Tag Archive: Hope

Let Justice Roll Down!

This 2018 has seen both joys and sorrows, personally and corporately. We look ahead to a new year with the God who is present, who gave Himself that we might have life more abundantly (John 10:10b). He said to Israel that “… I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:24, NLT. May that be our heart’s desire and purpose in the coming year.

“Yes, And … “

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 NIV

What did thirteen- or fourteen-year old Mary think when the angel Gabriel appeared to tell her that she, a virgin, would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit, and that child would save his people from their sins?

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Nativity Scene Table Decor – nativity-scene.jpg

Luke 1 says Mary was troubled when the angel first appeared to her. And yet, she responds in trust. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”  

I’ve always thought of the young Mary as submissive, humble, obedient–a sweet, lovely girl. And I expect she was all that. But what if the emotions around the angel’s message weren’t quite that straightforward for her? 

What if she said yes, but still had questions?

  • How will I tell Joseph?
  • Will he break up with me?
  • Will he love this child?
  • What about all the gossips in this town? Will I be able to hold my head up when I walk down the main street?

When I felt God call me to minister in the Los Angeles ghetto, I said yes. But how was I going to respond when my mother cried, fearing I would be raped, beaten, or killed? 

How is my friend responding when her daughter is preparing to go to a potentially dangerous missionfield, single? I can appreciate the mother’s concerns for her daughter’s emotional and physical wellbeing, her security, her happiness.

Or another friend who has just received a diagnosis of terminal illness and has decided not to go through treatment and its side effects, but to trust God for her remaining days.

So an initial ‘yes’ doesn’t necessarily end the story, does it. But God leads us, one ‘yes’ at a time.

Mary responded with that initial “yes,” and there were many yeses to follow.

  • Yes to her twelve-year old son who stayed behind, conversing with the Temple elders when his mother and Joseph left Jerusalem to return home after Passover.
  • Yes to watching her son ridiculed, attacked, called a fraud.
  • Yes to watching this son she bore mocked, beaten, nailed to a cross to die, in agony of spirit and body.

And yes to His resurrection, to seeing her son alive and changed, knowing He was Son of God, Redeemer, Messiah, Holy One.

So I expect most of us have said “yes” along the way. But what’s the next “yes” in your journey of obedience? In mine?

WEEPING MAY COME …

charles and karen 2 2 4 15Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read my friend’s latest text. “Hours now.” Her husband was at the edge of eternity. And while I rejoiced that Charles would soon be welcomed into Jesus’ loving arms, I hurt.

I hurt for Karen, his beloved wife, who faces a new journey as a widow.

Don and I hurt because we will miss our friend Charles.

And he and I both grieve for the death of our respective first spouses as the pain resurfaces.

It has been a week of sorrow and tears.

Death is the enemy! But it was never part of God’s Plan. We can hate death, hate what it does to separate us from those we love, hate the pain it brings. I. HATE. Death.

But I also have hope…hope that was refreshed as Don and I recently visited Golgotha, the Garden Tomb, and the Mount of Olives where Jesus died and conquered death, and to which He will return. The tomb could not confine Jesus’ broken body to death’s decay. Instead, He, the Master of life and death, ROSE. Because He lives, we too can live–both now and eternally.

Charles has passed from this earth. But Scripture reassures us that he is very much alive in a realm we know by faith, and from the promises of God. I can picture our loving Savior taking our friend in His arms and saying “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)

When Don and I learned that Charles had passed, we held each other and cried. As we rested together, a precious song filled my mind.

“It is finished, the battle is over,
It is finished, there’ll be no more war.
It is finished, the end of the conflict
It is finished and Jesus is Lord…”

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” When He came to the village of his friends Mary and Martha, their brother Lazarus had died and been buried. And Jesus cried. He is not removed from our suffering, nor does He leave us to navigate it alone. He has promised NEVER to leave us, NEVER to forsake us.

“When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
’twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.” Charles H. Gabriel

I can imagine “our” Charles’ sparkling blue eyes looking around heaven in wonder, his body falling at the feet of Jesus, his tongue proclaiming “My Lord and my God.” I can imagine him thinking, “Oh, Karen, just wait ’til you see Him!”

For Charles, “weeping may (has) endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5).

Karen, and those of us who love both Karen and Charles, will weep. We will grieve. We will miss Charles’ infectious smile, his jokes and gentle laugh, his kind words; but we also know that joy will come in the morning, when we who free-christian-clip-art-.126follow Jesus will join Charles and the many others who have gone before, to joy in Christ’s presence forevermore.

