Thursday, January 30, 2014

The "Would 've, Should 've, Could 'ves" of Life

     When we lose someone, the first thing that often pops in our heads is what we "should have done, what we would have done or what we could have done" for them.  Another name for this is guilt.  We all suffer from guilt as it is because we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.  We all fail one another at some point.  So when a family member dies, our mind is fertile ground for this kind of thinking.
     While it may be true that we missed some opportunities to say or do something for that person, no one can possibly cover all the bases.  We do the best we can with God's help and leave the results in His hands.  So why do we allow the enemy of our souls to beat us up with the big stick of guilt?  When we do allow this, the next phase is "if only I had done this or that".  Again, it is a fallacy.  Only the Lord holds the power of life and death in His hands.  Our omissions and commissions cannot change the course of His will for our lives or the lives of those we love.  We cannot second guess God.  However, we can stand on His assurances in His Word.  As we do this, that big stick of guilt is whittled to a toothpick in no time flat.
     In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote these liberating and important words:  "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2).  If God no longer condemns us because of the blood of Christ, then, we must not condemn ourselves.  He has set us free from the bondage to sin and death that once we were under.  By no means are we perfect for we still carry the old flesh around, but it has lost its power in our lives!  In Christ, we are free from the real guilt of sin and the false guilt put on us by Satan.
     Furthermore, Paul goes on throughout chapter 8 encouraging believers in their salvation and what it means to us.  Then, in the concluding verses 31-39, Paul encourages us to continue and persevere in the Lord.  Verse 31 reads:  "What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?"  Paul, then, goes on to explain that we are justified in Christ and that no one can accuse or condemn us.  In fact, Christ is now at the right hand of the Father even now interceding on our behalf.  This is glorious news isn't it?  We have the Lord Himself standing before God the Father pleading our case and caring for our souls.  Going on, Paul writes in verse 35:  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword?"  Then, he concludes in verses 37-39:  "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  There we have it!  NOTHING can separate us from God's love when we are found in Christ Jesus.
     Therefore, dear ones, we need to put away false guilt about the would 've, should 've, could 'ves in life.  Our times are in His hands.  He knew the days and length of our life even before we take our first breath (Psalm 139), and He will see us through to the end.  God has a plan for us and for all those we love.  We may not understand it at the time, or even like it, but as Romans 8:28 says:  "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."  My "Reformation Study Bible" footnote on that verse reads:  "The purpose of God guarantees "good" for His people.  For them this is not necessarily ease and quiet, but being like Christ.  God's providence rules in such a way as to ensure everything that happens to us is working for our ultimate good" (pg. 1627 The Reformation Study Bible).  We have to trust Him and lean not on our own understanding or listen to the lies of the enemy.  Let us put away all false guilt and know that God does not condemn us, and we must not condemn ourselves.  Until that day when we see Him face to face, let us rest in His love that comforts, restores and heals us.  I close with these words of Paul:  "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."  May we not let the enemy ever cloud our vision and our hope in Christ.  Selah!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tears in a Bottle

