Tears

Funny how sometimes you can’t stop them.  Sometimes no matter how much you think you’re in control, tears just well up and spill over and run down your cheeks.

Sometimes there’s not even time to grab a tissue or get your hand up in time to wipe them away.  It’s futile.  They’re going to come – when they need to come.

I just had a moment like that.  Today would have been my Dad’s 79th birthday here on earth if God hadn’t called him to his Heavenly home early last year.  And I was doing OK with it.  Or so I thought.  But then I read an email from my aunt, and a Facebook post by my cousin and that was the end of my being in control.

And it was just what I needed.

There are times to be the “strong one”.  But there are times to let the guard down, let the tears flow, and let God be the God of All Comfort.  There are times to be reminded that one day the tears will be all wiped away and we’ll all stand together before Him, whole, healed, restored.

I know where Dad is today.  And I know Dad used his 77 years here on earth for God’s glory.  So today is a celebration of a life well lived, and rejoicing in knowing that he’s more alive today than ever before.

My makeup is a little smeared and my eyes are a little red.   But the sad tears just got turned into happy ones.  Our family, and many, many others are blessed to have had Dad around for so many years.  And we are blessed  that God continues to comfort and sustain us with great memories and a spiritual legacy that is rivaled by few.

Happy Birthday, Dad.  These tears are for you.

But in a good way…

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces;  Isaiah 25:8

For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Revelation 7:17

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5

Short

I went wandering around a cemetery on my lunch hour the other day.

The beautiful university campus where I work has a funeral home right in the middle of it, and a cemetery across the street.  Strange as it seems, cemeteries are quite peaceful places to find a respite in the middle of a busy day.

This is the same cemetery where I found a headstone that says, “So now you come to visit me!”.  I’m not kidding.  I’ve always wondered what this man’s story was.

Aside from that one and a few others, the majority of the headstones are simply names and dates.  And that’s when you realize that life is remarkably short.  There is a section of the cemetery for children, and the little lambs and baby angels on the top of the stones make me sad, even though some of them have been there for almost a century.  And then there are markers for people who lived much longer than that and died after a full life.

Life is still short, no matter how long you’re here.  The world has been around for thousands of years, and our lives are quite momentary in comparison.   Watching the news this week and seeing lives shattered by a raging tornado in Oklahoma brings the brevity of life to the forefront.

They didn’t know they’d be ushered into eternity that day.  And I bet most of the people represented by the headstones in the cemetery didn’t know the date that would end up on their marker, either.   I have brief “I wonder….” moments when I get on an airplane sometimes, but other than that, I don’t think about it much.

But maybe I should.

If I thought about how short life is more often, would it change how I lived it?  Would I conquer more fears, share Christ more readily, say the things I need to say to people?  It’s not being morose.  It’s being realistic.  We’re put here by God for a defined period of time known only to Him.  And I believe He puts us all here for a specific, defined purpose.  A life mission.

Maybe I need to wander around cemeteries more often.  Because there’s nothing like a cemetery to make you think about life.

LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.  Psalm 39:4

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.           Psalm 90:12

I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.  John 9:4

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.                  Ecclesiastes 9:10 

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.  Galatians 6:10

Time

I’m headed off to a reunion of my graduating class from nursing school.  I’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding making public just exactly how long it has been it is since we graduated, so I won’t be publishing it here either.  A girl has to keep her secrets sometimes!

Let’s just say it was more than a decade ago.  Maybe more than that.

Class reunions are likely to make one do some soul searching.  We look at the old yearbooks and pictures and somehow can’t believe we were that young once and we wonder how time could go by so quickly.  When those smiling graduation pictures were taken, we had big dreams for the things we’d do and the places we’d go and the people we’d become.

I gave one of the graduation speeches that night many years ago as we donned our white uniforms for the first time to replace the blue uniforms designating us as students.  I found a copy of that speech a few days back.  I talked about how much we had been through and how much we had to look forward to in nursing.  And in life.

I even read a poem.  Because that’s what you do when you give a graduation speech, right?

Time does go by quickly.  People always say that, but it’s true.  One minute you’re standing on a graduation stage with a diploma in hand, and the next minute you’re headed off to see people you haven’t seen in decades.  It’s going to be interesting to hear what has happened in their lives, where they’ve been, where they are now.  And I wonder how many of us are anxious, wondering if our lives will sound as exciting and fulfilled as others.

But you know what?  This has been my life, and it really doesn’t matter how I think it compares to others. God and I have walked through it together, and I’ve always understood that whatever happened, those were His plans for me. Some of His plans exceeded anything I could have imagined.  Others weren’t the plans I would have chosen for me, but His plans always work together for good.  And I can rest in that.

What a blessing to look back over the last 30 years (oops) and see how God has been ever-present and gracious and faithful to me.  In the good times, and the not-so-good times and everything in between.

No matter how much time has gone by, it’s good to stop and reflect every once in awhile.  And see that those days and months and years…and decades…were all part of God’s incredible plan.

For me.

 

A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the LORD’s counsel–that will stand. Proverbs 19:1

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23

O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.  Jeremiah 10:23

 

 

 

Answers

Our Lord in His teaching never once referred to unanswered prayer.  He said God always answers prayer.  If our prayers are in the name of Jesus, in accordance with His nature, the answers will not be in accordance with our nature, but with His.  We are apt to forget this, and to say without thinking that God does not always answer prayer.  He does, every time, and when we are in close communion with Him, we realize that we have not been misled.

Oswald Chambers

And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  John 14:13

If you abide with Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  John 15:7

And whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.  Matthew 21:22

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us… Ephesians 3:20

Friday

It was hard to get out of bed this morning.  It’s Friday.  It’s been a long week, and I’m tired and very much looking forward to a day that does not begin at 5:15am and does not involve waking up unnaturally to the jarring sound of an alarm clock.

And as I began my morning routine, a verse about weariness came to mind.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Galations 6:9 (NKJV)

I love the Amplified version: “And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint”.

Of course that verse isn’t talking about Friday mornings, and I’m pretty sure that it’s not equating spiritual reaping with being able to sleep in on a Saturday.  But being weary on a Friday morning can sure have the same feeling as being weary in life.  Instead of being just a long week for us, we think about the fact that it’s been a long stretch of hanging on, a long stretch of unanswered prayer, a long stretch of waiting and hoping and believing.  We want so much to sink into our “due season” – the time when all things are made right, when answers come, when faith is rewarded.

But we don’t have to wonder if that day is coming.  It is.  God has promised that to us.  Read the verse again.  We shall reap – if we don’t lose heart.  It doesn’t say, “we might reap”.  It doesn’t say “most people reap”.  It says we will reap.

We need to shake off the “Friday-morning-like” weariness and continue to do the things God has called us to do.  Don’t lose heart.  Don’t let the weariness of life overwhelm you.

And like a Saturday morning after a long and difficult week, your due season may be just around the corner.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.               1 Corinthians 15:8

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.                              2 Thessalonians 3:13

Then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Leviticus 26:4

The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. Psalm 145:15

(adapted from a post originally published in 2010 – I guess Fridays never change!)