A Matter Of Life And Death

IMG_0253

I was sitting at a table at the library, working on my computer. It was fairly quiet until an elderly woman walked in and sat down right behind me. By my guess, she looked to be in her late 70’s and early 80’s. (note: I heard her say later, that she is indeed, 85)

Now, I am not one to normally eavesdrop on a conversation, but it was difficult to not hear what she was saying. She was loud and the library was quiet…so nearly impossible to not hear every last word. I found myself smiling at how animated she was in her conversation and in how she interacted with other patrons of the library. She was a real hoot.

She was talking to one of the librarians, with whom she appeared to have a friendship. The part of the conversation that caused me to pause, is when I heard her say something to the effect,”I don’t believe in the afterlife. I think this {life} is all there is. Won’t people be surprised when they die and find out in the end Jesus isn’t there?”

I breathed in, and slowly let the air out. My first thought was to turn around and say something to her, but that would have been rude, for me, a complete stranger, to interject myself into their conversation. Plus I didn’t want to admit I was indeed eavesdropping (although she had to be aware everyone in the place could hear her).

She has since gotten up and left the library, but her words linger. I am saddened. When she got up to leave (talking the entire time) I had opportunity to look at her. She looked like (and I’m sure she is) someone’s grandma. At 85 she probably doesn’t have many more years left on this earth. Although she would probably not admit it, she is lost. Blindly, lost. She doesn’t know Jesus beyond a familiar historical character. She seemed educated and intelligent, but completely ignorant of who God is and the amazing grace we are all shown through Jesus Christ, His Son.

Today was an example, a tiny sliver of a reminder that there are those that we see regularly, maybe even every day, that might be good and moral people, but are lost. They don’t know or understand the love of Jesus and what that means for them personally. These individuals will one day take their last breath on this earth and be faced with their eternity. It is then they will be face to face with God and there will be no illusion of who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords…. except, at that point it will be too late. Their life on earth is over, and their eternity is just beginning. An eternity that is to be separate from God, because of the choice they made to turn from Him when they were still alive.

I should have said something. I should have stepped out of my comfort zone, before this woman steps out into eternity. Maybe I could have started a conversation with her, and maybe she would have thought I was nuts….regardless, she couldn’t have said I didn’t care. It would have given her something to think about. Maybe I will get another chance to share the greatest news a dying world could ever hear……because it really is a matter of life and death.

For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:10-12 NLT

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 NIV

Advertisements

The Struggle Is Real

We live in a world that is broken, where the fissures in life often leak uncertainty. For many, fear is just under the surface. The routine of days can seem so normal… until they’re not.  IMG_1702

Last Friday I spent a sunny, November afternoon, grocery shopping. It wasn’t very exciting, but it was still great. I am one of those people that enjoys being able to stroll the aisles and look at what is new on the shelves, plus I always like a good deal. After the grocery store, I went to Tractor Supply to pick up food for the myriad number of pets my family owns. On the way back home, I listened to the radio and sang out loud. On that day, at that moment, life was good. The mundane was indeed, magnificent.

After getting home and unpacking the groceries I began to make dinner. I remember what I fixed that night. Salmon. Weird how one remembers the small details. As I was in the kitchen cooking, my husband said, “Mom, just emailed me that something is happening in Paris”. We flipped on the TV, like so many others, only to hear of the tragedies as they unfolded. Suicide bombers, mass shootings, hostages. There were people herded out of venues, attempting to get to a safe place. A place that was anywhere, but where they were at.

My heart broke for these people. People that had gone out to eat, to watch soccer, or listen to music. Individuals just like so many of the rest of us. They didn’t know…..how could they have known? That this day, this night, was to be their last?

And the earth spun crazy, on its axis, making us all dizzy with despair.

This life we live, this world we call home, can be scary. There are no promises about tomorrow. We wish we could see into the future, to make plans, to neatly tie up loose ends, to say the words that need to be said, to get things right. We want to be in control, but that is just an illusion. None of us is in control, we never have been.

That is a sobering thought.

But, in the midst of the hard parts and the sharp edges of this world, there is good news. There is One who does know the future. He is in control. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is…..unchanging, undeniable, and unstoppable.

God. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end…..and all the days in between.

So, when my days are scary, or the moments turn hard, I lean into the only One who can bring true peace in a world gone mad. My hope is in Jesus.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13 NIV

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.             Hebrews 13:8 ESV

I’m More Than The “If Only”

This blog post is from my archives…..I think I needed to read it again today.

The paper was yellowed with age, and it was deeply creased. I gently unfolded it and was taken back to decades past.

Electronic typewriter - the final stage in typ...

The report card(s)made me smile, as former teachers faces flashed before my eyes.  I was an A and B student for most of my school career. Grades were important to me, I always wanted to do my best. If my grades didn’t match what I thought my effort deserved, then I was disappointed in myself.

There is was. My eyes caught that dreaded letter. “D”. One of two that I received in my entire school career. It was in typing of all things. Yes, typing. It was my sophomore year in high school and it was a mandatory class. Computers in the early 80’s were still not “personal” and most people didn’t have one. This was the pre-social media age. (haha)  I learned to type on an electric typewriterwhose size took up an entire desk. The timed tests are what got me. Too many mistakes. Oh, how I teared up when the teacher told me the bad news! I was devastated.

I wasn’t good enough. How could I let this happen?

Almost thirty years later, I still struggle with the not good enough. Oh, not the “D”…that has long since melted into history…but, the underlying question remains, “am I good enough?”

How many times do I set the bar in my life, only to fail? To come up short. At times, not even be in the game?

