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Welcome to the Family!

The Miracle Man

Paradise, AZ 1951

Welcome to Paradise. Off the beaten path, sleepy, backwater—call it what you will, Police Chief Luke Hollis likes his town just the way it is. Clear skies and fair winds make for smooth sailing. Luke’s perfectly content to concentrate on nothing but a good cup of coffee and working up the nerve to approach his dispatcher, Ruby Brooks, with his feelings for her. When an unexpected miracle occurs at the Mount Moriah Pentecostal Church of God events are set in motion that will challenge him, test everything he believes, and ultimately change his life forever. Throw in a struggling minister, a world-class grifter, a stranger with an unbelievable story of love and redemption and the stage is set for The Miracle Man. By the time it’s all over everyone involved will come face to face with a Power that’s greater and more wonderful than any of them could have ever imagined.




Rear View Mirror...
                           a Blog

Somewhere... Over the Rainbow... 

Traveler’s Tip #333
Stop at the Mennonite store in Clark Fork, ID. The caramel coffee cake is unbelievable. And if you see a horizon-to-horizon rainbow shining so bright it hurts, thank God. He’s so good!
 

Welcome to this week’s political street brawl; America stands decidedly divided into two corners—those with the technical acumen to superimpose rainbow colors over their facebook profile pics, and those without. Or at least those who feel everything they hold dear and sacred is being stripped away, shingle by shingle.
 
Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me bless His Holy Name! Thank You Lord that You’re not stressed.
 
I’m taking a close look and, surprisingly, finding I’m not stressed either. It is well, it is well, with my soul… I’m standing with the King. Resting in my Father’s arms.
 
I’m a Christian, that’s the deal. Mast to keel. I love my friend Jesus. He’s shown Himself faithful at every turn and I’ll return the favor. He’s the reason I breathe in and out. Don’t agree with me? That’s fine. I’ll give you a cup of cold water. I’ll visit you when you’re sick. I’ll even help you move (and that’s saying something—I hate moving). I’ll show you Christ and His love because I love you. And because He loves you.
 
Let me ask, do we really expect a government that is vocally and adamantly Godless to legislate morality based on God’s principles? Of course not, why would we? His word clearly says what these days will look like right down to the gnat’s eyebrow. Here we are. Even secular historians will point out the fact that history repeats itself. So the U.S. goes the way of Rome—practically a carbon copy—because mankind is mankind. I guess we’ll see what God’s hand holds. Revival? Maybe. Repentance? Who knows? Or we’ll just slip under the waves with a great rebellious whimper.
 
Either way, God is God and always will be. Long after this earth is dust.
 
Yes, Christians, the hate directed toward you is intense right now. Does it make sense? Not really, unless God is who He says He is—the embodiment and definition of love and justice. We all feel it. But hey, this is a battle that started long ago. Long before red white and blue flew over a rainbow-colored white house. It’s nothing but a continuation of the same old story. One that started in the garden, continued at the cross, and has raged with fury everyday since.
 
Choose this day whom you will serve. It all brings me to my knees, to worship.
 
Man wants to be God. He pontificates, legislates, and shakes his fist at the sky. And the laughter of the One-who-allows-our-hearts-to-beat echoes through the heavens…
 
Face it—it’s an old, tired dance. The radical few (not all—but they’re good at pulling the uninformed into the cause) aren’t shy about stating the end-game. The clear-cut mission is the expulsion of Jesus Christ from the world culture.
 
“Change!” they tell me. “Your old ways are irrelevant now!”
 
Look, I can trace my Christian heritage back directly 600 years. In 1728 my family showed up on these shores to serve and love in the name of Christ. They fought in the Revolutionary War and every war since. Patriots to the core. But we’ve always known our true citizenship was not of this earth. This little rock hanging in space is just a breath—a vapor. It’ll crumble one day. And I’ll go to my fathers. And my Father.
 
The question is, while I’m part of this world, can I love someone even if I don’t agree with his or her choices? Well, God did that with me at every turn. He didn’t agree, or condone, but He loved. In fact, He loved this whole messed-up, rebellious, sinful humanity to the point of death. He loved us to the point of Jesus.
 
