Pondering the Journey 


Sam Whatley is the author of a Kindle book, Pondering the Journey, available on Amazon.com. His e-book is a collection of columns that first appeared in Journey magazine and was published as a paperback in 2002. Sam lives in Montgomery, AL.

Sunday, 08 November 2015 20:39

The Unseen Hand

Written by Sam Whatley

Sometimes God speaks to us through the unusual happenings in nature. We may not, like Moses, see an unconsumed burning bush, but there are natural events that startle us and capture our attention.

I recently witnessed one of those as a leaf suspended in air.

Tuesday, 06 October 2015 14:03

The Bridge to God

Written by Sam Whatley

In the mid-15th century the armies of the emperor Tupac Inca swept down the western coast of South America conquering tribe after tribe. His empire would rival the Roman Empire in length and size. One of his greatest obstacles was the Apurimac River. This river splits two mountain ranges for hundreds of miles. In some places the mountains are four miles high and the gorges are a mile deep.

To conquer this land his armies had to crisscross the mountains and ravines. They needed bridges. But there were no trees for lumber and no metal for girders. At every place he needed a bridge, the emperor had hundreds of villagers harvest long grass, beat it flat, and twist it into cords the width of a finger. The cords were twisted into ropes and the ropes into cables as thick as a man’s thigh. The cables formed the ribs of the floor and the hand rails of massive suspension bridges, while ropes and cords connected the cables. Bush branches were plaited to create the floor.  When finished, these suspension bridges would accommodate dozens of men and llamas. But the bridges were always temporary.

Tuesday, 08 September 2015 07:25

Whose Money Is It, Anyway?

Written by Sam Whatley

Not long ago two friends of mine debated whether or not a Christian owns the money in his bank account. One said, yes, the money was a gift from God and it was his to choose how to spend it. The other said, no, the money was God’s and a Christian was only the steward of those funds. They agreed to disagree.

Obviously, this was a spiritual, not legal, debate. But it brought to mind a lesson from Jesus’ famous parable, The Prodigal Son. Look at how the two sons viewed their father’s property in Luke 15:11-32.

“Jesus continued: There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.”

Tuesday, 04 August 2015 20:05

Starting Over, After Collapse

Written by Sam Whatley

Once upon a time a four-year-old boy sat in a kitchen doorway stacking columns of blocks to make an imaginary building. His dad was a carpenter and brought home dozens of board scraps. He called them blocks.

Tuesday, 07 July 2015 15:23

Meek, Like a Warhorse

Written by Sam Whatley

The Bible has been translated into English for hundreds of years by scholars and theologians. But occasionally it comes to light that our language has changed so much that another interpretation of a word may be more accurate. Some 30 years ago I heard that said about the word meek. 


Thursday, 04 June 2015 14:24

He Didn’t Say, “I Told You So”

Written by Sam Whatley

In the 1980’s Randy Travis wrote and recorded a hauntingly beautiful song called, “I Told You So.” It was very popular, hitting #1 on the country charts. The song describes the anxiety of a man as he ponders what his girlfriend (wife?) might say if he apologizes and offers to come back to her. He wonders if she would forgive him for leaving and attempt to find the closeness they once knew. But he is afraid that she might say, “I told you so, but you had to go.” She might tell him that she found someone new and that he would never break her heart again. The singer does not resolve the question, and you know he will only find out if he faces the one he has wronged.

Thursday, 07 May 2015 15:03

A Bride in Name Only

Written by Sam Whatley

In April, 1956 C. S. Lewis of England married Joy Davidman of the United States in a civil ceremony. But she became a bride in name only. And even that was a secret. Her British visa had expired and she was facing deportation to America with her two young sons, knowing that her violent, alcoholic, ex-husband would be waiting for them. She needed desperately to find another place to live and decided to become a British citizen.

