I awoke to snow on the ground. In April. That’s not necessarily unheard of here, but we’re more accustomed to the March coming “In like a lion and going out like a lamb” kind of weather concept. April is supposed to be sunshine and rain and tulips and Easter lilies.
The snow and cold adds insult to injury. Was it only less than two weeks ago that our pastor came to us via internet and said the difficult decision had been made to close the church doors for a month? A month! And with it being Easter?! I cried. I can’t remember ever missing celebrating the Resurrection of my Savior with church family. I cried again the next day. Then hope came in an unexpected way.
I was watching a Christian program. They were showing the streets of Jerusalem. The streets were empty. The merchants’ doors were closed. The doors to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were shut tight. Few prayed at the Western Wall. What an eerie sight and silence preceding the wondrous celebration of Passover. Then. . .
. . . a picture of a tomb. . . with no door.
The angels asked the women who had gone to Jesus’ tomb, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? Jesus of Nazareth which was crucified is not here. He is risen as He said.”
Covid-19 will prevent our gathering as is our custom. But it will not prevent joy, gratitude, songs of praise, hope, supplication, and faith from swelling in my heart and escaping from my lips. Jesus is alive! One would think that the very reason that such controversy exists after nearly 2000 years is some kind of proof that something supernatural happened.
In Matthew 27:22 Pilate asked the crowd, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
The same question still begs to be answered. Whatever plagues us today will disappear and fade away, but the question remains, “What will I do with Jesus?” I know what I’m doing, I’m journeying with Him. And this particular weekend I am remembering the sacrifice He made for me and I am thanking Him for it. “What will you do with Jesus?” It is my sincere hope that you are joining me in journeying with Him.
Just recently, I ordered a tank of cooking fuel and topped off our heating fuel tanks. Both of the delivery guys left the bill in my door. This is not normal practice. Normally, they knock, I answer, they hand me the bill, I pass them a check.
I caught the cooking fuel delivery guy at the bottom of the porch steps.
“Don’t you want your check?” I asked.
He shrugged, looking totally deflated. “I guess they want you to send it in,” he said, and off he shuffled.
Cooking fuel delivery guy is a sociable guy. Our habit is to make small talk while I write the check and the day seems cheery somehow because of it. That day, cooking fuel delivery guy looked totally defeated.
It was much the same with heating fuel delivery guy. I spoke to him through my window. He didn’t look near as dejected as his counterpart, but his smile was a little sad as he said it’d be best if I sent the payment in.
Isolation is hard on people. The little things we take for granted daily, such as passing a check to someone without the fear that the ink is poison, feels like a thing of yesteryear. My heart especially goes out to people who lived relatively isolated lives prior to all of this craziness. I think of the single person who counts on chats at the coffee shop and the elderly person who seeks camaraderie through senior centers. We have our nice, little 5 family, so named by the girls. But what of those whose outlets have been shut off?
Isolation also made me think of something, or rather Someone, contrary: Jesus. He went in when others went out. Think about it: He touched lepers. Lepers! Who does that? He didn’t take leprosy, He gave healing. His actions were so contrary to what we’re being asked to do today. Do I understand? Yes, I understand. People are getting sick. People are dying. But people have always been getting sick. And people have always been dying. Do we really need a pandemic to point that out? Do we need a pandemic to appreciate our freedom to worship and gather together? Do we need a pandemic to appreciate the sharing of a meal with family and friends? Do we need a pandemic to appreciate a hug or the simple act of handing over a check without fear that it possesses some contagious disease? Do we need a pandemic for people to be kind, and do selfless acts, and give of their own abundance?
This may be the beginning of a series of bad things to come. There may be more plagues, more pestilence, more outrageous things happening in the weather and in the natural world. Covid-19 may be part of our dress rehearsal. Are we covered with the armor of God? Are we wearing the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and are our feet ready to go and share the Gospel? Are we taking up the shield of faith and using the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God? (Ephesians 6:14-17). Are we covered by the blood of Jesus?
Please, DO NOT FEAR.
This may also be the beginning of things too wonderful for us to imagine. God will outdo any evil thing the devil devises with His goodness. I am telling you, there are good things that are going to come at the end of this battle. And as battles continue to come, so will the victories. God does not know how to lose. Remember the idiocy of satan? He did everything he could to destroy our Savior–he even killed Him. But you know what he discovered? God’s resurrecting power is greater than death. GOD IS GREATER, period.
