Jesus not only prayed for those who were with Him in The Garden, He also prayed for us.
He prayed that we would all be one with The One.
Tonight as I was listening to the song, In The Garden, I remembered my mother singing it to me. As I closed my eyes and walked back down memory lane, I saw her in a beautiful garden. She was singing that song.
But then to my surprise, I found others in that garden … those who are with me now and those I love, but no longer see. They were all singing, “He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His Own.”
We are one. Because we sing in different parts of the choir does not mean we are separate. The One connects us all!
I invite you to close your eyes, listen to this song and take a stroll through The Garden with God and see who else is there. (I share the link for the music, not the visual tribute to Elvis!)
“My prayer is not for them alone.
I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are One — I in them and You in Me —+so that they may be brought to complete unity.
Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”
I remember my parents, standing at the door with eager anticipation when we came home to visit.
I remember waking Jay’s sleeping Dad with a kiss, and the look of delight when he awakened, and realized I wasn’t a dream.
I remember Jay’s smile when he opened the door of his apartment and saw it was me.
I remember our daughter’s delighted squeals of joy when I picked her up from day care.
I am so blessed to now experience the joy of a big smile from our grandson when he sees it’s me.
Today I got an eager welcome from the grandpuppy. There is no way to adequately describe the delight of the wagging tail and wet kisses.
Tonight as I reflect on the joys of being welcomed into the lives of others, I am even more awed that God delights in me.
We live in a world that does not always welcome us. We may not be included. We may be rejected and sometimes even attacked physically or stung by hurtful words.
Sometimes we are neither accepted or rejected. We are simply unnoticed. We feel invisible.
We may come to view God through the lens of how others see us or how we see ourselves. We may not feel the joy of our welcoming Father God.
The Truth is God loves us and delights in us as His Masterpiece. He planned for us long before we were born. He had big plans for us then and He has never given up on the day we will grow into all He planned for us.
God not only smiles when He looks at you, He also bursts into song. You are welcomed. You are loved forever!
Hear what God says to you.
I have loved you with an everlasting love; with loving-kindness I have drawn you to Me. Jeremiah 31:3
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5
“I know the plans I have for you,” declares The Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With His Love, He will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs! Zephaniah 3:17
The news of the promotion of a friend to heaven can bring both joy and sadness. Such was the case when I learned of the passing of Ella Smith.
Ella and I were Nurse Managers at the VA Medical Center together. We became friends as well as coworkers.
After retirement, we kept in touch until the last few years. Now, as I am sure many others do, I remember Ella with love.
Ella held me up in more ways than one. Once she literally held me up.
I was nearly nine months pregnant. I should have been off duty as the doctor had advised. However, I thought I could waddle in for one more all day meeting.
Ella and I worked at the Leestown Division. The meeting was at the Cooper Drive Division. So we were not that familiar with the restaurants that supposedly were nearby.
However, Ella believed she had identified a good choice for lunch. “Near by” turned out to be a relative term. I reminded Ella of my special condition. She assured me it was just a short walk and the exercise would be good for me and the baby.
Even though doubtful, I trusted Ella. So off we went. The restaurant was not where we thought it was. Every time we stopped and asked someone, they assured us it was “just ahead.”
Finally we had reached the point where it was too far to walk back without stopping to rest somewhere. I felt like I was about to deliver that baby right then and there.
Ella grabbed me by the arm and literally helped transport me into the restaurant when we finally made it.
I then discovered it was a vegetarian health food type restaurant. I am not a fan of vegetables or food I can’t identify.
Ella said, “Well today’s the day you eat something new because you need your strength. I am definitely not carrying you back and I am not delivering that baby!”
After eating a lunch of what I would have classified as weeds, we began our journey back. And yes, Ella practically carried me all the way.
For years after that, when we were having a hard day, Ella would laugh and say, “We can do this. We’ve done harder things. I carried a pregnant woman down Rose street!”
Ella was devoted to her family and friends. I heard many stories about K.T. And Lamont, all told with love.
Ella was loyal to the people she supervised, even in the face of her own death. Ella was on duty the day a man we all knew came to the hospital and killed his wife, who worked on Ella’s unit.
