Andy Hollifield 10-7-19

Mark 7:37 “…He hath done all things well…” (KJV)

I hope you don’t get tired of hearing it because I don’t get tired of telling it. Sunday was the 36th anniversary of my kidney transplant which took place on October 6, 1983. For a kidney that was supposed to last around twenty years average, thirty-six is only by the grace of God. My transplant doctor told me on my 25th anniversary that she figured something other than my kidney will be what causes my death. She figures at this point it will keep working as long as I live. My local nephrologist, who is only slightly older than my transplant and maybe even younger, agreed with my doctor in Winston-Salem. My next birthday on April 6, 2020, will mark the day that I have lived twice as long with this kidney as I had before the surgery. I was 18 1/2 to the day when I had surgery.

I was not living anywhere close to being in the Lord’s will when I had the surgery and it truly was the prayers of God’s people that got me through. I believe I obtained mercy because of their prayers and the fact God had a plan for my life. I have learned over the years that God doesn’t always clue me in on what he is doing even in my own life. As I look back though, I can’t find even one place where he did anything that wasn’t to my ultimate benefit. Even the surgery itself was an absolute blessing. I have never liked the fact it was necessary but I am convinced without the kidney issues I had in my teen years, my life would have probably turned out a lot different.

There were always two things that scared me that kept me out of a lot of trouble. The first and most important was what if I had gotten involved in some of the drinking and drugs some of my friends did? If I had died because of that, I would have had to stand before the Lord and try to justify why one of his children that he had blessed so much was even doing what I was doing. The other thing was my parents. It wasn’t the fear of their judgment that kept me out of those things. But rather the shame I would have brought on them if I had of died as a result of those things. After the way they had raised me I couldn’t bear the thoughts of them facing everyone we knew at the funeral home visitation. To know they would be standing there embarrassed by the shame I brought on my family just made all of that stuff not worthwhile.

I still remember God giving a cocky 18-year-old an attitude adjustment. One way he did it was when the kidney rejected a week later. Up until that night, everything had been going my way and I was doing better than expected. That all changed when my fever shot to 105.3. Getting packed with ice bags on all your major arteries will snap you into reality real quick. When the cooling blanket freezes up because they have run it on the lowest setting to bring my fever down, you know it’s serious. When the ultrasound technician has a troubled look on his face and tells you it looks like it has rejected when asked, you know it’s serious because they never say anything about results.

When you get back to your room and start to pity yourself and pout and complain about wanting to go home, it’s bad. But when your dad has a come-to-Jesus meeting with you and tells you that you will be a cooperative and good patient and will stay as long as you’re told to, it’s worse. Being a parent now myself and realizing what love that must have taken and how bad it must have hurt him is humbling. Knowing he would have liked to have shown me pity but knowing I needed a kick in the pants from him must have been unbelievably hard. The anguish my parents must have gone through in those days is impossible to comprehend.

Then the blessings came. Of the five doses of antibiotics or whatever it was, they were going to try to restart my kidney, I only needed three. The fact there was no permanent brain damage after having that high of a temperature for as long as I did was a miracle in itself. The fact that the order had already been written to remove the kidney and give it to someone else on a particular date but God restarted it before then is nothing but his hand at work. To be discharged on the 24th day of my hospitalization after having bragged I would be home in 12 proves that God was in charge of every detail and wanted me to know it is more than coincidence. I don’t know if the fact I got out on mom and dad’s 21st anniversary has any spiritual significance or not but I am sure it gave them even more cause to celebrate.

I hope this has encouraged someone and helped strengthen your faith in the Lord. I know about this time of year I always write about this but it is because I want everyone to know what the Lord did for me. He didn’t do it because I deserved it because especially at that time in my life, I was far from being deserving of any mercy. He just did it because he can and it pleased him to do it. I am sure some of the people that helped pray me and my family through that will be reading this article so I want to say “Thank you.” I know that will never be enough to repay what you did for me by going to the Lord on my behalf.

