Monday Vitamins: A different kind

This week’s Monday Vitamins post is different. I am thinking of and honoring my dear Mother, whose birthday was yesterday.

“Mom”

One word

One life

Holding meanings and memories

too numerous to count

Eliciting gratitude

which cannot be fully articulated

Nurturing a love that extends beyond the grave

 

“Birthdays”

Happy birthday, Mom.

I wonder

Are birthdays celebrated in heaven?

Although time does not exist there?

Or is it one continuous celebration of

The Father

The Lamb

The Spirit

A celebration which contains all the good we celebrate on earth

including the birthdays of loved ones

because God is the Source of all that is good?

 

 

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Courage

As I continue to mull over the concept of courage this week, two aspects of courage stand out. The first is, courage involves doing. The Merriam-Webster defines courage as the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty. The doing can be an internal act such as resolving to no longer be silent in the face of injustice; however, at some point, what was first an internal act will become external action. Courage, to be courage, has to be demonstrated.

The second is, courage seems possible only when there is risk to our well-being in some way. For example, the risk of being harmed physically when you take a stand, of being rejected or judged, or of losing a relationship because you initiate a healthy change. I believe courage is unnecessary in the absence of risk.

When facing risks, the probability that we will experience fear, anxiety, or a similar emotion, is high. As Ambrose Redmoon noted,

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

The Bible tells the story of a man who was facing a season that involved tremendous risk, from a human standpoint. All the same, God commanded him to be strong and courageous. This man was Joshua. Thankfully, God did not just command Joshua to be strong and courageous; He told Joshua the reason he could be strong and courageous:

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, HCSB)

The assurance He provided Joshua, is also ours – He is with us wherever we go and, like, Joshua, this is all we need to be courageous.

Is His comfort enough?

“Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, Who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, AMP)

How utterly amazing, jaw dropping, makes my soul sing, is this truth – the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. No exceptions here. He comforts and encourages us in every trouble. The Creator of the universe, the Omniscient, Omnipresent One, Judge of all the earth, the Ancient of Days, this God comforts us, not every now again, not in some situations but not others, He comforts and encourages us in every trouble.

What does it mean then when I am inconsolable or feel inconsolable?

I am thinking of a verse which first appears in Jeremiah 31:15 as a prophecy, and again in Matthew 2:18, when it was fulfilled.

“A cry was heard in Ramah—
weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted
for they are dead.” (NLT)

I cannot think of a greater anguish than that endured by a parent whose child has died, much more murdered. Having known other losses but spared this one, I cannot even claim to imagine the nature of this specific loss. Because of this truth, I pose the comments and questions which follow with the gentlest touch (at least this is my intent and I beg in advance for grace as you read on).

It is understood that the Rachel mentioned in the verses refers to the nation of Israel, and the response to Herod’s mass murders of their sons two years and younger in his attempt to kill the Baby Jesus. Still, my attention has been arrested for a while now by the phrase in Matthew 2:18, “refusing to be comforted.”  I have pondered also a question posed to Job by one of his friends, as Job wrestled with the loss of all his possessions and, of greater significance, the sudden deaths of all of his children:

 “Is God’s comfort too little for you?” (Job 15:11a, NLT)

What a question! What would cause anyone to ask a grieving father such a question? I do not know the condition of the heart of this friend of Job or the emotions which shaped the question, but I find it to be a sobering one and daresay it is one which no one can answer for us but us.

“Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, Who comforts and encourages us in every trouble …” wrote the Apostle Paul. He makes it clear that God is the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in every trouble.

Thomas Moore, in the hymn, “Come ye disconsolate,” written in 1816, issues an invitation, which seems based on the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

“Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”

But is it possible that we can refuse to be comforted by God? Is it? And if we do, what can cause us to reject His comfort? Anger that He Who is omnipotent allowed the unthinkable to happen? I do not have an answer. I am searching as I write.

But if I reject of the comfort of the One Who is the God of all comfort, where will that leave me? Seeking comfort in people, places and things which can serve only as temporary pain relievers, at best? And what true comfort can I offer to others given that my ability to comfort others with His comfort requires that I have first allowed Him to comfort me?

He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, Who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Comforted by God.

Abba, regardless of the depth of the devastation, regardless of the loss and the radiating pain that remains in its wake, pain which leaves no inch of our being untouched. Regardless … may we never refused to be comforted by You.

