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Words of Hope: The paper mill

Words of Hope: The paper mill

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I was having a conversation with a friend after church a week or two ago when she mentioned her favorite time for communing with the Lord was very early in the morning. “My mind is clear and focused then,” she said. I agreed.

The Eagles once sang about a “peaceful, easy feeling.” I find it on my little porch in the pre-dawn hours. It has become a pleasant ritual. I pray to God, thank Him and ask for guidance. He speaks to my heart in this quiet time, and He teaches me.

But, sometimes distractions interrupt. There are times when the neighbor’s dog decides to get on a roll at 6 a.m. Yesterday was one of those days. The barking was nonstop, and I was seriously thinking about drifting back inside. I usually retreated, but not that morning.

Then a curious thing happened. The longer I sat there, listening to the song of the birds and allowing the Lord to guide my thoughts, the barking became a tolerable background noise. I smiled, continuing in my prayers and thoughts, as the young German Shepherd continued his wakeup call to the world.

It is amazing how the mind can adjust to unwanted noise. My thoughts then proceeded from sound to smell. I began to think about a paper mill some 20 miles or so from the house. It is not so bad today, but growing up, driving by the plant was an adventure for the nose. If there was a steady wind blowing, it traveled far and wide.

As a teenager, I wondered how anyone could live near there, much less work there. When I found out they paid about three times what I was making, I suddenly thought, “Smell? What smell?”

It was more than that. Later I found out in a biology class that our nervous system progressively becomes less sensitive to an odor the longer is persists—I guess it works for sounds as well.

What was the Lord saying to me that morning? It was quite deep. You see, my life before Jesus was one where distractions led me away from the right path. If something interrupted my serenity, I either left disheartened or reacted rashly and lashed out in anger.

This is what I am getting at. The lesson was twofold. My life reflected separate outcomes before and after Jesus.

In my past, the sounds and smells of sin overpowered my will to resist. I became numb to the damage created by my actions. Before long, my heart and soul became less sensitive to the stimulus. I could not hear nor see what I was doing to myself and others, and I did not care.

After salvation, Philippians 4:7 changed my outlook.

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your (my) heart and mind through Christ Jesus.”

I achieved peace through all the sinful noise and smells. They still surrounded me, but I became numb to sin because my thoughts were on Jesus, not the world. I did care. That is the key. Focus on Him, and all the rest will be background noise and powerless smells.

I look forward to my alone time with God tomorrow. Let the dogs bark. Let the wind blow in the wrong direction. I will focus on Jesus.

Pastor Mike Smith can be reached by mail at P.O. Box 2, Summerville, GA, 30747, or by email at


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