“JUST DOING LAUNDRY”
While driving to Pomona, CA from Las Vegas Motor Speedway in February, we realized we’re getting better at hauling the RFC trailer behind the RV. It’s a brand new experience for us and has not been without trials and tribulations. After several bumps and scrapes, racers have taught us new ways to secure the Toyota Scion we purchased to fit inside the trailer along with the RFC golf cart, sound equipment and two scooters.
I was driving the Scion down Las Vegas Blvd. back to the track and, without any apparent source, a rock flew out of the sky and broke the windshield. Less than one minute later, another rock kicked up from the front of the car and hit the windshield. I thought I got away with that one, but later I discovered it left a tiny chip. Being a brand new car on its second tank of gas, the Scion has taken quite a beating!
Just before the rock hit the windshield, I had been at the Laundromat. It’s not in the best neighborhood in Las Vegas. I go there because it’s close to the racetrack and other racers are usually there doing laundry. More than that, I go there because of the lady that runs the establishment.
She’s a little Korean lady that always has a large Korean Bible lying open at her work station and Christian radio for her private listening. We developed a friendship over the years. I always looked forward to seeing her. She knew my name because of the names on our uniform shirts. Each time I walked through the door, she exploded into big smiles and we shared hugs. As our friendship grew, she would tell me remarkable stories of God’s hand on her life, her “close calls,” her husband who didn’t have “the faith,” and how she longed for him to believe in “Cheezuss.” I prayed every time I visited with her that God would help her and her husband, would keep her safe, and would help me to understand her broken English. Most of the time, I got the gist of things.
On this particular visit, I noticed my friend wasn’t there. I asked the girl behind the desk where she was, and she said that she’s very, very sick. She pointed across the room and said, “That’s her husband over there.”
I usually like to take a little something to give my friend. This time I had a 1- inch, needle point “cross in my pocket” with a poem folded inside. I made my way over to her husband and introduced myself. I held out the little cross and asked him if he would give it to his wife. He refused the cross, and explained, “My wife has stomach cancer and is very sick. She lost all her hair.” He said, “She was an associate pastor in a big church, but something happened, and now she went to a small church. She gave her 11% tithe. She gave at Christmas, she gave every time something would come up, and the church took and took and took. Now, when she needs them, they are afraid to see her and won’t touch her because they think the cancer will transfer to them. She’s alone.”
I felt his frustration and replied, “I’m so sorry that this is your experience. I know your wife’s heart. She has a giving heart, and no matter what the church does with the money, I know God blesses her because she is giving her tithe to Him.” He just shook his head and waived his arms. He went back to his work, but he would come back to talk to me from time to time. Each time I listened and prayed in the Spirit.
I was so overwhelmed with sadness. The prognosis doesn’t look good for my Korean friend…well, at least in this life. Actually, her prognosis is great, because either way, she will see a miracle. If she lives, it will be a miracle. If she dies, she goes to be with her “Cheezuss.”
I leaned against the wall and prayed; no I interceded. I was overcome with the seriousness of the whole scene. There were gangs walking up and down the sidewalk, homeless people that came into the Laundromat looking for a handout, and people that seemed to have no sense of purpose and too much time on their hands. I realized that I was in a real war zone…one that these people live in every day…one that is governed by an animal instinct for survival.
I stood there thinking and praying, knowing this would be the last time I do laundry here. I interceded and did spiritual battle over all that God put on my heart. I prayed for the beautiful little girl in the soft pink outfit and the long, shiny black hair trying to keep up with her tough dad who sauntered down the sidewalk. (We don’t have a clue what little children grow up with and what they are exposed to in this environment. Sometimes, it seems better not to know.) I prayed for the homeless panhandler and the man doing his laundry who gave him some money. I prayed for the guy who walked in off the sidewalk to tell me I looked pretty in my green shirt. I prayed for my protection. Most of all, I prayed for my Korean friend and her husband.
I began to tear up, realizing that I may never see my friend again this side of heaven. She may be the only “light” in such a dark place. I prayed that God would take her legacy and grow what He started…that His glory would shine in this Laundromat, and people would be drawn to Him when they walked through the doors. I prayed that God would show His glory to her husband and he would see that God is not like the people who hurt and disappoint him.
Before I left, I went to the husband and once more offered my care and concern. I asked him to tell his wife that Linda Smiley from the racetrack sends her love and prayers. He said he would.
This is one small area in one of the largest cities in our country. It’s a drop in the bucket of areas just like that in Las Vegas, in other cities, in our country, and in other countries. People need hope that is only available through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God says in His Word that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
He says that “in Christ, we are a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (II Corinthians 5:17)
He says that in Christ, “we have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
He says that “the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) That is the peace that guards my friend.
Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn us, (beat us down), but to save us from that. (John 3:17) Satan is the one who beats us down. “He came to steal, kill and destroy, but Christ came that we may have life, and might have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
The ministry that Larry and I do is called “Racers For Christ,” but in reality, ministry is all inclusive. Whether it’s when we pray with a racer in the staging lanes, go to the hospital after a crash, talk with the person pumping gas next to us, or just doing laundry, God says to “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Even our “good works” isn’t about us. “It’s by grace we are saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
We have a lot to be thankful for…more than we even know. Even in our bad times, we’re spoiled with God’s gifts. As we shine our lights before men, remember that “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16b) Remember that our righteousness is only from the blood that Jesus shed, giving His life so we could be with God where Jesus sits at His right hand. (Ephesians 2:4-6) Then, and only then, do we have the power to overcome what the enemy would use to trip us. Spend time with Him and get to know His real character, not just what you’ve heard. Then share His love wherever you go, even if it’s Just Doing Laundry. God bless you.
