Vanity Fair

I told my friends and family I was going to the zoo.  It wasn’t far from the truth.

The thing is, I didn’t see any animals while there.  Zoos are enjoyable places to visit.  They’re not always placid and quiet, but at least all the inhabitants are barricaded behind bars or trenches to prevent close contact with the visitors.

I’m thinking this was different.  Perhaps not a zoo, but more like a carnival.  That would fit the experience better.  The denizens of that exhibition are all human, or reasonably so.  They coax and cajole, shout and seduce every passerby they see–all so they can gain access to one thing:  The contents of their wallets.

And so it was that I entered the midway of the music trade show.  Having attended one such event before, I was prepared–well, I thought I was prepared. 

I knew that the huge hall held many attractions, each one more tempting than the last.  The noise level would confuse and distract.  The displays and those hawking the merchandise would seek to ensnare me with their beauty and skill.

Hearing protection was plugged firmly into the ears.  My rejection messages were rehearsed and memorized.  I would take care of the business I had come to transact and nothing more.  No pied piper, no shiny bauble, would entrap me.  No tattooed ladies, and certainly no fast-talking carny would sway me from my earnest resolve.

For hours, I wandered the aisles, overwhelmed by the attractions.  I dawdled at the light shows and listened, enthralled, to the divas.  When I tore myself away from the musicians, the glossy instruments stole my attention. 

If I could just run my hand along that fingerboard…

Perhaps, just a note through that mouthpiece…

It was hours later when I escaped the hall of commotion.  I hope I achieved what I went in for.  I can’t remember.  My mind was awhirl, spinning with the effects of the noise and confusion.


I stood outside the doors like a man just awakening from an uneasy night of dreams.  Then I heard it.

After the raucous distraction of the great hall, it took a moment for the sound to register.  But no, I had indeed heard them–the sweet notes of a piano.  Just a piano.  No drums, no screaming guitars, no thumping bass.  The pure, quiet notes of one person skillfully manipulating the black and white keys.

mindwashedcleanI followed the sound and came around a corner to see a young man sitting at a grand piano.  He was playing, of all things, a beautiful rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer”.

I stood transfixed.  This was no carnival sideshow, no sleight-of-hand act.  Here was pure beauty and clarity.

The melody and harmony washed over me, erasing all the commotion and confusion of the hours preceding.  I can’t explain it, but I actually felt the music cleanse away the effects of the carnival atmosphere.  When he finished playing, with a clear mind and renewed energy I went on my way.

I wonder if we have any idea how often a similar scenario is played out in our everyday lives.  We live in a great big midway, a carnival of a world, complete with hawkers and sideshows.  Everywhere we look, something or someone else is vying for attention, ready to promise anything we desire.

Is it any wonder we fail in our resolve so often?  Marriages are torn apart because a spouse is seduced by the siren song of a more desirable partner.  Students fail in their quest for education because partying is more cool and thrilling.  Politicians head for positions with good intentions and are sidetracked by temptations and offers of power and wealth.

The carnival is in full swing and the carneys are in fine voice, no matter our resolve–no matter our mission.

Sometimes though–sometimes–all it takes is for us to walk away from the midway and stand still.  The mission placed in our hearts long ago by God is still intact, if only we come away from the commotion.

I can’t help but think about the Old Testament prophet, Elijah, as he prepared to listen to God.  The wild wind blew.  No God there.  The earthquake shattered the ground.  Not there, either.  Fire?  Still no God to be found.

After all the commotion, there was a quiet, diminutive voice.  The prophet listened, hearing finally the word and power of his God.

The longer I live, the less I like the commotion and aimless activity of the world around.  I’m learning to separate the sense of importance and urgency from the reality of reaching goals.

In the quiet moments we find renewed focus.  Apart from the attention grabbing crowds, we regain the awareness of our mission.

I’m listening.  Again.





“…the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”
(1 Kings 19: 11b, 12 ~ NLT)


“In the stillness I find my heart growing hot while I seek the person I have already found.  God is so much more than I know.”
(Eric Samuel Timm ~ American artist/author )



© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Do What You Are

I almost laughed at the silly statement.  Then, I sat still and considered the depth of understanding demonstrated by the author.

I was reading one of those ubiquitous habits of a highly successful person lists.  They seem to be everywhere and to be tailored for every possible profession. This one had to do with writers.

I’d like to be a writer when I grow up. It makes sense for me to pay attention when free advice is offered.

