I looked at my to-do list today and had two more cups of coffee! I have to take Christian to basketball camp, pick up groceries for the next four days, do the laundry, get my nails done, pick Christian up from basketball camp, take him to get new school uniforms, cook dinner, go to my exercise class, take the dogs for a walk…. oh, and write a Blog!
Do you ever feel as if you fall into bed at night thinking, “I didn’t really get anything significant done today, just the same old stuff I did yesterday.”? As I lie in bed not sleeping I’m thinking about the fact that I have to leave for a conference in Ohio tomorrow and I haven’t packed and I wonder if I got in enough of the right kind of groceries to tide my husband and son over until Sunday when I get home.
I don’t think God designed us to carry the worry and stress that we drag with us through our days and into our nights. Jesus made that pretty clear, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 (The Message)
God promises us grace for this day, not for tomorrow. He says that when tomorrow comes there will be fresh grace for that day too. When I’m concentrating about what might happen in the next few days I’m not fully present in this moment. This is the day we have, it is a gift but if we forget that, we might miss it altogether. So my prayer for you today is that you would be acutely aware of the presence of God in every moment – no matter how long your to-do list is!
Today I received the news that a very brave, eight year old boy, Connor Cruse, lost his battle with cancer. As I read the message I wept. Although the family lives in our neighborhood, I have never met Connor, but I have seen his photographs and the wonderful things that his mother and father have written about him. His favorite color was green and he loved pizza and s’mores! As the mother of a boy I cannot imagine the pain of letting your child go and feeling so helpless to be able to make everything alright. His family describe him as a superhero not only because he loved watching those larger than life characters, but in truth he was one. The family did everything they could for Connor. They pursued every avenue of treatment that is currently available, but in the end, they had to say goodbye.
Therein lies the greatest mystery of faith, the gap between here and there. As Connor closed his eyes for the last time on this earth he opened them in the glorious presence of Jesus, but only his eyes saw that, not his parents or his brothers and sister. We are called to walk by faith and not by sight, but how we long for sight. So today, I ask you to pray for this family and as they walk out the next few days and weeks and months, and let’s look into the eyes of our children every single day and tell them that they are loved. Remember, too, that Jesus walks with us whether we are on this side of the river, and when we have found that it has taken us all the way home.
“I’m absolutely convinced that nothing–nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable–absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Romans 8:38-39 (The Message)
Our son, Christian and two of his friends decided that it would be fun to go to camp together this summer. It’s about a two-hour drive from our home but Barry likes to leave so early that we could almost catch the last day of the previous camp. We stopped for lunch and we were still two hours early. Finally the gates opened and we drove in between all the hooting and hollering of the camp councilors welcoming the kids. We found Christian’s cabin and in just a few moments both his friends joined us. I handed in his care packages and his allergy meds and after big hugs Barry and I set off home.
“Just think,” Barry said, “we could see a different movie every night.”
“I know, and we can go out for dinner to all the places we like,” I added.
“And sleep late!” he said.
We looked at each other and unleashed at the same moment, “We just left our son in the middle of the woods with a bunch of strangers who say they are Christians but how do we know that!!!”
I am coming to realize that this whole being a parent thing will always tear at my heart. Christian is growing into a wonderful young man but we live in a crazy world and we don’t know from one moment until the next what is going to happen to us or to those we love. When that reality hits me hard that’s when I pull my heart back under the shelter of God’s wings because he does know. He knows what will happen today and tomorrow and he has promised that he will be there. He has not promised that we will be spared from pain but that he will be present in the pain. One of my favorite words is, refuge. I love it because when applied to our lives, Christ is our refuge in any storm large or small. He is our safe haven, our sanctuary. I have six more days of Christian’s camp to get through but you may have eighteen months of a son or husbands tour of duty to get through. If you are like me some days the load feels pretty light and you have a firm conviction that God is in control and watching out for those we love. But there are those other days, days when you are tired or discouraged and all the old fears come flooding back. What do you do on those days? This is what I do. I find a quiet place and in my mind I take Christian and I imagine that I am placing him right under the shelter of God’s wings. It’s hard to grasp on this side of heaven how held we are by the love of God if only we would lean back and find his wings are strong. I may have to imagine placing Christian there but the truth is that he is always there, I just have to remember. I pray today that you will know the peace of God, which passes our human grasp, and the love of Christ our Savior that would fill every space of doubt and fear.
My two dogs, Belle and Tink only differ in weight by five pounds but in Bichon terms that can mean a world of difference. Belle, who is five years old, weighs fourteen pounds and Tink who is three, weighs nine. The most noticeable difference is that Tink can squeeze her body through the fence in our back yard and take off round the lake whereas Belle, with all the will in the world hasn’t a hope. Most of the time I put Tink on a long tether so that she has freedom to run around the yard but not lead me on a merry dance in front of our neighbors while I am still in my pajamas. But one morning recently I let the girls out and before I had time to hook Tink to her leash of grace, she took off! I called the little monkey’s name and Belle barked and barked but Tink was free and she intended to be fully present in every moment. I opened the gate and ran after her, making sure that Belle was safe in the yard. Tink would let me get to within a couple of feet of her and then she would dance off again. Finally she tired of the game and let me pick her up. I find it very difficult to even fake being cross with Tink as she is adorable but I gave it my best shot as I’m afraid one of these days she’ll get out and run into the road. Well, whatever she received from me did not prepare her for what was about to happen when I returned her to the safety of the house. Belle just lit into her. I watched this mini-melodrama unfold as Belle barked and barked at her and then proceeded to drag Tink into a corner by her ear. Once she had a totally captive audience she let Tink have the whole speech. When Belle was finished, Tink got up and with her tail wagging at turbo speed, gave Belle a kiss.
I thought a lot about that encounter. Even though it seemed extreme to me, Tink received it in the spirit that she felt it – love. Belle is protective of Tink and gets very anxious when she is not able to watch over her.
You and I have a heavenly Father who never takes his eyes off us and no matter where we find ourselves, we are never out of his loving care. Even when we squeeze into tight spots, he is there, able to reach us, loving us all the time. The psalmist David put it this way,
“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.”
Psalm 139:7-10 (NKJV)
I pray that you know that today, you are loved, you are loved,
you are loved!