Join me today in the epic challenge to turn aside from all negative voices that incur fear and hear only the voice of the LORD which inspires faith. His report is the only one we should be putting our faith in (Isaiah 53:1). He earned our trust. He beat death with an ugly stick. Jesus willingly suffered in very specific ways and places to deliver us from very specific curses. (Again, I strongly recommend Larry Huch’s book, Free at Last: Breaking the Cycle of Family Curses). We don’t need to struggle. We need only believe and speak His Word.
I don’t know why, but songs and choruses from yesteryear are coming to visit me. This is the song that’s going through my head today and I think it’s perfectly suited for today’s content. If the music isn’t your style, please at least take the words to heart.
Part of the Bridge:
God is greater (than the wisest man)
Greater (than the power of sin)
God is greater (than the gates of hell)
Greater (than any tongue can tell)
God is greater (than the richest king)
Greater (than anything!)
Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.
🙂 Let’s expect a supernatural releasing of God’s power in our lives and in our world today.
On January 20th of this year, the United States of America had its first confirmed case of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We live in a very rural area. So rural, in fact, that the gravity of this virus did not sink in until the last two weeks. I don’t even recall hearing about it until a month ago. For us, it seemed to come out of nowhere. (I don’t watch much news because it’s devastating to one’s psyche. I mean that). God dropped a memory into my mind during prayer this morning and I felt compelled to share it with you.
On January 5th of this year, before we were even aware of the existence of COVID-19, a prophetic Word was given at our church. I try to record as many and as much of the prophecies as I remember. This is what I felt the LORD wanted me to share with you today, directly from my journal:
“I have drawn you in circles of love. I have called you by name. I love you. Come to Me. Step into My embrace. Let Me cover you for you do not know the time, the evil, what is coming, what lurks in the shadows, but I do. I would protect you. Step into My embrace. Let Me cover you. Come into My bosom. I will be to you a shield and a buckler. Will you continue to refuse and resist Me? Do not. Come to Me. For you do not know the time or the evil. I AM your Father, Healer, Friend, Savior, Deliverer–all you could ever want or need–I AM. Come to Me.”
I immediately thought of the scripture from Isaiah 26:20:
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
In my mind, the message was an upgrade from this particular verse. The LORD wasn’t telling our congregation to hide themselves, He was saying He would hide whoever would step into His embrace. That was incredibly comforting.
There were also a few unusual words that stuck out to me so I drug out my Strong’s Concordance. These are the simple notes I made and scripture I wrote:
bosom-meaning to enclose
shield-prickly, pointed, piercing
buckler-something surrounding the person
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4
Those who do not refuse or reject Him will be surrounded, totally enclosed with a protective barrier that is covered with an encasement of outward piercing thorns. A long time ago I got a tip from a woman: she planted rose bushes outside beneath her windows to deter intruders. Piercing thorns is a big deal. It’s what the enemy of our souls gets when he messes with God’s kids…and more.
I don’t know that COVID-19 is what God meant when this Word was given to us in January. To be of a truth, I believe this is more of the earth’s groaning as in the pains of childbirth due to man’s sin (Romans 8:22) and there is more to come, much more.
I can hear you now, “Way to go, Christi, you just ruined your encouraging word.”
But I did’t. It is encouraging. Do you hear? God’s prophets are speaking. His Word is alive and well and going forth. The question is, will we listen and obey? Obedience brings a blessing (Deuteronomy 28, first half). Will we receive the Word and act on it today? The choice is ours.
Please join me today in prayer for a worldwide end to this dreadful virus. More so, let us pray for worldwide revival. The LORD has spoken. We do not totally comprehend the time or the evil that lurks in the shadows, but He does. God has issued us an invitation to step into His embrace and let Him be to us our shield, our buckler, our everything. Please join me and accept the invitation.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: Mark 6:31 KJV
The disciples have once again met up with Jesus after having been sent out by Him to minister. They were like a bunch of excited kids with news too good to keep to themselves. They couldn’t wait to tell Him the ministry they’d done. Although they were excited, they were tired. Ministry is physically, spiritually, and emotionally draining. If you’ve never experienced this, it is both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I imagine this is how all of them felt on this particular day.
So Jesus says to them, “Come away with Me, to a quiet place, the desert, to rest and eat.”
