There is Hope in Our Mourning, Part 2

Last month I shared about our hope in knowing we will see my brother again when we get to heaven. This month, I find myself being reminded that when unexpected tragedy strikes, that hope is still alive to carry us through. This time, though, the news is still so very fresh.

Just over a week ago, a family gathered for worship in their little country church in Texas. It was a small church very much like where I grew up. As the associate pastor stepped up to bring the message, a gunman entered the sanctuary and hit nearly everyone inside with a bullet. Many were wounded, and 26 were killed that day – 10 victims representing 3 generations of the Holcombe family – including a baby yet to be born but already given nickname by older siblings.

My friend JoCheryl Holcombe’s brother was the one preaching that day. She lost half her family in a matter of seconds. I won’t go into the devastation – this part is within reach for us to imagine.

What I find harder to imagine is the unspeakable peace the remaining family members have been experiencing this week. Even they are astonished. But why should we be surprised? The world was praying for this family. They felt it. In fact, one family member commented to another, “did you feel it?” As they compared notes, they found that ALL of them felt a wave of peace wash over them the day after this horrible loss.

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

There was no natural explanation for this peace. But there was a supernatural one. God promised to send the Holy Spirit as our comforter and advocate. The prayers of so many surely moved the Spirit to be present in the hearts of those who were mourning.

Memorial Crosses at Sutherland Springs Baptist Church – Photo Getty Images/Scott Olson

The intention was defeat and destruction, but this horrendous act unleashed a torrent of love and goodness. I hope and pray this family will see fruit from this story for decades to come.

Today, the Holcombe family laid to rest their 10 family members. Yes, it was gut-wrenching, but it also was a testimony to the fact that these folks who so tragically lost their lives will live on through their story. A story of hope and love, and the knowledge that they are together in heaven now, and this is not the end.

Here are a few words written by JoCheryl in a public post on Facebook – I don’t think I could be so eloquent nor gracious at such a terrible time….

we made it through this day…i’m sad, but you know…i’m also filled with bliss because of LOVE, and…i’m actually filled with so much love, and friendship and memories and the joy from being around authentic awesome people whose faith is stronger than any tragedy…so proud of my brother, who i will miss so much…but oh WOW!!!! his awesome family…and my parents who exemplify joyful living, who know how to be strong and tender, joyful and heartbroken at the same time. as the days get easier, i want to write a few stories about those who have left and the rest who are left behind…so much inspiration…

yeah, my guts were wrenched today, but there were so many people there with their arms around us holding us, the comfort far outweighed the sorrow!

i am so grateful for the thousands of people who stood in line for hours, some only to get turned away because there was no more room, i am so grateful for all the people who drove HOURS to get here from all over Texas, (some drove 10 hours, and waited in line only to get turned away at the last minute ) i am so grateful for all the people who were there that i didn’t even get to see…i am so grateful for all the professionals who took a chaotic, unprecedented, event of enormous proportions and turned it into the most amazing beautiful celebration with the most poignant creative touches.

i am grateful for friends and neighbors, who hosted the most amazingly delicious meal and country gathering that was filled with love and joy, perfection and beauty.

i am grateful for old friends and new friends, and i am grateful for love that spans a lifetime…i am grateful that we have forever!

i am grateful for all the local and county police and sheriff’s departments and DPS for keeping the press away and coordinating traffic and managing a procession that stretched from one town to the next and still kept coming.. we had no intrusions as we celebrated and mourned.

i am grateful for the streets lined with people who stopped their days, held their hands over their hearts in vigil for that long procession paying tribute to my family, for all the signs along the highway, for all the flowers along the route, for the mountains of cards, for all the hugs, gifts and expressions of love, for the beautiful memorial at the church in Sutherland Springs where my family members graduated to heaven.

this was an awful thing but it was also awesome because love is eternal and we will all be together again. may the love unleashed today be ever present in all our lives

as i reflect on this last week i can say that there is absolutely no way a person could ever imagine what it has been like, i pray nothing like this EVER happens again to anyone…it should not have even happened this time…

so, when you think of those you love and it feels like you have forever, just remember you don’t, but then again, YOU DO! make this life matter, our soul is the only thing we take with us when we are done…it’s worth tending, it’s worth making meaningful deep connections and living each moment in the fullest most meaningful way. BECAUSE everything can change in a holy instant.

i love you all, thank you for making this so much easier for my family..i feel like i have thousands of new family members.

