tomorrow morning.  I will have the church unlocked for you.”
When eight o’clock arrived on Monday morning, the pastor was astonished to see six trucks pulled up in front of the church.  Some of them had tall ladders sticking out of the back.  About a dozen men, hoped out of the trucks and started bringing in equipment.  “Uh!  I didn’t expect so many!”

“I said I was bringing my friends.  We are all out of work right now and looking to help someone.  It might as well be you guys in this church!”

After a couple of days, the pastor relaxed.  These rough-looking woodsmen really did know what they were doing.  They had already brightened up the sanctuary ceiling, and were busy using giant sanders on the wood floor.  A couple of men took home pew benches every night to refinish them.
Another friend of Caleb had just finished laying carpet in the ski resort.  He had taken up the old carpet and was about to throw it away when he thought of the small church.  Sure enough there was enough carpet in good shape to cover the rear of the church and the main isle.
The following Sunday, the regular parishioners  were in for a big surprise.  The whole room glowed with new light and soft, harmonious colors.  A beautiful wood sculpture was in-process on one side of the stage, Caleb’s own contribution.
Most of the woodsmen who had worked in the church during the week came back on Sunday to see how the regular parishioners liked the improvements.  All kinds of work opportunities opened for the workmen.  One family was having pluming problems.  Another family needed several rooms of their house painted.  Most importantly, many of the loggers made d decisions for Christ over the next few weeks.  it was like a mini-revival.
The owner of the hotel in the village approached Caleb and asked him to the be general contractor for refurbishing the inside of his hotel.  Caleb was ecstatic.  I knew God had sumpin’ up his sleeve when He showed me the way home in that white-out!  “Yep,” agreed Aaron, “God always has a plan, a good plan!”
It was the second Sunday in December and the three friends plus most of their buddies had gathered at the church.  They were treated to several examples of Jed’s musical talent during the annual Christmas pagent.
The pastor then stood to preach his sermon.  I have a Christmas message, but there is another message that is being preached here as well.  When our friend, Caleb, over here came to church around the first of October,  I   thought to myself, “That is not the kind of person that I want to reach in this church!”  He looked so rough, tough, and even dangerous!
However, he and his friends have been a huge blessing to us  We have a full house today and many of you from the village have come at least in part to see the improvements that have been made to our little church.  Others have come to see our children perform aided by another of our friends.  Still others have come to hear the beautiful voice of another of our new friends.
There is a story in the Bible where a prophet is asked by God to pick God’s  choice for king from a family of boys.  The prophet picked the tallest one, the one that looked the wisest, etc, but God says ‘no’ to all those choices.  Then God revealed his choice was a teen-age boy who has been taking care of sheep.  And he made this statement:  “The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  I Samuel 16:7 NIV  God has blessed this church through our new friends from the logging camp.
The congregation clapped for the logging camp contingent.   Then Caleb stood up.  “You guys, have been God’s hands to reach out to us, bless us, and make us feel useful.  You have helped us find our God-given purposes in life.  Thank you!”  And he didn’t utter even one word of profanity!

Catching Caleb

Part VI – Fire!

Jed put another log on the fire while Caleb went out to get more fire wood.  The temperature had dropped to six below zero outside, and the ever-present wind was blowing, and adding to the wind chill.  Winter had arrived in earnest, and the two men were relaxing in their small structure following a day of work on the slopes.

The light over the table flickered occasionally.  Power outages were common during the winter so the cabin had a small generator.  Suddenly, the room was filled with a warm glow.  Looking up, the men saw that the end of the room seemed to be engulfed in flame!

A tiny spark, blown by the draft from the open door, had flown from the fireplace into the wood box setting fire to the kindling wood in the box.  (The kindling was composed of very small sticks used to start the fire.)  Sparks had also landed in the rag rug on the floor and and on the rocker cushion.