Also to my sisters who plastered everything from walls, door frames, furniture, and anything else they could think of with post-it notes telling me how much everything at home missed me, “Thanks again. As far as sisters go, a guy couldn’t ask for any better.” And aside from the Lord himself, I want to say a special “Thank you” to my big brother Jim who gave me the kidney. He made a life-saving decision in a split second while making a bologna sandwich when mom told him what the doctor had said. He didn’t even have to think about it. But then again, he spent his whole life looking out for his kid brother.

With those kinds of blessings to remember from the darkest days of my life, I hope you can understand why I like to write about it every year. I know it will never bless you as much as it has me but I hope and pray God will use my story to encourage those of you reading it. I want to give him the praise for it all the time but especially during these few days. Now you can understand the title “Same ‘Ol Same ‘Ol And Getting Better All The Time.” I am more thankful with every year that goes by. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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JUST YOU                                                                                                                                                  Andy Hollifield 10-5-19 (ALL SCRIPTURE IS KJV)
Have you ever thought about this thought? Jesus would have died for just you. We know “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That scripture, John 3:16, is wonderful. Without the gift of God’s Son and his Son giving his life, there would have been no hope of repentance for you and I. Salvation would have been out of our reach because of our sins that separated us from God. We can blame Adam and our Adam nature all we want to but the bottom line is that it comes down to one person; you. Adam may have caused me to be born in sinful flesh but he is not the one that causes me to sin now. I know I have a corrupt Adam nature but I also have a will of my own and I make the decision whether to live pleasing to God or sinful against him. I cherish the fact that God loved me by myself so much that he would have given his Son just for me. But I have better news for you than that; he would have done the same thing for just you. If there would have been no other person that would have ever accepted the gift of salvation, God would have done it all just for you.
That thought made me curious enough that I wanted to find scripture to back it up. One scripture that proves it out is found in John 5 in the story of the man with an infirmity for 38 years. If you read that scripture, those five porches had “a great multitude of impotent folk, blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.” “An angel went down at a certain season into the pool and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had” (John 5:4). I have always liked the word “certain” because it specifies that it was something on purpose and not a random occurrence. The bible says that it was a “certain” season and in verse 5 that it was a “certain” man.
I don’t want to get lost on the specifics of the story but I have made an observation. Have you ever wondered how many of those diseased folk that Jesus must have passed by to get to this man? I suspect the man was as close to the pool as he could get because it said that “Jesus saw him lie.” If you read the rest of the story you will notice that the man’s condition had him unable to walk. Not only must Jesus have walked by a lot of people to get to this “certain” man, but he apparently left without healing anyone else. When the man was questioned about who healed him he didn’t know because Jesus had already conveyed himself away. That tells me that what Jesus did that day, he went to all that trouble for just one man. When you consider the fact that God is no respecter of persons, that ought to bless you and make you feel special. Afterward, Jesus went and found the man in the temple and had a one on one conversation with him. He also didn’t heal anyone in the temple that day.
In Mark 5 we find the story of the death of Jairus’ daughter. Do you realize that he walked down to that house for no one except that one girl? It also says that he put everyone out of the room except the girl’s parents and Peter, James, and John. Only five people were in the room other than him and the girl which made seven. Five is the number of grace and seven is God’s perfect number. Before that story in Mark 5, we find the story of the demoniac of the Gadarenes as we call him. If you look close you will find that Jesus went into the Gadarenes and healed only that one man before he departed. Also in that chapter, we find that after Jesus had again passed over to the other side, he encountered the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years. She was the only one we read of being healed there before he went to Jairus’ house and raised his daughter. In Mark 10 there is the story of Bartimeaus the blind beggar. As Jesus and the multitude with him came to Jericho, Bartimeaus called out for mercy. Jesus stopped the entire crowd in the middle of the road and called him to himself and healed him. Just one in Jericho and then on to Jerusalem. Another time as he passed through Jericho, he found a man named Zacchaeus up in a tree and told him to come down because salvation had come to his house that day and that he must abide at Zacchaeus’ house that day. He did nothing else that day in Jericho that we know of but from there went up to Jerusalem. In John 4 we read about the Samaritan woman at the well. I like that Jesus said he “must needs go through Samaria.” After that woman came to the well and believed on him, he abode two more days and more believed. I believe he came just for that woman. If she had of rejected him and not witnessed about him, we don’t know if any more would have believed.
Throughout the bible, we find where Jesus came for just one. Even in the old testament, God came to the cave just for Elijah and to a cheat named Jacob when he was alone at the place he named Bethel. He came to Hannah just to her and just to meet the one need she had. The Lord deals with individuals. We do not get saved as groups, we have to accept him for ourselves alone. His work is always one on one. Whether you are a depressed man of God like Elijah or a depressed and distraught wife like Hannah or even a swindler like Jacob, God will deal with you by yourself. He will do what he does for “Just You.” I hope this helps you realize how special you are to him. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!


