Be of Good Courage

The hallway of the nursing home settles into a soft hum of lessening noise with residents getting ready for bed.

A child of God, a woman, sits in her wheelchair, bound up in sadness and loneliness, her countenance etched with fear and tears. Head bowed, chin-to-chest, slender fingers white as she grasps the arms of her chair.

She rarely leaves her dim, quiet room and feels secure only within their enclosing walls. But Light shines through another, an old man with a snowy-white beard. He rolls his wheelchair down the hall and pauses at the open doorway of the woman’s room.

He doesn’t notice as a nurse motions for the aide with her not to interfere. But the two stand and watch as he slowly maneuvers through the doorway and stops alongside the woman, facing her.

For a moment, he simply sits quietly. Then he touches her arm.

His gentle hand stays in place as his still-sweet tenor voice permeates the silence and births music. A song swells from the depths of his heart and fills the room, chases out shadows, melts away loneliness.

Darkness lifts and vanishes before the Light.

Loneliness and isolation had covered a soul with the wide, black brush-stroked paint of fear.

Unpretentious love casts the radiance of His Light to bring moments of comfort—and a tenuous smile.

Two children of age, transformed by time’s passage, one drawn to the other through the heart’s essence of compassion.

Uninhibited, innocent love and mercy pour from a heart where Jesus lives.

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The nurses where my father stayed for a while shared the woman’s fears and described to me how they’d watched and what they’d seen as Dad visited her room.

In spite of his own suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, he found a way to comfort her through the one gift he could give—a song.

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A tender song, a heartfelt prayer, a soft touch to a fearful or suffering child of God—if you give those small gifts, how do you know you aren’t bringing the Light of Christ into the world of another?
Watch for what God is doing. Heed the tiny urges to “go” and “do” that you sense in your spirit.

So, go there and do that, and don’t look back. Be encouraged in the knowledge that you’ve entered a dimension where God’s listening children work with Him Hand-in-hand.

Dad loved roses.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“And David said to his son Solomon, ‘Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.'” 1 Chronicles 28:20

Love,

Sally

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Are You Ready?

It’s a balmy, Florida Christmas Eve. I close the office early so everyone can go home to be with family.

Me too . . . eventually . . . but not before I get some last minute shopping done.

 ♥

I stand alone at the jewelry counter as the sales woman finishes up with another customer. I’ve hunted for weeks, and the pretty bracelet I look at is perfect for Deb. Now, I’m anxious to get home, to finish wrapping, baking, and getting ready for Christmas Day’s excitement.

“Oh!” I stiffen as something smooths across my foot!

Time takes a coffee break, and I squelch another yelp as the sensation suddenly moves up my ankle.

Imagination says it’s a snake, logic says otherwise—it feels like a hand. Impossible. Do I dare move?

Fear freaks me into a stone pillar as a voice wafts up from the vicinity of the tile beneath my feet and says “You have stockings on!”

I wrench in a breath and look behind me. A Jack-in-the-Box couldn’t have surprised me more than the young boy who jumps up from the floor. He looks to be thirteen or fourteen years old, is neatly dressed, and is nearly my height. His big brown eyes study me from behind wire-rimmed glasses. His left eye is badly crossed.

I see his innocence and I’m in instant prayer for him. He’s intellectually disabled. Maybe he thought I was a mannequin?

Fear melts. “Yes, I have stockings on.”

His eyes trail down to gaze at the small gold cross hanging from my necklace. He literally jumps, his eyes widen and move to meet mine. “I didn’t know you were a Christian!”

“Yes, I am. Do you know Jesus too?” I put my hand on his shoulder and let it linger a moment, as I tell him I love Jesus.

He leans close. “Where do you go to church?”And I tell him of the big brick church downtown, and that I’m a Methodist.

His brown skin shines. A wide grin spreads across his face. He repeats the word “Methodist” several times, rolls it over his tongue, savors it, pronounces it carefully. “And you say your prayers too?”

I nod. “I say my prayers too.”

And we talk for a while. Just he and me. About things important to him. Like Jesus. And saying prayers. Things that come from his heart.

Until he turns away . . .

Merrily and loudly he repeats the word “Methodist” as he moves toward the exit. And then he’s gone.

No one is with him that I can see, but there are those nearby who watch as I come away from this encounter and walk more fully into Christmas.

It’s always like being in the world alone with one other, just the two of us, until it’s time to part.

You have them, too, these God-centered, God-engineered, appointments.

I try to watch for them, try to be ready for them, but always, they surprise me, and leave me with an afterglow of joy. Every time.Are you ready? Ready for those moments when God places his children in your space? For reasons you may never really understand?

“God wants us to be present where we are. He invites us to see and to hear what is around us and, through it all, to discern the footprints of the Holy.” Richard Foster

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18a)

“Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19).

