A Rosy Dawn

I wrote a few days ago about how my leukemia has been flaring up — my main symptom right now being fatigue. Which means I haven’t gotten into Christmas shopping mood, plus three of our grandchildren are upper teens. Gift certs work best. 🙂

Last Sunday we were wondering how this week would turn out, anyway, when we heard one of our elderly members — living in a nursing home half an hour away — was quite low. The family had been called together and we was a church were expecting a funeral announcement anytime. But the dear old gent rallied and the week went on as previously planned. The school children brought their Christmas programme Thursday night and our church youth group brought theirs last night. We enjoyed the two lovely evenings, listening to the Christmas story brought through songs and old familiar carols.

Took me awhile to fall asleep last night, so I didn’t get up until almost 9 am. Woke up feeling rather blue, partly because Christmas is coming and I’d just like to skip it. Grinch! Also, this morning again I’ve a tender lump in front of my right ear; I’m guessing it’s a CLL-affected lymph node. If I start getting lumpy lymph nodes I’ll have to get with the treatment. Which will likely be small stuff this time around; just one pill for the rest of my life.

Got up and read a text from the elderly gent’s family letting us know that their father died at 2am this morning. This will change Christmas week for a lot of people. He came from a large family, so a lot of nieces and nephews, plus he & his wife had seven children, so a lot of descendants. Plus he was a well known pastor. Condolences are pinging in steadily on WhatsApp.

Mr Hiebert was 91 in Sept, so led a good long life. A pastor for many of those years, he helped us a lot when we were sifting through many religious doctrines, searching for truth and a church home. As I said in my title, we had a lovely rosy dawn this morning. We trust our dear old friend enjoyed a rosy dawn in that land of eternal day.

Image: Peggychoucain — Pixabay

It’s All God’s Fault!

Warning: Seriously long musing on the question,
Is God really the cruel, heartless being Christians sometimes unwittingly describe?

Job’s Comforters

Imagine: A psychotic teen filled with anger, bent on revenge, waiting outside a small school. He’s carrying an AK-47; when the children pour out of the school at noon, he opens fire.

That evening two dozen sets of parents are overwhelmed with grief. John and Jane have lost two children in this tragedy, so acquaintances come to sit and grieve with them. Some offer what they hope are comforting words:

“It must have been their time to go,” said one.
“No it wasn’t,” John protested. “They were murdered!”
But it’s all according to God’s will,” said another. “The Bible says ‘All things work together for good,’ so He must have some plan for making this good.”
“This loss will haunt our family all our lives,” Jane whispered.
“God could have prevented this tragedy, but He allowed it to happen and His ways are always perfect.”
“What’s perfect about MURDER” John retorted.
Jane was thankful when their wanna-be encouragers left. She sighed and told John, “At least they weren’t quite like Job’s comforters. They didn’t tell us it was because of some sin in our life.”

Imagine: Some drunk gets into his car, thinking he’s okay to drive home. On the way he veers into the other lane and smashes into an oncoming car. Pearl’s son, daughter-in-law, and two of their children are killed instantly.”
Later a friend offered the much-repeated words of comfort: “They say God never gives us more than we can handle.”
“Then they lie,” Pearl sobbed, “because this is a lot more than I can handle!”

Beware Quick Pat Answers

In his devotional booklet, Every Day With Jesus, Mar/April 2018, Pastor Selwyn Hughes writes: “Time and again I have sat before a weeping man or woman in whose life something tragic has happened and heard them say, “If God loves me, why did He let this happen?”

He goes on to say how Christian often struggle with the fact that God allows bad things to happen to good people, and they prefer to rationalize the issue rather than face it.
“I must have done something wrong and God is punishing me.” Or like Job’s comforters, “You must have done something wrong and God is punishing you.”
And if nothing else makes sense, then, “It was their time to go,” Or “It’s all in God’s will.”

The above examples of comfort offered to the grieving demonstrate ways we tend to rationalize the inexcusable, but what sort of a God are we then portraying? He could have prevented your twelve-year old daughter from being kidnapped, raped and murdered – but He didn’t.

How cruel is that? If I stood by and did nothing while some crazy killed a child, wouldn’t I be guilty of complicity? Yet we have no idea how much and how often has God spoken to this person, urging him to turn away from evil thoughts and deeds. God has never adopted the policy of striking sinners dead — or Earth would be an empty planet!

In cases of a sudden heart attack or other non-violent death, it’s easier to find comfort in the thought that “His/her time was up.” Or “Their work on earth is done.” These thoughts do work sometimes. The world’s been saddened these past few weeks by the death of the beloved Queen Elizabeth. At age 96 and in relatively good health up until her death, I think we all feel that it was her time to go.

But can you imagine the guards at Auschwitz herding their prisoners into the gas chambers, saying, “It’s just your time to go.” Or worse, “God’s allowing this, so it must be His will.”

He Gives Us the Right to Choose

We read in the Bible that God id love, that He wants to be our Father, to guide and protect us. However, He wants to be a chosen parent, not one who forces His will on us.

Going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when Eve reached out to pick that fruit and opened the door for sin, God could have slapped her hand. “I told you, ‘Don’t touch!’” But He didn’t.

God made his will clear then and it still stands: Mankind shall have the choice to obey Me or not.” Otherwise, in his Court of Justice, He must bring every one of us into account because we have all made wrong choices – and did it knowingly. I believe the verse that says, “God calls all men everywhere to repent,” but His kingdom is not a physical kingdom that citizens are born into, but a spiritual kingdom where all are subjects by choice.

