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The Old Man

The Old Man

 

Deep snow lay on the ground by the town center oak tree

Every morning an old man would come

Underneath the oak tree

Sit without fail upon the bench

Underneath the oak tree

His eyes dim

His cheeks rosy

Underneath the oak tree

He walks each morning unassisted

To sit under the oak tree

The town’s children and young man

Underneath the oak tree

Com and sit upon the cold ground

Underneath the oak tree

To hear of love and days gone by

Underneath the oak tree

The old man speaks to listening ears

Underneath the oak tree

Of people and places now unknown

Underneath the oak tree

They laugh at him when he tells

“The empires once kissed me here”

Underneath the oak tree

Frozen to the ground his boots

His lifeless body not mowing

Here he sits and here he dies

Underneath the oak tree

Town’s people gather to say fare well

Underneath the oak tree

A stately coach

The palace guard

The Dowager approaches

Gently she takes the old man’s hand

Underneath the oak tree

“Seems to late I found you my lover dear”

Underneath the oak tree

She bends down to kiss the hand of the old man gently

The old man to rest is laid

Underneath the oak tree

Next to him another grave

Underneath the oak tree

The name upon the headstone you find

Underneath the oak tree

 

Old Squeaky

Old Squeaky

By: Filip Brunner

Spiritual lessons from a car

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book is dedicated to my family, my wife Kim, and to our six children and to a quirky little car we affectionately call:

“Old Squeaky”.

 

Introduction

 

So I took out “Old Squeaky” today and we went on yet another rescue mission. “Old Squeaky” as we call it, is a 1997 Ford Thunderbird. When I bought it in 2016, nobody liked it. It was loud, deformed, old, and dangerous on wet pavement. But most of all it squeaked at slow speeds.

I originally bought it for my daughter to replace her first car which died on her for the last time in 2016.  The Thunderbird had its original engine with less than 80,000 miles on it. It ran well and had no major issues. It was the ugly duckling in the midst of our flotilla of cars:functional, but despised and rejected by all. Let dad drive it; he only takes it to work and back and will not be embarrassed to drive “Old Squeaky.” No one said it out loud but that was precisely who ended up with it.

We, just like the car, at times feel unwanted, ugly and out of step with society. The Smiths and Joneses of our time have left us behind and our walk with the Lord is not what we have envisioned it be.

There are several observations I have made about the little car, which parallel our spiritual lives as well.

All full scripture references (full verses – not partial paraphrases of Scripture), are taken from the King James Bible (public domain)

 

Dedication

 

This book is designed to present the reader with a lighthearted approach to understanding the world we live in and to provide ammunition for the fight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions:

 

This devotional is divided into sections of six day weeks; the seventh day is for rest and reflection.

The reader can read this material randomly or in order; this is strictly up to you.

 

Week One

 

Day One:

 

“Old Squeaky” is often overlooked.

 

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Matthew 25:40

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s be honest, who wants to be seen in an ugly old car that makes odd noises as it goes down the street? My daughter could not possibly want to be seen at the senior prom in it. Her mother’s crossover is nothing more than an updated version of a station wagon, so it is not much better. What was I as her father to do? With a deep sigh and a bewildered look on my face, I reluctantly handed her the keys to the 2003 Jaguar x- class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You have not because you ask not. When you do ask, you ask amiss so you can use it for your selfish desires.”

At times what God provides and what we want are two different things. God provides “Old Squeaky” but we want the Jag. The problem is how to get from point A to point B and back safely. God provides the transportation but we are not satisfied with the provision.

Don’t get me wrong, as a father I want the best for my children.

“If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give you good gifts?”

Does that mean that we need to indulge our children’s every whim? Certainly not, and neither does our Heavenly Father indulge us all the time. In the Psalms,King David puts it this way: “I have been young, and now am old yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.”  In the New Testament, the apostle Paul puts it another way when he states that he has learned contentment. Both writers have observed the all sufficiency of God’s provision.

 

 

 

Question of the day:

 Have I ever misjudged someone based on our first impression of them?How should I see the people around myself?

