Who Cares about Jesus at Christmas?

Christmas traditions have changed over the years. Perhaps they’ve always been changing, and it’s only lately that I’ve noticed!

As a child, I lived in a street where most of the people went to church, and believed in the story of the wise men and the shepherds who came to worship the baby Jesus. I wonder what response I’d get now, if I were to call on every home in our street and ask the occupants to tell me their beliefs about Christmas. Would they even be thinking about Jesus at this time, let alone pondering the miracle of a virgin birth? Or do they celebrate the festival at all?

I’ve always enjoyed receiving Christmas cards from friends, and displaying them with the manger scene every December, but now most of us send our greetings in an email. In this way we learn how all our friends and their families are faring, and look forward to seeing the digital photos of aging faces in faraway places. Other people seem so busy catching up on gift-buying, or parties with their favourite groups, that they don’t have time left for meditating on this important event. There are holiday preparations, and the rush to organise their Christmas meal. It makes me feel tired, just thinking about it!

My mind goes back to the angels who appeared at the time of Jesus’ birth; they had an assignment to visit a paddock on the outskirts of Bethlehem. I’m sure they were excited to join the event that would change the world forever. Their message to the shepherds who were watching their sheep that night, was: Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God ~ Luke 2:14

These words introduced a new concept: heaven and earth were about to be delivered as one package, and it was good news! This was the mystery that had been revealed to the ancient prophets down through the ages and now it was actually happening! Amazing! Glorious! Wonderful! Who would have believed that God would choose this way to bring his joyful home into the lives of all mankind?

Who but God would show such wisdom;

by His Love would heal the rift

‘tween mankind and His own Kingdom?

Gave a Babe ~ Himself the Gift!

~Lyn Thiele

Nowadays we can read how his mother, Mary, responded to this unique event, and how her fiance made the most difficult choice of his life to marry her. We can also read the reaction of Simon in the Temple, and Anna, the old woman there, who were thrilled to see the baby. We know the cruel act of the king who hated him. All these stories spread around the Roman territory of Israel and eventually made their way into our Bible. But we have no report on the thoughts of the baby who had to make the journey, first from heaven, then from the womb, a short distance into the world: the world he’d created!

However, there is a record of the state of mind of that Person who became our Saviour. It’s found in a letter written by the Christian missionary, Paul, to the Philippian church.

Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. Instead he gave up everything and became a slave when he became like one of us. Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. Then God gave him the highest place and honoured his name above all others ~ Philippians 2: 6-9

If I knocked at your door today, could you tell me what you believe about Jesus Christ?

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Two Lost Sheep

An incident, two actually, happened in the Salvation Army Opportunity Shop the other day. I was walking between the racks of pre-loved clothing, and saw a little two-year-old boy, crying and rushing through the aisles. Earlier, I’d noticed him in his mother’s arms, and now, he couldn’t find her!

I offered my hand, but he took off in the opposite direction. I thought his mother might be up that way, so followed him, and there she was in the distance, coming towards us. She said nothing to me, but he ran to her and I went back to my shopping.

But not for long. Another child, a girl about four years of age, hurried past me; she was weeping miserably. I asked, ‘Are you looking for your Mummy?’ but she kept crying. Soon her mother appeared around a rack of children’s clothing and said to me, ‘I was just about to start panicking!’ She turned to her daughter, ‘You were supposed to stay over there and play with the toys!’ She looked at me with a sigh. It can happen so quickly.

I said, ‘My daughter was lost in a store once. I was so relieved to find her! Afterwards, I told her, “If you’re ever lost in a shop, just stand still. If you’re looking for me, I’m sure to be looking for you!”‘

I hope this encouraged the young mother, who smiled and said to her child, ‘Say thank you to the kind lady’. The little girl stared at me, a bit overwhelmed, I suppose, and relieved to be ‘found’. It’s so scary for a lost child.

I didn’t mention what else I’d told my perceptive young daughter all those years ago. ‘It’s just like Jesus’, I explained to her. ‘He’s always looking for us if we’re lost. If we keep still, and wait, He’ll find us’. She probably remembers that advice to this very day!

I think you can guess what these incidents brought to my mind? Yes, it’s the story Jesus told about the owner of one hundred sheep. He counted them in their pen, and was dismayed to discover there was one missing! So he left the ninety-nine safe sheep, and went out to search for the lost one until he found it!

Jesus explained to his listeners that he was their Good Shepherd, so good that he would soon give his life for them because he wanted them all to live with him in heaven forever. He’s our Good Shepherd too, and wants to find every lost ‘sheep’ who is longing for a safe place. He’s always searching for them.

