Posted in Family, forgiveness, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, wisdom

Scars

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Philippians 3:13

Gnarled trees stood twisted and broken along the road.  Judy and I had to make a trip to Florida to participate in my Aunt’s funeral.  She was my Daddy’s baby sister and the last of that generation.  It was a long trip but worth the journey.  I saw it as a way to honor my father while also honoring my aunt.  Like every person her life had its ups and downs and bumps and bruises.  And  like every person, there were a few scars left along the road.

It was while traveling West in Florida that I began seeing the gnarled trees.  Mile after mile of trees that were either broken in two, forever bent over or simply lifeless, like dead men standing. I knew the area had been brushed by a recent storm or two but this damage was caused by something far worse—and not so recently.  Suddenly it occurred to me.  I had seen this before about two years ago.  It was the result of a storm, a terrible storm called Michael.

If you remember in 2018 a compact yet incredibly powerful storm came ashore at Mexico Beach, a small down on the Florida panhandle.  It was so devastating that it literally destroyed that small town and the path of the storm with its destruction moved well inland.  That is where we saw the scars.  When we were here a couple of months after the storm and miles and miles inland there was debris piled everywhere along the highway.  What wasn’t broken off or blown over looked like it had been given a perm—twisted and turned.  That was two years ago. 

The scars of that harsh and horrible day remain today and will remain for many years to come.  Only time is going to slow erase the damage as trees re-grow and underbrush hides what has fallen.  It looked devastating two years ago when I saw it and today, somehow, it looked even more so.  Sometimes the scars are almost as bad as the wounds.  Sometimes the memories are worse than what caused the pain.

Many of us have caused scars and most of us bear them.  Some are still healing while others, like the gnarled trees, will remain.  We are left to wonder what to do…how to heal.  The answer I believe lies with creator God.  It is He who can give us the strength to forgive and it is He who can lead us down the path to healing.  Like a good recipe, it will include a measure of grace, a measure of mercy, and a measure of choice.  Forgiveness is really never about the one who caused the scar rather it is about the one who was hurt. When we forgive we truly begin to heal.

Forgiveness also involves forgetting…but not the kind you are thinking.  This forgetting simply means that we choose to not allow the past to control our present.  We choose to let go, so we can be set free.  When we determine that the past won’t reach into our present…we find a freedom.  While the scar will remain, slowly but surely the pain eases and we are evently left whole.

This, of course, is a faith path.  We have to believe that God can and will heal us.  We have to believe that God can forgive us if we were the one who caused the scar.  We have to believe either way that His grace is sufficient and do you know what?  It is.  The scars I saw today along the highway spoke of a devastating storm but it also spoke of hope.  You see, at the base of the gnarled trees stood dozens and dozens of new growth trees.  One day, someday in the future, they will rise to overcome the past with its scars.  That is our hope.

As I stood before that group of people today and spoke of mistakes and regrets. I also spoke of forgiveness and grace which was and is a game changer.  No matter how difficult your past and no matter how uncertain your future, His grace will see you through.  I hope you will keep trusting Him day by day.  I hope you will look up for hope, look around to see that you aren’t by yourself and look down, yes down, but only to see the new life surrounding you.  Hey, you can trust Him, you can rest in Him because no matter how hard the wind blows or how long it howls…He’s got this. 

Posted in Family, fear, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, thankful

Funeral at Nain

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 10:25-26

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.  A mother had lost her only son to death.  And, according to scripture, he was young. 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 is 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 to 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 spiritual dead people to life every day.  And when that happens John 10:25-26 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. 26. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Wow what power–what assurance. But is 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.

Posted in Uncategorized

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.