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Sunday, May 24, 2015

To My Girls: Loving the Process

I am so very thankful to all my daughters for their loving thoughts, wishes, and gifts for Mother's Day. Little do they realize that I am the one who has benefited from being their mother.  When I became a mom at the age of twenty, I had so much to learn. Being the youngest in a large family didn't give me much practice at taking care of infants!  But I loved being a mom.  I loved the challenge, the rewards, the opportunities.  Oh, I had my days, for sure.  But I never wanted to go back to work.  I knew it was God's call upon my life.

So thank you, girls, (and Ben!), for the chocolate, the flowers, the mug, the candle, the lovely wall art, the material (to sew something for myself!), the journal, the family picture, the knee pad so I can garden,the watch,  the phone call, the text message.  The gifts were thoughtful and appreciated, but it is the one behind the gift that is so special to me.

The process continues.  I have learned so much in the last three years about how to be a mother who asks for forgiveness, a mom who lets go of all her fears and worries, a mom who can pray with her daughters, a mother who prays for the hard things in her children's lives.  I have learned how to receive from you, too.

One of my greatest treasures is the grandchildren that you have given me, and the little one that is on the way!  What a joy to love these kids, even through their tough teen years.  It makes being a mother all the richer.  It took me years to realize all the sacrifices my mom made for me, and although she kept her feelings to herself, I knew that she loved me.  I know that you girls make sacrifices everyday for your children.  Don't worry; someday they will realize just how much you love them.  Today it seems like a lot of work, a lot of care, and so little time to yourself.  Understand that God is grooming you through the process. Whatever else He has for you, being a mom is so dear to His heart.  He even tells us that He loves us like a mother.  

My prayer is that I will finish well as a mother and grandmother.  I know that I am still mom, on call, day or night, for my teenage boys and for all my children and grandchildren.  I know that I am still mom to my children that are ten minutes down the road or in another time zone!  I know that being a mom comes after being God's precious daughter, after being my beloved's partner and helpmeet, but it is a huge part of who I am.  It is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me.  Don't get me wrong; I haven't been the world's greatest mom.  I was selfish, I didn't want to get up with the baby at night, I wanted to be able to go somewhere without my kids, I yelled when I should have prayed, I withdrew when I needed to step up, I plunged ahead when I should have waited, I was inconsistent, overbearing, controlling and thought I was right.  But deep down I always knew that this was exactly what God intended for me: to love Him and raise a large family. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Turning 70

No, I am not turning seventy!!  But my oldest brother did on May 15th.  He always hits his next big milestone before I hit mine.  I will be 59 on September 10, 2015.

He wrote a poem reflecting on Psalm 90 on his birthday which prompted me to write my own paraphrase loosely based on the same psalm.  

Psalm 90 English Standard Version (ESV)

From Everlasting to Everlasting

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

90 Lord, you have been our dwelling place[a]
    in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You return man to dust
    and say, “Return, O children of man!”[
b]For a thousand years in your sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.
For we are brought to an end by your anger;
    by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days pass away under your wrath;
    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy,
    or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span[
c] is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
    and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long?
    Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor[d] of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!

My paraphrase:

Lord, I have dwelt with you my entire life. As a baby, and even before, I was brought to church—to every service. My parents' parents went to church and brought their children.

Yet you tell me that before you created this world, these grandparents, these parents of mine, before you created me, there You were—from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

You limit my days and say, “Return to dust, O son, O daughter of Adam."  For I have inherited more than family traits from my ancestors. I have inherited Adam's inclination to rebellion, to wanting to do things my way.

Even if I live to be a thousand years old, to You my life is just like a day that has passed and become yesterday, or like a night that has ended with the sunrise.

Or my life is like a branch that is swept away in a flood, or like the grass that looks so green in the morning dew but withers in the scorching sunlight and by evening is faded and useless.

I know I deserve your anger and wrath. The thought of what I deserve brings me to the end of myself. I see that the character of all my pride and rebellion, even my secret sins, are revealed in the Light of your Presence.

So my days end as insignificant as sigh, even if I live to be eighty. Yet the whole of my life can be summed up in working, striving and facing trouble after trouble. One day I will be gone like a bird that flies away.

