The Old Man’s House

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The only thing worse than being lost, is being lost in the woods.  Think about it, when you’re lost in the city, at least every step and turn brings new sights, new sounds, new possibilities.  But when you’re lost in the woods…all you have is trees.  Trees, trees, trees.

But if you’re lucky, maybe you hear a sound.  It’s quiet at first, but seems to be beckoning you to the left and as you follow the sound grows.  Music, a melody drifting through the atmosphere to soothe your nerves.  You follow it through the trees, trees, trees.  Until finally, you break through the trees into a clearing.

Perched in the clearing is a tiny house.  If you weren’t sweating from the heat of the day and feeling your thirst from the long walk, you would swear you were dreaming of existing in a Thomas Kinkade painting.  But you aren’t, you’ve just found a refuge.

“Well good afternoon!”

The voice, which seems to come from everywhere, is tiny and breaking.  The winded whisper came from the man on the porch.  You hadn’t noticed him yet because his old, sun-tanned, weather-beaten skin blends in to the wood of his cabin home.

“Lose your way in the woods did ya?”

Nod.

“Well, come on in and let me see if I can’t rustle you up some cool spring water and a bite of something.”

Follow.

The inside of the house is dark.  It takes your eyes a moment to adjust and realize that the darkness is caused by a lack of electricity.  The old man walks over to his kitchen.  He messes around and comes out with a tin cup.  He hands it to you and motions behind you as he heads back in the kitchen.  You turn and see…a bucket.

“Brought that batch up from the crick this morning!”

Part of you wants to be concerned about the quality of the water, but the rest of you is dying of thirst.  So you slurp.  What water!  This is the coolest, freshest water anyone has even dreamed of.  You close your eyes and place one hand on either side of your tin cup and take another long drink.

“Take that easy!  Don’t wanna give yourself the inside frost bite.”

The old man has returned, this time with a plate containing half a loaf of bread, some cheese, and a few chunks of jerky.

“Ain’t got much in the way of vittles.  Don’t really get a lot of company up here.”

Inquisitive.

“Oh no.  I actually didn’t move out here to get away from people, I moved out here cause I like to help people.  But lately it seems they don’t want my help.  So I live out here in my old house helping those who get lost along the way.”

Embarrassment.

“Now don’t you worry none.  Plenty of people get lost out here in these woods.  It’s hard to keep your directions straight out here.  There’s so many different narrow, twisty paths cavorting all over them woods…you have to live out here to be able to get around.”  He winks at you and bites into a hunk of jerky.

You take a piece of the bread.

“Homemade sourdough.  My paw’s recipe.  He makes good bread.”

Agreed.

The old man pulls a jug out of the cupboard and another tin cup.  He fills it full of a sweet smelling liquid.  “Home made fox grape wine.  Hard to come by anymore, but I know the secrets of this forest just like I know my own.”

Gulp.

“And yours.”

Gulp.

“How did you think you could get away from life?  You were raised better than that.  I taught you better than that.  We’ve known each other a right smart time, and when you told me that you were going to spend your life trying to live the way I taught you, I believed you meant it.  And for a while you did.  And don’t tell me that life gets hard or any of that other malarky.  I ain’t buying that for a minute.  You quit living for me because you didn’t realize I was still living.  You chocked it all up to amazing things that happened in the old days and ended up really believing in magic instead of having faith in a person.  Namely, Me.”

Shock.

“You’re…you’re…”

You finally found your voice.

“I know who I AM.”

I AM.

“God lives in an isolated cabin in the woods?  God is an old man?”

The Old Man sets a cup of the homemade wine down in front of you.  Then, He reaches out and takes up His Father’s bread…and He breaks it.

“Nope.”  He answers.

“I am always and ever.  But you see me the way you see me.  And what you see is an old man who was good to people a long time ago in the Bible.  You don’t see a God who is active today, right now in your life.  Unfortunately, an old man has limitations.  These limitations you have bound me with.  Now don’t misunderstand, I could shake them off the minute you give me the go ahead, but I want you to have the free will to choose who I will be to you.”

Silence.

“So, up to now, I’ve been an isolated old man who is disconnected from your needs, your life, and your times.

When will you start seeing me
as the God who still lives,
still works,
still is
I AM?”

 

There are probably many people today with a similar ‘split’
in their mental conceptions.  The ‘Grand Old Man’ is 
treated with reverence and respect — look what a help
He was to our forefathers! — but He can hardly be expected
to cope with the complexities and problems of life today!”
-J.B. Phillips


Phillips, J.B.  Your God is too Small.  Collier Books, 1961.

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