Last minute lectionary (Proper 16C / Ordinary 21C / Pentecost +14)

Don’t let the term “lectionary” throw you.  Lee Botha has powerful insights on a passage in Luke where Jesus healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath.  Much to learn here.  Take a moment to check it out.

 

“Last minute lectionary” is a series of short thoughts on the week’s narrative/Gospel lectionary reading. Luke 13:10-17 (NIV) Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath 10 On a S…

Source: Last minute lectionary (Proper 16C / Ordinary 21C / Pentecost +14)

Surrender

“Follow Me,”  Jesus said to the twelve.

“Follow Me,” Jesus said to me when I was just a child.

“Yes,” I replied-not knowing or counting the cost. 

If it was a single commitment without opportunity for turning back then it would be easy.

But it’s not.  

Every day I have to face the question, “Did God REALLY say?” Boy that serpent knew just where to aim the spear of doubt so it would cause the greatest damage.

Can I believe that God is in control?  Can I believe that He is good?  Can I believe that He loves me?

Can I believe all those things when my circumstances scream, “NO!”

But I HAVE to believe.  

Because if I can’t trust God, then I am without hope.  If I can’t rely on His Word then there’s no foundation and no future.  If He is not Who He says He is, then I should just quit now.

So I find myself at the foot of the cross, again.  Facing my fears and having to choose: Who shall I serve?

choose this day lion

Surrender is hard.  Daily surrender is harder.

I cannot remake my heart.  I cannot breathe life into my own breathless soul. 

I can only place myself on the altar and allow God’s Spirit to do it for me.

So here I am.

Again.

Brothers and sisters, God has shown you his mercy. So I am asking you to offer up your bodies to him while you are still alive. Your bodies are a holy sacrifice that is pleasing to God. When you offer your bodies to God, you are worshiping him in the right way.

Romans 12: 1 NIRV

 

 

Road Work

One of the “fun” events this summer to happen in my neck of the woods is a set of long overdue road projects.

I’m not sure where the funding came from but my rural county suddenly decided that several roads, including the one leading to my house, would no longer suffer from insufficient patches that wore out in a week and would instead get the full treatment-totally repaved, new stripes and new guardrails.

I admit, it was a bit inconvenient.

Especially when for an entire week I could no longer travel the most direct and timely path toward the closest town because the road was closed.

And, more than once I was stuck behind that “pilot truck” crawling along a mile or so until freed from the restraint and allowed to go on my merry way.  Once I was even stuck in my own driveway, unsure of whether or not I could even leave the property due to large and loud machinery blocking my path.

BUT, it was temporary.

It was only going to last so long.  These efforts would culminate in a smoother, more enjoyable and accessible way to get from “here” to “there”.

It was not going to last FOREVER.

I learned a few things from those weeks of waiting.

One thing I learned was that I still think (in spite of burying a child) I have some control.

And when that sense of control is threatened, I resent it.

I rarely have to go anywhere that can’t be rescheduled.  But when I was sitting at the end of my driveway, trying to figure out if I could even drive out onto the road, I was frustrated. Actually,  I was downright angry that these folks were blocking my way.

Silly, I know.  But revealing.

Another thing I learned was that I could more easily endure inconvenience or delay when I chose to focus on the eventual outcome instead of my current irritation.

If I looked at the clock on my dash and counted up the minutes I spent waiting, I was indignant that my agenda was delayed.  But if I could turn my thoughts to how pleasant it would be for years when they finished this project, the minutes flew by much faster-it didn’t seem like much of a sacrifice.

Some of my waiting was done beside the cemetery where Dominic’s earthly shell is buried.

And it made me think again of how very brief life is-not only his-which was shorter than most-but even my own-should I live the threescore and ten David wrote about in Psalms.

No matter how much I have to endure in this life, it is but a moment compared to an infinite and unending eternity with Jesus and my son.

Eternal perspective is hard to hold onto.  Especially when missing Dominic is so much harder than rearranging my schedule or waiting behind a dump truck for my turn to pass down the road.

But the principle stands:  when I focus my heart and mind and soul’s eyes on forever, even this awful pain of burying my child is a little easier to bear.

If I can lift my head-or let Jesus do it for me-I can cast my gaze to the horizon of His promise.

The troubles of this life are temporary.

But the joy of Heaven is eternal.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG

 

 

Unnatural

All the fears I thought I knew

All the what-ifs I pondered during inky nights-

None of them-none. of. them. prepared me for this reality.