I looked into different translations of “desert” and have come up with: desert (literal), solitary, secluded, wilderness, remote, etc. He was leading them to a place where there would be no other people. Face it, not many people desire the desert and seek it out on their own. And I doubt few, if any of us, would dub it the ideal place to rest. The desert is so many different things to so many people: sickness, disease, divorce, loss of a loved one, trauma, facing past abuse–the list of desert places is as endless as the variety of people who find themselves there. The desert is a tough place to be, not only because there is no apparent provision, but there is generally no company, either. Are we any greater than our LORD that we should bypass the desert when He dwelled in one for a time?
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Mark 4:1 KJV
I looked up wilderness in my Strong’s concordance. Here are some definitions: lonesome, waste, empty expanse. And then what one would assume: desert, desolate, etc. In other words, not the place one would choose to host a feast. But then, we serve a God whose thoughts are not our own. Remember what David wrote?
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Psalm 23:5 NIV
He’s apt to do things like that so I guess we shouldn’t find it unusual that Jesus created a feast in the desert.
Here’s where the feast comes in: The multitude followed Jesus and His disciples. A multitude that had been with them for THREE days, from every direction, and spent the rest of that day with them, too.
“LORD, they’re hungry. Send them away so they can get something to eat. We are in the desert. There’s nothing here.”
He had compassion on them as sheep without a shepherd. Jesus’ calm reply, “You feed them.”
“With what, Master? We are in the desert. We can’t feed all of these people. Let’s be serious now, Jesus, send them away.”
He knew exactly where they were. Does Jesus change His mind? No. Their unbelief doesn’t faze Him a bit. He was stuck on His initial reply of, “You feed them,” by giving them further instructions: “Find out how much bread you have.”
They reported five loaves and two fish. I can see Jesus clapping His hands once with a great big clap and then rubbing His palms together, a smile creasing His face. “Wahoo! We are going to feast tonight!”
Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups on the greengrass. Mark 6:39 NLT (italics are mine)
Green grass? In the desert?
Ah, the desert. Dry. Lonely. Difficult. An undesirable place. And yet…
…a place of introspection, growth, discovery, miracles.
Jesus makes green grass in the desert.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18 KJV
In the dark night of grief, in the loneliness of rejection, in the pain of trauma and abuse, in the suffocating feeling of sickness and disease, in the worry of financial woes, in the despair of unanswered prayers, in the turmoil of broken relationships, in the awfulness of it all, I am here to tell you today that Jesus Christ not only cares and loves us enough to give us the comfort of green grass for our parched souls, He is also preparing a feast for us. Do you see it? Can you smell it? Hold on just a while longer, Dear Heart, our Comforter is here and all He has said will come to pass. We will not only see it, and smell it, we will taste it.
Oh, taste and see that the Lordis good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Psalm 34:8 NKJV
For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off. Proverbs 23:15 KJV
I stopped by an elder friend’s house to take her cookies and a birthday card. She’s been having a difficult time coping with some loneliness issues. At this stage in her life, her grandchildren’s spheres are widening which is taking them further away from her when she used to see them on a near daily basis. Her friends have injuries or are tied up with doctor appointments and/or their own grandchildren which is preventing them from meeting with her regularly as they once did. Add to that, she’s feeling the talons of years of widowhood. So I was glad when she told me that someone invited her to a sort of goodwill group.
From what I gather, this is a group of women who meet to do small projects to benefit the community. For example, they make washable bed pads for dog crates for the Humane Society. It sounds like a neat little organization of people who are most likely in the stage of life sort of like my friend is. It helps take some of the bite out of the loneliness and possible feeling of uselessness that they may be having.
She did mention that they meet at a denominational church, of which she is not affiliated, and she’d choose not to have any part. I get it. Most of us have preferences as to how we worship and, quite frankly, there are churches I would not join. Might visit, but wouldn’t join. One statement she made got me: “I was wondering if we’d do all the work and they (the church) would get the credit for it. But, no, they have nothing to do with it other than that’s where we meet.”
I love this friend. But that statement cut me to the quick. And not because I’m a part of that denomination. But rather because I’m part of the human race. It wouldn’t have been so long ago if she’d made that statement that it’d a rolled right off of me. But that day, sitting at her table, it hit me like a sledgehammer. Why? Because it sounded so “judgey”– and because I am prone to think and say the same if I am not careful to guard my heart. Who cares who gets the credit for good deeds as long as God gets the glory?