Both of those children were disoriented and heading away from their parent! Is this what we sometimes do when God’s wanting to find us? Have we already tried other comforts, or remedies for our troubles, instead of him? Or perhaps we’ve forgotten that we really belong with him in the safe ‘sheep-pen?’ And some people don’t even know there is a Good Shepherd who wants to bring them to safety, and who loves them dearly.

One time, long ago, God had a special message for his people when they were in danger, and Moses, the shepherd who’d been given the responsibility for them, spoke these words:

Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see what the Lord will do to save you today … Then he added, The Lord will fight for you, and all you have to do is keep still ~ Exodus 14:13-14 ~ The Good News Translation.

God did it! He performed a miracle! And he has more miracles he wants to do.

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Hanging On to Things

We have one skinny Bobie Bobie tree in our garden. It’s a rare variegated Australian one. We’re hoping it will eventually cover some of the dull paling fence outside our bedroom window. Another name for it is Phebalium squameum variegatum, but its botanical name is Nematolepis squamea. That’s your botany lesson for today! 

In our previous garden we had twenty of these attractive trees, forming two hedges at right angles to each other. Here they are. They had a special purpose.

Before the new buyers moved in, they paid us an early visit. As we stood among the fruit trees, the lady asked, ‘Do you have these hedges to keep the wind out?’ ‘Yes’, I replied, ‘it gets very blowy up here’.

Our home was on top of a steep hill, so you can imagine how exposed the garden was. One day the sweetcorn plants bowed before the wind until they lay prostrate on the ground! Two days later, before we could remedy their reclining sprawl, another big blow came from the opposite direction and restored them to their normal upright stance, but we couldn’t rely on that happening on cue!

A few years after we shifted, we heard the property was on the market again, so we checked it online. Most of those variegated trees had been removed! What remained of the orchard was open to the winds. Here’s the new look! Each phebalium would have been worth many dollars. They’re difficult to propagate, and Australian native plants don’t like to be moved, otherwise they could have been sold. There aren’t many of these particular trees available, even in the specialist Australian Plant nurseries.

I know that once a place is sold, the new people own it, and can do what they like with it. We did something similar in our new garden when we removed a lot of spikey-looking plants, and replaced them with softer foliage. But I did feel a bit sad for those phebaliums. They tried hard to grow and now they’re gone.

I wondered about my attitude to this. I could just forget it, but maybe there was a lesson I could learn? God will use our experiences to teach us an important life-truth … if we’ll listen. And sure enough, He reminded me of something I’d read many years before – in about 1960!  It may have been in Isobel Kuhn’s autobiographical book, By Searching, but lately I’d read the incident again; she repeated it in the continuation of her story – In the Arena. It’s about hanging onto things.

Isobel was a missionary to China, and was given this advice by a fellow Christian: ‘Keep your treasures on the open palm of your hand. If you hold something tight-clenched in your fist, God may have to hurt you in order to open your fingers and take it from you. But if it is offered on the open palm of your hand, you will hardly know when it is gone.’

I’m not sure that God wants to hurt us; we’re probably doing it to ourselves! But it’s an interesting illustration. I’d actually recalled this quote in a slightly different way. What I remember of it was that ‘our treasures will be crushed if we grasp them too tightly in our hand, and then they’re no use’. Over the years, I’ve applied it many times in that way. I’ve even repeated it to other people in ‘my’ version!

I pray I’ll always remember to keep my treasures on an open palm and allow God to take them if he wants to. Alternatively, he may leave them there for me to share!

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Steps for Old Bones

Ever since I broke my hip five years ago, I’ve been careful to watch my steps (see my Blog Post from May 2015 – Everyday Things). It was no fun to hit the floor and be unable to stand up again. They say the ‘fear of falling’ contributes to many of these accidents, so I remind myself to trust the Lord to keep me upright. I’m so grateful for his guiding arm.

Today I’d like to tell you about the latest Culture Night at our church. Last Sunday we were privileged to learn some of the traditions and worship customs of the Philippines. There were songs, dances, food, an informative video about the nation – and a quiz to see how much of it we’d absorbed! Not a lot, on my part, but I did remember that there are over 230,000 people from the Philippines living in Australia. And, we had great fellowship; Filipinos are beautiful fun-loving people.

