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All About GOD - Growing Relationships with Jesus and Others

Hope
I read my friend’s post on facebook… It was a picture of a beautiful cottage home decorated with an array of gardens and flowers in all sorts of textures and colour.  In my imagination I could smell the flowers and the fresh air. There’s a stream that runs through this beautiful garden with a paddle boat. The homes were quaint and pretty with thatch roofs, and wood panelled shutters framed the windows just right. Who wouldn’t want to be here! Her comment revealed her hope “I think this is what heaven might look like to me.” As far as I could see, it was a passing comment…. I wasn’t aware of a deeper meaning behind her post.  I wasn't aware of the pain behind the picture.
I knew that if I could walk into the picture it would be pure delight as the experience of being there would completely fill my senses. The air would be clean, the community would be welcoming, and everyone would know your name. There’s probably even a farmer’s market around the corner selling everything in season.
I thought…Yes. Me too. But isn’t there more?
Deep breath…. Inhale. Exhale slowly. I always do this when I’m about to say something that I anticipate will be rejected or misunderstood. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I realize that’s impossible. I don’t want you to think I’m judging, or condemning you or anyone else. That’s not where my heart is.
I want to love people, and I want to tell them the truth. Perhaps you could call that a downfall of mine…. I’ve always been outspoken, even before knowing the Lord, and it tends to get me in trouble. I want to be as clear as possible so that I can diminish the possibility of being misunderstood. I don’t like rejection, I don’t think anyone does. I’m writing this outside of my comfort zone moving into a place of walking on broken glass in bare feet---I think there might even be a few full body flips just so that my hands feel the sting of an open wound too. I’ve far surpassed walking on eggshells with this post. I guess I should clarify I’m speaking metaphorically of course.
In response to my friend’s picture of hope I said, “This is beautiful, but I think it will be so much more” and then I quoted 1 Corinthians 2:9 “"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him."
I didn’t know one of her dearest friends had recently died of cancer. If I had known I think I wouldn’t have posted it. That’s what I told her. I apologized. I told her that I was sorry and I removed my comment. I also sent her a private note apologizing again. It seems that her hope collided and conflicted with my hope. She told me that right now she just really needs to believe that her friend is living in a place like this, and that her friend is looking down lovingly on her children and husband she left behind. She wanted to know that her friend was watching over them.
I like knowing that someone is watching over me too. I also like to think that my loved ones who have passed on are in a better place.
Hebrews chapter 11 tells us about all the heroes of the faith who have gone before us. It’s a wonderful encouraging historical document of how they lived out their faith in the face of great trials, difficulties, grief and tragedy.
Hebrews 12:1-3 goes on to say:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.”
I don’t know if those who have gone before us can see us. It’s nice to think that they can, but the bible doesn’t explicitly say that they can. We’re just told there is a cloud of witnesses, the people who have gone before us. I believe that God is keeping them in perfect peace, and they are comforted far beyond anything we can imagine. I think they see things from His perspective clearly now. I also can’t help but think that anything I could make up in my imagination falls woefully short of what actually is awaiting us. I don’t want anyone to miss it.
Jesus’s comforts His disciples with these words:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Dear friend, my heart cried when I couldn’t comfort you, but I know SomeOne who can.
Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life.
Not only did I not comfort her, I unknowingly slapped her in the face with my words. It seems that her friend may have died without Jesus. I’m sorry… A thousand times I’m sorry. On behalf of all the people in your life who knew Jesus, who passed by you and never told you about Him… I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I have failed to tell you about my Saviour… about His unfailing love, His grace and forgiveness, His mercy and His compassion. Ohhhh … But His Grace is truly Amazing. Will you let me tell you now?
I’m sorry that I couldn’t comfort you in agreement with your dream about this beautiful little cabin on a stream in the midst of a beautiful garden. I’m sorry that her family has been left behind, and I’m sorry that your heart has been torn wide open and I threw salt in the wound.
It's not easy to live in a counter cultural way, going against the grain of what the world tells us. People get offended. Jesus came to show us how to be reconciled with our Creator. The bible says we all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. It also says that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In Jesus, death has lost it’s sting. There will still be grieving, because we can’t see the people we’ve loved and lost while were here on earth. We’re going to miss them. I don’t have enough words to describe how hard that will be.
But, In Jesus, death doesn’t have the final say. This is a promise of God.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel which means ‘God is with us’, The Highest, The Almighty, The Creator and Upholder of all things, Everlasting Father, The beginning and the end, The wisdom of God, The Power of God, The Son of Man, The Son of God, Father to the Fatherless, He is our rest, He is our comforter, A Man of many sorrows, Jesus the Christ, The Bridegroom, The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World, The branch, The true vine and the Light of the world, Strength to the poor and to the needy, The hope of his people, My strong rock, The rock of ages, The builder, The temple and the sanctuary, The advocate, Intercessor and Mediator, The High Priest, The gift of God, The redeemer, The way, the Truth and the Life, The beginning of the Creation of God, First born of the dead, The head of all principality and power, The author and finisher of my faith. The King of kings and Lord of lords yet He understands us as He was tempted, rejected, despised, betrayed, condemned, mocked, wounded and bruised, But now He is perfect, glorious, mighty and exalted, risen and glorified. He is my hope, My restorer and my resting place, My righteousness, My sanctification and my All in All. I am barely scratching the surface….except that I should mention He’s alive!
If you loved someone this much wouldn’t you want to tell others about Him? If I know about something that could change everything and give you peace that surpasses all human understanding, and I didn’t tell you about that, wouldn’t that be worse?
Reading this will bring about many questions and rejections and a host of other feelings and emotions. Recently, I have been reacquainted with 3 friends from my youth. Each one of them has had a close friend or family member who has recently passed away. Each time, my heart broke because I wanted to say more, but I know there isn’t generally space for that so I stayed silent….aching to tell you more. I didn't feel guilt for not saying anything... I just felt an intense sadness... like I was ripping you off. I felt like I was hoarding a great treasure for myself, but with all it's richness I should be sharing. Not in a condemning way... It was more of a conviction.
I’m taking a chance even though the consequences may be that you’ll never want to speak to me again.
I am taking a leap into a road of broken glass in bare feet. Some may say it’s none of my business to leap here.
In the words of Winnie The Pooh I leave you with this quote:
"Some people care too much, I think it's called love."

 

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“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me alone and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?  I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”

~Penn Jillette (magician, juggler, comedian, atheist)

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