One day, Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1 NIV
When my oldest son went away to summer camp for the first time I was a nervous wreck. Although he was nine years old he hadn’t as much as spent a night away from home, let alone an entire week. I packed his suitcase with special care, making sure he had enough socks and underwear to see him through the week. Since this was prior to the advent of cell phones I also packed stationery and stamps so he could write home.
Thanks to a conscientious camp counselor I received the first letter from my son three days after he’d left. I quickly tore open the envelope and stared at the childish scrawl. Camp is fun and I only barfed once.
The next letter offered little more. Jerry wet the bed. Who’s Jerry, I wondered. The third and last letter provided this interesting piece of news. The nurse said it’s not broken.
Fragments. Bits of information that barely skim the surface. A preview of coming attractions that never materialize. It’s kind of like the text messages I get today from my grandkids.
It makes me think of my own sparse messages at times to God. “Dear Lord,” I plead when a loved one is late getting home. “Keep him safe.”
“Give me strength,” I pray after breaking down on the freeway or getting a letter from the IRS.
“Let me have wisdom,” is another favorite prayer of mine, usually when I’m giving unsolicited advice. “God is good,” I say when an editor agrees to extend a deadline.
Fragments. Bits and pieces. Are my notes to God as unsatisfactory to Him as hurried text messages are to me?
I knew that my son was safe at camp, and somewhere in the cryptic texts I get from the grandkids I know all is well with them, too. After all, how much trouble can you get into when your fingers are glued to a keyboard? But sometimes you just want to pick up an old-fashioned land phone—one that makes you stand in place and concentrate on the person you’re talking to—and have a good heart-to-heart.
“Thank you, God,” I murmured recently when a repair bill wiped out only half the bank account. I then settled down for a nice long chat with Him. God deserves a lot more than a text message or hasty note from “camp.”
Dear God, help me to prioritize the countless things in my life that clamor for attention, so that I always have time for you. Amen.
• When photographing stampeding cattle, charging bulls or blazing shoot-outs, use a fast shutter speed.
• Brides, take pity on your photographer. Matthew S. Brady and his helpers were able to record the entire War Between the States with little more than 1100 photographs. Half that number should satisfy most brides.
• Doctors, do not look at the camera like it’s a patient needing help through death’s door. Such a pose will speak ill of you, and it won’t do much for your practice, either.
• A man imagines himself more handsome than his photograph; a woman believes herself more homely.
• While posing for a photograph spinsters should avoid looking desperate or deprived. A serene smile will show that your circumstances are by choice and not for lack of beauty or character.
My writing career began, and ended, early. I wrote my first book in fifth grade—a mystery without an ending. I was on a roll until I reached eighth grade. Unimpressed with my essay on why I wanted to be a writer my English teacher not only flunked me but suggested I not even think about a career as a writer.
Dream squashed, I did little writing until I became editor of the church newsletter many years later. After making a church picnic read like a Grisham novel, my then pastor took me aside and said, “Maybe God’s calling you to write fiction.” So that’s what I did. I now have 25 books to my credit, published in 15 different languages. I’m currently working on a new series.