The Banquet Invitation

Way back in the 90’s my oldest brother was an officer in the US Navy. I was a young college student. One of my spring breaks I was able to manage a trip to Jacksonville, Florida where he was stationed. The goal was to get to fulfill a lifelong dream of going to Disney World. I also got a once in a lifetime experience. I toured the ship he was assigned to and got to eat dinner in the officers quarters. I felt like I had arrived. The atmosphere of the officers dining room was quite the experience: Formal wait staff, golden utensils, fancy dining room furniture, etc. It definitely impressed this small town, middle class, midwestern girl. It felt pretty good to have connections with a Naval Officer.

I have been thinking about that trip this afternoon as I have contemplated Luke 14. The setting of this passage is a dinner that Jesus attended at an prominent Pharisee’s(Jewish religious leader) house. I imagine there were several in attendance that felt pretty lucky to have scored a seat at the table with a “miracle man prophet” and a man of high position in the Prominent Religious Party of the day. It was enough to stir thoughts in one of the guests who had to comment to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the Kingdom of God”. He probably got the picture of how neat it was to be there at that meal, and how in comparison sitting in the very presence of God at His Kingly table would be.

Jesus took that opportunity to teach a little lesson. In typical Jesus’s style, He told them a parable.

In His parable a man was preparing a great banquet. He was arranging the venue, planning the menu, and getting a list of his guest. He had put a lot into it and when he expected his guests to reply with the anticipated RSVP’s, he got turned down. Replies like, “I’m too busy. Just got married…”. “Just bought a set of five yoke of oxen for me to try out.” (Today’s equivalent of a new John Deere Tractor with all the accessories.). Or “I’ve just bought a field. Gotta settle down and enjoy it.” It was enough to shock the generous host with such snubs.

What happens next surpasses the out of place dining of a small town, midwestern, college girl’s dining in the Officers Quarters of a US Naval ship. The host told his servants to go out and compel the poor, the blind, the crippled, and the lame to come to the meal. When the banquet hall wasn’t full he told them to go to the country roads and lanes to find more guests for his banquet. The honored guests for the distinguished host would be the very people who during the time of Jesus were the lowest of the social echelon.

So why all the fuss over banquets, dining and rsvp’s in Jesus’s parable? This is a reflection of who it is that Jesus calls to be a part of His Kingdom feast now, the very ones He invites to become His disciples. There are those He invites that let their relationships, their possessions, their season in life to keep them from valuing the opportunity of a life time, sitting at a table as a guest of Jesus’s meal. There are those who never would expect to be invited because of who they are and what they have become. He compels the poor with nothing to offer, those crippled by their anxieties, pain, and past. He compels the blind who strain to see past the darkness that envelopes them, and the lame who are unable to stand on their own. Those far away in the places that would never expect an invite. Those are the ones He invites to come. Simply because He wants His house to be full.

I’ve heard many people talk about how they are not worthy of following God and sitting down with Him at the feast of the Kingdom. No One Is! This is the beauty of the invitation. Just as I sat in the US Navy’s Officer’s Dining hall having never worn a uniform or fulfilled any qualifications of an officer. Simply because my Big Brother was qualified to be there, we are invited to sit at the most important event of eternity God the Father’s banquet because our Big Brother, Jesus is qualified to be there and He has compelled us to come and dine. Ours is simply to respond to the RSVP.

We’ll Meet You There!

When you closed your eyes

And drew your last breath,

What looked to us as the end of your life

Was really not death.

You stepped from this world

Into glories unknown

You ran into the arms of Jesus 

Forever at home.

There in that Place of eternal delight

You were surrounded by others

Who have went on before us

What a glorious sight!

There they all stood:

Our Grandmas and Grandpas,

Countless others,

There smiling, was Dad!

You wait patiently for us.

Watching us from above

Cheering us on in that great cloud of witnesses

With the ones gone before us, the ones that we love.

