Sunday, November 26, 2006

Life Lessons From Death

I want to share some insights that the LORD has given me during this time. These come from my daily Bible reading, the chaplain's message at my BIL's funeral, and meditating on life in general. The chaplain had a really good message which I appreciated so much! He taught on Psalm 90:12--So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. He pointed out that people today seem obsessed with youth and longevity, spending millions to look & feel younger and to live as long as possible. They are focused on the quantity of life when they ought to be focused on the quality of life, on applying their hearts to God's wisdom. I wish I could've taped his message.

At any rate, the LORD used that to remind me that I need to be mindful of what I focus my life on. What are my life priorities? What do I value? If I lost what I value, would I feel like life was no longer worth living? When I leave all this behind, then what? Will I be prepared for eternity? And what will I leave behind for my loved ones? What legacy will I leave them? All these things went through my mind at the funeral and later.

Then these additional thoughts came along:

1) Keep your focus. I should be focused on Yeshua at all times in all ways.

2) Set your affections on things above. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. Keep eternity in view.

3) Be content with what you have. If I am not content with what I have, no matter how much I have, it will never be enough.

4) Love the ones you're with; don't take them for granted. Life is short and none of us know what tomorrow will bring. I need to let those I love know that I love them every time I am with them so that if/when death parts us, I will know that I did all I could to let them know I loved them.

5) Don't sweat the small stuff. The things of this earth will pass away; in eternity most of these trials and struggles won't matter so why let them steal my joy in today?

6) Make today count. I need to be "redeeming the time."

I'm sure that the LORD will continue to teach me His wisdom through these life events and His Word, but for now, that's what He's given me.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Life Happens: Update & Thoughts

My sweetheart and I returned from a trip to Pennsylvania yesterday for my father-in-law's funeral. The LORD was faithful, as always, and watched over us the whole way. The entire 2000+ mile trip was safe and uneventful, praise the LORD! We did have the oil changed in our van and a complete inspection done before we left to be as sure as we could that the van would make the trip. Now, however, we do definitely need to save our pennies so we can get those things fixed on the van that are needing repair. We very much hope that there will be no more funerals or long road trips for quite a LONG time! It was good to see members of my husband's family again, however. We even got to meet his half-sister whom we'd never met before. We did, however, have to forego our family Thanksgiving gathering here, which I'm still sad about. I did realize, though, that my priority was to be with my husband and support him during this difficult season of grief. If I had stayed at home and let him make that trip alone, just so I wouldn't have had to miss having all of our children and grandchildren here for Thanksgiving, I know I would have been making a very selfish choice. Selfishness is one of those besetting sins that I still struggle with, even as I approach my 50th year of life and have been following the Messiah for over 30 years. At any rate, I'm glad that I decided to go with my sweetheart and we did enjoy having this week to spend together, even though the occasion was sad.

The LORD has been speaking to my heart about legacies, as we have said goodbye to my dad in April 2005, and my brother-in-law & father-in-law this month. When we die, what legacy will we leave behind to the ones we love? I read in an Our Daily Bread devotional that when Christian author Josh McDowell's mother died, he did not know if she was a Christian. I have had that same experience with our family members that have died. Some things in their lives suggest that they did have a saving faith in the LORD, but then other things suggest that they only know about Him but did not know Him as their personal Savior and LORD. When I die, I want my family to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am a believer and that I will live again because He lives. As Peter shares:

2 Peter 1:3-15 (Amplified) For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). 4 By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature. 5 For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence), 6 And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety), 7 And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love. 8 For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] shortsighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this, you will never stumble or fall. 11 Thus there will be richly and abundantly provided for you entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 So I intend always to remind you about these things, although indeed you know them and are firm in the truth that [you] now [hold]. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle (tent, body), to stir you up by way of remembrance, 14 Since I know that the laying aside of this body of mine will come speedily, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 Moreover, I will diligently endeavor [to see to it] that [even] after my departure (decease) you may be able at all times to call these things to mind.

So not only do I want my life to be a continual encouragement to my family now, but I want to focus on the legacy I will leave behind through the decisions I make today, the words I say and actions I demonstrate, the material things I value, the memories I leave to my loved ones. Death could come at any time; I not only want to be ready to meet the LORD, I also want to have a legacy ready to leave to my family, a legacy that will be a blessing to them and an example to follow for generations to come. I'm not talking about financial or material inheritances, but about spiritual legacies. How should, how can I live my life today so that when I die my children and grandchildren will be able to remember my faith, my life of obedience to God's Word, my love for them and for others, and through those memories and the things I leave behind (i.e. my Bibles, journals, letters, etc), remind them to always follow the LORD with all of their hearts?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Life Happens

Since I last posted, we've lost two family members. My sweetheart's brother Maynard died on October 29th and today we got word that his father has just passed away. In addition, my mother is looking at some very serious back surgery next month or she'll most like end up paralyzed in the near future, though I am sure surgery poses it's own set of risks. She sees the specialist on the 29th to determine her course of action. My son Isaac, my youngest child (20 yrs old) and only son, injured his arm a couple weeks ago and has restricted use of it. Since he works on a farm, that makes his life a challenge. I've been hoping and praying that all six of my children and all seven of my grandchildren would be able to be here on Thanksgiving Day for our family gathering around the dinner table. As our family grows, it gets harder and harder to get all of us together at one time because of different work schedules and commitments. Now we will need to decide how to handle my father-in-law's funeral which will be a 900+ mile trip away in Pennsylvania. Our vehicle needs maintenance before it goes on the road that far; we realized that after returning from my brother-in-law's funeral in Augusta, Georgia two weeks ago. Money is tight in our budget, as usual. At this point, I don't know what we'll decide.

But I do know Who holds tomorrow and I know Who holds my hand. None of this catches God by surprise. He is STILL in control. There is NOTHING too hard for Him. And He still works all things together for good to those who love Him, who are the called according to His name. I know I can rest in His steadfast love and His unending faithfulness. Right now, that's enough.