Saturday, July 19, 2014

God is faithful. He is true to His Word and is to be trusted.

In His faithfulness, God is honest, promising to do good to His children. God's words are not empty, His very words have power. Once spoken it as though the truth therein is executed. He does not just say He will do, but He does. He has always done this and because of this we can have full confidence in the promises that we find in the Bible. 

While I see God's faithfulness all about my life and evidences of His daily grace, there are moments when I am tempted to question God's faithfulness. God did You not say this? Then how can You be doing this? In my reading of the gospels the last few weeks, I have seen how this was what the disciples and all who were looking to Jesus as the Christ were doing. They had expectations for the Christ based on the promises from the Scriptures. As they beheld Jesus, they initially perceived all the events that were unfolding in His life and ministry to accomplish certain ends. They saw the promises of God with earthly eyes and in light of their earthly needs. They believed Jesus would do certain things to fulfill these promises in ways they deemed necessary. We have the blessed position of hind sight and it is easy for us to belittle the faith of the early followers. I truly suspect I'd be right there with them, baffled, confused and grieving at the foot of the cross, I doubt my heart would have had a trace of hope. All of my expectations for what Jesus was here to do would seem so empty in the wake of His death.

But the Sunday morning changed everything, for as the women were there at the foot of the tomb, greeted by the messengers of glory who proclaim, "He is not here, He has risen, just as He said" 

It happened, just as He said. There wasn't one bit of what happened that Jesus didn't tell his disciples about, let alone the Prophets and Law foretell of the Messiah's work. We read Jesus's words of the "sign of Jonah," or the Son of Man being lifted up, and we ask ourselves, "how in the world did these disciples not see this coming? And how did they not have hope? Did he not tell them if they only believed they would see the Son of Man coming in all His glory? Or that they would see the temple raised in three days?" They heard the words clear enough to pen them down for all of us to this day. 

Their eyes and hearts were opened, it clicked. They realized it was all just as He said. Jesus was King, but not of an earthly Kingdom. Those early disciples lived in light of their new found citizenship and the course of history has forever been changed by their mark on the world. 

How much of their moments with Christ and with each other would have been different had they believed without expectations on Jesus? What if they had simply taken Christ at His word and believed all that He was promising them? Would they have been less anxious? A little less concerned with their place in the kingdom? More eager to invite the little children to His side? 

It is easy for me to get my eyes on the how God is going to fulfill the promise and busy myself with details, rather than simply choosing to rest secure in His faithfulness. Over dinner with my roommates tonight I was sharing a bit of this, a teeny, teeny bit, this last little thought: I often have expectation on how God will execute His faithfulness in my life and in the lives of those around me. In those moments when I don't think He is doing it right, I'm ridiculously frustrated, discouraged and sometimes down right immature and doubting. But my faithlessness does not, will not and cannot nullify His faithfulness. He is ever faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. He is the Author and Perfecter. He knows where the story is going. He's got all the characters down, the details of the scenery, even the little sparrows are all cared for by our great Creator. That is good, He is faithful, and all will happen just as He says. 

Lord, I believed one of Your promises so many years ago as a little girl. I believed You so loved the world that You gave Your one and only Son that whoever would believe in Him, wouldn't perish, but would have eternal life. At four it was meaningful and real, but so many years later and so many more promises believed, all I can do is praise You because there is nothing in me that is deserving of Your great faithfulness to me. All about me is turning and shadows, apart from You, apart from Your work and Your Spirit in me. Thank You, God, for Your faithful, covenant-making love, and for Jesus being the One Who is just and the justifier of me, and of all who believe. You are faithful, God. There is no shadow of turning in Thee, You change not and Your compassions they fail not. As Thou hast been, You will ever more be. 

Give me eyes to see Your faithfulness in circumstances are painful, give me grace to believe there will be beauty from the ashes, and help me not to guess at how. Fill my heart with wondrous expectancy as I meditate on You, Your Word and Your works! O Lord, keep my heart open to You, for You are faithful and trustworthy. May I walk by faith with and undivided heart before You.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Grandma Lillian

When I was 22 years old, it became abundantly clear that my grandma's health was taking a turn for the worst. In a matter of months the vibrant woman I had always known as my dad's mom and grandma was suddenly slipping away. Thankfully during my senior year of college my weekends were three-four day long ones, which allowed me to make a handful of trips to visit her in Arizona before she passed. 

On one visit around Christmas, my grandma was hospitalized. We visited and I could tell that she was fighting to want to keep on living on earth. It was the first time I ever felt any form of defeat from my grandma's spirit. It wasn't in the words that she said, but there was a subtle sadness in her eyes. She was sick of being in pain. We played Cribbage, grandma's favorite, my dad's favorite and I assume most of the family cherishes it as their favorite now, too. I'm sure she won. I helped her use the bathroom before I had to leave to head back home. I had never felt my grandma's dependency on me in that way.

I remember crying in my car, with the distinct realization that my grandma's sprightly spirit was slipping away. It seemed like a new wave of adulthood swept over me.

A couple of months later I  had just arrived in Phoenix for the weekend, when I got a phone call from my dad that grandma had had a serious stroke. My parents were on their way from Blythe. I was with my aunt on my mom's side when I got the news, and knew it was not too far from the end. My Aunt Anne knew how dear Grandma Lillian was to me. As I started to tear up over dinner she explained to my preteen cousins why I was so upset. She began to rattle off the wonderful qualities my grandmother had, she had tasted it in her own interactions with her, but more so saw the sheer blessing of a mother-in-law Lillian had been to her beloved sister (my mom).

The next morning I drove to the hospital across town. I am pretty sure that all of the her six kids and their spouses had made it to Phoenix over the night (maybe one was missing). They decided to start hospice care. I walked back to her room with my parents and some other family members. They had told me she wouldn't be able to speak and she only had limited use of her left side. I took her left hand and told her, "Hi grandma, I was already in Arizona when I heard you had a stroke." My words seemed to comfort her as she stared and focused on my eyes. "I love you so much." She squeezed my hand with so much strength, and after a couple of minutes I had to let go. I didn't want to cry over her, I wanted to leave her smiling.

Two weekends later at her memorial service, I remember standing up and sharing, "I'm about to graduate college, and while I don't know what my future holds or exactly what I will do. I know I want to be like my grandma Lillian. I want to love Jesus and people the way she did." 

My grandma had such a wonderful blend of gentle meekness and witty spunk. She remembered you and took interest in you, and the things you were interested in. She was so patient. She didn't mind a mess from grand children frosting Christmas cookies. But I really think grandma was generous. Generous with what she had, yes, but how much more generous with who she was. I am ever grateful to the gracious God Who loved her first and put His loving Spirit in her! What a blessing she was, and what a blessing her legacy still is. 

Tonight I saw some saving bond notes that she started giving us for Christmas when were older; the last one I received was from Christmas of 2008. It made me remember her and I began to miss her. What a blessing to know that this is not the end! Grandma Lillian is absent from the body, but she is present with the Lord! And to quote Sara Groves, "And from what I know of Him that must be very good."