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Do You Believe?

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.  Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

It was an ordinary day. Jesus was on the move traveling from one small village to another doing what He did–making a difference. As He was approaching Nain, a stop in the road, He ran into a funeral procession. We recognize funeral processions by the flashing lights on the hearse followed by cars with headlights on. He recognized it by the mourning–the funeral wail. The closer He got, the louder it got. It was the sound of broken hearts and lives.

In Luke 7:12, we get the details. It says, “Just as He neared the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was also with her.” What a tragedy. The cause isn’t listed nor does it matter. Death comes in many forms and is no respecter of persons. But it was her only son and he died too young. It gets worse.

Luke also shares that she was a widow. She is facing this dark time alone. There is no husband to share the grief–it is all hers. And when the grieving is over, she faces a very difficult world. No source of income, no safety net, no unemployment, no social security–nothing. It’s a bad deal from top to bottom. And then it happens.

Jesus sees the situation and orders the mourning column of brokenness to stop. Why? He has compassion on her. He knows her story before He is told and He tells her, “Don’t weep.” It could be an unkind statement akin to “hey, get over it” or “it will be better tomorrow.” Instead it was a statement of power–the kind of power that can change everything.

He walks over and touches the coffin–a big no, no in that culture but Jesus didn’t let rules stop Him from loving, from acting. He says, “Party’s over death…you’re done.” Ok, He really said, “young man, I tell you get up.” And boom–just like that he did. Now let me tell you when you are at a funeral and the dead person sits up and is alive, the funeral is over, and the party begins. Break out the fried chicken because death is done, and Jesus is King.

I love this story…I really do. I see it played out day, after day, after day. No-not exactly like this, but I, we, see God bringing spiritually dead people to life every day. And when that happens John 11:25-26 becomes a reality. There Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Wow what power–what assurance. But it all hinges on the last four words, “Do you believe this?” “Do we believe this?”

Ok, so these are difficult days. You might feel like the widow of Nain. It may feel like your world is imploding around you with all the safety nets gone. Well, there’s One that will never leave you and His name is Jesus. Oh, and knowing Him, is a game changer. The future that matters–the eternal one–is a guaranteed better day. In a word, it is heaven.

So, as we journey these uncharted waters together remember we never have to be alone–ever. Jesus wants us to experience His compassion and His salvation. And listen, when Jesus shows up things change. He is bigger than anything so rest in Him. He’s got this.

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Scars and Souvenirs

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose., I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Romans 8:28 (CSB)

I was probably nine years old when it happened.  If you look at my hands you can see several scars.  Over here is one from an “exacto” knife when I was putting together a car model.  Over there is one from a car accident.  I was riding with my brother-in-law and the car in front of him decided to stop and he decided not to.

There is one on my right thumb—its the one that has been there for the last 55 years.  We were visiting my Uncle Hardy down near Chiefland, Florida.  He was my mom’s brother and the city manager of that small central Florida town.  They had an annual Watermelon Festival that included all the melon you could eat and an opportunity to ride of the back of the city’s garbage truck in the parade.  That was a big deal.  I didn’t get out much.

There are two things that Uncle Hardy had that impacted my life. One was a hairline that didn’t include much hair.  Thanks Uncle Hardy.  The other was a fish camp on the Suwanee River.  It was an old Florida cabin with a tin roof and it was the things legends are born from…at least for a nine year old.  We would take boat rides, swim in the river and eat watermelon. And that’s where “a scar was born.”

We were eating watermelon and I picked up a large butcher knife to slice off the watermelon from the rind.  I didn’t have a lot of experience with butcher knives but I was feeling a little like “Indiana Jones” so I picked it up.  Like I said, I didn’t have a lot of experience, so I began slicing watermelon pulling the knife toward me and my little nine year old hand. My dad saw it and said, “Dewayne.  Be careful with the knife. Don’t pull it toward you—push it away”.

Well, when you are nine and know it all and you’re feeling like Indiana Jone you don’t listen to your Dad or common sense. So I kept right on slicing and then it happened.  I got a little too close to my hand and neatly sliced a half-moon cut in my thumb.  Well, so much for Indiana Jones.  There was the usual holler, a bit of tears, a dad’s “I told you so,” a big bandage, a little embarrassment and the makings of a scar.

It healed fine, leaving a scar and a gentle reminder.  When you are using a knife don’t pull it toward you…push it away.  Dad was right.  There is only one scar on my hand from using a knife incorrectly. That is because every time I am tempted to do it wrong the scar on my right thumb says don’t.  And now the scar has become a sort of souvenir. When I see it I don’t remember the pain, the tears or the embarrassment, I remember the lesson.

How about you?  Have any scars…visible or invisible?  When you see them or think about them does your mind instantly go back to pain. Do you find yourself constantly living “it” all over again—the hurtful word, the unkind act, the feeling of being rejected or forgotten?  What if we “scar bearers” could remember the lesson instead of the pain. What if we could remember the promise instead of the pain.  Promise?  Yes, the one found in Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purposes.” This is a “go to” promise for me because I have a lot of oops, bumps, bruises and scars.  I’m learning, though, to look at all of that not for the pain they caused but the good God brought from them.

I’m determined, yes determined, to glean as much as I can from this 2020 year.  It’s ironic how 2020 means clarity and yet we have so little of it.  But we have a God who can see all things with perfect insight.  So instead of singing the blues I’m gonna work at turning my scars into souvenirs.  And I’m gonna lay my head down tonight and rest in Him.  And that’s not all.  I know now my dad was a lot wiser than me. He had experience with knives and watermelon.  And my heavenly Father…He knows everything and do you know what?  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne