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Tuesday thoughts

A text on a Sunday morning, read between band practice and the beginning of service, sets my head to spinning. Someone is in the hospital. It’s serious.

Sweet William and I go as soon as we can. We see the grave faces of the family, observe the mechanics of the ICU room, and gaze upon the stillness of our friend.

There is nothing we can do but offer love and prayer and our presence.

By the next morning, I hear of his passing. Another death in so few months. And I am broken open by a broken world where death comes without warning and life feels too short. I wonder how I am to live with the reality that all of us face the same end?

What is life about here on an earth that groans with its own longing as if in the pains of childbirth? I groan with it, eagerly waiting for the perfection of all things when tears will be wiped away forever.

I experience what is common to all. Birth. Death. And in between are a multitude of experiences, joyous as well as heart-rending. What is the purpose?

I’m full of questions without answers.

I remember Paul’s words how the resurrection of Christ is our hope in a world of hurt. If we do not know that reality, we live in misery, without expecting anything better. We live futilely looking for meaning when there is sickness, pain, and death all around.

While living is radiant, joyous, abounding in good things, gifts from a benevolent God, there is the harsh reality of suffering and we are left wondering. In our hearts we know it isn’t supposed to be this way. We feel the call to the flawless Eden when God made everything and called it good, very good.

So we exist in the in-between of Eden and Heaven, with eternity set in our hearts drawing us to a higher and better place, where beauty exceeds our imaginations, where music is more splendid than we’ve ever heard, where suffering no longer exists and love permeates everything with an eternal light.

We wait for that glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. We wait for all things to be fulfilled as God has ordained. The plan is beyond me. I cannot fathom in my finite mind what He is doing. But I know without a doubt He is working all things according to His excellent plan, and I rejoice and find comfort that I am part of His plan.

Until I understand more, I am told to trust. Believe. See His glory. Even when it is shrouded by a cloud of darkness and I tremble to approach. God dwells in light but He is also in our darkest nights. He never leaves us in our heartbroken estate. He is with us even then.

Yes, even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, again and again, I know my Good Shepherd will be with me. I do not need to be afraid.

I look upward to the heavens, watch the clouds begin to mist away as blue sky appears. Even the blackest of night gives way to dawn’s radiance.

The morning will come. And it will be magnificently triumphant.

Photo by MaRanda Green

Sunday grace

My friend texted me late last night: “Karen left this world at 6:50 pm tonight.”

Karen, a woman who has battled cancer that ravished her once healthy body, left this world of pain and suffering. Karen left this world and went Home.

There’s no place like home. I look forward to coming home at the Wright House. The old and familiar things comfort me with memories. I recall family and friends gathered at the table, filling the rooms with their sweet presence.

We’ve fought battles here and shed tears. We’ve bent over in laughter and shared joy and victories. We’ve found comfort in each other’s embrace here and weathered storms as we prayed for peace. Here at home is where we built our lives.

Home is where my people are.

Paul describes it so eloquently: Being absent from this body is to be present with the Lord. This is our true home. To be with Jesus will be home like no other place I’ve ever dwelled.

The tribulation and trial that are part and parcel of this earthly existence will fade away. No more suffering. No more weaping. No more death. God Himself will wipe away our tears.

As the years add up, I find myself longing for home more and more. I see that this life is temporary, that my body is aging, that I am susceptible to ailments and pain. I look forward to corruptible putting on incorruptible. When perishable will put on imperishable.  Life will swallow up death.

And I will be Home. In Heaven. With Jesus.

I will hear the familiar words I am longing for, “Welcome Home.” And I’ll run into my Savior’s arms.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

Oh death where is your victory?

grave stone

Sad stories have grieved me this week. A life that seems too young was cut short. A husband whose age is too close for comfort received a dark diagnoses. A woman we visited less than a week ago, who smiled and talked about getting stronger, is suddenly gone.

Life is uncertain and death is appointed for everyone. The grave stings our hearts as we lay loved ones in the ground.

But for those in Christ Jesus, swimming in the rivers of His grace, death leads to life as surely as night gives way to day. And none of us left wiping away tears can even fathom the glory.

Eyes have not beheld it.  Ears have not heard the full story.  The full beauty and mystery of Heaven cannot be imagined.

We see through a darkened glass. A veil masks our vision. The unknown remains unknown until the day of our departure arrives. We wonder while we wait.

But we wait with hope. We anticipate our faith becoming sight. Tears will be wiped away. Pain will be erased. The Presence will be the light we crave. And we shall see Him as He is.

Jesus’ face will satisfy our questions. And it will be enough.

Sunday grace.

Sunset in Destin

 

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Saturday thoughts

On a snowy day when thoughts of staying warm and safe are primary, I have extra time to sit quietly and peruse some of my favorite books.

Let me share a good read with you this morning.

“We are not citizens of this world trying to make our way to Heaven; we are citizens of Heaven trying to make our way through this world.

That radical Christian insight can be life-changing.  We are not to live so as to earn God’s love, inherit Heaven, and purchase our salvation.

All those are given to us as gifts; gifts bought by Jesus on the cross and handed over to us. We are to live as God’s redeemed, as heirs of Heaven, and as citizens of another land; the Kingom of God . . .

We live as those who are on a journey home; a home we know will have the lights on and the door open and our Father waiting for us when we arrive.  That means in all adversity our worship of God is joyful, our life is hopeful, our future is secure.  There is nothing we can lose on earth that can rob us of the treasures God has given us and will give us.”

— The Landisfarne, via The Anglican Digest (from Patches of Godlight by Jan Karon)

This world is not our home friends.  No wonder we don’t feel comfortable here.  We look for a city not built by hands, but we look for one prepared for us by God our Father himself.

Travel on.  Be strong and courageous.  Walk with your eyes looking heavenward.  The end will be better than the beginning.

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winter 9

Photos by Elena Walls