Coal Tar Barns and the Presence of God.

I needed a place to go. Although it was late in the day, the sun descending towards the horizon, I needed a place to be. My wife was napping and the itch to make the most of the late-summer sun had come upon me abruptly. I gathered my gear and slipped my motorcycle quietly out of the garage. I rolled the bike down the street and ignited the engine far enough away from the house with the hope the distance would muffle the rumble in a way my pipes do not. Ah, I was on my way! The growl of the bike and the peppering of bugs hitting my face brought ease to my muscles and delight to my senses, believe it or not. Stress melted away into the curves and turns of the road. With rock walls on one side and the river on the other, I shifted and twisted up the sun-speckled asphalt.

After two stops to check my GPS, I found my way to the house of a long-time friend. Cattle corn just barely ready for harvest corralled the decades-old farmhouse on the multi-acre lot. It was a cool evening. The wind barely present, just enough to brush your face. Several out buildings and a dilapidated, faded-yellow outhouse reminded me of a much more productive, yet primitive time. We walked the property past bunny coops, through matted pasture grass and over-my-head stalks of corn. We spoke sacredly of our lives and friendship, both strains and conquests. Old stories and future hopes marked our conversation as we shared confidences and coffee.

As he escorted me through the homestead, sights and smells of my life growing up on my farm came racing back. Decades old dust covered every inch of the items in the coal tar barn. A wood-tined rake, old coffee cans of who-knows-what and various piles of wood were strewn about. I imagined who had lived here over the years and what their life was like. Thoughts of what was and what could be of this place streaked through my mind much like the yellow lines of the road streaked past my tires on the ride up.

Smatterings of Coal Tar remain on the wooden planks and metal hinge of the barn at my friend's homestead. Reminders of a time long gone.

As we closed our time together and said good-bye, there was a peace that had settled in me that I didn’t have when I left home. Our time together was sacred in so many ways. Although we spoke of times gone and yet to come, we were present with one another, attentive and alert to who and what we were in the moment. We were generous towards each other and grateful for the occasion and the coffee.

As I made my way home a very common word came to mind; so common I almost brushed it off. But as I road with the sun beneath the covers of the earth, the word lingered and grew to a thought. At the house, I opened my laptop and launched my Bible app as I felt a gentle pull in my spirit to continue to pursue significance to my thoughts. As I typed, another word came to mind and then a third. I did a search on each and was fascinated at what I found. The thought that grew, the pull I felt and the searches I did revealed something more marvelous than the curving, peaceful motorcycle ride.


That was the first word I explored. Some of the verses that popped up were:

Deuteronomy 6:6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

Psalms 2:7 I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you."

Luke 4:21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

And...Hebrews 4:7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

I was encouraged but my curiosity remained. The next word I searched was “tomorrow” and the third was, “yesterday”.

164…54…9… That’s how frequently they each appeared in the Scripture, respectively. Wow! I sat and wondered at the significance of the numbers and the words. And then, as startling as a grasshopper hitting my face during a ride, I realized a Truth. This is what the LORD was speaking to me through my time with my friend:

Today, the moments we share with others now, are far more sacred than we often realize. Perhaps, if we changed our focus – to be more present in today than lost in yesterday or tomorrow – our lives could be forever changed. If “today” is more prevalent in Scripture than “yesterday” and “tomorrow” – by a large margin – maybe we should focus more on it, too?

Could it be that my life and yours would be vastly different if we viewed it from the same perspective as God? Could it be that today is where God dwells? What if we let go of the past, held onto the hope of tomorrow but lived squarely in the moment? How could life be more positive, productive and sacred? Apparently Jesus knew the value of this when He cautioned His hearers with these words,

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
— Matthew 6:33-34

As I finish writing this, today is slipping into a yesterday and tomorrow is just a few hours away, I have to wonder where we’ll we choose to live. Will it be in yesterday, reminiscing and regretting? Or perhaps in tomorrow, with hopes and concerns not yet seen? Or in today, where God is most present. This is certainly a choice that we must ponder and make. I pray that you will choose to meet me in today. I want to be where God is!

For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.
— 2 Corinthians 6:2