Jan 16th, 1999

IMG_0511.JPGJan 16. The exact date I sometimes forget, but I always remember it was a Sunday.
We went to church last night, and coincidentally we went over the verses in Mark where the sadducees are trying to stumble Jesus and ask him hypothetically if the same woman married a man who then died and she then proceeded to marry his subsequent brothers as each died and eventually she dies. Who in heaven would she be married to? And Jesus responds that we aren’t given in marriage in Heaven (Mark 12). Pastor Eric then went on to describe that we are complete in heaven, and we will recognize each other, and there won’t be any lack. As he went on, describing a difficult topic and question so beautifully about loved ones in heaven. I remembered Debbie and could hardly believe the timing of the message, two days before the anniversary of her death.
I wish I could say that when I think about Debbie, that the first thing I think of is how great she was. How I used to love going out to the barn and milking the goats with her. Fondly, I was nicknamed her “barn buddy”. But because Debbie was diagnosed with cancer when I was around 5, my memories of her before are few.
I remember the hospital bed and throw up bowls. I remember her losing her hair from the radiation and wondering at it growing back a darker color. I remember her being in a coma. I remember Dad, Mom and Grandma taking shifts of staying at home with us kids and staying at the hospital with Debbie. I remember her being to weak to walk, and Dad daily helping her out of her wheel chair and holding her, trying to help her learn to walk again. I remember her speech being so slurred, I could no longer understand what she was saying. I remember the nurses coming and going, the friends and family bringing meals, babysitting. I remember selling the animals and crying when they were sold. And I remember that Sunday night, when Jeremy was on a date with his first girlfriend, and all of us younger siblings were home watching Tom and Huck on the “Wonderful World of Disney” when Dad and Mom came in the family room, crying, and told us that Debbie had gone to be with Jesus.
For a long time I thought I was okay with Debbie’s death, but after becoming a mom and having my own babies, I didn’t know it would open a flood gate of fear and anxiety about the nightmare my family lived through. No one wants to ever lose a loved one. And after having a baby, the thought of anything happening to that baby makes me sick to my stomach and question life, God,and what the heck is the point of life! It has been and is a very real struggle.
The message Pastor Eric gave could not have been more perfect for me to hear. Focusing on the pain of Debbie’s sickness and death isn’t the whole story. This life isn’t all there is. Jesus conquered death so I don’t have to fear it. I will see Debbie again, and there will be no lack.
I don’t want to ever lose another loved one, but someday, hopefully in the very distant future, it will happen. And if I’m going to survive emotionally in this life, I have to believe and hold on to, that there is more. Heaven is real, and God is good. I don’t understand Him, and I’m walking the path of healing, and learning to trust. But it is hard.
“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:54-58‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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God’s Way is Perfect, My Way Isn’t

Psalm 18:30

This God—his way is perfect;

   the word of the Lord proves true;

   he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

I know in my heart God’s way is perfect, but often times, its a war in my head that the way I think life should go is perfect. Sometimes I’m so blindsided by my own thoughts and plans that when God changes them, I get upset. I trust Him. I don’t trust him. It’s a war inside.  And then, after battling with God over a season of time of why did life have to happen this way, something changes, and suddenly things make sense! Hindsight is always the clearest. Looking back, I can see why God changed my plans, and how God used that to draw me more to himself with a deeper understanding of Him and how good He really is. You realize if you had gone the way you planned, you would have never had the blessings of going God’s way. Then, you find yourself thanking Him for His master plan and asking forgiveness for your doubt. As every year of my life goes on, I am never where I planned I would be. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am where God planned me to be. My heart’s cry becomes more and more to be, “Jesus, please help me to trust You are good no matter what happens!”

I am ashamed at how often I have gotten angry and doubtful at God when my life takes unexpected turns. But Jesus, with His loving father’s heart, has never turned me away when I come running back to Him. It doesn’t matter how many times we have run away, God is always willing to take us back.

Often times, what causes doubt of God is my past hurts and disappointments. Rather than dwelling on God’s faithfulness, I dwell on old wounds. I become so consumed with the hurt, I lose sight of Hope.  Some wounds seem to impossible for God to heal, or it’s been years and He doesn’t seem to be moving quick enough to restore that which was lost. But it is in those times that I have to take hold of and cling to for dear life, the promises of God.

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11

God is not out to get me. He is not out to ruin my life. People have hurt me, tried to destroy my family. Anger, bitterness, unforgiveness and jealousy have tried to control and dominate my life. But Jesus, is the only one who saves me and gives me Hope!

Psalm 37:3-7

Trust in the Lord, and do good;

   dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.[b]

4 Delight yourself in the Lord,

   and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord;

   trust in him, and he will act.

6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,

   and your justice as the noonday.

7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;

   fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,

   over the man who carries out evil devices!