I just got off the phone with my brother. His wife's father passed away last night.
Death is never an easy thing. Though, hearing how sweet his passage was made me cry. And knowing my sister-in-law will miss her daddy makes me cry. And my brother and his daughters will miss him too.
But even as those who loved Poppy will miss him and shed tears, their tears are not without hope. In the first book of Thessalonians, Paul talks about grieving, but not like men without hope. If you believe this life is all that exists and life ends at the grave, then you mourn and grieve without hope.
But there is hope. Heaven is waiting for us. Poppy is there now, no longer suffering, dancing before God. How do I know this? Poppy didn't earn it. He didn't live a perfect life. He sinned just like the rest of us. But he humbled himself before God and asked for forgiveness. And because Jesus died in our place, God forgave him. All Poppy had to do was ask for forgiveness and accept Jesus' payment. That's all any of us need to do. Simple. Yet hard. You have to humble yourself. Admit you are wrong, a sinner. Then ask for God's forgiveness.
But the peace that comes when you are forgiven is amazing. And the hope of being in God's loving presence for eternity gives you strength in this life.
Poppy, many will miss you. But we rejoice that you are no longer in pain and that you are with your Father.
I love a good waterfall. Any amount of water will do. The waterfall itself doesn't have to be large. Even a small fall of only inches can be both beautiful and soothing.
Sometimes I catch a glimpse of a waterfall. It makes me long to see more. So, after a hike and wading out into the cold river, I'm rewarded with a gorgeous shot.
And, like life, what is beautiful can't be defined. I saw this waterfall near Chimney Rock, NC. I'll never be able to get close to it. The falls are so high and there is no simple path to get there. So I appreciate it for what it is.
From a distance.
Yet I know it's beautiful as I watch it from afar.
In life, we need to learn that in God works in us through the strong storms and rushing waters. Making us smooth. Showing His hand in our lives. I often fail at being thankful in my times of difficulty.
But I'm learning.
And I hope that others are able to see God's hand in my life, reflecting Him.
And I hope that you too, will step back and watch for Him working in your life to make you a reflection of his Son.
Several years ago, life took a toll on me. I had five kids under the age of ten, had moved to a new house and had a husband who was working long, long hours. My husband had so much stress from work that I tried to be his helper and take care of everything so he wouldn’t have to. Insurance, car repairs, home schooling. You name it, I did it. Then throw in health issues for me and what happened? I grew exhausted.
I felt like I was trying to climb a mountain made of sand. Three steps forward, one slide back. The wind whipping around, stinging my face. Legs crying out for relief. But I had to keep going.
At times like that, the inclination is to feel so alone. Isolated. I did.
We tend to focus on ourselves and forget God's eternal perspective. But if we stop and take a look around, we can see other footprints. Footprints of those who have climbed the same hill. We can be honest and humble about our struggles and ask for help—help from others who have made the same journey. We can learn from their mistakes. They can step into our lives and encourage us that we will make it to the top and that the reward is worth it.
But, ultimately, we need to seek help from the One who promises not to forsake us. It may feel like God abandons us in the hardest times of our lives, but sometimes that’s because we don’t understand what that promise means. I certainly know I’ve been guilty of feeling forsaken when times are hard. But that’s a shallow, self-centered view of God—what can He do for me?
I’m learning that the difficulties and struggles are the times when I can grow the most in my faith and see God’s hand at work more clearly. Unfortunately, I want comfort and ease. But nowhere in the bible does God promise a pain free life. He tells us that we will have trials and tribulations. Can we trust him to walk with us in those times? Yes. But that’s not natural. We need to ask for faith to believe. And we can learn so much about listening to him and looking for how he’s working in and around us.
And once he helps us conquer the obstacles and struggles, there is often a great reward he has waiting for us. New friendships, more faith, a deeper walk with him. The ability to seek out and comfort others who come behind us. That’s what living in fellowship with each other is all about.
So where are you in your journey? Ask God to send you help and ask him to show you how to live strong through the trials. And when he gets you through them, you can celebrate how God has worked.