FLOWERS OF GRACE

Our Spring Tea was held on March 20th at Cornerstone Baptist Church.  If you were unable to come, the following is the message of God’s grace that was presented.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”  2 Corinthians 9:8

Flowers, we all love them.  They are colorful and filled with aroma.  They are great decorations and bring a smile to our faces.  It’s always a special day when we receive flowers.  Recently, I received a beautiful bouquet without the sender’s name.  The message was “you are much loved and appreciated.”  What a wonderful uplifting gesture someone made to me!  Flowers say “I care.”

When we receive flowers, it’s a bit like the grace of God.  We didn’t do anything to earn the flowers.  They have been sent out of the love of someone’s heart.  God’s grace is like that; it’s his favor given to us, totally unearned.  Our theme verse says that God is able to make all grace abound to you.  To abound means to exist in great quantities.  We’re going to look at this word grace as an acrostic today.  This won’t even touch how wonderful and awesome grace is, but I hope it helps.

G – Great

When we think of something that is great, we may think of size or presence.  We determine what is great.  Sometimes we want to be great in another’s eyes or even in our own.  I remember when I was 12 years old, I thought it would be great to see the Beatles.  I heard they were coming to the Olympia stadium in Detroit.  I knew when the concert was, but my parents didn’t buy me a ticket, so I couldn’t go.  However, I did walk around in my yard thinking it would be great to see their plane go overhead.  It wasn’t long before there was a plane flying over and I looked up and waved to the greatness that I was sure was in it!  Yes, in that day, people thought the Beatles were great, but were they?  The truth is they were humans with many flaws.  The only great one is God.  He is great and good.  Because of this he has shown great favor to us as a sinful people.  He has made it possible for us to have a relationship with him through the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.  Jesus lived perfectly and died perfectly in our place taking all of the wrath of God against our sin for us.  This grace is greater than anything else we could imagine.

R – Righteous

God’s grace is righteous.  This means that it’s always right, good, and true.  When God, in his great grace, sent Jesus to this earth to live in our place, He lived a righteous life.  Jesus never sinned.  He never had an oops, sorry moment.  He did this for us because of God’s great grace, which is always righteous.   When we believe in Jesus and accept him as our Savior, his righteousness is given to us!  Now that’s something we don’t deserve.

A – Always Available

God’s grace is always available. There are many things in our lives that we want to always be available.  When we turn on the kitchen tap, we expect water to flow.  When we go to the grocery store, we expect there to be toilet paper on the shelf.  But as we have learned last year, these things are not always available.  Sometimes I think we think relationships will always be available.  We can begin to take people for granted.  It may be we put off going to see someone or contacting them by phone, text, email, or letter.  People are not always available.  I remember how I took my mom for granted.  I was able to call her when I had questions, and she had the answer.  Then the day came when I didn’t call her very much because I decided her attitude irritated me.  Life had changed for my mom and me.  She wasn’t available in the way I wanted her to be.  I responded in the wrong way at first, until I discovered she was sick.  We can’t always be available but God can and is.  He desires for us to approach him so that he can pour out his favor on us.  I needed God’s grace to accept that mom was no longer the mom I wanted.  His grace helped me to come to a place of acceptance.  He never holds back his grace.  It is always available to his children.

C – Ceaseless

God’s grace never runs out.  There’s never any reason to yell “who took the last grace?”  You know what I’m talking about…those cookies that are delicious and you know there’s one left.  Yet, when you go to get the last one, it’s gone!  Who took the last cookie?  You see everything in this lifetime ceases.  One day our very life will cease.  We will be no more and only memories will remain.  Sometimes we live as if we’ll never die.  But the truth is we will, and when we do we’ll stand before our maker, the Lord God.  We will have to give an account of our lives all the good, the bad, and the ugly.  But remember God’s ceaseless grace. If you have accepted Christ by his grace, then you have no worries. As you stand before the Lord God, it’s Christ’s righteousness that he sees.  His grace is ceaseless, eternal, it covers you at the end of life.

