Monday, November 14, 2011

Only One Evening

 “He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” (Matthew 27:58-60)

“And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” (John 19: 39, 40)

It was a tiny little body, easily fitting into the palm of my hand.  He wasn’t as tall as my cup of coffee and weighed only three ounces.  And he was perfect. 

Perfect miniscule fingers, perfect tiny toes, beautiful little lips, flawless miniature eyelids. . . every detail present and perfect.  Except that those little lungs would never breathe the smell of a rose or freshly cut grass.  The little hands would never throw a baseball or bounce a basketball.  The little feet would never be tickled or run around bases.  The eyelids would never flicker in sleep.  The eyelids of this little boy only knew the sleep of death. 

I cradled his perfect little lifeless body in my one hand as I washed it with baby bath, to give him the “baby smell” mothers love and babies aren’t born with.  Then I carefully dried the fragile skin, lest it should tear from the effort of drying.

I took his tiny little feet and made footprints for his parents, little footprints only as big as the print of my little finger, as a remembrance that this child was.  I put footprints on handkerchiefs for the grandmothers who would always remember the grandson they could only hold for one evening.

I dressed him in the tiniest of day gowns and wrapped him in colorful baby blankets.  These tiny clothes and blankets are hand sewn by women of large hearts who themselves have had those hearts broken by loss.  They sew clothes for the babies of others, knowing from experience how much it means to have a baby – no matter how tiny – dressed like a baby.

Then it was time for pictures.  These would be the only portraits this child would ever have.  I would have to roll baby pictures, kindergarten graduation, high school and college graduation and wedding pictures all into these few pictures.  With each click of the shutter, I tried to make a memory for parents who would have none others.

When finished, it was time for our little baby to spend time with his family.  This would be their only time with their son, their grandson, nephew, cousin.  This would be the first and last time for them to love him.

When Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus, and prepared it for burial, they must have had much the same thoughts and feelings.  They must have believed that they would never again see, touch or hear the Lord Jesus.  With what great reverence, love and respect they must have applied the mixture of spices and wound linen cloth around His tortured body.  They  must have believed this was the last act of love they could do for their Savior.  Little did they understand that in three days their Savior would dispel the power of the grave and destroy the threat of death by rising from the dead.  

In doing so, He offers hope to all of us that, with the Apostle Paul, we may shout, “O death,where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55).

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Impact of Love

As I grew up, my Uncle Buddy was a part of every major event. He remembered every birthday, every graduation, every wedding.  When he would call to speak to my father, his older brother, he would talk to me -- the baby of the family -- for twenty minutes, as though I were someone.  In fact, Uncle Buddy always seemed to make everyone feel as if they were "someone".  He and my Aunt Mary have been married as long as I can remember.  They are two kind, thoughtful and loving people.

Aunt Mary always took care of Uncle Buddy, her children and everyone else who needed care.  The two of them reached out their arms and their home to others to give love and support and shelter.  Now Aunt Mary  mainly takes care of Uncle Buddy. 

Time has ravaged my Uncle Buddy's sharp mind and the man who remembered everyone's special occasions no longer recognizes any of us.  But Aunt Mary recognizes him.  She goes to the veteran's nursing home each day to feed him breakfast and lunch.  She talks to him as she has for decades, sharing the moments of the day with him.  She feeds him, bathes him, in essence, she loves him.   She loves him as she has done for years and years and years. 

Aunt Mary probably has little thought that the care and love she bestows upon her husband ripples past the room of the nursing home where he lives.  But it does. It flows as a small stream flows to the river and the river flows to become the ocean.  Her love, manifested in her faithfulness in being there, and her faithfulness in caring, has had a huge impact upon others.  I know because they have told me so.

Last week I was present at a Men's Prayer Breakfast to sing with my husband.  These men know that my father was one of the men who started the Prayer Breakfast and they know that Buddy and Mary are my Uncle and Aunt. Each week they pray for Uncle Buddy and Aunt Mary.

