I had an idea and shared it with John. I said, “John, I recall that you left your yarmulke in Jerusalem; but I still have mine. I now know what I am to do with mine. I am to give it a decent and respectful burial in the Sea of Galilee.”
The Holy Spirit had reminded me of an incident connected with my favorite chair that I had salvaged from my home on Wheatland Avenue. The chair and the yarmulke had something in common. Let me explain. Maybe you will be able to bring closure to something that has troubled you for a long time.
October 27, 2003
This is a story that needs to be told and shared more than once. It’s about a little baby named “Faith.” She was born prematurely two weeks ago, weighing only one pound and fifteen ounces. Here is what happened last Saturday.
I went to town to mail a package and then stopped by Hi-Mesa Truck & Auto Center. My friend of twenty-seven years, Ben Johnson, manages the company. We like each other a lot. Our common denominator is Jesus, and we seldom leave Him out of our conversation.
On this particular visit, Ben wasted no time showing me a picture of his granddaughter – just a tiny little thing in an
had a “soul tie” with the chair. The chair broke when I used it in place of a ladder. I am very grateful that the chair broke and not my back.
incubator. On her left wrist she was wearing the wedding ring of her father. Her tiny hands were so small that the ring easily fit over her hand and onto her wrist.
I know Ben was concerned about every breath that his granddaughter was taking, but at the same time, he also demonstrated a faith I rarely see firsthand. Ben knew that Jesus was holding “Little Faith” securely in His hands. It was an inspiration to see Ben’s countenance. He trusted Jesus like I have seldom witnessed.
After showing me the picture, he placed it back on the wall by his desk. Then I noticed that he also had a picture of the hands of Jesus on the wall. I said, “Ben, why don’t you write the name of your grandchild into the palm of Jesus’ hands?” And that’s what he did. He took a pen and wrote “Faith” into Jesus’ hands, just like I have done on the front of this card.
A few weeks ago, I was able to do something like Ben did. I placed my broken chair into the hands of The Master Carpenter from Nazareth. I had the chair for some forty years. It had been like a faithful servant. Without realizing it, the chair had become a part of me. In fact, you might say that I
I put the chair and the broken pieces in the garage waiting for an inspiration. I was unable to part with it. I even became depressed, confused and angry about the whole thing. What should I do?
One day, in conversation with my friend, Millie Dall, I realized that the chair represented an “Isaac” in my life. The dump or stove, would and probably should, be its funeral pyre. So, I decided to release the chair when the garbage truck came around the next time. The decision made, I felt a lot better. But that never happened!
Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, I saw the face of Clyde Ketchum, a special friend and also a master carpenter. I saw the heart and face of Jesus in this man. And as I did, the Holy Spirit urged me to call him, show him the chair, tell him the story, and then release the chair into his hands. The chair is now in his hands and in His hands. I am at peace.
Whatever he and He decide will be the very best for the chair and for me.
One idea leads to another idea. In my mind’s eye I see a journal. On the cover of the journal are the hands of Jesus. On each journal page, the hands of Jesus are lightly screened in the background. As the journal is being used, the writer will be placing his or her heart and heartaches into the hands of our Great Physician & Master Carpenter. WOW!
Soon, very soon, the journal will be reality. I am so excited. God did it again – turning tragedy into triumph!
In the name of Jesus - Our Great Physician & Master Carpenter,
(Because this “Epistle” was penned years ago, these journals are available today.)
PETER WRESTLES WITH PHARISAICAL TRADITIONS
How does my yarmulke fit into the above story? Traditions can become like threadbare garments or broken chairs. Since I did not grow up with the tradition of wearing a yarmulke, to me a yarmulke represented bondage. I was not willing to adopt a tradition that was meaningless to me, even if it was very meaningful to someone else. Parenthetically, I would like to say that I am glad that Gentile Christians were not required to be circumcised. On the other hand, I also knew I had to respect the traditions that were sacred to others. What is a man to do? What was I to do with my yarmulke?
I decided to allow the yarmulke to represent every tradition in the world that might have become threadbare or had become bondage to those who had innocently adopted it. When I entertained that thought, I saw the men with black hats wearing black suits. I saw my own meticulous suits, ties, and shoes that I used to wear to work each day. Suddenly, I saw every tie as a potential choke collar. I asked God to expose every tradition that spelled bondage. And I give you, the reader of these words, the permission to question the traditions that don’t make sense to you. If the Word of God does not legitimize a tradition, you have the perfect right to question, challenge, oppose it or dispose of it. But don’t attempt to oppose it or dispose of it in your own strength; you must first have heaven’s strength and permission. When we step onto someone else’s turf, we must respect the way they do things. When someone steps onto our turf, they must respect the way we do things.