     One of the reasons I so love the Psalms is that they represent a wide range of emotions but always point to the God of our salvation.  Though they may begin with the psalmist crying out, they end with  praising God for His answers and His hope.  I can identify with that.
Replica of an ancient tear bottle
     In Psalm 56:8, David writes comforting words:  "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle Are they not in Your book?"  Here David acknowledges that God knows about our restless nights when we cannot sleep and He keeps our tears of sorrow in His bottle.  What a beautiful picture of a tender Father who cares for the sorrow of His children.  In fact, God even records them in His book.  Now that is intimate knowledge! 
     Within this past month, not only has our family lost a child but there have been many other losses within our church family and in the community at large.  Grief is something that comes to all and everyone deals with it on their own timetable.  So often, well meaning people try to hurry up the process by telling someone that it is better to move on now.  While we know that life does go on, we still have a longing for the one that brought us joy and is now departed.  It takes time for the wound to heal.  I liken it to having foot surgery and someone telling you to go out and take a hike the next day on your surgical foot.  We all know that would be too painful and probably do a lot of damage.  Instead, we need to allow the incision to heal properly.  We cannot rush our physical bodies, so why do some people think we should be able to heal emotional loss overnight?
     David experienced many losses in his life.  He lost the child that he and Bathsheba had together.  He was pursued by his son Absalom who was eventually put to death by David's own soldiers.  These losses were real, searing and brought many tears.  However, David knew that it was God who would catch his tears in a bottle.  God cares about the sorrow we have and walks with us through the hard places.  He does not disdain us or call us weak if we have not recovered within a certain time period.
     According to Gill's Exposition of the Bible, it was not unusual for mourners to collect their tears in a bottle and bury the bottle with the person who had died.  This was a means of showing the sorrow of those left behind.  God records those tears in His book and Gill goes on to write:
     "They are in his book of purposes; they are all appointed by him, their kind and nature, their measure and duration, their quality and quantity; what they shall be, and how long they shall last; and their end and use: and they are in his book of providence, and are all overruled and caused to work for their good; and they are in the book of his remembrance; they are taken notice of and numbered by him, and shall be finished; they shall not exceed their bounds. These tears will be turned into joy, and God will wipe them all away from the eyes of his people. "(   I love that description.  God knows and has appointed how many tears we shall cry and to what purpose all that has come to pass has in His providence.  In other words, nothing  is wasted during the grieving process.  God has a plan and a purpose for all that happens to us.    
     David recognized that God was trustworthy for earlier in Psalm 56, he wrote in verse 3-4:  "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid what can flesh do to me?"  Then, he concludes the Psalm in verse 13 by writing:  For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life."  Always, David ends with hope and even in the middle of his pain, he gives praise to God.
     For those of us going through the process at this time in our lives, we must be patient with ourselves.  God is overseeing even the tears that we cry and the loss we feel.  He cares and is recording it.  Better still, He is trustworthy and one day, as He promised, He will wipe away all our tears and death will be no more!  I find encouragement in that knowing that weeping only lasts for a night but "joy comes in the morning".  Selah!

Friday, January 24, 2014

How Do You Treat Others?

     Speech is a powerful tool that God has given to man.  How we use that tool can either build someone up or tear them down in a minute.  Daily, we encounter people who may not be the kindest individuals.  Many are unbelievers.  Do we snub them?  Do we hate them or treat them as "less than"?  Are we concerned about their salvation?  Do we feel superior because we have truth and they don't?  How we answer those questions is important because the Lord wants us always to be wise in our actions and speech with believers and non-believers as well.
     In writing to the Church in Colosse, Paul, the Apostle, wrote these words concerning our conduct towards those outside the faith:  "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person" (Colossians 4:5-6).  Paul is right.  We need
wisdom towards those we meet who may not share our conviction that Jesus Christ is Savior.  Our faith is more than just believing in the Lord, it also requires a change in our lifestyle.  Where before, we might have made fun of someone or treated them unkindly, now we are called upon to treat them with the love of Christ.  Why?  Because our conduct speaks volumes to those who know us to be Christian and watch our actions to see if they line up with our words.
     This is especially true for those of us that work outside our homes.  In our case, we have a family business.  We meet all types of people every day.  We see our focus as one of service, professionalism but also one of extending kindness and care even if the other person doesn't react that way in return.  No one knows when someone comes into your store or business what has just happened to that person on the way there.  Perhaps they are a caregiver for a sick spouse or a recent widow.  This forms how they might respond to others.  This is why we need godly wisdom every day so we may know how to respond instead of react to others.  It is human nature (the sin nature) to snap back at someone who has just snapped at us.  However, if we use words of grace, seasoned with salt, we might win that person over and open the door for further conversation in the future.  Many people come to accept Christ because of a relationship with a Christian who lives their faith in both speech and actions.
     I recall a story that Corrie Ten Boom shared in a talk she gave.  She had been traveling all over telling others about what she and her sister experienced in the concentration camps and how Christ sustained them.  At one meeting, Corrie said that a person there came up to her and told her that he had been a guard in the concentration camp where she had been held.  This person had become a Christian and asked Corrie to forgive him for playing a part in her nightmare.  She was stunned and in herself she did not want to forgive this person.  However, as she struggled within, she knew that the Lord would want her to forgive this person.  She was able, by God's grace, to extend a hand of forgiveness to this person even though it was the hardest thing she had ever done.  God helped her with her actions and her words.
     Kind words, a friendly smile, and an effort to reach out to someone does not cost us anything.  When we share this with those outside the faith instead of criticizing them, we will have opened a door for further communication and a chance to perhaps share our faith.  However, when we act like the world, we close a door that might not open again.  Lets watch our speech and conduct ourselves with wisdom around family members, co-workers, friends and neighbors who may not share our faith in Christ and see what the Lord does in opening up opportunities.  We are God's ambassadors and as such, we must be careful how we conduct our lives for many are watching.  Selah!