I don’t know what the first five habits were.  Can’t remember anything about them, really.  I think there was something about reading more, and maybe a suggestion that I find someplace quiet to do it.  I really don’t remember.

It doesn’t matter.  I can remember the important habit.  The silly one.

The list was full of good advice which I will, no doubt, ignore completely.  The helpful author ended with one piece of counsel which I will not ignore.

The last item on the list said simply:  Successful writers write.

They write.  They do what they do.

More than that, they do what they are.

It really does seem unnecessary to even make the statement, doesn’t it?  Of course, they write!  How could you call yourself a writer if you didn’t write?

I remembered the principle quite by chance the other day.  I was talking with a young man at church about a great piano solo his brother had played that morning.  As is common with such conversations, I felt the need to throw in the statement that I was a pianist, too.

The young man didn’t let that get past without comment.  “Oh.  You play, too?  Where do you play?”

I was taken aback.  I haven’t played the piano anywhere for years.  Seriously.  Years.  I won’t even play at home anymore.  Oh, once in awhile, I strike a chord and a melody of about four notes and I’m done.

I don’t play the piano.  I had to admit as much to the nice fellow.  He was kind and didn’t press the subject further.

I’m not a pianist.  I do know how to play the piano, but I don’t do it.

The list of these natural correlations would be endless, so I’ll just mention a few to reinforce the obvious.

Dieters diet.  Runners run.  Builders build.  Preachers preach.  Drivers drive.  Actors act.  Photographers photograph.

The concept is pretty clear, isn’t it?  Also, pretty unassailable.  If one is something, they do that something.

I promise, I sat down tonight with only one goal in mind–to write.  When nothing came immediately to mind, that phrase, writers write, began to go through my thoughts and I simply started to do just that–to write.  My problem is, as usually happens, a bigger lesson is just begging to be learned from my poverty of original ideas.

I’m wondering if too many of us are claiming to be something, but are not actually putting that something into practice.  It is true of many things, but I’m especially thinking about our faith as I write this.

If I claim to be a disciple of someone or something, but there is no discipline practiced, am I really a disciple?

Should I put it more clearly?

If I claim to be a follower of Christ (the name Christian means exactly that), but don’t actually follow His teachings, I’m not actually His follower, am I?

The words are misused so often, but He is the one who spoke them, long ago now.  They still haven’t lost their impact.

By their fruit, they shall be known.

I can’t be a writer if I don’t write.  I’m not a pianist if I don’t play the piano.  What I am, I will put into practice.


And what of grace?  Lest it appear that I am suggesting that we must work ourselves into God’s presence, I will say unequivocally that the work of salvation is wholly and completely His.  Grace is freely given.  Freely.

Our walk with the Giver of grace is another story.  The story of our life.

It’s time to do what we are.  Past time.

I’m going to keep writing, too.

I want to be a writer when I grow up.  Someday.



“You will know them by their fruits.  Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
(Matthew 7:16 ~ NASB)


“Enough had been thought, and said, and felt, and imagined.  It was about time that something should be done.”
(from Surprised by Joy ~ C.S. Lewis ~ British theologian/novelist ~ 1989-1963)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.


It’s Getting Late

I like to write warm, fuzzy pieces.  They make people smile.

Somehow, I’m not sure this is going to be a warm, fuzzy piece.  You never know.

A couple of months ago, I took a trip out to the west coast for a music conference.  I didn’t go to have fun, but I was determined to enjoy the trip. The night I arrived, I headed right for the beach.  Not to swim, just to see if it would be a good place to run one early morning while I was there.

The sun had already set when I got to the shore, so I had to be satisfied with noting the paved fitness trail and the parking areas for future reference.  Then, I hopped in my rental car again and headed back to my hotel, stopping off at an IHOP to eat a late supper on the way.

Elena met me at the front entrance of the restaurant with a smile on her face.  The pretty young lady led me to a booth and handed me the menu as I slid in.

“Joe will be your server tonight.  He should be here soon to get you something to drink.”

She smiled at me again and, twirling around, headed back for the front desk.  Moments later, she was back, still smiling.

“Joe is covered up right now, so I’ll go ahead and take your order.  My name is Elena, and I guess I’ll be your server tonight.”

I smiled back at her and, making conversation, asked her how she was that evening.

She replied quickly.  “Oh, you know.  Just living the dream here in beautiful Southern California.”