C’mon folks, don’t buy the lie that everyone has to support everything someone does or thinks in order to love them. That makes no rational sense—in fact it’s ridiculous—unless you’re quivering under the illogical umbrella of political correctness. If you are, please knock it off. It’s annoying. Fold that thing up and put it away. Common sense is a much better choice.
 
Enemy fire—so do we Christians run screaming for the caves? Of course not. Stand up! Be men! Don’t whine! God is God and if He’s real—and He is—He will have His way. What have we to fear?  Let me tell you brother, there’s a Supreme Being infinitely higher than any Supreme Court. Higher than the Heavens are above the earth.
 
And still He loves—beyond all imagination.
 
Come home sons! Come home daughters! Your Father misses you!
 
As for me, I’ll love my traditional wife—always. I’ll love my traditional kids—always. And I will love all those God puts in my path. Rainbow colored Facebookers and all.
 
And I will serve Jesus and Jesus alone with my dying breath. And the then real adventure will begin…
 
Fair winds,
Buck

Life In the Happy Ending 

Traveler’s Tip #332
The world is your backyard. And you don't have to mow it.
 
 
“I have come," said a deep voice behind them. They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong that everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him.”
C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair
 
“Dearest Daughter. I knew you would not be long in coming to me. Joy shall be yours.”
C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy
 
 
I’d planned on sharing something else this week (I’ll save it for another) but today I’m absolutely wrecked by the goodness of God and it’s all I want to talk about. I’m pinned to the ground by His relentless love. I can’t move. Over and over, just when I feel bent to the point of breaking, He takes me by surprise. I come—again—to the realization I’m living in the happy ending. And the story is just getting started. 
 
Hey, world – flail and falter! Spit, scratch, and scream. I am His and His alone. He is for me, where does that leave you?
 
Take heart, travelers! Yes, the night is dark, but it’s also far spent. The cliffs are steep, the wind is howling, and the road is rough but the Driver’s not stressed. Lean your head back, listen to the music, and enjoy the ride. You’re gonna love the destination.  
 
Yup, I am wrecked with joy.
 
And one day soon, face to face.
 
That’s it, travelers… Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
 
Fair winds,
Buck
 

The Beautiful Ordinary 

Traveler’s Tip #331
The road less traveled is narrow, winding, and mostly uphill. Take it anyway. The view’s worth it and there’s almost never any traffic.
 

After a two-week tour with the remarkable Randy and Leslie Stonehill (and Nigel the unflappable and odd-looking tour dog) I find myself the sailor home from the sea. Feeling ragged but Spirit-filled. There were so many wonderful people along the way, it’s sad to see them in the rear-view mirror. What an amazing miracle, this family of God!
 
Uncle Rand is living history and I love to pry stories out of him. Writing Love Broke Through and listening to the engineer’s pressing of Jackson Browne’s For Every Man with Keith Green, Moon Pies with Mark Heard, Abbey Road (enough said), Ringo Starr hitting him up for a ride after a party in London, the grumpy Scottish codger and his false directions to the concert venue (now, follow everything I told ye and you’ll be…  NO WHERE NEAR IT!)
 
I ask him, “Is there anyone you haven’t met or anywhere you haven’t played?”
 
He says, “Did I ever tell you about that time in Outer Mongolia?”
 
This is the way it works. So begins another truth is stranger than fiction tale about grey-out power surges, chain smoking interpreters, and an overabundance of Fanta Orange Soda. A person could put Randy in the corner instead of a TV and save a bundle on the cable bill. Great for long drives.
 
On the Washington coast we stopped to visit a precious brother struggling with a debilitating disease who’s been a fan of Randy’s since the early seventies. What a blessing. Tears ran freely as Randy played and spent some time. I don’t believe anyone wanted it to be over.
 
Later, back in the car, we talked again.
 
Randy looked thoughtful. “You know, earlier, when we were talking about those shows at Red Rocks?”
 
“Sure.” Frankly, I was a little jealous. It’s been one of my dreams to play Red Rocks ever since U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky.
           
