"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!'"
March 15, 2017
During Lent, Jon and I are daily reading a chapter from "40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast" by Alicia Britt Chole. Therefore, I will be sharing some of the insight we've gleaned while reading this book; as well as the things that we've thought about as we've used our imaginations and tried to place ourselves in the story leading up the crucifixion and resurrection during the daily Bible readings.
In one of the chapters, Ms. Chole had this to say regarding miracles: "The problem, of course, is not with the miracles themselves but rather with our perception of the miracles. We tend to view a miracle as a divine deposit on more miracles. We like our miracles to be perpetual, thank you. Once raised, we want Lazarus to live forever. But he cannot. So we are bewildered when the recipient of the miracle still dies."
Many times we pray for a miracle of healing for individuals who is in need of one; which is scriptural. We pray with faith and trust God with the outcome. His Word is full of examples of miracles, and there are many scriptures of promise that we can stand on. We ask....again and again.... and we believe that God can do that for which we are praying.
In the past few weeks, I've often been reminded of Job 26:14. Job is speaking to his friends and reminding them that God stretches the sky over empty space and hangs the Earth on nothing. He wraps the rain in His thick clouds, and the clouds don't burst with the weight. He created the horizon when He separated the waters; He set the boundary between day and night. His Spirit made the heavens beautiful. Then verse 14 says, "These are just a beginning of all that He does, merely a whisper of His power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of His power?"
That particular verse has only recently been brought to my attention during my morning devotionals. I absolutely love it!! God can hang the sky over empty space and has consistently kept the Earth moving, while hanging on nothing, while only using merely a whisper of His power. Not the thunder of His power, but merely a whisper of His power!! So why do I often act and think as if what I'm praying about may be too difficult for Him to do?
Sometimes a person may be healed and it's faith-building to hear their testimonies. It encourages us to continue praying for other things, believing that God can do anything. If we never heard testimonies of the power and miracles of God, then we would soon come to the place where doubt and disbelief would creep in. We'd stop praying and asking God for those things which we have need of, if we never personally experienced or heard testimonies of answered prayer. If it seemed as if God never answered, then why even pray? But the truth is, God does answer; and hearing testimonies or experiencing it firsthand builds our faith, and encourages us to continue asking of God. So we hold onto hope and keep believing and praying, knowing that God can do what seems impossible and that absolutely nothing is too difficult for Him.
There are times that person will die without us being able to see their earthly healing. We often question why that happens, because our hearts grieve and we want to keep them with us as long as possible; especially when that person is middle-aged or younger. We may feel that they still had an important work to accomplish and had a purpose that needed fulfilling. Separation through death hurts, and it changes our daily lives. Although we don't want to see a loved one suffer, our hearts are never quite ready to let go and say goodbye; even when we have the knowledge that one day we will see them again in Heaven.
As the author of this book writes, even when someone does receive a miracle of healing, there will still come a time when they will die. Until Jesus returns, each of us will one day face death. All of our loved ones will one day die. Only God knows in what order that will happen; only He knows who will die when. We may see someone with detrimental health and assume that they will die long before we or someone else will; but that's not always how it happens. The bottom line is, whether we or a loved one is a recipient of a miracle of healing, there will still come a time when we all will die.
The author continues writing, "It seems to me that miracles are less of a promise for tomorrow and more of a manifestation of God's love and power for today. Today, God provides bread. Today, God calms the storm. Tomorrow's needs and storms cannot void the reality of today's miracles any more than today's miracles can void the potential of tomorrow's needs and storms."
How true those statements are! God gives us today what we need for today. If it's provision or the calming of a storm that we need right now, then that's what He will give us. Our needs are met, and God shows us a demonstration of His love and power. But that doesn't mean that tomorrow or one day in the future we won't need God to once again calm a storm or meet a need. Our miracle today cannot void the potential that tomorrow we may face another difficulty in which we will need God to do another miraculous deed for us. Yet the needs or difficulties that we may face in the future doesn't nullify what God has done for us in the past.
The author shares a story in which her husband had lost his wife in a tragic car accident six year before she had met him. He shared with her that the greatest gift people gave him was their supportive presence. The most hurtful offerings came from those who tried to fix his pain with platitudes such as "God picks His favorite flowers for His heavenly garden," or "You're young; you will remarry." Ms. Chole writes: "Such clumsy attempts to fix someone else's pain reflect the probability that we are uncomfortable facing our own." She suggests that perhaps we need to stop trying to fix things and allow the broken to be broken for a day.
After John the Baptist died, Jesus sent everyone away and took some time to be alone. He could have kept preaching and teaching and keeping busy, in an attempt to push away His sadness and not deal with it. That is what we often either do ourselves, or what we, in our clumsy attempts to comfort, encourage others to do. "You need to keep busy." "Don't just sit at home by yourself and grieve." "Get out and do things and be with people and keep a regular routine." But Jesus set an example for us by showing that it's okay to be by yourself and feel sorrow. He sent everyone away and went up to the mountainside by Himself to pray. Jesus took that time to mourn, and possibly even wept. He may have thought about the day that John had baptized Him. He gave Himself time to grieve for John, before continuing on in His ministry.
Ms. Chole writes in her book: "Deaths are defining moments in our lives. It serves us poorly to hurry past them...... Instead of speeding past sadness, slow down and be present to your emotions. With Jesus, sit with your sorrow and let loss do its eternal work in your soul."
