Thursday, February 28, 2013

Where, Oh Death, Is Your Victory? Where, Oh Death Is Your Sting?

Psalm 116:15 KJV " ... Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints ..."

James 4:14 WEB "... you don't know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? For you are a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away."

As morbid as I realize this may sound, I have been thinking about death a lot lately. I have thought about death many times over this past year - since my daddy died.

I used to get fearful at the thought of death. Even though I believe that Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth, is the promised messiah of the Jews and Gentiles, and even though I believe that I am going to be with Him when I die, when I thought of death I could picture nothing but darkness and uncertainty. Not anymore!

I have pondered the above scriptures many times since coming to Jesus and especially since death has passed by so close to me this year. I have wondered many times how God could see death as precious or beautiful. In my mind it was an ending and nothing to be happy about or hold so dear. I love God, try my hardest to follow Him, but I just couldn't understand why He would see the end of our lives as precious.

And life a vapor? Me a vapor? What does that even mean? Logically I am educated enough to know that the scripture is a comparison of life on earth to life in eternity, but somehow I still can't get my head around it. When I think about the average life span compared to a never-ending eternity ... well ... I'm sure we weren't meant to fathom it.

But I had this thought the other day ...

As long as some of us live on this earth, it is only a short existence in time compared to eternity - the place where time does not exist. We think of eternity as an expansion of time, but eternity is anything but. I submit that eternity is a place where our spirits once began with God our creator and a place from which He blows us, by His breath of life, into the wombs of our mothers. If we are in Christ, we exist there still. (Eph. 2:6) And if we remain in Christ, we will return there again.

If you have lost someone close to you - someone who you love so deeply that the thought of being without them overwhelms you with anxiety and sadness - then how do you think God feels every passing moment we are still here on this earth? And even though I have had this thought before, it finally sank into my spirit that death is not an end but a continuation. It is not a beginning because we were already there with Him once. For the saints of God, death is but a homecoming!

Every moment we are on this planet we are separated from God by the realm of the physical. I heard it said once that "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. Rather we are spiritual beings having a human experience." Death is but a doorway to our true self and form - to know and see ourselves in truth as He has known and seen us all along. (I Cor. 13:6)

So now I can understand how God would be happy when these bodies that physically separate us from Him are finally removed. Oh the joy that must have flooded the soul of my daddy and the heart of my God when they were finally reunited. And oh the peace that I cannot explain when I think of death now. To know that this physical form that you all know and see me as will one day pass away and the truth of who I am will be revealed by that marvelous light that is Christ Jesus! (John 1:4-9/I Peter 2:9) And the peace that I have in knowing that my precious daddy is already experiencing that? I marvel in the glories and wonders of my mysterious God!

For my daddy, his body was a cage that limited him. He has been set free! He could never run on this earth. He ran to the arms of God. He always wished he could get on his knees to pray, but his legs limited him. He is bowing before the throne of God! How beautiful his true self must be! And I'm going to get to see that when I pass on. I am going to get to see what my daddy truly looked like - as God always saw him. A year ago today, I heard the weak and feeble voice of my daddy speak for the last time. But when I enter eternity I will hear the strength of his true voice worship our Father forevermore!

Do not misunderstand me. I miss my daddy today. DEEPLY! There is nothing wrong in that. I am sobbing as I type because I know and comprehend that his life was a gift to me - a gift that I am so thankful for. And though I weep, I am filled with the hope of seeing him again!

Death, for the children of God, is no accident. Whether they pass on by car wreck, cancer, COPD, a violent act, etc., - and no matter their age - their deaths are not untimely. That is not to say that God caused their illness or trauma (that is a whole other blog), but God uses the circumstances of our lives to bring us closer to Him, be it earthly or eternally. (Rom. 8:28)

One last thought: The unfortunate flip-side to this quickly evaporating life, is that though for the Christian it is a brief separation from God, for the unbeliever it is a door of opportunity that is quickly closing. If God so longs to be with us who are still here - if He holds our deaths so precious - then how grieved He must be and how His heart must ache for each soul who passes from this earth into eternal separation from Him?

Brothers and sisters, I know your hurt and your longing for your loved ones, but remember we will see them again - AND SOON! But let's not forget there are generations of souls slipping into the fires of eternal damnation every day. Though we grieve, let's not forget those who God is now separated from in every way. Let us not be weak in well-doing (Gal. 6:9), for this hope that is ours was meant for all!
Holy Father, even in our grief please remind us of the race we are running (2 Tim. 4:7). Forgive us when we are selfish and forgive our self-pity. Give us strength to pick ourselves up and carry on for your sake, and for the sake of bringing your kingdom down to this earth. Let world revival be at the fore-front of our hearts and minds. Help us Lord, in our own struggle to die daily so that you may live through us and so that we might be used to snatch thousands from the fires of hell! May this prayer be sealed by the name of Christ our redeemer and soon coming King, and may it burn in our hearts the rest of our days - however many that may be! Amen!

I could go on, but for what little I have shared I pray you were blessed, my friends!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Life Keeps Moving Us On!

So much going on as usual. So much to catch up on.