We’ll soon be together

Eternally grateful Jesus’ words are true

One by one we will gather

We’ll be there together again with you!

(We love you Mom Nelson!  We’ll run our race faithfully for Jesus, and We’ll see you again soon!

We’ll meet you there!)

Thoughts on Life and Death

The plight of a middle aged woman… a new season is upon me. I’ve blogged quite a bit on it recently. My life is transitioning. I’ve went from minivans, toddlers, chauffeuring the kids to summer swimming lessons… to a sports car, kids in their 20’s (one teenager left), and spending the morning at the bedside of my mother in love in long term care as she lies here going through her own transitions as well battling the final stages of cancer.

Watching her as she steps one by one into the final stages of death has brought me to a place of great contemplation. (There’s plenty of time to think as you sit in the quiet watching someone breathe). When I was younger I was fairly certain I was the master of my destiny, or at least I had a pretty good say over it. Do everything just right, speak the right words, confess the right scriptures, and do the right stuff. Things will go my way and I will change my world. It’s easy when you’re in the middle of building your life: cars, houses, careers, kids, etc. Making decisions and taking action to forget how much you actually control. It’s funny, (not ha ha funny) that we can so quickly forget what we actually control until pain comes, tragedy strikes, or we sit watching a loved one slip away into eternity. The list of all the things we think we are in control of dwindles down to little or nothing. Thankfully God truly does control it all.

I’ve often objected to such a view of God because I felt it reduced me to nothing more than a pawn in God’s chess game of life. The older I get, I see the comfort of knowing that God truly has every aspect of my life in His hands.

It’s easy, as the self made woman, when things are going my way, to feel good about my smart decisions, my fortunate circumstances, and how I deserve to pat my own back. When it all falls apart, I look around wondering where God was and why He didn’t bail me out. Questions and mistrust come in the wake of such circumstances. Knowing that God is in control in both the good and the bad, the big things and the little, brings peace. Because I am sure that the same God who values my life enough to send His son to die and pay the price for it, is the same God who values me and my broken heart more than I could ever know when I walk through pain and sorrow. He doesn’t leave me or forsake me. He has all this and eventually it will turn around for my good. Even if “my good” is leaving behind my temporary home, my body, by dying. It is then I receive my eternal body, my eternal home, The ultimate good in store for those who are in Christ.

Sitting here today has brought to mind that it would do me good to not be so attached to all the things here. I am passing through. The focus that brings peace is a life centered on the Holy One, Jesus, who assures me that this earth is not the end all. He has went away to prepare a place for me so where He is I can be there also.

Even though there is much here I love about my life and many more joys I plan to experience here, this cannot compare to Heaven. This life I live right now is just the prelude to the “Masterpiece of Heaven” God has written for my life to play a part in. For my mother in love, lying in front of me, the full orchestra of her life has only heard the tap of the conductor’s baton. The beauty of the Eternal Concert in Heaven has barely begun.

(Much comfort was found looking at this book that was placed in my Mother in Love’s hospice room.”Hope in the Dark” by Bart Larson. Years ago I knew Bart’s wife. I knew he was a hospice chaplain. That piqued my interest. It is where I found these quotes. Once again God weaves the details of our lives together. It is a good read.)

We are Never Forgotten

This morning my coffee and Jesus time was interrupted by a call from my mother in love from the nursing home. She had a hankering for a breakfast burrito from McDonald’s with mild picante sauce. Since eating has been hard for her and she has lacked desire, I combed my hair, brushed my teeth, put on some day clothes, hopped in my Charger and drove into town to purchase the desired meal and drop it by her room. I left my time with Jesus contemplating a verse that stuck out to me in my daily Bible reading that my husband and I are doing together from the Bible app. Psalm 105:42 “For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham.” The word “remembered” jumped off the page at me, which usually means I need to run it through the Bible Hub App and check out the meaning in the Hebrew with the Strong’s Concordance, and if that isn’t enough to settle the question marks flashing in my mind, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary can shed some light too. There are several references to God “remembering” someone or some promise. Genesis 8:1 “God remembered Noah…in the ark.” In Exodus 2:24 God “remembered his covenant” after hearing the groaning from the oppression of the Hebrew slaves. It hit me. If God “remembers” does that mean He “forgets”. I know that an all knowing, all powerful God cannot “forget”. I know this in my heart, but at times the 18 inch jump of this reality from my heart to my head does not quite make it. I can get caught up looking at circumstances, feeling my feelings. Then the question, “Has God forgotten?” starts to rumble around inside of me.

