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

Quitting Too Soon?

We’ve all done it at some point. Given up on something just short of a breakthrough. Is there something difficult, but good and big in your life that you are considering walking away from?

My Pastor made a point in his Resurrection Sunday sermon last weekend that stood out to me. The story was from Luke chapter 24 about Cleopus walking back home on the road to Emmaus. He walked with another, and their heads were hung low in defeat. They had believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but Jesus had died on a cross Friday night, and they were headed back home early on Sunday.

Jesus actually caught up to them and asked them what they were talking about. They told Jesus, whom they did not recognize, that they had seen Jesus die and they were disappointed that he was gone and that all they had believed was not true. HA! Their messiah and their hope was right there beside them, but they didn’t even recognize him!

Jesus had told them all that he would die and that he would resurrect, numerous times. Cleopus still gave up and started walking back home to his old familiar place TOO SOON! Shouldn’t he have waited around on Sunday to see Jesus resurrected as he had promised?

Cleopus gave up just short of the breakthrough and headed back to his comfort zone! Thankfully for him, Jesus pursued him on his wrong path anyway! He ALMOST MISSED the most important moment that could have ever happened to him!

Whatever you are doing in life that is worth doing and biblical – whether it be a challenging job, building and staying with a relationship, getting in shape, eating healthier – that you feel like giving up on because you are not “seeing results,” STICK WITH IT! KEEP GOING! You have been promised the results, and they will come if you keep on. They say 80% of the progress comes in the last 20% of the time spent on a project. Push forward and don’t turn back to your comfort zone and quit! As Dory would say in Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming!”

DON’T QUIT TOO SOON OR YOU WILL MISS YOUR BREAKTHROUGH!

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Freedom in Death

I was thinking about my last post on freedom and God was reminding me that the only way we have freedom is through death; the death of his son Jesus. Today is Good Friday, the day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus.

You may be thinking; why would a father send his son to die for so many unworthy people? God loves his son, Jesus, but told him he was to die for ordinary people like you and me. Why would he do something like that?

FREEDOM.

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God knew a sacrifice needed to be made because the devil had a grip on us. We deserve to die and go to hell, but Jesus died in our place so that we would have the choice to experience freedom.

But why would God do this?

Because we are his children. We were created in the image of God. God sacrificed his son in order for the rest of his children to experience freedom.

“So God created mankind in his own image; in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1

But freedom doesn’t only come through the death of Jesus, but through the RESURRECTION! Jesus is ALIVE!

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” John 11:25

He conquered death for us and came out victoriously over the evil one. Through victory comes freedom. This freedom is in Jesus and because of Jesus. This freedom is not something that is forced upon us. It is a gift. We can make the decision to receive this freedom or not.

If a friend gives you a gift, do you reject it?

I don’t. I love gifts! Who doesn’t?

Why would we treat this gift of freedom any differently? And yet we do. We think we can live this life on our own, but the devil is still out there. He is still after God’s children. It is our choice to make the decision to stand in the freedom given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” 2 Cor 3:17

Now let’s celebrate FREEDOM not only this weekend but for the rest of our lives here on this earth!

 

Happy Easter!

He has risen!