Well ... let's see. In case I never blogged about our church life, not long after moving back to Nashville last May, Robert and I quickly got busy looking for a new church home. We visited a few, and for several weeks visited Highland Park Church on Knob Hill. It came highly recommended by many friends and family. We really enjoyed the way the pastor taught - his method of preaching. Ellie seemed to enjoy her class. As far as I know she didn't have any problems there. We had probably been attending for about 2 months and were considering becoming members, but ... one day as I was standing in line to get Ellie from her class, I looked up and saw a man that I "had a past with." Thank God he didn't see me. On the way to the car, I explained to Robert why we couldn't come back. He seemed to understand. It woulda just been too awkward.

So then ... onward we went in the search to find yet another new church home. For at least a year before moving from Columbia, a friend of mine had been communicating with me about coming to visit her at Cornerstone Church in Madison. I would tell her that we were considering moving back to Nashville to save on gas expenses, and she would insist that we would love Cornerstone. And she was right.

She was very nice to meet me there one Wednesday night and even help me get Ellie signed up in the children's ministry. And for our first several weeks, we even sat near each other in church. Robert and I pretty much loved it right off. We loved the praise and worship, loved the children's ministry, liked our Sunday school class (after trying a few, found one we liked), and we loved the fact that we were meeting couples who we had some things in common with. Most of all, it excited me to know that I was finally gonna get a chance to spend some time with a person who I had considered one of my best and closest friends. In January, Cornerstone reformed their life groups, and I have found one for ladies only that I am really enjoying. It's like my "me" time away from Ellie and Robert. But ...

It seems as of late that Ellie is having serious problems adjusting at this church. I dunno what the problem is really ... she is mean and violent toward her teachers and other children there. She has been in trouble for kicking the teacher aids, screaming at her teacher and hitting and pushing other kids. Basically, Ellie can't go back to Sunday school unless I come with her. Can ya believe it?! My kid has basically gotten herself kicked out of SUNDAY SCHOOL!!! And church isn't the only place she is acting out. She's been a little crazy here at home too.

At first I thought it was because of the weather - this cold, wet, indecisive winter. We haven't been able to hit the park behind the house as often. Heck, we've barely been able to leave the house at all. Mostly due to having to lug Baby Jonah along with us if we did. But since my truck is a 1986 and has no air bags, I couldn't legally take him anywhere with me if I wanted to. So if I had to guess, it's because we have been stuck inside the house day-in-day-out, and day-in-day-out she has been watching me pour myself into another child that is not her sibling - much less - is not her! She is a bit jealous I think, and is acting out in any way she can to get my attention. Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to understand or care that the attention she is getting is negative. On top of that, Jonah is the only other child around that she has had to play with in months, so instead of progressing she has regressed a little. It's like she acts and behaves baby-like, and then when she finally gets around kids her age she doesn't know how to act any more.

I definitely don't think it's the church, but I also am beginning to wonder if such a large church is the place for Robert, Ellie and me anyway - as a family. Don't get me wrong; I'm not about to go church hopping just because my kid got kicked out of their children's church. I do intend to do as they have asked me and attend Sunday school with Ellie because I think it is too much an important learning opportunity for her not to. I just feel like as much of an impression as Cornerstone has made on us, neither of us - Robert or me either one - have ever actually "dropped anchor and ported harbor" in our spirits. We joined by attending the Growth track classes each Sunday night, signing on as members and we are tithing there because we are being fed there (for the time being), but both of us still feel very lost in such a large crowd. There are a lot of life groups and Sunday school options - almost too many. And the one friend I was hoping to connect with? Well ... I guess it's just such a large, busy church that we just seem to pass each other in the halls these days. :-(

So ... to bring about some resolution to Ellie's behavior problems, I no longer watch Jonah; Thursday of last week was the last day I kept him. I did become very attached to him though. I will miss his little face so much, but my own child is suffering so ... what else can a mother do?

And beginning very soon, I think we will once again head out on the church hunt. We love Cornerstone, but I feel like we are not meant to be there. I feel like there is something else for us. So we will soon look into that.

What else?

My photography business is picking up and I'm gaining some more experience and clientele. I'm really loving it! I can only hope it grows and grows. I'm trusting God to do just that - to give me greater talent with each photo I take, and to give me favor with my new community in hopes of serving them through photos. I also still sell ACE and other AMS Health Sciences products and supplements. Still love that - still taking my daily doses and still selling and selling. And as always, it is making me some extra money.

Lastly, we are coming up on the one-year anniversary of my sweet daddy's passing. Just when I thought I was coming out of a dark place, I am reminded that he is still gone. :'-( Only ... he died on Feb. 29th, leap day of last year. So technically, there is no way to memorialize the day. I almost think in some small way that he did that on purpose. I know he wouldn't want me to spend any day out of the year to sit around and mope and just dwell on the fact that he's not with us anymore ... but man do I miss him. February 28, 2012, was the last day I heard my daddy's voice; what I wouldn't give to hear him again! I think about his hands, his eyes, his ways. Sometimes, it hurts being back in West Nashville because there are so many reminders of him and life before he and mama divorced around every corner I turn. Sometimes it's hard to visit my Aunt Joyce or Uncle Snapper who just live across the park. Truthfully, sometimes it just hurts to look at them, because then I remember, and it hurts to remember that he isn't here anymore.

I just miss him so much.

So anyway ... that's a sum up of what's been happening in my world. I would blog more but truthfully, it's 12:40 a.m. and I'm afraid if I continue it will turn into another blog about how much I miss him.

Till next time ...