Archive | July 2014

The touch of leather

And He reached out His hand and touched him.  Matthew 8:3

This post is dedicated to all my dear readers who understand the value of “stuff” that once belonged to a beloved someone we have been forced to say goodbye to, but keep them tucked forever in our hearts. Maybe you decorated the mantel or the shelves in a curio cabinet or keep their room just as they left it or you know where the boxes are stored. It matters. Their stuff matters. I have my son’s billfold. It represents his life.

Contents represents life

The pulse of life

I am drawn to leather ~ good quality leather with its rich aroma and  smooth touch. Lest this sound like a description of a leather skirt or pants, let me hasten to add that I would never qualify to wear leather on any place on my body other than my feet, but I love leather purses, leather Bibles, leather seats . . . and  my son’s leather billfold.

It’s just a thing. And not a very big thing, but it holds notes, a little money and his identity. Other than our photos, it is all that remains to remind me that my firstborn once had a life.

Just like mail. Does anyone get excited about getting mail? Remember the movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail”? Both could hardly wait to get home, hit the power button, wait for the computer to warm up and then the magical voice, “you’ve got mail!” Be it the rarity of snail mail or the frequency of tweets and texts, who does not relish the exchange of words with those we care about?

Mail, like my son’s billfold, contain words that imply life. He once had a very busy, fulfilling, successful life ~ or so we thought. He had an address where he got mail. After his death, all future mail was transferred to us and still it comes. The latest is a Subaru car sales advertisement ~ advertising their product, encouraging him to “come in and take a test-drive in the all-new 2014 Subaru Forester 2.OXT with a 250=hp turbocharged Subaru Boxer engine.”

Of course they have no idea that he is no longer on Earth’s radar screen, but for his mom it is a painful reminder that he is not here. I wish he were here and perhaps take a test drive and tell us all about the new Subaru, or share his excitement over new changes in his life fulfilling his dreams. But it’s not so. Like your precious person(s) you have lost to death, we wish they were still here with us enjoying life.

In our grief journey when we are able to process our child’s life, we realize that with hindsight comes clarity. We are unable to see the future or we would do everything in our power to keep every one of our children safe. But we have little foresight or I would have realized the amount of pain my son was carrying. Depression leads to bleakness and frantic darkness and excruciating pain of mind and heart. I can’t begin to comprehend what he went through before he made the decision which changed our lives forever.

My questions will get answered one day and so will yours. God has promised to wipe away all tears which suggests to me that he will reach out and touch our faces and wrap us in a hug for the first time. There will be conversation and explanations too, don’t you think? Perhaps when I see my son’s face with his cute grin and little chuckle I will forget I ever had questions. But for now all I have is a billfold to remind me of the years I had his sweet presence in my life. I would gladly trade a piece of leather for the touch of his hand . . . soon, may it be very soon.

He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. All of that has gone forever.  Revelation 21:4, TLB

Another fish story

This post is written in honor of my firstborn son who died way too soon at age 30. He was the angler in our home. My children were very young when introduced to the fine art of fishing for fun ~ catch and release. They got into it and made many canoe trips down lakes and rivers seeking the best and biggest fish for bragging rights. Maybe they will get to pick up where they left off in heaven.

After this, Jesus appeared once more to his disciples at the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Simon Peter said to the others, “I am going fishing.” “We will come with you,” they told him. So they went out in a boat, but all that night they did not catch a thing. John 21:1-3

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If someone were you ask you to give a physical description of Jesus’ appearance, how would you imagine him? Would you naturally go in your minds eye to the form of the typical Jesus? Isn’t he usually a baby in a manger with a sunbeam over his head, surrounded by parents and cattle? Or the figure of an emaciated Jesus suspended on a cross, with blood running down his side, deathly pale, gaunt, and with his eyes looking upward ?

I’m not condemning either picture, but could there be others? According to my reading of the Gospels Jesus had muscle. After all, didn’t he flip over tables sending coins tumbling and money changers scrambling? He showed his temper too didn’t he? Well, what about the possibility of a playful Jesus? Does that seem rather out of place? Do you think that he and his disciples ever had any laughs in the three years they were together? Just for fun let’s explore a fish story tucked inside the book of John in the Gospels. There were several fish stories, but let’s explore the one in John 21 and if you will allow a little imagination . . .

It was late. The sea of Tiberias (or Galilee) was as smooth as silk and it beckoned. It had been a rough few days and the boys were exhausted. Their Master had been tortured and executed by Crucifixion and they either watched or ran. They had left their livelihood and families behind to follow when He had invited. Apparently His mission had been accomplished and theirs would soon begin . . . without him. They needed some time to unwind. What better way than to go fishing?