I think she expected me to laugh.  She was standing there holding an order pad in a pancake restaurant.  Living the dream?  Hardly.

I didn’t laugh.  I did do something she didn’t expect.  I asked her a question.

“What’s the dream, Elena?”

Her confusion was instantly evident in her eyes, as well as in her stuttered reply.  “Dream?  Well, I…uh…I…I don’t really have one, I guess.”

Quickly, she took my order for a drink and promised to come back soon to take my meal order.  She was relieved to leave the table; that much was obvious.  I felt bad.

When she returned a few moments later, I apologized, but she interrupted, explaining that she had been thinking about it, and she really did have a dream.  She wanted to be a hair stylist, perhaps even own her own salon or maybe a spa someday.

There was a dream, after all.

Naturally, I did something else stupid.  I asked her what she was doing to achieve the dream.  Besides earning a living waiting tables, of course.  Her answer was evident again in her body language, even before she spoke.

“Nothing.  I’m not doing anything, just working here.”  Her shoulders sagged as she turned to leave the table again.  She wasn’t smiling now.

I know.  Smooth, huh? I have a way with making people feel right at home.

Fortunately for me, within a few moments she was smiling again, as she talked of her family, especially her father.  She seemed to need to keep the topic of conversation light, but also to redeem herself in my eyes, so she chatted constantly about different things each time she returned to my table.

Before I walked out the door though, she brought up the subject of the dream once more.  One last time.

“There’s no hurry to go to school right now, you know.  I’m young.  I’ve got plenty of time.”

I made the first wise decision I had made that evening.  I kept my mouth shut.  Shut.

Smiling, I thanked her for serving me and left while I was still ahead.

To this aging man, edging closer to sixty every day, the words are almost laughable.  Of course she has time.  She is young.


The day will come when she will not be.  Young, that is.

The years will stream past like water and, unless she is able to shake off her inertia soon, she will stand beside the raging river and wonder how it got so late.  And, what happened to the dream.  I know.

What happened to the dream?

I won’t ramble on about my dreams as a young man, even though that is what old men do.  No doubt, it is enough to have had a little reminder of what it is like to be young and absolutely certain of having plenty of time.  At least, I hope it is enough.

As I write, I glance up at the clock on the wall.

WowIt’s getting late.

And so it is.  Getting late.

Time to start wrapping this up.

Dreams won’t wait.

Maybe there’s still time to live the dream.  I’ll keep working on it.

Maybe Elena will too.



“I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day; the night comes when no man can work.”
(John 9:4 ~ AKJV)



“Oh, my dear little librarian.  You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”
(from The Music Man ~ A musical by Meredith Wilson ~ Composer/playwright ~ 1902-1984)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Parachutes and Helicopters Redux

I planted some dandelions today. 

Oh, c’mon admit it.  You’ve done it too.  Who can resist the tantalizing wispy white head of a dandelion plant in springtime? 

You hold the beautiful stem in your hand, gazing directly at the horde of delicate seeds gathered in a circle around the ovule at the top of the stem.  Their tenuous grip on their life source indicates their readiness to make the trip for which they were designed.  If you examine them closely, you’ll notice each seed has a tiny, slender stem itself, the bottom of which is attached to the main plant.  At the top of that tiny stem is an umbrella, a parachute of sorts, specifically designed to carry the seed far enough away from its sire to multiply the species.

Careful not to inhale too close to the seed head, you take a deep breath and push it back out again, directing the stream of air right at the puffball.  The resulting explosion of little flying whirligigs is spectacular!  And, if you weren’t watching so carefully out of the corner of your eye to see if the neighbors were peering angrily from behind their curtains, you would laugh for joy to see God’s creation at work. 

A common weed, we call it.  Ha!  More like a miracle in action, putting to shame all the complicated machines that our feeble minds can contrive to complete the tasks we deem important.  The simplicity, along with the amazing resilience, is so far beyond our imaginations that we can only marvel. 

The process needs us not at all, as is evidenced by all the empty stems I see as I view the yard.  The strong storm winds have already spread the plant’s progeny to the four corners of my property (and maybe just a little beyond, truth be told).  The gentle rain that fell last week has already helped to press them into the soil, and even tonight, I imagine they are starting to germinate, putting down their stubborn tendrils into the damp earth, preparing for another bumper crop in a few weeks.

I hear the naysayers in my ear as I write this.   

“Why would you allow this vicious weed to thrive in your yard?  Don’t you know it’s aggressive and ugly?  Aren’t you aware that it spreads to my perfect lawn?” 