At the end of the evening, there was something I’d been eagerly anticipating: a Tinikling Dance performed by the young ones. They’re so clever. It’s amazing how they step between the moving bamboo sticks that are operated by a couple of people on the floor. I’m sure they must listen carefully to the background music. I noticed it was in 3/4 time and the click of the sticks would accentuate this for the dancers.

The traditional Tinikling Dance has gained popularity around the world, particularly in America. You can see YouTube videos of competitions, and the participants look so confident and carefree. I always love to watch them hopping and stepping over the sticks and coordinating with their partners in the routine that seems to come so easily. This time, once the dancers had finished, a few people from the congregation went up on the stage to have a go! We laughed at their wobbly efforts. A couple nearly fell, and had to retire sheepishly! But I can’t criticise them – I’d do worse!

I don’t know if the Filipino people often do the Tinikling Dance at home, or whether they’d practiced some new moves for our benefit, but I could see that they really enjoyed it. And so did we! I knew I’d never be able to get up there and join them; it was too complicated for me, and I thought my old bones mightn’t tolerate such harsh treatment!

That night, as I lay in bed, I thought about the whole dance routine and wondered how it operated. I should have asked the experts, but they were also in bed now, recovering from their exertions; those dances went for a long time. So I had to rely on my own guesswork. Did the music set the pace; were the steps pre-planned? Who followed who, and how did they know when to stop? I’m still wondering! But with my mind running along these paths, I soon recalled the scripture verse which says: 

      The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord  ~  Psalm 37: 23.

This is from one of King David’s psalms, written when he was an old man – with old bones! Although I’d often heard these words, it was fresh once again, especially in a modern version. A few questions still arose in my mind about their meaning, and I wasn’t sure I knew all the answers, but the next words were an encouragement for a lady with vintage femurs.

If they fall, they will not stay down because the Lord will help them up ~ Psalm 37: 24.

So I’m happy to watch, and content that I can still walk well. I know God is helping me every day.

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Keeping It Looking Loved

‘You’ve got the cleanest rubbish bins in the whole of the city’.

The Council employee grinned at the elderly lady as he replaced her bins on the nature-strip, and pressed the lids down. The big truck clattered behind them while the other workers emptied the bins from the opposite side of the normally quiet street.

Yes, my mother had a reputation to keep! Every week, she scrubbed her two small metal bins, placed any leftover meat bones in used cream containers with their lids firmly on, and wrapped all her other rubbish before placing it in the bins. It was a matter of importance to her. Garbage collection is different these days, with huge trucks and several types of bins: recycling, garden waste and everyday household rubbish.

My Dad had found those two bins somewhere and brought them home. He was the kind of person who patronised the Railway auctions. I had a small black umbrella from the same sale rooms. It fitted perfectly in my school case, which also came from there; likewise my tennis racket. I think my brothers’ push-bikes originated there. Why waste good things when you can paint them and save money? Someone had left them behind on the train and never enquired about them again. 

Mum also swept up the autumn leaves from the footpaths in the next street. The neighbours appreciated her thoughtfulness. It’s amazing how some people prefer a clean environment and others couldn’t care less. She was also afraid that someone (perhaps herself!) might slip on those damp oak leaves. It was easier for the sun to dry the paths without the slimy leaf litter.     

Recently one of our pastors spoke about the way the church property occasionally has rubbish lying around under bushes, and in the carpark. She asked the congregation, ‘Do you pick up papers when you see them on the church grounds?’ When no-one replied, she went on to say, ‘This property belongs to us all, and we should look after it’.

I glanced at my husband. He always picks up papers, lolly-wrappers, cans, and even tissues. Although I remind him to wash his hands afterwards, he takes no notice! He doesn’t like the church garden looking messy after he’s worked hard in it, raking up leaves and trimming the trees. The pastor also has a gardener’s heart and knows how much work goes into keeping it looking loved.

When I walked to the shops this morning, I noticed the papers, bottles, plastic bags and other rubbish scattered among the shrubbery. I wondered, ‘ Why don’t people use a bin or take it home?’ If I were younger, I’d pick them up myself. 

Here’s something relevant I read in the Bible. If you’re one of those who litter, maybe you’ll ignore it, but if you care about the world we all live in, please take notice. 

           It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy – 1 Corinthians 4:2.

Many people worry about rubbish in the environment, but how many also concern themselves with spiritual pollution in our world?  That inner kind of filth is worse than papers in the bushes. We’ve been left in charge of the earth, and as much as we’re able, we’ll be wise to look after it. But are we contributing to the spread of evil principles? Are we speaking out against them? Or do we just let it slide? Do we teach our children to honour holiness by setting a good example for them and their friends? What kind of stewards are we? And are we loving the ‘inner earth’ and its people as God expects?