IVAN

General Nacamura was in trouble and he knew it, in the brief moments when he was continues enough to know what was going on around him. His Imperial armor was rent in several places and his body was leaking vital fluids from injuries sustained in a brutal attack by his own men. What hurt more than the physical injury to his body, was the fact that the order to kill him came from the emperor himself. General Ivan Nacamura was a war hero, decorated several times for bravery and valor, unmatched in combat by anyone including the emperor. Now he was face down in a festering swamp, struggling to survive. Presently he could hear the soothing female voice of his wrist computer calling out to him. “Sir, your armor repair is at 16% and rising but none of this will matter if you do not allocate some of the micro ultra small robotic thingies to work on your ailing health, you know where you been cut to schribbons?” This was Paul’s idea wasn’t it? He programmed the suit’s artificial intelligence to talk like that. For once his head was clear enough for him to respond: “Yah, LINDA, whatever it takes to keep us alive, K?”  He managed to squeak out between belabored breaths.

 

“Kill them all, and find General Nacamura and bring him before me! Now!” The voice from the emperor thundered trough the now mostly empty halls of the throne room. The emperor was mostly alone now servants were busy carrying dead bodies away and cleaning up the marble floors of the imperial palace. The emperor, moved with grief, set in his dead wife’s throne and wept.

 

Deep in the swamp, surrounded by shrubs and blackened trees lay the motionless body of General Nacamura. “LINDA? Are they still looking for us?” LINDA (Light Infantry Neurological Data Assistant) hesitated. Ivan Nacamura was beginning to appreciate why the field grunts affectionately referred to LINDA as “Limited Intelligence”.  On the other hand, considering the beating they took it was remarkable that they were alive, less-alone functioning at…he looked at the display…nearly 20 percent. “Sir.” LINDA begun.  “If by looking you mean actively searching? Then no, I can see no discernable pattern to… I am sorry sir, but what do we call them? I cannot bring myself to call them enemy troops, sir.” She paused. “I suppose that at the moment we have to consider them as hostile elements, sir.”

 

A palace coup d’état is newer a pleasant ting to have to go through. The emperor was still catatonic; bodies were being taken to the mortuary, when a distant voice shocked him back to reality. Through the fog which lay thick upon the emperor’s mind, he could hear someone say; “She is alive.”He opened his tear stained eyes to see who the melodious voice belonged to.  Before the throne he could see the kneeling form of a woman, a woman he knew well and a new wave of livid fury flooded his emotionally charged brain. Without a moment’s thought, his right hand went for the hilt of his sword. Fortunately the instrument of death was not in its sheet. “You and your husband have much to answer for, lady Nacamura!” The emperor spat the words out from behind clenched teeth. His anger was understandable as far as he knew the Nacamura clan was in part responsible for the whole mess, but wait! The emperor froze, what was Joy Nacamura saying? Who was alive? He had to clear his head, fast!

 

Ivan needed to get moving, but the pain was unbearable and he was sinking deeper into the murk of the swamp. “LINDA? What can you do about the pain? And are we sinking? It sure feels like it.” Ivan managed to turn himself onto his side so that his head was facing to the right side instead of down where all he could see was gray mud. “Sir, I am unable to properly assess the situation because the emperor’s sword is still in your left shoulder and my secondary processing unit. As for the pain I should be able to manage a pain dispelling potion.” He heard her right. “Pain dispelling potion? Really?  What’s next? A magic carpet ride?” LINDA ignored him. Ivan wiped the mud from his face and helmet. Next he tried to reach the hilt of the sword which was still buried in his left shoulder.

 

Joy Nacamura was trembling, at the moment she had no clue what the irate emperor would do.  She hoped that the information she had would prove valuable enough to purchase her and her husband’s life. She ventured out by coming back to the palace after seeing the lifeless body of her sister and the emperor’s wife.  When I say sister the reader must understand that the empires and Joy were not related by blood, but by a pact of friendship and law of the land. When they were younger Joy was hired or more specifically blackmailed into an assassination attempt against Jewel before she was married to emperor Julianus.  But that is a story for another day and another time. At this moment, however, she was in no position to demand anything, let alone that her life would not be taken. From the emperors point of view she was part of a plot to overthrow the government of Draconia and by extension Jewels death and the blood of so many nobles was upon her hands. Not that she had personally anything to do with their death but she was part of the party which attacked here today.