Do you know what is required for salvation?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV
Believe in Jesus. My friend’s denomination does that. My denomination does that. The church where they meet, their denomination does that. Yes, the way the three of us worship is vastly different, which is why I attend the church I attend, but I count her a sister in Christ. And I have fellow brothers and sisters in the other denomination.
I would like to see the followers of Christ agree to disagree on personal preferences of worship and join ranks to fight for our lost and dying world. We need to start behaving like the body of believers we were created to be and tell the truth, be compassionate and understanding, and walk in grace. The world is in desperate need for a church that will take responsibility for its sad state. It is God’s kids’ responsibility. Don’t believe me?
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God implores, “If My people who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways….”
He said, “My people”. And who are His people? In John 14:23 He says, “He who keeps My words.” He counts whoever obeys Him and loves Him as His own. Jesus said that He and the Father make their home with whoever loves Him and keeps His word. So who’s going to help save the world? God’s people. The followers of Jesus are largely at fault for our sorry state;not entertainers, not athletes, not all of those in the spotlight or in prison, a political party, or wherever it is we want to lay blame. It’s up to us, believers in Jesus Christ, to seek Him, to pray, to humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways. His glorious promise to our obedience:
He will hear. He will forgive. He will heal our land.
Join me today in getting rid of self-righteousness, seeking and speaking the truth, moving toward oneness with fellow believers, and loving and understanding others. God is the only remedy for our sick world. Will we deny them the cure? Or will we do 2 Chronicles 7:14?
There is a 100,000 square foot home for sale in California. I heard about it on Christian radio. It has a 45 seat theater, bowling alley, four swimming pools, night club, 30 car garage, etc. The hosts were stunned with the magnitude of it all and finally said, “What would you do with it?!”
My thought was, “What couldn’t you do with it?” Family nights, teen outreaches, couples’ retreats, host Christian comedians and musicians in the night club. . . my mind exploded with the potential.
Why don’t we see many Christians walking in abundance? Maybe it’s because of what I heard on the radio: “What would you do with it?” There’s little to no room for thinking outside of the box. Not to mention, the church’s seemingly overall view of prosperity has somehow become synonymous with evil.
I heard a minister once ask, “Who wants to be a millionaire?”
I nearly hollered and jumped out of my seat in excitement.
“Not me-e!” she declared. “Just think of all the trouble it would bring. And what would you do with it all?”
Really? She couldn’t think of what to do with a million dollars? Does she realize how little a million dollars is in today’s economy for someone with vision? Ah, there it is: She lacked vision.
Write the vision. Make it plain. (Habakkuk 2:2) But we’re not having visions let alone writing visions. Where is our passion? Where is our excitement? Where is the dream? For various reasons, I’d say it’s all in a box, tucked away, out of sight and out of mind. There’s safety in the routine. Ah, but is there? I can think immediately of two businesses in our area that shut down and left many people without jobs. What’s more, without enough years in the businesses, employees lost all/some of pensions/retirements, too. What we anchor ourselves to here is subject to change. The only immovable thing we have to hold to is a God who loves us and would meet our wildest expectations if we’d agree with Him and follow Him. But, oftentimes, that’s scary; we’re afraid. It’s hard work; we’re lazy. I attest to that myself.
Which leads to . . . two year olds don’t get keys to the car. It doesn’t pay to get sassy with God because things didn’t work out the way we planned in the time we planned. He’s working all things out for our good but only if we love Him and we’re called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) Do we? Are we?
It might behoove us to pray like the psalmist did and ask God to search us. Is there any wicked or offensive way in us? Know our thoughts. Know our hearts. (Psalm 139:23-24) That takes work and quiet. But our lives are too busy, noisy and distracting. You know what living that kind of life gets us? That gets us looking at the immeasurable benevolence of God and asking, “What do we do with it?” Our grieving Father has no choice but to retract the hand holding out the gift to us and clutch it back to His chest. We’re in too much unbelief and too much noise to realize the blessings that He extends to us. So we must wait. Actually, from where I’m sitting today, I say God must wait. . . for us. How sad that we keep Him waiting. If only we grasped the magnitude of what He has for us and just say “Yes”.
Join me and the psalmist today in some soul-searching. Let’s ask God, unafraid, What isit that You would have me to do? Help me, and I’ll do it. Dangerous, life changing prayers, that’s what these are. Are we courageous enough to accept the challenge? Or will we forever wander aimlessly here on earth, wondering what might have been? Please, let’s dare to be examined and cleansed. Then let us be used so that the Father might be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)
Let’s keep dreaming. Let’s keep daring to believe that the hunger in our hearts and the fire in our souls will be satisfied by His love.