“Red Rocks was cool, but that living room back there? Those are the important gigs, don’t you think? The eternal ones. I think that’s the stuff that really means something in the big scheme of things.”
 
Okay, maybe I feel better about never playing Red Rocks. Because I’ve known a lot of places like that living room. And he’s right of course. The concerts, all the nice people at the product table afterwards, the travel—it’s all wonderful, but the fact is God is in the beauty of the ordinary.
 
I know this for a fact. I’ve seen Him in the eyes of third-world children. In the bent frames of the elderly. He’s the lover of office workers and mailmen. He contends with passion and intensity for the hearts of hookers and preachers and convicts and the guys that smoke cigarettes and hold those SLOW signs, the ones that wave at you with two fingers when there’s roadwork going on.
 
Do you see yourself as ordinary? Maybe feel like you don’t mean much in the immensity of God’s plan? Think you’re just the little guy? You would be wrong. The thing is, you mean everything.
 
Here’s the thing. If you or I or Mother Theresa or Richard Ramirez or the Apostle Paul had been the only residents on this bit of dust floating in space, the grand drama—the cross and empty grave, the Christ story—would have played out exactly as did.
 
You are worth dying for to a God Whose love and attention is limitless and infinite.
 
He is God of time and universe. He is the God before whom the Kings of the earth will one day bow. He is the God that longs for you, thinks of you, every second of every day and will for all eternity.
 
He is the God of a man, broken in body but not spirit, in a small house in the trees. He holds him close and whispers wonders unimaginable of a soon home-coming where there will be no more pain. No tears, MS, or wheelchairs.
 
He is the God of us. And there is endless belonging.
 
 Thank you Lord for the beautiful ordinary.
 
I’m so glad to know You.
 
Fair winds,
Buck

Lord I Believe – Help My Unbelief 

Traveler’s Tip #330
Blue sky, birds singing outside, water trickling… Hey, CCR - Lodi isn’t such a bad place to be stuck.
 
 
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
                                                                                                Mark 9 
 
I started a two-week tour with Randy Stonehill last night here in Lodi, California. A sweet evening. Forgot a few words, missed a chord or three, but a sweet evening with a guy determined to finish well. Anyway, there are lovely people in Lodi and they don’t seem to mind a dropped word. This morning I’m tucked away in a single-wide trailer in some groves behind a church. Moving on up the coast tomorrow.
 
I miss my family terribly.
 
But Jesus is here.
 
It’s been a lot of driving over the last few days. Northern Idaho to Cali. I’ve been thinking about faith. Jesus talked about faith the size of a mustard seed. Sounds easy but sometimes I think my fingers are too big to pick up something so small. Either that or mustard seeds can get crazy heavy.
 
At night, when the monsters come out, I worry. Not for myself, for some reason my faith is strong there. My family though, that’s another story.
 
I’m not sure why I struggle in this area. In my mind I know God is sufficient in all things. Especially love—he loves my family more than I ever can. Still, the responsibility weighs. The life of a writer on the road can be challenging. Financially, emotionally, so many ways. And I want to take care of them. Give them what they need. It can be a heavy weight. You know the one… I bet you’ve been there, too.
 
“Don’t I always come through?” Jesus says.
 
“Lord I believe. Help my unbelief!”
 
 “Have you seen miracles?”
 
“Yes. Help my unbelief!”
 
“Remember Rock Springs, Wyoming?”
 
“Yes.”
 
“Remember that time in Eastern Arizona? Nebraska? That gas station in Honduras? That night by the Galilee in Israel? Was I there then? Do I need to go on? Because I can…”
 
“I wish you would…”
 
“Have you ever wanted for anything?”
 
I have to think about this one. But other than In-N-Out Burger when I’m not in the Southwest nothing comes to mind.
 
“No.”
 
“Then why do we keep having this conversation? Be still. I am God.”
 
I know He’s there. He’s proven Himself true over and over, time after time. Then why the struggle, Buck? Why do I worry about my family? I love them so much. I want to take care of them. I want the best for them. But so does He. The difference between us? He actually knows what’s best.
 
