Saturday, April 30, 2016

~She awoke to the small whimpers of her daughter. The room was crowded with other people as she began to roll up her mat, collect her few belongings in a bag, and wake her daughter. Even in the early morning hours, the heat was threatening to make the day intolerable, the flies gathered around her eyes, and the demands of finding food, water, shelter, and safety for one more day were before her. It was at the almost quiet moments like this that she missed her husband the most. She missed having someone to help carry the load of their escape from the war torn region. She missed his arms. She missed his company. She missed his strength and smile. But, she did not have time to mourn him. Nor could she indulge those thoughts as they always ended up leading down the path of those last awful moments together before he was taken and murdered. His last act was one of sacrifice as he offered himself as a diversion for her and their child to escape. They left with only a few things that she could grab in the fear of flight. No, no time for grief. They must move. They must try to find a place to settle. They must find food. The small provisions that they had scrounged for, were barely enough to sustain life and she knew the noises coming from her daughter’s direction were hunger pains. Anisa was just a child, but her childhood had been murdered. She rarely cried over anything. She seemed to be numb and frightened. She was alert and tired. She was too fearful to ever complain. She was simply beaten. At seven years old, she had the life experiences of a soldier, an orphan, a homeless person. Her eyes had looked upon the gruesome leavings of war, poverty, and the depravity of humanity. Her mother wondered what type of life she would have. What would her future look like? Was there a future? Not if they did not find food and water. She packed up their belongings: a blanket, random clothes, a bible and one picture of their family together in front of their home, in a bag that she carried on her back. She turned her face to the struggle for survival that she called day. 

~Far away, in a land of dreams fulfilled, awoke another mom when she heard the alarm clock. She rolled over and turned the snooze on her alarm. Then she snuggled back in to the warm, snuggly covers. She was not ready to meet the day. The children still asleep, gave her time to sleep more. The bed was intoxicatingly inviting with its comforts as she rolled over and shaded her eyes from the light of the coming day. It seemed like an hour, maybe it was an hour, later that she finally roused herself to get out of bed. She went into the kitchen and her coffee was waiting, having been made on time by the coffee maker settings. She rambled to a comfy chair where she sat and decided what she wanted for breakfast. Any number of the options could be considered veritable feasts by millions of people around the world who starve or live on little rations. After filling herself with food and coffee she wandered in to turn on the tv. She watched the news, then changed the channel. Too many depressing things being reported and she did not want to hear it. Her kids still slept or at least had not gotten out of bed yet. They might be laying in bed playing on their Ipads. She thought of all the things she had to do that day as she sat lazily on the couch. Another cup of coffee was needed to help motivate her. She moved to take a long, hot shower and then took her time as she moisterized, lotioned, plucked, painted, and applied various products. The sun was high in the sky, beaconing afternoon when she was ready to face the day. It looked hot outside, but she was in comfort with the ac set at 68. She finally saw the evidence of a child awake and went to talk with the sluggish one. She was met with complaints of too much to do, too many activities and how overwhelming life was. Oh, the drama. She decided to go take her prozac as she couldn’t face the stress. 

These two windows of vastly different lives which exist on the same planet, at the same time, are fictional. Fictional, but pulled from the blanket of reality with strands that ring true. It is true that there is suffering of such a magnitude that is oppressingly heartbreaking. It is true that there are many in the United States of America who live a life of such comfort and ease that they invent things to be wrong and over medicate themselves to deal with life. In one case, there is true suffering. In the other, there is only sinful, self indulgence and blindness. Spoiled people. People who think they need a "safe place" when threatened by dialogue. It seems pitiful in light of true suffering. 

I have been challenged in my life to try not complain by the lives of others. One is a lady in Haiti who has only one normal leg. Yet, she can climb faster than you can walk and she with joy takes care of the burdens of her family in their poverty. I have never heard her complain. Even when she faces hungry children and hard labor she carries herself with a joyful countenance. Second, is the recent reading of the book The Kite Runner. The fictional story hit a chord with me particularly when he said, “In Afghanistan there are many children, but little childhood.” It is so sad to think about the war torn regions and the struggle to survive and cope with devastation. We live in a day where it is more than Afghanistan that is war torn. ISIS destroys in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and other countries. There is so much other struggling though in Africa, Haiti, North Korea, China, etc. It is easy to forget that we are so blessed and it is far too easy for us to complain. 

