Tag Archives: hope

Nana

I went to the funeral this weekend of a woman I had met only once, but who has changed my life forever: my husband’s Nana.

While I’ve hardly met her, I know so much about her from her family.  I know that she and Papa went to a movie theater on their honeymoon, but neither could remember what movie they saw (“I wasn’t watching the movie, grandson”).  I know that she sewed my mother-in-law’s wedding dress.  I know that she loved flowers and gardening, and that her favorite color was pink.  I know that she painted her dining room mural, read to her grandchildren, and dominated at 42.  In her handwritten notes under pictures dating back to her own childhood, I feel I have come to see some of her personality.

Though I know many things about her, I can feel her love for the Lord.  She was a passionate lover of Jesus, always serving, often rejoicing in song.  I know that my father-in-law learned his steady, faithful love for God from his mother, who enveloped her daughter-in-law in this love, too.  My in-laws then nurtured that love for God in their son, my husband.  (And all of them can sing – oh, can they sing praise!!!)  I know Nana is so proud of the way her grandson serves and talks with his Lord every day.

I have been blessed to have not attended many funerals in my life.  The one I remember most vividly was so sad – a friend’s mother taken much too young.  We did “mourn with hope” because we knew she had gone Home; still, the mourning for her leaving so soon overshadowed other emotions.

This weekend, there was so much joy.  Nana has gone home!  Her long suffering with dementia and short, painful suffering with cancer are gone.  Nana’s family mourned the long “see you later” that her death means for them here, but rejoiced that she is finally in a place of healing and rest, a place where she can look on the face of the God she has loved so long.

My father-in-law gave his mother a wonderful send-off on Sunday morning.  He reminded all present that heaven is real – God’s promise for those of us who believe – and that Nana is where she most wanted to be.

He read this passage from Narnia’s Last Battle:

Then Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”

Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan.  And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”

“No fear of that,” said Aslan.  “Have you not guessed?”

Their hearts leapt, and a wild hope rose within them.

“There was  a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead.  The term is over:  the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended:  this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

After the service, tears streaming down my face, I wrapped my mother-in-law in a hug.  She said, “I wish you could have really known her.”

I will.

Thank you, Nana, for having children and for teaching them so much about life, love, and the Lord.  You have changed my life forever through your son and grandson.  I so look forward to meeting you – mind whole – in heaven and dancing for our Lord together.

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God is Not Dead

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

This Christmas feels a little like Longfellow’s. My mom in and out of the hospital, various friends in various rough situations. The devil seems to mock God’s song of peace on earth, goodwill to men.
But God is here. He is faithful. He works all things for His glory and our good. He is not dead or asleep, but He is here, working.

What is Christmas? It’s the miracle that says there is Hope. Without Christmas, the nerve damage, the tumor, the family strife, the loneliness, – Life itself – leads only to Death. With the birth of Christ, the human race has a path back to the Life God intended, a life with Him. Death becomes not the ultimate end of all life’s pains and sorrows, but rather the doorway to ultimate Joy. This τελος is not a morbid fascination with death; it provides a Hope for all of life! No matter what happens, God is in control, and all will be made right – sooner or later.

I write this in faith after wheeling my mom into the living room and helping her find a comfortable spot on the couch as she screams in intolerable pain from her injured leg.

“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

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The Shepherds’ Annunciation

Today, our pastor gave a sermon entitled, “The Horrors of Hell, the Beauty of Christmas, and the Glory of God.” What a message.

His words about announcement to the shepherds in Luke made my mind soar.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone round them, and they were filled with fear.

These shepherds were sitting in the field in the middle of the night, keeping one eye on the sheep and likely talking about daily life in Bethlehem. Then, the Lord’s messenger appeared to them. The Lord’s messenger!!!! Remember, God had not spoken to the people of Israel for four hundred years prior to Jesus’ birth. Until the announcements to Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds, God’s chosen people had seen and heard no messengers for many years, through many tribulations. And what an announcement the angel brought!
My mind went to my own life, when I haven’t heard God’s voice in a year and a half, though I have clearly seen His hand working.
The glory of God shone around the angel and the shepherds. God’s own presence was there with the angel, announcing the birth of His Son and the world’s Savior.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people! For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Oh, what good news! A great joy!! I want to climb on top of my apartment roof and shout it to the world!!!
Jesus is HERE.
My sin deserves an eternity in hell for its great offense against God. I deserve to be punished with unending fire in a place of agony, where I constantly long for just a drop of water, a place with no escape or cessation. Nothing would ever stop this punishment, and it is completely just.
Yet Christ, the Lord, is born! He has come as one of the race condemned to death to live under the Law and to save us from it. Because He has come, my sinful soul is counted free. God looks at me and sees not the rotting stain of my sin, but the blood of Jesus that covers me.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Kyle pointed out today that the phrase “heavenly host” means, not the hosts and hostesses of heaven, but the angelic army – the warriors.
I absolutely love this image. Luke says that the heavenly host suddenly appear, singing praise to God. I get the image that the host hadn’t planned to appear before the shepherds; they were remaining invisible behind the one messenger. However, when they heard the messenger’s message proclaimed out loud (“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”), they couldn’t resist hiding anymore and came forth in their full glory. They likely understood more of the miracle of Christmas than the shepherds did, having an intimate knowledge of the original fall and the time of purity before it. They knew why Jesus came and how absolutely absurd it was, and so they burst forth shouting loudest praise to God and proclaiming God’s blessing to His people.
Oh, what Joy to the world! Christ is come!

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Magnitude

From church today:

Challenge:
An eternal punishment in hell seems incongruous with a perhaps 70-year lifetime of sin on earth.

Rebuttal:
The eternity of hell speaks not to the length of sin but to the magnitude of the offense.
– Kyle Dunn

What a statement on the absolute abhorrent stench our sin leaves in God’s nostrils. One bit of it earns an eternity in conscious, un-ending torment in a literal hell.

But, there is hope. The magnitude of God’s hatred for our putrid sin is matched only by His love for us! So “God sent forth his Son, … born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4).
(He follows His own rules, coming under the law and obeying every commandment to serve as the perfect sacrifice for those of us trapped under the weight of the law–wow.)

More on hope, the real stuff, coming next.

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