Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Singing With Jesus

It is with great sadness and heaviness of heart that I write this post. On Sunday, July 13, my good friend and brother in Christ, Jason, went to be with the Lord.

It was unexpected. It is unreal. It's unfair. It hurts.

For those of you who didn't get the chance to meet Jason, let me tell you a little about him.
Jason was an amazing man of God who loved God with all of his heart, and his wife, Denni, just as much. I first met Denni and Jason in Phoenix, AZ when they came to my church. We instantly became friends, as we had many of the same interests: worship, baseball, games, comedy and kitties. Denni and Jason were my family when I was a single young worship leader trying to figure out which way was up. They were more than just casual friends, they were a lifeline. We all sang together, played together, laughed together, cried together. Even after I moved away, we remained friends, always hanging out when I came to visit (Props to our favorite Pizza Joint).
Then I got married, and moved even further away. Contact dropped off a bit (much to my regret and sadness), and then I got an email....

Saturday, I heard from Denni that Jason was in the hospital, and after a long 28 hours he was still in critical condition, but stable for now. I immediately informed my praying people and I hit my knees, crying out to God for a miracle for my friend.

On Monday morning I got the call that Jason went home to be with Jesus, and my world was shaken. All I could think was "He's so young", "This can't be happening", "How in the world is Denni surviving all this?" and "I wish I could be there [Phoenix]". I just could not believe that he was really gone.

After a very, very, very long day at the office, I went to the gym. As I was working out, my heart would go back to Phoenix, and it would flutter a bit as tears welled up in my eyes. But the strangest thing kept happening. Every time I would feel sad, I kept hearing "There is joy", and peace would just wash over me. Then, as I was walking out of the gym, I heard the phrase "Singing With Jesus", and it struck me that my friend, Jason, had been promoted. He is no longer singing for Jesus, because he's singing with Jesus, and what a cool place to be. (I can't lie, a little part of me got jealous when I realized that he was with my God in heaven!) Now, while that is one of the best parts of being a believer, it doesn't take away the sadness we feel on earth. Even Jesus wept when one of his best friends died (see John 11:35). So, when I got home, the floodgates opened and I wept.

I wept for the loss of my friend and the sadness I feel inside. I wept for my friend and sister, Denni, who's world has just collapsed. I wept for the fact that it could've been me or my husband. I wept because I couldn't do anything else.

This is really my first experience with grief, a deep grief. I've lost a couple of grandparents, and while that made me sad, I was never close to them. But Jason, wow....he is my age, in the prime of his life, with so much ahead of him, my friend, my brother. And there are no answers. The question, "why" is rarely answered, yet in the midst of all these storms, we are called to lean on God's goodness.

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls-
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer's feet,
and He will make me walk on my high hills.
~Hab 3:17-19

And while I still feel sad, I am comforted in that I know beyond a shadow of doubt that God is good, and my friend is singing with Jesus. I'll miss you, Jason. And, Denni, if you happen to read this, I love you so much, my sister, and I'm praying and crying with you. If you need anything at all, please call me......

Monday, July 7, 2008

Can you trust?

"For the word of the Lord holds true, and everything He does is worthy of our trust."
Ps 33:4 (NLT)

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defends trust:
1. to place confidence; depend
2. to commit or place in one's care or keeping; entrust
3. to rely on the truthfulness or accuracy of; believe
4. to hope or expect confidently

Such a small word packs a big punch. How is it that we have such a hard time with this word. I mean, it makes sense that it's hard to trust people. After all, we are all people, and we know our own tendency to screw things up and let those we love down, so it's only natural to expect the same from others. But God? He is the most amazing father, awesome in everything He does, never failing us, never leaving us, always loving us and holding us closely. And yet, we still hesitate. Is it because we think that He'll treat us like our earthly father who was abusive, or that bully that tormented us throughout our early years, or maybe that mother who was over critical of everything we said or did? Is it because we "trusted" Him once, and He let us down (oh, that could preach - it would take a whole page, at least, just to explore that)?

I put it to you that it might just be that we don't really know Him, and I mean intimately know Him. Like Moses, David, or Jesus knew His Father. How different would our lives be if we walked in the same face to face relationship with God that Moses walked in? What would it be like if we, like Enoch, walked with God? Would we trust then? The writer of Psalm 33 knew God to be true to His word, and if He is true to His word, then He MUST be trustworthy. Moses also sang about the trustworthiness of God. "God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?" (Num 23:19 - NLT).

So, what will it take for us to fall into His hands in complete surrender and trust? And I don't mean the semi-surrender that we call trust. You know what I mean, the "Lord, I believe that you have a plan for my life, but since you're not moving in my timeframe, I'm gonna push it along", or the "Lord, I know that my spouse loves you, but since they don't act like I think they should, I don't believe that you're really moving in their lives." OUCH!!!!
And I return to my last post. "Oh that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him" (Hos 6:3 - NLT) The moment that we press into Him and begin to see Him and know Him in all His splendor, we too will be able to say with all confidence that "everything He does is worthy of trust."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

For the Dogs

Isn't it funny and amazing how God can speak to us through everyday experiences and people and....pets? This is how it went. This morning I woke up a little bit earlier than Paul, and I had the chance to spend some extra quiet time with the Lord. I snuck downstairs, and got all set up in the recliner with my Bible and notebook, and prayed, "Lord, speak to me today", which is my typical routine. Just as I opened my eyes to start reading, my puppy (who is now a monster at over 50 pounds) jumped in my lap and laid down. Just before I chided her, I felt the Lord speak. You see, she was just sitting there, chewing her bone, wanting to be close. And she got the attention she was looking for. She is the most persistent thing. If you ignore her, she will get in your face so that you know she is there and so that you will pet her and play with her. And I think that is exactly how God wants us to be with Him. The Word says that we will find Him when we seek Him, a persistent pursuit of Him. And Daisy is such a good reminder of this. She will sit at my feet when I'm eating, with hopes that she'll get some too. She will be in whatever room I am in. She will put her toys in my hand so that we can play. And she's really good about getting a LOT of attention. Sometimes she misbehaves, and we correct her, and she just looks up at us with the sweetest face, we can't stay mad at her. And what a difference between her and the cat. The cat likes attention, but only on her terms, and only if it's "convenient" or "comfortable" for her. She doesn't like to be held, pursued or played with. More appropriately, she's a "fuzzy piece of furniture" (thanks Paul for that accurate description!).
After considering all of this, the question was posed to me, "What kind of kid are you going to be?" Am I going to be content doing my own thing, spending minimal time with Daddy at my own convenience, or am I going to be relentless in my pursuit of His attention?

"Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. "
Hosea 6:3