Musings: What really matters?

What really matters

What really matters?

That someone cut me off in traffic or that God protected me from an accident?

That someone was rude to me or that I was given an opportunity to show His grace, which I do not deserve, but which I receive from Him – Every. Single. Moment. Of. Every. Day?

That I have to stand in line for a while or that I am able to stand?

That I have known heartbreak or that through His healing and the love He has poured out in my heart, I can continue to love?

That I have not heard from a friend or that He can give me courage to reach out and risk rejection instead of waiting for someone else to initiate connection?

That I seem to be living my life in obscurity or that the Omnipotent Creator of the universe knows me intimately (Who else has numbered the hairs on my head? Knows the way I take? Knows when I sit and rise? Knows what I am going to say before I do?) and loves me completely?

That I do not have the gifts, abilities, skills that others have or that, with His help, I can discover, value, and develop the gift(s) He has given me and use it(them) for His glory?

That I am or feel weak or that His strength is made perfect in my weakness and He will renew my strength as I wait on Him?

That I do not have all I want or even need but I have been given so much already for which I can be thankful?

What really matters?

Musings

Words.

Labels.

I have been thinking much recently about the power of words, particularly how they can be used to label human beings as … other, different, and how different can sometimes be synonymous with inferiority, deficiency, lacking value, being less than. I am thinking also of how labels can be used to intimidate and silence others, and how even the threat of being labeled unfavorably can and does have a similar impact.

I have been thinking much recently about the power of words… of how carelessly we can use them and how our carelessness, in a moment, can inflict wounds which take a very long time to heal, even after our most heartfelt apologies.

I have been thinking much recently about the power of words and how He tells us that it is out of the abundance of our hearts that our mouths speak. And I wonder, if we recorded our words over a 24 hour period, what would they reveal about the condition of our hearts?

I have been thinking much recently about the power of words and His statement that words kill and words give life. I wonder, how much life did I speak today? How much death did my words produce? I wonder and I desire that my words build up more than they destroy, that my words edify according to the need of the moment and give grace to those who hear them. I recognize that this desire is good but developing the discipline necessary to make this desire a reality and be intentional about the content placed and stored in my heart,  is even more beneficial.

Not history

I know the death of the four girls
Addie Mae Collins
Cynthia Wesley
Carole Robertson
Carol Denise McNair
Killed as a result of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church
In Birmingham, Alabama
On September 15, 1963
Only as history

But the murders of the nine adults
Reverend Clementa Pinckney
Reverend Sharonda Singleton
Dr. Daniel L. Simmons
Mrs. Ethel Lee Lance
Mrs. Cynthia Hurd
Ms. Myra Thompson
Mrs. Susie Jackson
Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor
Mr. Tywanza Sanders
Murdered on Wednesday, June 17, 2015
In the Emanuel AME Church
In Charleston, South Carolina
Almost 52 years later
By the same weapons
Racism
Hatred
Evil
This is not history to me
And ushered in unexpected levels of grief
Which seem to grow with each passing day

For the spouses and children
Siblings and grandparents
Uncles and aunts
Cousins
Friends
All whose lives have been unequivocally changed
Including my own

“We have come,” wrote James Weldon Johnson,
“over a way that with tears has been watered,”
“We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered”
Oh, God, why are we are still on this path more than half a century later?
“God, of our weary years,
God of our silent tears
Thou Who has brought us thus far on the way”
Give us grace
Give us strength
Give us unwavering courage and resolve
To eradicate racism and prejudice from our own hearts
And be instruments of Your peace, justice, and reconciliation in our broken world

 

© E. Wright 2015

 

Signs

Signs
They are such an integral part of our lives
Street signs
Those on buildings like churches
And on business places which indicate whether they are open or closed
Even those we see in the sky

Humans have signs too
Signs of anger
Fear
Distance
Estrangement
Pain
Grief
Contentment

No matter how signs abound
There are factors which determine their usefulness:
Whether or not we are able to see and how well
Whether we understand what we see
Whether we use the information the signs provide
As did men of the tribe of Issachar

I am thinking of signs
Those that my life display
Those that the Father provides
Those my intimates as well as the strangers I pass by display
And I am wondering about the condition of my vision
My spiritual vision
Heart
Ears
Mind
How well do I see, understand, and use available signs?