AUTHOR – BILL TAYLOR
COPYRIGHT 2017 – BILL TAYLOR
PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT Shakespir
Shakespir Edition, License Note
Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.
Special thanks to Shila and Pragna for their encouragement and inspiration
A colorful past, while sounding somewhat exotic, can find itself laced with regrets. Flash backs of the many things I wish I had done differently have a way of accompanying my days. I must be careful to “not wear them” while “sharing them”. It is my “what was” not my “what is”. Yet still the refrain of: “If I had only known then, what I know now”, wishfully echoes through my mind periodically.
“Colorful” as a descriptive, does not always accurately translate as “positive” or “exciting”. If I choose to jump out of a plane wearing a parachute, both descriptives will be accurate until such time as my parachute doesn’t open! No doubt, Sky-Diving can be “colorful”, but when your fall from the sky lands on other people, that’s when “Sky-Diving Regrets” are birthed. I have many!
That being “my story” doesn’t make it “The Story”. Overriding and overwriting it all, is “God’s Grace” and “God’s Glory”! A sovereign and loving God whose redemptive power has no limits.
Reminders are not debilitating when you can see His gracious helping hand intertwined in the events of life. They induce thankfulness not shame. They highlight cross imparted redemption not condemnation. I’m not sure one can truly appreciate where they are, without having brief reflections on where they were, as long as it is understood: Standing radiantly on the dividing line between “then” and “now” is a cross. Every benefit of our “now” is encapsulated in that visual! A cross that has allowed us to “cross-over” into our new “what is”!
So, why share “what was” with others? Why run the risk of opening healed wounds? Being set free from it, shouldn’t we equally run from it? Deny its existence? Avoid its possible potential to deflate our popularity or reputations? Shouldn’t, “over-it and on-with-it” be our mantra as we go forward with God?
Well, I’m not a therapist but merely an unworthy recipient of God’s grace, so the opinion of the professionals would not likely align itself with mine. See, I believe that it’s in the comparison of “what was” and “what is” where God is most glorified, first by me and then others! My journey is “HIS SACRED STORY”, to be remembered and presented for “HIS EXCLUSIVE GLORY”!
“Communion” is generally accompanied with this phrase which was spoken at the “last supper” by Jesus: “Do this in remembrance of Me”.
To this day the Jewish nation celebrate “Passover”. They remember God’s intervention so long ago when during the events leading up to their eventual exodus from Egypt, the angel of death “passed over” their dwellings, as God orchestrated their release from the bondage of slavery.
Knowing those two historical events are prophetically and dramatically linked, we should also celebrate our own personal “exodus”. Our own release from the bondage of slavery should be integrated into our daily reality. How can we appropriately celebrate our release without being cognisant of what we were released from?
Its keen awareness maintains the much needed sharp edge of clarity to “grace”. Remembering must be accompanied with celebrating! God’s gracious interventions are worthy of celebration! Not bemoaning our “what was” but rather being immersed in thankfulness that it is our “what was”. When we do so, we align ourselves with this directional scripture:
Psalm 103 – 1 & 2: Praise the Lord my soul: All my innermost being praise His Holy Name. Praise the Lord my soul and ‘forget not all His benefits”!
In finishing that Psalm I am exposed to an accounting of all God’s never ending benefits! The list has been personally experienced by me so how unfair it would be, to keep it to myself! It isn’t a secret to be hidden but rather a testimony of God’s wonderful love to be expounded from the roof tops!
Within the reflective content and emotion of the process, there is a “Bitter-Sweet” component to the taste experienced. The bitter is found in “my part” that created the need to be rescued. The sweet is discovered in the rescue itself. The awareness that in spite of me, God loved me!
The Apostle Paul wrote, after having secured a well-deserved reputation of admiration from his peers: “I am the chiefest of all sinners”. You see he didn’t forget the stoning of Stephen nor his X identity as Saul the Christian persecutor. For Paul it never became a flippant: “That was then and this is now”, mindset. I’m sure that in the solitude of Paul’s life there was many a bitter tear shed for his past but always followed by the sweet reality of God’s all-sufficient grace imparted to him. He introduced the word “grace” to our collective realties and vocabularies. Who better to do so?
Well, there’s me! Oh, I haven’t killed anyone but I’ve broken hearts. Hearts whom Christ died for. So in essence, am I not like Paul, also persecuting the Christ who loves them? “As you have done it unto these, you have done it unto Me”, lingers in the air for my consideration. I am not one who finds “grace” a comfortable cliché to parrot. No, it’s personal to the extreme.
Israel Houghton penned these lyrics that appear in a line of a song he composed. Presented as a question for serious meditation, they read as follows: “If not for your grace where would I be”?
While attempting to navigate through that scenario in search of a conclusion, it’s not very long before I experience “soul-shock”! You see, I know exactly where I’d be! In the very same place or worse than “those” I have been privileged to help over the years.
