Parallels and Candy Bars

I saw the three boys in the church foyer with their mother. Now they were men. They looked older and smiled less than the last time I had seen them. They were all looking at me to see if I recognized them. Would I say anything? acknowledge them? Their mother was oblivious to the dynamic of her sons here in this place. It was Christmas eve service early afternoon. I smiled and greeted them and said “it’s been 10 years hasn’t it?” They gathered around as if it were 20 years earlier, ages five to 10. Smiles came. Mom noticed and trusted their smiles. A flood of memories disjointed with what could have been for these boys.

55 years earlier little Johnny and I had parallel lives in many ways. Being Johnny was a few years older, I was able to buy his abused three speed bike from him so he could get a 10 speed. I wanted a faster bike to get to work 5 miles to mow the fairways on the local 9 hole golf course. A couple years later I bought Johnnies 40 pound recurve bow to hunt deer as Jonny didn’t ever use it. I used it. Three years later I talked dad into getting Johnnies motorcycle that he was selling (don’t get me going on motorcycle stories). I looked up to Johnny and his best friend Jim until one day I didn’t anymore. The parallel was gone, pathways in life changed. I changed and veered a hard right from John’s path.

John and I both attended kids club, church and youth group. My life was being greatly influenced. I remember the day clearly when my eyes were opened. It was a church spring clean-up day on a fine Saturday and all was well until John and friend Jim found the candy bar stash for kids club awards. They were the coveted treat earned by one of 4 teams each week. The team with the most points got a candy bar. Winning games, memorizing bible verses and finishing work book sections gave these candy bars gold medal status. When John and Jim found and took the candy bars, I was perplexed. It was wrong on principle of stealing but also on trampling the sacred ground of the winners circle. The worst part is it seemed there was no decision to it, like a dog finding a scrap of meat under the table or a cat running across a mouse.

However John got this way, I wanted no part of it.

John’s three little boys liked me. They were not raised as well as John was. They began going to church with mom, only once in awhile, until she left. Kids club was their life line but that fell away as John had fallen into drinking too much (too many meat scraps under the table I guess). I saw them in their small boat on the lake and would tell them what the fish were biting on. They loved to tell me their fish stories when I would see them at a men’s breakfast or on the street. They would gather around.

Down through the years I grew into leadership in most jobs I had. John drifted through life working here and there and getting fired was a pattern. He tried to raise the boys with all his might. He really did. He loved those boys. Evidently strong drink loved him more and finally won. He died running out of money to build his dream house. While he drank his sons in their teens were attempting electrical, plumbing and Sheetrocking themselves.

Don’t ever think the taking of a candy bar is no big deal

It’s been 10 years. It appears the boys recognize they have some decisions to make. There will always be candy bar finds; meat scraps if you will. The boys will have to decide if they are going to just be religious or if they will grow in a relationship with God who will set them free. I still see that hunger in their eyes if I look closely. I would like to think I saw it.

We walked into the church for a candle light Christmas eve service. The 3 boys and I and a hundred more people would hear(among other things) a talk given by my son, whose life parallels mine in so many ways more than Johns. Who has also had candy bar choices in life, who challenged us to know God, hear God’s voice and obey with some great personal stories. The boys are similar age to my son, their paths are different. I am so proud of my son’s path and the thousands of choices to get there (now he has three small sons becoming??)

When I was 15 I gave a talk to about 30 of my peers about knowing God and following Him. John sat in the back snickering with a couple others. I was not hurt other than hurting for him. These were my thoughts as my son was speaking 56 years later, as the boys and their mom were listening. What if they really heard? What if 2022 will find them veering off the parallel path shown them?

Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.

Psalm 16:11 “You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

May we not help anybody find their way (they already have that). Bring them into the winners circle, God’s way

Gary

Published by Gary Fultz

Outdoors Man, Hunter, Fisherman, Guide, Writer / Author, Photographer, Public Speaker, Musician, Song Writer, Story Teller, Follower Of Jesus. Love God and family and total strangers

63 thoughts on “Parallels and Candy Bars

  1. It’s often lots of little choices that sink us. The pastor and scholar Eugene Peterson talks about how God seeks people who are willing to practice a long obedience in the same direction. It’s sad what a little free will can do, but God is a gentleman. Prayers for the three boys.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Gary, thanks for being a spiritual father to many – the great need today is for ‘spiritual fathers and mothers’ after Paul’s example in 1 Cor. 4:14-17, which blessed me out of my socks a few years ago.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. That is quite an example Erroll. The bedrock of passing on the heart of God and the understanding of Truth (truth is a person “I am the way, the truth…) is relationship. The enemy would love to erase relationship from our reality. He is sure chipping away at it. May we all learn to be mentors and pass the torch and pour out into others lives.

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    2. Ah yes Erroll, the every day molecules of truth that paint reality. I know it’s not possible but I would trade one of your warm days in Africa with todays -33c here…we would both have new insights to share and probably promise to never trade days again.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Well said. As I prepare to preach tomorrow from Matthew 5:48, I am reminded that far too often we have short-sighted “New Years Resolutions” that are so far short of and so much more complicated than what God has for us. Even at 70, I am learning that his grace is sufficient, his glory is what matters, and my Father is working every situation for my good. Of course, when we have changed hearts, changed by God, then our choices can be the right ones if we walk in the Spirit.

