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Sunday grace

My friend texted me late last night: “Karen left this world at 6:50 pm tonight.”

Karen, a woman who has battled cancer that ravished her once healthy body, left this world of pain and suffering. Karen left this world and went Home.

There’s no place like home. I look forward to coming home at the Wright House. The old and familiar things comfort me with memories. I recall family and friends gathered at the table, filling the rooms with their sweet presence.

We’ve fought battles here and shed tears. We’ve bent over in laughter and shared joy and victories. We’ve found comfort in each other’s embrace here and weathered storms as we prayed for peace. Here at home is where we built our lives.

Home is where my people are.

Paul describes it so eloquently: Being absent from this body is to be present with the Lord. This is our true home. To be with Jesus will be home like no other place I’ve ever dwelled.

The tribulation and trial that are part and parcel of this earthly existence will fade away. No more suffering. No more weaping. No more death. God Himself will wipe away our tears.

As the years add up, I find myself longing for home more and more. I see that this life is temporary, that my body is aging, that I am susceptible to ailments and pain. I look forward to corruptible putting on incorruptible. When perishable will put on imperishable.  Life will swallow up death.

And I will be Home. In Heaven. With Jesus.

I will hear the familiar words I am longing for, “Welcome Home.” And I’ll run into my Savior’s arms.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

 

Dear Father and God of all, thank you for the men in my life who showed me Your love, who were strong and protective, who loved purely and acted faithfully.

Dear Father of all creation, give grace to the fathers you have put on the earth and in our lives. Give them tender hearts and strong faith. Help them see their need for You and not live as if they can do it all by themselves.

Dear Father of humanity, give endurance to the fathers who walk hard roads, who fight battles for their families, who bow low in prayer and intercede for loved ones.

Dear Father of light, shine your saving light into the hearts of fathers. May they know salvation through Jesus Christ and bear His fruit in their lives.

Dear Father of mercy, show the fathers how to live compassionately, how to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Help them to hold their tongues and tempers and let love be the language of their lives.

Dear Father and fount of all blessings, let your grace fall lavishly on the fathers. Their task is great and they need you.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

The deck on the back of the house is always shaded in the early morning, the sun rising at my right. As it shines, the shadows shift.

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The pole house my dad built when our one and only son was small receives the early morning sun. It leans precariously, the years taking a toll on it as the ground underneath gives in.  Each year I wonder if it will fall over.

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By evening the sun will have shifted and the deck will reflect the heat of a summer’s day. I will retreat to the shelter of a climate-controled house.

All day long the shadows change. The little woods stay dark in some places most of the time, the leaves of taller trees keeping the light from filtering in.

Life is like the shifting shadows. On any given day, the world seems bright and cheerful. Then one event can change everything. The shadow falls and we reel in confusion.

We wake to the new day and do not know what the afternoon will bring. And where do we go to find shelter?

The Psalmist asked such a question.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? — Psalm 121:1

Our prosperity will not save us. Friends and family may gather but they cannot change anything.  In our own strength we falter, our resolve melting like wax.

Where do we go for help?

I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lordthe Maker of heaven and earth. — Psalm 121:1, 2

The Maker of heaven and earth is our Helper. He watches over us. His loving eyes see us in our tribulation. He gives strength to the feeble, courage to the fearful, grace to the weak.

He does not shift like the shadows of our lives. He is steadfast and sure, a faithful God who is true to His word. He shines in our darkness because He is light.

He will not leave us in despair and hopelessness. He is Immanuel, God with us.

He is the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. And flowers still grow in His brightness.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

I awake to the alarm, think of people needing prayer, and pray for them. Always we are in need.

I long for God’s presence, to draw near Him as He draws near to me. It is a shared running to one another.

I want to hear His gentlest whisper, His most tender love song, feel the nudge of His Spirit urging me to move in His direction.

I want His glory – show me Your glory, Lord! Like You did for Moses, that it may be reflected in my own countenance.

I want to see with eyes of faith today and be filled with hope. I want to learn contentment a little more, living with little or much.

I want to see and be grateful for all the gifts I have received and that continually fall like showers of blessings.

I want to love like I am loved, without prejudice or judgment, giving grace out of the bounty I have received beyond measure.

I want to show kindness and be tender, to feel compassion and offer mercy as it has been dealt to me.

I am a needy soul, longing for much, the nearness of Jesus my Savior. To know His love and be filled with the fullness of God. To experience communion with Immanuel.

This is my prayer to the One who is able to do more than I can ask or imagine, according to His power at work in me.