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”(1 John 4:11).

 ♥

☺ I know it’s only April and that Christmas is months away. But last week a title and this post, a little out of sync, dropped into my heart and mind, so I wrote it down—for future reference—of course. And then the word, “ready” popped up again, stuck around, and kept asking what I was waiting for . . .  So that’s why you’re reading about Christmas in April. ☺

Love,

Sally

Our Creator Sets Limits

It’s an honor to have Pat Luffman Rowland guest-posting this week. I’ve long been a fan of Pat’s writing, and you may have seen the link to her blog, Prayerful Pondering, in the sidebar. Many of her posts have caught my attention and imagination, but this is one post that I asked if she would share with us. It’s brief, but powerful, and it sets in place a parallel to our lives.

Pat writes:

Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt”? Job 38:8-11 (NIV)

The ocean is my favorite part of nature. I love to watch the rhythmic movement of the waves, hear the sound of them rolling into shore or crashing on rocks.

The waters have a vastness that seems wild and free, yet it is restrained by God’s command, the boundaries He set.

How can I trust that God’s boundaries for the ocean will hold?

How can I walk by the edge of the water, and not be afraid that a boundary will give way and I will be swallowed up?

It is by faith in the One who created the seas and determined how deep and wide they would be, by faith in the One who spoke that they might come so far and no farther.

Such is how we must trust God with the problems and perils of our lives. Sometimes it seems trials go on forever, pile one upon another. We begin to ask if God has forgotten us when relief is slow to come.

It helps to think of the ocean and how God has it in control. Just as He limits the oceans’ reach, He limits how much His children go through. We don’t always understand our tribulations, but God has said He uses all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

We must place our trust in that word from God. We must trust that the same One who created the boundaries for the seas, created limits for how much happens to us. We must trust that all will have its place in forming us for eternal life.

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The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:27 (NIV)

A little about Pat.

Pat Luffman Rowland1Pat Luffman Rowland doesn’t recall a time she didn’t believe in God or know that Jesus was His Son and our Savior, but she made her profession of faith and was baptized at age twelve. She will never forget the experience of understanding she belonged to the Lord! The sun became ten times brighter and it was as if she could hear angels sing—a supremely joyful moment.

Pat has an undergraduate degree in Healthcare Consumer Relations, a master’s in Religious Studies, and worked for twenty-seven years in healthcare. She’s retired and lives in a suburb of Memphis with her two cats. Her daughter, Kristi, and son-in-law, Mark, reside in Georgia and are the delights of her heart.

Pat is active in her church, First Assembly of Memphis, and the church school, First Assembly Christian School. A writer, in addition to her blog, Prayerful Pondering, her work has appeared in devotional publications including The Upper Room, United Methodist Reporter, and Presbyterian Daily.

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Sally’s note~  Thank you, Pat, for sharing your blog post with us. I’m thrilled to have you as a guest and hope you will bless us with your wisdom again soon.

Have you sometimes felt slammed by wave after wave of things happening that just don’t seem to quit? You felt your prayers weren’t heard, that you wouldn’t survive? And just as you were about to “go under,” by faith, you prayed once more and dug in your heels.

And now, in retrospect, something changed, things eased and were somehow resolved.

Did the Lord perhaps impose limits, boundaries for you?

We are beloved. The Lord walks with us through it all.

Are you a survivor, thankful for His gracious limitations?

Pat and I would love for you to leave a comment on how God has set limits in your life.

Blessings!

Sally

But Mary . . .

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.”

 

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

 

“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” Matthew 28:1-7

“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.”

 

Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. Mark 16:9-10

“. . . Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”

 

. . . Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together and, the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.

Then the other disciple who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

“But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.” (John 20:11 NKJV)

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”

“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. John 20:1-18

Jesus said: “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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2b-3

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” John 8:58

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Would you have gone with your lamp shining dim in the darkness of early dawn?

Would you have stood and stayed while the earth quaked and angels in white rumbled a giant stone away from where your beloved, deceased Teacher had lain for three days? Where burly guards shook then became stiff with fear?

Would you have fallen to your knees to listen to an angel speak words that changed your life with each syllable, words that said your Teacher had risen from the dead?

Would you have looked into the tomb and wept and conversed with angels, then restrained yourself from embracing your Teacher as you turn and He speaks your name and asks you not to hold Him as He tells you why?

You are a woman of God and yes, you would have. Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, saved you, gave His life for you.

We follow the lead of strong women who loved and walked with Christ before us. We, too, will believe and live and tell of Him.

May Easter blessings abound for you throughout the year and beyond.

Love,

Sally

Except for one, all scriptures in the captions are from the NIV, and, except for my end notes, the entire post is scripture from the Gospels in the NKJV