“Those” spoken of serve as a vivid “reminder” to me of how massively fortunate I am to be on the other side of the story. Massively fortunate demands massive thankfulness as a response! I’ve learned that there’s a gargantuan chasm of difference between being thankful and acting thankful. It’s in the “acting” that we confirm the legitimacy of our thankfulness!
My Way Was The Hard Way
I’m not educated by today’s standard of the word. As a grade ten graduate I left school to seek my fame and fortune as a fifteen year old. Things were different back then. My decision wasn’t seen as ludicrous. Un-employment wasn’t an existing concept back then. There was more jobs than people to fill them so my “fortune” arrived quickly. Having left school on a Friday, I walked into my first taste of money on the following Monday! Club Coffee as a warehouse laborer, was awaiting my arrival to lavish on me the vast sum of “Ninety Cents Per Hour”. Half of that being designated as “Room And Board” left me with a lofty “twenty dollars a week”! “Wow, can life possibly get better than this”?, I thought. In my childish euphoria I couldn’t imagine it to be so but I would discover, in the most dramatic of ways: It can get worse!
Humble beginnings no doubt but looking back, through all the ups, downs, and everything in the middle, I was being educated. Most lessons would regrettably be learned “the hard way”. Those closest to me would sadly be drawn into the “hardness” of my errors!
Money meant a car. A car meant friends. The wrong friends meant misplaced loyalties and as is always the case, misplaced loyalties meant disaster! I wasn’t aware at the time, “being stupid” was a criminal offense. I would find out its truth, “the hard way” and at a “great cost”!
Gullible Or Stupid
The term “gullible” is a kind way of saying “stupid” sometimes. There are those times, but this wasn’t one of them so I won’t allow myself to use it as an appropriate descriptive to let me off the hook of responsibility.
It was a Sunday evening around dusk that my twelve “friends” would appear, seemingly out of nowhere, running at break neck speed across the plaza parking lot with multiple green garbage bags in tow. I had been sitting alone in my car for about an hour at that point, and getting ready to head home with my “ninety cents an hour” job expecting my attendance on Monday at eight AM. My goodness, how everything can change in the heartbeat of a bad choice!
“We’ve just stolen a bunch of cigarettes and have nowhere to hide them. Can we leave them in the trunk of your car overnight with a promise to remove them first thing tomorrow? We will meet up with you before you go to work”. Quite the plan in need of an obvious and immediate response of “No”! It’s amazing how peer pressure takes your known “no” and has it coming out of your mouth sounding more like “OK”.
Well, the “next morning” didn’t quite arrived as predicted. Oh there was one, but it didn’t look remotely reflective of “the plan”!
After agreeing to accommodate their request, we all went our separate ways with me heading home as planned. Looking back I find it interesting that no one asked for a lift home. I assume they didn’t want to run the risk of being in a car with stolen goods? As it turned out, it would seem their concern was well founded while my “stupidity” was confirmed!
A ten cent bulb ( priced in the time frame of the event ) can cost far more than ten cents! As I drove out onto the roadway, a Police Officer, noticing my brake light was out, pulled me over. Back in those days certain “rights” were cloudy at best. Lots of “grey area” was in play for the discretion of law enforcement. “Could you please open your trunk Sir”, He requested. It wasn’t so much a “request” with options available for the requested, but more of a “demand’ and not one that: “I’d rather not”, would suffice in satisfying the requester.
Once the trunk lid had opened, my “alleged mind” raced to formulate answers to what I knew would be the next obvious question. It was then I realizing my life had just become instantly and immeasurably complicated. “What’s in the green bags”, was the ensuing and predicable follow-up query from the LARGE Officer in uniform.
It’s interesting don’t you think, how “fear” causes “the feared” to seem progressively bigger as the moments tick away. Those who have experienced the dreaded call to the Principal’s Office will testify: From entering the general office area, to actually sitting across from them at their desk, their stature increased while yours decreased! Optical illusion? I don’t know, but there’s no doubt, it seemed real! As was the case with this Officer who tried to befriend me.
“Stolen cigarettes”, I answered. What else was there to say? “I smoke, and enjoy the quirky eclectic values of having many different brands at the ready to satisfy my eccentricities”? He was trying to be friendly, so this wasn’t a time for anything but honesty. Besides, I didn’t even know those words back then. Grade ten grads tend to find themselves lacking in the world of words. To further complicate matters: I wasn’t gifted as a very good liar! So, throw myself on the officers mercy was my only option until the question of questions, which included my exit out of this crazy haze, was voiced by the now larger than life man.