Our hope is not in this life, but those remaining still have to live this life without 10 members of their family, and it will be so very hard. Please continue to pray for the families of those lost in the tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

More info here: Houston Chronicle Article

Click here for Financial help for the Holcombe family

 

LIFE WORDS vs DEATH WORDS

Most of us are experiencing stressful times in our homes, jobs – even with traffic.  What we are thinking often comes out in words we wish we could take back. I even caught myself the other day using a death word on myself.  “What a dummy,” I said out loud. The reason we started this family blog four years ago was to encourage you to speak Life Words TODAY!!! That is a virtue we all need to work on.

You know that your words can bring life or death to yourself or to another person.  However, the repeated edification of words that build up another person’s perception of who he is, brings life and hope to one who has been beaten down by destructive words.  We see this often in children.  Those who have received encouragement as a child usually excel in school, talents, and careers.  There are exceptions, however to that rule in that some of our most gifted scientists, artists and musicians have overcome years of abuse.  What makes the difference?  Well, for one thing we read in God’s Word that God loves each one of us unconditionally.  When you know that, it changes everything! It changes how you feel about yourself and what your gifts are.

Psalm 139:14 states that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Each one of us are precious in His sight.  God cares about the sparrow that falls, but He cares about you even more!!!  In knowing this we can live above any death words our ears and heart take in.   You’re probably thinking…”Yeah, right.  Easy to say, but hard to do.”  But, you have worth! God has made you so unique there is not another person like you.

Today, i encourage you to read the Book of Proverbs.  There are 31 chapters.  If you read one chapter every day in a month you will gain wisdom and understanding of who God is…and who you are!

Each one of us have been given a free will by God.  In that free will you can choose to be abusive with your words (and actions), or you can give healing with your words (and actions).  Yes, we are just human after all, but controlling the tongue is a discipline that builds good character.

When you explode with anger you cannot take back your words or actions.  A runaway temper can cause depression, especially when you create a circle of resentment.  You become angry at yourself because you lost your temper……that adds guilt, which continues on in a vicious circle.

Proverbs 14: 17 “A person who quickly loses his temper does foolish things.”

Paul told the Christians in Ephesus, “In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are angry.”  If you stay angry it turns into bitterness, even hatred, and that, Paul says, “will give the Devil a foothold.”  That is when anger becomes sin.   Anger starts in the heart and mind.  “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it.”  Jeremiah 17:9

Since I know that about myself, I pray this prayer every day from Psalm 139:23.  Read it yourself this day and sincerely pray it.  God will help you speak life words, not death words!!!

There is Hope in Our Mourning

This past weekend would have been a milestone birthday for my brother, Ron. He was supposed to turn 65 on Saturday. But he’s not here.

Ron passed away suddenly in his sleep 6 years ago. He was not yet 59 years old. The same age as I am this year. Let me tell you, there’s something about passing up your older brother in age that messes with your mind. It feels unnatural, like a moment in time has frozen for him, but for you it marches on.

Ron was my older brother, and my sister Karen‘s little brother. He was the beloved uncle to Nikki and Kristin (all 4 of us are contributors to this Lifewords Today blog.) We miss him terribly, but there’s this overwhelming sense that his death was not the end. We do not mourn as the rest of the world mourns, this I know for certain.

After our parents both passed away, Ron used to amuse me by talking about how long it felt mom & dad had been in heaven. He would talk about the scripture found in 2 Peter 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” and then ponder out loud that if mom and dad have been in heaven for a year, it just felt like a couple of seconds to them. We would laugh, and I would especially laugh because he actually did the math on this, but math is just not my thing, so I would have to take him at his word.

As the days went on, he talked about heaven more and more. And sometimes I wonder, was God preparing his heart to go home? As I thought back on those conversations, the news of his death was softened just a bit. The Comforter had come, and revealed that there is so much more to look forward to.

In the aftermath of his death, my nephew Kary expressed his lament in a beautiful work of art that he later gave to me, and I cherish it deeply. I move it from place to place in our home so I always have a new perspective and a reminder of my brother’s impact while on this earth. As Ron’s birthday weekend was approaching, I noticed I had placed the sculpture next to a beautiful seashell and a photo of Half Dome in Yosemite. Two of Ron’s great loves on this earth were the sea and Yosemite, and I share that love with him.