DANCING WITH A COPPERHEAD                                                                                                        Andy Hollifield 10-3-19
I absolutely hate a snake! There are four kinds I don’t like. Big ‘uns, little ‘uns, dead ‘uns, and live ‘uns. I think that has them all covered. I don’t usually squeal like a girl or anything like that but they do get my attention. I know some of you are probably already at odds with me already but I can’t help that. The only good snake in my mind is a dead one and they aren’t really good.

Although they are beautiful creatures, I prefer to see mine behind glass at the zoo. This story isn’t really about me but my son Tyler. In August one year, Tyler and I walked up to the end of our road. Folks say that is a healthy thing to do but after that day I wasn’t so sure. We had reached the end of the road and were coming down the hill headed home. Like a good dad, I had Tyler walk near the grass so he wouldn’t get hit by a car and I walked on his right side.

Both of us were carrying walking sticks I had cut and just tapping them on the pavement with every other step. All at once, movement caught my eye. “Run Tyler, snake,” I told him in a frantic tone. It was just a small one about two feet long and as big around as a small pinky finger. He must have come up from the creek while we were going up the road because he would have probably come after us then had he been there.

It was late August, just a week or so after Dog Days had ended. This critter was shining like a new penny and I believe his eyes were probably still clouded over after shedding his skin. I didn’t take the time to look or get close enough to inspect them. He came out of the grass straight toward Tyler’s foot. When I told him to run, he started dancing around looking down to see where it was. The snake was trying to move so fast on the hot asphalt that he couldn’t get any traction. He was pouring on the steam but not getting anywhere. I knew if the snake ever made contact with the side of his shoe, Tyler would have gotten bit.

I had a Papa Bear moment at that point. I took my walking stick and slung that snake across the asphalt back up the road behind us. I thought it would crawl off but it didn’t. It came straight back toward Tyler as fast as it could. In my mind, there wasn’t but one thing to do. I took my walking stick with an end maybe as big around as a nickel and started trying to adjust that snake’s attitude. I wouldn’t have thought I could hit a snake moving that fast with that small of a stick. About three times and the job was done but I made sure he wasn’t going to follow us or anyone else anymore.

The rest of the way home I talked to Tyler about doing what he’s told when he’s told. It didn’t do any good. I guess his autism kicked in and made him want to look. As far as I was concerned there were snakes everywhere until we walked into the door at home. Ever since that day, I have always teased Tyler about dancing with a Copperhead. I am sure the funniest part of this story would have been if anyone could have seen the look on my face while I was wailing away trying to hit that nine-foot critter with that skinny little stick. Oh, I mean two feet. Watch your step and; Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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WHAT A WEEK!                                                                                                                                       Andy Hollifield 10-2-19
2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…

This is the most important week of the year; at least for me. I guess I am a little old to be giving myself a party so I won’t but I will celebrate. I am celebrating my birthday but more importantly, the reason for it. It was on this date in 1973 at an altar in Pisgah Forest Freewill Baptist Church on the head of North Fork in Barnardsville, NC, that I accepted Christ as my Savior and was born into the family of God. Like the old song says, I’ve got a birthday I can’t remember (April 6) and one I can’t forget.

It was during a revival meeting my Pastor Bruce West was preaching that I accepted the invitation of the Holy Ghost. I don’t know what I said but that wasn’t important anyway. His word said if I would come unto him he would in no wise cast me out (John 6:37). Little did I know that one night would set the course for my entire life.

