Monday, July 31, 2017

Numb in Laodecia

... you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.    Revelation 3: 17-20

I am numb. This world around me is dying and mostly I care for my own pleasure if I am honest about it.

Jesus stands knocking at the door of my heart, in the day of being connected 24/7. The Lord of the Universe waits, asking for permission to come in and fellowship with me, but I am too busy.
Maybe I have ear buds on or am catching up on the latest movie from Netflix.

People outside the church are hurting, looking for love in all the wrong places. I am too quick to point my finger and judge them rather than to show them God loves them and cares. 

It's easy for me to love others when they love me back. But what if they don't, how do I go on loving them? Facing that failure reveals how little I  do love with His agape love and not my own human love. I am numb.

Technology exploded in my lifetime. They forewarned of it in books like 1984 and Future Shock. But nothing could fully prepare us for this time in human history.  My humanity is only capable of so much expansion at one time even as the world goes on  with  attempts to "better" God's creation. In spite of microchips and bionic brains, in my spirit I know that will not solve the problem of human loneliness.  Our technology does not answer this great need of man, but the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ does.
In dying for me, He made a way for me to be with Him forever. The one who loves me unconditionally proved it by dying for me and all mankind on the cross.

 That same Lord knocks at the door of my numb heart.  Every day a plethora of choices comes my way for books to download on my device, movies to watch, songs and news shows to listen to.  Every single day they just keep on coming, hounding me to take a detour from the moment by moment fellowship with God. But still, He waits.

 Maybe I hear a knock right now, in spite of the buzz all around me.  God of the Universe is asking my permission to fellowship with Him? How can that be? Yet how patiently He waits until I realize that nothing else in this big ole world will fill the crater inside my stony heart.

If I let Him in, at times He  rebukes and disciplines me. It's for my highest good, not my destruction. Better for me to get the discipline here in time than at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Oh Lord I am numb in Laodecia. It's about me, myself and I and You are so often shut out. I live in the richest nation in the world and all the pleasures it gives does not fill the void inside without You.
Yet by faith I can answer that door for You to come in and give me peace, blessed peace. Oh Lord You wait patiently, but opening the door is up to me. Amen.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Eight Years Ago...By His Mercy

...not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit                   Titus 3:5

By His mercy eight years ago today I started this blog called inchristalone-byhismercy.

By His mercy there have been 240 posts, in which my goal was to glorify my Lord and Savior in some small way. Even if one person was directed to look away from themselves and unto Him for salvation it would be worth any time or trouble on my part.

Eight years ago when I started this blog I was not yet a mother in law, or a grandmother. I did not have an empty nest.

I was still working part time, still coloring my hair, still in my forties!

Where has the time gone? Day by day and moment by moment it's slipped away.

My father is gone now, and we are busy helping my mother into an assisted living facility in the next few weeks.

By His mercy, the day I was baptized at Northgate Bible Baptist Church, the pastor quoted this Titus 3:5 verse before plunging me into the water. That was over thirty years ago, but  still I remember it.

How I loved hearing that verse, not by works of righteousness that we have done...

It was like drinking an ice cold glass of lemonade when my soul was parched with trying to be "good enough."

It is the same way with my Christian life too. It is not by deeds of righteousness that I do that I grow in grace and knowledge of Him but simply according to His mercy.

Mercy in the Greek is eleos. In Vine's Expository Dictionary, the definition of mercy starts with: 
ELEOS is the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it. It is used... of God, who is rich in mercy, Eph. 2:4, and who has provided salvation for all men, Tit. 3:5, for Jews, Luke 1:72, and Gentiles, Rom. 15:9. He is merciful to those who fear Him, Luke 1:50, for they also are compassed with infirmity, and He alone can succour them...

Any progress I have made between then and now is by His mercy. I hope, when I stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, there will be evidence of some. Yet consider this thought, which made me stop and think, for 7-17 in None But the Hungry Heart:

It takes more to break inertia than to ease momentum. Misdirected zeal is more easily corrected than inert sloth...

