Friday, November 30, 2012
I woke up this morning remembering that, just yesterday, someone we love had passed from this earth to Heaven, where she is now, rejoicing with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I also remembered that someone is asking “Why? Lord.” Why did you allow such pain and suffering in this beautiful life?
The young woman is my cousin whom I did not have the privilege of knowing very well because she grew up and lived her short life in many places that were not where I was. But I knew she was there and I loved her pretty much because she is the daughter of someone I am privileged to know and love very, very much, my cousin Dorothy.
Her name is Sarah and she was known by many. She was a very pretty, very normal girl whom God brought into His life before she was ever born, and carried her through this life sweetly and steadily, even as she suffered pain most of us will never know or understand. And that brings on the question, “Why?” Not, “Why did she die?” so much as “Why did He allow such pain in such a wonderful young lady?” “Why” would a God who loved her so much, let her be in so much pain? “Why, Mommy, why?”
I could say, “Once upon a time…“ and tell the story of Sarah, but Sarah is not a fairy tale character, Sarah is a beloved daughter of God, friend and sister of Jesus Christ, her Savior: She has been a picture of Truth. God’s Truth and the story of that Truth.
So let’s just start where God started in all this: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… and when it was finished, He looked at it and said, ‘It is GOOD’.” He could well have said it is beautiful and it is perfect, without blemish. BUT Satan came to the Garden and Adam and Eve chose to question God’s authority over all that He had created and sin came into this paradise of earth. And death came with it: Death and pain and suffering to all of the creation He had so carefully put together and it was perfect no more.
Now we live in His Story. It is the story of how we must each make the decision to love and obey Him and let Him lead us through this treacherous life on earth, so as to end up in Heaven someday to live for eternity with Him; or to walk away from Him and lead ourselves straight into the depths of Satan’s home territory and eternal suffering. But how does that answer the question “Why did this lovely young lady have to suffer such pain if God loves her so much?”
Well, let me tell you of a conversation I had very recently with a total stranger. We were waiting to be evaluated for a fitness program and we began discussing our various hindrances of old age, when she piped up and said, “You know, our bodies were made to last. They actually should not break down like this and someday it will happen that science will finally break through and find a way to stop this deterioration that is happening. That will be wonderful, really wonderful.” Well, by the time I got my jaw up off the floor, our fitness instructor was there to start the eval, so I did not get a chance to say, “You are right! Our bodies were meant to last! But science will never be the answer to the problem and I can tell you Who is.”
You see God’s Story of Grace and Mercy is not one that is reserved to those who believe. The rainbow I saw this morning is a promise to all the earth and all creation that He will never bring such a flood again. And the rain that does fall, or fails to fall covers all not just a chosen few, just as the sun shines on all, not just a few. And His plan of salvation is for all, as is His love and desire for all to be saved. Jesus died for all and all are welcome to turn from sin and come to Him, believing and trusting that He is their Savior.
But, in the meantime, on this earth, all suffer in some way or another. This earth is permeated in sin and we cannot get around that. Our world is wrought with problems and even those who give their lives to God and live for Him must suffer the consequences of this world being a depraved place. One of those consequences is that our bodies betray us and we suffer illness and pain, just like everyone else. God’s story for Sarah was lived out in pain, but that is not all of the story. The rest of the story is that Sarah bore the light of the world in her life and many have seen that light because of her life. God helped Sarah bear up under the burden of the failures in her body and she smiled and laughed and enjoyed life to the fullest as much as she could. People noticed and now other questions are also being asked. “How did she do that?” “What was her secret?” “Why was she able to be such a joyful person with all the pain she endured?”
The answers lie with God. He is the source of all pure joy and peace, because He is Joy and Peace and Love and Long-suffering. All things Good and Great are of God. He is Love and He loves us and wants us to live life to the fullest with Him as our Guide and God, living in the Hope of the Truth that we, too, will one day see Him face to face and live in Heaven with Him for eternity.
Sarah is there now. We can imagine her dancing with her God and singing and rejoicing and feeling no pain at all for the first time in many, many years! Hallelujah. Amen.
There is much more to know about God’s Story. And we can find it clearly written in the very Word of God, the Bible. May we feast on it and, because of our own belief and trust in God, join Sarah and Jesus there one day!
Saturday, November 24, 2012
At this Thanksgiving Season a lot has transpired. Many Happy Thanksgivings have been said, many people have made a point to suggest things that they are thankful for while many others wondered what in the world there is to be thankful for and some skipped the day (even the week) altogether to go shopping.
There is definitely a shift in what people are willing to be thankful for. Many were thankful for love and family. Many were thankful for the help of others in desperate times. Many others were thankful for possessions and even a little, if not a lot, of prosperity in these tough times. Some were even thankful for having enough to give away, helping others who needed it more. The truly wise were thankful to and for their God and all that He is and all that He does for us daily, hourly, minute by minute.
But there are some things that are very difficult to be thankful for, anytime of the year. Some are very serious like a very sick loved one. Others are fairly frivolous, like my own inability to say thank you for the fact that my heat is not working and it is very, very cold in my apartment… that may be a silly “said no one, ever.”