Of course I know that after I mow the lawn, they pop up and make it look as if I haven’t mowed at all.  I know that millions of dollars annually are spent trying to eradicate this blight on the landscape, but all in vain.  Ugly or not, I’m doing my part to protect the species, although they have no need of my protection.  I must admit, I have never dug a dandelion plant from my yard, never sprayed a drop of pesticide to control them.  They are, to me at least, one of Spring’s best gifts to the awakening world, with the wonderful maple helicopters running a close second.

The fantastic design of that maple seedpod is another source of wonderment for me.  This spring, the red maple in my backyard is covered with thousands of the odd winged vessels.  It is more properly called a samara, but I much prefer the descriptive name helicopter

Of course, the English have a fine name for it also; they call it a spinning jenny

Every two years or so, the slender branches of the spreading tree almost sag beneath the weight of the seeds (as with this year), until the spring winds call to them, coaxing them off, first just a few at a time.  I like to think that the first ones are the adventurous type, not needing the company of the rest to know that this is what they were made for. 

And then, before you know it, the slightest breeze fills the air with the spinning, gyrating seeds, headed by the hundreds of thousands to a resting place in the surrounding yards and ditches, awaiting their time to be pressed down into the soil and be watered; ready to spring up into saplings. 

If we humans weren’t so intent on open spaces in which to do nothing, the hills would be covered with the beautiful trees.  Oh, I know–not all of the seeds will produce trees.  If they did, the forest would be so dense nothing could live.  But, as it is, I am particularly fond of the maple trees, with their large shade-providing leaves, shaking and quivering in the storms, turning brilliant oranges and yellows before loosing their grip on the branches in the fall–only to be the earliest to burst forth again as the warm air triggers the life-cycle once more in the springtime.

I will grudgingly admit to the beauty of the autumn, and even the excitement of a beautiful snowfall in the dead of the winter, but spring is the season I love best.  I think it’s because my mind cannot fully contain the wonder of creation; cannot take in the fantastic design of the wonderful and diverse organisms surrounding us, from the flowering trees and bushes, to the pollinating hedges (covered with bees and flies to carry the pollen far away), to the amazing methods of regeneration afforded to all of the growing, thriving flora and fauna around us.

The intricate designs of a loving Creator overwhelm the intellect, as well as the senses, with each new bloom and every living thing that meets the eye.

It also might have something to do with the simple pleasures that spring affords. 

I think that’s exactly the way our Creator intended it, too.  And, it doesn’t hurt that I love it when the children in my life are overjoyed as they plant dandelions along with this silly, aging man. 

I can’t imagine a better way to spend a cool springtime evening!


“If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn.”
(Andrew V Mason M.D.~American doctor and author) 

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”
(A.A. Milne~English author)

A repeat of one of my favorite posts, which appeared on April 12, 2011.  Sometimes you just figure you can’t improve on your first take. 

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Part of the Wall

“Why don’t you build your display case right into the wall, Paul?”

I laughed.  Then I shrugged.  Then I stopped to think.

My friend and I were discussing the case we’re getting ready to build for a special guitar which is part of the history of the music store, a business venture which goes back in the Lovely Lady’s family almost half a century.  We don’t ever plan to sell the old guitar again, so an appropriate method for allowing folks to see it without inviting their offers to purchase it is under consideration.

Make it a part of the wall. Permanent.

That would send a message, wouldn’t it?

This belongs here. It always has. It always will.

The future is tied to the past. Not in a way that drags the future back there again, but in a way that facilitates progress and gives witness to the journey.

Hmmm…make it a part of the wall.  This bears more thought.

The preacher in me is ready to step to the podium and fill the air with words and wisdom.

No.  Not tonight.

This bears more thought.

“Our deeds still travel with us from afar,
And what we have been makes us what we are.”
(from Middlemarch by George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Ann Evans ~  English novelist ~ 1819-1880)

“Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
(Deuteronomy 6:9 ~ NLT)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Getting Wet

The young man looked at me, as startled as if I had just suggested that he flap his arms and fly around the block.  I could see it in his eyes.  Crazy old manWhat are you thinking?

What he actually said was, “I’ve never done that before!  I don’t have the slightest idea how.”

I’ve heard the argument before.  Almost daily, customers remind me that they are old and shouldn’t be expected to learn new skills.  But, this kid is not much more than eighteen years of age–not that the age thing excuses even the older ones.