BE MY VALENTINE

New love, new hope

New love, new hope

“Will you be mine?” Is Valentine’s just one special day a year, or is it a lifestyle?

Having lost one husband, I recognize more than ever how precious my time with my second husband is. None of us has any guarantees of another day, another hour. Husbands, wives, parents working at the World Trade Center September 11th, 2001 didn’t have any idea that morning that it might be their last goodbye to their loved ones. The motorcycle driver killed instantly in a recent accident had no warning that his life, and that of his family, was about to change forever.

When God brought a lovely man into my life several years after being widowed, I didn’t know if I wanted to commit to a new marriage. I was finding my identity as a single woman, exploring new interests, and not sure I wanted to risk the possibility of going through widowhood a second time. But Don was patient, consistent, kind, persistent. He told me he wouldn’t ask me to marry him until I was ready. And he kept loving me. One day he stood by the kitchen sink as we prepared lunch together.

“I will never leave you,” he said. “You may send me away, but I will never walk away from you.”

Amazing statement. I kept listening, watching. His love didn’t waver. His kindness was evident in the ways he respected me, as well as my family members. I made a list of the qualities I would look for in a man, were I to remarry.

During a cruise to the Mexican Riviera, a girlfriend and I talked and prayed together. One day I pulled out and reviewed the list of qualities I wanted. Don fit every one of them. As I sought the Lord, it seemed I heard Him say “What are you waiting for?”

Several months later Don and I married in a small, intimate ceremony.

Don gives me flowers, cards with deep expressions of love, and shows me regularly how much he loves me. But it’s not always the romantic gestures of love that mean the most, lovely as those are. It’s the daily acts of selfless love that let me know over and over that he’s thinking of me and caring about my welfare. Things like …

… pulling my car out of the garage and warming it up for me when I have an early winter appointment;
… unloading the dishwasher before I’m even awake;
… helping my mother with small things around her house;
… supporting and believing in my call to write.

Don and I work at never parting without seeking each other out to exchange a hug and kiss; we touch base periodically during the day, whether at home or apart. We love our families, our two sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, the beach, and traveling. We laugh at little things and cherish time together, whether we’re doing something special or nothing at all.

double heartSo, my Valentine, I love you on this special day. But I also love you every day. You complete me. Looking into your deep blue eyes gives me strength, confidence, and joy; and our shared commitment to Christ roots our love in the Rock of Ages.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Don Victor Loewen!

BUT GOD …

P1090285Like most of us, I want to live with purpose. And yet at times I find my purpose wavering … I’d like a rest; I’m not equipped to deal with that issue; that person’s pain is too much for me to handle.

But that’s the beauty of God’s empowering. Many challenges are too much for me to handle. I am inadequate. I don’t know what to do. But our pastor reminded me this weekend that God will enable me if I take one step at a time, believing He will meet me at the next one.

I experienced many God-moments when my first husband was waiting for an organ transplant in Florida. Three thousand miles from home, we needed housing, local support, and insurance approval. In one email to friends I expressed the challenges we faced, then listed some of the ways we had seen God’s empowering.

“We are in big trouble on our own (health, costs, housing, ongoing tests) … it isn’t a bed of roses …

BUT GOD … allowed Jerry’s test results Friday to be positive, removing a potential obstacle to transplantation …

BUT GOD … ensured final dollar authorization for the dual transplant …

BUT GOD … led our California pastor to connect us with Pastor X here in Gainesville, with whom we’ve already started to have wonderful fellowship and support …

BUT GOD … led Pastor X to follow up with us and to allow us to share with his church body, which is actively responding to our needs.

BUT GOD … has shown us His faithfulness over and over through people we’ve met, the kindness of strangers in antique shops who’ve offered us housing or suggested resources, and by giving us incredible opportunities to connect with people and share our lives and His faithfulness with them.”

Dr. Helen Rosaveare was a single missionary working in the Congo from 1953 to 1973. During the political instability of the 1960s she was brutally gang-raped by rebels. As she tells it, during that terror one word kept recurring in her mind. “Privilege.” She had the privilege of suffering for Christ. That is truly beyond one’s capability, strength or adequacy.

But GOD empowered her to survive that and continue to minister for Him.

Grace. It’s all God’s grace. It’s not good when someone is raped, murdered, terminally ill, depressed, or insecure. But it is grace, the grace of God that shows up when we most need it, that empowers us to take one step at a time, experiencing His presence which then empowers us to take the next step. Sometimes I think I’ve done something of value … but Rene reminds me that it is all about the grace of God. He uses our availability even more than our ability.

So what are the “But Gods” in your life? I’d love to hear.