Webster’s 1828 defines “remember” as “to bear in mind, to attend to”. When God remembered Noah in the ark, He “attended to” or He “thought about” Noah . It wasn’t a case of God looking at other details in the flood and Noah just “slipped His mind.” So He needed to remember Noah. Or when God “remembered” His people who were enslaved in Egypt, He hadn’t been too busy thinking about what was going on across the globe in another land, and happened to let His very own people be abandoned and “forgotten” by His inattentiveness. He was there all along, working out the details of their deliverance. He was bearing in mind their situation, their cries, and their desire for freedom. He was working out His plan of deliverance.

It is easy in a difficult season to feel like God has forgotten us. Our earthly limitations don’t allow us to see everything as God does, and it is hard to understand “the why?”. “Why hasn’t God done something about this?” “Why have I had to struggle with this for years and years and years?” “Why is there pain?” “If God were actually looking at me, He wouldn’t let me go through this. Maybe He’s forgotten me…” But we are assured, God “remembers”. He bears in mind our circumstances and He attends to the details of our lives. He never forgets.

Nine years ago today my nephew was lost at sea while serving in the Navy. It is presumed by the Navy that He fell overboard in the Gulf of Aden near Yemen. I used to close my eyes and picture him buried deep in the under currents created by the large carrier he was serving on. No one saw him. No one knew. His disappearance became known when the daily roll call occurred and he was not present. The ship was searched, and then the waters. Matt was gone. This was not because God had forgotten to keep an eye on Matt and had no idea where Matt was. God was there attending to Matt’s needs as Matt stepped across the great divide from earth to heaven underneath the waters of the Gulf of Aden.

The Memorial Service for Matt aboard the Boxer.

Nine years ago on July 9th my father in love drew his last breath after suffering greatly with cancer for over a year. God had not forgotten him. I’ve often thought of what Gene must have seen as he uttered “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” before drawing his last breath. God had not forgotten him as he laid on his bed unable to speak or move. He was there attentive to his care and bearing him in mind as he took Gene’s hand and led him into the pure presence of Jesus.

God has not forgotten my mother in love as she continues her fight against the disease that has ravaged her body. He has not forgotten me as I struggle to understand. I am assured that the questions in my heart, the anxieties I fight are under His attentive care and He knows exactly where I am and bears my situation in His mind. He is in control. I may not understand or see. but God never Forgets!

“Farther Along”

I grew up the daughter of the church pianist (my mom) and grand daughter (my grandma) of the church song leader, what they used to call worship leader in some churches back in the day. As the regular part of church worship service, someone would come prepared with a “special”. Usually a hymn or song that they sang solo or duet with someone. With all the music running through my family line, I would be asked on the regular to sing or play something on the piano. It wasn’t my favorite experience since my fingers would shake so hard on the keys of the piano from nerves. I usually had a few screw ups in each song. The small church of 30 or less would talk about how wonderful I did when I sat down. (Very generous of them)

My mom and grandma usually sang a special every week. Their voices blended smoothly as they sang songs outside of the usual congregational music, hymns, that were sang.

Frequently, they sang this song , “Farther Along” (a little differently) as a “special” when I was growing up. Since I was an “80’s Rocker” in my teen years, I didn’t really think too much about it. It wasn’t my style. Funny how things change… I often think of them singing this song now. I finally get why Grandma loved the words of this song.
I came across the verse above this morning in my Bible reading. I’ve had a hard week. My mother in love has spent this week in the hospital after a fall that broke her femur. Cancer has complicated things and we have been left with a great need for a miracle.