I consider the power of your anger, your wrath towards all who are in rebellion and fear you who can kill the soul.

Teach me to consider each day as an opportunity to partner with You; teach my heart to be wise. Return to me, Lord, for I am returning to You. I am repenting of my pride and rebellion. You created me and I cannot live, I cannot find my destiny without You. Have pity on me for I am coming to You humbly.

Only You can satisfy me each morning. Only your unfailing, eternal, never changing love can save me. Only in this Love can I have joy and be glad, truly glad for each day no matter what it holds.

Lord, may I be glad to be in You for as many days as I have rebelled against you and experienced the affliction of my sin. You are the great Restorer. Show me as many years of Your goodness as I have seen years of evil that pride produced in my life.

Let me truly see the work You have done, the work You are doing, the work You will do. Show me Your glory and Your power by Your Spirit.

Let Your favor be upon me, the favor You bestow on Your Son in whom You are well pleased, whose life I have because He gave His life for me. Let the beauty of grace show up in my life. May those things I do here and now count up there and forever as You accomplish all things in my life. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.
As it is in Heaven, as it will be in my life when I am in Heaven, so be it now in my life here on earth. And one day I will fly away to be with You forever. Oh glorious day!

Deborah Cawley, May 16, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jesus, My Advocate, Who Pleads my Case

May 4, 2015

Job 16

Thinking this morning about pain.  Last week when I had my teeth cleaned and the next day the whole right side of my mouth began aching.  Sometimes the pain would come in waves.  Eating has been difficult as any cold is extremely painful. Chewing seems to aggravate the pain and at times even talking hurts.  Pain killers bring some relief and it doesn't keep me up at night, but pain always wears me out.  

Physical pain seems to make other things in life so much harder to deal with.  Difficult situations now seem to loom as big as mountains I cannot climb.  It becomes almost impossible to stop thinking about myself and the pain.  So I thought about Job, the righteous man of old, who suffered the loss of all things, including the grief of losing all his children.  Maybe that would have been bearable, but then Satan inflicted him with tormenting pain in his body.The final straw was the condemning "comfort" and "help" of his friends.  

Yet in reading Job 16 I saw some things there I had never seen before.  In verse six, Job says:

“Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved; and if I refrain, it does not go away.

He can't get away from the pain.  There is no relief

7 Surely, God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household. 8 You have shriveled me up--and it has become a witness; my gauntness rises up and testifies against me. 9 God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me; my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes. 10 People open their mouths to jeer at me; they strike my cheek in scorn and unite together against me. 11 God has turned me over to the ungodly and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked. 12 All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target; 13 his archers surround me. Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground. 14 Again and again he bursts upon me; he rushes at me like a warrior. 15 "I have sewed sackcloth over my skin and buried my brow in the dust. 16 My face is red with weeping, dark shadows ring my eyes; 17 yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure. 18 "Earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest! [Job 16:7-18 NIV]

Job recognizes that God has done this.  We all put the cause of Job's pain in Satan's hand--the work of the enemy.  But we know that God gave Satan permission.  So ultimately it comes from God's hand.  As I read this description of Job's pain, I realized how this could be a prophecy concerning the death of Jesus.  

my gauntness rises up and testifies against me...
God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me...
my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes...
People open their mouths to jeer at me;they strike my cheek in scorn and unite together against me...
God has turned me over to the ungodly and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked...
All was well with me, but he shattered me;he seized me by the neck and crushed me...
He has made me his target; his archers surround me...
Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground...
My face is red with weeping, dark shadows ring my eyes; yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure..

Such a description fits the abuse Jesus suffered at the hands of men at his trial and crucifixion.  And like Job, Jesus suffered even though his hands were free of violence and his prayer was pure. Unlike Job, we know that Jesus suffered because of sin, suffered because of my sin and the sin of the whole world.   

But it is what Job says next that amazes me.  

19 Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. 20 My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend. [Job 16:19-21 NIV]

Job says that he has a witness in heaven, an advocate on high.  One who pleads his case before God.  And not only an advocate, but an intercessor; One who is praying for him.  And not only an advocate and intercessor, but also a Friend.  Only the Holy Spirit could write these words of prophecy!  

