Rose asked if we could talk privately after we had fed the orphans. I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion when she made her request. “Would it be possible for me to receive one of the wheelchairs you recently shipped to Bulawayo? It is becoming very hard for me to carry Aisha wherever I go. A wheelchair to push her down the streets would be such a blessing.” No hesitation in my reply, “Of course.”
You see, Aisha, Rose’s daughter has a smiling face and a loving disposition because of the unconditional love she has received primarily from her mother and her church family. This is in spite of her body being crippled by spina bifida. One journey they have every week together is the Saturday feeding of the orphans at Nkulumane. Rose assists in both spiritual and physical feeding of these children.
She loves, period. Just be around her. It emanates freely to everyone. This love is not just a natural love a mother has for a child. It is a love that long ago recognized the blessings she has received by God through Jesus Christ. She has embraced the wonderful gift of Divine friendship.
Henri Nouwen writes, “There is little or no neutral territory between the land of the blessed and the land of the cursed. You have to choose where it is that you want to live and that choice is one that you have to keep making from moment to moment.”
“I pray that from his glorious unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” Ephesians 3:16,17
The late Dr. Carl Sagan has estimated that the chance of life evolving on Earth is 1 followed by 2 billion zeros! That would take 6,000 books of 300 pages each just to write that number. The late professor, Edwin Conklin, of Princeton University, put it this way, “The probability of life originating from accident is comparable to the probability of the unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in a printing shop.” So, one choice is that life was spontaneously generated by accident from inorganic substances. In other words, a freak accident.
Here is another choice.
“From the time the world was created people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see His invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature…”Romans 1:20
John gets more specific and tells us Jesus (the Word) did it all.
“In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God and was God… He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make.” John 1:1,3
The story is told of a man heading to a new city. Being unfamiliar with the route, he became confused and took the wrong road. When he realized his predicament, he stopped his car and asked a passing stranger, “Can you help me, I am lost?” “Where are you headed?” the stranger asked. “I am going to Toledo,” the traveller answered. To which the stranger replied, “Then you are not lost. You know where you are going. You just need directions.”
In Jesus, the Holy Spirit is present among us. Through Jesus, He assures us that we are never abandoned. From Jesus, we will know where we are going.
It’s true isn’t it that there is no greater CHOICE than seeing God as Creator and Author of our destiny.
Jackie Deshannon’s hit song included these lyrics,
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love.
No not just for some but for everyone.”
It’s not surprising that a song with such a positive message has been recorded live by over 100 artists.
In “One Inch From The Fence,” Wes Seeliger writes: “I have spent long hours in the intensive care waiting room….watching with anguished people….listening to urgent questions. Will my husband make it? Will my child walk again? How do you live without your companion of 30 years? The intensive care waiting room is different from any other place in the world. And the people who wait are different. They can’t do enough for each other. No one is rude. The distinction of race and class melt away. In the ICU waiting room, the world changes. Vanity and pretense vanish. The universe is focused on the doctor’s next report. If only it will show improvement. Everyone knows that loving someone else is what life is all about.”
When the love of God is fully embraced it is like living in the intensive care waiting room every day. The reason God’s love is supreme is because it is UNCAUSED. Our common experience in life teaches us we must earn love. We must meet certain standards or conditions that will cause others to love us because of our good actions, attributes or attractions.
Paul, the mentor, writes to his protege Timothy, and described God as the One “…who saved us and chose us to live a holy life. He did this not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan long before the world began – to show his love and kindness to us through Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:9
And to the church family at Ephesus he expresses God’s love in these terms. “His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure. ” Ephesians 1:5
Love without motive. Genuine, pure and faithful.It’s what the world needs now.
I have always loved the story. George and Marjorie were given a 35th wedding anniversary party. During the celebration, George was asked to share some of his thoughts about the long-lasting marriage. He began by going back 30 years to the night when, during a severe thunderstorm, Marjorie was tucking their little boy into bed. “As Marjorie was about to turn off the bedroom light, our little boy asked tearfully, “Mommy, will you please stay with me all night?” Smiling Marjorie gave him a little hug. Then she said, “I can’t stay. I have to stay in Daddy’s room.” There was a pause, then a shaky little voice answered, “The big baby.”
What a great memory for this child to carry with him through the years. My mom and dad loved being together.
Katherine Porter writes, “Love must be learned, and learned again and again; there is no end to it. Hate needs no instruction, but waits only to be provoked.”
God doesn’t command us to get married, He offers it to us as an opportunity. Once we join in this BLESSED UNION we cannot love God without loving our spouse as well.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24
And when our focus, momentum and direction is in sync with the psalmists words, then desire for intimacy and presence with God and our spouse goes unabated. What an ‘extreme’ loving environment for all who enter our space.
Amazon sells 1,161 different kinds of toilet brushes. Jane Porter discovered this when she spent an evening trying to choose one for the bathroom in her new apartment. Nearly an hour after having read countless contradictory reviews and pondering far too many choices, she wrote this, “I felt grumpy and tired and simply gave up.”