Q & A
“Bill, did you steal these?” “No”, I responded. “Do you know who did?” “Yes”. And here it came gift wrapped for my taking: “Bill, I believe you. Now, if you tell me who they are, I’ll confiscate the cigarettes, go and pick them up, and you can proceed home as if this never happened”.
Wow! What a deal! Who would exercise any hesitancy at all responding in the affirmative to that offer? The answer is: The same one who had said: “OK” to his “friends” a very short time earlier.
“I’m sorry officer but I can’t do that. I’d be ratting on my friends”, was my feeble excuse as if thinking he’d understand. I did mention I was stupid, so save the justifiable “are you kidding” reaction.
With a friendly arm on my shoulder he got specific as to why I must comply. “Bill, I’m not sure you understand what happens next if you don’t, so listen while I explain the procedure. Your car will be impounded, followed by you getting in the back seat of my car and us driving to the police station where your parents will have to be contacted and you will be charged for position of stolen goods which under the law is the same as stealing them yourself. I hope I have made myself clear, this is serious”!
He was trying so hard to help me do the right thing. The loyal to my parents thing. The thing that would correct the first thing. The thing that would open the door for me to learn a massive lesson, without the proportionate cost having to be paid!
“I’m so sorry Sir and I know it’s crazy but I can’t, I just can’t, and I don’t know why I can’t”, said I, as the real-life nightmare unfolded.
All night he continued to plead with me as I now found myself incarcerated for the first time in my life. Being stupid and being a criminal are two very different descriptives. I being of the first category had no clue how to handle any of what was transpiring before my very eyes. Looking back “surreal” was the sensation running through my veins. Feeling almost dream like awaiting an awakening. I kept thinking this can’t be real, while still unable to conjure up the correctness of mind to co-operate! Peer pressure is powerful! It can circumvent your ability to initiate logic.
With no sleep under my belt the next chapter in the story of “misplaced loyalties” presented itself at nine AM, as I was paraded into the court room to appear in front of a judge.
Wailing And Crying Are Different
Again, the same plea but this time with a huge dose of emotion from a perfect stranger dressed in a black robe. “Bill, the officer believes you didn’t do this. I believe you didn’t do this and you know you didn’t do this so I beg you, please don’t make me do what I don’t want to do. Give me the names of those responsible and you get to go home with your parents. Last chance Bill”!
There are times in life that are so pervasively unfamiliar to anything you know, that your brain stops processing information you are being given. Important lifesaving information that simply isn’t hitting home like it should. You’re hearing but not perceiving. So, what does: “What I don’t want to do”, mean? I thought.
“What’s your answer Bill”, asked the judge. “With my apologies, I can’t tell you what you want to know but I am sorry for my involvement in all of this”.
That was almost fifty three years ago but I can still see his face and hear his voice saying: “You are sentenced to two years in prison. Bailiff remove “the prisoner” from the court room”. Back in those days they didn’t take forever to deal with crime related issues, and me as an issue, had been dealt with in what felt like a heart-beat! A breath taking heart-beat!
The branded on my mind soundtrack of that day doesn’t end there. The “wailing” still does, and probably always will, echo in the recesses of my sorry mind. I had destroyed my Mothers’ heart which created a sound that reverberated throughout the entire courtroom making its way into the cell area where I was being kept.
As I have previously mentioned in other writings, I was my Mother’s promise from God as a baby. She was now watching her “promise” being escorted out of a courtroom in hand cuffs with a jail sentence in his pocket! I heard the sound but can’t imagine the pain! I was never an angel and had upset my Mother on many occasions prior, but this was different. Excruciatingly different.
I looked up the dictionaries meaning of the word “wailing” and found it to be painfully accurate: “To make a long, loud, high pitched cry, as in grief, sorrow, or fear”. I’m afraid “all” applied that day.
Misplaced loyalties come with a cost. At the top of that list would be the hearts that have been broken. Added to that: A few hours before, while sitting in a parking lot, I had a name. Bill to be precise or to my Mom, Billy. I now had a new name: I wasn’t Bill anymore, I was “The Prisoner”!
The Dirty Dozen And The Faithful
I would be released after serving one year based on good behavior. Don’t applaud the “good behavior”, I was far too scared to behave any other way! Throughout the year, every Sunday, those who I was dis-loyal to, visited faithfully.
The twelve “friends”, never sent as much as a card, let alone an appearance in person. I guess they were “too busy”!
My parents at the time were in their sixties, so the trip up north was tiring for them. On top of that, the atmosphere they got to experience once arriving took their breath way. Back then, if you were going to be in jail for an extended period of time, part of the indoctrination was to shave you bald, just to be sure you knew who was the boss.
On my parent’s first visit my Mom walked by me not recognizing it was me. She cried for the entire hour, running her hand over my head repeatedly asking why they did this to my hair! I may have been a ”A Prisoner” but I was still “Billy” to my Mom.