There has been a wide range of emotions within our family as we’ve tried to help her and be there for her the past few days. Probable one of the hardest things is not understanding why.

Suffering is hard to wrap your mind around when stacked up against the fact that God is good and He loves us. There’s been many books written, sermons spoken, and ideas expressed on the “Why?”.

I’ve had to conclude during my 49 times riding around the sun that it’s ok to not understand everything that happens on earth. I’m not God. I am finite. I don’t see the full picture. The comfort is that that when I see Jesus, I will understand. Because I will finally see Him as He is and all the secret things will be revealed. Quite honestly, when I do see Him all the things that I didn’t understand won’t matter so much any more. Because it is then that I step into the place where there will be no more pain, no more crying, no more dying, etc and I experience fully without anything holding me back, God’s love: the heights, the depths, the length, the width of its infinite bounds.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.””
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:3-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Responding to the Signs of the Times

(WARNING…Big word usage for End Times theories ahead. Stick with me there is a point in it.)

Eschatology (end times theology)  has not been my forte… I was raised in a church that was amillennialistic, I’ve attended churches that were Post Millennialist, and I am currently going to a church that is Pre Millennialist.  If I sit there and give it some thought, I can see where each one of them is coming from and I can find things I agree on and disagree on.  So when it comes to End Times Theology, I land on this point. I believe Jesus is coming again.  I don’t know when that is or how it will all go down, but I know that I am ready and the last instruction Jesus gave to his disciples before He ascended was for them to receive the Holy Spirit and to be a witness of Him to their local home area, those areas around it, and then to the ends of the earth. Acts 1.   That is plenty for me to keep busy with in my area of the world and everywhere I may go.

Probably the one thing that really gets my goat when people start talking about Jesus coming is they approach it with this attitude that you feel like you should be hearing “Twilight Zone” music in the back ground and a spooky voice saying, “You know, Jesus is coming…”  It’s like they’ve got to scare you with the fact.  Major earthquake occurs, “Jesus is coming…”(scary tone applied to quote).  Giant tornado rips through a major city, “Jesus is coming…”(apocalyptic fear applied) And now the current news, a global pandemic… “Jesus is coming… BOO!”  To me the fact that Jesus is coming is not something to scare my neighbor with.  It is something I should eagerly anticipate. Something I should be so excited about that it leaks out on those around me.  He is coming, I am excited, time to prepare.

When my husband and I were dating 28 years ago about this time of the year, he lived in a town about 1 1/2 hours from where I lived.  It was the dinosaur age of phones.  There was this thing called long distance, that if he called me or vice versa, we would have to pay large fees just to talk for 10 minutes each night.  In fact, we learned that one the hard way.  He had to sell his favorite guitar to pay a phone bill that we racked up talking each night.  We just wanted to be together.  So every weekend as soon as he could get free, he would hop in his car and drive to where I lived to see me.  I knew he was coming sometime that evening.  So I would try to be ready.  Hair fixed just so, make up on, the cutest outfit I could find.  I would watch and wait to see his little red car driving up.  I wasn’t scared in the least bit at his arrival. I anticipated it.  THAT is the kind of feeling I want to find in myself as I anticipate Jesus and His return.

I have been reading a weekly devotion this year, Secrets of the Secret Place  by Bob Sorge. This week I have been contemplating chapter 14 “The Secret of Watching”. Watching for Jesus… It’s just like me watching for my love 28 years ago.  Watching is not out of fear that at the last moment I get my ducks in a row because the past 49 years I have wanted to do my own thing and now the signs of Jesus coming has increased. I better get ready… Watching is “I am soooo in love with Jesus right now.  I want to be with Him.  Is that the possible sound of Him coming my way?”  Interpreting the signs of the times is for me to have a better perspective of how to show people this Jesus I am so enamored with.  in Luke 12:54-56 Jesus talked about how the people of his time were able to “see a cloud rising in the west, and immediately say ‘It’s going to rain’ and it does.” Or they could feel the “south wind blow and say its going to be hot.” and it was.  But they could not interpret “this present time”.

