Make It Personal, Make It Real

Like many of you, I’ve been praying for our world, our nation, our state, those in the trenches who are at risk for COVID-19 and my family. But surprisingly, I’ve lost little sleep over this pandemic. My Father in Heaven has given me peace. Why is that?

I know He can eradicate this virus because He is the Almighty Creator. I also know that nothing that brings death originates from God. His intent for us at Creation was life, not death. It still is. So why, in His sovereignty, did He allow this to infiltrate the world?

The answer is LIFE. Not life in the here and now but forever life. Almighty God wants us to live eternally. He doesn’t want us to live only in the finite where idols sneak in to rule our lives. Things and experiences that we covet and enjoy–new cars, vacations, sports, entertainment, food, fitness, etc.

None of the above is inerrantly wrong. But when those activities and items consume our time and energy, we forfeit how God wants us to live.

What’s our next step? God’s prescription is simple yet profound: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

My role: Humble myself; pray and seek His face; turn from my evil ways (thoughts, actions, apathy, critical spirit, self-indulgence, self-pity, self-righteousness, self-absorption. . .)

God’s response: Hear from heaven, forgive my sin, and heal my land.

photo credit: Thank you, my friends, Adam! Broken Wing via photopin (license)

Sunny-side Up

Okay, I confess! I haven’t always been an optimist. Since becoming a Christian and growing in the Holy Spirit, the Lord has trained me to think positively. As a child, I often worried. Now that “what if” process exhausts me.

With my back story now public, what follows will make much more sense. I’ve been telling people I’ve never experienced anything in my almost 66 years of life quite like the COVID-19 quarantine. That’s not entirely true.

My family lived eight miles from the west gate of what was first called Crane Naval Ammunition Depot. In 1948 my parents met on base and were civilian employees for a combined total of over 70 years.

Dad progressed through the organization, retiring as director of their massive railroad system that transported live shells and missiles. Then I didn’t understand the danger of those in-the-middle-of-the-night derailments. The phone rang, he’d throw on clothes and leave.

October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Dad began stockpiling canned goods and storing them in our one-story home’s 4 ½ foot crawl space. For 12 days, Dad had my mother, my four-year-old sister and me practice getting in and out of this dark, damp underground bunker.

Recently I asked my sister if she remembered those drills. Dad had been an Army sergeant, so yes, they were drills! “All I remember are cans and cans of stacked peaches.” I laughed at the thought of being literally stuck underground with mostly canned peaches. “We would’ve died by ant infestation!” Fortunately, the Soviet Union’s bomb threat ended October 28, 1962. Life continued cautiously but soon normalized.

Lessons learned? Combine hope with common sense. Then expect sunshine.

Spring is coming soon!

Shattered

When Al was upstairs in the shower Sunday morning, a crash directly overhead interrupted my routine. Chest tightening while running, I feared my husband might have blacked out and fallen.

“Are you okay?” 

“Yes!” The water kept running.

By that time, I saw that the small antique mirror had fallen, lying within a footstep of drawing blood.

As I hurried to pick up the pieces, the thought came, “This is life. One minute it looks good, secure and well placed, and the next, it’s a mess.”

With Jesus as Lord of our lives, we don’t need to pick up sharp edges alone. Yes, this side of eternity, mirrors crash as rusty exhaust fans rattle and disturb the nearby landscape. Yet the Savior of the world sees the mess and understands our fear.

Jesus has lived among us—the shattered. He knows how to pick up the pieces.

There is one condition. We must trust Him.

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”

– Hebrews 12:2-3 NLT

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.

 

Turning Right onto Main Street

If you know me well, you know that eggs are one of my food favorites. They also bring back great memories of backyard Easter egg hunts where our children, even when they were too old for it, enjoyed racing each other around, digging through mulch for the “money” egg or looking in tree branches for the Tootsie Roll-filled plastic egg. From such memories comes our daughter’s infamous line, which we will never let her forget: “It’s only a race if I win.”

So it makes sense now that I’m retired, I seek out farm fresh eggs. Perhaps it’s because of my amazing omelet reputation or because they remind me of growing up in the country, but whatever the reason, I love stopping at Walker Eggs off of Main Street. Usually I buy two dozen of their jumbo-sized eggs.

Before leaving home for my bi-weekly egg run, I had already planned to turn right when leaving Walker’s. Making a left turn without a traffic light is almost impossible, especially on Main Street. After turning right, I planned to cut through a nearby housing addition and then proceed to a roundabout, adding ten minutes to my journey home. However when turning right, I realized there were no oncoming cars. I could have made the left turn and saved myself the detour.

Preconceived assumptions are like that, aren’t they? We prepare, plan and pre-determine what to do in case of whatever. Too often I neglect the now moment, which would allow the Holy Spirit to navigate, as God would like. I make the right turn out of fear instead of taking the risky but open route. The easy turn causes me to follow the longer way home. Perhaps you can relate.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

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.