My parents kept us in church all of our lives until we started working. Even then we were expected to be there if we weren’t working. If we didn’t show, we still had to answer to dad. That may sound a little harsh but I wish more parents would do the same. Even in the turbulent teenage years when I was trying to perfect the art of being a hypocrite, it was still required. I was a little heathen everywhere except around family and church. I am thankful that God is merciful and kept me from messing up my life more than I did. More than four decades after that night in Barnardsville, God is still with me, still loves me, still forgives me, and still requires the same things my dad did growing up.

Most stories don’t start with the climax and work backward but without the climax, none of the rest of my story happens. October 4th, 2003 is the day we signed our life away for the property God has blessed us with. That was a long time in the making thanks to a realtor with no scruples and a seller that was about as bad. After placing an offer on the property one day before it went under a contract; when the deal fell through the realtor put it back on the market while I had an offer and earnest money in her possession. That made lawsuits a real possibility but fortunately, it never came to that. The owner tried the day before closing to get me to let him keep a half-acre of the bottomland. Although he was going to cut the price it would have left me paying more per acre. I am thankful the Lord looks after us in those situations.

October 6th, 1983 was the day of my kidney transplant. I was 18 1/2 to the day. Without getting into that long and wonderful story, over the next month I saw God perform miracles in my life repeatedly. I don’t throw around the word “miracle” lightly. I had a fever of 105.3 with no permanent brain damage and a kidney that rejected and was scheduled to be taken out days later and given to another recipient. After three of five doses of medicine my doctor said was my last hope, at least medically speaking, the kidney started working again. The kidney that was supposed to have lasted around twenty years has now lasted 36 years. I have only been hospitalized one time for my kidneys since then and it was when I ran a fever in November of that year after coming home. I went back to the hospital a day early for my appointment, got admitted, slept it off over the weekend and headed back home. I had made a brag at my the dialysis unit in Asheville that I would be home in 12 days, two days faster than any transplant recipient had come home from our unit. Exactly 24 days after I was admitted on the fourth, I was released on my parent’s 21st anniversary on the 28th. Dad made it down to get mom and me in about two hours and ten minutes instead of the two and a half it should have taken him. He didn’t even get a ticket. How is all of that for a handful of miracles?

Unfortunately, October 9th, 2007 is also a big day in my life but one I would never celebrate. That is the day the Lord called dad home. After having found out he had lung cancer among other things on Father’s Day weekend, he lasted only another four months. But, the darker the cloud, the brighter the silver lining. I miss him terribly and have longed to just sit and talk about everything like we used to.

But in those dark days, we were blessed to have a wonderful doctor. Aside from Dr. Jackson, there were many other things took place where we could see God’s hand at work. For example, dad only took one round of chemo and since it wasn’t doing any good he stopped. That isn’t the good part but the fact that he was still dad and coherent and talking till his last day was truly a blessing. On Saturday the 6th, he even went to his chair in the living room and ate breakfast for the first time in a couple of weeks I believe. The Lord let him stay until I had brought my niece back from college in Chattanooga on Monday night. He talked to her and passed on Tuesday morning.

We were blessed with God’s grace even that day. That afternoon my brother and I were sitting on mom and dad’s porch talking about the things we had gotten by with, the things we got caught at, and even the things we believe dad had known but never let us know he already knew. We shared funny stories with our friends of fishing and hunting trips, family vacations camping with my two best friends Stanley and Steve Honeycutt. On the worst day of our lives, we had a blast. I would have at one time thought that was disrespectful but I realize now it wasn’t. We were honoring his memory and recalling how blessed we were to have him as our dad.

