Enough?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12–13)

Once upon a time, in a land far away, I woke up to the simple fact that I was woefully flawed.

It wasn’t really anything newly discovered.  There wasn’t any blatant immortality that suddenly reared its ugly head.  There was no forced intervention of family and friends to rescue me from some overtly destructive behavior.

On the other hand, there was the slowly dawning realization that my flaws and failures were real and weren’t going to be wished away.  There was the slowly expanding understanding that the Spirit of God had much work still yet to do in me.  And, to make matters worse I came to see how my stubborn pride was doing a pretty good job of putting out the Spirit’s fire.

I was a master at sticking my head in the sand. I was perfectly equipped to ignore or at least see my flaws as less flawed than others. As a result, it was far easier to preach to someone else than to recognize God’s Spirit illuminating my own short comings.

Ultimately, I began to understand with greater clarity that all men (and women) were truly equal: we are all broken by sin!  My sin, my struggles, my brokenness was not somehow less sinful than yours. At the end of the day, the only real difference between any of us–outside of the saving grace of Jesus– was our ability to see our own imperfection.

Today?

Today, I am the same guy to one degree or another. I am still tempted on occasion to see myself as above others. I am still enticed by the desire to see your failures as worse than mine. Thankfully, God is still working on me and His enlightenment continues to grow.

Tomorrow may be different. I may get stuck again. I may close my eyes to some essential truth. And If I do, well, tomorrow I may need you to kindly and lovingly remind me that I am not what I sometimes think.

But today? Today I can say with all the hope in the universe… “Hi! My name is Les Ferguson, Jr. I am a husband, father, son, and brother–and now a grandfather. I am a minister. I am a writer. But more importantly, I am a child of the King. Broken by sin/ renewed, restored, and reconciled by grace.”

And that’s enough.

Until God calls us home, that’s enough.

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Les Ferguson, Jr.
Madison/ Ridgeland, MS

The Twins

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-29

Poor old Thomas.

He gets ridiculed for his doubt. How in the world could he not believe Jesus had risen from the dead?

But back in Thomas’ day and in mine as well, people died, they got buried, and short of divine intervention, that’s how they stayed, dead as a doorknob–at least in this present world.

And yet at the same time, we know Thomas was privy to the fact that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. He was aware of all the particulars on that spectacularly amazing day.

Still, how many other folks had managed to drag themselves back from the grave? How many other people took an abbreviated dirt nap before awakening themselves and arising to walk in this world again?

Zip.

Nada.

Zilch.

None.

Not a singe one.

Can you cut Thomas a little slack? Can you give him a little bit of wiggle room? I mean, all he had to go on was the testimony of his fellow disciples. And when you get down too it, they weren’t necessarily a stellar crowd.

Among them were poor fisherman, a political zealot, a betrayer, and a denier. None of them were scholars. Their qualifications, behaviors and attitudes sometimes left a lot to be desired. So before we jump on old Thomas, maybe we ought to ask ourselves if we would have believed under the same circumstances…

I suspect I would have been a twin to Thomas. I suspect that though I would have wanted to believe, I would have wrestled with confusion, stress, frustration, and well, whatever meager evidence my eyes could have seen.

The truth is, I am a lot like Thomas to this very day and what I would have wrestled with then, applies now.

Please don’t get me wrong. I believe in God. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in Jesus. I believe in what Jesus did. I believe in what He is still doing in the lives of people everywhere. I believe Jesus is coming back to take home those who belong to Him.

I have faith.

But I also have doubt.

Some days it is hard to really believe God cares for me.

Some days I really struggle with the the idea God has my best interests at heart.

And almost every day I wonder if God’s timing will ever be on time for me.

I am a twin to Thomas the Doubter.

Or maybe his clone.

But even as I doubt, I believe.

I believe.

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” (Khalil Gibran)

Come See Me This Weekend at Discover Rally!

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Toothpick

Toothpicks.

I rather doubt anybody would ever decide to read about toothpicks.

I can’t imagine such a subject would be very enlightening or informative or otherwise helpful for those who struggle.

Unless, however, you are challenged in the dental department with gaps and holes and other places for Big Macs and fries to get stuck.

As I write these words, I am in the middle of a Mr. Mom gig at the orthodontist with my youngest stepson, Max.

It’s braces day and I am reminded of toothpicks.

Go figure.

I like toothpicks.

I prefer the flat uncolored kind.

When I was a kid, we used to buy cinnamon oil from the pharmacy and make our own amazingly hot cinnamon toothpicks.

