"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 17, 2019
He is risen!!
Watching a loved one die is incredibly difficult! I have had to do this four times now. The first time was when I was fifteen years old. I sat in a small bedroom, with my family, gathered around my mama's bed as she died. The second time was when one of my sisters and I sat in a hospital room with my Grandma Horton and she passed away while we were there. The third time, I was at with my sister and her kids at her home when her husband passed away. The fourth time was a couple years ago when Jon and I sat beside his dad's bed, and watched as he breathed his last breath.
Death was different for each of those four people. Mama had gone into a coma, and the family had been told that she would never awaken. But she did! A couple days before she passed away, she woke up and said, "I thought you all would be praying!" Then she began singing, "I need Thee, O I need thee; every hour I need thee....." My hopeful teenage heart thought that her awakening from the coma meant that God was going to heal her. But at around 2:15 AM on the following Sunday morning, the family gathered around her bed and watched as she breathed became slower and slower; then finally stopped altogether.
My grandma had a stroke and never awakened from it. My sister and I were staying with her so that our dad could go home and get some sleep. We were sitting at the end of the bed quietly visiting, when I looked at her and realized that her breathing had changed. I told Linda, "I think Grandma is dying; call the nurse." By the time the nurse got in there, she was already gone. It happened very easily and without struggle.
My brother-in-law breathed loudly and laboriously for several hours. The verse that came to mind was 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." It was as if his breathing was indicative of him running a race to cross the finish line.
Jon's mom and sister had just left, leaving me and Jon sitting beside his dad's bedside. I began singing, "Going home... I am going home... there is nothing to hold me here..." Honestly, his final moments weren't pretty, as his breathing was very labored. But I recognized when his breathing changed and knew that he was gone.
Death it hard! It's not pretty! And it is painful and is heart-breaking for the loved ones who are left on earth. It brings grief and tears and life changes, with that person no longer being on earth with us.
Thankfully, in the four incidences above, all of our loved ones were believers and in the midst of our grief was a deep peace, knowing that they were with Jesus. And we have that blessed hope of one day being reunited with them for all eternity.
When Jesus was crucified, there were many people surrounding the cross where he hang. Some were soldiers, who were duty-bound to be there. After they nailed Jesus' hands and feet to the cross, those soldiers divided his clothing among themselves by rolling dice to see who would win them. They stood nearby to watch to see what would happen and to keep guard over him.
People passed by and ridiculed him by saying, "We heard you boast that you could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days! Why don't you save yourself now? If you really are God's Son, come down from the cross!"
Even the priests, with the Jewish scholars and religious leaders, joined in the mockery by saying, "He saved others, but he can't even save himself! He's Israel's king, is he?! He should come down from the cross, then we'll believe in him!"
But standing near the cross were Jesus' mother, and his mother's sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing beside the disciple whom he loved (John), he said to her, "Dear women, here is your son." Then he said to his disciple, "Here is your mother." From then on, this disciple took her into his home and cared for her.
For three hours, darkness came over the earth. At three o'clock, Jesus shouted, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
Jesus cried out, took his last breath, and died.
Miraculous things began happening the moment that Jesus died.
At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn from the top to the bottom.
The earth shook violently, rocks were split apart, and graves opened. Many of the holy ones who had died were brought back to life and came out of their graves -- for real! (Matthew 27:52) After Jesus' resurrection, they were plainly seen by many people walking in Jerusalem.
When the Roman military officer and his soldiers witnessed what was happening and felt the powerful earthquake, they were extremely terrified. Only a few hours earlier, they had been gambling for the robes of Jesus; now they had a change of perspective. They said, "There is no doubt, this man was the Son of God!"
Standing to the side, watching from a distance were Jesus' friends, who included many of the women who had followed him from Galilee and given him support. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary, (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John.
When all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow.
Crowds of people had come to witness the death of Jesus. Some were there because they were soldiers and had been ordered to be there. Some were there to mock and ridicule him. Some probably came out of curiosity, to see what would happen. They didn't want to miss out on anything. The religious leaders came to watch, trying to prove their point that this couldn't be the Son of God.