“Help, God!” both men called out in unison.  They had gotten used to calling for and expecting help  from their Father.   Jed stamped on the flame coming from the rug, while Caleb beat the flame in the rocker cushion with a blanket.  Then Jed grabbed the gallon of drinking water from the kitchen while Caleb ran for the door with a large bucket that he scooped full of snow.

Within a  few minutes, the room was filled with smoke but only the flame in the fireplace remained.  The two men surveyed the damage.  Small holes, barely noticable, had been burned in the rug and cushion.  The wood box was in tack but had been blackened with smoke.  There was a smoke stain on the wall, but otherwise they had escaped major damage.

“Yep, He helped again,” remarked Jed dryly.  “We better thank ‘m!”

The two  men, strong in terms of physical strength, bowed their heads reverently acknowledging their dependency on and gratitude for a strong and loving heavenly Father.

At the same time they promised to try another visit to the small church in the village.  “I can’t believe you actually went to church without taking a shower!” exclaimed Jed.  “We will do better next Sunday.  I’ll trim our hair and beards.  We should take out our gages and piercings.  A nice turtle-neck sweater will cover most of the tatoos.   I am sure Aaron will want to come too.  I wonder what surprises Our Father has in store for us there!”

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  Psalm 145:18 NIV
From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.  Psalm 61:2 NIV
I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.  Psalm 3:4 NIV

Catching Caleb

Part V – Jed Sings!

The friendship between Aaron and Caleb continued to grow.  When they weren’t working, they were communicating by social media or by phone about their latest discoveries in scripture.  At first Jed, Caleb’s roommate, paid no attention, but after several weeks, he began to get annoyed.  “Can’t you go someplace else with all this “Jesus” stuff?” he pleaded angrily.  Caleb changed to texting Aaron and to contacting him on facebook.  Still Jed seemed unusually grumpy, and that was not good because he was usually grumpy!

Several days later, Caleb announced that Aaron was bringing his friend over, and they were going to try playing their guitars and singing.  At first Jed pretended not to care, but as they set up their instruments, and began strumming, picking, and singing, Jed suddenly blurted, “Awful, just awful!”  With that, he grabbed his coat and went out into the cold.  Caleb watched from the window, as Jed climbed into their logging truck.  With the engine running, he would be warm and dry there.

About half an hour later, Jed reappeared.  “I’m sorry, guys!” he began.  I mean, you really do stink, but I should not have yelled like that.”  His eyes looked red and puffy.

“Yeah, man,” commented Aaron.  “Don’t you know what the scriptures say?   ‘Make a joyful noise to the Lord!’  We’re just having fun, man!  Why don’t you join us?”

Jed seemed to actually consider their request, for a moment.  Caleb caught his hesitation, and chimed in, “Come on, man.  Have a try at it.  Here’s my guitar.”  To his surprise, Jed took the instrument and began to actually play.

It was obvious from the beginning that this was NOT Jed’s first rodeo.  He clearly knew his way around the instrument.  Then he began to sing.  Softly at first, then, as his confidence increased, his mellow baritone filled the room.  “Yes, Jesus loves me..”

When he finished, the others were speechless.  Caleb was the first to regain his voice.   “I didn’t know that you could play and sing.  Man, you killed it!  Wow!  Where did you learn to do that?”

Then Jed began to explain.  One sentence after another tumbled out of his seldom-used mouth as if they had been pent up inside him for a long time trying to break free.  My mother always had me play for children’s church.  I loved to play, but most of all I loved to sing.  My parents didn’t have much money, but they sent me to music school.  I loved it.  Then just before my junior year, my dad died.  After that, I had to support my mom so there was no longer money for me to continue my schooling.  I’d been working at the logging camp during the summers to help pay my way at school in the fall, so that is when I moved in with you, Caleb.  We took whatever work was available.  I’ve been here every since.

“And, you never told me, about being able to play and sing!”