If I do the math right, Ron has been riding the perfect wave in heaven for just a couple of seconds now. When we get there he will greet us with a smile, and show us the most perfect pristine beach. And it will be glorious. We miss you, Ron, but we know we will see you again.

 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Grateful For the Hard Times

Have you learned how to have a heart of gratitude? According to researchers, there are specific things you can do daily to cultivate a grateful heart. Some are obvious. Some not so obvious. But all are oh, so important.

Like learning to recognize God’s presence in everything. And by everything, I mean EVERY THING. The good, the bad and the ugly. No matter what, you have never walked alone.

Think back. Look for it. You’ll see.

A few years ago, my son was in the hospital for brain mapping for his seizures. I was there with him for a week, because they needed a family member familiar with his seizures to press a button every time one happened. Little or big. I loved getting to know my young adult son on this intimate level. We talked, we laughed. When he had visitors, I’d step away for a break. For the most part, we were captive room mates. It was a strangely enjoyable time.

We had spent family time with my older brother just a few days before entering the hospital, and he had promised to visit Chris that week. It was quite a drive, so nearly every day I would leave him a message describing the traffic, say I knew he had to get up so early for work, and he should wait until the weekend to come visit. All was well.

Except it wasn’t. When my brother didn’t show up to visit Chris by Friday evening, I called him several times. No answer. I called his neighbor, who said the car was in the driveway, but lights were out in the house. I called my nephew, a police officer, to ask what I should do. He immediately drove there, and looking through the window, could see my brother lying on his bed. He was gone.

I know what you’re thinking: WHAT could possibly be good about this situation? How can you be thankful for your brother being found lifeless in his bed?

Clearly, I’m not thankful for the death of my brother. What I am thankful for is the orchestration of all the surrounding events:

* God chose to call my brother Home in the gentlest of ways. He simply took a nap after work, and didn’t wake up. I’m grateful.

* I was helplessly locked in to a commitment of being in the hospital with my son. If I hadn’t been there, I would have driven out to my brother’s house and I would have found him. I’m grateful to be spared from that.

* My nephew is a police officer in the adjoining city and when he called the dispatcher, he knew her. He knew the protocol of what to do in this situation and said to me, “Tami, God arranged for this to happen when I could take care of it for you.” I’m grateful for him and his good heart.

* Officers arrived & they had a common ground with my nephew. When they looked through the house and found no evidence of foul play or suicide, they reported it as such and the mortuary was called to pick up my brother, and not the coroner. This never happens in Los Angeles county. I’m grateful.

There is more, but I think you get the picture. As I think back on that night, I see God’s handwriting all over the situation, and I am grateful.

Since then, I’ve entering into times of beautiful blessing as well as hardship. I see God’s hand in that, as well. And I am grateful.

So very grateful.

Look at your life. Think back. Take some time to see how God connected the dots in your helpless and even hopeless situations. Never once, did you ever walk alone.

I hope you’ll see.

There is so much to be grateful for.

VALUE and the Loss Of My Friend

What is it that we all want in life? How do we want to feel? What do we want from people, places and things?

Is it Love? Security? Respect? Sure. All of that. But those things can vary in meaning depending on the individual.

In light of the recent sudden and shocking passing of my dearest and deepest friend, I have been evaluating my priorities. My decisions. The way I spend my time. The people with whom I spend my time. My goals, my dreams. The way I treat myself and others. My relationship with God….

You get the picture.

Death somehow focuses us on life. Our mortality, and our immortality. Our legacy. It makes us present and focused on each moment.

When I think about my friendship with Amy, I think of all those things. But, encompassing them all is: VALUE.

I think that may be the word that sums up what we all want out of life.

TO VALUE and TO BE VALUED.

VALUE is both a noun and a verb. It’s a state of being AND a way of being. It is:

  1. the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. – worth, usefulness, benefit, gain, good, help, merit, importance, significance.
  1. considering someone or something to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of. – think highly of, rate highly, esteem, appreciate, respect, prize,         cherish, treasure.

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

“Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31

My dear Amy was an example of all these perspectives on value in my life. She made sure I felt valued and valuable – both by her and by God. She reminded me all the time. In fact, I know by the stories I’ve heard, that she made everyone she met feel this way. She gave love unconditionally to all, and had enough to go around. What a gift.