Global Pandemic, National unrest, International Terrorism, Natural disasters, etc.  That’s what preoccupies our news.  Going to the grocery store in my town, shows the fear and unrest that preoccupies my corner of the world.  I can look at the “clouds and the winds blowing” in a figurative speech.  It is time for me to interpret “this present time”.  My interpretation is that this is not the time to scare your neighbor to repentance.  Now is the time to be the light.  Now is the time to show the Hope, the Peace, the Love that has been inside of us ever since we encountered the Lover of our souls, Jesus.  “It’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance.” Romans 2:4.  People are scared. Offer them the cure for the fear that is eating away at their broken hearts.  Let them know how you have found the One who not only holds peace for today, but who walks with you no matter where you go.  The power of sickness and death are conquered in Him.  We don’t have to fear. That is what the world needs to hear now.  Not “get right or get left.” “Turn or burn”.  But show them the love that conquered death on Resurrection Sunday so many years ago, and now He has given us GREAT Hope in a time when uncertainty and fear abounds.

Is Jesus Enough?

What a week!  News nationally, state wide, and locally has gone from bad to worse.  Our small town that seemed to be so isolated from it all has developed five local cases of Covid-19.  I took comfort thinking, “At least I don’t live in the big city…” Now not so much any more…

Last night we decided to video chat with some friends we used to have a home fellowship with on Messenger. It was like water to a thirsty soul.  For about 15 min or more we laughed at each other as we, a group of 40’s/ 50’s year old’s, tried the different effects out and lamented how we wished there was an app for playing “Village Idiot” card game so we could play once again together.  It felt good to look at the faces of friends we have been doing life with for years, some of them for almost 20 years. After a while we started asking each other how they were holding up.  In our group, we have a pharmacist, a nursing director for a nursing home, a nuclear professional, a building contractor, and a couple of stay at home moms.  My heart ached as we talked about the fear people have and the measures we have had to go to in order to try to slow the spread of this dreadful disease.  My friend who worked in the nursing home talked about how they have had to limit the old people to their rooms in hopes of isolating them better, families bringing dry erase markers and playing tic tac toe outside of their windows and exchanging smiles.  My friend who works at the pharmacy talked about the extra orders of medicine and the lack of Tylenol for people who actually have something else, like the flu because of the panic buying.  We rounded off our evening with praying for each other and specific situations we are aware of, such as a mutual friend in the ICU currently hanging on to his life while his wife is praying not only for him to live, but that sh0e won’t have to leave his side because of Covid-19 protocol that has to be enacted.  Hard times…

As I laid my head on my pillow last night, I kept hearing the words, “Is Jesus Enough?” rolling around in my head.  It seems quite unfair for all these bad events to culminate at once, and these are just the few I know of in my little corner of the woods.  The more I thought about those words, “Is Jesus Enough?” The more I concluded, “Oh yes Lord, I know you are more than enough.”
Although these are crazy/ hard times, I have seen crazy/ hard times before.  At age 21, I lost a precious friend in a tractor accident while working at a church camp.  The very camp I came to know Jesus in.  I’ve watched loved ones suffer as cancer slowly, but really not so slow, took it’s toll on their bodies.  I’ve experienced the pain of miscarriage, loved ones deaths, limiting illnesses of those close to me, friends struggling with infertility, unfair abuse being heaped upon the innocent, etc.  And in each of those situation, I have seen Jesus be enough. 