Did you ever remove unwanted hair by waxing? I’ve seen it done and done it for others yet had not experienced it myself…until recently. What was I thinking?! The type of wax I had experience with were adhesive. If necessary, you trim the wax strip to the size you desire and rub it between the palms of your hands to warm it. When it’s warmed, you peel the pieces apart, stick them to your problem area and stroke in the direction of the hair growth. After an ample amount of time, you pull the skin taut with one hand while ripping the wax strip off in the opposite direction of the hair growth with the other, and viola! Hair gone. Then you massage the skin area a little longer and apply the concoction included to remove any leftover adhesive.
Since my girls had been threatening to wax their armpits, I thought I’d be the guinea pig and let them know how it went. I was fresh out of the shower, towel-dried, no sweat. Perfect time. I smiled while I prepared the wax strips, giddy with the thought of not having to shave for what would be the minimum of a month–hopefully longer. I stood in front of my dresser mirror and used it to guide me to the 5 o’clock shadow in my armpit. That’s when the feeling of being pleased with myself totally backfired into panic. Mind you, I was fresh out of the shower, butt-naked, when I realized that I need two, count them, two hands–one to draw the skin taut, one to rip off the strip. I really needed that second hand which was currently stretched above my head, the hand attached to the arm with a wax strip adhered to the pit. No way was that hand capable of doing anything! I debated putting on undies and a halter and asking one of my girls to help.
Here’s where I confess: I was too proud to ask for help. I was already one wax strip deep so I stuck on the other, rubbed my skin for a reasonable amount of time in the direction of the hair growth, and hoped for the best. Preparing for the worst, I sucked in a breath and ripped off the first strip. Owee! Wow, God bless people who do this on a regular basis. I could not imagine what it must feel like to do this on, ahem, more “sensitive” areas. I ripped off the second strip, briefly massaged my armpits, applied the non-stick concoction and slathered myself down with witch hazel. What a disappointment. I did grab a few hair follicles but it wasn’t near worth the effort. Though sore that evening, I was not sore the next day. I attribute that to the witch hazel…and God’s infinite mercy extended to my proud self.
This brings back a memory. I was busy in the kitchen. I don’t know why, but I was wrestling with a step stool with one hand. Laura is all of 8 years old, maybe, and she’s watching me. I’m getting totally fussed up. I can’t remember if I began complaining out loud, which I still catch myself doing from time to time, or if she was just reading me. I can’t remember if she did assist me or I finally got it on my own. Here’s what I remember: “Well you coulda just asked for help!” she said in rebuke. Yeah, I coulda, but I didn’t.
I’m going to rewind to years before that. Someone used in words of knowledge and prophecy said, “I look at you and I see a pot on a stove with a hand on the handle. Steam is coming out of the pot. I asked the LORD, ‘What does this mean?’ He said, ‘Christi lets Me move her where I will but then she tries to run on her own steam’.”
Ouch! That hurt worse than waxing.
Few things are as sticky as relational discord. My husband did some digging recently and discovered what he suspected: We have been being taken advantage of financially by a fellow believer and a relative yet to boot. For how long and to what extent we don’t know. What’s happened isn’t criminal, but it isn’t right, either. It’s inconceivable to us that he doesn’t realize what he has done. But, what if he doesn’t? What if this is how he was taught? Or what if this has become such a common practice to him that his conscious is seared and he’s immune to it?
“Why doesn’t God just change him?!” Bob lamented.
“You know God doesn’t do that,” I said. “He will not impose His will on people. They have to want to change.”
There are some works only God can do. And He will only do them when we go to Him with honesty (“I’ve failed You”) and humility (“I want to change but I can’t do this on my own”). We can’t fix ourselves let alone someone else in our own strength and wisdom. To attempt to do so only leads to heartache coupled with wounds, unforgiveness, misunderstanding, anger, et cetera–I know. It’s difficult to relinquish control to God. But, seriously, what are we controlling anyway? Our attitude, that’s all. No matter how much it hurts, no matter how badly we’re taken advantage of, no matter how many complaints we voice or how many tears we shed, the only real power to change comes from letting God move us where He will and then running on His steam.
Join me today in taking some time to get honest before the King of Kings. He’s been here all along. Will we keep Him waiting? Or will we humble ourselves and ask for help?