So this is me, Jesus. Confessing my shortcomings. Confessing my worry. Confessing my struggle and doubt and worry. I love You and I know You’re faithful. So I’ll put one foot in front of the other. With Your help I’ll drive on. I’ll trust You in the miles, the music, and the pen. I’ll trust that you’ll meet the needs. Of both my family and others I bump into along the road. I’d be blessed if You’d use me. I know You don’t need me when it comes right down to it, and if I’m honest I don’t have much to offer, but I’ll be your man.
 
And I suppose that’s all He’s ever wanted.
 
How about you? Do you struggle with doubt? Does that mustard seed grow bigger than the mountain it’s supposed to move? Are you the dad in Mark chapter 9 (help my unbelief…)? Welcome to the herd. Believe me, you’re not alone. We’re a curious bunch of ordinary radicals. Set apart yet human. Holy but still arm wrestling with the old man, muscles shaking.
 
I’m asking Him for faith, travelers. I’m committing—again—everything and everyone that’s dear to me into His hands. Maybe you are, too.  
 
Anyway, thanks for talking it through with me. I feel better.
 
We’re in this together. And to quote old, unflappable Hank Sr. – We’ll never get out of this world alive…  Might as well roll down the windows and enjoy the ride.
 
Take care of them please, Jesus. I need you so desperately.
 
Lord, I believe… I just believe.
 
Fair winds,
Buck

On Love and Duct Tape 


 
Traveler's Tip #329
Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. -Mother Teresa
 

On Love - 
 
There is no remedy for love but to love more.
-Henry David Thoreau
 
 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
-Jesus Christ
 
There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
Faith makes all things possible... love makes all things easy.
-Dwight L. Moody
 
Love thinks no evil.
-Apostle Paul
 
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
-Jesus Christ
 
Love hurts.
-Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
 

On Duct tape-

One of the things I ask God most often is that I can hear His voice more clearly. Not what I think is His voice, or what I think He might say if I did hear Him, but to really hear His voice and heart and will.
 
I’ve found this to be a dangerous prayer. Because like any good prayer, it leads places.
 
Oswald Chambers talked about being so close to the heart of God that His will and our will become one. A great man, a good man, I tip my hat to him.
 
I’m not Oswald - I’m the duct tape guy. One long strip, wrapped over every inch of my body.
 
            Jesus asks, “You want to hear me? You want to know me?”
           
            I say yes, although the tape over my face muffles the word.
 
            “Okay, then,” He says. “Let’s get you out of the way.”
 
And so it begins. The tearing, the pulling. It hurts, sure, but that’s what love does sometimes. Little bits of me come free with every tug of the tape. Sometimes he pulls a long strip at once. I shout and complain. He smiles.
 
When it’s done I stand, cold and raw, stripped of all the useless baubles I’ve collected along the trail. They seemed important at the time. They’re nothing now—bits of unrecognizable chaff and dust stuck in a big wad of used tape. And He loves me. Enough to not let anything come between us, even me. I want to be like Him, but to do that I need to know Him. I need to understand His character—who He was, who He is.
 
Side by side through this life and into the next—tape free—here’s what I find: He’s infinitely patient. He’s kind (often when we least deserve it). He’s humble. He sees and hopes for the best in us. He’s quiet. He’s strong. The lost and broken come to Him and find a home. Children flock to Him, love Him, laugh with Him.
 
He’s the tugger of tape—the remover of self. He has a soft spot for me. He has a soft spot for you.
 
I pray that I can hear His voice. The answer is yes.
 
Yeah, Joan Jett, you’re right—love hurts.
 
But love is good…
 
Fair winds,
Buck

Goodbye From Venus 

Traveler’s Tips #328
 If you happen to wander onto the pages of my imagination don’t worry, it’s a mostly friendly place. Be sure to stop by the Venus Motel, you never know who might drop in.
 
 
I’ve written more songs than I can remember. Sometimes I’m asked which is my favorite. Writers say that’s like trying to pick their favorite child. Man, apply that to me and I’d be a miserable dad. I’d have some kids I liked, some I’m indifferent about, and a few I’d make sleep out in the garage.
 
