Love First, Always and Forever

Usually I write about how child loss has impacted my life and the lives of my family.

Part of the reason I do that is to offer encouragement to other bereaved parents and guidance for people walking with and ministering to them.

Sometimes I address my writing to a broader audience that may include people who do not follow Jesus because some topics have more to do with general situations and less to do with faith-although my faith informs my life in every way.

But today I want to say something directly to the Body of Christ in the world whether or not you have personally suffered tragedy:

If we are gathering in the name of our Blessed Saviour and pushing the wounded to the fringe of our fellowships,

we have got it all wrong.

Jesus came for the broken,

the wounded,

the limping,

the very ones who were unwelcome in the “upstanding community”

of synagogues and the Temple.

He had no where to lay His head, carried no purse full of gold and walked everywhere He went.

He died between two thieves, mocked and naked, bleeding and helpless (in the human sense).

When He met people, He spoke directly to their HEART, regardless of their outward appearance.

He met REAL needs.

He LOVED in ways that made a difference.

We are calledI AM CALLEDto be like Jesus.

If I memorize the entire New Testament and miss this truth, I have missed Him.

We read I Corinthians 13 at weddings and treat it like a marriage survival guide.

But that passage wasn’t written to two young people joining lives and “in love”, it was written to the CHURCH as a guideline for how Christ in us should be present in the world.

I don’t want to be a clanging gong!

I want to sing hope to those I meet by reflecting the love of Jesus everywhere I go.

I’m starting this morning at my own church door.

1Corinthians.13.2_lg have not love am nothing

How Can I Trust My Child Is With Jesus?

There are many burdens bereaved parents bear in addition to the heaviness of living with child loss.

Some had unfinished business,

some were estranged,

some had harsh words

or no words at all before their child left them.

And some are oh, so afraid that the child that made a sincere profession of faith in Christ might not be in heaven because he or she was living outside the will of God when they died.

I can’t offer words to undo or soothe some of the other burdens, but I can offer hope from the Word of God to assure any parent afraid for the eternal salvation of their child that he or she is safely Home.

If your child made a genuine profession of faith in Christ, then no single impulsive decision or even a series of bad choices, can undo what God has done for him or her through the blood of Jesus.

If Satan is not strong enough to snatch us from God’s hand, our feeble human choices are certainly not strong enough!

Jesus declared those whom the Father had given Him could in no way be snatched from His hand:

28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

30 I and my Father are one.

John 10:28-30 KJV

The circumstances of a child’s death do not negate his or her profession of faith in the blood of Christ Jesus!

42 Then he [the repentent thief on the cross] said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.”

43 He said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”

Luke 22: 42-43 MSG

I realize that various denominational traditions teach different things, but I am utterly convinced that it is God Himself Who calls, Who saves, Who keeps and Who is keeping at this moment our precious children who put their trust in Jesus:

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God;

Ephesians 2:8 AMP

I also rest satisfied that He Who began a good work in our children is faithful to complete it. If salvation depended on our good works, or our own faithfulness-ALL of us would be lost.

began a good work

We are hid in Christ. His righteousness (and HIS alone) is our righteousness.

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:3 KJV

Our sins are flung as far as the east is from the west. They are hid behind God’s back-unviewable (have you ever tried to see something on the small of your back-without a mirror?):

AS-far-as-the-east-is-1024x651

Dominic was not at the height of his Bible-toting, church-going, praise-song-singing days when he left us.  He was an adult student in law school, living in his own apartment and making his own choices.  He made some I didn’t like.  But that doesn’t change the FACT that he belonged (and STILL belongs)  to Jesus.

Your child who trusted Jesus is safe, dear parent.

He is in his really, truly Home.

One day there will be great joy when we are reunited. Until then, we rely on the promises of God in Christ to see us through.

wipe every tear 2

I pray for every parent reading that God overwhelms your hurting heart with His love, grace and mercy and assures you of His faithfulness.

And may He give you strength for each new day.

❤ Melanie

Church Signs

Can I just say I’m not a fan of church signs?

I could list a dozen reasons but here I will simply list one:  It is impossible to constrain good theology to the few words that will fit on most church signs.

The temptation to be funny, cute or trite generally overcomes any desire to be biblically accurate.

Case in point-just down the road from me is this sign:

THERE ARE NO PROBLEMS, ONLY OPPORTUNITIES FOR GOD TO WORK.

I could write for days on why I hate (yes, HATE!) this sign.  But I’ll restrain myself.

Here are the top three reasons I want to close my eyes when I pass it:

  1.  It’s simply does not line up with Scripture.  Paul gives a list of “problems” in 2 Corinthians 11:25-27.  Did God help him?  Yes!  But was Paul discouraged?  Yes!  He turned to God but was also thankful for the practical help of those who cared about him and gave him aid.
  2. People who are struggling are not encouraged by platitudes.  Platitudes close the door to further discussion.  They are a giant “period” in a conversation.  If the purpose of your sign is to invite others in, this one will do just the opposite.
  3. Preaching this foolishness (in person or by sign) lets congregants off the hook.  If there are no problems then there is no reason to extend a helping hand.  If God will handle it-why should I get my hands dirty or waste my time?

This week alone I have dealt with at least ten “problems” that required practical solutions in addition to prayers that God would help work them out.

Did He make some things fall in place that otherwise might not?  Probably.  And for that I am very thankful.

But did He shower solutions from the sky like raindrops?  No.  I had to face the problems, look for solutions and ask for help from others.

