Sunday, October 25, 2009

Withered Grass

Aunt Kay left for heaven on Thursday night. She went peacefully, but after months of waning health. She was ready and willing to go. One last breath ushered in the unseen.

Ninety long years left in that last breath. Like scorched grass, her frail body was left in a hospice bed, while her spirit slipped unseen to a rich eternal life. Christ’s presence was there. Immanuel (her favorite name for Christ) was with us. As she left for eternity, we thanked God for receiving her, even as we grieved. (See Psalm 90.)

Another day, One agonized for us, His breath excruciating, till he gave up His Spirit. “It is finished.”

That same Jesus Christ, now risen, comforts us in our grief. Because He was obedient to death (Philippians 2:8), He opens the doorway to eternal life.

Watching Aunt Kay cross that threshold reminded me that Jesus redeems our suffering. When Jesus, with the Father's love, said yes to the cross, He opened our prison doors. When she said yes to Jesus’ love, she started becoming free. Thursday, when she left for Home, she was fully freed (John 14:1-6).

Eventually, we will box her belongings and sort though photographs and trinkets that were special to her. These photos of unknown people and places have little value to us: faded memories on faded paper. I keep remembering the old adage: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

I am very thoughtful these days, thinking of the withered grass image Psalm 90:5 uses. What’s the value in all her beautiful belongings? They too will be gone one day. I will too.

In Psalm 90:12 Moses prays:

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

It’s a good prayer.

For Your Consideration:

How can the light of eternity give you a fresh perspective?

What do your time and money say about your real values?

Will you take time for God’s love to satisfy and fill you with joy?
(See Psalm 90:14)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sarcasm or Sustenance?

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
Isa 50:4, NIV

Caustic by nature, I could burn with my words and, from my teen years, found myself praying over my heart and my speech. Under pressure I often failed to move beyond this natural inclination and, while I knew the explosions were unproductive, among my family I was not able to control them. They harmed the very people I most loved!

I would memorize Scriptures like, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3, NIV) and Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

But, despite my best efforts and prayers, I struggled with disappointment and failure. For me, it took more than memorization and recyled requests.

During Bible study one day, God used Ephesians 4:31 to poke a finger in my chest and gently inform me that I was to get rid of my “rage.”

I’d never thought of those outbursts as rage. Anger, yes: rage, no. That was too harsh.

That day, I got down on my knees, convicted by the Holy Spirit, and asked God to forgive me for “rage” that seemed to batter me. That divinely revealed label and my contrite response seemed to cut off the ill wind that sometimes blasted my precious children’s faces. God kindly revealed this word of truth, and I agreed with the diagnosis.

The Holy Spirit started sensitizing my heart to the underlying causes, and helped me release to Christ’s nail-pierced hands each frustration and hurtful childhood memory.

Many moons later and heart more whole, I pray with a different emphasis. While sarcasm is mainly a thing of the past, I still want my words to be pleasing to God. Now, I carefully listen for the Word's instruction. I lean on the strength and sustenance of His morning presence. Through the day, I check in frequently for God's voice. No need to resort to fruitless ways of speaking. God's soothing voice sustains.

For your consideration:

Might God be putting a finger on a displeasing habit of speech? What label would you use? What label might God use?

Are you willing to stay still with Ephesians 4:20-32 and listen for God’s insights?

Are you ready to comply with the Spirit’s diagnosis, and listen for Christ’s sustaining word to you?