Let us all remember the importance of value – in every sense and use of the word. Placing value on ourselves the way God sees us, and treating others as valuable will change our lives. There is no greater charge in this life.

Let’s all do it the way Amy did it.

Don’t let a day pass without knowing YOUR value, and showing the ones you love how much you value them. For you are never promised tomorrow.

Amy 2RIP Amy Mohler Brooks, 8-22-76 ~ 1-18-17

We sure do miss you. <3

I Have Fought the Good Fight…

There’s something about celebrating the life of one who’s gone to heaven before us that makes us evaluate EVERYTHING. Am I right?

I find myself mulling over the questions: Will I be missed? Will people cry? Will my life be worth celebrating? Will my legacy live on? What is my legacy, anyway?

Our family suffered a loss last week when our cousin Steve went home to heaven. It wasn’t unexpected, Steve had suffered the ravaging effects of Muscular Dystrophy for nearly 40 years. But oh, the hole that is left by his passing.

I was fortunate to travel to Oregon to be with family at this time, and witness the great outpouring of love for my cousin. The family had beautiful tributes to share, but it was the comments made by his ham radio buddies that really got to me.

After being diagnosed at age 13, Steve immersed himself in the ham radio world. Before the internet was even a glimmer, he had acquaintances around the world. Ever friendly, ever helpful, Steve became a bright light in the community, even going on to win awards for his skills too numerous to count. He shared recipes for his favorite foods and “traveled” the world by talking with friends and strangers on his radio, and looking at photos on his computer. He was noted for being the first ham radio operator to make contact with the Space Shuttle, among so many other accomplishments.

Steven Richard Kelly ~ March 13, 1964 - August 4, 2016

Steven Richard Kelly ~ March 13, 1964 – August 4, 2016

This was a man who hadn’t left the house for probably more than a decade, and now I’m hearing story after story of how he had helped design landscaping, a radio tower, and even a kitchen or two. In the midst of his own pain and what appeared to outsiders to be isolation, Steve pushed past the limits of his diagnosis and used technology to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others. He lived the life he was given to the fullest he was able.

As I sat there listening to his friend’s tearful tribute, I was in awe of this man and felt very sorry I hadn’t made a point to spend more time with him each time I came to town. Obviously this is my loss.

Which brings me back to the task at hand… taking inventory of my life.

If I had a diagnosis rendering me housebound, would I proceed to make such a difference in the lives of others that they would pack the house for my memorial service? My thought right now is that I would waste an awful lot of time feeling sorry for myself and searching for a way out of my predicament.

Steve never did that. He knew where he was going, and he knew where his strength for each day came from. He didn’t complain about his lot in life, he made the most of it.

I believe God gives us glimpses like this to snap us out of our own complacency. We all can remember those who have risen above their circumstances with such a force of character it’s impossible to ignore. And impossible to avoid. Take a moment to think back on that person you know, and use their inspiration to go and change your world… and just maybe that world will say they are better for having known you.

Live the life you are given to the fullest you are able.

Thanks for the reminder, Steve. Tell everyone hi for us and keep that heavenly party jammin’ until we get there!

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NKJV)

 

 

The Walking Wounded

I can’t remember another time in my life when so many people around me are living in a constant state of pain. It’s debilitating. Yes, we can say it’s a choice to react to adversity by accepting the pain. And yes, we can choose joy… but we are human and we are tender and we are WOUNDED.

Our loved ones are in trouble, and we ache for their freedom.

Flags are flying perpetually at half staff these days, in response to the horror of the rash of terrorist attacks on innocent people. We cringe at the news of a new attack almost daily, and we mourn with those who’ve lost loved ones. The air is electric with emotion right now, and it is spilling over into our everyday lives.

The news shows images of death daily. Even if it’s not directly affecting us or someone dear, we still absorb the intensity of a world in mourning. So many in the mainstream population of the world right now are walking through their days in a state of uncertainty. They are traumatized, they are burdened, and they are afraid. A perpetual state of being the walking wounded.

There are days I feel like we are all living in a surreal movie setting. It’s as if reality has been suspended and this horrible new sequence of events has ushered in a new era of fear.