Friday, 03 April 2015 18:39

Woodpeckers and Snakes

Written by Sam Whatley

Many mornings I am awakened by a burst of rapping as our local woodpecker, attacks a nearby tree. He’s a red-cockaded, not a red-headed, woodpecker. Instead of having a solid cap of red, he has a sliver of red that runs from the base of the eye to the back of the cap. Another difference is that the red-cockaded type pecks out a nest in live pines, rather than the soft wood of dead trees. But the dramatic difference is how they can decorate the base of a pine. Let me explain.

Thursday, 05 March 2015 00:42

Dropping Batons

Written by Sam Whatley

I know very little about Track and Field events, but occasionally a story from the Olympics catches my attention. When I heard about the American baton drops in the 4x100 meter relay races in 2008 in Beijing, I was intrigued, but not by the mishap itself.

Tuesday, 03 February 2015 06:11

Horses, Chariots and Names

Written by Sam Whatley

About 3,000 years ago King David recorded in Psalm 20:7 something we instinctively know to be true, but find difficult to understand.  Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Saturday, 03 January 2015 12:38

Lasting Letters

Written by Sam Whatley

In the 1950’s Pat Boone hit the charts with a record called “Love Letters in the Sand.” He lamented about being in love, writing love letters on the beach, and watching the tide wash them all away. He sang about his love being untrue and laughing at his sorrow. Girls across America loved the song, bought records, and made the young singer a celebrity.

Wednesday, 03 December 2014 11:41

The Real Answer for Ebeneezer Scrooge

Written by Sam Whatley

A popular story portrayed on stage and screen at Christmastime is Charles Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol.” Children delight in the colorful costumes and scariness of spirits flying around the room. The chain-laden ghost of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come succeed in scaring the daylights out of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge ends up being a super nice guy, furnishing the ghost story with a happy ending.

Monday, 03 November 2014 16:45

The Note Unread

Written by Sam Whatley

Various versions of the following story have appeared in chess publications since 1897. No one knows if one, or the other, version is true, but the story’s lesson is worth remembering.

Wednesday, 01 October 2014 15:06

Two Wind Chimes

Written by Sam Whatley


There are different kinds of wind chimes. There are different kinds of Christians.


My wife and I had wanted wind chimes for years, but just never made them a priority. Then this past year we received two of them as gifts. We put the colorful one in the front yard for everyone to see. It resembles a 19th century hot air balloon, made with something that looks like red, yellow, and blue panes of curved glass. The bronze balloon basket is the circle that holds the wind chime mechanism together with tiny chains of bronze, hollow tubes of bronze, blue crystal balls and a white crystal pendant hanging from the bottom. It is captivating. So we put it just above eye level in a tree near the front door.


Tuesday, 02 September 2014 16:17

Post Office Mercy

Written by Sam Whatley


Many of us scratch our heads at the biblical statement that “… judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” James 2:13


Sunday, 03 August 2014 14:42

Hidden from the Wise

Written by Sam Whatley


The Bible has some interesting comments about people who are wise in their own eyes. Consider this passage from I Corinthians 3:18-20:

Tuesday, 01 July 2014 14:36

Lilies in the Shade

Written by Sam Whatley


A line of Osage orange (mock orange) trees grows by our house. This line once separated a forty-acre field from its twenty-acre neighbor. Mock orange trees grow profusely and their limbs intertwine with others, creating a dense, leafy, mesh of long thorns and green balls. Over the past fifty years the fields have turned into houses and streets, and the sixty-foot giants now separate cul-de-sacs.

Monday, 02 June 2014 14:30

Blessed to Be a Blessing!

Written by Sam Whatley

I have known a few folks who were truly blessed to be a blessing. One was my mother. She loved supporting missionaries and pastors, even though she had very little money. Her eyes would shine when she talked of someone she knew who had made it their life’s work to spread the gospel of Christ in a remote country. But the effect on her did not stop with her eyes. She shared all she could whenever she could. One particular instance stands out in my memory.

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