But…there is this one song… I keep it around like loose change and guitar picks. I’m partial to it. Years ago I recorded it with good friends—we laughed a lot. And nights out playing it are great memories for me. Thinking back, nobody ever told me it was a very good song, at least not in the popular sense. No verse, chorus, or bridge. And I’m not convinced the words are structurally sound. Just a meandering piece of musical poetry that somehow fought its way out to the satellites and back.
 
I don’t play it much, unless it’s alone in a dark room. It sounds good to me there.
 

Goodbye From Venus
Past the edge of town,
Out where the world ends
Where the desert gives the sky
Nothing but silence
There’s an old motel
The sign is a shimmering Venus
And even though she smiles
Her eyes are sad
A husband and his wife
Laugh in the darkness
He fumbles with the key
She wraps her hair around her fingers
They walk into the room
By the light of the sidewalk
Throw the key inside the drawer
Next to Gideon’s Bible
And she says, Hey, let’s walk down by the swimming pool
Maybe we could have a beer while the room cools down
You know I really love to be with you
And there’s a million stars tonight…
 

A few chords and words—it’s a love song, I guess. Maybe not in the typical sense but more in the way that says, we’ve seen some things together and I can’t wait for more.
 
 Flickering blue light from the pool, the shadow of far-off mountains in the moonlight—and the one person in the world you know, without a doubt, is a gift from Heaven. This is the sweet thing. The thing I love. The thing that lasts.
 
As the years passed I missed the Venus Motel so I wandered back there in my writing. I closed my eyes and watched the sunset from the pool deck. Listened to Spanish guitar float from the lounge. The place wound up playing a big part in my novel and when we knocked around cover ideas I was thrilled that the Venus finally found her way to the front of the class.
 
I think of her out there, buzzing and flickering next to the great American highway while the sky tosses planets around. To me she’s always represented the broken in us. But also the watchful and the hopeful, with an eye to the horizon. She’s seen the wars, but chooses to remember the good. I’m glad she made the cover. Resurrected out of the back streets of my brain and cruising Main again. She reminds me of soft words and confidences, of holding my wife’s hand and hearing her laugh.
 
Even as the sun falls, we know it’s going to circle back. We’ll be hanging at the Venus for now but soon and very soon we’ll be able to say the night is far spent and the day is at hand. Eternity stretches out before us, a bright and shining thing, farther and more wonderful than imagination or pen can tell. I can live with that.     
 
So if you see her out there—the Venus—waving at you from the edge of the road or from the cover of a book, pull over. Check in. Relax a while. But make sure you schedule a wake-up call for just before dawn. Meet us on the deck. After all, we’re in this thing together. And the sunrise promises to be spectacular.
 
Fair winds,
Buck

The Long Road Home and Hillary in a Headlock 

Traveler’s Tip #327The road home is the longest, the last hour is the hardest, and the light in your living room window is the brightest star in the sky.
 
Hello, fellow pilgrims. I’m happy to say with the porch light at my little farmhouse acting as North Star I’ve docked safely at Planet Storm and dropped sails for a couple weeks. The sun is shining today and the air smells like cut grass and sky. I’m going to rest for a minute.
 
Not so around the world, I’m afraid. The smoke is thick out there. Buildings burning in Baltimore, Nepal shaking itself to the ground, nation rising against nation, warning shots across the bow… Damascus on the verge, Israel a cup of trembling, Russia rattling its sword… Oh, and the global war on Christians and Jews—the unvarnished truth whether it’s said out loud or not. 
 
And, in the midst of it all, to the delight of many and the indifference of others, the sun may quickly be setting on America’s long season as a world power.
 
It’s a page-turner, friends… In fact it’s an all-time, international best seller. Hey, just wait till you get to the end.
 
Yesterday’s Hillary sound bite - “Deep-seated religious beliefs must change.”
Oh well, she’s not the first. It’s been said that God’s word is an anvil that has worn out a lot of hammers. Sure, we can puff out our chests and shake our tiny fists but God is still God and we’re still not. Ha! I love Him!
 
“Of every earthly plan, that is known to man, He is unconcerned.” – Bob Dylan.
 