“I’m going to take dad’s boat out and cast some nets. You in?” Peter tossed out the question as the guys polished off a late meal this moonlit night. “Yeah, let’s,” they chorused. Nothing like going fishing to clear your head. But other than some good conversation with intermittent dozing throughout the night the sea had kept her secret stash. They did not catch a single fish all night long. Bummer. Now it was dawn and muscles ached from being scrunched in tight positions; their bodies clamored for a good stretch. Perhaps it was time to pack it in.

Their whereabouts was not unknown to the beach comber on the shore. He was keeping an eye on his friends as he grilled breakfast. From the distance and in the foggy morning mist the guys saw a loner on the beach, but that was common. They didn’t suspect it was Jesus and he didn’t bother to clear their vision. He took pleasure in keeping his identity a secret for the moment.

Jesus had been turning the fish on the grill, but now he got to his feet and stretched. He thrust his hands deep into his jean pockets and watched his mates intently while chewing on a piece of dried reed. He knew they had caught nothing. Tossing the reed, he cupped his hands around his mouth and called out to the fisherman, “Catch anything?” Peter yelled back, “Naw. Lousy night.”

Jesus could have staged a show-stopping, pyrotechnic display to arrest their attention and fill the heavens but that was never his style. Not at birth and not now. Instead we see a side of Jesus probably only known to the disciples who were along side him day and night for three years. Because they recorded their stories in the Gospels we have snapshots of sometimes a playful Jesus. And here was one of those moments where Jesus let the drama play out, no doubt enjoying every second.

Now the beach comber hollered, “Why don’t you cast your nets on the right side?”    

 What? Who had said that to them before?  Who else could it be but their Lord! Smiles broke across their faces like the dawn. It’s Jesus! They hustled to cast the nets anticipating what would happen ~ just like old times. In seconds the nets were bursting with a writhing catch. With biceps bulging and backs straining they hauled the catch into the boat and before it could sink and they lost it all, they headed for shore. Of course, impatient Peter couldn’t wait that long so pulling on his clothes he dove in and swam to shore. Dragging his soggy body unto the beach, he grabbed Jesus in a wet bear hug. Can you picture it?

The rest of the disciples pulled the boat up on shore. They’d take the count later. Their bellies were empty and the smell of grilling fish hit their noses. Yum. Breakfast fit for a king and cooked to perfection by the King! How wonderful to see their Master again. They all grasped him in bear hugs. This was the third surprise visit since his resurrection and they loved it. Perhaps still not fully comprehending all that had taken place they were learning they could trust Jesus completely.                                                   

With bellies full, they relaxed around the fire ~ sometimes chatter ~ sometimes silent in private thoughts. The boys knew Jesus would soon return to heaven to carry out his work from there while they took up the mantle and carried the Good News far and wide. They had gotten to know Jesus and by knowing him, they met his Dad, for Jesus had said,  If you have known me, you will also know my Father. From now on you know him through me and have seen him in me.” John 14:7, GW

Thoughts for this story came from “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredge. It is a wonderful book about the unexpected, playful, light-hearted Jesus. It’s so human, to real, so not religious; a far cry from the serious, stoic Jesus we usually read about. I can’t do this story justice, but if it creates in you a thirst for more, you won’t be disappointed.

We can add one more tidbit to this playful side of Jesus. Fishermen do not dally when hauling their catch to shore. You can’t sell stinky fish, so the boys knew they had delayed this chore long enough. “We’d better get the catch counted, boys,” one of them stated. “Yeah,” called another, “we’d better,” as they unwound their bodies and got to their feet.

Jesus spoke up softly, “There are one hundred and fifty-three.” Oh, yeah. Right. We have Jesus with us. No need to count this catch. There had to be high fives, back slaps and grins all around.

They were a band of brothers who personally knew the King.

*  *  *

“Cast your net with all the might of your faith into the waters of His will. Send it deep into the sea of His promises, into the waters of His abundance, into the depths of His supply. As you do, you will gather ~ more wonders than you have ever seen, more surprises than you can ever imagine, more blessings than you can ever hold.”    ~Roy Lessin

 

This entry was posted on July 18, 2014. 4 Comments

Baby Laughter

Is anything too hard for the Lord?  Genesis 18:14

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Sarah shall bear you a son; and you are to name him Isaac [he laughs].  Genesis 17:19

Isaac was a darling baby boy. His name was extra special because God chose his name. Mom and Dad didn’t care ~ they were still too stunned at the very prospect of having a baby of their own. He would be their only child together. But let’s drop back and pick up the story.

How in the world could a baby be conceived at their age? They were dumbfounded at the news even though it had been hand-delivered from heaven. Sitting at her kitchen table Sarah could hear the conversation outside around the camp fire. With just animal skins separating her from the conversation, she could clearly hear what was being said. So startled and probably in denial she laughed. I probably would have too, to be honest. After all Sarah was no spring chicken.