To Him alone be glory, both now and forever. Amen.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

The grey clouds shower and still the birds give their morning concert. Through my open window I hear them. They do what they were created to do in the morning. They sing.

The week has been a flurry of activity, some planned and happily anticipated. Some unexpected and endured. I put one foot in front of the other and keep walking.

The longing in my heart calls for action and I want to do something. I, the one who tries to figure out how to fix things, am learning once again that I cannot always fix things.

And so I prayer the prayer that never fails, the one author Jan Karon wrote often in her Mitford Series books: The will of the Lord be done.

It was the prayer of my Savior. It was the prayer of Paul the apostle. As my years increase, it has become my prayer more often.

The will of the Lord be done.”

Hadn’t I read it many times? Andrew Murray told me years ago that God’s will is my dwelling place. A place of peace and assurance, a place to settle and be content, no matter what comes, where God’s abiding and strengthening presence is with me.

I count graces and gifts in my journal, the obvious joy and the hard Eucharisteo, knowing that all things are working for my good and for God’s glory.

The verses of Scripture clipped to my memory board, I keep repeating them to myself :

Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. — 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 24

And so I will be like the birds and sing in the rain and in the sunshine. I will be joyful and give thanks and dwell in the will of the Lord. I will surrender to the process of sanctification, spirit, soul, and body. And when I find I am unable to do it in my own power, I will trust the One who is all-powerful and completely able to do more than I can ask or imagine.

The One who calls me is faithful, and He will do it.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

“In the body of Christ, how one person breathes affects the whole body,” writes Ann Voskamp in The Broken Way.

The final chapter, “Why You Don’t Have to Be Afraid to Be Broken,” is scrawled with underlines. I identify with so many of the words.

I feel a bit broken this morning. Broken by cares and concerns. Because the world is broken, and all the programs and politics and plans cannot fix it.  We are living in brokenness.

Through the night, I wake and breathe prayers for ones I love and hold dear. My first thought of the morning is the same.

Out my kitchen window lies the beauty in my back yard, so lush and fully green. I hear birds chirping and singing, the tiny wren with the biggest voice singing his heart out. Flowers in colors bold, and I am stunned at their offerings, how they keep coming back each year in spite of my sometimes neglect.

The earth was called forth, creation was completed and called “good.” And it was so very good. But something has happened to it, to us. Sin has wrecked havoc on the planet, on its citizens. And what are we to do?

We must share our brokenness, open the cracked heart and let each other in. Let the desperate cries of the wounded be heard as we acknowledge our own broken. For none of us are whole on our own. We hold each other up. We rejoice together and celebrate. We weep with another and grieve. We feel the pain when one of us is bruised.

We must seek with open hearts to model the One and only perfect man who came into our brokenness and was susceptible to it. He didn’t turn away from our mess but instead walked right up and embraced the leprous, the bleeding, the outcast, the demon possessed, the dead, the sinner.

He allowed Himself to be fully broken in full view, shamed and forsaken. And then He showed us His scars.

Can we be so vulnerable and share our scars, our pain? We must if we are to enter into the suffering of one another.  To have true fellowship and relationship, there must be an open heart reaching out to another open heart.

Put away the perceived perfections, stop pretending we have it all together. Because we don’t. We don’t.

It takes humility to admit I am broken and in need. And it will be grace that binds up my wounds with healing ointment. If I am willing, someone will be at my side, helping my woundedness heal. With tears in her own eyes, she will embrace me and say, “It’s OK. I’ve been there too.”

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

These day I observe the Passover moon grow full and circular. This year’s Passover celebration begins tomorrow.

The Gospel writers, all four, pen their description of what we call The Triumphal Entry, Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey just days before their Passover began.  The event is weighty with significance.

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Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  — Zechariah 9:9

The Jewish community would be picking out a lamb for their own Passover festivities, a lamb for a household, to set it aside from the flock and examine it for imperfections. For only a perfect lamb was suitable.

And on this day, a day triumphant, Jesus rode into the city as the Lamb of God chosen and marked for sacrifice. From the foundation of the world He is the One.

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”  — Matthew 21:9-11

This is Jesus, the Word made flesh, the One who showed us the Father’s love. He came with intention and for a purpose, to take up our pain and bear our suffering, to receive the punishment for our sins. And through His wounds we are healed.

Rejoice daughters and sons of God, your King has come and He has been victorious over death, hell, and the grave. He revealed the strong arm of our God who saves.

Shout Hosanna in the highest heaven. Blessed is He who has come in the name of the Lord!

Sunday grace.

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