E – Encompassing

God’s grace totally surrounds us.  There are no gaps or holes in God’s grace.  It surrounds us completely to grant us favor in every area of life.  It reminds me of a hug, a good hug where you put your arms totally around someone.  In that moment you’re surrounding them with your love, encouraging them, holding them up, or being the shoulder they need to cry on.  God’s grace surrounds us that way.  It goes way beyond a hug but it is God’s hug offered freely to us.

God’s grace was great, righteous, always available, ceaseless, and encompassing to me when my stepfather passed away in June 2020.  This man had been in my life for 57 years so he was my dad.  One day he thought a wall was being built by his neighbor.  He was standing outside demanding me to see something that wasn’t there.  These hallucinations were very real to him.  It’s as if his mind broke at that moment and there wasn’t any reality left.  This began a whirlwind of a downward spiral for him.

God’s grace – that I lived on the same street as my dad and could go in the middle of the night if needed.

God’s grace – that his doctor called me back every time I called him, even though he was on vacation with his family.

God’s grace – my stepsister was able to come and stay for the last two weeks of dad’s life and help me.

God’s grace – whenever I called, my brother came and moved furniture so that dad would be safe, made hospital runs with me, and found the middle of the night no problem.

God’s grace – the doctor gave us the option of taking him home in the midst of COVID on hospice rather than a facility.

God’s grace – the hospice workers were beyond helpful and supportive to my sister and I who were weary.

God’s grace – strength to endure light sleep and light meals through the three weeks of care for dad.

God’s grace – friends who did my shopping, brought much needed Tim Horton coffee, and remembered my birthday in the midst of this.

God’s grace – even though I sleep very sound, I heard all movements in the night my dad made so I was able to get up and keep him safe.

God’s grace – my sister and I were able to hold my dad’s hand for his final breath.

God’s grace –  that there were so many people praying for us as we went through this hard time.  His grace was asked for on our behalf and he delivered it over and over again.

I received a fresh bouquet of flowers of his grace every moment during that time.

God’s grace brings the dead in sin to be alive in Christ at the moment of salvation.  As a Follower of Christ grace abounds in our life during our service and suffering.  God always gives us all we need for this life!  I have experienced this, and I know many of you have too.  Let’s choose to look for the flowers of grace at every turn!

 

GOD USES OUR PRAYERS

 

How many times have you said, “I’ll pray for you”?  How many times have you walked away from that conversation and forgotten to pray?  If you’re like me, you have forgotten far too often.  One of the ways to prevent that is to pray right then and there with the person.  Another thing you can do is write it down immediately to be added to your prayer list.  You could also ask the Lord to bring people to your mind so that you can pray for them.  The bottom line is we need to be praying for others whether they ask us to or not.  God uses our prayers.
“…The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16b
As we think about the above verse, we need to realize that it isn’t our prayers which have great power but God who works through our prayers.  When we pray, we are calling on God to release his power and grace in a situation.  It is God who will do the work as we bring our requests before his throne of grace.  In the last month, I have experienced many prayers given before the Father on my behalf.  I have lived in the midst of the power and grace of these prayers.  God has used your prayers.
On May 19th, I received a call from my dad.  The tone didn’t sound anything like him.  He was hallucinating about a great prison wall being put up around the neighbor’s house.  That was the beginning of the end of my dad’s life.  During the days that followed he became aggressive, combative, and inappropriate.  This was not my dad and I knew that, but it was hard to live through.  My sister and I endured long days and longer nights with dad.  When I look back at the whole time, I wonder how we did it!  But the truth is, I know.
I described that time to someone as a time of sentence prayers to God.  My quiet time which I’ve enjoyed with my Father for many years was non-existent.  Although I wasn’t sitting to enjoy the Word, learn more about God, and prepare for my day, God had prepared me.  The past study and prayer gave me the truth that was part of what carried me through this hard time.  I could remind myself of what I knew to be true.  Spend time with God!  You never know when you’ll need it!  What a great foundation for times of trouble.
The truth I knew wasn’t all that carried me.  In fact, I think the prayers of others on my and my family’s behalf were vital to our survival.  They were the glue that kept us from falling apart, gave us strength to endure, and peace with our decisions.  People were praying for me and I didn’t know it.  They took the initiative to intercede on my behalf.  God used each of these prayers to carry me along in a difficult time.  God’s power was felt because he was working in response to their prayers.  How valuable are the prayers of the righteous!
Prayer was being offered around the clock for the pandemic situation by our church.  I was signed up for a spot on Mondays at 6:00 am.  There was a sweet sister who knew this and took my spot.  She prayed for my half hour so that our prayer chain would not be broken.  Her sensitivity to my situation was very overwhelming.  This gracious giving attitude helped to hold me up as I cared for my dad.
Dad left this earth on June 10, 2020.  My sister and I were there with him as he breathed his last breath.  Even that was an answer to our prayer that he wouldn’t be alone. We made the decision to bring him home in order to serve him and be with him during the last weeks of his life.  The decision to do that was made through prayer, ours and yours.
Do you pray?  Have you promised to pray?  Have you felt the prayers of others given on your behalf?  Do you take initiative to pray when you hear about situations others are going through?  We NEED to pray for one another.  God uses our prayers to display his power, grace, and love to others.  Thank you to all who have prayed for me.  I couldn’t have lived through this without your support.
“…The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16b

