The Land of the Living If you are reading this today, this is where we are. Another day in the land of the living. Another cup of coffee, another reaching for the Word and journal.… More
Photo by Melanie Lamb
All of us grandmas know how endearing those words are that our grandkids have coined when they hear a word differently and, trying to make sense of it, say it their own way. Little Lilly tells me things that happened “lasterday” when we were apart and I love it. It will be sad when she just says “yesterday” like everyone else.
And there are those “rainbrellas” that you use when the skies open up and pour the rain. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Words matter and putting them together in the right way can make all the difference in how they are perceived by the reader or listener.
There are many ways to communicate with one another and today the preferred method seems to be texting. I’m not knocking it, I love it too. It’s great to be able to get a message to a person that they can answer at their own convenience, yet it can also be so misunderstood. People of my generation have had to learn so many new things and have had to adapt to so many different ways to communicate and obtain information.
Next time you see one of us with this troubled look on our faces when we are using our phones or computers, have mercy.
Sometimes I just yearn for lasterday. When we had to hear one another’s voices, in real time. When we could know if they “hesitated” when asked for help or honest answers. When we could hear fear, or lack of confidence, or just plain out annoyance or maybe real joy in just hearing from us.
But yet, we have emojis. Some of these I understand, and some I wonder about and am afraid to use. Maybe they don’t mean to someone else what they mean to me and they misunderstand and get offended? I said something over the weekend. An “uncool” word that really wasn’t intended to be such when I said it. I feel awful now because I wouldn’t want to offend anyone for the world. But now I know and will try to communicate better. So much to learn.
I guess I really don’t want to go back to lasterday in some ways. Because we are doing better, or trying to, in our current, kindness-seeking culture. And I don’t like to be melancholy about the “good old days” because they were not always good. Just suggest maybe that we take the time to put the phone down when someone comes face-to-face, because Facebook can wait. Call, when a text could be misunderstood and maybe even write a letter that someone can keep forever. Like we used to have to do, “lasterday.”
And I just can’t finish this post without mentioning the most beautiful love letter written to mankind. O how much I love the truth of God’s Word. How grateful I am that His Words have been written down and preserved for thousands of years and are still as fresh and true today as when they were penned. Some of the cultural meanings have to be studied out, but the truths are unchanged. How could a book written over a period of 1400 – 1800 years, by more than 40 different authors stay true to the theme of redemption through Christ? Only because it is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. For more facts about the origin and inspiration of the Bible see http://www.allabouttruth.org.
Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Or as Lilly would say “…the same lasterday, today and forever.”) Aren’t you thankful for this?
I know I am (smile emoji).
This a line from a “kids” movie. And I can’t believe I’m bawling like a baby. But what this young boy said to his class, at the end of the movie, is so true “he taught me that you should never forget anyone that you love.” This is one of the last scenes in the movie “Hachi.” It is the story of a very loyal dog. It is based on a true story of this faithful friend that waited at the train station for his owner for over 9 years. Until the day of his death Hachi watched for his master because he never got off that train after dying of cardiac arrest at work one day.
Today is Memorial Day, a day for remembering. Not that we don’t do it all through the year, but today is especially poignant for me. You see today is my late brother’s birthday, and Memorial Day at the same time. Whenever I’m in a place where tears come too easy and I am longing for my heavenly home, I want to visit his grave. Not that he is really there, just his body underneath, yet it is one of the most peaceful places on this earth to me. He “rests” there.
I remember him as one of the sweetest souls on earth. Not just because he was my brother, but because he truly was. He was a good man, who tried his best to serve his God and his family, and when his time was short, he was full of gratitude for his life of 53 years and a few months. He suffered much and left quietly. There is great comfort knowing that he is in heaven, enjoying his reward. That is how it is for those who know Jesus as their personal Savior.
Memorial Day was first declared a day to remember our fallen soldiers. Those that died protecting our freedoms. I am so grateful for them as well. So thankful for those who continue to serve without knowing if they will have to make that sacrifice. Not knowing if they will return home to their loved ones. My son-in-law experienced this. He returned from a year of deployment just a short time ago and we are all so grateful that he was protected during those days on the other side of the world.