I hate to even end on that note. It wasn’t until I got to the end that I decided what scripture to use. I chose the verse above because in every one of these events in my life it was God’s grace alone that kept me. Not my efforts or my strength; nothing else but his pure grace. Other than getting saved, it is in the darkest days of our lives we experience God’s grace more than at any other time. Whatever you might be facing you better prepare yourself. Prepare yourself for the megadose of God’s grace that he will give you. You may never need it quite that way again but it is good to know that he truly does have grace for every need. Let me say again; “What a week!” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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BECAUSE I SAID SO                                                                                                                              Andy Hollifield 10-1-19

Don’t you just hate that? It is the number one answer of parents everywhere who don’t want to bother explaining their decisions to their kids. It was to a lot of us, the single statement that ended any conversation. It ranks right up there with, “You brought it on yourself” and, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” As a kid, you got scared of the first comment and angered by the second one. The last one made you wonder why your parents, who preached honesty to you and dared you to lie to them, could say such a ridiculous statement and expect you to believe it.

Then something incredible happened; we grew up. We always promised ourselves that we would never say those things to our kids. Then, we became parents. You’re in the middle of doing half a dozen things at once when suddenly you hear the number one question of children everywhere; “Why?” Regardless of your response to whatever the question was before, in frustration you used another parent word; “ENOUGH!” When that came out of your parent’s mouth, if you dared to open yours again you heard; “Because I said so.”

With that said, whatever your topic of conversation was didn’t seem so important anymore. In our case as kids, we knew they had heard everything we said and would give it some thought and let us know their answer when we least expected it. If we continued to push the issue, we knew we would get an immediate answer and we wouldn’t like it.

As I thought about this I realized it has a spiritual application as well. God doesn’t always explain himself to us nor does he have to. Sometimes we hear, “Because I said so” but like our parents, that just means he isn’t answering yet. In Genesis 18:32 Abraham has tried the Lord’s patience in their conversation about the destruction of Sodom. We think Abraham was pretty brazen to do that but how often have we done the same thing?
We’re like our children in the fact that our number one question to the Lord is often; “Why?” When we don’t understand things in our lives or why he allowed things to go how they did, we want answers. Like any good father, the Lord wants us to come seeking him and ask but that doesn’t mean he will always explain himself.

He doesn’t even have to tell us, “You brought it on yourself.” We know his commandments and rules as we did our parents and when we transgress them, we bring judgment on ourselves. If we think we have it hid from him, he may have to send us a Nathan like he did King David in 2 Samuel 12:7 to tell us, “Thou art the man.”

As for the last statement, as parents, we now understand what that means. As it says in Matthew 7:11, God desires to give us good things. When he can’t do that but rather has to deal out judgment rather than blessings, it does hurt him more than it hurts us. After all, he has already given heaven’s best for us and for him to see us sin in disobedience to his word, it would have to hurt.

When God says, “ENOUGH” that is the end of the discussion. Many of us learn it the hard way. Psalms 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” Micah 7:18 says, “…He delighteth in mercy.” Psalms 84:11 says, “…No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” If God is withholding something from you that you can’t understand why; it’s because it’s not a good thing for you at least not now. “Why?” Because he said so. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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UNEXPECTED VICTORIES                                                                                                                   Andy Hollifield 9-26-19
2 Samuel 23:12 “But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the Lord wrought a great victory.”

Judges 7:21 “And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.”

1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and thismortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Have you ever been to the place where you were ready to give up and just couldn’t see the sense in fighting anymore? Most of us have been there at some point either in our spiritual life or personal life or both. I want to look at just a few examples of folks that won unexpected victories for one reason; they kept fighting. By the way, even though the word victory is mentioned only 12 times in scripture: WE WIN!

Before I get too much into our scriptures I want to start by mentioning another battle that took place that most everyone has heard of; the Battle Of Midway. On June 4th, 1942, the 4 day Battle of Midway began. Midway was a strategic island 1000 miles northwest of Honolulu. Yamamoto, the Japanese Admiral intended to take the island so he would have an outpost to begin a trek toward Alaska and also to establish a base from which the Japanese could eliminate any future US threats in the central Pacific. I won’t get into all the details of the battle but I do need to highlight a few key points.