 

 

 

 

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Be Ready! Don’t Miss the Connections!

Last Sunday morning, after checking my emails, I saw the time on my computer – 9.30 am. I realised it was getting late, so I shut down while my husband headed to his den to pray. ‘It’s a quarter to ten’, I called. ‘No’, he said, ‘it’s only eight-forty-five’. He must know, I thought, and went for my shower.

We were taking our Samaritan’s Purse boxes to church that day. I had them ready on the kitchen bench; we planned to leave early. I was looking forward to seeing all the children carrying them down the aisles to the platform where they’d be built into two pyramids against the walls. It’s always a moving sight each year as the little ones, in their Sunday best, smile at their parents in the congregation. Our church was aiming for 1000 boxes this year. Operation Christmas Child is a great cause for needy children all over the world.

Anyway, once we were ready, Maurie carried our contributions out to the car. As we drove down the highway, I said, ‘It’s a warm day; the first Sunday of October’.

We turned into the church carpark and Maurie said, ‘There are a lot of cars here this morning!’ I wondered if some of the South Sudanese Church people had joined us for the service. But Maurie said, ‘I don’t think they’re using our facilities anymore’.

When we arrived at the doors, I hopped out to find someone to help us carry all the boxes in. We mustn’t be late. But there were no greeters; no-one at the information desk, and the music coming from the main auditorium sounded as if the service had already begun! I went in, and a helper offered advice on where to sit. There was a single seat, but we’d need two, and they were difficult to find. We like to sit near the front so we can feel more involved. While Maurie sorted the boxes, I eventually found a couple of seats in the second row beside one of the young mothers. I whispered to her, ‘We’re an hour late!’

‘It’s Daylight Saving’. She smiled and added, ‘We wouldn’t have known either, if our phones hadn’t told us!’

Oh dear, how embarrassing! I wondered if anyone would think we were getting old and forgetful! Well, they’d be right on both counts. But at our age, they’d surely be wondering about us now…!

Later we went back over our morning: how I’d told Maurie the correct time, and never even guessed it might be the day after we should have put our clocks forward. Neither did I connect it with what I’d said about the first Sunday of October! Or the hour late, the crowded carpark, the music, and the empty entrance! Even when we saw the pastor speaking on the screen in the foyer, we still didn’t make the connection!

And we’d missed the children! Now they were sitting with their parents and the service was continuing while we looked at our watches, only just aware that we’d forgotten something important! Well, we weren’t too late for the Offering, and we hadn’t missed the Sermon, which was brilliant. We couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves!

I thought about it all later and was reminded of what is going to happen one day when Jesus comes back for his own people. We know it’ll happen, but we don’t know when. We mustn’t miss Jesus’ reminders! We need to be ready, expectant, waiting for him to gather us up. There’ll be no saving of daylight then. Heaven will be shining with the light of God!

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Be Ready! Don’t Miss the Connections!

Last Sunday morning, after checking my emails, I saw the time on my computer – 9.30 am. I realised it was getting late, so I shut down while my husband headed to his den to pray. ‘It’s a quarter to ten’, I called. ‘No’, he said, ‘it’s only eight-forty-five’. He must know, I thought, and went for my shower.

We were taking our Samaritan’s Purse boxes to church that day. I had them ready on the kitchen bench; we planned to leave early. I was looking forward to seeing all the children carrying them down the aisles to the platform where they’d be built into two pyramids against the walls. It’s always a moving sight each year as the little ones, in their Sunday best, smile at their parents in the congregation. Our church was aiming for 1000 boxes this year. Operation Christmas Child is a great cause for needy children all over the world.

Anyway, once we were ready, Maurie carried our contributions out to the car. As we drove down the highway, I said, ‘It’s a warm day; the first Sunday of October’.

We turned into the church carpark and Maurie said, ‘There are a lot of cars here this morning!’ I wondered if some of the South Sudanese Church people had joined us for the service. But Maurie said, ‘I don’t think they’re using our facilities anymore’.

When we arrived at the doors, I hopped out to find someone to help us carry all the boxes in. We mustn’t be late. But there were no greeters; no-one at the information desk, and the music coming from the main auditorium sounded as if the service had already begun! I went in, and a helper offered advice on where to sit. There was a single seat, but we’d need two, and they were difficult to find. We like to sit near the front so we can feel more involved. While Maurie sorted the boxes, I eventually found a couple of seats in the second row beside one of the young mothers. I whispered to her, ‘We’re an hour late!’