My first and only experience with watching someone die has been my father in law.  For a little over a year,  he suffered as an aggressive form of prostate cancer ravaged his body, but with each visit, even up to his very last he never failed to grab ahold of us and pray for God to bless us. On his last day, I sat by him on his bed. As I watched him gasping for breath and then breathing so shallow, I saw him utter words after a complete day of saying nothing and showing no response. Moments before he took his last breaths. He suddenly began to speak, “Jesus… Jesus… Jesus…” and then he was gone.  It was in that moment that I felt something that I’ve never felt so strong.  It was God’s presence in the room.  The most heartbreaking, gut wrenching moment of our lives was made peaceful by a moment and a truth that is engraved in my heart. “Jesus is enough.”

I am a creature of comfort.  I would rather laugh, than cry.  I don’t enjoy pain. I have no desire to walk through difficulty, but I know that no matter what may come in the days, weeks, months ahead, “Jesus is enough.”

Psalm 16 has been rolling around in my heart today.  “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.  I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing… Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.”” This Psalm was written by David.  David was a man that God describes as a man “after God’s own heart.”  David pursued a relationship with God.  He wrote many songs and poems expressing His love for God, at times rejoicing, at times lamenting, at times happy, at times sad.  David expressed it all.  He had times of great victory and times of great defeat, times of overwhelming joy and times of overwhelming grief.  But in it all He said, “God you are my portion.”  “You are my everything.”  David didn’t allow fear to rule over him because he had confidence that he would see God’s goodness.  I can be confident of the same.

Things may go well,this virus quickly passes by, and my life returns to normal.  Or, things may never be the same, pain, sickness, and death may come to me or those around me, but I have this confidence, “My Jesus is Enough!”

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I am practicing social isolation with four others, my husband and kids ages 16-21, here in a home that a few months ago seemed too big for us because it was often empty as we all ran our different directions living our lives. Now it seems too small as we all hunker down in one place together and it continues to rain outside… To lighten the mood we have posted some crazy videos of us singing “La Bamba” and rapping a rap I wrote 30 years ago in college about accidently hitting a cat with a car: Purely a joking/ crazy song intended for laughter, not violence against kitties.  (I have one I dearly love living in my house right now.)

I’ve posted these videos on Facebook and had friends from decades ago, laughing and sharing crazy stories of fun times passed by.  It was one comment that my cousin I haven’t seen in years stuck out to me as I laughed at the different replies.  “Had to share your post with pride– this is history and you are handling it with some awesome sauce instead of panic that is out there.  Making the best out of our situation.”  I thought about what she said, and contemplated what has made the difference.  Once again I come back to the answer of why I can have peace and joy in the midst of times of fear and sadness.  Jesus is enough!

(I’ve not really went here before on my blog, because I usually write as a therapeutic aid to my soul.  But I want you to know you too can experience this hope, peace, and joy. I would be happy to point the way and pray for you in the things you are facing.)

 

What’s Left After the Fire?

My grandparent’s house burnt when I was in fifth grade.  It was a total loss. It literally burnt to the ground.  They lived out in the country before the rural fire district covered their area.  No fire trucks came.  They stood out in the ice-cold December weather watching all they had worked for go up in flames. There was no home insurance on the property so they literally had to start from scratch and rebuild their lives. The generosity of neighbors and friends helped them to start the process, and within a few years they had regained much of what they lost.  

I can remember, as a kid being amazed at how everything was gone.  Grandpa and Grandma did manage to escape their house with a few belongings: a tv, a few of my Grandma’s paintings she had made, and a sewing machine. But all the things that made their house, their house was only ashes.  I would walk around, dig in the ashes, and think that maybe I would find something of significance in the rubble, but I only found melted metal and glass.  It impacted me deeply to think about how quickly ever thing can be gone. Every thing with the exception of a stone wall that was part of the front of the house. It stood.