It’s nearing that time of year again, time to bring the pets in and let them in except for potty breaks and short walks. It’s a reprieve having but one well behaved, old dog and one kitty. Last winter we had 2 old dogs. One was exceptionally rambunctious (even for his age of 12 years) and a literal cat killer. They stayed in the basement. The 4 kitties were shut up in the garage. What a task! Two different directions everyday. Many days I felt like all I did was tend to pets. Sometimes the kitties would venture away from their confines and not return right away to my calls. That made letting the cat killer out especially tricky. We always had him leashed but still, the thought of him tearing after a cat had me on my toes. I wasn’t new to being physically drug around the yard by him and I didn’t relish the idea of having it done again.
This winter finds us tending Foxy and Jags. What I forgot about and find myself highly repulsed by all over again is the kitty litter box. I thought I’d stomach it better being that it’s minus 3 kitties this year but I still find it to be a dreaded chore. Even more so now that the 2 different species share the same space and the same food. Dog food doesn’t agree with Jags’ delicate system but he’s inclined to continue to feast upon it. I can’t see putting it up when Foxy is a grazer. Besides, is there anything that can be withheld from a curious cat?
Thankfully, something wonderful and spontaneous happened, something I hoped against hope was transpiring. When I let Foxy out, Jags also went to the door. To coax him, I tucked my foot under his belly and scooped him out. This morning, Foxy went her way to do her business and Jags went his way, dug a hole, and did his. Bob said it was the same when he took them out yesterday. In the great big pet scheme of things, this is huge. Our old dog taught our cat a new trick. Can’t say he’ll be so willing when snow comes up to his belly, but hey, I consider this to be a major success.
We are embarking 🙂 on a New Year. Wow. 2020. Who’d a thought? It’s crazy to think how many movies played out so many portrayals of what the 21st century would be and here we are–20 years deep. Did any movie producer see an old dog teaching a cat a new trick?
It’s not too late for you, ya know. Neither is it too late for me. Sometimes we think it. We look at the years stacking up behind us like so many bricks in a wall and wonder where it all went. Then we look ahead and sigh. We sigh because we look back and feel the weight of perceived failures, or worse, nothingness, which doesn’t even speak of attempts, let alone accomplishments. Sometimes new years don’t hold the hope of promise, they carry the weight of dread. We’ve probably all been there and done that at one point and time.
This time, this New Year, I’m presenting a new picture, a picture of hope no matter our age or stage in life. God has already given us all that we need. Join me in asking Him to teach us how to cooperate with Him and reveal His plan to us as He sees fit. Remember Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol? Let’s learn a lesson from him. Until the final breath is drawn, it’s never too late to start living a good life for and with God.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19 KJV
It was a sunny day, calm, upper 40s, low 50s. Wonderful weather for December, ideal for last minute Christmas shopping. Bob and Beth went one direction upon entrance to the Saturday flea market while I went another. I certainly did not expect the low volume of customers but it was a welcome surprise. It was nice, quiet, no one pushing and rushing. I strolled about at my leisure, hoping the perfect little gifts for my special someones would leap off the tables and into my arms. That never happened. Still, I was happy. I was with people I loved, having a wonderful day out.
I was nearing the end of my ineffectual search when I spotted a small, elderly man sitting behind the tables of his wares. His thinning hair was dirty gray in color. His little chin and the deep set wrinkles at the corners of his eyes and mouth gave him an elfin look. He was neatly dressed and smiling. We made small talk. I normally would have walked off at that juncture but I felt compelled to remain.
I had been listening to Christian radio and recently a host had been talking about how “doing for the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) can be as simple as sharing a smile, a hug, letting someone pour out their sorrows, etc. I found myself gazing into this man’s nondescript color of eyes and wondering what it was he needed. Did he need something that I could give to him? Then it happened. He opened the door.
“My wife died January 13th.”
“Oh. I’m so sorry. Not even a year…” I glanced at the empty wooden chair, catty-cornered to his, that held a jacket. It spoke volumes.
He got a distant expression on his face. “It’s really hard adjusting. Life is really different now.”
I could only imagine the quiet of his house, devoid of his wife’s presence, and the pain of his first Christmas without her.
“How long were you married?”
“Fifty seven years.”
“Wow.” I was impressed, not only because of the length of years, but because he didn’t look old enough to have been married that long. “If you don’t mind my asking, how old are you?”
“I never would have thought it.”
