There is a harsh deadness to winter. Will there ever be life again?
Yet year after year we look for signs of Spring. We know from experience that it will come. God has promised and it has always come. So I pray and wait. Trusting a good God will bring Spring and new life out of this deadness. Struggling to thank Him in the winter, knowing it leads to Spring that will be more marvelous because of the winter that came before.
So too trouble comes with its cold, harsh, barrenness.
Sudden storms that are unpredictable.
Storms I have no control of.
Storms I want no part of.
Yet here they are swirling, howling about my life. They refuse to give an answer to my “why?”
So I pray and wait. Trusting God is with me especially in the trouble. Holding me close, teaching me to rely on Him. I haltingly thank Him for His care. Knowing someday there will be a “Spring” that will be even more beautiful because of the trouble that came before.
Fall is in full color. Another year is winding down. What a year it was. January was uneventful until the end when I had a stroke. I spent some days in the ICU. The hospital wanted to keep me 2 more weeks, but I convinced them I needed to get home. I was able to do just that with the help of my family. After several weeks of therapy I am semi-normal. Some things will never be the same, but I am thankful to be here.
When you are faced with death you think of all the things you want to say to all the people you love.
This is such a letter.
My life is made up of so much more than what you see on the outside. Yes, I am a wife, mother, grandmother, and teacher that enjoys hiking, making music, making art, going to auctions, cooking and a good cup of tea.
However, my life is held together by one thing. My relationship with God. Any good you see in me is because of Him. Any bad you see in me is because of my failure…yet He still loves me and calls me His own.
I have known Him for about 58 years. I first learned of him by listening to my parents as they told Bible stories using flannel graph figures and when my father read the Bible to us at the breakfast table and often after supper.
Then there was the music. Hymns and songs that still come back to me with word perfect clarity.
I am so glad that our Father in Heav’n Tells of His love in the book He has giv’n
Wonderful things in the Bible I see, This is the dearest that Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me,
I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves even me.
If I forget Him and wander away, Still He doth love me wherever I stray;
Back to His dear loving arms would I flee, when I remember that Jesus loves me.
There are more verses and many more songs. Many with deep theology, some with poor theology. But the point of them all is how much God loves us.
Why does He love us? The short answer is … because He made us. We might not like our nose or our hair or any number of things we think of as defects, but He made us just so, to serve a purpose, to worship Him and bring glory to Him, but instead we have turned our back on Him. We try to make our own way. These efforts have gone horribly wrong. The point is we need God. We are nothing without Him. Our best efforts belong on the garbage heap.
So why does He love us? Such wretched creatures surely aren’t worth His time. But you see God is a master artist and we are His masterpieces. We have gotten twisted and ruined, but if we come to Him; He can restore us to how we were meant to be.
Our sin should have meant the death of us, but instead Jesus came to take our place.
To die for us.
To rise for us.
To ascend to heaven to intercede for us.
This is no small thing. This should make us daily fall on our knees in worship and awe. We have been bought with a price. We can choose to continue in our ruined state or we can accept His gift of salvation and watch His transforming power.
There is nothing I can do to earn heaven. It is a simple act of repentance and accepting the free gift.
Don’t delay. None of us knows how long we will be here. Decide before the opportunity passes you by.
I love you, friend, but there is someone who loves you more. Get right with Him today.
“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”…for Whoever will call upon the name of the LORD will be saved.” Romans 10:9-11, 13
Job 38:8-11 Or who enclosed the sea with doors, when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb. When I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, And I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther, And here shall your proud waves stop’?
This week I went to the beach with my husband, daughter, and two grandchildren.
I brought along my sunshade tent since I burn easily. I intended to sit in the shade and watch my grandchildren play, talk to my daughter and maybe take a nap…but the waves beckoned.
Lake Michigan was warmer than expected. What is usually too frigid to stay in for more than a couple minutes felt like bath water.
We made our way out onto a sandbar and positioned ourselves in front of the crashing waves.
The waves picked us up and pushed us back to shore. We could barely stand up before another came and pushed us even farther. Again and again we made our way out only to be carried unceremoniously back to where we had begun.
We laughed and laughed at our ungraceful, awkward body surfing. It was like we were playing with God.
Like he had arranged the waves just for us.
Like he had twisted the wind so the waves came at us not from one direction but from two.
Like he had warmed the water enough that we stayed in not a couple minutes, but a couple hours.
We dragged ourselves out of the water and sat winded, but oh so happy.
Then we went back and did it again.
Some of you might say that isn’t very dignified for a 63 year old woman who has had a stroke to participate in such an activity. You would want me to be more careful.
My daughter, Anna’s answer to the day was…”Carpe Diem” (Seize the Day).
Enjoy today. Quit worrying about how it looks. Tomorrow might not come. Waves like that might not be that warm again. Whatever it is you are afraid to do…do it.
Enjoy each day God has given you. Do the things that bring you joy, not because you are the best at it, but simply for the joy. There will be plenty of serious days when you do serious things. They too should be done with all your heart, but for today look for the joy. Look at the wonderful world God has made and enjoy each minute.
Ps. 104:24 -26 – O Lord, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; The earth is full of Your possessions. There is the sea, great and broad, in which are swarms without number, Animals both small and great. There the ships move along, And Leviathan, which you have formed to play in it.
I sat patiently at the table…positioned so I could see our driveway and the gravel road that led to it.
Being 11 years old, I had never been go-carting before and was more than a little nervous. My money was tucked carefully into my pocket. I felt it just to make sure.
They should be here any minute.
And so I waited, patiently waited…and waited.
They must be running late. I just needed to be patient.
My eyes, which were glued to the driveway, occasionally strayed to the clock on the wall.