Who is she again…Life with Dad

There are many who are caring for their aging parents.  It was my privilege to care for my mom for many years until she died two years ago.  Now my efforts are spent in caring for my dad.  I’m beginning to see some similarities in their behavior, even though my dad doesn’t have frontal lobe dementia like my mom did.  My dad, at 93 years, is starting to display some old age dementia.  He often gets confused and current conversations involve asking the same question multiple times.  These things are hard, but they are things I can deal with without too much stress.  There is one thing that distresses me, the loss of my name.

Many years ago, my dad had knee surgery.  The day at the hospital had been a long one as I had to keep my mom in one place.  She loved to wander off and talk to anyone she met.  What lay ahead of me that evening was a sleepover with mom as dad was to remain in the hospital.  I wasn’t looking forward to it because I knew mom wandered during the night too.  I was really surprised when mom looked at me at 8:00 p.m. and saw not me but my stepsister.  I know this because she was referring to those things related to my stepsister.  After I finally got mom in bed, I went to bed and cried.  It was a hard thing to know that my name and actually my face was gone from her brain.  It hurt and left me aching inside.  The rest of mom’s life she knew me and then she didn’t.  God gave me the grace to accept this was the way it was going to be with mom.

I never expected to deal with the same emotions with dad but there isn’t any never, is there?  My brother told me about his talk with dad concerning me.  When I went in on Tuesday evening, dad hadn’t eaten enough food for the day.  This was following him not eating enough on Monday so I was firm and made him eat before I would leave him.  My brother called him on Wednesday and their conversation was something like this…

Dad – She was very upset with me yesterday.

Brother – Who was upset with you?

Dad – You know, Barbara.

Brother – Was Barbara over yesterday?

Dad – No, you know the one who comes over every day.

Brother – You mean Denise?

Dad – Yes, Denise.

I laughed at this when I heard it, but you know how it is when you think about something, your emotion changes.  Yes, I do go over there every day both morning and evening.  He sees me all the time and yet he forgot my name.  I know it’s not purposeful and God will give me grace to endure.  It is just another milestone in this care of him.

The whole name thing reminds me of what the scripture says about my name.   As a follower of Christ, I know my position is secure because of Jesus dying in my place as the payment for my sins and then rising to life again on the third day which sealed my pardon.   Jesus referred to himself as the Good Shepherd.  In John 10, Jesus lets me know my position as His sheep.  It’s all so encouraging.

“…The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”  John 10:3-4

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…” John 10:14

  “…I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”  John 10:17b-18a

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  John 10:27-28

My name is never forgotten by my Father God.  I can’t be lost or taken away from my Father God.  All of this is because of Jesus and his willingness to lay down his life for me.  It’s not about him visiting me twice a day, but about his presence with me always.  He never leaves me or forsakes me.

Yes, dad forgot my name but he remembered my presence.  I rejoice in that and know that the days ahead in caring for him, I will be drenched in the grace of God.