I looked him in the eye and asked, “Were you born knowing how to walk?”

He rolled his eyes.  “Of course not.”

I rolled my own eyes.  “If you could learn how to do something that hard, surely you can figure this out.”

What he hoped for–what most of them hope for–was for me to say that I would do the task for him.  It would be so much simpler.

The easy way out.

It is what we all want.  More to the point, it is what we all think we want.

The young man had brought me a piece of equipment he wanted to sell.  I didn’t want the gadget.  Instead of turning him down flat, I had looked up the selling price on a popular site online.  Then I offered him less than half of what they were selling for online.

He balked at selling the unit for that, which was what I really wanted him to do.  Now, I had him where I wanted him.  A moment to teach, I hoped.  I merely suggested that he sell his piece of equipment on that site online.

He could have the entire amount to himself.  Twice what I was going to give him.


After I spent a few moments encouraging him to follow the simple instructions on the site for selling his valuable thing-amie, I sent him home to get the job done.

I thought.

Two hours later, the boy was back.

“I’ll take your offer.  I don’t need the lecture; just give me the money.”

He didn’t bother to look me in the eye as he took the money I counted into his hand.

The easy way out.

When we take it, we may win.  But, we will also lose in the process.

Was one action right and one wrong?  No, of course not.  It’s just that one action offered far more reward.  Sure, there was more work to do the other way.  It would take some effort on his part.  But–twice the amount!  More than twice!

I’ve mentioned several times how much I like bridges.  I love the old ones especially.  The craftsmanship, the detail, the extra effort put into building that span of concrete and steel between one place and another–all of these and more take my fancy and bring a smile to my face.  The Lovely Lady and I will often drive for miles just to find one of these old gems still in use, or even one which is derelict and deserted.

I like bridges.  They make life easy.  Over the deepest of valleys or the widest of rivers, they provide a safe passage.  Speed along any highway and you’ll cross more bridges than you can count, since many of them are all but invisible from the road’s surface.  Sometimes though, you need to leave the safe, easy road and take the path which may get you wet.

I remember the day, many years ago.  The hot summer sun blazed overhead as the old blue pickup truck chugged along the dirt road.  The sweltering breeze blowing through the wing-glasses of the front doors did little to assuage the roasting temperature inside.

We didn’t care.  My buddy and I were headed to the lake for an afternoon of swimming and a volleyball game or two with the gang.  Bouncing along, the worn-out shocks failing miserably in their task of dampening the up and down motion, I watched the road ahead.

“Hey, cool bridge!” I yelled out as we approached the old steel truss span across the creek before us.

“Yeah?  Watch this!”  My buddy pulled the steering wheel to the left and we went over the mounded hilltop beside the bridge, seemingly headed straight into the depths of the creek.  I yelled, but I needn’t have worried.

It was summertime, after all, and the water level in the creek was pretty low.  We were only headed down to the old low-water crossing, a relic of the years before the bridge had been set in place.

Splash!  We hit the water and it sprayed up beside us in a cascade of shimmering diamonds that played in the torrid air and then fell back to the surface to flow on down the waterway.  The spray that the breeze blew back onto us only helped to cool us a little before we were sweltering again.

Brian C Payne [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsBut, it was a rush, leaving the safe path of the bridge up above us, and running through the crossing at break-neck speed.

How had I missed this before?  The invigorating joy of driving through that water is a thrill I will never forget–not if I live to be ninety.

 Sometimes we drive across the bridge.  Sometimes we need to take the hard, possibly dangerous path that offers a reward that won’t soon be forgotten.

Driving across the bridge will get us to where we need to be.

I’m thinking tonight though, that our Creator has designed us to do more than take the easy way.  The difficulties in our path are there simply to remind us that it is He who has given us the tools to get through.

My young friend took the easy way out, and he missed the payoff.  He did get paid, but not nearly as much as was his right.

Easy and safe?  The reward often matches the risk.

Difficult and new are almost always more frightening.  At first.  Suddenly, we realize that we were made to do this.

We were made to do this.

Time to get wet?

Hey.  I learned how to walk, didn’t I?

How hard can this be?

“Why not go out on a limb?  That’s where the fruit is.”
(Will Rogers ~ American humorist/actor ~ 1879-1935)

“The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”
(Like 17:5 ~ NLT)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved. 

I Just Want to Sit Down

Can you tell me why I’m here?