Some of you reading this may have lost a loved one during military service, or a loved one because of illness or injury, or maybe because they just “wore out.” It hurts the same. Remembering them is the best thing you can do. Remember their voice, their smile, their touch. Their faith. By remembering, we still are connected to them. They continue to have an influence on our lives and we can experience comfort from that.
One scripture that comforts me when I just don’t think I can quit crying is this:
“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!””
Because God is merciful, He will keep all that sorrow from consuming us. We do not have to lose hope or joy. The prophet that penned this book in the Old Testament was Jeremiah. He had a heavy burden, he was in a place of heavy persecution, yet he had hope. And so do we.
“My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” (vs. 20-21) and “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him. To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (vs. 25-26)
The promise of heaven and being reunited with those we loved here on earth is our hope. Meanwhile, remember them, wait patiently for the time when you will be with them again. And be thankful, because great is His faithfulness.
“There’s a needle clear through my finger!” All I could do was think it, dramatically, because I had laryngitis and couldn’t scream. I was home alone, thought I could sew something up real quick and in my haste, caught my index finger with my sewing machine needle. Dumb, huh? Thankfully, it stalled the machine before it caught the thread from the bobbin and, well, that would have been even more awful.
My mind raced, I can’t call anyone because I can’t talk. Anyway, I left my cell phone upstairs. As blood fills my nailbed there is only one solution. I’ve got to reverse the mechanism and pull my finger free. I am brave, I can do this! It didn’t want to let go, but I took the machine wheel and backed it out. Went to the sink and flushed it and flushed it with cold water. After the bleeding stopped, the throbbing started.
My mind went back to when I was little and my mom passed down something her mother had warned her about, “Never sew on Sunday.” “Is that in the Bible?” I asked. I don’t remember her answer but my mother held to that rule like it was the eleventh commandment.
Do I need to tell you when I did this, it happened on a Sunday morning? Since I couldn’t talk, I had someone cover my Sunday School class for me and was home, trying to do something that I thought couldn’t wait. Pretty typical for me. Such a sinner. I was sick, I should be resting, but here I am, trying to be productive. Sorry Lord, lesson learned.
Truth is, we do need a day of rest. God gave us a gift when He gave us the Sabbath. Whether yours is Sunday or any other day of the week, you need to take it. Jesus addressed the Sabbath with this:
“And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:” Mark 2:27
God rested on the seventh day from all His creating as an example for us that one day out of seven should be a rest day. A pattern that is good to follow. One of the Ten Commandments is “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8) He goes on to explain the specifics in Exodus 20:10-11. Now in 31:15, the consequences of not keeping it were pretty steep – death – and I am thankful that Jesus clarified it for us when He came.
We should not forget to “keep it holy.” As we keep this day, we should also remember that it is an opportunity to devote ourselves to God, worship, pray and give Him our undistracted attention. You may recognize the consequences experienced for not keeping a Sabbath, such as exhaustion; physical, emotional, and spiritual because it is for our good that we keep it. We need it!
As a nurse, there were many Sundays that I had to work, illness and injury do not take a Sabbath! So it was for my good that I took another day of the week to just chill. Do the things I love and rest. Read an meditate on the Word of God. It was for my good that I did it.
Some folks always work on our so-called “Sabbath.” For Pastors and others that serve on Sundays, I believe they should take another day of the week to relax. Don’t feel guilty about it. God designed it for you! And go ahead and sew a little on that day, if that relaxes you. Just keep your fingers out of the path of the needle!
I don’t think the bag that brought home my bargains from Elder-Beerman’s “going out of business” sale had any idea that one day it would be holding my husband’s prize turkey kill. Neither did I. Not that I think that shopping bags can “think.” But that task was something that it certainly wasn’t designed to do. And the evidence was all through my refrigerator!
Turkey blood had seeped out of the bag, onto the shelf, which ran down into the vegetable and meat drawers and definitely wasn’t what I wanted to face first thing that morning. I believe in “reuse, repurpose and recycle,” but this was not a good idea my dear man.
He waited and waited, patiently and daily, in the early mornings for this bird. Up before the crack of dawn to take his place and listen for the “gobble, gobble.” The morning he finally caught this big guy found even me excited and taking pictures to send our sons. If you have a hunter in your life, you know the inexplicable, in my opinion, joy they receive when they have, at long last, harvested the reward of their efforts. I don’t understand it, but I don’t have to. He didn’t understand the joy I felt when I brought home the bargains in that same bag a few weeks prior. Ahh, the differences in “us.”