 

 

 

I’m Seeing Things…Life with Dad

In my care of my dad some new things are beginning to develop in his life.  These things have to do with what he sees.  My dad was diagnosed with macular degeneration when he was in his early 60s.

“Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in people over age 60. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. Because the disease develops as a person ages, it is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration.” (Quote from WebMD)

This condition has literally left him basically blind.  It has been a progression.  He lost his license to drive when he was in his 70s.  He wasn’t happy about that but it was best for him and everyone else on the road.  I’m not sure exactly how much he can see but I know that in his own home, he can navigate fairly well.  However, it’s unnerving when I’m sitting across from him and he speaks to the right as if I’m standing there.  He just doesn’t know where I am.  It has to be extremely hard to live with this.  I know it’s his major complaint most of the time.

There is so much that he misses.  He can’t see the flowers in bloom or the tomatoes on his vines.  He doesn’t get to appreciate the sunrise or sunset.  If someone has a new car, he can’t see it.  The expressions on faces are lost for him.  The smiles of others given to him are unaccepted.  My heart breaks for him in the losses he experiences because of his condition.  But now he seems to be experiencing sight of things that aren’t there.

He shared with me the other day that he was seeing people.  It’s not the first time he’s seen people that aren’t there.  He had an elaborate story about dancing people in the street with fireworks a couple of weeks ago.  My thought is that he sleeps most of the day and his dreams are becoming very vivid.  So much so that he believes them to be true.  When I correct him and tell him there’s no one else around, he hangs his head.  How hard for him!  He says, “I’m seeing things.”  His mind is playing tricks on him and I wish I could make it stop for him but I can’t.

I can be like dad and see things.  How many times do we see what we want to see?  We color our world with our own perceptions instead of truth.  Our desire is for what we want and we’ll seek to see it happening.  We can even put words in God’s mouth by saying things like, “this is what God told me” or “this is what God wants me to do”.  When we look at our world and see what we want to see, our world is revolving around us and not God.  This world was created by God and is his, not ours.  So how are we to look at the world or our circumstances?

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and the perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2 NIV

Do you see the terminology here?  We are to fix our eyes on Jesus.  What does that mean?  This is all about concentration on Jesus and what he’s accomplished for us.  As we move through this life we need to always remember that the gospel of Jesus is truth.  There’s our lens for life.  It’s not about what we want to see or think we see but about the truth of what Jesus has done for us.  This is so helpful because frankly, life can be very hard at times.  We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, not on the circumstances of life.

Another great reason for concentrating on Jesus is so that we’ll be able to rejoice in all the things the Lord is doing around us.  We get to see the blessings when we concentrate on Jesus.  By doing this we’ll develop a heart of gratitude rather than a disappointed heart when life doesn’t go our way.  Even in the difficult things of life God is at work and we can trust the work he’s doing on our behalf.

We need to be aware that we can have spiritual macular degeneration.  Our eyes can become accustomed to seeing the dark side of everything rather than the light of Jesus in everything.  As I care for my dad my desire is to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.  I’m not always successful in my endeavors but God is always successful in his.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for god, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first born among many brothers.”               Romans 8:28-29

TO BE NEEDED…LIFE WITH DAD

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”     Galatians 6:9

God calls us to do many different tasks in our lives.  These tasks have been designed for us in order to bring God glory.  One of the tasks that I have is to take care of my dad.  I know that many people are caring for elderly parents, grandparents, or other relatives.  It’s not always easy, but God works on us in the hard times of life.  Sometimes we just get tired.  Perhaps I shouldn’t speak for you, but I just get tired.  When we’re tired our thinking can go awry.

The thing that is so tempting to do when we’re tired is to give up.  When we give up, we stop.  We stop pursuing good.  We stop being involved in the lives of others.  We stop being who we know we are.  As followers of Christ, our identity is Christ!  Our lives SHOULD reflect this identity in order to point others to Christ.  Our minds need to recall how Christ didn’t give up on us.  He went all the way to the cross in order to pay the penalty for our sins.  In repenting of our sins and accepting his payment for us, we become one with Christ.  The memory of his sacrifice should spur us on to make our own sacrifices, but we get tired.  We need help in order to not give up.  Our help comes from the Lord in the form of the Holy Spirit within, the Word of God, and the people of God.

