Many of us try very hard to cover up our struggles, our wounds and scars. We believe they will somehow detract from our Christian witness.
And yet Jesus, who could have resurrected without His wounds and scars chose to give a vivid Life Lesson.
He called Thomas’ attention to His wounds, even encouraging him to touch them. Why? Was Jesus seeking pity? No!
He wanted him (and us) to understand that reality was He had suffered. He had already told them plainly, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)
But the greater reality came through His next Words. “But take heart! I have overcome the world!”
Whatever has happened, is happening or will happen in your life, He can still bring New Life through you. Your scars are not there for you to pick the scabs off and be hurt all over again. Your scars are there to remind you Jesus is covering and healing your wounds.
I find most inspiring those people, who are honest and up front about their struggles, but also show true beauty even while under attack.
They proclaim faithfully through their lives the reality of
“The One Who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world!” 1 John 4:4
Many of us have sung with great enthusiasm, “All to Jesus I surrender.”
But then He asks us to surrender something we just can’t part with. And we say, “Well, I surrender all, but that.”
We say we would go anywhere to advance God’s Kingdom.
But then He asks us to go somewhere we would never want to go.
What if every place we end up is really our mission field assignment? What if our assignment is not to preach the gospel with our own rhetoric or service, but it is to be truly surrendered to Jesus living Life through us?
I once had a group of nursing students to whom I gave the assignment to ask their nursing home resident what their plans were for the future.
The student assigned to the resident who was over 100 years old and bedfast balked at the assignment. The student said, “How can she answer that when she doesn’t have a future?”
I did not let her off the hook. I encouraged her to ask. When she reported back, we all smiled at her resident’s plans for the future.
The elderly lady said, “I’m going to lie right here as long as The Lord lets me and I am going to let you learn on me.”
Would you surrender all to Jesus? Would you go anywhere He wanted you to go? Would you be willing to let Him fully live in your body in whatever way He chooses?
When He says, “Who shall I send and who will go for us,” would you say, without hesitation, “Here am I. Send me!”
Here is the link to a song to reflect on your answers.
I was very blessed to have had a wonderful mother. Thank you for letting me share my memories of her this past week.
However, as we now celebrate Mother’s Day, let us not forget there are many who cannot celebrate in the same joyful way.
I invite you to join me in prayer for these mothers.
Those who did not have loving mothers. Their memories are painful.
Those who were left by their mothers. A part of them remembers growing near their mother’s heart, but they never had the joy of a continued sharing of life.
Those who had abortions and regret it. Many carry the silent grief of all they could have had, but chose not to. No matter what the reason for their choice, their hearts still remember what they tried to get their bodies to forget.
Those who are raising children, who are challenged by disabilities. They carry burdens every day as they help their children face the world. They are tired. They are stressed. But they never give up.
Those whose children have left and never returned. They carry the pain of waiting for the phone call or waiting for the closed door to open again.
Those whose children have chosen badly, in spite of all their efforts to teach them and guide them. They are horrified, as they visit their children behind plate glass or in cemeteries. They still ask themselves what they could have done to prevent such tragedies.
Those whose children have died, whether it was from miscarriage, illness, accidents or senseless violence. They still seek answers. They still long for their children.
Those who long to be mothers, but it has not happened yet. They are already mothers in their hearts, but their bodies are not there yet.
Those whose mothers have died, whether young or old. They were not ready to let them go. They long to spend this Mother’s Day with them. They need their touch just one more time.
We see all of you in spirit and ask our Father God, Creator of the universe, to lift you up and strengthen you and give you renewed hope and faith.
You are treasured mothers and daughters. We remember you and lift you up.
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. Isaiah 66:13
I worked as a nurse for many years. I saw death and grief up close. I always shared grief on some level.
But I have found that now that I am retired, I feel the grief of others even more intently. It is as if I “gunny sacked” some of that grief while I was in the midst of it.
When you are a health care worker trying to save lives, you cannot take the time to fully feel. You have to stay focused. You have to be there for others. You have to be calm, at least on the outside.
One of the dangers of not fully feeling is that it becomes habitual. As patients, we have seen many nurses and doctors who were so emotionally distant we felt we were being cared for by robots.
When I supervised nurses and later taught nursing, I always told them that after taking care of patients, it was essential they take a break.
They needed to feel the enormity of their tasks … their privilege to be a part of it … and also the necessity of releasing their feelings of powerlessness in not being able to control every outcome.
I told them that after every death, they needed to take a few moments and realize they had been at the climax of a life lived on earth. Even if we did not know the patient well, there had been others who did know them and love them.
Today we learned of the death of a 20 year old exercise rider, who fell off a horse at Keeneland.
I did not know her, but as I read the news, I realized there were those who were caught up in grief … trying to process the unthinkable … trying to release hopes and dreams for the future without her.
I was talking to Jay about the tragedy when we went to the lake at Lexington Green. We always enjoy saying hello to the swans, geese and ducks. This time of year is always exciting as new babies are being born.
But tonight was different. As we passed through the parking lot, we saw a duck repeatedly pulling at something. Being curious, we circled around and then got closer.
And there was the continuation of the grief story. The duck’s mate lay obviously dead on the payment. And he was frantically trying to revive her.
He pulled at her over and over again. He put beak to beak as if attempting to give her CPR or gather up all the kisses he would not have in the future.
My heart broke for him. How does one comfort a duck … or a person? Nearby stood another duck, present, but not intruding … being there with his friend and just allowing him to have these final moments of intimacy.
We watched and prayed for them. It is what Jesus asked of His Friends when He was in sorrow in The Garden of Gethsemane.
As the tears came later at home, I realized I was crying for all who grieve tonight. I feel it. I share the burden. I care. I am praying for you.
And I am praying for a little duck who has lost his mate. Jesus said,
“… two little sparrows … not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave (consent) and notice.”
I have always loved planning and organizing. I love wading into a mess and seeing how I can transform it into something neat and orderly.
I am a list maker. I try to take what I know and make a five year or more plan that seems reasonable and possible.
I like routines. I like the thought that at a certain time I am going to do something. It gives me a feeling of security, like there really is a future and one where I will be comfortable.
If things don’t turn out as I planned, I always review in detail where I went wrong … what I overlooked … how I can be sure this never happens again.
I think God shakes His Head in sadness as He sees me trying to run His World and in the process, picking up many burdens I don’t need to carry.
I overthink things way too much.
I absorb far too many anxieties that turn into outright fears.
I struggle with information overload as I try to have enough knowledge to have power over my world.
For the past few years, our lives have been full of unplanned things, some disastrous, some exciting and joy filled. It seemed God wanted to teach us a lesson. When we did not get it to begin with, He presented it in another way.
What was that lesson? Quite simply, God is God and I am not.
In some of the most challenging of times, I asked The Lord where we were going. He said, “We are here.”
I thought He did not understand. I restated my case, “If I don’t know where we are going, how can I make a plan to get there?”
He repeated, “We are here.”
“But … but … but … what about the plan?”
He said, “For 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.”
“But,” I persisted, “When are You going to tell me the plan?”
I thought I heard a great celestial sigh. Then He said, “I did already. Here it is.
You are here.
I am here with you.
I have The Plan.
Follow Me, step by step.
I will tell you everything you need to know when you need to know it.
I take comfort in Paul’s admission that he was still working on some things, but he had not attained them yet.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!”
Here is the link to a song about trusting God. I invite you to enjoy and reflect.