‘It’s Daylight Saving’. She smiled and added, ‘We wouldn’t have known either, if our phones hadn’t told us!’

Oh dear, how embarrassing! I wondered if anyone would think we were getting old and forgetful! Well, they’d be right on both counts. But at our age, they’d surely be wondering about us now…!

Later we went back over our morning: how I’d told Maurie the correct time, and never even guessed it might be the day after we should have put our clocks forward. Neither did I connect it with what I’d said about the first Sunday of October! Or the hour late, the crowded carpark, the music, and the empty entrance! Even when we saw the pastor speaking on the screen in the foyer, we still didn’t make the connection!

And we’d missed the children! Now they were sitting with their parents and the service was continuing while we looked at our watches, only just aware that we’d forgotten something important! Well, we weren’t too late for the Offering, and we hadn’t missed the Sermon, which was brilliant. We couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves!

I thought about it all later and was reminded of what is going to happen one day when Jesus comes back for his own people. We know it’ll happen, but we don’t know when. We mustn’t miss Jesus’ reminders! We need to be ready, expectant, waiting for him to gather us up. There’ll be no saving of daylight then. Heaven will be shining with the light of God!

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A Premature Addition

As I begin to write this post today, I realise it’s the date that was originally set for the birth of our newest family member. But we didn’t expect him to arrive at 30 weeks! Very small, very lightweight, but very welcome!

When I think of his unexpectedly early entry into the world, I’m reminded of a list that King Solomon of Israel made centuries ago. There is a time for everything, he began. And then he added some other well-known words, the first of which were: There’s a time to be born … (Ecclesiastes 3:2).

God knows when things are going to happen and I’m sure he wasn’t caught napping with the timing of Zachary’s birth! That tiny baby arrived in July and he’s been developing his unique personality ever since. When we heard he’d been born, how excited we were!

Naturally, none of us would have chosen such a premature arrival. If we’d had a choice, what would we have decided was best for him and his parents, grand-parents and the rest of us, including his great-grandparents – Maurie and me?! I think a baby born at full-term would have much better prospects of survival than one who came with incompletely developed organs. But with constant care, lots of love, and many prayers, this dear little fellow’s been growing bigger and stronger every day. I was thrilled to know that his name is a derivative of Zachariah, a Hebrew name which means The Lord remembered.

Actually we didn’t have a choice about the date of his birth. He was born when he should have been!  He’s here, and we’re so happy! He quickly grew into size 6×0 clothes, then just as speedily grew out of them, when he fitted into the 5×0 ones! For a baby who only weighed 1449 grams at birth, he’s been doing well! (That’s just under 3 pounds 3 ounces!)

While he stayed in the hospital, his mother had to travel the long distance to and from their home to take milk for him and give him lots of ‘kangaroo care’. Babies thrive on skin-to-skin touch and fathers can also tuck their baby down inside their shirt. This provides both physiological and psychological benefits for both parents and their baby.

Now look at this photo of him. At last – no feeding tube!

By the time you read this, Zachary will be just over ten weeks old. He’s home, gaining weight, and experiencing the privileges of family life with his brother, James. The future lies ahead, with all the wonderful blessings that God has in store. I may see his adulthood – if I live that long! But others will be there to prepare him for a good life; to be a kind, loving, gentle man who’ll eventually be able to  create a safe home for his own family.

Today I’m up-dating this with a couple of other photos. James is so proud that he’s able to hold Zac by himself. What fun they’ll have together as time goes by!

And here’s Zac at ten weeks. He weighs 2890 grams (6 lb 6 oz) – almost double his birth weight.  He’s now wearing size 4×0 garments! 

I recall the nighties and dresses (!) my mother made for our first son. White, cream, and pale blue were the usual colour choices for baby boys then, and now look at these smart clothes!  Much more cosy and interesting for such a bright-eyed boy.

The first time I held Zachary in my arms, I looked down and whispered a prayer for him. ‘God bless you, dear little boy’. Imagine my joy when he responded with a smile!

I love you, Zac.

 

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Thinking about Heaven

Lately I’ve been wondering about heaven. Some people have great confidence in their ideas on the way it will be: who we’ll know there, what we’ll do, and how we’ll feel. But I’m not so sure about some of those details.

Nevertheless we are encouraged to hope. I hope to meet my son who died as a baby. I know God loves little children and wants them there with him. Will my child be an adult when I arrive, and how will I know him? I almost wrote ‘recognise him’ there, but I don’t think we’ll need that kind of knowing in heaven. We’ll have fresh understanding-ness in our new bodies.