When I’m tired, I don’t always remember the help God has provided for me.  The fact that Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be our “helper” doesn’t really come to my mind.  The verses I know are hard to remember when I’m tired.  My mind doesn’t want to focus on verses but instead focuses on the fact that I’m tired.  I don’t seek out people to help either.  The all-consuming thoughts of being tired are just that…all-consuming.  Let me tell you what God used to get my attention off myself and my tiredness and onto him.

Each day, I see my dad in the morning and in the afternoon after work.  I check on his food, put out his medication, and help him with his teeth.  In the afternoon, I cut him a piece of pie and sit with him while he eats it.  We have a conversation; at least as much as you can converse with someone who can’t hear you.  That’s the routine and it’s not an exhausting one.  It’s a habit I have and will continue until the Lord decides it’s my dad’s time to leave this earth.  The weekends are a bit different.  On Saturdays I visit once instead of twice but Sundays are twice again.  It was on a Saturday when the Lord got my attention.

My brother, Don, was at dad’s  house on a Saturday morning when I pulled up on my bike.  Don and dad were in the garage so I just went into the house and worked on my regular tasks.  They came in as I was just finishing up.  I asked if dad had eaten his lunch.  He hadn’t so I heated it up in the microwave for him.  At that point, I prepared to leave because I wanted to give the guys time to talk.  As I always do I asked, “Is there anything else you need before I go?”  This is when God got a hold of me because of my dad’s answer.  He said, “I just need you.”  Then he grabbed me and gave me a big hug.

“I just need you.”  God spoke to me in my tiredness that day and every day since.  His words were plain to me.  This is the place God wants me.  My dad needs me but God needs me to do what he’s called me to do without reservation.  I can’t do what I need to do without the help of God.  Instead of allowing myself to give into my tired thinking, I need to remember that my dad needs me and God has given me the Holy Spirit, His Word, and the people of God to help me.  Who needs you?  Is it a chore for you to serve someone?  Do you get tired?  Welcome to the world of humanity.  The truth is we need each other to accomplish the tasks God has prepared for us to do.

When was the last time you expressed to God, “I just need you”?

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10 

“NEW” IS HARD…LIFE WITH DAD

Many of us are at the point in our lives when we are helping our aging parents.  It seems like many more people are living into their 90s now, but maybe that’s not true.  I may notice it more now because I’m dealing with my dad who’s 93 years old.  What I’m discovering is that anything “new” is hard for my dad to grasp.  This is not said in a derogatory fashion but as a simple fact.  We all change as we get older and our ability to handle “new” things becomes harder.  For me this discovery came in the form of an upper partial denture plate made just for my dad.

A few weeks ago dad lost his front tooth–totally lost it.  There was a cap on it which fell out and took the whole tooth with it.  The dentist pulled the root and then said that a partial plate would do the trick.  The partial plate would include the front tooth as well as a molar on the side.  This would make it fit better and be easier to put in and take out each day.  All of that sounds great in theory but in real life, not so great!  I took him back to the dentist to be fitted.  The appliance went right in his mouth and fit very well.  We were told to leave it in overnight the first night.  So far, so good…but then came the next afternoon.

I prepared the container for the appliance and then told him where to grab it in order to take it out.  He grabbed everywhere else but where he was supposed to grab.  So I put on gloves and took it out.  The next morning I came in to help him put it in.  He couldn’t see where to put it and I explained how to feel where to put it but my gloves had to come on again.  He couldn’t understand how to do it.  The whole process is “new” to him.  The result is that I have a “new” process.  I go by every morning and put it in, then every night to take it out.

“New” is hard for people in their 90s, but “new” is also hard for me in my 60s.  This is not what I wanted to be doing.  I have a hard time working in other people’s mouths.  It brings a nauseous feeling to me.  Even as I write this my stomach gets a little queasy.  What am I to do with this “new” in my life?  I’ve struggled with it, but I do understand it.  I’ve struggled with it, but I can do it.  I’ve struggled with it, but God is doing a work in me.