“Yeah, we were married at 6:30 in the evening on September 7th on the army base. I was in the jungles of ‘Nam and going through this is harder than that was.”
Any response I could contrive would never seem enough. So I quietly stood, allowing him his memories, and silently prayed.
“You know,” he said, his round eyes meeting mine, “it’s not in the stuff. People go crazy shopping for Christmas, maxing out credit cards, buy, buy, buy, but it’s not in the stuff. None of life is in the stuff. None of that matters.”
I wondered how many people would have to find themselves in the position he was in to come to that realization. I wanted to cry. I could feel his heartache. He seemed so lonely.
“Do you have any children?” I asked.
“No. We tried, but we never had any. We found out (too late) that she was full of fibroid tumors–lots of them. You wouldn’t believe how many they took out of her.”
That solace had been stolen from him. “I’m sorry,” I said.
He gave a little smile. “Thank you.” Even though they had wanted to have children but couldn’t there seemed to be no bitterness about him. In fact, he didn’t seem bitter about anything, unless it was the value people placed on stuff. He simply seemed sad.
“Can I give you a hug?” I asked.
He stood from his chair. “Yes.”
I walked around the backside of his area and met him there. I held him and whispered a prayer of peace and comfort in his ear and let him go. We wished each other a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and parted when a potential buyer came.
I’ve thought of John often since that day and sent up more prayers for him. I’ve wondered what the responses would be if a couple of teenagers I know had a chance meeting with John. Would they get it? Or would his message of how meaningless stuff is fall on deaf ears and hard hearts? They at least are young, with (hopefully) lots of time to realize the value of people. What about the adults, maybe some turning on their death beds, who finally come to the realization that it’s not in the stuff. God, would that all of us would come to that realization long before then.
I didn’t expect to have the Christmas that I did. I literally feel spoiled with all of the stuff that I got. But it’s not in the stuff. None of the stuff matters; it’s the hearts full of love for me that the stuff represents that gives it meaning. And even in that, I could live without the stuff. Like John, I’d find my life totally upended if I was without my family and friends. And God…totally hopeless without Him. John had made reference to Him. I suppose that’s how he survived Vietnam. I suppose that’s how he managed for nearly a year without his wife of 57 years. Without God, there’s no managing anything. Without God, there’s nothing.
We may never get 100 hundred years as found in the lyrics of today’s featured song, but we need to make the time that we do have count. It really does go by so very, very fast. Join me today in making a conscious effort to put the stuff in its proper place–which is meaningless in the light of God, family, and friends.
picturequotes.com ~Theodor Seuss Geisel
For John, and others whose hearts are broken, may you be aware of the Presence of the Mender of the brokenhearted today and always.
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 KJV
Bob was sitting on the footstool while I sat in my rocker glider. Our heads were nearly touching as we tried to get the 1/4 inch splinter out of the second joint of my pointer finger–right hand, of course. I looked up and smiled. Actually chuckled a little. There we sat, both wearing cheapo low prescription reading glasses purchased at local stores, struggling to focus. This coupled with the gray/silver strands hit me like a box of rocks. We are doing it, what we committed to do, aging together, “Til death do us do part.”
It was difficult to see bifocals in my future when I was 20. These days, there are moments when it’s hard to see anything clearly 🙂 . But then some things come into sharp focus. Things one would never expect. As mentioned in a prior post, I’ve been revisiting past journals to glean promises from the LORD. Of course I’m reliving a lot of memories along the way…and not all of them pleasant. Since hindsight is 20/20, pleasant or no, the past is a real eye opener. When I sit and reflect on how many times God has saved me from so many worse things, I am blown away. I am especially wowed by His keeping me where relationships with the opposite sex are concerned.
There was the couple of steadies in high school (one which would eventually become an engagement after high school and then broken); the wanna-be engagement (not so much on my part but his); and the random friendships with the opposite sex that never went beyond friendship and some innocent flirting (on both parts). Finally came the day when I’d had enough. I knelt beside my bed and prayed.
“LORD, I’m tired. I don’t want to do this anymore. You tell me, is it Your will that I marry? Or am I to remain single for the rest of my life? Just tell me and we’ll go from here.”
He turned me to Ruth 1:9 which says in part,
“The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband…”
in the house of her husband...That being said, peace encompassed me. It was the will of God that I marry. When and to whom really didn’t matter anymore. My Creator Father answered me. From that moment I knew He was in this thing with me. I settled in.