I am guilty of believing that I was the one in control. That when bad things happen I could have, should have, done something. Done better. Tried harder.

I was never in control. Never. Not once. Not, really.

That is a profound statement, isn’t it? So many times we think about the “if onlys”.  If only I was smarter, faster, prettier, skinnier, more organized, more outgoing, more capable……more. more. more. If only I met all these requirements, then everything would be alright. I’d be in control of my circumstances.

It is a struggle. I wish it wasn’t. I want to see myself, like Christ sees me.

Redeemed.

“But, Lord……if only I’d pray more often. If only I did my devotions every day. If only I loved more and forgave more. If only I was more of a reflection of you in my daily life.”  And the “if onlys” widen the gap between me and the One that calls me worthy.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12 NIV

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— Colossians 1:22 NIV

And the tears fall, as the words sink in.

At The Scene Of The Accident

IMG_1099

I had to run some errands today, in town. On the drive in, I was listening to music and singing. The sky was blue, the sun was out. It was chilly, but not yet cold. After going to the store to pick up some groceries and supplies, I jumped back in my truck to head home. Just up the street I saw the aftermath of what looked like a serious accident. My eyes were riveted to the black mini-van that was crunched and laying on its side in the middle of the intersection. A mini-van, on a Wednesday morning. Were there young children in that van? Was there a mom in the van that had also been out running errands on this sunny November day? Many men had pulled their vehicles over and were there to help whoever was inside. The emergency vehicles had not arrived yet. As I slowly weaved my way through the intersection, I could hear sirens. A little further up the road I pulled over to let two ambulances, a firetruck and a police car pass by.

“Dear Jesus, please be with the emergency personnel as they work that accident scene. Father, have Your hand on the people involved in the accident. Calm their spirits. Give all involved, peace.”

On the way back home I was listening to David Crowder sing “I AM”. The music was playing as I passed by a local cemetery. I noticed a tent set up and a hearse in the driveway. Someone was going to be buried today…….and the song played on…..

“I am,
Holding on to You.
I am,
Holding on to you.
In the middle of the storm,
I am holding on,
I am

This is my Resurrection Song
This is my Hallelujah Come
This is why to You I run
This is my Resurrection Song
This is my Hallelujah Come
This is why to You I run
There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place that we can’t find peace
There’s no end to Amazing Grace”     ——-David Crowder, I AM 

Tears trickled down my face, as I thought about that accident in town, the soon to be burial of someone at the local cemetery, and the words “in the middle of the storm, I am holding on…..” At times, worship happens in even the most mundane of settings.

Our days are tenuous and this life we live is so fragile. Can we take just a moment to be reminded of that? That accident today, had I left the store only a couple of minutes earlier, might have been me……and I whispered, “Thank you Father that I know whatever storms life brings me, You are there. You are my anchor in all of life’s storms. Whatever happens.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?………37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8 NLT

None Of Us Will Make It Out Alive

IMG_1197

I just read a story about Rory and Joey Feek. Joey, of the husband wife country duo, Joey+Rory, is dying. She doesn’t have many days left on this earth. I recently saw the picture of her laying in bed with her baby girl. It was so touching. She knows she is dying, and so the moments are all the more precious. Every. Moment. Is. Precious.

I can’t help but remember and relive those feelings of being in “the last days”. It was fifteen years ago this week that my husband died. Fifteen years is a long time. If he had lived, he would now be 49. Our son, was 5 when he died. That 5 year old is now a 20 year old college student. Back in November of 2000, I didn’t know what my life would be like, at the time I couldn’t even imagine.

Death is always difficult…to the one that is dying, and to the loved ones left behind. None of us are going to make it out of this life, alive. That is why, in my opinion, it is so important to live the moments of life with that in mind. Yes, we forget. Yes, we get busy. I know. We all allow the minutiae of the day to fill our calendars and clocks. It is so easy to push back the important moments, the simple yet beautiful moments, for the urgent.

Try, just for today, to live your day with your eyes wide open to the beauty. Be grateful. Begin to make it a habit. That way, when you find yourself in your last days, you will remember a life well lived.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”… James 4:13-15

The Lost Ring

102_3650

Two years ago, while drying my hands in a public restroom, I noticed my silver ring was missing! It was a favorite ring I wore every day. Where could I have lost it? I actually dug through the paper towels in the restroom trash can looking to see if my ring had slipped off while drying my hands. It was not there. I looked in the car, I looked at home, I even looked in the yard. After searching for days and, coming up empty, I decided that I had lost the ring for good and would probably never see it again. I knew it was just a ring and there are worse things to lose, and I realized it would probably not be valuable to anyone else but me….still, I was sad that I had lost it.

Now, this is going to sound crazy but, here is the story. A few weeks ago I was looking at my hands and noticed my wedding ring/bands were sliding around on my finger. Noticing my rings and worrying they might slide off made me think about the silver ring I had lost. I wondered if it had ever been found, and was now being worn by someone new? Sigh….. I thought to myself, “God, I know it is silly, but I miss that ring.”

Yesterday evening, my husband and I were cleaning our car, getting ready to trade it in for a newer vehicle. My husband down on the floor of the car, vacuum in hand, was reaching under the front seat. He said, “Look what I found!” I looked over at him and he was holding my long lost ring! A smile lit up my face.

Yes, it is a simple thing. Yes, there are much more important things in life than a lost ring. Yet, the story of the ring reminds me that there is nothing too small for God to care about. Often times we only want to come to God with the big things. The heavy burdens. The things we feel are worthy. We forget that although God is big, He still cares about the small. He knows our hearts.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:7 NIV