Linda & Larry Smiley
The February ’06 Article
“LOVE IS LIKE A BOOMERANG”
Sometimes, when I write these articles, the words come faster than my fingers can type. This is not one of those times. Today it’s like an engine with a worn block…I’ll be writing along and all of a sudden, it cuts out and I lose power. Then it’s time to say a prayer and start over. I’ve started over…again.
In our society, February is “The Luuuuvvv Month.” I had all these “cutsie,” clever things I was writing about, but as I reread them, it didn’t feel right. I prayed and asked God what to do and He lead me to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th chapters in the book of I John. These words are full of what to love, what not to love, who to love, how to love and where love comes from. As I read these words, all my “cutsie” ideas seem shallow.
I began to realize that if I take to heart what God’s Word says, my life will reflect His love so much better than all of my best intentions could ever muster. For instance, I John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.”
I John 3:16-18 “We know love by this, that He (Jesus) laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
I John 4:9-11 “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (appeasing or conciliation) for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
This is the real thing! That is what I love about God’s Word; if you are unclear about what you’re reading, just read more Scripture and it will explain itself. People who argue the point that Scripture is just a matter of man’s own interpretation, haven’t read enough Scripture. Through the help of God’s Holy Spirit, you will get to know the real character of God and what His Word means.
Okay; so what does a boomerang have to do with it? Simple. When you throw a boomerang, it comes back. When you give love away, it comes back to you. I’m not just talking romantic love, although that’s included. I’m talking about relationships of all kinds. If you give respect, you’ll earn respect, if you give mercy, you’ll receive mercy, if you give a smile, you’ll get smiles, if you give criticism, you’ll be criticized, and so on and so forth.
Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Even in the Lord’s Prayer it says, “…and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It’s called “the law of reciprocity.”
Back in the 70’s, our local newspaper carried a cartoon called, “Love Is…” There were 2 characters that looked a lot like little “Precious Moments” dolls that always had love sayings, i.e. “Love is…Not having to say it because she knows it.” There was a 70’s movie called “Love Story” where Ali McGraw says with the deepest dramatic conviction, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Unfortunately, our 70’s generation took to those philosophies as if they came straight from the Bible. They couldn’t be farther from Biblical truth. This kind of love is more like a Frisbee instead of a boomerang; throw it and it can go right over someone’s head, hit the ground, circling out of control.
We’ve all heard of those relationship tests magazines like “Cosmopolitan” give. Here’s one from the Bible. See if you think you have this “Love” issue under control. The check list is from I Corinthians 13:4-7. Give some thought to each item and see if you practice these things in your relationships:
_____“Love is patient,
_____love is kind,
_____and is not jealous;
_____love does not brag
_____and is not arrogant,
_____does not act unbecomingly;
_____it does not seek its own,
_____is not provoked,
_____does not take into account a wrong suffered,
_____does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
_____but rejoices with the truth;
_____bears all things
_____believes all things
_____hopes all things,
_____endures all things.
Love never fails!
Phew! That’s a lifetime project list! If you stop and take a moment in personal reflection with each item, it won’t take long to see areas that need improvement. Personally, it’s a little overwhelming, but I have good news! Scriptures say we don’t have to do this on our own. I John 4:16-17 “And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.”
Hallmark may consider February “The Love Month,” but love is a daily, no, a moment-to-moment decision. To love as Christ loved us, and gave His life for us, is the only true and pure love … and the only way to that love is by believing in Him. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” I John 4:18a. Then, as you give God’s love to others, it will come back to you.
Many people reading this today, have never experienced a true and pure love. Take one more moment to receive the gift of God’s true love, Jesus Christ, and ask Him to wash away the wrong experiences in your life, replacing them with His new, pure and perfect love; the kind that compelled Jesus to get back up after His beatings and carry his cross to Calvary. He loves you!
The January ’06 Article
“FORGETTING WHAT LIES BEHIND…”
January 1st represents a time to start over; to reflect on ways to improve lifestyle, health or relationships. It can be invigorating and motivating to accomplish greater things.
For some, the New Year can be overwhelming. Focusing on memories of past disappointments and failures weigh heavily, rendering a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.
God always offers hope and opportunity to “start over” through believing His Son, Christ Jesus and everything He stands for. He says in Matthew 19:26 that “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” The apostle Paul shows us in Philippians 3:13-14 how he worked through his life’s regrets. “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (NAS)
In his popular country hit, “Live Like You Were Dyin,” Tim McGraw tells how his perspective in life changed when he had a talk with a friend who got a doctor’s report that he didn’t have long to live. It goes like this:
He said I was in my early 40’s,
I went sky divin’,
He said I was finally the husband,
Like tomorrow was a gift and you’ve got eternity
Many of you that I have spoken with face-to-face have heard me tell the story that after 5 years of widowhood, my Mother remarried at the age of 80. She and my Step-dad said, “We know we don’t have much time left on this earth. Because of this, we are committed to enjoy every second of our lives together.” That is how we should all live our lives; knowing that Jesus could come for us at any moment…and then we REALLY get to live! Sky-diving, Rocky Mountain climbing, drag racing, and any other favorite pastime will seem colorless in light of the eternal presence of God, our Father, Jesus Christ, His Son, and the glory of His Holy Spirit.
New Year…Bring it on! “I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.” Philippians 4:13