Translation—God’s not up there biting His nails and checking His blood pressure, amigos.
 
A conversation with Jesus plays through my brain pan:
 
            “What about Hillary?” I ask.
            “What about her?”
            “She’s irritating.”
            He laughs and says, “You’re irritating.”
            I can’t argue with that. “Could you at least take her down a few pegs?”
            He shrugs. “And while she was yet a sinner I gave my life for her, just like you.”
            “Yeah, but…”
            “But what?”
            “You don’t worry about everything going on?”
            “Um… No.”
            “I could do without the sarcasm.”
            “I’m sure you could.”
            “Just one peg?”
            “Turn off talk radio, kid. Love wins.”
 
So I have an idea (actually, I’m pretty sure it’s His idea). I stop whining and pray. I ask God to get old Hill in a half nelson of grace and peace and take her to the mat. Pin her with the love that has no end till every time she steps up to the microphone the only word on her lips is a resounding, joy-filled Jesus. That would be fun to see, wouldn’t it? To sing with Hillary in Heaven?
 
Note—Westboro Baptist, tele-evangelists, and Jesus-for-Profiters please put your fingers in your ears...
Yeah, the press is bad, but hang in there you Christians! Sure, you are hated, but so was He. Real love can be offensive. Jesus told us it would be this way. But I’ve met you all over the world, even across the brick and barbwire denominational lines. I’ve broken bread with you, slept in your homes, and laughed with you. You’re certainly not perfect but you’re lovely people. You’re the first to feed the hungry or to give a cup of cold water. You’re the first to give to those who have nothing, even if you suffer for it. I’ve watched your generosity bring smiles to the faces of the broken in every forgotten corner of the world. I’ve seen you love one race without prejudice—Adam’s race. God’s love, through you, has been no respecter of persons. You are responsible for the vast majority of good and loving works around the planet.  
 
Listen, the night is far spent, the hour is at hand, and the beginning is near. Cling to that armor of light till your fingers bleed. Hold on to what is good. Be encouraged! You’re not alone and you never will be. Oh, the indescribable glory of the Yesterday, Today and Forever God. You are His and that knows no end.
 
One day soon you will know Him even as you are known.
 
Believe me, He won’t leave you hanging…
 
And it’s not cheating to read the last chapter. Love wins!
 
Fair winds,
Buck           

A Season of Constant Unbalance 

Traveler’s Tip #326
If you lock your keys in your car outside of a Super Eight in Billings, Montana call Chuck at the Lock and Key. He’s a nice guy. Tell him Buck said hello. He’ll remember.
 
I’m feeling very ragged around the edges today. If I were a flag they’d retire me. I’ve lost track of states and miles over the last couple of weeks. Now the wind is whipping across the Dakotas and I’m in a season of constant unbalance.
 
Nighttime America stretches out in every direction. A black land-ocean broken only occasionally by islands of light—small towns and truck stops—hubs of activity and life. Somewhere near the Iowa/Minnesota border I filled a cup with ice to keep myself awake on the road. In line to get it I talked with a truck-driver with gold teeth and dreads who does the same. I was headed for the west coast. He was on his way to Amarillo with a half-load. A very nice guy looking forward to seeing his family. Later, at a rest stop, a businessman in a rush made sure we all heard his Bluetooth conversation. He almost tripped over a homeless girl sitting against the wall with her dog. He didn’t look down... She didn’t look up.
 
The woman cleaning the bathroom. The family taking pictures with the eighty-foot, concrete dinosaur. The guy at the counter with tobacco stains that stop at the end of his beard and pick up again on his T-shirt. The man in the Cadillac Escalade with a bronze statue of a racehorse bolted to the hood. So many people—so many stories. Hundreds, thousands, millions. And God—the Beautiful Reality—deeply invested in every single one, be they prodigal or pilgrim.   
 
Fortified with huge sodas and Slim Jims and trail mix we hoist our sails and ease out of the gasoline harbor back onto the terrestrial sea. We slip out into the dark and once again become nameless, faceless pairs of headlights. Out there with nothing but the broken white line I find lots of time to think. I pray, I talk, I listen. Sometimes He answers in short order. Little miracles breathed in a quiet voice or popping up on the cell phone screen. Then there are the tough prayers. The thorns in the flesh that grow bigger and more painful with every mile marker.
 