Right here?  Right now?

Tell me then, why do I want to be somewhere else?

One of those moments happened to me today.  You know what I mean.  A moment–no, more like an instant–when it was all crystal clear to me.

This is what I’m here to doExactly this!

The morning started out with frigid liquid dripping from up above.  As if that weren’t enough to deal with, the liquid turned to sleet, blowing and stinging the face as I headed to work. I wasn’t surprised by the snow which followed in the afternoon.  Well?  It was bound to come.  It was just a cold, miserable day.

I wanted it to be a snow day.  The kind of day when you would stay at home by the fire, sock feet propped up on the hearth, and an all-day novel on the lap.  Naps would, of course, be optional.

It wasn’t a snow day.

After hours of answering phone calls and packaging orders going to such exotic locales as Akron and Pittsburgh, I sent the Lovely Lady home to enjoy at least a couple hours of a snow day.  I would miss the fire, but I could relax at my desk until closing time.

Yeah, right.

He wandered in from the cold, having limped a good way on the icy sidewalk.  At first, I thought the fellow was just looking for a place to get warm and would then continue on his trek.  No such luck.

He removed his coat and the hoodie inside it, draping them carefully over the piano books behind him.  Clearly, he intended to stay for awhile.  Ah well.  I glanced longingly at my comfy desk chair, just a few steps away, but stayed on my feet and waited to find out what he needed.

He began to talk.  Musical instruments.  Family history.  Stories from his past.

Half an hour passed.  Still he talked.

No one would call him a good conversationalist.  His brain was damaged in the same accident that gave him the limp, years ago.  He struggles for the right word, stuttering it out when it comes, if it comes.

My mind wandered.  Could I tell him I was busy?  Maybe the phone would ring.  Why me?  Why today, when I wasn’t feeling well?  When was he ever going to head down the street again?

I gradually became aware of the direction his monologue was taking.  He has problems.  Today.  Family issues.  Practical things that won’t wait.  He doesn’t know what to do.

That’s when I heard the voice say the words.  Oh, not out loud.  But, in my head, the words came as clearly as if someone had spoken them into my ear.

This is why I’m here.  This is why my door is open today.  This man.

I must have shaken my head a bit, because the man in front of me stopped abruptly, seemingly confused.  When he went on, there were tears in his eyes and a tremor in his voice.

“I just needed to talk with someone.”

This is why I’m here.  This man who needs someone to listen to him.  Someone who won’t judge his ability to communicate.  Someone who doesn’t have a comfortable chair which calls more loudly than a neighbor who is troubled.

With new purpose, I began to listen to the man, paying attention to the details of his dilemma.  He didn’t need a solution, and not being in his shoes, I couldn’t offer one anyway.  It was well more than an hour later when he left, but his last words before heading out into the falling snow were of thanks just for letting him talk.

While he was in my place of business, two other men came in at different times.  Funny thing.  Both of them needed the same thing.  Just an ear and my attention.  It wasn’t completely undivided, but they both got it.

I get it.

For now, I get it–again.  Because, I would be lying if I told you this was a new revelation.  God uses us to do what He has equipped us for.  I have this music store and I like people.  I like talking to them.  I even like listening to them.  It’s just that sometimes, I forget that my task is not simply about what I like, but the task is about what others need.

The trappings of the music store–the instruments, the accessories, even the money I earn in running it–are all simply tools to help me achieve my task.

Two things, the Teacher said, are to be our focus.  Two things.


Sometimes the people aren’t pretty.  Nor clean.  Nor even witty.

No matter.

This is what we were born for.  Oh, sorry.  Did I say we?  Of course, I meant to say I.  This is what I was born for.

But, I wonder…

I remember what God asked that no-talent, Moses (well, he’s the one who said it, not me), when he protested that he couldn’t do the task God asked him to do.

God said, “What do you have in your hands, Moses?”

Moses answered, “A staff.”

God replied, “Use that.”

Right now, I have a music store in my hands.  Sometimes I have a computer there, too.  I know lots of folks who have other things in theirs.  A beautiful home, perhaps.  Or, the ability to cook, or build, or clean.  Or sing.

This.  This is why I am here.

You may have to remind me again someday soon.

“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth.”
(John 18:37 ~ ESV)

“True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written, in writing what deserves to be read, and in so living as to make the world happier and better for our living in it.”
(Pliny the Elder ~ Roman philosopher/naturalist ~ 23-79 AD)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.