We live in a prosperous nation. We know little of want or war. We have pills for our pain and comforts for all that ails us. We don't witness children destroyed by rape, but we watch it as entertainment on TV. We have abundant provision of food and water and live in luxury. Rarely are we as people trying to put our lives back together and move on when there is nothing. Nothing. We don't understand the idea of having nothing in the vastness of this country's wealth. 

We should be thankful people. We should remember that each day we wake and do not lift our eyes in Hell is a blessing. No matter what struggle greets us in that day, it is a day of grace and blessing. As Christians, we have promises and the love of a Savior who ever lives to make intercession for us. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us too with deep utterings beyond words and God the Father loves us and shepherds us. 

If you are grumbling today I would admonish you to repent. Repent of thinking you deserve better. Repent of ingratitude. Repent of not thinking of others. Speak the truth to yourself that even in your worst situations, you do not have what you deserve. 

Psalm 107
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
prisoners in affliction and in irons,
for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
they fell down, with none to help.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and burst their bonds apart.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
they saw the deeds of the LORD,
his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad that the watersc were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

He turns rivers into a desert,
springs of water into thirsty ground,
a fruitful land into a salty waste,
because of the evil of its inhabitants.
He turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
And there he lets the hungry dwell,
and they establish a city to live in;
they sow fields and plant vineyards
and get a fruitful yield.
By his blessing they multiply greatly,
and he does not let their livestock diminish.

When they are diminished and brought low
through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
he pours contempt on princes
and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
but he raises up the needy out of affliction
and makes their families like flocks.
The upright see it and are glad,
and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My time, Not my time, His time.

I want to be in Heaven. I understand Paul and his fight when he pens those beloved words, "For me to die is gain, but to live is Christ." There are times when I covet the position of those who have died in Christ. I am hungry for being with Christ. I want to be near him, to know the comfort of heaven and to be honest, to be away from the pain of this life like those who have found their rest, the faithful ones who dwell in the light now. I wonder if they know what is going on here? Are the days of endless delight vacant of the emotional turmoil that we call living? Do they see? Do they know? I confess that I also rejoice at times that those whom I love are with Jesus and not watching this human wreckage. I am hopeful that they are spared the pain of seeing a ministry destroyed by a “tourist" who has divided and pitched fits of anger at the people he was sent to preach the gospel to, spared  seeing the pain of children growing up without him, spared seeing life torn apart by infidelity, spared the desperation of nations at war leaving human wreckage scattered.  Life is a mess, we make it a mess. Yes, I covet that blissful state. I want to be with Jesus now, but it is not my time. But: 

It is my time to redeem each day given. Each minute is a gift with a question: How will you use me? Teach my heart wisdom Lord, that I may number my days. 

It is my time to trust completely. I cannot see.  I don’t understand. I have been blindsided by the effects of sin in loved ones, but my Father in heaven has always been faithful. Even though humans disappoint, God never does. I should trust him blindly and freely. Complete abandon to HIm. 

 It is my time to redeem the pain. For we know that there is no pain without a purpose and that there is hope in the midst of the hurt. 

It is my time to shine my light for Jesus in the darkness. The darkness only endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Darkness does not overcome the light, but is always overcome by the light. Jesus is the light that dwells in me, in Him there is no darkness. 

 It is my time to stand in the gap for others and to seek to be the hands and feet of Christ, my living head. I can be a shoulder to cry on, a voice on the phone, an email, a prayer offered together. 

It is my time to “fear not,” to be at “peace,” and to "still" and "quiet" my soul like a “weaned child on his mother.” 

It is my time to pray. There is never a time not to pray, but it is time to rise up and pray like a house on fire. It is my time to kneel down and plead like my life depended on it. Pray without ceasing Yes, it is my time. 

 It is not my time to question why a wife of many years would leave husband and children for another person. It is not my place to question why a man would commit numerous infidelities and walk out on his family. 

It is not my time to question the fairness of one person being healed from cancer while a little, precious child clings to life fighting the awful disease. 

It is not my time to understand the trials of diabetes as it slowly debilitates the body. 

It is not my time to question why the wicked seem to prosper, for we know as the psalmist says,"...their end."

It is not my time to be able to pay for the friend facing financial ruin. My Father in heaven who owns all is working out these things. He withholds and He gives. 

It is not my time to understand babies being murdered, christians being beheaded and driven from their homelands, children being victimized and sold as slaves for immoral purposes. 

It is not a day for me to understand. My Father has not given an answer to all the pain. 