Well of course, she is suffering from decision fatigue. I chuckle at the statement by Jimmy Buffet, “Indecison may or may not be my problem.” After getting a good night’s sleep, Jane went out and happily bought the only toilet brush the local dollar store offered. The one brush turned out to be the right brush.
The church at Laodicea had a serious indecision problem. “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other…” Revelation 3:15
James writes that a person of two minds is unstable, unreliable and uncertain – James 1:8
“We live in a smorgasbord culture in which everything is interesting and nothing really matters. We have lost a vision of the good life, and our hopes for the future are emptied of moral content. Instead of purposefully walking to determinate places we are aimlessly floating with random currents,” Miroslav Volf said.
The decisive Psalmist wrote this, “My soul, wait only upon God and silently commit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him. Trust in, lean on, rely on and have confidence in Him at all times….” Psalm 62:5,8 Amplified Bible
Mary of Bethany had one remarkable skill that sets her apart in scripture – her laser-like focus. In fact it is Dr. Luke who reveals this impressive character trait.
“Now as they went on their way Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.” Luke 10:38-39
She was riveted, mesmerized, hanging on every word he said. Before her was the Truth. He had created her. He had rescued her from her fallen state. Oh, and after his resurrection would prepare an eternal homecoming venue for her and all who embrace the Truth.
“The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which over arches rulers and ruled alike. Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish.” C.S. Lewis
Here is the starting point. “…I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” – Jesus (John 14:6)
“And you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free” – Jesus (John 8:32)
Life’s velocity has accelerated to an alarming pace. This information age demands that nothing is fixed or absolute. I vehemently disagree and join with Mary at the feet of the solid Rock.
New beginnings. New chapters. New additions.
These all trigger this overwhelming fresh response of which the content is clarity, adventure and the persuance of new paths.
Among the greatest blessings in my life are three grandsons. Until they came along I had forgotten there were so many questions to be answered in this world. Also, they have made me cognizant once again of the limitless energy young lives possess. Wish I could bottle some of it for myself. Icing on the cake has been the birth of our first granddaughter, Weslie. Absolute beauty! The grandsons have led the way in welcoming and loving the newest sunriser to our family. These four precious souls all begin their life’s journey firmly ensconced in the safe eternal arms of a loving God. What a blessed reality!
In the words of the One that created them, “Let the little children come to Me…for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
Sunsetters are no different. All grandparents and great-grandparents that have travelled with God through the peaks and valleys of life’s path know His security, presence and calming assurance. They share the sentiments and conviction of Paul when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
As my gray hair progresses, my amazement of God continues to grow. One reason is that He constantly challenges me not to walk but keep running.
“Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age. They shall be fresh and flourishing.” Psalms 92:13,14
This perpetual harvest keeps me spiritually strong but also serves as a monumental billboard for the sunrisers to view.
Joann Jones writes, “During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a pop quiz. I breezed through the questions until I read the last one. ‘What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?’ Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name? I handed in the paper, leaving the last question blank. Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade. “Absolutely,” the professor said. “In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.” I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.”
Picking and choosing is what we do at the ice cream chain Baskin Robbins. But when it comes to people, all are significant.
“So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
We are never more like our Creator than when we serve and love ALL humanity.
Lower Hillside Dam, March 2014
As our plane from JoBurg begins its descent towards Bulawayo, an amazing sight appears. Matabeleland is a carpet of green vegetation dotted with numerous pools of water. This region has had the best rainfall in decades! The atmosphere on the ground is one of hope springing to life. Water is life and life brings exuberance, optimism and positive expectations.
Maize and other vegetables are growing everywhere and people in both urban and rural settings will not go hungry this winter. The drought had a vice grip on the province, but what an unimaginable experience to drive from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls with water under every bridge.
However the human spirit is never more alive than when it connects with perpetual power called “Living Water.” In the words of the One who generates this unique resource:
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty….and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 5:35-36
When we drink from the fountain of life a paradox ensues, a continual craving for more of the Savior while simultaneously experiencing a constant serenity.
” I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.” John 14:27
Not one of us is exempt. It is part of everyone’s life. Our geographical location is irrelevant. This is common to all of humanity. All of us at some time will be intentionally or unintentionally hurt by someone. It might be by their inconsiderate verbal remarks or brash physical actions. The fact is others will blow it and usually it will be people close to us like neighbors, friends and family.
It is at this point that a critical choice is made. Will we choose the road of resentment and revenge or the path of forgiveness and healing? I believe it is imperative we select mercy. Why?
1. Because resentment is unhelpful and unhealthy:
“Surely resentment destroys the fool and jealousy kills the simple.” Job 5:2
2. Because we will all need forgiveness in the future:
“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Mark 11:25
3. Because God has forgiven you:
“Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember the Lord forgave
you so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13
What are your true colors?