Have you been able to encourage someone who is not a Christian?  How has God used you?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mercy Drops

   There is an old hymn written in 1883 by Daniel Whittle entitled "There Shall Be Showers of Blessing".  The words to the first verse and the refrain go like this:
                                  There shall be showers of blessing:
                                  This is the promise of love;
                                  There shall be seasons refreshing,
                                  Sent from the Savior above.
                                  Showers of blessing,
                                  Showers of blessing we need:
                                  Mercy-drops round us are falling,
                                  But for the showers we plead.
      I was reminded of this hymn today as I thought about all the little kindnesses God has shone to us through our friends, church family and others.  I call them "mercy drops".  Daily God has been sending me mercy drops during this time of heartache that lift my spirit and remind me that God works all things together for good to those who love Him.
     For example, yesterday at work, we had a patient come in bringing her beautiful little girl who was two years old.  Her husband watched after the little girl and while I was working in the optical, the little girl ran up and hugged me like I was her grandmother.  I was surprised, touched and then, realized that God was giving me a "mercy drop".  I needed that little hug from a child.
     On another occasion, someone came to our office and spent a few minutes just talking to me and asking questions.  They patiently listened as I discussed the death of our grandson.  I needed that relief of being able to share my heart.  A while later, the lady's husband came in and brought a flower to me from their family.  Once again, a mercy drop had fallen on my heart.
     When I told one of our pastors about God's great grace during this time of trouble and how He brought something to me every day that gave me peace he told me not to be afraid to ask God for this each day.  He said that I needed to ask the Lord to make it clear for me to recognize.  Now I live in expectation to see what God will bring along each day as a way of giving me a holy hug.
      Opening the Scriptures today to Psalms, I once again find the comfort and "mercy drops" I need to make it through this time.  Psalm 34:18-19 reads:  "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."  Indeed, this is a time of heavy hearts but knowing that God will deliver us and work through all that has happened keeps me moving forward each day.  Another Psalm with similar wording is 147:3:  "He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds."  This is a great picture of the shepherd cleaning the wounds of his sheep.  Our Lord is there to take the sting out of the pain which the enemy of our souls inflicts.  Then, He binds up our wounds and applies the healing balm of Jesus Christ to our lives.  For we know that our sure hope is that one day there will be no more pain, suffering, death, tears or loss (Rev. 21:3-4).  This is the greatest "mercy drop" God could ever splash upon our hearts.
     Rick Warren said:  "Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days – when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when your out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone."  No truer words have ever been spoken.  Daily God is providing "mercy drops" to soothe my heart and He will do the same for all who lean on Him in total dependence.  We all must remember that He is the one who brings showers of blessings to refresh our souls and provides "mercy drops" just when we need them.  Selah!

Photo by audreyjm529 at Wiki Commons

Monday, January 20, 2014

It Doesn't Take a Village - It Takes a Family


 In all the hustle and bustle that has surrounded our lives over the last week with the loss of our grandson, one thing has become abundantly clear.  The love of friends, family and the Body of Jesus Christ is a healing balm like no other.  Over and over again, I have asked myself the question, "How do people make it through the grief shaking losses of life without the hope we have in Jesus Christ?"  Indeed, how do they make it without the fellowship of the saints?
     From the beginning of their relationship together, our son and daughter-in-law kept Christ at the     center of their marriage and life; so when Branson came along in 2007 with all the medical challenges, they had the full support of both sides of the family.  More than that, they had prayers and the love of Christ to see them through.  Having Christian families on both sides means there is a constant during the storms of life, and that one constant is God's Word.  When we have a solid foundation on which to build our relationships, they will remain strong.
     Just as all the family members gathered to celebrate their wedding, so once again, everyone assembled this time to uphold them in their loss.  However, beyond the immediate families, there were brothers and sisters in Christ who offered food, support, encouragement and kindness.  This is not something we see in the world around us.  While people may offer to help during a crisis, they often do not stick around long after the event has passed.  Yet, in the Body of Jesus Christ, there is a support system that serves to undergird the believer throughout the journey of faith.
     Here are just a few of the verses that speak of the riches of Christian fellowship:
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."  I Thess. 5:11

