Who Will Roll Away the Stone?

by Margaret Penner Toews

Who’ll roll away the stone?
Our arms are far too weak.
A score of willing, muscled men
we needs must seek.

Who’ll roll away the stone
so we can reach the Friend
who lies, a victim of the hate
and lust of cruel men?

Oh! Who will roll away the stone ?
Are all our gifts in vain?
When suddenly a shudder
rumbles o’er the plain —

the earth convulses as with pain!
Afraid, we fall to pray,
when lo! A gaping womb appears —
THE STONE IS ROLLED AWAY.

Who’ll roll away YOUR stone?
God alone.Flourish.Gordon Johnsonfrom her book Five Loaves and two small fish
© 1976 by Margaret Penner Toews
available from Gospel Publishers, Moundridge KS.

Fire in the Forest

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was COUNTLESS BRANCHES

A forest of living, greening branches can be an inspiring sight, but here’s an account of a raging blaze started in the felled trees on a homesteader’s farm. They were set ablze by the hired man, who had good intentions, but seriously lacked common sense. The REBLOG button on his post isn’t working, so I’ve reprinted this from Flatlander Faith.com. See the original post HERE.

[This is an excerpt from a Canadian Classic, Roughing it in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie, first published in 1852.  At the climax of the crisis described here, she buries her head in her apron. It was her custom to  pull up her apron to cover her head for privacy when praying.]

The winter and spring of 1834 had passed away. The latter was uncommonly cold and backward; so much so that we had a very heavy fall of snow upon the 14th and 15th of May

A late, cold spring in Canada is generally succeeded by a burning, hot summer; and the summer of ’34 was the hottest I ever remember.  No rain fell upon the earth for many weeks, till nature drooped and withered beneath one bright blaze of sunlight; and the ague and fever in the woods, and the cholera in the large towns and cities, spread death and sickness through the country.

Moodie had made during the winter a large clearing of twenty acres around the house. The progress of the workmen had been watched by me with the keenest interest. Every tree that reached the ground opened a wider gap in the dark wood, giving us a broader ray of light and a clearer glimpse of the blue sky. But when the dark cedar swamp fronting the house fell beneath the strokes of the axe, and we got a first view of the lake my joy was complete: a new and beautiful object was now constantly before me, which gave me the greatest pleasure.

The confusion of an uncleared fallow spread around us on every side. Huge trunks of trees and piles of brush gave a littered and uncomfortable appearance to the locality, and as the weather had been very dry for some weeks, I heard my husband talking with his choppers as to the expediency of firing the fallow. They still urged him to wait a little longer, until he could get a good breeze to carry the fire well through the brush.

Business called him suddenly to Toronto, but he left a strict charge with old Thomas and his sons, who were engaged in the job, by no means to attempt to burn it off till he returned, as he wished to be upon the premises himself in case of any danger. He had previously burnt all the heaps immediately about the doors. While he was absent, old Thomas and his second son fell sick with the ague, and went home to their own township, leaving John, a surly, obstinate young man, in charge of the shanty, where they slept, and kept their tools and provisions.

The day was sultry, and towards noon a strong wind sprang up that roared in the pine tops like the dashing of distant billows, but without in the least degree abating the heat. The children were lying listlessly on the floor for coolness, and the girl and I were finishing sun-bonnets, when Mary suddenly exclaimed, “Bless us, mistress, what a smoke!” I ran immediately to the door, but was not able to distinguish ten yards before me. The swamp immediately below us was on fire, and the heavy wind was driving a dense black cloud of smoke directly towards us.

“What can this mean?” I cried. “Who can have set fire to the fallow?”

John Thomas stood pale and trembling before me. “John, what is the meaning of this fire?”

“Oh, ma’am, I hope you will forgive me; it was I set fire to it, and I would give all I have in the world if I had not done it.”

“What is the danger?”

“Oh, I’m terribly feared that we shall all be burnt up,” said the fellow, beginning to whimper.

“We must get out of it as fast as we can, and leave the house to its fate.”