It drove my parents and my brother nuts. They all insisted that I “get out” but the good Book says in Proverbs 18 that he who finds a wife finds a good thing so I sat around waiting to be found. You might think this is crazy. But I had also read that it’s much better to concentrate on being the “right one” rather than finding the “right one” so that’s what I did. I sat around concentrating and waiting. Heh, heh.
One evening a friend of my brother’s came to our house. I remember very few details (haven’t gotten there in my journals yet), but what I do remember is my brother literally carrying me, stocking feet and all, out to the guy’s car to meet him. Mark stood me up outside the car door. It was one of the most awkward moments of my entire life. The guy’s name was Bob. The rest is history…except for the history we’re currently making.
All those years ago, Bob told me he loved me before he ever dared kiss me and that came months after our first date. I was not blind to the desire written all over his face, but he never offered his lips before he offered his heart…and even after that he waited for me…and waited for six l o n g years. Talk about self-control!
There were differences in our faith. He insisted he would not leave his church and I insisted I would not back pedal in my relationship with the LORD and go to his church. Religious bondage was not on my list of things to do with any potential mate. So why was I dating him anyway? The Bible says not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Sure, Bob went to church but he didn’t know Jesus. What was I doing with Bob? To be of a truth, I don’t know. It’s just that out of the guys I’d dated or befriended over the years he possessed a quality that the others did not: he loved me for me. He saw past my pretty face and loved me. God dropped that love inside of his heart for me. Husbands are commanded to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19) but I don’t know that Bob ever needed that command. It was a gift from God and I consider it a personal gift for me.
Back to my original question: Why was I with Bob? Beside his many qualities, and the potential that I saw, he was teachable. I remember him telling me one day that he thought it was okay to have sex with someone as long as you loved them.
“Oh,” I said, “is that right?”
Sold on the wisdom of the world, he said, “Yeah.”
What he failed to figure in with all of his worldly wisdom is that he was not dealing with a woman of secular standards but heavenly ones.
“Oh,” I said, “so then I guess it’s okay if I loved 4 other people before you.”
“No!” He blurted then paused. “Since you put it that way….”
He learned. Logic won the day that day. As did love.
When I think about great loves, (aside from God’s love for us), I think about Mary and Joseph. There was no logic involved there, only faith and a lot of love. Joseph knew that Baby was not his. Legally, because they were in all ways married except for the consummation, he could have had her stoned for committing adultery. I bet if that were an option for today there’d be a lot of piles of rocks lying all over the place. But Joseph was a righteous man. I believe he loved Mary and it was due to this tenderness toward her that he contemplated quietly divorcing her without stating a specific cause. He did not wish to humiliate her. He did not wish to cause her harm. Still, he dealt with the pain and the injustice of it all. Can you see him turning on his bed, a restless sleep coming and going? This was Joseph’s gut-wrenching heartache.
And what of Mary? She was the one that wiped the smile off of Joseph’s face. Imagine how being the source of his pain made her feel. Not to mention her very life was in his hands. Imagine the fear and the uncertainty. Her plans for a beautiful ceremony and festivities were destroyed. Babies conceived out of wedlock brought shame to the parents, not celebration. Her expectations prior to the angel’s visit were forever altered. Imagine how crushed she might have felt. So much for being “highly favored”. The neat little future she anticipated was smashed to smithereens.
Mary and Joseph shared a common thread: their love for God. When He spoke to them they yielded themselves wholly to Him and His will. They knew the gossips would eat them for lunch and have them for leftovers too, but they continued on. Joseph heeded the message of the LORD given through an angel. He took Mary to his home as his wife and did not have sex with her as instructed until after Jesus was born and her time of purification was passed. And Bob thought 6 years was a long time–at least we weren’t waiting under the same roof!
Seriously, have you considered the strength of the enduring love that Mary and Joseph had for God and for each other? Despite what everything appeared to be, they trusted God and lived in faith, believing that He would see them through. There is no other explanation as to how they were sustained during such a time as theirs.
Join me today to take in the beauty of the simple faith and great love shared between God, Mary, Joseph…and all of us. Then carefully weigh these questions: What is our love story? Is God telling us something? Are we listening? Is God asking something of us? Are we willing to say yes?
It is my joy to share with you one of my favorite Christmas carols and, in my opinion, one of the best light shows I’ve ever seen. May you find as much pleasure in this as my family has over the years.
It is my sincere desire that you all have a very Merry and Miraculous Christmas.