That old farm house had wiring issues that started the blaze in the attic.  It’s really no surprise that it smoldered and then burnt so quickly.  When it was built no fire-retardant materials were a consideration.  Sprinkler systems weren’t even an option.  In fact, the stories I recall of my grandparents standing outside the house thinking of their brand-new smoke detector (the first they had ever owned) still in the box, and how they made it out alive by “chance” that Grandpa happened to look up in a certain area of the house and see flames leaping, was kind of amazing in my child like mind.  After all, it was the early 80’s technology, as we know it, was just in it’s beginning stages and home fire protection was a new thing so smoke detectors weren’t as common. 

This morning I have been reflecting on 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. TPT and how it applies to my life.  “For no one is empowered to lay an alternative foundation other than the good foundation that exists, which is Jesus Christ! The quality of materials used by anyone building on this foundation will soon be made apparent, whether it has been built with gold, silver, and costly stones, or wood, hay, and straw. Their work will soon become evident, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by blazing fire! And the fire will test and prove the workmanship of each builder. If his work stands the test of fire, he will be rewarded.  If his work is consumed by the fire, he will suffer great loss. Yet he himself will barely escape destruction, like one being rescued out of a burning house.” My grandparents made it out, but had they not seen the coming danger that night as they went to bed, they very easily could have not. So many of us live our lives this way.  We carelessly allow the things that are not profitable to build our lives. Things that won’t stand the test of the fire of time.  We go along with our warning signals to impending danger, disconnected and laying away in a box.  We are content with the possibility of “barely escaping destruction” because we would rather build our houses our way than to spend our time consulting “The Master Builder” and asking Him for the eternal material to build our lives with. 

Our Master Builder, Jesus, wants us to prosper and to be built magnificently containing all the best of His life building materials he has available to us. The materials that withstands the hurricane force winds of life that will try to reduce us to a pile of rubble, or the flame retardant strong materials that deflects the leaping flames of trials and temptations that if allowed to catch fire to anything in our lives would quickly leave us with ashes, emptiness and smoldering smoke or a life in ruin. 

The choice is ours of whom we will have as the chief contractor of our lives: Jesus, the eternal builder, or ourselves, short sighted and ill equipped. 

The reality of the situation is that we will face the fire in some fashion or form.  The question is will what I have built be able to stand? Will I, at the end of my life, be able to look upon a building of fine materials that God placed within my walls? Or will I watch the hay and stubble of carelessness go up in flames and hope to escape with my shirt on my back?  The only way to be assured of these answers is to stay close to our Master Builder and watch diligently what I allow to build my life.  Because what He gives me to build with is very good, and because of His great love, His design for my life is perfect. 

 

The Crescendo of Time

I spend a lot of my time thinking about me. I imagine most people do: What will I do today? What will I eat? How will this life event affect me? How can I make the best possible outcome for me?

Even my pondering on God goes back to me: Does God hear me? Does God see what’s going on around me? What does God want me to do? Where does God want me to go?

Both of these scenarios are probably fairly normal for the human mind. I imagine God isn’t surprised by my self-centeredness. He knows me – thoughts, worries, ponderings, and all. In His eyes, I have vision like a new born baby. I can only see a few inches in front of me, which is why it is so good He holds me close. Because if left further out, I wouldn’t be able to recognize the smallest iota of Him and would feel so alone.

This morning I have been contemplating how human life, not just yours and mine, but all of it from the dawn of time until the day time is no more, is like a song. A song of worship to the one who created it. It starts in a tiny point when creation began and slowly increases in its intensity through the ages. The musical term for that is a Crescendo. Our lives are one small note played in the symphony orchestra of time. Our note we play is combined with the billions, maybe trillions, or beyond of other notes played on the sheet music of history. I have one chance to play my tiny part in this song of worship. One short dot in time to make my sound to bring glory to the One who created the Song. The question I’ve been thinking about is how will my tiny sound be? Will it be a sound played with all fervor to add to the crescendo of glory and worship? Or will it be a confused sound, fizzling out not playing it’s part in the song?