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."  (Hebrews 10:24-25)

"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matt. 18:20)

     When we experience the sweet fellowship of other believers, we are encouraged and that was never more clear than this past week when the Body of Christ surrounded us with the love of the Lord.  First and foremost, I am thankful for the precious testimony to the love of Christ in my precious daughter in law's family.  We are united in our purpose to serve the Lord and to support one another.  Then, I am humbled and grateful for brothers and sisters who took the time to call, write, hug, encourage, stimulate and assist when we needed them so much.  Until we find ourselves in a situation of great need, we forget that other Christians really are the hands and feet of Jesus bringing comfort where it is needed most.
     Life has many storms and our boat can often spring a leak.  Thank goodness our Lord did not leave us by ourselves to do the repairs.  He has placed us in a family of believers who demonstrate His love by reaching out to us when we need a helping hand.  It doesn't take a village to help raise a child, heal a wound or provide for needs.  It takes, instead, the family of Jesus Christ to help us finish the race well.  May we be mindful of this the next time we hear about a crisis, tragedy, or circumstance that we might be able to demonstrate the love of Christ.  Selah!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"The New Normal"

 As I sit here in the quiet of our home, the memories of the last few days come rolling across my heart like a wave crashing on the shore.   Life has changed for our family and we are all trying to find the "new normal" after the death of our oldest grandchild this past Thursday, January 9th.  It was sudden, unexpected and felt like a body blow when we got the call.  How could it be that this smiling six year old child with special needs was gone from us?  And yet, I remembered that life is brief on this earth and we do not know when the Lord will call us.  Isaiah 40:8 reads:  "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever."  Only God and His promises remain the very thing we can cling too when heartache comes to us.  
     At the beginning of the New Year, I chose for my life verse Proverbs 3:5-6:  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths."  My theme for the year was trusting in God.  I thought to myself how ironic it was that my trust was being stretched to the max so early in the new year.  However, God's ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts.  I do not understand why our beloved grandchild was called home so early in his life.  Nevertheless, I cannot lean on my own perception.  Only a Sovereign God knows how to bring all the loose ends of life together for His glory and our good.  The question is, "Do I really believe that God is good even in the darkest valley?  Do I trust Him?"
     Scripture teaches us that God is unchanging, just, good, holy, righteous, perfect, loving, all knowing and that He weeps with those who weep.  Hebrews 13:8 reads:  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."  In other words, we can fully rely on Him.  We also know that the Lord understands our pain and our trials.  When Lazarus died, "Jesus wept" (John 11:35).  He experienced our emotions fully and totally identified with us.  Hebrews 4:15-16 tells us:  "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  For myself, I feel more confident knowing that our Lord understands our sense of loss, our helpless feeling and is ready to provide us with His mercy and grace.  
     When Branson James Thayer was born on October 30, 2007, we knew something was wrong.  After testing, we knew he had a very rare brain malformation shared by a handful of people in the world.  We were not certain he would ever speak, walk, or be able to engage with others around him. Yet, he rose above so many obstacles, so many hospitalizations, and many seizures which his parents worked to prevent.  He was able to speak a few words and use other means to communicate.  He learned to walk and was certainly a very social little boy.  Our son and daughter in law poured their lives into his, and the entire family on both sides stood in full support and love.  We cheered him on, and his favorite phrase became "I did it" whenever he accomplished a task.  So why did God choose to call him home to heaven?  It is something I cannot answer except to say that our lives will forever be changed by the life he lived to the fullest.  God gave him to us for six years, and now he rests in the arms of Jesus where he is free to talk, walk, eat whatever he wants and experience freedom from seizures.  With that in mind, we do not wish him back to this life of limitations.  
     At present, we are the "walking wounded" as we work through our grief day by day and moment by moment.  Yet, we have hope that we will see Branson again because we believe and trust in the work of Jesus Christ our Savior.  He came, died for our sins and set us free from the bondage that held us captive.  In Him, we have the assurance that we will live eternally in His presence and see our loved ones who have died in the faith.  Yes, God knows the pain of loss for He sent His only Son to die for us who had no love for Him nor did we seek Him.  Because of that sacrifice, we can live in assurance that God forgives us and promises us eternal life.
     Our whole family is trying to learn about the "new normal" for us now that God has taken Branson home.  We are learning to trust the Lord on a new level now, and as we do, keep us in your prayers.  No one promised us an easy path in this world.  However, Jesus said He would never leave nor forsake us.  I close with these two verses of hope and strength:  Isaiah 43:2:  "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;  and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you."  In all of life's circumstances, Jesus is with us.  Likewise, our great and mighty God has a plan for each one of us.  Jeremiah 29:11 reads:  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. "  This is the God we serve.  A God of hope and a future.  He will lead us gently into our "new normal" as we watch His plan unfold in each of our lives.  Selah!                      