However, He has given me His word and it is my time to draw near with full confidence to Him. It is time to cling to the arms of Jehovah and cry the tears of my heart. He will hold me and my loved ones in pain. He will catch my tears in His bottle, keeping better care of them than I. He will hear my heart which even I do not understand. I can commit my loved ones to Him and know that He loves them more than I do. He cares. He loves so much that He gave His only son. What greater assurance could He give? Oh, weak and trembling heart, behold your God. Commit your times to Him and rest in His care. For one day, it will be time for Him to show his wondrous works. There is a time, but it is HIS time. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

This is most specifically written to my beloved children. Please bear that in mind if you are reading. I spend a lot of time thinking about dying. I wonder will I die well? Will I bring glory to my King Jesus in my final hours? You each know how often I have told you to remember you belong to King Jesus. You belong to Him, because I belong to Him and I have given each of you back to Him since conception. ( Or my knowledge of it.) I want to remember that I belong to Him as my body wastes away, my mind goes, or possibly in those unexpectedly brief seconds after the unthinkable.  I want so much, more than anything to finish this race here on earth well. I also think about the manner of my death. I want each one of you to know my thoughts in case there is ever a question. Let not yourselves be divided or turned against each other because I have been unclear. Let love rule in all your dealings with each other and with your aging/dying mother. Please let this serve as my thoughts and desires for the end:  

  1. I do not want to be resuscitated if pronounced dead. No heroic measures, please. 
  2. I do not want my life extended by the use of machines. 
  3. I would like to die at home and not in a nursing home away. My children have been my life. I have poured my heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, and prayers into you. I want to be with you if I can. I understand if you are prohibited that might not be possible, however know that I love you most dearly and want to be with you as much as possible.  Never, ever question that I love you as my second greatest treasure only behind Jesus. You are precious. I treasure your company. 
  4. I may refuse chemo depending on the circumstances. I do not want my life extended if it is questionable.I mean by that if there is a question as to if the chemo will work. This will have to be determined when the time arrives, but please do not be surprised if I ask only to be made comfortable and to die at home in my bed. 
  5. I look forward to death. I want to be with Jesus. Death is a medium to get me there. I am not afraid of it, I am afraid of pain and the manner of death. I long to be where Jesus is, in His presence, if I may only touch the fringe of his garments and see Him from afar. I want to dwell in His presence. Perhaps weep tears of joy on His feet and wipe them with my hair. I also want to see those whom I have loved most dearly that are already with Him. Please be comforted in the hours of my death’s approaching that I know that my Redeemer lives and I know that He will resurrect me just as assuredly as He rose from the grave. He is my hope. His name is Faithful. 
  6. I am afraid of shackling my loved ones with financial burdens due to my care. I want wise decisions made that will not leave debts that are unnecessary.
  7. As I have said many times, I do not want an open casket. Remember me alive, remember my Savior. Do not look upon the dead, for I will be raised anew in Jesus. 
  8. I want sung at my service: Psalm 98, I Greet Thee Who My Redeemer Art, Jesus, Lover of My Soul, Fairest Lord Jesus, For All the Saints, if time  permits Abide With Me, Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted, and Psalm 16. You know how I have loved singing throughout my sojourn. I hope my service reflects this. 
  9. I want the gospel preached at my funeral. Preach him strong. Preach Him clear. Preach him as the only hope for dying sinners. Hold the cross up before the eyes of all that Jesus may be seen as the One who takes away the sins of His elect and covers them with blood bought  raiment of righteousness. I want Jesus lifted up and held out as the only way of salvation and as the great lover of our souls that He is. 
  10. When I am near to death’s door. I would love more than anything to hear my loved ones sing Psalms at my sick bed. Read scripture to me. Let us look to the race being won, being finished. Let us praise the faithful one, for He has promised and He will bring to pass. Point my dying mind to heavenly realms that I might behold wondrous things above even in the midst of pain. 
  11. I pray that each of you will walk with the God of your fathers. What a legacy of covenantal faithfulness I leave you! Granted it is not from my side, for I am as Ruth grafted in. I have had my Naomi and my Boaz. I have had a line of great, God-loving men from your father who served in ministry(for my older children) and God loving men who were faithful where God planted them (for my later two). They might not have been great in the eyes of the world, but they loved Jesus and you and wanted you to walk in the ways of Christ: Following Him with undivided hearts. 

There is more which could be said and I hope will be said as I talk to each of you. My mind and heart have not been hidden from you. I have talked with you as we have walked on the way, sat at the table, and carried out our daily tasks. I hope in all you know the greatest thing about me is my King. He, alone, is worthy! Seek King Jesus first and His righteousness.