“You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
“Physician, heal yourself!” Luke 4:23
Have you ever been going along spiritually, humbly and holily, just minding your own business, when a voice inside says, “Teacher, teach yourself!” or, in other words, “Practice what you preach.”? Ouch!
I had just finished a conversation with my daughter, Katherine, when I heard that sentiment.
I’m fortunate to have a daughter who speaks into my life like a close friend. She probably knows me best, next to her father. 🙂 I’d made a comment and she gently corrected me. She was referring to a very humble and holy point I’d made; valuable spiritual insight and wisdom concerning a friend. Honestly, my point had truth; it wasn’t devoid of wisdom. But it’s not my job to point out other people’s potential mistakes. Right after she made her comment, Katherine arrived at the site for her photo shoot. And we abruptly ended our chat.
The phone went quiet and I instantly heard that still small voice telling me in so many words, “You were speaking under the guise of “helping and teaching” but really you wanted to appear better than the other character in the story. You wanted to make sure your daughter knows you’re the #1 spiritually mature woman in her life.
How did I reply? “Yes, Lord! Thank you so much!” “This stuff really DOES work!” I can rejoice over His correction because I know He loves me. Not only was I glad; I also laughed. It’s good to have a sense of humor and see the irony. I’m nothing if not a life-long student. I know there will never come a day when I finish learning and graduate from “God School”.
I recently had the privilege of speaking at a couple of women’s events. I’m still slowly shaking my head as to why those people trusted me. Actually, they trusted God.
Anyway, among the points I made was this one, more or less: Jesus left the Holy Spirit to His disciples as a compensation for His departure. The good news for us is that we Christ followers have that same Holy Spirit living in us; the same power who raised Jesus from the dead! The Holy Spirit, among comforting, teaching and all the other benefits, also convicts us of sin and enables us to live victoriously!
So there I was; finding out again how Christ- following works! HE IS IN ME. He showed me my heart. It goes a lot deeper than my lovely sounding words. He not only showed me my heart, but He’s already giving me ideas as to how I can alter my thoughts, pray and act redemptively towards someone I love whom I don’t always agree with.
Remember that young shepherd boy, David? The prophet, Samuel was sent by God to Bethlehem, to a man named Jesse. Samuel’s task was to find and anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the future king. Samuel observed the “tall, dark, handsome” sons, thinking that one of those must be the chosen one. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Finally, the youngest son, David came in from tending the sheep. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” 1 Samuel 16:12
After all, what matters most is what’s in our hearts. That’s what God sees; not our outer shell. God looks on the heart.
“If today were your last, would you do what you’re doing? Or would you love more, give more, forgive more? Forgive and give as if it were your last opportunity. Love like there’s no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love again.”
On my way to a funeral I was struck by life’s contrasts. How I could be enjoying such a beautiful spring day; driving under a perfect canopy of dogwoods at the same time a friend’s father has died.
My friend Jim said we need to attend a funeral every year, and I think he’s right. Nothing reminds us of the hope we have as Christ followers like life that continues forever. In the last twelve months or so I’ve met my quota for funerals.
I remember my mother-in-law saying that if you have to die, Easter is a good time. I’d never thought of that but it did make sense. Death swallowed up in new life.
I wish I’d made it to Eva’s 60th Birthday Party. I was delighted that her throng of friends planned and hosted the surprise event. I smiled at the joy I saw on her face in all the images. I’m sorry I missed it but I’m glad I took time to find her address and send her a card. I’m glad I wrote a personal letter on the card before I put it in the mail.
That birthday —it would be her last. She was gone just like that! Snatched from this life right in the middle of loving people like it was her job—all people, as far as I could tell. She and her daughter were reported missing on a Monday, the day after they failed to show up for church. They were always at church. The proverbial phrase holds true–they were there every time the doors were open. And they always served as volunteers to help keep the church life going.
In the midst of several hundred people how many people would leave such a void? How many would be so much a part of the fabric of the community that their absence was deafening?
It pains me to say this, but I don’t think I’d have had known Eva if she hadn’t reached out to me. Always with a hug, a big smile and positive attitude.
Eva almost always commented on my blog posts. Continually affirming me. When you take the risk to put your words out there for the world, nothing means more than encouragement.
Eva had experienced hardships and sadness. The funny thing is I don’t even know much about what she endured because that’s not what she focused on.
They died a horrific death. Yet somehow I imagine their last thoughts and words brought honor to their Heavenly Father.
Our church hosted a prayer vigil for the two and as I sat there, tears welling up, I had the feeling that they should be there. It wasn’t right for them to miss anything. Their absence was obvious. I subconsciously looked for them right up there near the front; left side.
It will take time to process and come to peace with all of this. But I do know that God always teaches us stuff we need to learn even in the most devastating situations.
Eva’s life and sudden death has me thinking of things I’d like to be plopped down in the middle of on my last day.
I’d like to be writing a thank you note or an encouraging letter to someone. My last words to my husband would be “I love you and I’m so proud of you”. Filling my gratitude journal, smiling and helping strangers, taking a walk, enjoying outside, reading and learning and growing. Listening to a friend, reveling in the lives of our grown up kids and granddaughter. Bringing a meal or helping a young mom, inspiring and assisting a client in her home.….I hope I’ll be doing some of these things.
Honestly, I don’t know if the photos will be in books. My recipes may still be a jumble; you may have to search through piles to find favorites. There may be a few too many sentimental “keepsakes” that haven’t quite made it to the donation site.
Hopefully there’ll be forgiveness for my undone things while I’m minding the eternal stuff.