Carried

Lately Al and I have been driving on Fridays. Not sure why, but maybe because three weeks ago, we bought a new car. So on April 5 we decided to take a road trip to our old stomping grounds in southern Indiana. There at Grandview Cemetery we decorated my parents’ grave vases with red roses from Dollar Tree.

Don’t fret! They would’ve approved the cost savings. Then we headed to Elnora’s Fairview Cemetery and blessed Al’s parents’ grave with bright orange and purple Dollar Tree specials. Again, his folks, who also grew up during the Great Depression, would have applauded our frugality.

This past Friday we headed west to Cox Plant Farm near Clayton, this time to spend money on real plants. On the way there, we listened to WGNR Moody Radio, specifically senior pastor Chris Brooks’ 1pm Equipped Radio segment featuring an interview with Dr. Rick Richardson, Professor of Evangelism and Leadership at Wheaton College.

Dr. Richardson said something hopefully I will never forget. Its truth is both radical and simple. “In all other religions, you need to climb a ladder to God. In Christianity, God sent Jesus down the ladder to carry us up.”

During this Holy Week, Christians all over the world will celebrate Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection that opened the door for everyone—regardless of nationality, social status, or skin color—to have eternal life with God. To confess that Jesus Christ is who he says he is, the Son of the living God, is to begin a fresh life of freedom, faith, and obedience.

What a blessing it is to know that the grave, even though embellished with Dollar Tree flowers, does not contain us!

 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”  John 3:16-17, HCSB

In His Arms

Last night Al and I were watching Anderson Cooper on CNN’s 360 interview with Tia Coleman, the wife and mother of the family who drowned in the Duck Boat accident near Branson, Missouri. Her tears and agony filled the screen. She described that when the boat was pulled from the bottom of the lake, her husband Glenn was found embracing their three children.

Listening to her tearfully talk of her love for her husband, Cooper, with tears, could hardly respond. She had nine family members die in the accident. Compassionately he concluded the interview by telling Tia that all of America will be thinking of and praying for her.

In times of tragedy, prayer is our lifeline to God and to healing, isn’t it? Remember 9/11? The entire nation came together to pray. In tragedy, we cling to God. In easy times, not so much.

We need to pray for this family and all who were involved. Yes, the Colemans are grieving now and rightfully so because death is ugly, not at all what God intended when He created mankind. And God Almighty is grieving along with them. Through Jesus Christ, He has provided a glorious Plan B, one that rests on the fact Jesus Christ, as both God and man, overcame death, was resurrected, and lives forever in Heaven, now inviting us to follow him.

Even in her grief, Tia Coleman testifies hope. The pastor of the church she grew up in marveled at her strength during Saturday’s press conference: “She came forth as a witness. Every third or fourth word out of her mouth was giving glory to God, and that is where the rubber meets the road. In situations like that, you’ve got to have it down in your heart.” (Bishop Thomas E. Griffith as quoted by Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, 7.23.18, p.6A)

The father of the Coleman family huddled his children—Reece (9), Evan (7), and Arya (1)—near his heart as they left this world to enter eternal life. Missed by those who loved them deeply, they live on in the arms of Jesus and will be reunited, together again someday.

 

In Faith


Yesterday afternoon Al and I visited a dear Christian woman who had recently discovered no more medical treatment could treat her cancer. Hospice is her new reality. Yet, in the few minutes we chatted, prayed, and held her hands, she radiated God’s peace. She knew beyond any doubt her final resting place is not a realm of nothingness. Eternity with Jesus Christ and his saints await her.

Spending time with her reminded me of when, as a child, I wanted Jesus in my heart and life and decided to accept God’s free gift of salvation through his death, burial and resurrection. Yet I remember coming to Jesus out of fear.

If memory serves me correctly, I was a child who was afraid of a lot of things—the unknown; the dark; shadows made by car lights infiltrating my bedroom—the only one facing the highway. The Wizard of Oz and the Wicked Witch of the West scared me so much  I spent most of the movie wrapped in gray and chartreuse floral floor-length curtains, occasionally peeking out to catch glimpses of Scarecrow, Dorothy, and Tin Man.

Fast forward life.  I’m living my seventh decade. Jesus is not simply my gateway from fear and passport out of hell into heaven. My Savior has become real and personal through prayer and meditation, other people and life circumstances. Amazingly, I’m rarely afraid unless random thoughts creep in regarding my family’s safety. Fortunately I’ve learned to pray those away, giving them to God whom I know loves them more than I do.

Still, when it’s my turn to die (and yes, our finite bodies do indeed experience death no matter how many green smoothies we drink), I know Jesus will be there to comfort and guide me through “the valley of the shadow of death where I will fear no evil.” I’ve witnessed that confidence in both the living and dying.

Yesterday I saw that same assurance in my Christian sister’s eyes.

In faith, fear cannot reign.