Ecclesiastes chapter three tells us that for everything there is a season. There is a time to be born and a time to die. Life cycles. Each of us were born, and at some point, each of us will die. Both events happens in it's own God-appointed season. There is also a time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. Just as all of us must go through each season of life, both the blessed and the difficult, we must allow others to go through their own individual seasons.
In John 13:1 we read, "Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to His Father. He had loved His disciples during His ministry on Earth, and now He loved them to the very end."
As Jon and I were reading this, I began to imagine what Jesus may have been feeling at that moment. He knew what awaited Him when He returned to His Father. He had left Heaven to come to Earth, so had full knowledge of what He had to look forward to. He knew that His Father was anxiously waiting for Him to come back home, after His 33 years on earth. On the other hand, He had just spent three years traveling and teaching and training His disciples and He loved them. Did He feel somewhat torn, wanting to return home to His Father, yet feeling as if these men still needed Him for a while longer on Earth. Did He have moments when He thought, "There is still so much more that I could teach them! Are they ready for me to leave them.... Have I done all that I can do to train them to carry on My ministry?" I believe that He understood the heartbreak and grief that Mary and His earthly siblings and His disciples would feel upon Him leaving them. He had experienced the death of Lazarus and had wept. He had experienced the death of John the Baptist and had gone to be alone for a time. So He knew how they would feel when He was no longer with them.
Perhaps during that moment, Jesus had a clear understanding of what generations of believers have experienced and felt, knowing that death was coming and they would soon be leaving their family and friends. They feel that tug towards Heaven and want to see their Heavenly Father and be reunited with loved ones who are there waiting for them. They want to worship at the feet of Jesus and see all the beauty and splendor of Heaven. Their heart is ready and this is what they've been looking forward to since their moment of receiving salvation. Yet on the other hand, they know the grief and heartbreak that their family will feel upon their death. They have experienced the separation of death during their lifetime, so don't want to put their loved ones through that pang of separation. Perhaps they feel like there is still more that they could do for their family or their church; they feel like there is more that they need to accomplish. They may feel as if their spouse or children still need their influence in their lives. Perhaps they know that special events are upcoming in the family, and they would like to be here to see births of children or grandchildren, graduations, marriages, etc.
Perhaps individuals feel that tug-of-war in their spirit between Heaven and Earth. Death rarely comes at a really convenient time, for the one who is dying as well as for their family. Life events are always taking place, holidays with family gatherings, birthdays or anniversaries, and plans and dreams to look forward to. Even though we have the assurance of one day being reunited, separation is tough; especially for those who are left behind on Earth.
So I think perhaps Jesus understood that when the time for His death was drawing near. Even though He was going to be resurrected in three days, He knew that shortly thereafter He would ascend back to Heaven to be with His Father. The fulfillment of His Father's plan was nearing, and time with the disciples, whom He loved, was drawing to a close. Did Jesus feel that tug-of-war between Heaven and Earth? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Regardless, during those moments, I believe that He understood the emotions involved when mankind gets to that point of their life when they are nearing death. He understood it from the point of view of the one facing death, as well as from the one who is going to be losing a loved one.
During our lifetime we will likely all have to deal with the death of a loved one; then the day will come when we will be the one who will pass from this Earth, leaving family and friends behind on earth. May the fact that Jesus has been in each of those situations and can empathize with you and your family, and that He truly understands and is touched by your emotions, be a great comfort to you and bring you a great measure of peace.
Not being the parent of a perfect child, I can only guess at perfect parenting. But I'll try a bit. If a child needs to be punished, how well would it go over to tell them, "You'll just have to trust me, this is for your own good"? Would any kid buy that? I was told, "Because I said so!" many times, and have heard other parents use that oldie.
The point is that sometimes kids have to put up with something they hate, to make sure they will grow up to be happy adults. They don't understand, and probably don't believe, that their parents have more wisdom than they do.
I've also heard the old line, "This will hurt me more than it hurts you." I never quite believed that as a kid, but think I now kind of understand what it means.
When God watches us grieve while we watch a loved one approach death, I'm sure God grieves with us. In His wisdom, it is the right thing. But we can't understand till we are with Him, too. I just trust that one day, we will.
12 ounce chocolate chips
2 sticks butter
1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup nuts
Melt chocolate chips and butter in double boiler or microwave. Mix eggs, sugar, and flour together; add in melted chocolate mixture. Add nuts. Pour in 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.
1/2 stick butter
4 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 pound powdered sugar
Mix butter, cocoa, and milk in a saucepan and cook over low heat until hot. Add powdered sugar. If too dry, add a little more milk. Frost brownies while hot. Cook, then cut into squares.
A few days ago I was watching Jax (age 7) and Jovie (age 3). We were at the house of my sister, Janie,who is their grandma. I was doing home-school work with Jax, and Janie was working with her son and another student, whom she works with a couple days a week. During their morning break, Janie allowed Jax to go to the neighborhood park with the two older kids. Jovie was upset that she was left out and had to stay home. She laid down in the floor by the front door crying, with big tears running down her face. She told me, "I need my brother!" I told her that he would be back soon.... they wouldn't be gone very long. She said, "But I need my brother now. I'm lost without him!!" It was a little funny, but incredibly sweet, too!
Attitudes are contagious. Make yours worth catching! - Toby Mac
We love you!
Loretta & Jon