Before I left, man after man came to tell me of Aunt Mary's faithful love and care of Uncle Buddy and what a testimony it was to them.  Their respect and admiration were apparent in how they told their story and in how important it was to relay the story to me, Buddy's niece. 

While loving my Uncle Buddy is something my Aunt Mary can't conceive of not doing, her choice to do so, and to do so in practical ways, speaks volumes to those who watch her do it.  Her love in those daily ways are an example to us all that love must be shown not only by what we feel, but by what we do.

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 
But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, 
and was made in the likeness of men. 
And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, 
and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." 
Philippians 2:6-8

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Remember Us

Our son Noah will be leaving the country soon on his second deployment with the United States Marine Corps.  His children, five year-old Jackson, and four year-old Emma, have been used to him going away for a weekend now and then for what they call “Marching”.

Last week, our son sat down with Jackson to tell him that he would be going “Marching” for awhile, and that he was going far away.  Upon hearing the news Jackson, who has just begun to learn to write in kindergarten, asked his daddy for a pencil and a piece of paper.  When Noah asked him why he wanted it, this was Jackson’s reply:

“I want to write down my name and Emma’s name so you don’t forget us.”

As much as that comment wrenches my heart out of my chest, imagine how Jackson’s daddy felt.  He quickly assured the little boy that he would never, could never forget him.  Jackson has no idea how much his father loves him, thinks of him, and wants to be with him.

And neither do we.  How often have we felt forgotten by our Heavenly Father?  How often have we felt we needed to write our names down so He “wouldn’t forget us”, and yet our names are written on His very heart.  The love that our son Noah feels for his son Jack is just a tiny shadow, a tiny picture of the love our Heavenly Father has for us.

He will never leave us or forsake us.  He has given His most beloved to assure we can remain with Him throughout all eternity if we will only accept the free gift of salvation offered through His Son.
So the next time we feel forgotten by the Lord, let us remember that He isn’t our God alone, He is our Father and His love for us is greater than the love of any earthly father could ever be.  His faithfulness “reacheth unto the clouds.”  

“Be content with such things as ye have: 
for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” 
Hebrews 13:5

Ayez la foi en Dieu toujours pour l'avoir nous avons tous
Have faith in God always for having Him, we have all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A YES Through a NO

A bride and a groom kiss.                           Image via Wikipedia
This past weekend, Glen performed a wedding ceremony for a sweet Christian friend of ours.  We had come to know her when she was in her twenties and in the ten or so years since then we have never completely lost contact with her.  Glen was delighted when she contacted him and asked if he would perform her wedding ceremony, especially since her wedding was on his birthday.

Doubtless our friend, whom we shall call  Mary, prayed for many years for the Lord to send her a husband who loved Him.  I am sure that her husband, whom we shall call John, prayed a similar prayer for a godly wife.  But the answer to John’s prayer for a wife came through a lack of answer to another prayer.

You see, John was trained to be a meteorologist.  However, there were no jobs available for him in his field of training. Economic times being what they were, he took whatever work he could get and for him this happened to be selling shoes.  Selling shoes at the very store where Mary sold china.

For five years John sold shoes and Mary sold china to new brides and nothing happened.  Then one day, a mutual friend suggested they should date.  And they did.  And they did again, and again.  Then they fell in love, and love led to a wedding.

Had the Lord not said “No” to John’s prayer for a meteorologist’s job, it may be that John and Mary would have never met, never have fallen in love and never have had such a beautiful wedding on the most gorgeous of October days.  The Lord knew He needed them to have that shared bond of friends and work as a seed from which their relationship would grow.  The “No” led to two “I do’s”.

The Lord knows not only the desires of our hearts, but exactly what it takes to bring about those desires, exactly what it takes to will and to do of His good pleasure in our lives.  So the next time we are tempted to look a prayer which has for a long time had an apparent “No” for an answer, let us remember the beautiful picture of John and Mary standing at the altar.  Our Lord sometimes says His best “Yes’s” in the “No’s.”

“Delight thyself also in the LORD;
and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the LORD;
trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.”
Psalm 37:4,5

By the way, John and Mary will be living in Texas after their wedding because John is now working there as a meteorologist.