5…10…15 minutes late.
Maybe I misunderstood?
30 minutes later I went up to my room and put my crumpled money away. I had been forgotten.
The next day at church there were stories of how much fun they had. I said nothing.
I determined then that I would never forget someone who was counting on me.
Now I wait…patiently…5…10…15 years. Waiting for Christ to come back again and take us home. My goal is to use my time well. To warn others of His soon return. I don’t know when, but I am sure He is coming as He promised. There is no worry that He has forgotten me.
“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there you may be also.” John 14:3 (See also Acts 1:9-11)
He has already come once. To seek and to save that which was lost….me…you. (Luke 19:10) He calls us to Himself. He is delaying so more will respond to His tender call. He is waiting so you will respond. He is patiently waiting, but He will not wait forever. Time is running out. Won’t you respond in faith today?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
This life isn’t all there is. We aren’t left to ourselves.
God has reached down to offer us life.
Not a temporary 70 or 80 year life, but an eternal life.
The offer is free.
The offer is to all.
He doesn’t force anyone. No one is compelled to take the offer, but why wouldn’t you?
Are you afraid to give up your wants for His?
Are you afraid that you will miss out on some temporary pleasure?
Won’t you answer the call?
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose.” Jim Elliot
Wonderful Words of Life – Philip Bliss
Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life.
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life.
Words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life. (x2)
Christ the blessed one gives to all, wonderful words of life;
Sinner list to the loving call, wonderful words of life.
All so freely given, wooing us to heaven;
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life…
Sweetly echo the gospel call, wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life.
Jesus only Savior, Sanctify forever.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life…
For further study:
Psalm 90:10 – As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.
Proverbs 23:4-5 – Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.
Matthew 6:19-21 – Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
I can still remember sitting next to my dad and, without thought, resting my head on his shoulder. It was a safe and comfortable place to be. I was a shy child and there was nothing more comforting than to sit beside him and half hide my face behind his strong arm. Sometimes during a long sermon as my head would nod I would gratefully rest my head and drop off to sleep knowing he was there beside me.
Other times at a camp meeting or other large event I would stand beside him and grab his arm as he talked to people I didn’t know. I would not have dared be there by myself, but there was a quiet excitement to being with him. He would protect me. He would bring me safely home again.
Yet again we would be walking through the park. As I got tired, my dad, grinning, would take my hand and we would walk/run the rest of the way. It was so much easier with his arm encouraging me on.
Those arms of his brought great comfort. It wasn’t what he said so much as the action of a simple hug or strong presence. I was heartbroken when he died just before I turned 30. I wasn’t as grown up as I let on, but because of the gaping hole left by his departure I learned to look to my heavenly Father more…to look for His strong arms to comfort and to give courage…knowing that whatever trouble I came across, He would be there to walk me through or possibly to take me home.
It reminds me of a song I learned when I was young. I can still hear my Father singing it with his strong Bass voice.
Are you leaning on these Everlasting Arms? If not, why not? Don’t delay. Decide before it is too late.
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms – (E.A. Hoffman/A.J. Showalter)
What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms! What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, Leaning on the everlasting arms!
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms. Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, leaning on the everlasting arms! Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day, Leaning on the everlasting arms! (Chorus)
What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms? I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms. (Chorus)
It was a morning ritual for her. Our daughter, Anna, would run to the window, pull back the curtains and announce. “I don’t see Jesus coming today!”
It made me smile, but now at the memory it makes me hopeful. In Luke 12 Jesus tells the disciples to be ready, watchful… Do I live my life as if He might come back today? How is my life different because of it?
Do I look for opportunities to tell others of the hope that lies within me? Do I live my life absorbed in His word? Do I live my life furthering the gospel or my own bank account? Is my life lived for the here and now or am I looking to a better country?
Jesus has some startling words for the inattentive servant who is taken by surprise. (Luke 12:45-47) Those who expect an inheritance and yet do nothing to serve their King will have a rude awakening. A true servant wouldn’t be sitting down on the job. A true servant wouldn’t be filling his own pockets without any regard for the needs around him. A true servant would be sitting at the feet of their Lord daily…like Mary in Luke 10:38-42.
So today I recommit my life to that end. To be a faithful servant, watchful and ready for Christ’s soon return. Jesus might come today. Are you ready?
For further study:
Romans 10:9-11 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed,”
I have been blessed over the last weeks to have many people praying for me. I am grateful for those prayers and for those who helped in many other ways.
I also think back to the nights in the hospital and even the times I woke up in the middle of the night once I was home. Those were times of being reminded by God of his tender care of me. The verses he would bring to my mind or the fragment of a hymn.
“Jesus the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrow cease. ‘Tis music in the sinners ears. ‘Tis life and health and peace.”
Our world is in trouble right now. It is more than a physical sickness. It is a spiritual darkness that envelops many. We think especially of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, but there are many people hurting in many locations like Afghanistan and China. It seems hopeless, but we have a God who sees and hears. He still comforts those in trouble. He is at work even in the darkness. Our hope lies not in governments or leaders, but in the God who patiently waits for men to turn to Him. My prayer is that the current trouble causes such a turning.
My granddaughter, Arianna and I recorded this a couple of years ago. It was written by Emma and Stuart Townend. “I Am Here for You”.
For further study:
Deuteronomy 3:22 – “Do not fear them, for the LORD your God is the one fighting for you.”
Isaiah 31:1 – “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, And rely on horses, And trust in chariots because they are many, And in horsemen because they are very strong, But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!”
Isaiah 41:10, 13b – “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” “…Do not fear, I will help you.”
Jeremiah 31:3 – “…I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”
Matthew 28:20b – “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
John 16:33b – “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
I John 4:10 – “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”