Just Wait!

The mundane. Such monotony. Sameness, day after day — until the lightning strikes. And in a flash of recognition you know God is speaking. His contact comes in a thousand different ways: while you lend a hand to someone; or give of your substance; or speak encouragement; or you listen to someone who needs to…

Safe Migration

            It was April in Alaska, when steel-gray skies weigh upon the heart, and birch trees seem to dress in mourning attire. About mid-month we hadn’t packed away knit caps yet, and underfoot my wife and I crunched traction sand on pavement that finally replaced black ice. As we ambled along, we desperately searched for…

Grizzly Memories

            An Alaskan English professor and her two young nieces ran afoul of a grizzly on a trail at the Chena River State Recreation Area. The bear was only a cub—perhaps 200 pounds, but it seemed intent upon protecting territory or killing for food. A burly sow wandered elsewhere out of sight, but this juvenile…

Dear Preachers

Please stop teaching that the principles in the Bible have many interpretations relative to a person’s circumstances in life. To any thinking Christian, you sound ridiculous. It sounds like you believe that God’s written word for mankind can be stretched like taffy to accommodate human appetites. If you teach that God waffles about the way…

Sweet Things

I am reminding myself today to soak in the fine things, the sweet things. Like taking strength from the bearhug of a grown-up son. Or drinking in the silly smiles of a granddaughter as she kisses my unshaven cheek again and again. I can ignore these moments like a reflexive breath or I can savor…

Where Else?

Okay, there may be a few places, but: Where else would our hackles rise as we hurry past a grazing moose? Where else could we hear, from our porch, a wolfpack singing songs of the hunt? Where else could we see bald eagles launch from the branches of a cottonwood? Where else do lengthening days…

Palm of Dread

It’s morning again… Sometimes, while I sleep, my subconscious meddles in God’s business, trying to solve problems. I awaken feeling like a giant palm is pressing down upon me. But I am learning that the moment I blink awake, I must choose to “set my mind on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2),”…

The Glare of Duty

Captain of the warship Shenandoah titled his log entry for August 2, 1865: “The darkest day of my life.” James Waddell had accepted his commission from the Confederate States of America to search out and destroy all Union merchant vessels within range of his cannons. After sinking or capturing over a dozen Yankee ships in…

Rockin’ and Rollin’ at Hell’s Gate

            On a rainy February day, my family left the civilized interstates of Northern California, and set out for the Far North, via the Alaska-Canada Highway. My son, Tom, had just turned two (months that is), and my sons, Matt and Ben, were 11 and 8. My wife, Carol, and I were in our energetic…

“Wigwam” Woman

In Fairbanks, you didn’t expect a smile and “Good afternoon!” from Irene, even on a warm and cheerful day. You risked being pummeled with curses if you tried to force a conversation. Unlike the weather, Irene’s face seldom changed from a scowl as she ambled down the street to her “wigwam” at Noyes Slough. She…

Havoc

A 5.3 magnitude earthquake rattled our windows today. This temblor was a portion of left-overs we often feel, since the destructive 7.1 shaker on November 30, 2018. It was an eerie feeling, counting the seconds while the earth grumbled under the house again. In 2018, our 7.1, four-minute quake flung dishes and pans helter-skelter onto…

Treacherous Beauty

Accuracy in maps can determine the life or death for an Alaskan traveling in the bush. Based upon our maps, planes skirt mountain peaks, hikers avoid impassable gorges, and kayakers classify a river’s difficulty by ratings whether it’s “still and gently moving water” or “unnavigable whitewater.”            Yet, no seasoned Alaska traveler relies on maps alone.…

Is This the End of the Line?

The phrase “the end of the line” infers finality. Hitting the wall. Cessation. Did you know that, at one time in history, God’s plan to redeem mankind appeared to be at “the end of the line?” (II Kings 8:16-11:16 and II Chronicles 22:10–23:15) Around 840 BC, bloody political intrigue pursued the monarchs of Judah. King Jehoram…

Mastering Monument

            “We’re going up that?”             My hunting partner, Joe, studied the treacherous Monument Trail like a pugilist gauging combat. Standing in the bed of his bright yellow, 1949 one-ton Ford, I searched for hand holds. Monument sneered down at us, and suddenly Joe hopped behind the big black steering wheel and slammed the iron…

Acre of Iron

A lament for Alaskan elders who still burn wood for heat, stock their freezers with caribou and silver salmon, and never throw anything out — in case a neighbor needs it.       Oh, how things have changed in Alaska——–             Mr. Percival lives in what neighbors call the “junk yard.” His ramshackle workshop squats near…

Smoking Chaff of 2021

Peter was having another difficult day… At a fish fry, Jesus and he were exploring the depths of his commitment when Peter asked about the future of his young friend, John. “What about him, Lord?” Peter attempted to deflect attention away from himself, but Jesus didn’t take the bait. He responded, “If I want him…

Tsunami of Grace

In these days of uncertainty, I’ve been soaking in Romans 5:20-21 lately.——— It says: God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s…

Never Aground

            In the early 1900s, the captain of a steamship feared running aground in Alaska waters more than gale-force winds. He might brave a storm — but grounding on ice or a hidden reef not only wrecked a shipmaster’s vessel, but also his reputation.             Only 16 lighthouses had been constructed along the 47,300 miles…