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The resurrection of Leonardo Plennik... and you?



"Hello." Leo said, turning his face to the sky. 


It was cold and hallow, not the greeting of close friends, but of strangers, who used to know each other in another life.

The pages were wrestling with the wind as he read.

Matthew 6

22 "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Leonardo Plennik set the Good Book down on the bench next to him.

A pointed leaf hung for it's life at the end of a branch near his head. The hues of green were surrendering to the yellow, orange, and reds. Brown had already taken the tips.

A breeze broke in past his collar, a reminder that the chill had arrived. With Fall came the overcast, darker days, and longer nights... which suited Leo just fine. His heart was cold, numb... why not his limbs.

Leo picked up the book, and continued reading.

Matthew 6

24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

"Ha!"

A small bird that had been pecking away at the ground near him fluttered away at the noise.

He was surprised by his own outburst.

He was the only person at the Look Out Park on a Monday evening. The horizon was already flushed with the same hues as the leaves.

"Two masters? Yes... that's it, that is the problem isn't it?" Leo exclaimed to the rocks and trees. "You cannot serve God and Money. But how can you do anything but serve Monday?" He laughed at the irony, "Money. Monday. What's the difference...?"

"I want more!" He yelled to the sky. "This barely making it sucks..." ending in more of a whimper.

The insatiable desire to earn more was always nipping at his heals. With student loans, car payments, credit cards, and a mortgage... all competeing for his attention, and his blood. He was already serving Money. It had just disguised itself by another name, Debt. And he could feel the noose tightening every day. He had chosen his master already. He'd chosen when he was young, before he knew there was a choice.

"But that's not true, is it?" He berated himself.  "Two of the debts you have now you took out after learning how evil Debt was."

Glancing down again,
 Matthew 6
25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life... 
32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. 
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Truer words were never spoken. Trouble followed him like a hound. Today had enough trouble... and so would tomorrow.

"Well, that's not exactly true, is it Leo?" he mused. "I mean, nothing has happened today. Today was actually quite normal. Same job, same pay, same issues, same, same... same. It's what's coming that's got you, isn't it?" He pondered the first words. "My father knows what I need... He knows and yet here i sit, in debt. No matter how hard I work, I'm still in debt. It's never enough to be free of it, it's an evil task master."

The solution seemed quite simple. It had been slowly building. A plan to solve the rat race.

Take out life insurance policies for the whole family, not just himself. Keep suspicions at bay. Take out enough to be sufficient to take care of his family in his absence. Wait at least one year, so as not to arouse suspicion there either. He'd waited two, but considered jumping the gun many times.

Actually, he'd considered the gun, but they were too unpredictable. People survive gun shots at an alarming rate. He even heard of a man who lived with a bullet in his brain. Besides, shooting himself could void the policy.

He could go into a bad part of town, and goad someone into shooting him. But then again, unpredictable. He's heard gangsters were notoriously bad shots. Disabled but still alive, and in debt... no, that just wouldn't work.

It was amazing how sensible one could be about such things. This was a much more air tight plan. Loose ends all tidied up.

Now there was a decision to make. A decision he re-made many times over the last two years.

A bottle of Jack Daniels Old No. 7 was lying on the passenger seat of the car nearby. This was the first time he'd actually gone to buy the bottle though, this was the last time he would have to make this decision.

The insurance company won't question an Alcoholic that had fallen off the wagon, no matter how long he'd been "sober", whatever that meant. Especially with his family history.

He had been debating as to when or if he was going to follow through with this line of thinking. Then he got a call that afternoon, while he was still at the office. "Next time you are going to go to the store, let's agree on what you get. I need to budget for these things..."

Really? We're going to have a discussion about spending $1.86 on a cold drink from the fridge by the cash register, rather than saving a few cents by buying the pack of cans from the shelf?

So on the way home from the store, he turned, and drove up mountainside highway instead. He'd grabbed the JD on the way.

Here he sat, contemplating his waste of a life. Dead dreams. Disappointments. All he needed to do was open that bottle, down it, wait 1 hour, and then drive "accidentally" off the edge on his way back down. He'd already eyed a great spot with a sheer drop, to ensure... a painless end.

Leo's eyes glazed over the next verses, and landed on a familiar phrase.
Matthew 7 
7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 

Hadn't he asked? Hadn't he been asking? For over a decade now, he'd asked. He had given, and given, but it was not pressed down, shaken together, and running over back to him. He had given so much of his time, energy, and money... that he'd burnt out on it.

Then he remembered a James 4.  The privilege of being a bible student. Verses floated through your head as though they were a flock of birds. Every now and then one floated down, and alighted on your shoulder.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

He wasn't asking for the wrong motives though. He'd been asking so that he could give more. He just knew that if he was free of this debt, and constant need to worry about bills, he could be free to give more.

"I want to do what you want me to do...." He spoke softly to the sky, "I'm just so tired of this life. I just want to DO more than this !"

He managed a team of 25 employees, at a local warehouse. He was working 60 hour weeks, and still serving as an usher every Sunday morning. He did the lawn and house duties every Saturday. He was a dedicated servant who left no time for himself.

He was a giver in all aspects of his life. So why could he not get answers?

The page blew back one, and Leo looked down again to catch it. The verses previous to the ones he'd been reading caught his attention.

Matthew 6 
7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Therefore do not be like them. 
For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray: 
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 
11 Give us this day our daily bread. 
12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 
13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. 
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. 
Amen.

Leo started wondering, how often had he read this prayer, prayed this prayer, and never really asked what the meaning behind it was. Hadn't Jesus just got done saying that we should not mindlessly repeat phrases hoping to get what we want?