When Christ instituted the church it was not for us to sit inside four walls and dole out pithy platitudes to passersby.  It was for us to be His hands and feet in the world.

Truth is that God DOES work.  But most often He works through US.

All around us are people hungry for the Good News of Jesus Christ.

If we are going to put out a sign, could it just say, “We welcome the broken, the wounded, the hurting, the ones with no hope”?

Isn’t THAT what Jesus came to do?

weary

 

 

 

Don’t Dare Hope

My prayer list is very short.  It’s been whittled down to the basics.  I don’t ask for much and I expect less.

But today I will be waiting with bated breath to find out if a prayer that’s been lifted up for months will be answered.

It’s risky business to ask when the answer may be “no”.  If I’m honest, I’m not sure my heart can take it.

I am confident that I will see Dominic in heaven when I get there.  My heart rests assured that the blood of Christ is sufficient and my salvation sure.

BUT….

I do not dare hope anymore that when I pray specifically for someone or something it will come to pass.  Oh, I believe God HEARS my prayer, that He knows the desire of my heart, that He COULD grant my request.  But I no longer rest my head on the pillow of peace, settled in my spirit that the “effectual fervent prayers  of a righteous man or woman availeth much.”

I will be the first to admit that to hold both thoughts simultaneously seems impossible and contradictory.  Yet I do.

Because I’ve learned the hard way that my prayers are not God’s “to do” list.  He is sovereign, not me.  His plans may or may not conform to mine.  His work in my life may very well include pain and sorrow and disappointment.

Sometimes I just want that old naive hope back.  I want to erase this dark knowledge from my heart.

Especially when someone I love needs my prayers.

I want to believe.  I want to trust.  I want to rest assured that not only is my prayer heard, but that it will be granted.  But it is oh, so hard!!!!

So I offer the only prayer I can still lift up with absolute confidence:  I plead mercy and grace.

I pray that God may have mercy on my fragile spirit, that He may grant my desire and strengthen my faith.  And I pray that regardless of the outcome, He will give me the grace to accept it.

It’s the best I can do.

 

 

 

 

 

No Harm?

It’s so easy to take Bible verses out of context.  Our modern rendering of the Word of God broken into chapter and verse lends itself to lifting a sentence or two and ignoring the surrounding words.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem to matter much-the verse CAN stand on its own.

But sometimes it is devastating.  Especially to those who find themselves in a situation that seems to clearly contradict the promise.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a popular verse plastered on posters, coffee cups, graduation cards and lovely Christian wall hangings.

jeremiah 29 11 road.jpg

It’s a hard one for me to swallow the way it’s usually dished out.

Death feels pretty much like harm to me.

I can spiritualize the verse and say, “Well, God’s ultimate plan is to give me and Dominic a hope and a future”.  

That is absolutely true.  

But that’s not what Jeremiah was talking about.  He was speaking to a specific people at a specific point in time.

The original context of the Scripture was just for Israel-a promise that the nation would not be utterly destroyed or left bereft in exile. A promise that God would fulfill His covenant with Abraham and keep for Himself a people to declare His faithful love to the nations.

I think we moderns take it out of context when we apply it to individual lives.

Many Jews died in exile and not all who could return, chose to return when Cyrus issued the order.

The Scripture that speaks to my heart in this Valley of the Shadow of Death is this:

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

Philippians 1:6 AMP

Here is my HOPE.  Here is MY promise of ultimate redemption and restoration.

God is still working to bring about His purpose in and through Dominic and in and through me “until the day of Jesus Christ”.

I don’t know how it works but He’s doing it.

He Who is Faithful and True has promised.

brought-me-safe

 

 

Longer Than Three Days: Waiting for Resurrection

It is tempting to forget that there were three long days and nights between the crucifixion and the resurrection beause the way we observe this season rushes us past the pain to embrace the promise.

But it’s not hard for me to imagine how the disciples felt when they saw Jesus was dead.  It was neither what they expected nor what they prayed for.

Read the rest here:  Living Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection

Bluebirds and Hard Work

So, what keeps my heart tied to this weary world when what it really wants is to go Home and be free of pain and sorrow?  What anchors me to the sod when my soul longs to float away?  What compels me to stay?

Last week it was bluebirds and hard work.

Washing up dishes from a morning cooking frenzy, I raised my eyes to look out the window and there-looking down the chimney of our smoker-was a bluebird.

bluebird

Unconcerned with me he rested for some minutes where I could drink in the vibrant hue of his feathers. There’s just nothing like that blue anywhere but on the back of those beautiful birds-no matter how long I look at one, I always feel it’s not long enough.  Then off he flew to join another on a branch.

It was a gift.

And I tucked it in my heart to pull out later when I needed a reminder that there is still beauty and life in a world that also includes pain and death.

About an hour later I joined my youngest son at his house just a few miles from the farm. It’s an older home on main street in our little town and needs some work before he moves in.

It was carpet day.

So for the next few hours we worked together and by the end of the day we had done it! Carpet laid.  No major mistakes.

carpet-installers

Success was sweet!

I was really just a go-fer and cheerleader but it felt oh, so good to have something work out just as planned.

It felt absolutely victorious!

We sat in the finished room and drank it in.

Someone else may have just moved on to the next task in the long list of tasks needed to finish the house.  But when life has gone terribly wrong, you learn to relish those moments when it goes right.

THIS is what I hold on to.

These slices of beauty and victory are treasures I tuck inside.

collect beautiful moments