"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
April 15, 2015
Last week I attended the funeral of another aunt. Losing two aunts within two weeks was a bit overwhelming and made our family realize how important it is to cherish the time we have with those left behind; while waiting with expectation and hope for the day when we will have the biggest Parton reunion ever in Heaven.
My aunt's daughter-in-law and pastor both did an excellent job speaking and it was probably one of the best funerals I've ever attended; if you can call a funeral good. There were lots of stories and laughter, and we all left feeling as if we knew Lucille a little better. I believe that's what a memorial service should be like.
The pastor made an analogy between birth and death that really hit home with me, and I think it was one of the best I've ever heard. I'd like to take the thought he shared and expound upon it. The more I've thought about it this past week, the more it has grown in my heart.
When a woman is pregnant, she carries the baby in her womb for nine months; more or less. But there comes a time when the baby outgrows the womb and it has to come out. Sometimes the birth may come premature, most seem to come around the due date, while others are late. The baby can't stay inside the mother forever, but has to be born and leave the womb in order to begin its life. The mother has to endure the birthing pangs, which are painful and excruciating at the time. But then a new life comes forth and there is a celebration as the baby enters the world.
It's the same when we die. There comes a time when a person outgrows this world. Their spirit has developed as much as it can in the limited space it has on earth. So they have to leave this space behind so that they can expand and become what they were destined to be for all eternity.
Sometimes it may seem as if they have to leave earth prematurely. Whether they leave as a baby or child or youth or young adult, it doesn't seem fair that they would have to leave this earth without having had a chance to have a full, long life. But perhaps it was their appointed time for their spirit to grow beyond what it ever could here.
Although we are never ready to say goodbye, many live 75-90 years before they pass away. Others live to be well into their 90's. But the time comes when they can no longer stay on this earth, for their spirit man has to have room to expand and grow beyond their earthly capabilities.
Just as a mother has to go through the birthing pangs that are excruciating and painful, the families and friends left behind go through the painful pangs of grief and separation. At times it may feel as if it's never going to end and the mourning can feel overwhelming. But we can have hope and take courage, knowing that a day of celebration lies ahead for us all.
Psalm 30:5 (NLT) says, "Weeping may last (endure) through the night, but joy comes in the morning."
There will come a time when the weeping lessens and joy returns for those on earth. The night may feel long and dark and unending, but morning will come.
There will also come a time when the weeping will end for all eternity, and joy will be everlasting.
Revelation 21:4 (NLT) tell us, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever."
What a day that will be!!
I've often wondered what we will be like in heaven. Will we look back at our time on Earth any more? Maybe the womb analogy will fit well, and we won't look back at our earthly life any more than we reminisce about our time in the womb.
I do know that how we live now will have an influence. If we don't accept Jesus before we move on, we won't be born into heaven. Jesus also mentioned that the first will be last, and the last first. His speech suggested that in heaven, the people who humble themselves in this life will be honored in heaven.
Honestly, I can really only guess at details about what life will be like. I wasn't capable of guessing about this life before I was even born, though. So I don't expect trying to predict details of the next life is a good use of my time now.
1 pound ground beef
1/2 package taco seasoning
1 pound Velveeta Cheese, chunked
1 can ranch-style beans
8 ounces sour cream
1 can Rotel
chopped onion (optional)
Brown ground beef and onion together (onion is optional); drain. Mix in all the remaining ingredients and heat until cheese melts and mixture is hot.
Serve over tortilla chips or Fritos or use as a dip. Can also be served with flour tortillas.
When Jon's nephew, Kevyn, was around 10 years old that year for Christmas he spontaneously gave Jon a present. He had a stuffed dog,which he had named Wolfie, that he decided he had outgrown; so he passed it on to Jon, who happened to be in his twenties at the time. That happened approximately 18 years ago or so, but Jon still has Wolfie. He thought it was sweet that Kevyn had given it to him, so has kept that little black and white stuffed dog all these years.
Have you never heard? Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of His understanding. Isaiah 40:28 (NLT)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon