Then and Now: How Can Death and Life Inhabit the Same Frame?

April 17, 2014

Father, I have received through Your hand a most grievous wound-part of my heart has been ripped from my chest and I will limp through life forever changed, forever broken.

My beautiful, fearless, strong son has been struck down in his youth. I am dismayed that my body will continue to live when my spirit is crushed.

How can death and life inhabit the same frame?

How can I attend to the externals of commonplace things when all I want to do is hurry through to the eternal home You have prepared for me?

Oh Jesus!  Hold my baby!  I know that You were with him and I know that you love him.  I know (I have to know-or I couldn’t breathe) that you love me!

What a steep price to pay  for a tender heart-fill me up with grace, mercy and love.  Make our circle stronger and more resiliant.

Help me to love, to be love, to show love, to give love, to eat,sleep, drink love.

“Here I am, LORD, and the children You have given me-make us as signs and symbols to Your people, for the glory of Your Name.” ~Isaiah 8:18

If I believe that only Your Word and the people You have made are eternal, then I must order the rest of the life You give me to align with that truth.

Take this mother’s heart and make this pain count for something.

“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come, but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of the joy that a child is born into the world.  So with you:  Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” ~John 16:21-22

Lord, I choose to believe that this pain will produce the life You have ordained and that joy will be the ultimate outcome.

April 30, 2016

I continue to carry both death and life in my body and my heart.

Death reminds me of the cost of sin, of the price of redemption and of how fragile and temporary our earthly existence.  It makes me uncomfortable here-is a constant thorn in my flesh.

I cannot lay it aside or ignore it.

The undeniable presence of death contrasts sharply with the equally undeniable life of Christ sustaining me.

I have been asked how I can believe in what I cannot see or touch. How I can trust a God Who allowed such pain in my life.

It is true that I can’t see God,  I can’t prove His existence.

But the fact that I’m still holding onto hope gives testimony to the life of Christ in me.

This is in keeping with my own eager desire and persistent expectation and hope, that I shall not disgrace myself nor be put to shame in anything; but that with the utmost freedom of speech and unfailing courage, now as always heretofore, Christ (the Messiah) will be magnified and get glory and praise in this body of mine and be boldly exalted in my person, whether through (by) life or through (by) death.

For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity].

Philippians 1:20-21 AMP

 

 

Resurrection: Reality and Reassurance

“The worst conceivable thing has happened, and it has been mended…All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” ~Julian of Norwich

I’m not sure when I first read this quote, but it came to my mind that awful morning.   And I played it over and over in my head, reassuring my broken heart that indeed, the worst had already happened, and been mended.

Death had died.

Christ was risen-the firstfruits of many brethren.

When the Sabbath was over, just as the first day of the week was dawning Mary from Magdala and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. At that moment there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from Heaven, went forward and rolled back the stone and took his seat upon it. His appearance was dazzling like lightning and his clothes were white as snow. The guards shook with terror at the sight of him and collapsed like dead men. But the angel spoke to the women, “Do not be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here—he is risen, just as he said he would. Come and look at the place where he was lying. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead. And, listen, he goes before you into Galilee! You will see him there! Now I have told you my message.”

Matthew 28:1-7 PHILLIPS

Dominic had closed his eyes on earth but had opened them in Heaven-never to close them again.

My son’s body was here, but he was THERE-with our Risen Lord.

A few years ago, our church choir sang this song for Resurrection Sunday.  At the time, a very dear friend, a faithful follower of Jesus, and a beautiful, grace-filled lady was about to meet Jesus.  I sang this with tears streaming down my face, because I imagined her running, healed and whole, to the arms of her Savior.

Now, I can barely make it through just reading the words-because I see my son there as well.

 “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin

There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say “It is well”

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

Listen here:  I Will Rise by Chris Tomlin

So how does this broken-hearted mama face a new day?

How do I wait with hope while longing for that heavenly reunion?

I remember…

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:19-23 (NIV)

 

Unbounded Love: A Generous Life

Every day I have a choice:  I can live with my hands closed tightly around what I think I can protect from others or I can live with my hands open both to give and to receive.

Losing a child makes it tempting to cling that much tighter to what and who I have in my life.

But losing a child also makes it plain that no matter how tightly I hold onto the people and possessions I think are mine, in the end, I’m just not strong enough to do it.

I don’t have power over sin and death.   I can’t anticipate or control the thousands of potential dangers that lurk around corners and spring from shadows.

Every thing and every person that I treasure is a gift from God.  They were given me to steward, not to own.

There is an interesting conundrum associated with success documented in many studies: those who have more tend to give less.  The actual dollar amount may be larger, but as a percentage of income or wealth, it is much smaller.

It seems that those who accumulate wealth and experience privilege begin to consider themselves more deserving than those who live in poverty.

I think there is a corollary in the church:  we who are members of the Body of Christ and walk in the joy of forgiveness can drift from remembering that we, too, were once far from God, walking in darkness and without hope.

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

Ephesians 2:1-6 MSG

God is a generous and loving God.  He makes his rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous :

You have heard that it used to be said, ‘You shall love your neighbour’, and ‘hate your enemy’, but I tell you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Heavenly Father. For he makes the sun rise upon evil men as well as good, and he sends his rain upon honest and dishonest men alike.

~Matthew 5:44-47 MSG

He longs for all to come to a saving knowledge of Christ:

The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. ~2 Peter 3:9 HCSB

And He has called us as His ambassadors of reconciliation to proclaim His goodness, love and generosity throughout the world:

All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also.

2 Corinthians 5:18 GNT

When we walk with closed hands, when we act as if we are “us” and the rest of the world is “them” we build walls instead of bridges.

And we push people away instead of drawing them in.

Have we forgotten that but for the grace of a loving and generous God, we too would be lost?

What are you so puffed up about? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why act as though you are so great, and as though you have accomplished something on your own?

I Corinthians 4:7 TLB

 

 

 

 

Preaching to Myself

Some days I’m afraid that I’m not making progress.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m settling for lagging behind.

And there are moments when I want to give up and give in.

But I’m still in the fight.

I haven’t surrendered.

I WILL NOT QUIT.

Because my God is The Living God.

THERE IS NO DEVASTATION GREATER THAN HIS RESURRECTION.

There is no desert that will not bloom under His flood of grace.

There is no wall that is higher or stronger than His onslaught of mercy and no heart so cold that the warmth of His faithful love cannot penetrate it.

He has promised to redeem my pain.

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
    because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
    pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
    a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
    and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
    give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
    a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.

Isaiah 61:1-3a MSG