It is possible, and very humiliating, to be awakened to the fact, that though we have had a measure of zeal for the Lord, that we have barely known the things we should have known, nor the behavior that is becoming to us in this marvelous day of grace.  

But it is the love of the Lord Jesus that would lead us on, through the judgment of ourselves and ways, into deeper communion with Himself to be better representatives of Him here in whose likeness we shall soon appear. 
I could have done more in this eight years worth of time, but  I press on. I want to simply show the world by my words and actions that He is worth knowing, worth pursuing with all my heart.  Think back to where you were eight years ago. Are you where you want to be now? Let His love motivate you to press on. In the end, it is all that matters.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3: 13-14

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Losing, Loving, and Waiting for Departure

 My dear  Mom at a park near her house. She didn't me to take a picture but I told her I wanted a memory for when she was gone.

Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. Proverbs 23:22

A sweet writing friend just lost her mother. I felt stunned hearing how quickly her mother passed, but rejoiced that she went peacefully. I know that day of losing my own mother looms, and I  wonder how long it will be until she joins Dad in heaven.

Mom is in the midst of deep grief from losing her partner and best friend of 58 years. Now my sisters and I have made the painful decision to get her a little efficiency at a senior care home not too far from my home. It wasn't our first choice, but there seemed to be no other good option, and even mother realized that this must happen and agreed to it. Mom can't live alone in her home in the country when winter comes, so she must say goodbye to her home too. My heart aches.

How the words in Proverbs which say, "do not despise your mother when she is old,"  cut me to the quick at times when I grew impatient with her slowness getting out the door, or repeating herself, or hearing her complaints. It must be easy to despise people when they are old or Solomon would not have written it. 

We all love babies, so innocent and sweet with their fresh skin and wonder at the world. But loving the ones that are vulnerable on the other side of the spectrum? In this culture we live in, youth are exalted but the old and grayheaded are easily despised. In other cultures it isn't like this. 

When I was younger  I thought I knew so much. I assumed old people didn't know a thing. I thought I would do better than my parents did when I had my own children.

One day I sat on the floor with my baby and played with him, attempting to stimulate his little brain for learning. I suddenly realized how woefully unprepared I was to be his mother, to raise and nurture him, teach him what he would need for life. But there was no manual to read to make myself ready.

Rather, I was in for a rude awakening. My own rebellious heart haunted me when I saw it in my children. Over time, my heart softened toward Mom and Dad and their imperfections.

They were just two hurting human beings who got together and decided to have a family. They were going to have a boy and a girl but did not get what they ordered and ended up with us three girls. I think Mom often felt overwhelmed, and when I had my three, I often felt overwhelmed too.

Our parents had wounds that carried over into their parenting of us. The wounds were passed down, and somehow, without ever wanting to, we passed them on to our children. 

It comes right down to the fall of mankind, and the sorrow we all inherited from Adam.

Parenting is the hardest job in the world, and no one really loves our kids the way we do. But one day they grow up and move away and the difficult process of separation must begin. 

From that day on we can't "go home" again. Once I married and moved away, I struggled with resentment.  Then one day I too found myself a parent and had a newsflash:   parenting was not easy, not at all.

All too soon my "chippies" (as we called them) left our nest, and I was only left with memories, just like Mom had memories of us girls and the things we did that made her crazy. We begged her to stop reminding us of our stupid mistakes.

She finally stopped reminding us now. Instead, she talks about having a recurrent dream of seeing my Dad looking for his mother in heaven. She  slows down more and more, mostly just resting in her chair for most of the day.

She longs to go and be with Dad. How can I blame her for that?

Now it feels like I parent her more than her parenting me. All the nights I  spent with her, I tucked her in, and kissed her on the head and told her I loved her.

As I walked out of her room I heard her say, "I love you too honey."

Parenting came full circle. 

I prayed for clear direction, and God provided a comfy private room at a nice place not far from me available. God made her willing to go, instead of demanding she would stay "right here" in her present home. Now I trust that God will continue to lead us.  Mom will finish tredding her own journey, and then meet Jesus (and my Dad) again on the other side.