The 26 Guards
While serving at a small field hospital in Africa, every two weeks I traveled by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This was a journey of two days and required camping overnight at the halfway point. On one of these journeys, I arrived in the city where I planned to collect money from a bank, purchase medicine and supplies, and then begin my two-day journey back to the field hospital. Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured. I treated him for his injuries and at the same time talked to him about the Lord.
I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and arrived home without incident. Two weeks later I repeated my journey. Upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated. He told me that he had known I carried money and medicines. He said, 'Some friends and I followed you into the jungle, knowing you would camp overnight. We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs. But just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards.
At this I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone in that jungle campsite. The young man pressed the point, however, and said, "No sir, I was not the only person to see the guards. My five friends also saw them, and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone."
At this point in the sermon, one of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the exact day this happened. The missionary told the congregation the date, and the man who interrupted him told this story.
"On the night of your incident in Africa, it was morning here, and I was preparing to go play golf. I was about to putt when I felt the urge to pray for you. In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong, I called men in this church to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you. Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?" The men who had met together to pray that day stood up. The missionary wasn't concerned with who they were, he was too busy counting how many men he saw. There were 26.
Your Hut Is Burning
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me!" he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied. It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God. For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it.
Son or Friend?
After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the church's pastor once again slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit, and gave a very brief introduction of his childhood friend.
With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit to speak, "A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific Coast," he began, "when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept into the ocean."
The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story.
He continued, Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life....to which boy he would throw the other end of the line. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian, and he also knew that his son's friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves.
"As the father yelled out, 'I love you, son!' he threw the line to his son's friend. By the time he pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beyond the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered."
By this time, the two teenagers were sitting straighter in the pew, waiting for the next words to come out of the old man's mouth.
"The father," he continued, "knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus, and he could not bear the thought of his son's friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son. How great is the love of God that He should do the same for us."
With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man's side. "That was a nice story," politely started one of the boys, "but I don't think it was very realistic for a father to give up his son's life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian."
"Well, you've got a point there," the old man replied, glancing down at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, and he once again looked up at the boys and said, "It sure isn't very realistic, is it? But I'm standing here today to tell you that THAT story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me. You see.... I was the son's friend."
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picas to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.
When the Viet Nam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package. He said "I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art." The young man held out his package. "I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this."
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.
"Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me". The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.
The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son.
The auctioneer pounded his gavel. We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?" There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, "We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one."
But the auctioneer persisted. "Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?" Another voice shouted angrily. "We didn't come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!"
But still the auctioneer continued. The son! The son! Who'll take the son? Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. "I'll give $10 for the painting." Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.
"We have $10, who will bid $20?"
"Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters." $10 is the bid, won't someone bid $20?" The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. "Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!"
A man sitting on the second row shouted, "Now let's get on with the collection!" The auctioneer laid down his gavel. "I'm sorry, the auction is over."
"What about the paintings?"
"I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned.
Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets every thing!"
Much like the auctioneer, God's message is, "The son, the son, who'll take the son?" Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.
My Father's Eyes
A teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his Father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game. This young boy was still the smallest of his class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him but also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn't want to. But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he'd get to play when he became a senior.
All through high school he never missed a practice nor a game, but remained a bench warmer all four years. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him. When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a "walk-on." Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always puts his heart and soul into every practice and, at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed.
The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his father. His father shared his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college games.
This persistent young athlete never missed practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in the game. It was the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big play off game, the coach met him with a telegram. The young man read the telegram and became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, "My father died this morning. Will it be all right if I miss practice today?" The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, "Take the rest of the week off, son. And don't even plan to come to the game on Saturday."
Saturday arrived, and the game was not going well. In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear. As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful teammate. "Coach, please let me play. I've just got to play today," said the young man. The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player in this close playoff game. But the young man persisted, and finally, feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in. "All right," he said. "You can go in."
Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he passed, blocked and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied. In the closing seconds of the game, the kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you've never heard!
Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that the young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, "Kid, I can't believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?"
He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said. "Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?" The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, "Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!"
Heaven's Grocery Store
I was walking down life's highway
a long time ago.
One day I saw a sign that read "Heaven's Grocery Store".
As I got closer to the door, it came open wide.
And when I came to myself, I was standing inside.
I saw a host of angels, they were standing everywhere.
One handed me a basket and said "My child shop with care".
Everything a Christian needed was in the grocery store.
And all you couldn't carry, you could
come back the next day for more.
First I got patience, love was in the same row.
Further down was understanding,
you need that everywhere you go.
I got a box or two of wisdom, a bag or two of faith.
I just couldn't miss the holy spirit, for it was all over the place.
I stopped to get some strength and courage
to help me run this race.
By then, my basket was getting full,
but I remembered I needed some grace.
I didn't forget salvation, for salvation, that was free.
I tried to get enough of that to save both you and me.
Then I started up to the counter to pay my grocery bill.
For I thought I had everything to do my master's will.
As I went up the aisle,
I saw prayer and I just had to put that in.
For I knew when I stepped outside, I would run in to sin.
Peace and joy were plentiful, they were on the last shelf.
Song and praises were hanging near, so I just helped myself.
Then I said to the angel "Now, how much do I owe?"
He smiled and said "Just take them everywhere you go".
Again, I smiled at him and said "How much do I really owe?"
He smiled again and said
"My child, Jesus paid your bill, a long time ago!"
The Gift From An Angel
Contributed by: Anonymous in Texas
My mother died when I was 7 years old, of breast cancer. She was
a beautiful lady inside and out. She never showed suffering during her whole ordeal, battling cancer. Everything began while my mother was in the hospital. I would wake up with her in my room, where my sister and I would be sleeping. She would just stand there smiling at us and singing. I later found out that I was the only one that could hear and see her. My sister vows to this day, that she never shared my experience. At first, I thought I was dreaming. Then on Easter Sunday, my mother's battle with her illness finally came to a halt. The day we had buried her, I felt so alone. That very night I was awakened by a light in my room, it was my mother sitting on my bedside in her white wedding gown. I sat up, happy to see her and hugged her, "I could actually hug her like a living human!" I felt so much peace and love coming from her, that I didn't want to let her go. From that point on, her visits became more frequent. She would visit me during the day, she was with me after school, at night, I even would talk and play with her as if she were alive. I would ask my sister why she never told our mother hi when she came into the room and my sister would look at me very teary eyed and say that I was being cruel because I knew our mother was in heaven. I didn't understand why my sister, brother or guardians could not see her like I could. Well my guardians told my grandparents and asked if I had ever been the type of child to make things up. They told them no, that I was a quiet and truthful child. Actually what it was is, that I never really spoke too much, until I was around 10 years old because I stuttered most of my childhood. And it was true, I was a very truthful child, to this day, I don't like to lie or make things up. Later, my guardians took me to a priest, then to the bishop in San Juan. He told me he believed me and knew I was not lying. He also told me that he believed that my mother was with me because she knew I needed her. But he said it was not good for my mother to keep roaming the earth, she had to be put to rest. He went on to advise me, that if I loved my mother, I should tell her that I was ok, so she could move on and go to heaven. So that night, when she came to me, I think it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, but I realized I had to let my mother go. I told her everything and she smiled and handed me the rose off her wedding dress and said she would always watch over us. When I woke up the next morning, there on my pillow was the exact rose off my mother's dress with the old rusty pin still attached. To this day if I am in need or troubled, she still appears to me. All these years, I still have her rose, safely kept in a glass case. I firmly believe that our loved ones are always with us, like guardian angels watching over and caring for us in our times of need, just as my beautiful mother has always been there for me.