Choices

My grandfather’s sister was an extraordinary woman. She was born in 1886, which meant she lived through two World Wars. She lived in our town and spent all her holidays and birthdays with us. She was like a grandmother. We called her Aunt Signe.

She often told us to sit up straight… Didn’t like that we wore slacks… Complained that my sister’s boyfriend’s hair was too long. Severe might be the best way to describe her.

But we loved her and she loved us. She loved us enough to be critical, to push us to be better, to always remember our birthdays. She even bought our family a piano to ensure each of us learned to play.

She had spent most of her life teaching school and was the principal at four different schools in Fargo, ND. One year she even coached the boys basketball team. When she retired, she became a World Book salesman. I still have the well worn set she gave us when I was a child.

Signe was engaged to be married in her 20s to a young man named Byron. When she heard the gospel and God’s demands on her life she made a life changing decision to follow Christ. When she told the good news to Byron, her fiancé, he made light of it. He thought having a slight knowledge of God was good enough. He thought of himself as a good person who had no need of a transformation. Signe argued that God demanded a complete commitment, a redirection, a turning away from our own way of sin to follow Him. When Byron refused to take her new path seriously Signe gave the engagement ring back. God had changed her and nothing else mattered. She went forward with fire and determination.

She raised her nephew on her own. I’m not sure of the circumstances. Families didn’t talk about such things back then.

She never married and out-lived all of her siblings by quite a few years. She would often scold us for not knowing the names of 2nd cousins, that lived on the west coast, who we had never met. Family was important to her, but God meant more…always more.

She took seriously what Jesus said in Matthew 10:37-38.

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

I think often of her determination to follow hard after God, and her determination to convince us to do the same. In her view there was no other path worth taking. She lived to be 93 just as committed to her God as when she was 23. She never looked back.

And so, dear reader, like her, I beg you to be reconciled to Christ. We live in a temporary world that is full of trouble. It is full of sadness, injustice, sin and pain. There is another path that is beckoning. Shift your gaze from earthly rulers and pursuits to the God who is over it all.

Someday there will be a reckoning. Will you be like Byron or Signe? Do you think, like Byron, that you are good enough and just a passing knowledge of God is adequate? Or are you like Signe who saw her sin and her utter need of God?

For further study:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live…” Deuteronomy 30:19

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

“…and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die…” John 11:25-26

On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand

This song written by Samuel Stennett in 1787 (or earlier) was originally written in a minor key. It was given a new tune in 1835 and the chorus was added in 1895. I have removed the chorus and given it a minor key again in keeping with the original author’s intent.

I hope you enjoy this “new” version. Take special note of verse 3, which has special significance in our present situation. I’ve included the words so you can sing with me.

On Jordan’s Stormy Banks – Samuel Stennett – 1787

  1.   On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
    And cast a wishful eye
    To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
    Where my possessions lie.
  2. O’er all those wide, extended plains
    Shines one eternal day;
    There God the Son forever reigns,
    And scatters night away.
  3. No chilling winds or poisonous breath
    Can reach that healthful shore;
    Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
    Are felt and feared no more.
  4. When I shall reach that happy place,
    I’ll be forever blest,
    For I shall see my Father’s face,
    And in His bosom rest.
  5. Filled with delight my raptured soul
    Would here no longer stay;
    Though Jordan’s waves around me roll,
    Fearless, I’d launch away.

(Music copyright 2021 – Karen Pickering)

Revelation 21:23 – And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

A New Start

This year my daughter-in-law asked me what my goals were for the coming year. I came up empty, but it got me thinking. Suddenly I had a list of 20 things. Realizing that a list that is too long is worse than none at all I did some editing. Here is my much shorter list.

  1. Finish reading through the Bible. No, I’m not going to start in Genesis again. I’m going to start where I am and finish. Too many years I have started over every January without finishing from the year before. Maybe that is why Genesis is one of my favorite books. I have read it more than all the others.
  2. Memorize one Bible verse a month. My goal used to be 2 verses a week. My brain is older and slower now, and 12 verses is better than no verses.
  3. Pray more and keep a prayer journal. I am a forgetful person. I need to be reminded of how faithful God has been, how many times He has met my needs, kept me safe, and encouraged my soul.
  4. Sing more. Music is a necessary survival tool. Next time you feel discouraged try singing. Collect some old hymn books or chorus books from the second hand store and work your way through them. If you aren’t sure of the melodies YouTube is a wonderful tool that will teach you any song you want to learn.
  5. Write one letter each week to one of my five grandchildren. In this age of Facebook, messenger and texts I want to communicate something deeper to these ones I love. Tell them some things that they won’t hear on their favorite show or while playing a computer game.

I still have my longer list that I might look at from time to time, but for now this is more than enough.

What are your goals for this year?

Hope each of you is holding fast to the God who loves you. Blessings on another New Year.