  1. God is changing my natural reaction to other people’s mouths.  I’m surprised at how God has given me grace to do something that causes me to be sick.  The feelings are not as prevalent now.  This is can only be God who is doing this for me.  It’s certainly not my own will, because it screams against doing this for my dad.  “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”  Psalm 145:9  God knows my frailty.  He gives me mercy and grace in my frailty.
  2. God is giving me strength in my weakness. The truth is I get tired.  Sometimes I just want to stop doing what I’m doing but God has other plans for me.  He wants me to depend on him and not on myself.  I don’t have the strength to persevere in this tooth insertion process.  “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;…” Psalm 28:7a  God always helps me, on that I can rely.
  3. God is giving me an opportunity to serve my dad. It’s great to serve others when it’s something we enjoy doing.  I love to cook.  So if I get the chance to cook for someone, I’m there!  Is my cooking serving?  Yes but it is a serving opportunity that I enjoy as much as the recipients.  “…but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13b  All service is to be done in love for others.  I may not like this service, but it is a time in which I can love dad well.

“New” can be hard for us at any age but as we persevere in the “new” we will begin to see that it becomes “old”.  God created us so wonderfully in that we can adjust to the “new” situations we face in life.  The goal for followers of Christ is that the adjustments we make will result in us looking more like Jesus.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

 

 

PROBLEM…SOLUTION – Life with Dad

Originally posted 8-19-2016

There are so many things we can learn from the “greatest generation”, the ones who survived The Great Depression and World War II.  These people went through so much loss and lack in their lives but yet continued to press forward.  They learned to scrimp and save, to use and reuse, to create items rather than buy them, and to make the most of leftovers.  My stepdad is part of this generation and at 90 years of age displays all of the above characteristics.  He is a wonderful man who has been in my life for 54 years now. Our latest challenge was with his washing machine.

When there is a problem, you can be sure that my dad will be looking for the solution.  In the spring his washing machine ceased to allow water to enter during the rinse cycle.  The offer was made to him to have a repairman come out and fix it, but instead he said he could work with it.  Since that time my dad has been using the wash cycle, once with soap and once without the soap so his clothes would rinse.  Problem…Solution  Last week he informed me that the wash cycle was no longer filling with water.  So he took a bucket and filled the machine with water in order to do his wash.  Problem…Solution   It was at that point we had the discussion of getting another washing machine. He replied, “No hurry.  I can make it work”.  Yes he could make it work but the truth is he has the money saved up to buy quite a few washing machines.  My brother and I took him out to buy a washing machine this week.  It will be delivered today and he is happy with the “deal” we got on it.

Isn’t it interesting how my dad is always thinking problem…solution?  What a challenge to me!  Most times it is problem, problem.  Sometimes it is problem, no possible solution.  Other times it is problem, deliverance.  How should we view a problem when it comes?  Should we think of how we can solve it? Yes.   Should we enlist others to help us?  Yes.  Should we sit down and give up? No.  Should we pray about our problems?  Yes.  Let’s look at our hearts and try to discover why we don’t do the things we should and instead give in to giving up.

  1. Put down your bucket!  Pray about problems.  What keeps us from praying about a problem?  Our own self-sufficiency.  We think the problem we are facing is one we can handle.  We don’t need to bother God with it because it is small in the scheme of things.  The problem is one we think we are perfectly capable of fixing without any direction from God.  This gets us into trouble every time.  God wants us to be totally dependent on Him no matter how small the problem.  “…The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16b
  2. Go to Home Depot! Evaluate what part we have in the solution.  This is the part where we can sit down and give up because we look at the problem as too much to handle.  If we have prayed and asked God for direction, then we can evaluate and do what needs to be done.  Perhaps we need to call a repairman or clean water out of a basement or go to the doctor.  When there are things we can do, God will give us wisdom to do those as we depend on Him. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”  James 1:5
  3. Gather those you trust. Ask for help.  We are so prideful.  We think we can do it all on our own, but we can’t.  God has given us family and community to help us.  It is so hard to ask for help but it is a necessary thing in our lives.  When we don’t ask for help, we deprive others of the blessing of service to us.  Swallow your pride and ask for help.  There may be times when prayer is the only help another can offer but wouldn’t that be enough?  Paul tells the church at Corinth, “You also must help us by prayer…” 2 Corinthians 1:11a