I’ve heard about the last days my whole life. Read depictions of it in books like the Left Behind series, marveled at how movies about the future were always so dark and depressing. And now, here we are in a moment of reality that rivals those fictional depictions. Today, I actually had the thought that I’m fearful of the future my grandson will be facing.

Should I be surprised? I’m not a theologian, and am certainly not here to discuss the biblical evidence of what to look for. That’s what we have Strong’s Concordance and Google for. But it goes without saying that there are some signs we can’t avoid.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.  

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Yes, all those who are brutal and abusive have left in their wake a people who are shell-shocked and hurting, and need to know that Jesus was wounded even as they are wounded. He sent the Holy Spirit to comfort us in our pain, and bring us hope.

Remembering the promises in Psalms made me lift up my face to the heavens and thank God for today. In spite of everything going on, we do have hope. And perhaps those of us who are able to carry more hope than others are tasked with the job of lifting up those who are still the walking wounded.

Photo: AdobeStock

Photo: AdobeStock

For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.  Psalm 37:9

 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

Psalm 62:5

 

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11

 

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Sitting with God in the Silence

It’s been a silent week.

Not in the sense that I haven’t interacted with people or done work or spent time with friends. It’s more like I know God’s there, but he’s not speaking. And that’s OK. We are sitting in the silence together.

Last Sunday, as we were celebrating Christ’s resurrection, he chose to take a precious little life from this earth to be with him in Glory. Tori was the 19 month old daughter of some friends, and I was just one of thousands who had fallen in love with her. Before she was even born and her mama would share the ultrasound photos, we were oohing and aahing over her beauty. When she was born, we oohed and aahed some more over her stunning eyes and rosebud mouth. Ever the photographer, her mama would grace the internet with her precious image so that much more than just family could gaze upon her beauty. Even before that awful genetic disorder reared its ugly head, Tori’s tribe was gathering.

Tori Photo by Lesa Brackbill

Tori
Photo by Lesa Brackbill

Then, just when Tori should have been learning to roll over and pull herself up to the cheers of her many admirers, her responsive little face stopped responding. The smile had gone. Her cooing had stopped. Her big beautiful eyes remained, but her once animated expression was fading. Within a matter of days her parents learned their precious daughter was dying.

Over the next year, I witnessed the most awful, terrible, beautiful thing. As her health began to deteriorate, Tori’s parents were not bitter. They were not angry. They were filled with grace and trust in a God who had let them down. Yes, they must have had overwhelming sad moments. They are human, after all. But we watched as they now embarked on a journey of grace, filled with happy times and even joy.

Where does this come from?

When God doesn’t obey our commands (i.e. prayer requests), what are we left with? We are left with the silence. But in the silence, he is still there.

In the silence, God is still there. He is.

Tori is healed and whole now and most likely sitting on Jesus’ lap, telling all the other kids about how she did more things on her bucket list before she was two years old than most people do in a lifetime.

We are left with the silence. When I say, “but God, what about that dream you gave me that Tori was healed?”

Silence.

When I look at my sweet grandson who came into the world just a month after Tori did, I see a whole, healthy child and ask, “why them, God? How did you see fit to spare our family this heartache?”

Silence.

But somehow, the silence is filled with peace. The kind of peace we will never understand. In those moments, God is silent. But he is present.

He sits with us in the silence.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

I had the honor of meeting Tori in person, when she was with her sweet mama, Lesa, to fulfill her bucket list item of visiting her mom's Alma Mater (Azusa Pacific University)

I had the honor of meeting Tori in person, when she was with her sweet mama, Lesa, to fulfill her bucket list item of visiting her mom’s Alma Mater (Azusa Pacific University)

Holding sweet Tori's hand while she slept.

Holding sweet Tori’s hand while she slept.

Tori’s story is far from over. Her parents are committed to keeping her memory alive and raising awareness for newborn screening for Krabbe disease. Follow their journey at thebrackbills.com

Warrior

I am a warrior. I am fighting. I am fighting in a battle. The enemy is fierce. He is a stealer, killer, and destroyer. He is darkness. He is evil. He is negative. He tells lies. He wants me to loose, to give up. He tries to tear down my family. He tries put curses and chains on them, on me. He wants to rip us a part. He wants us to be alone. He wants us to think we are the only ones in this dark world. He wants us to have diseases and illness. He is trying to destroy us.