The Japanese had planned to invade Midway and they knew the US would respond by sending our Pacific fleet to defend the Island. Meanwhile, 200 miles northeast, two US attack fleets caught the Japanese fleet entirely off guard even though they didn’t expect to find them where they were. What triggered all of this was that a Japanese code had been intercepted and broken which revealed their plans. The Japanese fleet sustained heavy losses and casualties from the US fleet including the loss of three heavy aircraft carriers and one heavy cruiser. This also included 292 planes and 2500 men. The reason I mention all of this is that it shouldn’t have happened. The US fleet was smaller and in the previous six months had lost to the Japanese every single time they fought them. They had lost in four different countries and numerous island chains. So why fight again when you know you are going to get whipped. This time when the Japanese fleet got to Midway they were considerably smaller and a pretty even match for the US fleet. The rest is history but it is important to note that this battle was a turning point in the entire war.

When our fleet was preparing to take Midway, I am sure they didn’t realize how crucial that battle would be to the entire world. They fought anyway and thanks to a broken code and a chance sighting of the Japanese fleet and the surprise attack, the world was saved from Japanese dominance. A historic example of an unexpected victory and a good example of why, even though you may be getting whipped, you have to keep fighting.
Now to the scriptures. Not much is said about Shammah beyond this verse but there is a ton of spiritual advice in it. First off, he stayed in his place and defended his spot. He defended it even though at that time he was standing alone. He fought even though the enemy was more in number but Shammah was fighting for a cause. Shammah was one of David’s 30 mighty men and the other 29 counted on him to fight.

Now, look at your life. How many people are counting on you to keep fighting the good fight of faith? What all will be lost if you give in now? Who all is watching your life and will see a weak God that didn’t deliver you if you give up and give in? The place you are in may seem like an unimportant pea patch but it is your pea patch. It is where God has told you to take a stand.

I had a situation once where someone I loved dearly got mad at me for the spiritual stand I had to make on something. I figured I was in the minority and was standing by myself. This person stayed mad for about five months until someone we were both close to wound up in the hospital. After that, I am not sure what had happened because my stand hadn’t changed but our relationship was back to normal just like before.
Sometimes you have to stand and it may take a while and it may even be hurtful. Just stand anyway because you don’t see what God sees and you may have an unexpected victory right around the corner.

The scripture in Judges is a good example of this. They were going into a seemingly hopeless battle but God gave them the victory without them even having to fight. Think of the great victory that would not have been theirs if they quit just because they were outnumbered. Think of what it will cost you if you drop out of the fight.

The last scripture was in 1 Corinthians. That day will come for all of us that are born again. The day when we will quit fighting either by death or by the rapture. We will no longer have to be afraid because we will be in the presence of the peacemaker. In either case, our enemy will no longer have access to us. The fighting will be over, we will no longer have an enemy, and we will be with the one that saved us long ago.

No more devil, no more heartache, no more tears, because the Lord will wipe them away. That is what we are fighting for. The victory has already been won by Christ at Calvary and assured when he ascended back to the Father. We still have to show up for the fight. There is no place to quit.

I may not know where you are in your life or what you are battling but Jesus does. He hasn’t forgotten where he has you and he has some unexpected victories waiting for you but you have to stay in the fight. Just stand in your place and whatever the situation, defend your pea patch at all cost. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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A CHILD’S LOVE                                                                                                                                    Andy Hollifield 9-29-19
How precious! I was at a friend’s house recently and her grandson Ranger, who is around 18 months or so, was standing at the storm door when I arrived. As I stepped up on the porch and opened the door, this little feller stretched his arms straight up for me to get him and looked up and smiled. How could I possibly refuse such an offer?

At the same time, my number two grandson Hetzel (8 Months) was visiting with his mother. I hadn’t got to see him in a couple of months so needless to say I was thrilled. He had just woke up from a nap and was a little slower than normal to warm up to me. But when he did, he didn’t want me to put him down. I felt like I was in high cotton with both of these little guys just wanting my undivided attention. There is nothing any more heart-warming than the affection of a child.