The Bible tells us in Genesis that Sarah was 90 and her husband 99 years of age when it was announced that they were finally to be parents. Long before, God had told Abraham that he would have so many descendants that they would resemble grains of sand on the seashore. At that point they were both young and full of life so the thought of being parents “soon” filled them with joy. But the joy began to evaporate as the years rolled by.

Can you picture yourself pregnant at the age of 90? Stooped, wrinkled and tottery, Sarah was about to trade in her walker for a stroller and deliver her child on the geriatric ward. How absurd! Paparazzi would be camped outside the hospital for days in advance and the story would fill the tabloids with book and movie deals in the works. What a picture!

I would imagine it took these soon-to-be parents time to adjust to the news long after their visitors left. Laughter. His name would be Isaac which means laughter. God knew their reaction and that Sarah would laugh. Perhaps there is a connection? At any rate they would never forget this day or the ones to follow ~ providing Alzheimer’s Disease did not sneak up on them, but the Bible records the story as it unfolds.

I did not pick out baby names based on the origin, did you? Back in those days, they did. I have since looked up the meaning of the names of my children and it is something to ponder.

This story may be humorless for you today. You may be too close to loss to be impacted by humor. I understand. I look back to a time when I could not listen to music or had any thoughts or pictures in my mind that weren’t laced with bitterness and pain. If you are there, I am so sorry for your suffering. We have a time of it, don’t we? But if my journey mirrors yours I can tell you that time ~ lots of time ~ will eventually bring back some sweetness to soften the bitter edges of your life. I think tragedy is forever bittersweet; I suspect it is a given, but time helps us focus on the bigger picture. Somehow we go on. We travel with those who have similar experiences and we lean on the Lord for strength if you include Him in your life.

Perhaps an important point of this treasured story is that Abraham and Sarah had given up. They had lost all hope of becoming parents and even thought to take the matter into their own hands instead of waiting on God to deliver on His promise. You can read the interesting twists in this “soap opera” story. It’s a page turner. But God never promises what He can’t deliver. When it became obvious that conception would be a miracle God stepped in and the impossible becomes possible, right on time. Baby Isaac was a miracle baby. I am sure his parents often told him about his beginnings and his story was recorded for all of us to read and be reminded that we never give up on God, but instead cling to His promises of hope.

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!  Psalm 31:24, AMP

 

What is Truth?

 Pilate said to Him, “So You are a King?” Jesus said, “You are right when you say that I am a King. I was born for this reason. I came into the world for this reason. I came to speak about the truth.”

Pilate said to Jesus, “What is truth?” After Pilate said this, he went out . . .   John 18:37-38

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Has anyone ever asked you this question: “What is truth?” Did you have an answer on the tip of your tongue or would you have to ponder the concept? It is, perhaps, a question that is a bit overwhelming?

Pilot had the Son of God standing before him ~ in his very presence ~ the most important event in his life ~ and he missed it. Nothing before or after could ever compare to this one defining, shining moment and he missed it. In fact, he turned his back on his Creator and walked away as if he, himself, had all the knowledge he needed to know. In his arrogance nothing else existed. He also ignored his wife’s plea, did he not?

Do I do that too . . . walk away from Truth? Am I afraid of what I might hear? Do I already know my truth and don’t need to hear something different? Is the concept something to be doubted or feared? Take a deep breath and read on . . .

“As God’s child there is nothing in the Truth of God to depress you, defeat you, discourage you, or deflate you. The Truth will build you up, lift you up, and keep you up. The Truth has come to deliver you, free you, heal you, restore you, refresh you, revive you, and renew you. Truth brings you the light of God, the wisdom of God, the ways of God, the plan of God, and the heart of God.

Truth is the belt that is tied around your spiritual armor to keep it in place

Truth is the revelation of true goodness that draws your heart to the Father’s love

Truth is the burning lamp that guides your feet on your pilgrim’s journey

Truth is the plumb line of righteousness that directs your obedience

Truth is the foundation of your faith and the road map that leads you through the gates of salvation

Truth is the light in your spirit that brings you into worship and wonder

Truth is the mirror that your soul gazes into as you are beautified in His holiness

Truth is the light of God that overcomes the darkness of every lie that seeks to rob you of your peace, steal your joy, and smother your faith.

*    When the lie says, “God is not interested in you,” Truth says, “Cast all your cares upon Me, for I care for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

*    When the lie says, “God is against you,” Truth says, “Because God is for you, no one can be against you.”  Romans 8:31

*    When the lie says, “How could God love someone like you?” Truth says, “God loves you with an everlasting love.”  Jeremiah 31:3

Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.  John 8:32

~Shared from Today is Your Best Day by Roy Lessin