I like to take home lessons from life experiences, and I am not sure what this one is. Maybe next time, I’ll follow through from taking the pictures to “Now where are you going to put this and in what?” Another lesson might be that even though something might “work” for a purpose that it was not designed to do, think about it, carefully. Would the “fail” have consequences and how many and how long would it take to clean them up?
We, as God’s children, were designed, created and called for one purpose:
“Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” Isaiah 43:7
This place where I post my life-lessons is called “Glory Renewed” because I have a special relationship with the Lord, my God. He designed me, He created me, He called me for the purpose of giving Him glory. When I use myself to do anything other than that, there are consequences. I have to repent and turn away from sin and turn toward things that bring Him glory, every, single, day.
Your relationship with God is just as special. He designed you, He created you and He called you for the purpose of giving Him glory.
Let’s pray: My Father God, thank You for creating me for a purpose and I ask You humbly, please, cause me to live every day to bring you glory. Amen
Nearly all of us good Christian girls have a copy of “The Book of Bible Promises.” Maybe it was a graduation gift or a “prayer partner” gift from a friend at church. In the front of the book it lists different issues you might be praying about matched up with scripture that addresses the promise of the answer. I’ve used it to encourage others that are dealing with difficult circumstances. Slapped a verse on a “Thinking of You” card in the hope that it takes away their pain like a magic pill.
Now there is nothing wrong with using the Word of God in the hope of helping someone. The prophet Isaiah records what God told him about HIs Word:
Isaiah 55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth: It shall not return to Me void but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Yet, I have been reminded, while studying the life of Abraham and Sarah, in the book of Genesis, that promises have conditions that we cannot interfere with, or we could find ourselves waiting for a very long time for their fulfillment. For Sarah, it was 25 years.
A little background. God chose “Abram” to be the “father” of His people (Genesis 12). God established a covenant with him that He would make his descendants as “many as the dust of the earth” (Genesis 13:16) and as “stars of the sky for multitude” (Genesis 15:5). And those descendants would come from the union of dear, old, Abram and Sarai.
Quite a promise to a man already 75 years old, with a wife of 65 years. There would be four reminders of this promise until little Isaac was born to Sarah. Abram was re-named Abraham by then and Sarai was re-named Sarah, and they were 100 years and 90 years old respectively.
Can you even imagine how hard it was, how “impossible” it seemed to them, to her? She knew when her periods stopped. She knew her husband was not as energetic as he used to be? How could this be?
During her years of waiting, the couple were visited by “three men.” And one of them was Jesus, Genesis 18:1-15, gives the account. The time was coming close to the fulfillment of the promise and there was still some unbelief in Sarah’s heart, because she laughed a smirky (I know that is not a real word) laugh. Not out loud, but in her heart. But Jesus was there, and He knew what her heart did and called her out.
Genesis 18:15: “But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh!”
And this after He has just said to her:
“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (vs. 14)
Goodness. That verse is probably in my Bible Promises book, but it never hit me so hard. What is my impossible? Nothing. Because there is nothing too hard for God.
The Bible reinforces this in other scripture, Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” It’s interesting to me that this promise is related to a baby being born to an old woman as well. The angel tells Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was with child, “in her old age” (vs. 37). Formerly “barren” women, given such privilege. Two old women, Sarah and Elizabeth, having a crucial role to play in bringing us Jesus. Wow.
Are we guilty of believing that our impossible is too hard for God? Do we believe that fulfilled promises only come to those who are more talented, more intelligent, with more strength, more patience, more beauty, more wisdom, more self-discipline, those more organized, with more resources, with a better background? Does any of this matter, is anything too hard for God?
As I think about aging, now that those years are closer to me than ever before, I am, I confess, afraid. I want to fight it tooth and nail instead of embracing the season that for me seems most difficult. The examples of Sarah and Elizabeth help me to see that God chooses older women to do huge things. And He blesses and makes and keeps promises to older women. I don’t know for sure but I don’t think these two ladies were afraid when they were given those promises. Their reactions were what any woman would do when they knew the truth of the natural process of biological aging. Only God could deliver the fruit of those promises.