I also had the opportunity later that evening to go pick up my number one grandson Sam (20 Months) and have him spend the night. He and his mother were both sick. His mom, being a single parent and working two jobs, was exhausted and in need of some help to care for the baby while she tried to get better. Of course, being the loving Papaw that I am, I was happy to oblige. As with most sick children, they are clingy. Sam just wanted me to carry him or sit and hold him almost the whole time until he began to feel better.
I hadn’t thought about any of this until I started to write but there are some valuable lessons these three little boys taught me. To start with, Ranger hadn’t seen me in several weeks and only a few times before that, but that didn’t matter to him. He apparently remembered how I respond to him each time I see him and therefore wanted my attention and to stay close to me.

I was the first person aside from his mother, and Paula and medical personnel to hold Hetzel when he was born. In those dark days at the beginning of his life when his survival was in question, I guess he may have learned my voice when I would go check on him and his mom in the hospital. The first time I held him was in the NIC-U when he was still in a questionable condition. We sat and I talked to him while his mom went to get something to eat. Anyone who has ever sat in the hospital with anyone, especially a sick child, knows how long and tiring those days can be.

I get to see Sam fairly often, never as much as a grandparent wants to, but he is very familiar with me and has spent far more time with me than either of the others. I got to visit him once a week for the first several months of his life and he has since spent the night with us a few times. Him getting my attention is something he is used to and has come to expect.

As I thought about these boy’s responses to me I began to think about how we react to God as his children. Just like Ranger, even though it might have been a while since we have sought the Lord’s attention, he is always anxious to pick us up and embrace us. When we get in his presence desiring his attention, he treats us like we are his favorite. He can’t wait to express his love toward us and treat us in ways that make us want his attention even more. Ranger knew from his experience with me, that I would make a big fuss over him and pick him up and carry him around.

Even though I hadn’t seen Hetzel in over two months, he also knew from the last time I saw him that I was going to dote on him just like I do every time I see him. I believe those days in NIC-U probably formed a strong bond that he may not remember but I believe has helped shape his affection for me. He, like the others, knew I was going to do my best to make sure they enjoyed being around me as much as I loved spending time with them.
Ranger is usually content just to be held whether you are walking around or not. He is also one that can entertain himself and has a curious nature that requires anyone to keep a close watch on him. Hetzel likes to be moving a little bit and likes to be talked to and make faces and noises at him. Sam is wide open all the time. He has also turned into one that likes to show out and let you see all the things he can do such as climbing and he loves to play the piano. He wants to show all of his books and toys to you. He is also one who can tune out the noise around him to focus entirely on his favorite things such as children’s TV shows.

All three boys have totally different personalities and for their different reasons want my attention when I see them. Yet, regardless of my different experiences with each of them, I love each of them the same. They may all be different but they all know when I see them, I will make a fuss over them in a way they like. They didn’t check to see if I was sweaty or if anything had changed since the last time I saw them. They loved me just the same and assumed I still loved them until I proved otherwise. Those babies knew from past experience how I would react to them.

That is how our heavenly Father is with us. He loves us like he always has and his love can’t grow stronger like ours does for him. He loves us already as much as it is possible in his power to love us. He knows what each of us enjoys and also what each of us needs. Some of us like to be carried around and have him talking to us while others are content just to be in his presence. Some of us like to be wide open and have the Lord be proud of the things we do and we never slow down until we are exhausted but then want to rest in his arms. Most all of us want to be held and loved on by him when we are feeling bad. All of us are thrilled when he makes a fuss over us and loves us like we were his only child. The fact is that he loves us all that way and his love and compassion are never strained or in short supply.

It is amazing what all God can use to demonstrate little truths that are often easy to overlook or forget about. It is also good to be reminded that whatever we might accomplish for him, doesn’t change how he feels about us one iota. I am thankful that his faithfulness to us isn’t dependant on our faithfulness to him. Like those babies, we should have learned by now based on our past experiences with the Lord that we can always go to him. He is always available for affection, to carry us, to encourage us when we are down, to make sure we are clothed and fed, and any other need we might have. Isn’t it incredible that God placed a constant reminder among us to remind us constantly how much he loves us? He gave us little children who love unconditionally and forgive and forget without resentment. If we stop and think, there is truly nothing more pure and impartial and without limits like “A Child’s Love.” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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