I have one particular thorn I’m wrestling with right now. I have deep conversations with the Lord about it. He smiles and puts His arms around me. He drops blessings around me like apples off a tree. I say thanks—but the thorn’s still there. I can think of lots of ways for Him to fix the thing and believe me I’m never shy about pointing them out. Still, nothing. Once in a while I decide I’ll kick open a door or two and yank the thorn out myself. He closes them again with a gentle hand.
 
“Why?” I say.
“Because My grace is sufficient,” He answers. “My grace. My love. My favor.”
 
And so it goes till everything fades and one truth remains—He’s right. Nothing, real or imagined, is as sufficient as His grace—even a prayer answered the way I’d like it to be.
 
A hundred years will pass. Then a million. A billion years. Billions of billions. The stars that pepper my windshield tonight will fade and die. He’ll say, “Watch this,” and laugh new ones into existence. I’ll be with Him at every turn. This thorn? What is it to me? I’m a child of the King.
 
And so it’s a season of constant unbalance and that’s just fine. In my weakness He is made strong. Just the way it should be. My Friend will drive now and I’ll rest in the dashboard lights.
 
Fair winds all you terrestrial sailors,
 
Buck

The Problem With Pockets 

It’s been lots of states over a couple days and I’m feeling pretty spongy. Today I’m in a hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska. Playing here in town tonight. I’m looking forward to the people and time with Jesus. 
Last night in Omaha was great. Had some old friends drive a long away for the concert and it was wonderful to see them. I love the family of God. We come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. We speak different languages. We wear different clothes. We worship in all kinds of ways. And yet, there’s such a joy of community with Jesus in the center. Jesus said the world would know we were His by our love for one another. I’m happy to be a part of that. I pray we’ll live up to it.
 
Over the last one million seventy-three miles I’ve driven in the last two days, I’ve been thinking about pockets. I’m emptying mine. Too many things shoved down in there that I don’t need. The old wounds and hard memories. Big things. Heavy things. After a while it gets hard to walk. Those tough, bitter stones that sink us straight to the bottom of our self-created hell. Have you been shot at? Maybe you knocked out the windowpane with the butt of your rifle and shot back? Have you been kicked into the dust then kicked some more? It happens in this imperfect world filled with imperfect people. Jesus said we’d catch a roundhouse once in a while. Sometimes we see the punch coming while our hands are tied behind our backs. It gets so frustrating. Then we have to decide what to do with the pain. God’s answer is simple—give it to Him. Lay it at the foot of the cross. Hey, Buck, drop the pistol.
 
Here I am. Emptying my big pockets of hard lumps of black. Some of them handled so often they’ve worn to a shine. There’s a great Bob Dylan line—Surrender your crown on this blood stained ground, and take off your mask. He sees your deeds, and He knows your needs even before you ask. I’m no mystery to God. I’m transparent as glass. There’s a great freedom in that. I’ll just come with all of it, turn my pockets out and ask Him to take all the trash. I’m tired.
 
I imagine a face to face with Jesus. I’d plead my case. Show Him the bruises. Talk about all the miles and dreams and dust. The churches and the bars and the broken. Man, it would be a long story. I know He could tell me to get over myself. Talk about His own very real suffering. But that’s not the Father’s heart. In the end I think He’d simply smile and say, “I love you. Be born again.” He has a way of getting straight to the heart of the matter.
 
Let me be free. Let me be clean. Let every day be the end of me—the beginning of Him.  
 
So I’m emptying my pockets of all the stones I’ve collected along the road. And I’m filling those same pockets up again to overflowing with the limitless love of God.
 
And here’s the incredible part—Love doesn’t weigh anything.
 
Fair winds,
Buck
 

Traveler's Tip #325 

If you're walking into a roadside rest area in Iowa and a maintenance lady with a mop says, "Be careful in there," if you say, "Why, are there tigers?" you'll have a new best friend.
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