But then there were a group who were there out of their deep devotion and love for Jesus. Their hearts were breaking and they weren't sure what was going on. Their beloved, their Messiah, their Savior, the one whom they had listened to and followed was truly crucified.... and he died. What now? I'm sure that they had no idea exactly how to process what had happened and didn't know what to think. He had really died and had been put in a tomb!
Just as our heart are broken and grief overwhelms us when we lose a loved one, they felt the same... only on a much deeper level. Mary had lost her son, the disciples had lost their leader, his followers had lost their teacher.... he was gone. Even though Jesus had tried to explain to them what would happen, I don't think they truly had an understanding of what was taking place.
But something spectacular happened three days later! The women went to the tomb, taking spices that they had prepared. They found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. They went in, but the body of their Lord Jesus wasn't there.
As they stood there stunned and perplexed, suddenly two men in dazzling white robes appeared to them. Terrified, the women fell to the ground on their faces.
The men in white said, "Why would you look for the living One in a tomb? He is not here, for he has risen! Have you forgotten what he said to you while he was still in Galilee: 'The Son of Man is destined to be handed over to sinful men to be nailed to a cross, and on the third day he will rise again'?"
All at once they remembered the words of Jesus. Leaving the tomb, they went to break the news to the eleven and to all the others of what they had seen and heard. Yes, Jesus was indeed alive!
Their sorrow turned to joy! Many were able to see and talk with Jesus before he ascended back to heaven. They saw the nail prints in his hands and feet. They saw his glorified body. They knew that Jesus had truly risen from the grave and was alive!
Luke 24 says that Jesus led his disciples out to Bethany. He lifted his hands over them and blessed them in his love. While he was still speaking out words of love and blessing, he ascended into heaven before their very eyes. All they could do was worship him. Overwhelmed and ecstatic with joy, they made their way back to Jerusalem. Every day they went to the temple, praising and worshipping God.
They were left with a promise that where Jesus was going, that they would one day go also. They would join him in his Father's house!
We have that same promise today! We have that promise of one day joining Jesus in his Father's house! In the meantime, we should be filled with worship for him. Just as the disciples were overwhelmed and ecstatic with joy, we too, can feel the same about Jesus. Praising and worshipping God should fill our heart each day!
Loretta lost her dad very quickly. It was in 2007, and we got a call in the early hours of the morning to let us know he was waiting for an ambulance. We got a call shortly after that to let us know he had passed away.
I lost my dad in 2017, but he had been slipping away for several years. We had a lot of warning that he was going.
Honestly, I don't know which was harder. Both ways, we won't get to visit with our dads. We won't see them again for a long time. We miss them dearly.
There's a third way to lose a loved one, and I think it's the saddest of the three. And that is to simply abandon the relationship. Maybe we get too busy to see family, or just don't get a chance to call or write as often as we should. Sometimes there is some kind of damage to the relationship. But it is still a choice and a loss.
I don't know if anyone is going through this kind of loss with family, someone else very close, or with God. But relationships can be restored, if you chose to try.
Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-oz) container Cool Whip, thawed
2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies
6-8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-oz) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 package cream cheese, softened
Line the bottom of a 9x13 pan with 1 bag of the cookies; layer with the sliced bananas.
In a bowl combine the milk and pudding; mix well. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix well until smooth. Fold the Cool Whip into the cream cheese mixture. Add the pudding into this mixture and stir until well blended.
Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and spread evenly. Cover the top with remaining bag of cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When I was a kid, Easter egg hunts were very different than they are today. We used real eggs, that were hard-boiled, and then dyed different colors by dipping them into water with food coloring in it. There were no plastic eggs filled with candy! And the eggs weren't generally thrown away after the egg hunts; whether it be at school or at church. We would peel and eat them, or slice them up to use in potato salad. Kids would be so disappointed nowadays to find that they had a real hard-boiled egg, and not a plastic one filled with candy. In my day, the only egg filled with candy was a large plastic egg that was filled with candy; and only one lucky kid got the prize. It was never me! My, how times have changed!
Yes, God raised Jesus to life!
And since God's Spirit of resurrection lives in you, He will also raise your dying body to life by the same Spirit that breathes life into you! - Romans 8:11
We love you!
Loretta & Jon