Ella made difficult decisions to protect everyone who was working. And she comforted all those who survived that awful day.
We talked about death and the unpredictability of life. We reaffirmed our belief that even though we did not know under what circumstances we would enter Heaven, we were sure we would. And we were sure that when we both got there, we would have a grand reunion.
Ella, I look forward to that day. And in the meantime, when things get tough down here, I will remember the times you carried me!
I grew up in the land of porches. They were very common in South Carolina and Georgia.
There were front porches, side porches, and back porches. My grandparents’ house in Rincon, Georgia had a porch on every side of the house. It also had a porch on the second story.
Porches were an open invitation for friends and relatives to come and sit a spell, swap opinions on the limited world they knew about and philosophize a bit about Heaven and what we might have to do before we got there.
Porches were a place to sit and remember those who once sat on the porch with us, but now knew the up to the minute scoop on Heaven.
It was hot in the summers, but even after the coming of air conditioning, it didn’t stop the porch gathering. People needed the warmth of each other more than they needed the cool of treated air.
People got out their funeral home fans and fanned with one hand while sipping their sweet tea with the other. And whoever claimed the porch swing first got the benefit of an extra breeze from swinging.
Porches sometimes were places of reconciliation. My maternal grandparents ran a lumber mill. One of their friends got miffed about some business transaction and stopped speaking to them.
He passed their house each morning on his daily walk. He always looked the other way as he passed.
My grandmother sat on the front porch and remained unceasingly friendly, calling out each day, “Good morning, Mr. Smith!” He continued his silent pout and never spoke.
One morning, a pop up rain storm left him slogging past, drenched to the bone. My grandmother called her usual greeting, adding, “Would you like to come and sit awhile til the rain passes?”
He thought for a moment, and said, “I believe I will, Miss Nellie.” He came and they sat on the porch. By the time the storm cleared, their personal storm had passed too. They had frequent porch visits after that.
We live in a neighborhood where many people have porches. We have a wrap around front porch, a deck we call the back porch and a covered patio we call our lower porch.
In this time of pandemic, it has been comforting to sit on the front porch and talk to our neighbors at a social distance.
Sometimes we call to each other from our porches. It is our way of saying, “You are not alone. We are here for you.”
As they have always been, porches are a gateway to sharing life. That being said, I think I’ll go sit on the porch. It’s raining and it is the perfect spot to listen to the rain and smell the freshness that says spring is on the way!
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for The Glory of God! Romans 15:7
When something goes wrong, often the first thing we do is decide it is wrong. Usually the next thing we do is decide whose fault it is.
Then we sentence the offender and decide what the penalty will be for their sin.
Most of us know how to be a judge, jury and prison warden for every day life.
What did Jesus say about judging? He said, “Don’t do it.”
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
He then went on to graphically illustrate his point.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
When the woman was taken in adultery, the people were ready to stone her. Jesus wrote on the ground. We don’t know what He wrote. We think it may have been a list the sins committed by those who would stone her.
Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” No one stoned her.
What if every time we had the urge to judge someone, we let Jesus judge us first? What if we focused on repenting for those things for which God could easily judge us?
What if we gave up the urge to assign blame and simply asked The Lord what He wanted us to do about every situation?
When we refrain from judging and simply seek to understand, God responds in Love. He knows our heart. He knows the heart of those with whom we have issues. He reveals things we could never figure out ourselves.
And always, He will lead us back to the revelation of our own sins. Why do we not have the authority to judge? Because we are not higher than anyone else.
In God’s Eyes, all sins are equal. We are on a level playing field, all sinners in the need of God’s Grace.
When we repent before God for our sins, He gives us clarity of vision. The person we judged looks different.
If we are not permitted to judge, does it mean we become doormats? Do we just tolerate evil? No! It means instead of reacting as our emotions tell us to, we are still. We acknowledge God our Father, Who is the True Judge and we do what He directs us to do.
There is only one lawgiver and judge, He Who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Let all creation rejoice before The Lord, for He comes, He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His Faithfulness.