If you're concerned about innocent children being terrorized
by the debilitating fear that they're in danger of an "eternal hell" when
they grow up, please read this article
No Hell in the Bible before
"Barney, I'm going to paint you," I told my friend who was dying of muscular dystrophy at the tender age of 28.
Sitting at the foot of his bed, I took out some paper, colored markers, and starting painting, careful not to disturb the IV's in both his arms, or what was left of them.
"I knew I was going to be in a wheelchair when I was nine years old," Barney began. "After I saw my friend Beth being wheeled down the corridor of our school, I knew my turn was coming."
"Barney, did you ever think you would walk again?"
"No I knew I wouldn't and one year ago, the minute I met Tracy, I knew why. She had just gotten out of a rehabilitation hospital where she had been in a coma for six months. Tracy lost control of her car and it crashed into the side of a mountain as she was driving home from college during spring break. She was 19 years old."
"I started teaching her as fast as I could how to live as a paraplegic. Tracy is the only reason God put me in this wheelchair for the last nineteen years of my life." I could feel the heat from Barney's body coming thru the bed covers. He was burning with fever.
"Lift me up on the bed so I can lie next to Barney!" demanded Tracy to the attendant wheeling her up to his bedside.
"And I can tell you it's been 'heaven and hell' knowing this woman! Tracy, ever hear you get more bees with honey?" Barney said with a huge grin on his face and a compassionate glance to her attendant.
"Barney!" Tracy screamed, "you know my mood swings are from my brain damage ... made worse because the people in the hospital didn't turn me over like they were supposed to while I was in the coma."
"Tracy, you always have excuses, and by the way, why don't you put on some makeup? A man on his deathbed wants his woman to look her most beautiful!" His eyes twinkled and looking my way he added, "You could use a little makeup yourself!"
My thoughts strayed to the first time I met Tracy. "Hey, watch where you are going!" I screamed as she nearly ran me down with her wheelchair. "Well get out of the way or I'll be late to my class!" she shouted back.
And thus began my whirlwind friendship with Tracy and Barney. I went everywhere with them. They fought constantly, sometimes purposefully bumping their wheelchairs into one another to 'bring home a point.' Tracy's depressions came on suddenly and turned into either fits of crying or anger. Barney calmed her down, teaching her little by little how to work with attendants, to make food for herself using special utensils, to open cabinets with dangling ropes, and much much more.
And the louder she screamed the more he loved her. Deep inside, she knew he was giving her the critical skills she would need to survive and make a new life for herself as a paraplegic.
But mostly Barney gave Tracy love, poured it into her, staying by her side night and day to help her through horrid headaches and mood swings. Barney was dying, giving his last breaths to Tracy, who was just beginning to live.
"Tracy, do you really believe Jesus walked on the water?" I asked her one night, looking at the picture above her bed.
Turning beet red with anger, she said in a loud voice, slurring her words due to her brain injury, "Why don't you crash into the side of a mountain, go into a coma and wake up with severe brain damage six months later and try starting a new life in a wheelchair? Then ask that stupid question!"
"Look at me!" she ordered, "One day soon I will walk again and I am going to get my degree in vocational rehabilitation. And you know why I can do all this in spite of the doctors and everyone else telling me to give up and accept life as an invalid?"
"Why Tracy?" I asked.
"Because He did it. Jesus walked on the water, and so am I. God is remaking me in a new way so I can be of service to people like myself. But you can't understand, you are too selfish!" Tracy said, between sobs, glaring straight into my eyes.
"No I didn't crash into the side of a mountain at the age of 19 when all of my life was before me Tracy; you are absolutely right, I can't really understand."
"Tracy," Barney said, wheeling through the room as I jumped out of the way, "if she is so selfish, why is she trying to help you relearn to walk? Come on, stop feeling sorry for yourself and get to work! I'm not going to be with you much longer."
"Come in here and watch as my attendant moves me from the wheelchair to the bed. Listen to me talk with him. Watch Tracy, learn." Tracy cried even louder but obeyed anything Barney said like the child she was in her new role.
Barney died that night.
Sometimes, when I stayed with Tracy on weekends, I could hear her talking with him long after his death. "But how can I? I don't know how!" she would argue. Tracy poured out her heart to him. Several times I went into her room just to make certain Barney hadn't risen from the dead!
Tracy did relearn to walk, as well as completing her degree with honors in vocational rehabilitation counseling, just as she had so defiantly announced she would the day I asked her if Jesus really did walk on the water.
Barney's spirit continued to guide, mold and teach Tracy in some way, and when she felt like giving up--which was every hour on the hour the entire first year--she pointed to the picture of Jesus walking on the water and looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I can't."
Originally published by TCRnews.com
in a slightly different version.
Recently I stayed in a motel with a tourist guide book warning, "Don't give money to panhandlers and the homeless. They will use it for drink and drugs."
Instead of the USA I thought I was in Calcutta, India or some third world country. Immediately I wanted to put a huge sign on the wall of the motel room saying, "Please take a homeless person to dinner and give them money so they will remember that they are beautiful and created for great things."
The poorest of the poor are the most despised people upon the earth and yet closest to God's heart. We who are fed, housed and clothed cannot even imagine being spit on, kicked, pushed aside and, much worse, ignored like an ol' dog thrown out to die.
"How can I help, I have very little?" I found myself asking aloud. A whispered voice which didn't seem to be my own answered, "All you have to do is follow, and God's smile will radiate across the entire earth as you offer an open heart and arms to one poor person at a time." Suddenly I felt absolutely blessed to know, see, and love the poorest of the poor.
At times I don't understand why I have this grace, which at other times feels more like a curse. But it is at those very moments when I am empty, feeling absolutely powerless and worthless, that God takes over my life.
Each person I see dying on a street or eating out of a trash can has a radiant light around them. They are the chosen ones and we ... well, we are learning how to love by "giving until it hurts" to these chosen children of God.
Would you like to read what my tourist manual for hotels would say?
"Walking down our city's beautiful streets, remember each homeless person you see is your father, mother, sister, and brother; so please treat them ever so tenderly and with great respect."
Originally published by TCRnews.com
in a slightly different version.
If you're interested in such things, you may be interested in these other Mysterious Ways pages:
Of Mother Teresa, Angels and the Poorest of the Poor also by Judy "Joy" Jones
Thy Will Be Done (Iron Lung) also by Judy "Joy" Jones
No Hell in the Bible
A Direct Experience with Universal Love
Two Tales of the Night Sky
Michael, Wonderful and Glorious
The Poisonous Tomato
Mysterious Ways Index