Five things for Joe

(I started this piece toward the end of October, in the 9th month of widowhood.  And finished it today.)

My sister and several friends are saying I have to do something for Joe.

Like we’re talking about a third-person here.

I replied to one, “I’m not sure what that means.  I do my job. I draw cartoons for editors, I work on my blog, I travel to cities where I preach the Gospel and sketch people, and then I come home. When I get home, I dump stuff in the washer, take things to the cleaners, buy groceries, deposit checks in the bank, and have the car washed.  Then, a week or so later, I do it all over again. It’s my life.”

I counsel pastors about church problems and counsel churches about preacher problems. I text with my children and grandchildren and write notes to friends. I read a lot.

When I’m not on the road, I’m in our church on Sundays, worshiping alongside my son and his family.  I love our pastor and adore this church that I served as minister for nearly 14 years.

My life seems full.

All of this would seem to be enough, I would think.

She said, “Sometimes ‘doing something for Joe’ means giving yourself permission to watch old black and white movies all day. Or to drive somewhere without a destination. Or to go to the movies or eat a carton of ice cream.”

I could no more watch old movies all day than I could lie in bed for 24 hours.  Not going to happen. I am constitutionally unable to sit there (or lie there) without thinking of a dozen things that need doing.

And drive somewhere with no destination? (Margaret and I used to enjoy doing that on my day off. But do it alone? What would be the point?)

But I’m trying.  So, here’s what I did in the last 24 hours, for Joe, I suppose. But mostly to vary my routine.

1) I bought loads of Halloween candy and stood in the driveway giving it out to trick-or-treaters as well as the adults and older youth who roamed the street.  That was fun.

2) This morning, after my daily walk and shower and breakfast, I decided to restock the water in my house with some off-brands. I drove to Rouse’s supermarket and Robert’s Supermarkers and bought their brands of spring water.

Why was this a Joe thing?  I’m not sure.  It’s just a little more fun to drink the water out of a bottle with some tiny store’s name on it, and not some nationally advertised outfit. And when I’m away from home and with a crowd, there’s never any question as to “whose water bottle is this?” Mine is the one with a New Orleans supermarket label.

3) I put on a Price Harris CD to hear him sing the grand hymns of the faith.  This veteran music evangelist is still at the top of his game for Jesus.

I almost never listen to music but to audio books, which is why this was different.

4) And, I bought a storage building at Home Depot.

My son Neil and I checked them out, and talked at length to HD salesman Mike who was most helpful.  I came home and checked dimensions of the intended spot, and today after visiting those supermarkets, I called on Mike at the store and bought the building.  And that’s when I got a surprise.

Mike is a preacher and a delightful personality.  We sat at the desk where he took all the information on the building and my address, etc., and chatted nonstop.  He gave me his testimony and shared the gentle way in which he witnesses at the store.  I sketched him and we prayed, although with our eyes open as though we were still talking. As I left, he hugged me.


5) And then, I promptly filed this article away in a folder and did not post it. It didn’t seem to be important enough or carry a message or possess any redemptive qualities whatsoever. It was just “what I did for me.”

So, today–months later–I dug it out, read it over, and decided to give it another try.

And I decided something.

Most of the real enjoyable events in my day–the surprising contact with a fellow believer, a song that touches my heart, a sweet memory, a note, a call–are not “things I did for me.” Rather, they are gifts the Father sent to me.

And those truly are priceless.

After all, doesn’t it make sense that if I take care of the Lord’s business He will take care of mine?

“Your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the Kingdom of God….” (Matthew 6:32-33)



3 thoughts on “Five things for Joe

  1. Bro. Joe,
    This post blessed my heart. Just wanted to let you know that this article that was once filed away has brought a smile to the face of a young preacher in NW Alabama. Blessings to you!

    Rodney Shewbart

  2. I distinctly remember a “Joe Day” -You’d enjoy taking your camera out to photo shoot Nature, and sometimes of Loved ones……:). :

  3. I stumbled upon your Blog after reading (on Sermon Central) “Preaching Is Easy Unless You Want to do It Well.” Not only have I enjoyed the way you write and the way you delightfully express yourself, but I am also blessed by your due diligence and how your thoughts remind me of my own. How do we (preachers) ever let our congregations know how very hard we work; or how much we recognize that we really do believe that the small, daily, joyfully fulfilling moments (that your posts describe so well), are, indeed, gifts from God? How do we ever help others to understand that we really do believe that every breath we take is given to us by God, filled with the presence of God, and is to be heralded as an overwhelmingly loving, and humbling gift from God? If others fully understood this, that would testify to their own personal salvation as well. I love the phraseology: “sermonettes by preacherettes to Christianettes,” that you mentioned by R. G. Lee. How TRUE!!! The sad reality is that this is exactly what my congregation is asking for. It’s hard to believe… But then again, its not… Bless you Joe. I am sorry to hear of the loss of your wife, Margaret. You have just completed 9 months of widowhood. It is good to be carried by the Lord’s love. You are a wonderful witness for Christ, a great “encourager” to others, and you shine as you share your 50 years of wisdom! Lastly, I was very attentive to the list things a “pastor in the second decade of the 21st century needs to be well aware of…” You couln’t have said it better. I have tried to communicate this reality to the congregation–even to my own husband; but you know, we do it not to be a “show-off” (if we are fortunate enough to remember what we’ve been learning on all those points you made), we do it because we love God and we want to serve him well (with all our minds, etc.) People really have no idea the due diligence required to be a Pastor! Thanks for reflecting a bit of my own reality in yourself. It’s edifying. Thanks Joe

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