That’s another thing – some of us are ready to be done with these old bodies – well, not quite yet, but we know they won’t last forever. Anyway, it means we’ll be continuing on with the eternal life we’ve already started because our spirit never dies. I’m expecting family and friends to be there – all those precious ones who believe that Jesus died for them.

Some of us were discussing this topic last week – mainly the things we need to finalise before we go! An Advanced Care Directive, for instance, is recommended. Some relatives have already organised a series of old photos to be shown at their funeral, or made sure that a responsible person knows where all their important forms are stored, and where they’d like their valuables to go. None of us want to cause extra work for our family at a time when they’ll have a lot going on.

I want my funeral to include times of joy! I won’t be there, so my wishes for the ‘last rites’ might seem unimportant, but it could be the final opportunity I have to remind everyone that I love them. So how I’ve lived here now will be the determining factor in all of this.

As I’ve meditated on these topics – mostly at night when I’m gathering up all my old thoughts from over the years – it’s been more of a ramble as I go from one thing to another. I talk to the Lord about it, remember stories from the Bible, and recall the teachings I’ve heard about death and the kingdom of God. I have a lot of info stored away! However I’ll probably be surprised at what happens and what I see and hear after I’ve moved on from here!

I think of heaven as a different dimension, rather than a place. An experience; nothing like a palace. Values are deeper, richer, there. I’m sure it will all be good. We certainly won’t be disappointed.

There are many who say they’ve been to heaven and returned to earth. I’m only interested in the words God says about it. He’s the expert! And if we’re used to talking to him here, the conversation will continue.

Scholars have written reams about death, heaven, and the kingdom of God – his home. I’ll never be able to compete with the experts! So if you were expecting some big answers from me, I apologise for a slight lack of information! But if we look carefully, the Bible has some answers for us. Here’s one definite truth: Jesus believed in eternal life.

He promised: ‘After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am’  ~ John 14: 3.

He’s getting it ready for us! What better place could we ever find? Being with him is heaven, regardless. And I want to be there with him, don’t you?

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Let’s Be Ourselves!

Many times I come to write a Post on here and cannot decide on the words, or even the topic. It’s hard to know where to start and what to say. I need my One Star Picket to lean on, as today I feel empty, yet full. 

During this past week a friend of mine lay dying in a palliative care unit. Her family knew that in a few days she’d be called away to meet her Lord. We prayed for them and especially for her husband. Now he’s alone with his memories of their life together. Now he knows the answer to the question many couples ask as they approach the later years of their marriage: ‘Which of us will be the first to go?’  

We went to Thelma’s funeral and listened while her children, her grandchildren, and her husband related their memories of her. A passionate, kind and loving lady; even an hilarious one. (It’s permissible to laugh at a funeral!) And we also heard how she’d carried her faith in God all along the way since she was a ten-year-old girl, allowing him to guide her in every area of her life.

Two of her favourite passages from the Bible were read. One was from Psalm 23 : 5, 6 – You prepare a banquet for me… you welcome me as an honoured guest, and fill my cup to the brim. I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life; and your house will be my home as long as I live. What a promise!

Then we turned to Romans 5 for some more words that Thelma loved, and lived by.

We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…and so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory! … We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God’s friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ’s life!

But that is not all; we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God’s friends.

God made a way to save all mankind! Thelma knew this wonderful experience wasn’t only for herself; she wanted to share it, and she did;  in her own way!

I’d been Thelma’s prayer partner and knew how much she loved her family and other people, but I didn’t know until yesterday how she’d reached out to so many. Of course, someone like that doesn’t brag about it. Her prayers were never about things; they were for people – personal, relational and motivated by love. 

Regardless of our own beliefs about the order of things beyond death, I believe she hasn’t stopped being in God’s care now her body is buried. Her spirit is in touch with her Lord. She’s been with him for all these nearly seventy years, and she still is! Illness and pain no longer affect her in the way they did while her body lingered. She’s now free to sing and dance without encumbrance … in God’s home! 

One story that was repeated several times during Thelma’s funeral was about the time she paraded through a restaurant dressed in a large strawberry outfit! It didn’t bother her that people were staring – she was entertaining her family! And having fun.   

As I listened to these stories of her exploits here on the earth, I was encouraged to be myself more and more. Thelma always allowed herself to let go! Now she’ll really be able to let go completely!! I wonder if they have any strawberry outfits in heaven!! 

 

 

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