But I digress.

I have only ever once watched the Science channel show, How Do They Do It. And wouldn’t you know it, the subject was toothpicks.

It was interesting.

Ok.

More than interesting, I was enthralled.

High drama, huh?

Toothpicks.

Have you ever wondered how they were made?

Did you ever question the manufacturing process?

When you picked up one of those individually wrapped toothpicks at the check out counter of your favorite restaurant, did you marvel at the engineering?

It’s time to ‘fess up, as my daddy likes to say.

Go ahead and admit your lifelong fascination with the whole subject of toothpicks.

Ok, I am waiting…

What? No takers? An opportunity to come clean and face your obsession and you are going to let it slide?

“Hi, my name is Les Ferguson, Jr. and I am addicted to all things toothpick.”

No. Not really. It’s all a lie. A sham. A shameless literary stunt to introduce something else.

A little resentment if you will…

Toothpicks are in reality, a fairly common, mundane fact or object of life. Unless that is, you are a really strange and obsessed connoisseur of toothpicks. Otherwise, toothpicks are a tool you use or not.

They don’t require much thought.

They don’t factor into your life in a huge meaningful way.

Toothpicks are toothpicks. They just are.

I envy those of you who have toothpick lives, who just get to rock along content and unworried.

And sometimes I feel not a little, but a great resentment.

I look at our struggles. I wrestle with our needs. And I wonder…

I wonder why so many get to skate through life seemingly untouched by trauma, heartache, and the ever present after-effects.

I wonder why our difficulties can be so all-consuming and yet invisible to many.

I wonder why life has to be so hard for some and so easy for others.

I wonder why opportunities and success can be ever present or always elusive, depending on who you are.

Like you, I want peace, hope, and security. I want a purpose that matters on a bigger stage.

I am sure I am consumed with envy.

Please forgive me.

And yet, as much as I want better circumstances, I am also thankful for the new found ability to truly be compassionate and understanding of those whose lives involve heartache and struggle.

I get it, I really do.

If you struggle, you are not alone.

On the other hand, if you are free from major heartache and trauma, take a walk on the wild side and open yourself up to what others have to endure. You’ll be more thankful and eventually be a blessing to some poor soul in need.

Yes, I hate our struggles at the same time I am thankful for the life lessons learned.

Who wants a toothpick?

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Two

October 10, 2013.
Not today.
But Thursday.
This Thursday.
Not tomorrow.
Not Wednesday.
Thursday.

It’s coming quickly.
More quickly than we want.
We would like to fast forward past it.
Better yet, skipping it completely seems like a splendid idea.

But no matter how badly we want to avoid it, it’s coming like gangbusters and will continue to do so until time is no more.

With everyday of every calendar.
With every new moon of every month.
With every change of every season, it comes around again and again.

For most folks, October 10th is just another fall day.
The sun will rise.
The day will run it’s course.
And a new day will take its place.

This year it is on a Thursday.
A prelude to a three day weekend.
The boys have various things planned or hoped for.
We need to get in another load of firewood.
Life goes on.

This October 10th means two years.

Two.

Two years.
Two long years.
Two short years.
Two heartbreaking years.
Two years of pain.

Two.

Two years.
Two years of happiness.
Two years of joy.
Two years we could not have ever imagined.

Two years of new life and living.
Two years of new experiences.
Two years of new relationships.
Two years of new challenges.
Two years of new adventures.

Two.

Two years of struggle.
Two years of triumph.

Two.

Two years of wondrous healing.
Two years of still desperately needing to be healed.

Two.

Two years seems like an achingly long time with more to come.
Two years is an eternity.

Two years have passed in an incredible blur.
Two years gone and it seems like the past was a dream life barely remembered.

Two.

Such a paradox.
Such is life.

Two years ago this coming Thursday, October 10, 2011, one life ended and another began.

What do you do with an anniversary like this?
What do you do with a yearly reminder of the most hurtful, pain-filled day in your life and the life of your children?

Two years and an ocean-full of tears.
Two years and a heavy heart.
Two years…

This Thursday we remember.
Not that we ever forget.
But this Thursday we remember.

We remember, honor, and give thanks.
We give thanks for the lives we lived and those we lost.
We give thanks for the new lives we live and the new love we’ve found.

And we endeavor.
We endeavor to live life fully.
We endeavor to embrace every day.
We endeavor to face the future while never forgetting the past.

Two.

We remember.

Les Ferguson, Jr.