God is the solution to all our problems.  The reason He is the solution is because He gives us the grace we need to handle all that is before us.  We can approach Him with whatever we are facing and He will give us grace to go through it without sinning.  “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the “greatest generation” was the title given to every generation following God?  Our lives are not about self-sufficiency or survival but about putting Christ on display.  Let’s depend on Him!  Now that would be GREAT!

 

“I Once Was Blind But Now I See” – Life with Dad

Originally posted 10-12-2016

It has been sad over the last several years, to watch as my dad continues to lose his sight.  At first it was just a depth issue which could be seen when he would reach for something.  Then we witnessed him driving over the left line.  The doctor also witnessed that and informed the state to revoke his license.  Then he would express that he could see shadows and outlines but nothing in the middle.  The most disturbing day was when I went to his house and he looked at me and said, “I can’t see your face”.  He was so distraught at first that he claimed it was better to not live than to not see.  It wasn’t long after that he went almost totally deaf as well.  It’s so hard to watch this man, who has been my dad since I was eleven failing; but I know it’s the body wasting away.

Yes, the body is wasting away and yet I see his will thriving.  He scoots around on his rear and rakes his grass.  He planted a garden this year by doing the same scoot.  He planted peppers and cucumbers which he doesn’t even eat.  He planted them for me.  In his blindness and deafness there is still a sense in which he’s giving and serving.  His will is strong when it comes to my mom.  He wants to outlive her even though he’s ten years older.  The desire of his heart is for her to die at home and not have to enter a facility.  His love for her is great.  But, as you can imagine, when you can’t hear or see it’s hard to care for someone else.  My brother and I desire to assist as long as we are able so that his desire for mom may be fulfilled.  However, God holds the keys to life and death.

The thing I’m most concerned about is if my dad has spiritual sight.  That is the most important sight of all.  My dad was part of the Salvation Army Sunday School and was just talking with me about his teacher.  He remembered her name and how she had taken them through a workbook of sorts.  He has the small bible that had been given to him as well.  I remember him standing and giving testimony of Jesus before he was baptized when I was eleven.  We are starting to have conversations more about the end of life.  I know I need to be more pointed with him concerning his salvation.  He is 90 years old and I’m hoping he can say he sees in the spiritual realm, Jesus as Savior and Lord.

When I watch my dad feel the table for dirt so he can wipe it with a sponge, I think of those who don’t know Christ and how they are feeling their way around this world of sin.  They feel the weight of the dirtiness of sin and try to wipe it away with excuses, blameshifting, or their own version of truth.  They can’t see the problems their sins cause others or how it’s an offense to a holy God.  They feel their way blindly seeking to find relief in many different ways such as sex, drinking, drugs, or money.  There isn’t any light in any of those things.  In fact, their blindness only becomes greater because of their choices.  The spiritually blind begin to bump into other sharing their blindness which they hope will prove that what they are doing is okay.  After all she’s doing it too.  The spiritually blind can’t restore their own sight; they need Jesus.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned … If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”  John 3:17-18a, 1 John 1:7

Jesus is the answer for the spiritual sight of every person.  He came to save us which opens our eyes to His light, which shines on the darkness of sin and gives us sight to see it.  With Jesus we can see the hurts, the sorrows, the lies, and the dominating sins we have indulged in because we were blind.  We all need Jesus.  He came to save.  He came to open blind eyes.  He came to redeem us from our sin.  He came not in blindness but in perfect vision of each of our hearts.  Our hearts are laid bare before Him and He died for us anyway.  Do you have blind people in your life?  Are they unsure of where they’re going or why they’re living?  Do they need the light of Jesus in their lives?  Let’s take away the things they are trying to wipe away by sharing Jesus.  Nothing else works!