As a note of interest: Once released and having arrived back home, the need for a few items led me to the closest plaza to do a little shopping. As if God wanted to put an exclamation mark on my lessoned learned, I bumped into the “twelve”. I was greeted with this: “Where have you been, we haven’t seen you for a while”. My response? “I’ve been up North learning a lesson”. Noticing the poorly hidden “what’s that mean” look of false innocence on their faces, I walked away.
So, why share this very un-flattering story about myself? Why not bury it? Why not run from it?
I want you to know the kind of person God finds a way to love. To redeem. To value. To care about. My goodness, to cherish! To use. To bless. To call his own and to hang on a cross for!
I want to stand with The Apostle Paul and say: God’s grace was sufficient for even me! I don’t need to understand it, to be thankful for it. My point: Sufficient for me can only mean it must be equally so for you.
Fast-forward to “right now”. This is book #51. Who saw that on the horizon while I was sitting in jail? God did! Not only did He see it, He knew which day I’d write a book about it. Even better He knew exactly who the book would be written for! It’s for “those” who I pray , that this Ebook would inspire and encourage. It’s GOD’S STORY. I give Him exclusive rights to THE GLORY!
As the odometer of my life nudges seventy, I can answer with ever growing confidence, the question. “Where would I be if not for Your grace”? Wherever it would be, will never be my reality, because of His never-failing, never-ending, faithfulness!
The Moral To The Story
Peer pressure is “graceless” and is a “task master” of the most diabolical of genres. One’s sense of identity, approval, popularity, acceptance and self-worth, eventually becomes a slave to its insidious demands. When adopted as a lifestyle, constant insecurity is the net result. We daily perform like trained seals with the hope of achieving our fish as a reward. The applause of the majority becomes our drug of addiction, but like all drugs the sensation we achieve is synthetic and short-lived. You see, “the performance” must continue and we know it! Sadly illusionary to the extreme is its descriptive. There is no facet of society that is free from its allure. There is no age when we simply “grow out of it”. For some of us, what we will agree to can be limitless!
I often wonder, if I had gotten way with my initial foolishness, what might I have said “OK” to next? One shouldn’t assume existing boundaries when behavior strongly suggests otherwise!
So, did I go to jail as an innocently convicted victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Was I wrongly incarcerated for a crime I didn’t commit? Can this story be massaged to present me in a more flattering light. No, I was guilty and deserved what I got!
Misplaced loyalty is a crime according to God. If something is mis-placed it stands to reason, there was a place it was missing from. When that is the case, broken hearts are the net result. The stolen goods are comparatively speaking insignificant in the story. You see from heaven’s perspective, the crime I was charged with wasn’t the crime I went to jail for. Mine was much worse! I broke my Mother’s heart. The one who gave me life, I betrayed to appease others.
Heaven says: “Guilty”! Heaven also says; “Forgivable”! They call “grace” amazing for a reason folks!
Lifestyle choices offer only two options: The constant fluctuations of “performance rated approval” versus “cross purchased acceptance”. The first means the performing never ends. The second means performing stops! It’s in “Christ’s performance” on a cross two thousand years ago, where we find our identity as loved and our security as valued! Our immeasurable worth is portrayed by His unfathomable sacrifice. Indelibly inscribed on those two pieces of wood is each of our names with the caption: “You are THIS important”! The cross moves us from the “synthetic” to the extremes of “reality”! The bible describes it as : “No greater love”.
Jesus said: “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light!
What an invitation! The meaning of grace is: “Unmerited Favor”. You can’t earn it. It’s a free gift. The good news? The performing can stop because the performance has been performed! Past tense and forevermore! Thus Jesus concludes: “And you shall find rest for your soul”!
[FREE E-BOOKS BY BILL TAYLOR]
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK ONE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK TWO
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK THREE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FOUR
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FIVE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK SIX
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK SEVEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK EIGHT
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK NINE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK TEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK ELEVEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK TWELVE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK THIRTEEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FOURTEEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FIFTEEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK SIXTEEN
THE ROSE AND THE THORN
WILLING HEARTS – NO LIMITS
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
THE SECOND CROSS
BULLS IN CHINA SHOPS
FAITH IS A JOURNEY
THE HEART IS SACRED
REJOICE – IT’S A NEW DAY!
BLESSED & CONTENT
MY FRIEND – MY PEACE – MY LORD
YOU DECIDE – CHOICES
THE REAR VIEW MIRROR
HIS LOVE MADE PERFECT
AMAZING GRACE – AMAZING SAVIOR
TALK AND WALK
GUIDE ME HOLY SPIRIT
GOD IS BIGGER
GETTING OVER “STUFF”
FAITH – GOD IS NOT INTIMIDATED
BEING LIKE CHRIST
I AM NOT THE POINT
THE LOST SHEEP
CLARITY – I AM