 

BUT

 

I am a warrior. I am fighting. I am fighting in a battle and GOD is on my side. He is the bringer of life. He is all-powerful. He is mighty. He is light. He is joy. He is good. He is faithful. He tells us truth. He gives us hope. He builds us up. He restores us. He is the healer. He is our rock and foundation. He sets us free.

 

We have nothing to fear with GOD on our side.

 

“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

 

I know the evil one wants us to be afraid, but knowing that the all powerful GOD is on my side keeps me at ease.

 

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. “ 2 Timothy 1:7
“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deut 20:4

 

The Message version of Deut 20:4 says this,
“When you go to war against your enemy and see horses and chariots and soldiers far outnumbering you, do not recoil in fear of them; God, your God, who brought you up out of Egypt is with you. When the battle is about to begin, let the priest come forward and speak to the troops. He’ll say, “Attention, Israel. In a few minutes you’re going to do battle with your enemies. Don’t waver in resolve. Don’t fear. Don’t hesitate. Don’t panic. God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win.”

 

God is fighting with us and for us! We are not alone in this battle. I am fighting but I am not fighting by myself. I have God with me, and I also have fellow believers fighting with me. We are more powerful than evil because God’s great power is inside of us.

 

The victory is ours because of GOD!

Don’t lose hope. Don’t fear. GOD IS WITH YOU!

You are a warrior.

IMG_0210

(Guatemala 2014 on the World Race)

The lyrics of this song remind me of how the victory has been won. Jesus died on the cross and conquered death of the evil one and rose to life in victory!

 

“For the Cross”

Bethel Music
The life You gave
Your body was broken
Your love poured out
You bled and You died for me
There on that cross
You breathed Your last as you were crucified
You gave it all for me

Hallelujah, what a Savior
Hallelujah, what a friend
Hallelujah, King forever
We thank You for the cross

There in the ground
Sealed in the darkness
Lifeless laid
The frame of the Father’s son
In agony
He watched His only Son be sacrificed
He gave it all for me

But on that day
What seemed as the darkest hour
A violent hope
Broke through and shook the ground
And as You rose
The Light of all the world was magnified
And You rose in victory

Hallelujah, it is finished
Hallelujah, it is done
Hallelujah King forever
We thank you for the cross

And though our sins are scarlet
You have made us white as snow

Remember Me

I tucked a memory away into my heart, thinking I would bring it out often and re-live again the days so dear. Along with the memory of a dear face, I tucked memories of a personality, of loving ways, of all the little things that make a person dear. But I found memory to be a strange paradox that cut the heart like a sharp-edged knife, yet was very sweet. I longed for the day when memory would be less sharp, yet feared lest I lose the closeness of a loved one taken from our sight.

The years have passed; time has healed the dreadful hurt and the memories tucked away so carefully are still there, but with the passing of days they wander in and out of my mind with less frequency than before. But still they are free to wander and have become like a passing breeze that slips in and out of the mind at the mere mention of a word, the glimpse of a face, the sound of a voice, or the memory of a sight shared.

How wonderful a thing is our memory. How good it was of God to give us this faculty to use. How much pleasure we derive from the old scrapbook filled with memories, or the snapshot album of treasures irreplaceable.

photo-album-631084_1920

Photo: Public Domain via Pixabay @condesign

Jesus very definitely pointed out the place of memory in our worship of Him. When He sat at the table with His disciples just before He was to journey into that garden and drink the cup of the world’s sorrow and sins, paying the price to redeem us back to God, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, and said, “this do in remembrance of me.”

I have in my heart a memory book which concerns only One, and that is the Lover of my soul – Jesus Christ. He has asked that I sit at the Communion Table with Him; that while there, I remember His goodness, His sacrifice for me. I’m afraid that often our coming to the Communion Table is a matter of a duty to be performed – a ritual of the church, when Christ would have us come with reverence, with a feeling of entering hallowed ground.

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He knew how prone our minds were to let slip the most precious memories; to allow the former treasured thoughts to sneak into the dark recesses of our minds to be brought to the foreground less and less as the busy days pass by. And he asked that when we come to the Communion Table, we do so “in remembrance.”

Can we do less than honor our Lord in this manner?

(This article, originally titled, “This Do In Remembrance,” was originally published in The Foursquare Magazine in 1958.)