I am thinking now of the biggest and most important promise of all – Salvation – and Jesus told his disciples the absolute truth when they asked Him, “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25)
Matthew 19:26, “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
The “look” of Jesus, can you imagine? He looked at Sarah and called her out. He looked at his disciples and told them the truth. He looks at us and He truly sees all of us. There is nothing hidden, so why not believe for the impossible?
If you have experienced His salvation, you have the privilege of prayer and access to fulfilled promises. What is your impossible? Don’t smirk, don’t even think about smirking. Be like the victorious Sarah that is mentioned in the “Hall of Faith.”
Hebrews 11:11: “Through faith also Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.”
Just like you and me, she failed a few times, but she got there. And some of those failures produced whoppers of consequences, but she got there. She got there because God is faithful to use everything for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28) If we do not believe for the impossible, are we judging God unfaithful? Scary thought.
I don’t know what your impossible is right now, but please don’t give up. If God has made you a promise, He will fulfill it. Let’s all just try not to get in His way.
Don’t you love it when everything is “in it’s place.” I was always taught that everything has it’s place and should be in it’s place and all would be good. There has to be a clean up time and now that Spring has sprung many of us ladies will be dusting off the cobwebs of winter and letting in the fresh air. Cleaning and organizing.
Do you remember the activity sheets in elementary school where they have pictures of items and you are supposed to put an “X” on what doesn’t fit the pattern? A baseball, a football, a soccer ball … then a tiara. Which one is “out of place?”
Where do we take our heart-wrenching needs though? Are their bins for problems, say for family members, work, health, dreams? Can our prayers get dusty? Waiting on God to do something? Are you tempted to put that request in file 13? Or, heaven forbid, take that other one into your own hands?
While walking and talking to God this morning, I was reminded of some prayers that He has graciously answered lately. Some “time-specific” prayers that concerned things I wanted to take into my own hands. Instead I took them to Him to handle. And He did, so perfectly. I praise Him for that because it has taken me a long time to learn that putting concerns in their right place is crucial to live out my faith.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the work of thine own hands.” Psalm 138:7-8 (KJV)
So where do we need to put our troubles and concerns? In the hands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Say His name over all your cries for help, all those things you really have no control over and experience His faithfulness. Unclutter your heart and mind of concerns that need the touch of God. Put them all in their proper place, His holy hands. You are a beautiful work of His hands, and He will never forsake you.
I have never felt so powerless. The other day all I could do was weep because there is something happening right now that all I can do is watch. I want to help. I want to change what is happening, but I can’t. All I can do is watch. And it feels awful.
As Easter is near, and this is “Holy Week” most of the thoughts of Christians are on what happened to Jesus. How awful it was that a perfect Man, loving in all of His ways was crucified. The perfect example of kindness and holiness was falsely accused, scourged, nailed to a cross. Spat on. Insulted. Shamed. Pierced. And all that loved Him and followed Him could do was stand and watch.
And then I thought about the story of a woman who did what she could. There were those that criticized her, yes, but Jesus didn’t. He promised something beautiful instead. He said:
“Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Mark 14:3-9 describes “The Anointing at Bethany”
“And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.
But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted?
For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.
But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.
For you will have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.
She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.
Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (NKJV)
Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus honors those who do what they can? Isn’t it a beautiful example of a woman who knew she couldn’t change what was happening, yet still gave so extravagantly to do what she could?
This speaks to my heart that even though I can’t change what is happening, I can still love and show my love extravagantly, without reservation, and know that Jesus is pleased. Surrender to Christ is never giving up. It is giving away the ability to control anything; control we never really had in the first place. It is taking that thing that you are the most worried about and handing it to Him. It is anointing our risen Savior with faith and trust and worship.
This is the victory we celebrate at Easter. Because we have a risen Savior, there is absolutely nothing that can defeat us. Not really. We must be persuaded as the Apostle Paul when he wrote:
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us fro the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
As you read this, I am sure there are things that life has brought you that you feel powerless to change. A prodigal child. A diagnosis that won’t go away. Suffering that seems so unfair. Weep it out. Give it to the risen Savior and always choose love and faith. Do what you can. Step into the joy of hearing our risen Savior say, “She did what she could.”