“We can’t get out,” said the man, in a low, hollow tone, which seemed the concentration of fear; “I would have got out if I could; but just step to the back door, ma’am, and see.”

I had not felt the least alarm up to this minute. Judge then my horror, when, on going to the back door, I saw that the fellow, to make sure of his work, had fired the field in fifty different places. Behind, before, on every side, we were surrounded by a wall of fire, burning ferociously within a hundred yards of us, and cutting off all possibility of retreat.

I closed the door and went back to the parlour. Fear was knocking loudly at my heart – I felt stupefied. The girl sat upon the floor by the children, who had both fallen asleep. She was silently weeping; while the fool who had caused the mischief was crying aloud.

A strange calm succeeded my first alarm; tears and lamentations were useless; a horrible death was impending over us, and yet I could not believe that we were to die.

My eye fell upon the sleeping angels, locked peacefully in each other’s arms, and my tears flowed for the first time. Mary, the servant-girl, looked piteously up in my face. The good, faithful creature had not uttered one word of complaint, but now she faltered forth, “The dear precious lambs! Oh such a death!”

I threw myself down upon the floor beside them, and pressed them alternately to my heart, while inwardly I thanked God that they were asleep, unconscious of danger.

The heat soon became suffocating. We were parched with thirst, and there was not a drop of water in the house. I turned once more to the door, hoping that a passage might have been burnt through to the water. I saw nothing but a dense cloud of fire and smoke – could hear nothing but the crackling and roaring of the flames, which were gaining so fast on us that I felt their scorching breath in my face.

“Ah,” thought I – and it was a most bitter thought – “what will my beloved husband say when he returns and finds that poor Susy and his dear girls have perished in this miserable manner? But God can save us yet.”

The thought had scarcely found a voice in my heart before the wind rose to a hurricane, scattering the flames on all sides into a tempest of burning billows. I buried my head in my apron, for I thought that our time was come, and that all was lost, when a most terrific crash of thunder burst over our heads, and, like the breaking of a water-spout, down came the rushing torrent of rain which had been pent up for so many weeks. In a few minutes the chip-yard was all afloat, and the fire effectually checked. The storm which, unnoticed by us, had been gathering all day, and which was the only one of any note we had that summer, continued to rage all night, and before morning had quite subdued the cruel enemy whose approach we had viewed with such dread.

The imminent danger in which we had been placed struck me more forcibly after it was past than at the time, and both the girl and myself sank to our knees and offered up our hearts in humble thanksgiving to that God who had saved us by an act of His Providence from an awful and sudden death. When all hope from human assistance was lost, His hand was mercifully stretched forth, making His strength more perfectly manifested in our weakness.

“He is their stay when earthly hope is lost,
The light and anchor of the tempest-toss’d.”

Hanging On

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is HANG ON
Fandango’s One-Word Challenge is CONTEMPLATE

temp-challenge

So this morning I’ve been contemplating the various aspects of hanging on. Consider the tree in this photo. It had no easy way in life; it didn’t just thrust its roots down into nutrient-rich soil and grow. Rather, it had to made its own spot and hang on.

A seed sprouted in some bit of dirt that accumulated in a crevice, taking what nourishment it could get from the rainfall. Then its root drilled into the rock tendril by tendril, day after day, to anchor itself against the wild winds that would tear it out. As its root wedged the rock apart, it collected more wind-blown soil and rain and kept on reaching for the sunlight above.

While the tree needed to put forth those efforts to anchor itself, of greater importance is WHAT it’s anchored to. It isn’t clinging to a mountain of cotton candy. That rock has stood from the beginning of time and will not be moved by storms that blast over it.

I recall an account I read after a tornado in Ontario years ago. A man was working in a Dept of Highways equipment shed when the workers heard the tornado bearing down on them.  In desperation this man grabbed some solid piece of steel equipment, hoping the twister wouldn’t carry him away. A moment later the tornado ripped the roof off the shed, sucked up the three-ton road grader nearby and carried it away. You could almost think the storm was making fun of his idea of “something solid.”