Later on in chapter nineteen, Job again describes his troubles and it reflects accurately on the sorrow that Jesus would bear. And again Job speaks words of prophecy: 

25 I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! [Job 19:25-27 NIV]

So, in the midst of my little, annoying pain, I will remember that I have a Friend in heaven.  He is my Redeemer and He lives!  He is coming again some day to stand on this earth and set all things right. He pleads my case before the Father.  He intercedes for me. He has borne all my pain and sorrow. He took upon Himself all my rejection, all my fear, all my sin and shame.  He was declared guilty so I could go free!  All this He did for me.  

Today, in the midst of my trials and troubles which go beyond the physical pain, I say with the apostle Paul that my light and momentary troubles are achieving for me an eternal glory that far outweighs all my troubles.2 Cor. 4: 17-18  Nothing is wasted in God's Kingdom, not even a toothache!  Job had hope that His redeemer lived!  He fixed his eyes not on what he saw and felt, but on what was unseen. That is faith!  Fixing my eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of my faith!  Heb. 12:2  Without faith it is impossible to please God. Heb. 11:6

I can know that my pain and my trials and my troubles are temporary.  Satan lies to me and says that the pain will never go away.  That I can't get through today.  That the trouble I see around me will ruin lives.  That here is a problem that Jesus can't fix.  That there is no hope; it's been too long, it won't end, it's all my fault, and I have failed.  LIES!  God is achieving for me an eternal glory!
I can even rejoice in my trials and troubles!  I can persevere!  I can ask God for wisdom in how to handle each and every one! James 1 I can keep my thoughts and my eyes on Jesus!  I can stop looking at what I can see and keep my eyes on what I can't see, on the eternal!

17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. [2Co 4:17-18 NIV]

Thank you, Father, for this perspective for my day.  Thank for Jesus, who is always the answer to my every prayer.  Thank you for this wonderful Friend, who has redeemed me and who is the pioneer who goes before me and is perfecting my faith!  

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Jesus, my Friend

Holy Spirit is my counselor, Jesus is my friend, so I am never without a friend or counselor.

Luke 5:20  When I put my faith in Jesus, He calls me His friend.

John 15:13 Jesus showed me how great His love is for me, His friend, because He laid down His life for me.

John 15:15 I know that I am Jesus' friend and not just His servant, because He has shared with me everything He learned from the Father.

John 14:26 The Holy Spirit comes in Jesus' name and teaches me and reminds of things I tend to forget...things that are true about Jesus.  He counsels me to stick to the truth and reject the lies.

Proverbs 17:17  As my friend, Jesus loves me...all the time, no matter what I do to mess up.  He sticks by me, more than my own sister, and He is there in my trials.

James 4:4 If all I want is my own way, if all I want to do is flirt with the world every chance I get, then I will no longer have Jesus as my friend; I become an enemy of God.  This will break His heart, for He loves me with a jealous love.  I need to stick with the truth that what God gives me in love, is far better than anything else I find.

Friend of God by Israel Houghton

When I was growing, I longed for a friend.  My best friend moved to a new town when we were about ten, and I felt so alone. I had brothers and sisters, lots of them(!), but I wanted a friend at school, and a friend to do stuff with after school.  A friend who went to church with me, because that was a very important part of my life.  

In high school, God gave me two very dear friends at my church, but they didn't attend my high school.  So I had church friends and school friends and it still felt like not enough.  

After marriage, I longed for that girl-friend that I could share things with and talk with.  You know, girl stuff.  I kept looking. Kept thinking, maybe she's the one, that bosom friend, as Ann of Green Gables would say.  I knew that I had my true friend in my husband, but often he didn't understand me. Who would ever truly love me and totally understand me?  I remember the day when I was reading in Philippians 4 and came to these verses: 

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! 
5 Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! 
6Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. 

7 Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

And the Holy Spirit whispered to me, Jesus, your best friend, is right by your side.  He is here!  Always here!  He knows you better than anyone else, and He is always beside you. You are never alone to face any problem, or worry, or pain, or disappointment, or struggle.  

So I claimed the promise in Isaiah 41:13  For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Jesus, you are my best friend.  You are the one who holds my hand all day long and whispers in my ear, "Don't be afraid; I will help you." You are my bosom friend, the One who fills the longing of my heart.  I love you, Jesus.