Close will not get you a cigar…


By Pastor Ron Branch



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Branch


…or a donut.

Sunday morning at 1:30 a.m., my phone dinged with a text from Jeshua. Megan had been admitted to the Sentara Hospital in Williamsburg, Va. The baby was coming.

Terry and I got up and packed our bags. We planned to go there after church. Eliza Belle Branch was born at 5:23 a.m. She was seven pounds and seven ounces. She measured 20 inches long. She is our eighth grandchild — five girls and three boys. We arrived later that evening to the hospital around 7:30 p.m. We thanked the Lord for the beautiful child. Megan did very well.

Williamsburg is a very attractive city. The businesses and dwellings are surrounded by many trees and much foliage. I have told Jeshua several times that, if you want to find where you want to go, you have to learn to look through the brush. City ordinance expects that 40 percent of your property be green.

The role for Terry and me was to care for the other two children while Jesh attended his wife and new daughter at the hospital. When Terry wanted me to fetch a few groceries Monday morning, I started a calculated search for a store along the Richmond Road. Later, I thought to steal away and find a donut shop. I was craving a good donut, which are made by several shops in the area — if I could only find one.

I drove a long way on Richmond Road without seeing a donut shop among the many businesses. Eventually, I gave up the search. I turned around at a certain juncture, and returned to the house. I was disappointed that I did not get a donut.

That evening as Jesh drove us along Richmond Road to get a supper, he asked what I had done that day. I confessed that I went looking for donuts (from the back seat, I heard Terry lowly let out a “Harumph!”). I pointed out where I had turned around.

Jeshua broke out into laughter. “Well, Dad, 50 yards further and you would have found one!” Sure enough, just down the way from where I had turned around, behind the trees and foliage, was a Dunkin Donut shop. I was irritated. What is the saying? “Close but no cigar.”

But, my experience rather typifies a spiritual reality for many when it comes to “finding God.” They make a concerted search for a while to “find God.” They think how great it would be to find God for forgiveness, relationship, or fellowship. But, just as they are about to discover these wonderful benefits with Him, they turn around and head back in the other direction.

The problem is that their view gets blocked at key moments by troublesome circumstances or distractive enticements. Because of these factors, they fail to go far enough in the decision process. But, close will not get you a cigar in such a spiritual pursuit.

Such is exemplified in Scripture with Felix and Agrippa. When Paul witnessed before him Jesus Christ, Felix stopped short and turned around, telling Paul, “Go your way. When it is convenient for me, I will call for you.” Agrippa stopped short of receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. He told Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian” (KJV). These two just did not go far enough. In so many terms, they were just 50 yards short.

But, here is the rub: it is not a matter of us deciding that it might be time to find God. Rather, it is God that has already done the finding. What He does is that He leads us to make a decision about Him. The concern is whether we are willing to completely arrive at that point, and not turn around to go in the opposite direction.

After all, God is the One who is always close. Apostle Paul said that there is nothing we can do to pull the Lord down from Heaven and be closer to us. There is nothing we can do to “bring up Christ from the dead” to be closer to us. The Word is already close. The Lord is already close. He knows who you are and where you are. All anyone has to do is to decide to go far enough. Are you going far enough?

In the mean time, Jesh and Terry discussed how good it was for me that I had not found the Dunkin Donut shop. “It must have been Divine Providence,” Jeshua concluded.

I reply vigorously, “My Kingdom for a donut!”

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https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2018/09/web1_Branch-Ron-2.jpgBranch

By Pastor Ron Branch

Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.

Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.