Surely he wasn't asking us to pray these exact words three times a day like some Buddhist mantra. There must be an underlying meaning. So he pondered each phrase.

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  

God's in heaven. I know that. So what? I guess he can see what I cannot see. He knows what I do not know. God's home is outside of spacetime, so he is just as present in my past and future as he is right now.

His name. He recalled the song they sung during yesterday morning's service.

"Great, Great, There is no one like our God... You reign in all the earth. You reign victorious. Your power is limitless. There is no like our God..."

Leo prayed "Father..." it sounded hallow still, but a bit less hallow. "You are master of spacetime. You have all power. You are worthy of honor, even if I don't understand why you are hiding from me."

10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 

This seemed so simple. God's ways worked, perfectly, all the time, in Heaven. The only reason things don't work on earth, is because God's will is not being done here 100%. So we need to align ourselves with his will, and ask that his will be done here. Then things work better.

"Father..." a bit less hallow. "I submit to your will. I don't know what that is right now. I'm hurt and confused, but I submit to it nonetheless. Have your way in me."

He'd prayed that prayer many times as a child, and once when he "got saved" as an adult... but maybe... maybe it's not about surrendering to God once. Maybe you have to keep surrendering, daily, several times a day even, for this life 'in Him' to work right?

11 Give us this day our daily bread. 

Today's needs were met. He had a roof, food, family... tomorrow gave him concern, but today was met.

Does this mean he couldn't consider tomorrow? It sure sounded like the command he'd read earlier.

He could almost hear, in his mind, the voice of God speaking back to him. It wasn't audible. It was in the same place as his thoughts, but... different somehow.

"Just deal with today. Obey today. Received today. Let ME deal with tomorrow."

12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 

Forgiving came easy for Leo. He didn't really like people, so why would he care what they thought about him, or what they did. He'd built a nice wall around himself to keep them away. He held no hard feelings, or anger toward them. He had no problem forgiving.

It struck him, somehow, that this may run contrary to the intention of the verse.

Forgiving did not just mean letting go of anger. And he had no anger toward people. But it might go further... It might mean letting people in, or worse, actually going out of his way to bring people into his walls.

Now that... that seemed a little scary.

"I have no idea how to do that... but if you'll teach me... I'll try", he said to the Sky Master.

13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. 

Temptation? Like temptation to take that bottle of JD and drive off this cliff?

Well... maybe God had lived up to that. After sitting here for so long with this book, he did not feel like following through today.

Tomorrow... maybe... but not today.

"Father... help." was all he could get out.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. 

The power of the Kingdom... the power to... change a heart? In a few moments, to turn around a plan? To put the enemy at bay for a bit longer. He was either feeling better, or he was just feeling numb... he couldn't tell.

"Thank you for... opening my eyes a bit tonight." He made no promises, no oaths. Just sat with a bit more gratitude than he had when this started.

Amen.

The prayer of agreement. Agreement with what... exactly? With everything he already said?

"So be it." Leo muttered.

The cliff in front of him dropped off into darkness.

"I want..." Leo wasn't entirely sure what he wanted. "I want you." he said, staring at the night sky, and it's first stars fighting past the haze of dusk.

"It's not your gifts, talents, abilities, treasures... it's not even your answers I really need. It's not a better job, more money, even the erasure of my debts... " Leo could see it now. Not clearly, but a hint of light had broken past the darkness that was his mind's eye. "It's you. I want you. More of you."

The thought dawned on him after he heard himself say it. As though his mouth was speaking words that his heart always knew, but his mind hadn't caught up to yet... or had forgotten.

Leo left his bible flapping in the evening breeze. The passenger door creaked as his fingers pulled at the handle. He took the bottle of JD, unopened, and held it in his hand. He missed that flavor, and longed to feel the burn again. The desire never left him, not really. It subsided from time to time, and then it flared up again.

But something had changed in him as he sat there. His phone buzzed. He took it out of his pocket and swiped to the message.

"Are you ok? I expected you home by now. Praying for you."

She wasn't so bad...Maybe.

She didn't mean to come across the way she did.

It wasn't her fault that even a soft baby blanket could feel like sand paper when rubbed across an old open wound that refused to heal.

Leo held the bottle to the sky, a silent, unspoken prayer of dedication. And just as David poured out the water on the ground as an offering, he took the bottle and threw it as hard as he could off the edge of the cliff.

It sailed, for what seamed like an eternity, until it eventually crashed in the moon light at the bottom. He could hear the shattering... right where the car was supposed to have crashed, with him in it.

Leo traded something that night.

He couldn't put his finger on it, not exactly, but it was as though he really had died. And something new was born.

Just a child does not know at birth what it will grow up to become, neither did he know what he would grow up to become. He just knew that tonight ended... and tomorrow was going to have to worry about itself, he was done carrying that weight with him.

He typed back,

"Got distracted reading... sorry. Be home soon."

He took his bible off the bench, and tucked it under his arm. Nodded to the sky, and drove down the winding road. A smile crossed his face as he passed the corner he had intended to take.



Great, Great God



* This story was inspired, in part, by a message preached this morning by Pastor Preston Morrison called, "What do you want?", preached at Gateway Church Southlake, TX. 12/06/15.





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By Darrell Wolfe

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Hi! My name is Darrell G. Wolfe. I am a wealth of random information and I make complicated things simple at DarrellWolfe.com.

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Most importantly, I help purpose-driven people to understand their place in His-Story and provide them the tools they need to fulfill their unique position of opportunity and influence in this world (their Topos).