Traditions may have been useful at one time, but do not necessarily play a meaningful part in our lives today or the culture in which we live. We often can’t remember how, when or why the traditions were birthed, yet we keep passing them on from one generation to another. We venerate them like they were birthed out of the heart of God, and they very well might have been.
Many traditions isolate us from our brothers and sisters who did not grow up with the same traditions. They are not celebrating the same holidays; they may have adopted Sunday instead of Saturday as their day of rest; they don’t make a pilgrimage to the same places we consider holy; they eat food we may consider unholy or unwholesome; they may wear clothes that we view as strange. And on and on it goes.
I asked John to get his camcorder and follow me to the edge of the lake. I looked for a secluded spot and discovered an ancient, submerged urn with a broken lip. I asked John to turn on the camcorder and record what happened next. I took my yarmulke out of my pocket, placed it on my head, removed it, and then deposited it in the submerged urn. John suggested I place a rock on top of the yarmulke so that it could not float to the top, and I did.
While doing so, I prayed for EVERY tradition that had turned into bondage to be exposed and broken. I prayed that every “sacred cow” be butchered. A sacred cow is something we do or own that is sacred to us but worthless as far as God is concerned. John recorded the transaction on his camcorder. This prayer ought to keep lots of angels busy for a very long time.
I am telling you what happened at the Sea of Galilee on September 26, 2005. This is real. This actually happened. I did it. I did it with every fiber of my being. I followed the orders of my Commander-in-Chief. I have the confidence and joy that my heavenly Father bent down to hear my prayer and has dispatched mighty angels to translate my prayer into reality. Archangel Michael may very well be leading this crusade.
After completing the transaction, I turned to John and said, “I hope no one ever finds my yarmulke.”
He replied, “By the time someone does, it will have become an indivisible part of the Sea of Galilee.”
It is possible, even likely, that my prayer will provoke the war of all wars. If so, let it rip! My Commander-in-Chief can handle it.
That evening we had a sumptuous meal in the dining room of the resort. It was necessary to make reservations beforehand. We enjoyed a private table. The dining room was nearly full. Tour buses bringing guests from as far away as Singapore and Japan were filling most of the seats. We could not understand a word anyone was saying, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the food and one another.
We concluded the evening by sitting on the edge of the lake, watching the twinkling lights in Tiberias, Capernaum, and the northern-most point of the lake some fifteen miles away.
Finally, it was time to get some sleep. The next day would be a long day as we had to “break camp,” drive to Tel Aviv, turn in the rental car, and get situated at the Sheraton-Tel Aviv. By the way, can you imagine a Sheraton where employees are not uniformed in suits and ties? That’ll be the day! The world as we know it will be a “has-been.”
I slept, but not very well. In fact, there was not a single night in Israel that I slept well. This time, a very noisy refrigerator woke us up every time it cycled off. It sounded like a cement mixer. John occasionally sawed wood during the night, and I found myself stacking it. Get the message? (He snored.) I finally found the key that temporarily stopped the snoring. I would cough lightly, and he would stop long enough for me to go to sleep. I don’t think this is a universal key, but you might like to try it.
On our last day there, I got my left, middle fingernail caught in the wardrobe sliding door. It really hurt for awhile. The fingernail now has a crescent of black at the quick of the nail, but it does not hurt anymore. Every time I see it, I am reminded of two very beautiful days at the Sea of Galilee. If the nail stays black forever, I would not mind because it is associated with such beautiful memories.
Before taking you to “The Stone Table,” let me warn you that there have been a few people who have scratched
We have had lots of fun asking visitors by asking them to assign their own words to the acronym - CWC.
I have etched those words into a piece of marble in the form of a fish. I love to quiz visitors. I like to ask them if they can figure out what those letters stand for. Very few have come up with Rebekah’s words. But here are a few alternatives to CWC: Complete with Christ, Conquering with Christ, Christ will come, Christ will Conquer, etc. I invite you to add a few more to the list.
their heads when they met me or read my first book. Most of these people were very
smart people who had college degrees or doctor of divinity degrees. They had published books and were admired by large congregations. They worked for weekly paychecks and had fancy offices.
I have never been impressed by titles at the end of someone’s name. To me, it looked like they were pulling a trailer everywhere they went. One day Rebekah jokingly remarked,
“The letters that belong at the end of your name are: CWC.”
I said, “What does that mean?”
She smiled and said, “Crucified with Christ.”