Snail.Bellezza87
Bellezza87 — Pixabay

Right now a wild virus has been sweeping across our whole planet, disrupting our lives like we never imagined anything could — short of a war. And here we are, poor creatures, trying to hang on and carry on as best we can.

We’ve been given many warnings and guidelines to help us stay healthy. Fearing shortages, people have rushed to stock up on necessities — probably making matters worse — but I trust we all know that hanging onto a mountain of toilet paper and dry pasta isn’t going to assure our survival.

How we weather the emotional part of this storm — and future storms — will be determined by what security, what type of rock, we’re hanging onto, won’t it?

In these scary times, here’s the Rock Christians are clinging to:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38-39

Take My Hand, Precious Lord

This morning’s Ragtag Daily Prompt was HOLD MY HAND, a line that brings to mine one of my favorite—and one of the most beautiful—Gospel songs:

Take My Hand, Precious Lord, Lead Me Home

When my way grows drear, precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

Chorus:
Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

When the shadows appear and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

Chorus…

CLICK HERE if you wish to hear this song

The writer of this beautiful hymn was Thomas Andrew Dorsey, in Georgia in 1899 and died Jan. 1993. From 1932 Dorsey was choral director of the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago. He founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in Chicago in 1933, serving as its president for 40 years.

There’s a very touching story behind this song. He and his wife were married seven years and she was expecting their first child. He was called to sing in Gospel meetings in St Louis, MO, and she encouraged him to go. During one meeting he was handed a telegram that she had gone into labor and died in childbirth. Their son lived only a few hours. Visiting with a friend a few days later, seeking consolation for his deep grief, he sat down at a piano and composed this song.

Finding the Light

Ragtag Daily PromptSUNSHINE
Word of the Day Challenge:  CRISIS

EMOTIONAL CRISIS

Stumbling in the gray
tripping over furniture,
attitudes and platitudes;
searching for one little light
to dispel the darkness
surrounding, menacing.

I’ve heard folks talk about
the brightness of sunshine,
so warm, so cheering.
And I have a dim memory
of days I walked, ran —
even laughed — in the sun.

When did it cease to exist,
hide itself behind the squall?
Now I pray for one match
and a candle—just one light —
to find my way through
this engulfing gray cloud.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed,
let not mine enemies triumph over me.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me:
for thou art the God of my salvation;
on thee do I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord,
thy tender mercies and thy loving-kindnesses;
for they have been ever of old.
— Psalm 25:1-6

Musing on Psalm 46

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is TRUST. A comforting word. Is there any more secure feeling in life than having a friend or spouse we know we can trust?

Here’s my response to the prompt:

Storm + Psalm. Tobias
       Storm photo: Tobias Hämmer  —  Pixabay

Psalm 46: 1-5 — With notes by a modern reader:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
He’s our storm shelter when menacing storms of life want to bash us and whirl us dizzy. He’s the one Who stands beside us, supports us when we are weak, covers us with his hand so we don’t have to take the brunt of enemy bombardment.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
With our Father by our side, we can face whatever life throws at us.
Though the stock market crash, the latest plague spreads, wildfires rage, governments threaten each other with nuclear attacks, health issues and expenses come up, my neighbour’s furious with me, my teens are bullied at school — or rebel against the stupid rules of us “totally out of it” parents, or my so–called friend spreads a life-shattering rumor about me.
Yes, I will quake because I am human, but He is still there, standing by to help me navigate the raging sea.

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
So many things are blown way out of proportion by the media and scare-mongers on Facebook may all be saying we’ll never get through this coming disaster. But even if worst comes to worst and the solid rocks around me are shaking, I can still hold His hand and hear His voice over the storm.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
A river of peace I can stay beside, being refreshed, in a city of refuge where I can live a holy life in the presence of God in spite of the racket going on in the world outside.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
Precious promise! Even though we may wobble at times from the force of the blast and life may be far from perfect, the children of God can stand. Our Father will come to our rescue and hold us up, come what may.

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelations 22:1-2