My friend is dying. We have been the truest of friends over fifty years. My smart, (I am talking qualifies for Mensa smart), funny, and oh so beautiful friend. We do not speak of dying much. We have long since beaten that “dead horse” (pun intended) a while ago. The buckets of tears, prayers, questions, meeting new Doctors, holding it together for family members…yes, we do all of that together because we must.
My friend is not a person who wants or needs attention. In fact, she is always calling to check on me! She is navigating the cruelest road I can imagine, and I have seen my share of people dying due to my career. My Friend and I talk about how Death is hideous in any form. This does not mean my friend is always perfect or even doing okay because this disease is as cruel as any out there. There are days when she cannot speak or move. There are days she will not stop talking. There are days she cries all day long and other days where she is watching Netflix and stuffs her face with pizza…
We see each other as much as possible or speak on the phone. Every time we part, she says, “remember and Hold on for one more day.” Recently I asked her to explain , and she said, “do you ever enjoy something so much like Christmas morning, or going to your child’s first school play, or your wedding day (or divorce day), or even being with someone when they die but when that day or event is over you know you won’t feel that again for another year or maybe ever?” She looked at me with her spring-green eyes and said, “We, all of us, every single human, are Trusted by the God who made us with remembering those sparks that make life such a treasure. So, we string those bits and glimpses of human treasures together like rare pearls and wear them near our heart. We must remember what love is, remember the sensation of sun on our face, or salt water on our lips. Remember our lover’s breath in our ear and our baby’s smell, and all the while we know that the next day everything will not be like it was on THIS day! So, when I say Remember and hold on for one more day, I am just saying tomorrow could bring a moment of sweetness, ecstatic happiness, or smooth Joy or a sunset in colors never seen before. Tomorrow could gift us a happening, an event, a feeling, a treasure that we never had before…so I just keep remembering and hold on for one more day. When I die, I will be wearing those pearls.”
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 2Corinthians 2:9
Finding Courage…I sat by my window. It was a trial this summer with many days in distress and concern. I would love to tell you I handled it so spiritually but at times that is not the case. I cried. I prayed. I talked to the whole tribe of medical people but of course the most important thing is that I went to the Lord and God’s Word.
My heart was longing to have courage but I really wasn’t sure what Courage looks like. So, to the Bible I went. Then I went to prayer. I told God I don’t really know what courage means and asked him to help me find some.
In the many weeks I was housebound I began to read about men and women in the Bible who took and had Courage and as I read I realized that none of these people had courage of their own. They had Courage WITH them. Courage is not only a verb but it is also one of the very definitions of God himself. Courage much like grace, mercy, and love are not earned they are GIVEN and who is the giver of all thing? God of course, through Jesus!
People who have Godly Courage have it because the Holy One saw fit to send His Son to be born, live, die, and rise again, and then send His very on Spirit to live in us and give Holy gifts!. Courage is God’s gift to us as His children.
Oh, don’t get the idea that Courage is especially beautiful. This gift might be torn and tattered. It might be beaten and bleeding. It might be weeping until dawn. Courage is the opposite of Fear. Fear is never a gift from God. He does not give fear. Fear tells you God is NOT with you. Fear says you are weak and frail and alone.
I sit by my window. I am gaining my strength as summer is drifting away with a thunder in the heavens.
I sit by my widow. God’s presence abides as faithful and as sweet as ever and I have found his gift of Courage.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).
Four days ago I turned sixty-five. I always think and ponder life at this time of a new year. My sixth-five years of attempting to be a student of my human nature and yours have been interesting to say the least.
TRUTH: Humans are scared of what we don’t know, especially if it changes life as we know it.
Godly Wisdom: Change and failure MUST occur so that humans will grow. Most of us stop growing in our early twenties. Can you believe it? Ephesians 4:15-16 – But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ.
TRUTH: Parents desire things for their children that perhaps they missed or lost when they were children. Or worse, parents have the illusion of controlling their child’s happiness when it is simply a lie.
Godly Wisdom: Children are a gift and parents have a responsibility to raise them without resentment. Children are ours for a season in which we are to do our best to pour Truth into them. This can only be done in faithfulness to God’s Word and Jesus Christ. Ephesians1:13 “and you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit… “
TRUTH: Grown humans often still “desire” something we did not get in childhood.
Godly Wisdom: Childhood is filled with wonder but just as well it is full of disappointment trauma, abuse and hurt. These must be recognized, named, worked on but according to God’s Word the do NOT define us. John3:16. ” For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life. ”
TRUTH: Fear about what might happen is completely useless to us humans. 2Timothy1:7 ” for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. “
Conclusion: I am a feeble student at best. I have more questions than answers the longer I sojurn. I have seen the evil and the good. I have embraced God’s Holy Spirit pursuing me, and pointing me to Jesus Christ always! I have rebelled, stumbled, disobeyed, fallen, and I have been hated and have hated. I have seen the Transformation from dark was to light. I stand on the I infallible foundation that God is absolutely Good and their is no evil in Him whatsoever. I know this because humans are well acquainted with evil and there is none Good but God.
1 John 5:20 “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”
He said, “I get my meanness from the gutter and I get my kindness from God.” I sat down under the bridge with him and I said, “I think I could say the same.” He looked at me square in the eyes and I could see he was surprised by my response. He said, “You don’t look like you know much about the gutter.”
I smiled and said “looks can be deceiving don’t ya know?” Then he laughed. The sound of his laughter was one that made me smile. His laughter was like a nine month old baby’s belly laugh. The kind of laughter where nothing is held back and a sweetness of joy rings from it. I told him I had not laughed like that in ages and he said, “Oh you can only laugh like that when Fury and Thunder have cracked your soul and all the dark places have been opened up and cleaned out and all the pieces are strewn about and you cannot put them back together by yourself. I call it reconcilable purity. This laughter only occurs when you have lost your life to save it and when you were first but now you are last…”
I sat there in sober silence but something inside of me begin to tremble. “Who are you?” I whispered. He said, “I am just an old man who has been given a new heart and all day long I just like to go around and give my heart and life away to whoever might need it for a minute or two so that they can go about their day with some pure laughter…” The gorged veined, brown spotted hands palmed my face and the old man looked me in the eye and he said, “Go and be, not do. Go laugh and cry. Go and give your life away for someone else and you will see. You will laugh the laugh of “reconcilable purity.”
I am a writer. Writers love to read other writers. I can only speak for myself but I like to read to see if I can find that author who has written something I have never read before. I have always been an adroit reader and have read profound words but honestly they have been said before. I have read deeply meaningful stories but they have been told before because we know, according to The Preacher, that there is “nothing new under the sun.”
But what if, what if someone’s words drive a stake into the ground right where you are standing? Or what if someone’s story breaks the chains of your heart and your own story comes to life?
That is the treasure hunt for me. The words, the expressions, the Truth, and the lies…like looking for sea shells for hours and hours and days and days seeing each one as beautifully written. The broken shells, the beautifully colored ones, the plain ones, the big ones, the little ones…all treasures.
In the end of it all I still come back to the most profound words I have ever read and these words DO drive a stake into the earth where I am standing and they DO keep me grounded and rooted in the life I have been given. This author is the only One who has broken the chains of my heart and allowed my own story to come to life…
Just a handful of words you say…yea and what a handful of words they are!
“I am the light of the world. I am the bread of life. I am the Resurrection and the Life. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I am the door of the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the True Vine. If you have seen Me then you have seen the Father. I am the Alpha and Omega. I am the Lamb that was slain. I go to prepare a place for you so that where I am you may be there also…”