“I couldn’t talk about it.  All my hopes, my dreams had been squashed.  Something in me died the day my dad died! When you three began to play, it all hit me like a truck full of logs!  Jesus still loves me.  He still has a plan for my life.  And maybe, just maybe  you guys, with your horrible chords, and pitch, were a part of it.  I had to at least try.  Well, what about it, guys?  Want to learn some chords?”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Catching Caleb

Chair Ski Lift Stock Photography - 37721552
Part IV – Gears:  Pulling Free!
     Meanwhile, Caleb’s part-time job for the ski resort had opened up when the weather had improved.  It had not snowed for a week, and they needed to cut some trees to groom the course.  Someone fired up the lift at the bottom of the hill.  Caleb was working alone on one of the towers at the top of the lift.  His coat became entangled in the gears.  He tried with all his strength to free himself, but to no avail.  In desperation Caleb called out, “God! God, are you there?”  Are you real?  Help!  Help me!”
     Suddenly a section of his coat ripped off, and he was free!  He watched in fascinated horror as the cloth from his coat wound around the gears and shredded into pieces.  That could have been his hand, his arm, or worse still, his whole body.
     Shaken he jumped down from the platform.  His friend, Sam, from the chat room, was working a few feet away and saw that Caleb was in trouble.  He ran to his aid.  “What’s up, Buddy?  Are you ok?”
     Caleb spoke slowly, still recovering from the narrow escape.  “I…I…I think God just saved me!  My coat got caught.  I tried and tried to rip it free.  I could not get it out.  When I asked God to help me, the piece ripped off, and I was free!
     Sam smiled!  “That’s twice, buddy.  God saved your hide in the whiteout and again just now.  Don’t test His patience!  He also wants to save you from the sin you’re tangled up in, and from living your life your own way. When I prayed the prayer several weeks ago, it changed everything.  Sound good, buddy?   How about it, buddy?  Are you ready to pray?  Are you ready to get free?”
     Caleb wanted nothing more than to be free of his ordinary, boring existence.  He needed and desperately wanted this exciting relationship with the real God who could make him into a “real” man.
     Eagerly Caleb replied.  “Yes, I want this God to save me.  I have sinned so many times.  I can’t remember them all, but I ask Him to forgive me.  Just like I couldn’t pull free from the gears, or find my way in the whiteout, I can’t live life without God’s help.  I ask His son, Jesus, to come into my life, and live in me.”
     Immediately Caleb felt something like a “dead” weight lift from the inside of him.   He felt reenergized, invigorated, and ready for his next challenge.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Romans 10:13 NIV

Catching Caleb

Part III
     Later that day Caleb stumbled on a site on online called, “Finding Faith!”  The site asked him a few questions, then channeled him into a short series of lessons that were designed to guide his personal search for the Creator God.  The site had a chat room that allowed those following the lessons to ask questions and talk with others in the same series  A couple of days later, Caleb discovered that another of the loggers (Sam) was pursuing the same set of lessons.  They chatted a little on line and agreed to meet at the little cafe next door to the store on Friday.
     The winds had died down and the sunny skies had returned when Caleb and Jed took off for the store to replenish their supplies.  Caleb had agreed to meet Sam after their shopping, while Jed visited the cannabis shop nearby.  Caleb took immediately to Sam.  The man was huge with a smile to match his size.  His jovial nature and size reminded Caleb of Santa Claus.
     Caleb had pressing questions about this “God stuff.”  He had come to a “questioning everything” phase in his search for faith.” Sam, for his part, was totally comfortable with Caleb’s questions.  He had progressed to the end of the little online course, had openly received Jesus Christ as his Savior, and was looking for more online material to guide him.
     “Why don’t you ask God to answer your questions?” suggested Sam.
     Caleb agreed that was a good suggestion.  The two men decided to meet again the following week, weather permitting.  Would Caleb have exciting news to share with Sam, or would his life continue down the same boring path of the last seven years?
“…the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  Matthew 7:8