However, my mind went to dwelling on some situations I know of and I could not help but begin to make a list of serious “said no one, ever” situations and I thought I might share some with you here just to shake things up a little for some people who simply can’t see the damage they are doing to others by the way they live. Come along with me and say to yourself “said no one, ever!” after these examples:
I am so glad that my mother drinks too much and beats up on my Dad and us in her anger…
I am thankful that my Dad is a drug addict and even sells drugs to keep us going…
I am grateful that my 17 year old sister has a 28 year old man taking care of her now even though he pimps her out to make a living…
I am thankful for the times like Thanksgiving when the family gets together, gets drunk, and fights all day…
I am so happy to get to listen to my parents rant and rave and threaten each other with harm…
I love having chances to make excuses for my parents and why they can’t come to things at school…
I am thankful that my Mom drinks too much and forgets to come get me at school…
I am so grateful that my husband beats me because it means that he loves me…
I am thankful that my husband always comes home to me no matter what else he has been doing…
Personally, I can remember times when I was grateful that Dad wasn’t home because he and Mom were not yelling and screaming at each other. My best friend and I decided where to spend the night on Saturday night by whose parents would be passed out first. That was certainly something to be thankful for…
Did you happen to notice that most of these examples come from children? I guess that is what started me down this road in the first place: Knowing children who are living these circumstances right now because their parents just can’t seem to pull things together.
At this thanksgiving time, I am grateful to know one woman who has finally found the Joy in life without drugs and a freedom from hatred that had plagued her for several years. She is finally enjoying a sober lifestyle with all her faculties intact. She is finally able to hear what God has to say about life with Him and to follow those precepts with more clarity than ever before. She was finally able to make the decision to put Him first in her own life for the sake of her children. Praise God for how He is willing to work in any life to bring about the pure Joy of knowing Him and Loving Him and reaping the reward of being His.
And how did this come about? A decision was made to get out of town; to move away from the influences that plagued her and kept them riled up all the time. Now they have new friends who love God and are sharing their own struggles with this couple who are living a whole new country life style that is fun and exciting to them. May God bless them richly and may we all be active in praying for the same results in the lives of the lost and the wandering who are all around us. Amen.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Let’s look at one important fact: You cannot drive without distraction. If all else is being done right, your own mind will drift away to some other thoughts besides your driving. That is not to say that those things defined as distracted driving are not extremely serious. It is to say that all driving is serious and some type of extreme caution must be taken to pay attention.
I have a very fond memory of giving a young lady a ride one day during the time that she was taking driving lessons. She was quite passionate about paying attention. She exclaimed that “you can’t take your mind off your driving, even for a minute.” :) That’s when I first realized that “that is impossible.” And I have since learned that lesson well.
Being aware of our driving and all the possibilities for messing up or having someone else mess us up is very important. But thinking about those things exclusively for any serious period of time is basically impossible. Yes, we need to limit what we do or concentrate on while we drive. And we need to be aware that some things distract us for way too long: chewing on anger, worrying, crying, using cell phones or other radio devices, staring in the rear view mirror too long, staring at a person in the car to whom we are speaking, even just singing along with our favorite tunes or talking a blue streak with great enthusiasm. That last one is a trick I pull much too often. If I ever offer you a ride home be sure that I am going toward YOUR home and not mine because my brain GPS will otherwise take me straight to my house. That is where my car is trained to go. I can pretty much forget “stopping” somewhere for a moment on the “way home,” too, because my car is very stubborn that way.
My thought on handling these things with a normal (not super) mind is that we must practice. As we learn to drive and as we “practice” driving, we must include times of complete control: deliberately going through the motions we were taught and know, training and retraining our mind to react to the possibilities we know are out there. Then, when we are distracted our brain will pick up on things we may not be totally aware of in time to respond. Even when we are not in the car, we can go over these things in our minds to help keep us alert. And don’t tell me you don’t do it when someone else is driving, otherwise why would you slam on the brake you don’t have at nearly every intersection? :) I even think that training for the worst case scenarios is an excellent idea if we can get into such a class.
So, where does distracted living come into this? Well, because of conclusions drawn in my Bile study classes, I have been considering the facts of distracted living. We definitely live distracted lives. There are just too many things that need to be done and too little time to do them so we tend to jump and run, grabbing what we can as we go, without much regard for who we are following or who is leading us through each and every day. And that can be very dangerous. A crash could be pending.
I’m thinking that in order to live life without distraction from where we are going, what we are supposed to do, and why, we need to practice, going over and over again in our minds (with heart felt urgency) those things which Christ expects of us as God’s children, His brothers and sisters, and His friends. And we need to consciously practice those things He has told us to do. But, first, we must know what He taught us to do and that means we have to become well acquainted with Him in His Word.
I was reminded just yesterday how important it is to understand that worship is not about us, it is about God. We are not at all encouraged to seek our own blessing in worship, but to bring blessing to God in our praise and study. (Check Revelation 4.) And our training in the Word is not about us, it is about Him. We need to stop looking constantly for OUR blessing from His Word and seek more intimate knowledge of Him from His Word and that will be our blessing for the day. And that can be our reminder of how Christ expects us to live out our day, His way.
We will find much distraction in our daily lives, but we must keep our ears and eyes alert to Him and we must keep the communication channels open, constantly; talking with Him about every little thing, in order to be used by Him daily. May we all practice life with Christ in full enthusiasm for the Peace and Joy it will bring us and the blessings and worship it will bring to Him. Hallelujah, He is God!