I get caught up, at times, looking for the next best thing to give myself to and I quickly forget that all I really need to do is concentrate on my note I play in the crescendo, and that I play it well. My days should be filled with sounding off His glory in what I do, what I say, and how I act. Recognizing the small things that are around me to do: laundry, cooking meals, loving my husband, my kids, my friends, and my neighbors well are what makes my sound stay on key for my part in the Crescendo. Enjoying the small things He has blessed me with are part of the sound of His note He has given me to make. For me my note I play seems like an eternity because I am too small to see the entirety of the piece written and orchestrated by God my Great Composer and Conductor. But in the scheme of things my part is one little millisecond of a note. A millisecond I want to play well and give honor with to the One who allowed me to be a part of His Crescendo because He loves me and wants to hear my part in the song He has written of His Greatness and His Glory.

A Hope That Does Not Disappoint

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Romans 5:5 has been echoing through my mind this morning. “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Romans 5:5 NKJV

Disappointment, that’s a word that has marred my life at times. Since It keeps running through my mind I figured I might as well check out the dictionary definition. “Defeat or failure of expectation, hope, wish, desire or intention; miscarriage of design or plan.” Webster’s 1828.

“Miscarriage of design or plan.” Wow! That sticks out. 16 years ago, after a year of trying to conceive, I miscarried a baby. Talk about a huge disappointment. It’s just not the way it’s meant to be. From the moment you become aware you have conceived and you hear the heart beat of a little one, the dream of how it is supposed to go becomes the gospel truth in your head. The design is to carry the baby nine months, Go through labor and delivery, and hold a beautiful baby in your arms. When it ends in anything but that, expectations are crushed.

Loss of any kind brings so much disappointment. We’re supposed to have perfect families, perfect marriages, perfect health, etc… it’s just the way the design should be. Or is it?

Eight years ago our family experienced 2 significant losses. The death of my father in law and my nephew was lost a sea while serving in the Navy. Both of these losses occurred within 15 days of each other. Two funerals within a month. It was a huge disappointment. It wasn’t the way it was supposed to go.

In recent years, I’ve watched my mom and my mother in law suffer from the effects of cancer. Once again a disappointment. Not exactly the way I had planned it would be.

In fact my mom has suffered for 19 years with the effects of cancer having survived breast cancer, but left with tremendous pain and now suffering with late stage ovarian cancer. It’s not the way it should have been, a disappointment. It’s a “miscarriage of a design or plan” what should have been.

The focus on these disappointments can paralyze you if you let it. It will hold you down with fears of moving, living, carrying on… Because the question comes, when will the next big hammer fall?

BUT… we have this hope. It’s a hope that does not disappoint. It doesn’t miscarry it’s designed purpose. It doesn’t bring you so far and drop you like a hot rock. It’s the one sure thing we can bank on no matter what twist or turn we face on planet earth. It’s the sureness of God’s great love and His promise that He will never leave us no matter what we walk through. It’s the confidence that although we live in a fallen world marred with disappointment and pain, we have a better place, which is really our home, waiting for us in Heaven. The things that were miscarried, cut short, flawed, and a disappointment, are only a small period of time in the light of eternity in a land where there is no suffering and no more pain.

Eight years ago when we went through such great loss, one of my children asked me why we had to lose my nephew and my father in love. It’s hard to explain that to an adult, but a kid makes it all the worse. I told them “I don’t understand why these awful things happen, that’s what makes heaven, heaven and where we live earth, earth. I can’t understand why we have to hurt sometimes and why bad thing happen. But I know God is good, and I have to trust that someday it will all make sense.”

God is good. His hope does not disappoint. It will accomplish exactly what it was conceived to do. His hope will lead me on in His love knowing that when all this is done, it will all be made right. No more suffering, whether it be physically or mentally, No more pain. Only joy and peace and perfect love when we stand face to face with Jesus in eternity’s hall.

“Hope doesn’t disappoint.” Sink your teeth into that one. Grab ahold and don’t let go. It’s a precious promise that brings peace when things here on earth are far from what you dreamed they would have been.