 

“Sir, until that blade is removed, I cannot repair that part of your body. My repairs on the armor and its circuitry in that area will not be possible either. Without that processor I cannot manufacture or control anymore of the tiny tinny robots. Repairs will be halted at 23%.” LINDA fell silent and the general’s massive bulk begun to sink deeper into the quagmire. Ivan lay there motionless not wanting to move, unable to move. Then right before despair took him, an arm reached down to grip him by the collar and he felt himself being lifted out of the swampy pit. Was it friend or was it foe? At this point…? Exhausted and badly out of much needed blood, Ivan passed out. It was for the best he thought to himself as darkness took him.

 

Waking up somewhere in the imperial palace was not Ivan’s idea of good things to come. The fact that his armor was nowhere in sight, added to his apprehension. But then, the sword was not sticking out of his shoulder anymore and he was bandaged up and blood was dripping merrily into him trough an IV. Nothing in the universe could have prepared him for what happened next.  The door in the back of the infirmary slid open and two guards in golden imperial armor stepped in. “Two? Just two, I am hurt.” He thought to himself. The next person to enter was a tall slender cloaked and hooded person, from the looks of it this person, whoever this was, carried himself with the regal disposition of a royal person. Presently Ivan spoke. It was his opinion was that if he was going to be tried treason, he might as well get it over with.   Ivan found that while his mind was able to formulate words and sentences, his voice box and his mouth could not produce any sound. He wanted to be herd; he wanted to explain, to make people understand. “You have been poisoned.” The tall figure declared in a dull, somber voice. Ivan knew that voice and the person who belonged to it. “Don’t try to get up! The poison works on your central nervous system and you will find that the more you fight it the worse it will get and the faster it will spread. Oh. And I need you alive, for the moment.” The “for the moment” sounded like an icy reminder of the swamp.

 

The emperor managed to take sufficient control of his faculties to listen to lady Nacamura, but only because she had some misguided information about his wife. “What Joy you bring to this scène of total carnage, lady Nacamura. You may speak.” His words felt like daggers to her ears. She decided to refrain from lashing out at the man she knew was full of sorrow and contempt for her and her husband and the others who wanted to save the empire. My sister’s body lives, my lord.” She paused to let the gravity of her words to penetrate the fortress of the grief stricken emperor’s mind. He gazed at her with renewed interest. “Her majesties life-force was transferred into an imperial staff the process could be reversed once the staff has been recovered.” The emperor processed the information as fast as he could. At that moment, Emperor Julianus Ramath Og-Mag, gained as much clarity of thought as he had before this infernal year began. All of the memories of the past year flooded his mind.  He realized that his mind has was slowly, over time poisoned against his wife, against his friends and against his subject and against peace between the two main people groups of the empire. This new information sounded incredible, fantastic to good to be true. Yet somehow he knew. “Where is Baron Exiter? I want him found,” A tall hooded figure stepped forth out of the shadows.

 

“Oh, don’t worry old boy, you won’t die, not today at any rate. I just needed you sedated so we could drag you out of that infernal swamp.” Ivan did not know if he should be grateful to hear the voice of Baron Exiter or no, but at that moment it sounded like music to his ears, Exiter’s voice had that effect on people. I guess it is OK to be calm when one finds themselves face to face with the head of the imperial assassin’s guild. “Listen, once this stuff wares off, I need you to go to earth and babysit what is left of the empires. While you are there we will finish sorting out what is left of the realm. Julianus is holding onto the throne and your wife agreed to stand in for Jewel until her sister’s spirit has been reunited with her body which is in stasis at the moment.” Ivan tried to raise his hand in protest but it was no use. He was the one who needed to help solidify the empire; you know, be out there, fighting wars and stuff. A servant girl came in and bowed. “Your imperial armor is on its way up here my lord.” She bowed again turned and left the room as fast as she came in. “Yah! LINDA is back.” He shouted at the top of his lungs and sound came out, things were looking up.

 

At this time it would be nice if the narrator would say: “And they all lived happily ever after.” But no, this is a space drama and not a fairytale. So, pay attention. Jewel was reunited with her body. That is just about the only good part. Wars for the empire dragged on for centuries to come. The emperor and his wife were exiled to earth. Ivan Nacamura died protecting the son of the emperor and his wife.   Joy was exiled together with the emperor and Jewel. There may come a time when this story will have a happily ever after ending but it is not now. Now we know that hope remains in the hearts and minds of those who value truth and freedom even if it means that someone else is on the throne of their lives. Lies and deception destroy, that is their function. Truth gives life and sets people free even if they find themselves in the dark places of this world.