Monday, January 6, 2014

Treasures in the Heart

 This year, as in many years past, I decided to read through the Bible.  Some years I have made it and other years I have not.  My intentions have always been good but I needed something to keep me on track.  In reading another blog by Ron Edmondson, he recommended the "YouVersion" Bible app for smartphones, IPads, IPods as well as computers.  It is a good way to pick a plan, a version of the Bible and set up daily reminders to read your Bible.
     As I have been using it, the study I picked has taken me into the Gospel according to Luke.  Luke, a physician, was not a direct eyewitness to the events in the life of Christ, but he was a faithful recorder of the Good News who interacted with those who were eyewitnesses. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he wrote his account in order to assure his friend Theophilus that he could have "certainty concerning the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:3b).  This is a certainty for us as well.  That is the beauty of the written Word of God.
     In pouring through this Gospel account, I have come upon a phrase that is repeated by Luke at least twice.  First in Luke 2:19 when the shepherds came from the fields to see the baby, they told Mary and Joseph about the angels and their proclamation concerning this child.  Mary's response found in this verse reads:  "But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart."  Then, in Luke 2:51, we see a similar response by Mary.  Jesus, who was twelve years old at the time, had stayed behind in Jerusalem after the Feast of Passover to talk with the teachers in the Temple instead of returning to His home with Mary and Joseph.  Of course, both of them were frightened when they could not find Him and returned to Jerusalem searching for Jesus for three days.  When they found Him in the Temple, Mary rebuked Him for causing them such concern.  Jesus responded to them saying He must be in His Father's House.  Neither Mary nor Joseph could fully understand all this, but we see in verse 51 what happened after this:  "And He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.  And His mother treasured up all these things in her heart."
     We can only imagine how Mary must have pondered the many miraculous things which she was witness to.  The coming of the angel to tell her of the birth of Messiah, the coming of the shepherds, wise men bringing gifts to a king, finding Jesus in the Temple with the teachers were all out of the ordinary pointing to the fulfillment of what God had told her.  She did what many mothers and fathers do.  She stored up and treasured these moments to think on them and ponder them.
     Back in my college literature classes, I learned that when an author repeats something we must take notice.  In this Gospel, Luke brings this to our attention both to point out Mary's meditation on the things of God and to encourage us to do likewise in our own study concerning our faith.  In Mary's case, she was living the very things foretold by the prophets and witnessing the miracle of God in the flesh.  For our sakes, God had Luke faithfully study what the eyewitnesses to Christ told him and by inspiration of the Holy Spirit record it that we may also ponder and meditate on the Word of God.  This is the purpose of the Bible.  It is the truth revealed to us in written form that we may have certainty in our faith.  Likewise, the Bible is the only foundation for life and godliness.  Paul wrote to Timothy some important words we would do well to follow:  " Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).  How do we handle the Word of truth well?  By study, meditation, and prayer, we can read God's Word and mine all the treasures He has for us.
     While Mary lived the Word of God made flesh and pondered all these things in her heart, we can read the inspired, true Word of God in the pages of our Bible.  It will change our heart and renew our minds.  We will find inspiration, joy, and most importantly, hope for tomorrow as we glean the truths set forth.  However, we have to be in the Bible in order for it to change us.  Like Mary, we must store up these treasures and think about them in our heart.  This is why God had 66 different authors record His inspired Word to us that we may conformed to the image of His dear Son.
     I would encourage everyone to find a Bible reading plan such as I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Then, utilize it daily.  Memorize the Word, pray the Word, and think on it day and night.  We are to teach it to our children, encourage each other with it, and correct one another under its tutelage.
     God has given us a rich treasure.  Like Mary, let us treasure all that God has given to us in His Word and ponder it in our hearts.  We will find our lives much richer for the time we devote to the study of God's Word.  Selah!

