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).
There is an old Cherokee proverb that says there are two wolves at war within us. One wolf desires to do what is right, to choose Love every time. The other wolf is hateful and selfish and ravages everything and everyone to get his own way and the wolf that wins is the wolfyou Feed.
The man said to his son,
“One wolf is evil, which is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
“The other wolf is good, which is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
I find this interesting in that this is exactly what the Bible teaches us. As human beings we can either feed our lust, lying, selfish, dark Sin nature or we can feed our Spirit. We can think on things from above.
God is Spirit and Jesus said that to truly worship and relate to God you must be given the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the only way to have a Holy Spirit.
My Mother said to me once, “if you feed your flesh you flesh will grow, if you feed your Spirit your Spirit will grow.” At the time I didn’t know she got that straight out of Romans chapters 7 and 8 and Galatians 5.
So which wolf are you feeding? It is a daily choice.
“The fact is that sin is a bigger disaster than we think it is and grace is more amazing than we seem to be able to grasp that it is. No one who really understands what Scripture has to say about the comprehensive, every-aspect-of-your-personhood altering nature of sin would ever think that anyone could muster enough motivation and strength to rise to God’s standard of perfection. The thought that any fallen human being would be able to perform his or her way into acceptance with God has to be the most insane of all delusions. Yet we all tend to think that we are more righteous than we are, and when we think this, we have taken the first step to embracing the delusion that maybe we’re not so bad in God’s eyes after all.” Paul Tripp
You better pray everyday
You better read your Bible every day.
You better join the choir, teach Sunday school, be a missionary, or do some kind of ministry.
You better tithe.
You better be at Church every time the door was open. (This one was easy because my Dad was a Pastor.)
So, if you are out there trying to earn your way into relationship with God it is a burden that you need not carry and when you realize this Truth it is actually a relief. Then you can start to actually do and say the things that please God by letting His Spirit live in you.
It can be a rough ride and not a pretty sight, but Jesus did not come and die for us because it was comfortable or pretty. He did it because he understood and still understands that it is HE who brings life from sin and death, and it is Jesus in you that will produce “good works and fruit.”
Your behavior will change because Jesus transforms our hearts and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, the hands serve, and the love overflows. I know, because I spent years trying to be good enough and failed and then as I lay all of that down I began to change.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
…all civilizations, and ages both on earth and heaven hinges on them …they profoundly transform those who hear, say, and believe them …they annihilate shame, guilt, burden, loneliness,depression, and death …they provide supernatural joy, freedom, and hope …they expose and destroy all lies, suffering, and evil …they hold all the mysteries of creation, time, and purpose …they drag “lies” kicking and screaming into the light and banish darkness …they wreak havoc on all evil authority and authenticity …they redefine success and sincerity and sacrifice …they are immediately understood and leave their mark when spoken …they hold in their meaning all beginnings and endings Three words… “He is Risen”