Aloha Friday Message – October 8, 2010 – At The Big Wheel …

1041AFC100810 … At The Big Wheel

Aloha nui loa, Hiwahiwa! The bible Passage for today is Romans 12:1-2

NIV: 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
KJV: 1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
NAB: 1. I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. 2. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Recall, please, that the word translated as “transformed” is metamorphosis, not metanoia (see AFC from Sep 5, 2008). Paul is talking about changing our bodies from vessels of carnality to offerings of service to God; that’s a tall order in these days of instant gratification for just about anything and everything imaginable (and thankfully some of it is unimaginable!)

Today we have a little story from a Guest Contributor; but alas! I cannot recall who sent me this story!

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years, their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared.

Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store, and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whoever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job.

Still I had no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people.

I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money–fully half of what I averaged every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered. I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boy’s pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up. When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car.

I was hoping the kids wouldn’t wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.) It was still dark and I couldn’t see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car – or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what. When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement.

My old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s side door, crumbled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items.

And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll. As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning. Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

THE POWER OF PRAYER: I have come to believe that God only gives four answers to prayer:
1. “Yes!”
2. “Not yet.”
3. “I have something better in mind.”
4. “You’ve got to be kidding!

God still sits on the throne, and the devil is a liar. I, you, we may be going through a tough time right now but God is always ready to bless us in ways that we cannot imagine. Prayer is one of the best gifts we receive, and I firmly believe it is one of the best gifts we can give. There is a trivial cost – just your time and a wee bit of energy invested in someone else’s life – but the rewards are quite literally infinite. Let’s continue to pray for, with, and about one another. Here is a prayer you can share: “Father, I ask You to bless my friends, relatives, MBN members, and email buddies reading this right now. Show them a new revelation of Your love and power.” Another prayer to share is the MBN Prayer. All of us benefit when you take a moment to read that from the inside of your heart.

And that gives me an idea! In the past I’ve had some prayer requests at the end of most of my messages. Well, since we start the messages with This Week’s Bible Verse, I think the format can expand to add a section called …

Share A Prayer

• Continue your prayerful support for BA, his family and friends, and his spiritual strength as he moves closer to the threshold of Heaven.
• Thank you for your prayers for MG. Her health and strength continue to grow, and she daily blesses God for all the help she has received from your prayers.
• The family of JV asks for prayer for this young adult – just 20 – who is dealing with bipolar disorder, potential jail time, court appearances, and just a lot of other issues that really put a strain on the whole family. Jon needs help in reining in his mindset so he can stabilize his health; the family needs help in discerning the best ways to show their support. Jon is from and intensely Christian family, and for all of them this current series of trials brings the hope of moving everyone closer to God
• For MF and her dad Pete: Pete has moved from Kaua‘i back to be with his daughter. He’s had some small strokes in the past several months, and has experienced some accelerated debilitation. Pete’s one of our local heroes, a wonderful man who has given so much to his church and church family – including the Todds. Join us in supporting his progress toward a gentle and dignified death – quite some time from now we hope – surrounded by the love and prayers of family and friends. Pete’s the guy who told me he was “older than the place where they put the dirt.”
• For the really good people you know – the ones at work, in your church, in your family, your E-Mail and Facebook buddies, the neighbor who shares his/her garden and orchard produce with you, and the people you don’t even know who pray for you every day – for all those people, let’s just take a minute to collective say, “WE THANK YOU LORD.”
• Please pray for the people and land devastated by that “toxic tsunami” in Ajka, Hungary. The unimaginable potential for a wider-spread catastrophic pollution spreading through the Danube Valley looms ahead. Pray that a way to limit its spread and facilitate the clean-up is found quickly.
• Continue to pray for the folks suffering from other natural disasters in this past year. So many major events around the world – including our friend at St. Joseph’s Parish – Father Edwin Fontanilla and his parishioners – who lost their church building in the mudslides and flooding there, as well as Haiti, Chile, China, Samoa, Pakistan, the Central Plains and East Coast of the USA, and Taiwan.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!


PS. Happy Birthday John Edward

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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