Monday, January 19, 2015

We have hope...

It is 6:00 AM and I am sitting here thinking about a great man that passed into Glory a couple of days ago. It was so obvious that he loved his wife, his precious daughter, his entire family and most of all he loved God. No man or woman on this earth is perfect, but this man exuded the love of Jesus every time I saw him. Not by being pious in his attitude, nor by being religiously restrained in his presence. But he was laughter and joking and making funny quips with what I call rapid humor. You had to be quick to catch it sometimes and when I did it made me laugh so! :-) And in the midst of the joking and laughter and the twinkling in his eyes...I saw Jesus! Out of all the many attributes and talents that this man had, one vivid thing I remember about him...I would always see Jesus in the twinkling of his eyes as he watched and I believed enjoyed seeing me totally break up laughing over something he said.  I "saw" Jesus smiling back at me.

He lived his life for the Lord, was an excellent example of Jesus Christ before many and now he has gone home. We can and may never understand why things happen in this life and having lost loved ones myself on this journey of life; there are always questions. There is nothing wrong with questions I've learned, as long as we know that God almighty never changes, He remains the same and is always there when we call out to Him. God is for us and not against us.

This gentle man will be sorely missed. He effected so many people in this earth, so many I am sure that he probably never even knew about. Perhaps he knows now, or he is so caught up in the majestic presence of God, that as he bows at the nailed scarred feet of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and feels and is enveloped in the pure, unadulterated, crystal clear love of God... it does not matter. What does matter is that we make sure our lives count just as this man's did. He served the Lord not only by his confession, but by his day to day life; by loving God and letting that love pour from him to others. 

Grief can sometimes be what we consider a long journey, but this I know, the Lord is with us every...single...step...of the way. He never leaves us and is always there even when we feel that He is not. He is always waiting with arms wide open to gently comfort us and wipe our tears.  There is always HOPE in Him, for we do not grieve as those that have no hope...

"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words."
 I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Sunday, January 11, 2015

His Plan...

"I'll never get another dog ! " this was spoken out of the heart ache of losing our 16 year old schnauzer about 20 years ago.  Oh how I loved that little dog that we named Scottie, after a dog I had when I was a kid. The first "Scottie" was a collie that followed me everywhere I went on my blue bicycle until one day he just disappeared. We believed that he was dognapped and the devastation of that loss as a child affected me for a long time.

Years later, I was married with a small son and in a new neighborhood, when my 8 year old at the time comes home to ask, "Can we get a dog?"  He went through the usual promises of saying that he would take care of it, feed it, walk it and I wouldn't have to do a thing.  Well we KNOW how that worked out right? I practically became the sole care taker of Scottie number 2, although my husband did remind me from time to time that he was at least giving the dog a place to stay, even though Scottie  didn't have a job or income! :-)

Scottie number 2, became my buddy. The little schnauzer with the whiskers was my constant companion. Besides being underfoot every day, he was continually by my side when I came home to recuperate from brain surgery and a couple of years later other surgery. He would lay with me on the couch with not even a whimper, but just be there. Those soulful brown eyes, looking at me, only wanting to please. So it was understandable when after 16 years and he was ailing, we had to say goodbye.  At the time it was one of the hardest things we had to do. So out of that emotion I made the statement that I would never get another dog, because at the time it hurt too much to think of ever going through that again.

My plan was to never, ever go through the heartache of losing a beloved pet again. I even built up barriers: I would not go into pet shops nor would I watch those cute dog shows. I wanted nothing to do with the pain of that experience again.  My love for animals never went away, but I tried to keep it at a distance...safer that way I thought.  This worked fine until many years later through a certain set of circumstances a pup came into my life and he was an offer I couldn't refuse...then a few years later another pup just happened to grab my heart so now I have not one dog but two!  But what happened to the woman that said she would never, ever get another dog? I've learned to let life happen....

I used to live in fear of somehow missing God's plan for my life. I felt that if I made a choice that maybe didn't line up with His plan for me, that I would have blown it...forever. That all the good things that He had for me would be lost.  So my remedy for that was to put up boundaries, which can be good in some cases, but in an attempt to keep from making bad choices, it also kept good choices from being a part of my life. This included not allowing myself to let the joy of having another pet dog into my life because surely God does not want me to go through that pain of losing it again. Oh how I try to put Him in a box, when He wants me to just trust Him day to day as He leads me along.  And He wants me to enjoy this life that He has blessed me with! Sure losing a pet is painful, but what about all the good years I enjoyed!

I'm sure that you have heard the saying that "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans"
right?  Well I don't know if He laughs but I do believe that some things we come up with may amuse Him.  In my case I was trying so hard to be prepared for bad things that I was missing all the good
things that God had for me in just day to day life. When we hear "God's plan" we often think of some large blueprint on the screen of your life, so complicated that you can't even decipher it. When what I am learning is, His plan for me unfolds one day at a time and my "job" is to walk in it as He unfolds it to me...one step at a time...not complicated at all. To love people as they come into my path or I come into theirs, to be a good neighbor, to be honest and forthright, to forgive, to be kind, to speak
the truth, to treat others the way I want to be treated, are some of the ways I can carry out His plan.

So many times we think of God's Plan as events on a grand scale with the strobe lights, an orchestra playing and a hundred voice choir, when really I believe His plan for us is when we are obedient to do the things He unfolds for us to do each day.

I have friends, a retired couple, that find so much joy in volunteering in the Food pantry at their church. They organize the produce, food stuff  and clothing as it comes in and also distributes it to the needy. They have many opportunities to share a warm smile, hugs and encouragement to folks that may never get that...they are being Jesus' hands, feet and heart in doing so. Is that God's plan? I believe it is. You may never read about them in the newspaper or see them on television , but I believe that they are participating in the greatest event of all...they are carrying out God's Plan.

You see what I am discovering is that "it ain't all about me."  It really is HIS PLAN not ours.  So when we submit to HIS plan, we get the gracious benefit of getting enjoyment out of this life too!  Thank You Lord!

Now you may ask what does the dog story have to do with God's plan? Well, for me, in learning to let go of my fear of experiencing past pain again, fear of failing God and missing what He had designated for me , it is giving me the freedom to make choices by faith each day and trust who God says He is: He will never leave me, He will never condemn me, He will always lead me in Truth, and so much more. He speaks to me through His Word the Bible, in a still small voice in my heart and through His true servants. So in knowing this I can enjoy even the simple things in life, for God has put them there for the time He has allotted and it is in His hands.

So in 2015, if you haven't already, step out and begin to walk in God's plan, it really isn't complicated. It is trusting that He will show you one step at a time. Onward!