I have thought many times of  my own death.  Anyone past twenty-five has to consider that the farther you get from high school the closer you get to the grave.

So I put foolish and risky behavior behind me.  Eat fiber.  Exercise.  

Wise choices, that’s the ticket. 

But what about random?  What about unexpected?  What about lightning strikes and sudden curves?

How do you plan for that?

I know I’ll end some day.  That’s the way of things.  And I’m OK with that.

My children.  

They are my legacy.  They are the keepers of my light.

They are the part of me that will live beyond me.

Except one of them.

I am his legacy-the unanticipated keeper of HIS light.

It’s not supposed to be this way.

Yet here I am.

Unnatural.  Unacceptable.

Unthinkable.

Inescapably real.

 

A Little Extra Grace

Each day I am reminded by sights, smells, sounds and memories that Dominic is in Heaven and not here.  

But there are moments and seasons when his absence is particularly strong-when I can’t breathe in without also breathing a prayer, “Father, let me make it through this minute, this hour, this day.”

And that’s when I need grace-from family, friends and strangers.

Image result for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about quote

Anyone who knows ANYONE that lives with loss knows that Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and remembrance days are sure to be especially hard for those left behind.

What some may not know is that there are other, hidden, pitfalls on this journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

For many bereaved parents the beginning of the school year is one of them.

Even though my son  was long past school age when he left, that shiny penny newness and promise of another year of school, another step toward maturity and the rest of life, another marker on the road to what every parent hopes will be a beautiful future is a painful reminder that my child won’t be doing anything new here on earth.

And a little extra grace goes a long way toward making this season easier to endure.  

  • A bit more patience as I walk slowly across the parking lot, lost in thought and unaware you are behind me trying to get on with life or park your car.
  • A smile when I accidentally bump my cart into yours in the grocery aisle-having just passed his favorite food or smelled coffee and been instantly transported to his finicky passion for all things caffeine.

  • Calm responses when I jump to conclusions, cut you off mid-sentence or answer a query with a less-than-kind tone of voice.

Want to be especially encouraging to a parent missing their child in heaven?

  • A text or message or a “thinking of you” card can turn a dismal day into one full of sunshine.
  • Do you have a special memory or memento you could share?  What a gift!

If you see us in these next few days and weeks as thoughts and hearts turn from summer to a new semester, be patient-we are once again reminded that our child’s earthly story has ended.

It’s a hard truth to embrace. 

Every. time.

 

Encouraging My Heart

It’s easy to be discouraged.  

Look around.

If I listen to the news, the world is falling apart. When I look in the mirror-I’m falling apart.  

And not a minute goes by that I don’t miss my son in heaven.

But the world-not the WORLD- nor my personal world rests on MY shoulders.

And it doesn’t rest on the shoulders of some ancient made-up god either.

It, and I, were created by and for Jesus Christ.  He holds it and me together.

Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He existed before creation began, for it was through him that every thing was made, whether spiritual or material, seen or unseen. Through him, and for him, also, were created power and dominion, ownership and authority. In fact, every single thing was created through, and for him. He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation. And now he is the head of the body which is composed of all Christian people. Life from nothing began through him, and life from the dead began through him, and he is, therefore, justly called the Lord of all. It was in him that the full nature of God chose to live, and through him God planned to reconcile in his own person, as it were, everything on earth and everything in Heaven by virtue of the sacrifice of the cross.

Colossians 1:15-20 PHILLIPS

So when I lose courage, I will look to the Author and Perfector of my faith.  I will cling to the One Who has died, was buried, resurrected and rose to sit at the right hand of my Father in Heaven.

I will take my eyes off the storm and fix them on Jesus, Who calms the storm.  

Because He Who began a good work in me, will be faithful fo complete it.

began a good work

Move On Already!

How long has it been?  A year, two, eighteen or twenty-five?

When. are. you. going. to. move on?  

Aren’t you over talking about their birth story, their childhood, their school years, their spouse, children, moves and career?  How many funny stories or sad recollections do I have to listen to?????

I mean, really-it’s been soooooooooo00 long since they were BORN!

Sound’s ridiculous, doesn’t it? It IS ridiculous.

We don’t expect parents to “move on” or “get over” their living children.

Why, why, why do we expect parents to move on or get over the ones they’ve had to bury?

My love for each of my children, on earth or in heaven, is life-long.  

I wrote about it here: Love: The Reason I Grieve