Rather, just as He allowed Eve the choice to reach out and take something she knew was forbidden, so He allows us, all through our lives Christians and non-Christians, to reach out and take the thing we know is wrong, or harmful. To say the words we know we shouldn’t say: the lies, the scathing criticism, the accusations.

Looking back, I think of many times I wish God would have reached down and given me a slap before I said, or did, something. Yes, there was that tiny voice saying, “Don’t” but it’s so easily ignored. He allowed me to make my own choice – and suffer the consequence, the loss, the tears.

At times He does actually intervene and counter man’s will, upsetting the plans of evil people. Usually they happen when He steps in to protect His children from some harm, or lets His child know that the loving Father does care. We often call these miracles and they are happening all the time; I believe every Christian can tell you of an instance where “something told me” or they’ve been prevented from some action or heard a voice giving a clear instruction or answer.

Just one example: A Christian woman in the southern US was standing in her back yard during a wild storm, the tailings of a hurricane, when an inner voice told her, “Get out of this yard.” She obeyed, and a few minutes later a huge limb of a tree came crashing down right where she’d been standing.

Not to say God’s children will never come to harm, but sometimes we are supernaturally protected. Likewise instances like this happen to non-Christians: some little voice says, “Don’t go there.” or “Don’t do that.” The choice is left to them, to listen or to ignore.

Sadly, Christians who feel their Father forces His will on mankind, are inclined to carry this even farther. His way is right/best, so His will should be enforced on everyone, Christian or not. They may carry out personal acts of punishment – my next post will touch on this – or they get into politics and start making laws, Prohibition being the most notable fiasco.

This is our human way of keeping our fellow man in line – the legal hand-slap or lash – and it’s the only way the governments of this world have of preventing evil because they can’t speak to or change hearts. However, through the ages God has worked through the still small voice of conscience, a voice every person in this world hears.

A Place Prepared

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is SWIM. This is cheating, but in response I’m going to post a devotional article I wrote some years ago, back when I was keeping a betta fish.

Image by Rebecca Lehman — Pixabay

A Place Prepared

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Alphie was a millet-brained betta fish. What did he know? His one-gallon fish bowl was the only world he’d ever experienced and he was content there. He had no clue that there could be a better environment, or that I was preparing one for him.

I’d learned that betta fish deserve a better environment than a fish bowl, so I was setting up a proper ten-gallon aquarium where he could enjoy life to the full. He’d have a heater and filter to keep his water fresh and pure. Bliss, betta style.

But this preparation couldn’t happen overnight. An aquarium needs to go through a nitrogen cycle to develop the right kind of bacteria in the filter so it will purify the water passing through. Alphie’s new home sat on the counter for over a month as it went through this cycle; during this time I added driftwood and various ornaments that would make his new world so much more interesting. Meanwhile he circled round and round in his little fish bowl, relaxed in the world he knew.

Then one day his new home was ready for him. I set his bowl beside the tank, then scooped him out in a small ladle. Now he was really confined! And scared, too; he squirmed and fought this new situation. Just a little fish; he couldn’t comprehend the big picture, or imagine a place where he could swim to his heart’s content.

Though the transfer was uncomfortable and confusing for him, it was accomplished quickly. I placed him in his new tank and his delight was obvious. So much room! So many interesting things to explore. Constant warmth and pure water. For a little fish this was paradise!

Most of us are fairly happy in this world. Some content, some not so content in our little lives, but it’s the only space we’ve ever known. Like my betta, we’re not very willing to leave it. For sure we’re not enthused about being carried out in a small box! Our comprehension of what waits on the other side is so limited.

Unlike my little fish, however, we can know God’s plans for us. Jesus has revealed them to His followers; by faith we can believe His words. He has prepared a place for a people who have prepared themselves: those who have placed their faith in his promises and their lives in his will.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14: 2-3

And we can rejoice like the Psalmist:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Psalm 23:6

A Day’s Journey

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is TRAFFIC. Here’s a little verse in response:

rush hour traffic
streams of weary communters
snailing homeward

Today We Bury My Sister

Donna died of a drug overdose on November 28, two days after her 66th birthday. Her middle son, James, had her cremated within days, but it’s taken while to arrange burial of her ashes in her daughter Barbie’s grave. Barb died back in 1989, from what likely would have started as cervical cancer. A sad time for us all; Barb was just sixteen and full of life.

Being a Saturday morning, the traffic on the highway between here and Moose Jaw will probably be light. We’re to meet at the cemetery at noon to bury the urn holding Donna’s ashes, then we’ll have a gathering in remembrance, which will take the form of a family picnic in the park. I don’t expect it to be a large gathering, as she lived in her own circle of friends so a lot of her nieces and nephews hardly knew her.

Donna and I were close when we were young — as close as siblings can be when they live in different homes over 100 miles apart — but as an adult she and her family lived here in SK while we moved East and lived in Ontario and Quebec. Coming back to SK, I was only able to locate her a few times. So, sadly I’ve only seen her four or five times in the past thirty years — mainly at family funerals.

I haven’t had anything to do with her Rob & Jason, her oldest & youngest sons, since I spent a few days with Donna when Barb died. Sad when families get so estranged, but my husband and I chose a different path — lifestyle if you will — and lost contact with them. Hopefully we can get a bit more acquainted today.

Beauty and The Beast

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was The Extraordinary in the Ordinary.

The idea behind this prompt was that there’s beauty in the simplest things and I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve been amazed at times by the petals of a flower, the iridescence of a bug, the symmetrical shape shape of a tree, the strength in a mechanic’s hands as he twisted a wrench. But today my thoughts have gone in a different line.

Innocence
Beauty
Murderous

Last Sunday morning my sister Donna lost her life to drugs.