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    1. Wow Wayne, You are right on being short sighted in resolutions. My problem is I don’t often reach the short sighted ones. You have quite the challenge of preaching on being perfect even a s God is perfect. To understand the miracle of making a spirit led decision, no matter how small is to understand how it can work as we walk in his power moment by moment.. My next problem is I need a warning flag pop-up when the disconnect happens. Those candy bar moments.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow, Gary. That’s some valuable insight. Thank you for sharing, that we readers may also meditate on the wisdom and mercy of our God.
    Yes, the small choices define us. Those choices not only reveal who we are, but then they bend our paths toward our futures.

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  4. Thank you Gary for this powerful, practical, real life testimony of one of life’s axioms . . . we are our choices.

    Were that life had a ‘Rewind’ and ‘Erase’ buttons for me to redo many past choices. However, I’m grateful that I awoke today with life’s ‘Play’ button is still operational for me to make choices that will glorify Him.

    “He must increase, I must decrease”

    Be Blessed brother!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Very good post to start off the New Year! All the choices we make count…big and little. Day by day, our faith grows…I think of a tree with the roots planted deep. The tree reaches toward the sky, ever becoming, ever branching out. Wishing you and your family blessings in the New Year!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Gary, this morning I was studying Proverbs 1: 8-19. Your story brings the reality to each of those verses. I love Jesus’ promise in Luke 4:18-19. May 2022 be a turning point for those three young men. May they each experience the freedom of Christ.

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  7. Thank you for sharing such a poignant and thought provoking reflection on life’s deep truths, Gary. God’s grace sometimes works in unexpected ways and claims unexpected people for the Lord’s glory, but it seems that more often the basic precepts of cause and effect hold sway, and to veer from the default path is hard and unlikely.

    Nevertheless, all things are possible with God and so we pray for the unexpected miracles in the lives of those around us and rejoice when sometimes another gem is pulled from the mire. May it be so with these young men. And what a blessing to see one of your own following the Lord!

    I have two children, one who grew up to follow the Lord, and one who thus far has grown up to follow the world. I know both the joy and the anguish of heart that accompany these outcomes. I also know that the Lord works through the prayers of the saints and this post reminds me to pray more earnestly for my own beloved prodigal. All things are possible…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. So true Craig. All things are possible. We want desperately to claim miracles for our kids and those we rub shoulders with. the claims department is God’s. The request department is ours. Meanwhile God’s interaction with those who love and follow Him and trust him is a mystery as only God can see around the corners of time far ahead. life does seem to often obey cause and effect in our decision making. If we could control miracles our daughter would have a complete spinal cord…As you know, life here can be really hard physically. Take care Craig, thanks for your valuable input into this conversation.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Each little decision we make–good or bad–adds up. People too often shrug off “that one little thing,” not considering the long-term effects. The one thing I try to hold onto, when I look at the lives of my adult children, who don’t always make the right choices, is the verse from Isaiah 55:11, that God’s Word doesn’t return void. That’s the hope I hang onto at least.

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    1. Exactly GW.
      Glad you found it. It’s not like I am consistent in writing or anything…there are some really great conversations adding to our perspective. After all our word barrels are full and our understanding reaches the highst mountain, then someone adds the cap on top…But God…

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  9. Gary, this is powerful and so beautifully written. Those candy bar moments come at our weakest points at times. And grab a friend who loves them and the pressure is on. The best thing I’ve ever done in life was choose to follow Christ and accept Jesus as my Savior. My sons accepted Christ as young boys–candy bar moments still happen. It’s a mystery of what it takes a human to fully accept and SURRENDER; many know the truth; narrow is the way. I truly know I know nothing BUT the love and grace of a Savior who has never left me, even when I took the wrong roads at times. Although my sons are grown and have their own families I pray daily, and for many other friends and family, that SOMETHING will occur that will cause complete surrender of their souls, actions, and intentions, and place them all in the hands of God. I pray that same prayer for those 3 boys and the many friends, family, and strangers that are searching for true love, hope, and a promise for eternity. I bet my own life on it! 🙂 And what a joy it’s been–through it all, it is well with my soul. What a day that will be! Thank you, Gary.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is good not to be battle weary but battle joyful in the well being of one’s soul Karla. You have reminded me of that.
      It’s also good to have your prayers on the pulse of family friends and like the 3 boys on the outskirts.

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  10. That Christmas Eve encounter may turn out to be a pivotal moment for those boys. They reconnected with someone who cares for them and cares what happens to them. God may bring one or more of them to your doorstep (or at least your phone!) for wisdom, support, and encouragement, and those seeds you planted years ago may begin to sprout! (That’s my prayer!)

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    1. Thanks Nancy, I am hoping that is the case. God will bring them at least to someone at the right time. I think with age the prayer lists get longer. Even if everything works out the prayer should not stop as the family (as more join) keeps getting bigger.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Sometimes it’s hard Beth. Choosing God’s voice, directing our “right” paths, probably isn’t possible unless we are in tune with Him on a regular basis. I’ve been thinking a lot about the paths the disciples of Jesus were asked to take:. Who would leave boats full of fish skidded up on the shore with all their nets to follow Jesus? What lad would give up his only food a day away from home with 5000 strangers milling around?

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