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Beauty of Commitment

Our daughter, son-in-law, Rilyn and Gavin...number three
will be here soon!
     I am feeling very blessed tonight as I reflect on some things I have seen lately.  It is not often that you meet two people very much in love after sixty-six years of marriage, but they came into our office the other day.  She came in for an eye problem, and he came for moral support.  Since my husband is very thorough in his profession, it took some time.  Her husband began to worry about her saying, "I hope she is all right.  You know we haven't been apart for sixty-six years."  I assured him that she was fine and would return soon.  He went on to describe how they met and married very young and raised three fine daughters.  They came from the Midwest and every winter, they came to Florida to meet up with the many friends they had made here  He told me that if he had it to do all over again, he would marry her in a minute.
     As soon as she came out, he smiled from ear to ear delighted to see his bride.  Anyone could see the love between them.  When he took her hand as they were ready to leave, I thanked God for the blessing and covenant of marriage.  This is what it is meant to look like.  Growing old together and facing the good and the bad hand in hand.
     Then, today, I received a text message with a picture of the sweet face of our granddaughter yet to be born.  Our daughter, son-in-law and grandson went to have a special sonogram so they could see this little lamb.  In just nine weeks, she will make her appearance on the grand stage of life.  This, too, is what commitment and love in Christ bring into a family.  God's gracious gift of children is a priceless reminder of His love.
     Gavin our four year old grandson was in awe of his new, waiting to be born sister who will join him and little Rilyn at the beginning of March.  I can see many tea parties in their future along with other creative fun.
     What a juxtaposition of people!  One older couple demonstrating a life long commitment to one another and still very much in love.  Then at the opposite end of the spectrum is our daughter and son-in-law ready to greet another child.  This is the picture that God wanted to paint from the beginning of time that man would love Him and then love one another.
     Indeed, my husband and I have had the blessing and privilege of having four gifts from God's gracious hands.  Three of them are married to wonderful Christian spouses, and we now have seven going on eight grandchildren. A friend of mine told me today that we are rich.  I have to agree.  We are not rich as the world counts wealth, but we are rich in what God deems important.
     As I read my Bible today, I came across this passage in Genesis 2.  After God saw that Adam needed a helper that was fit for him, he took a rib from his side and created woman.  Verse 23-24 read:  "Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.'  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."  When the writer uses the term "Hold fast", he is referring to a covenant commitment.  We are never more like our covenant keeping God than when a man and a woman pledge themselves in covenant to one another.  In marriage, we see God's relationship to His people.
     This is what I saw in the past few days.  The commitment and love of the older couple and the joy of our daughter and her husband as they prepare for a new baby.  Love is like that.  This is why God sent His only Son as the greatest gift to us that we might have relationship with Him.  Jesus came to die and to give His life as a ransom for many.  He has made it possible for us to have abundant, full, and loving relationship to the Father and to one another.  Without Him at the center of our lives, we will never experience the freedom from sin and the love for others that we can have...that I personally saw demonstrated in that older couple.
     God calls us to commitment.  First and most importantly to His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.  Then, He calls us to commitment in our relationships, to our family and to our work in this life.  There is beauty and satisfaction in this.  We can only see it when God opens our eyes.  Look at your commitments today.  Cherish them and work on them for His glory.  You never know whose heart you will touch by living for Christ.  Selah!