What Does It Profit?

I have a story to share.  It’s a true story that has impacted my husband and I greatly over the past few years.  I trust it will do the same for you.

Years ago, we met a woman who should have been a part of my husband’s life for all of his life but was not – through no fault of either of them.  That all changed a couple years ago.  I will call her Mary. 

Mary had lived a difficult life before we ever knew her.  Many of her problems were due to her own bad decisions, we came to learn.  But in recent years, Mary came to know Christ personally.  As her faith grew, her life changed.  The consequences of her past decisions could not be erased but her life took on new meaning, new purpose, and was full of new peace.

Our lives became more personally entwined with Mary’s due to the death of a dad and later the death of his wife.  What was to have been Mary’s from the estate was wrongfully taken away.  Mary, now suffering from metastatic breast cancer and still trying to work to make ends meet, was devastated.

Gary and I, though, did what we could to encourage Mary from a distance.  However, we watched with grateful amazement as she turned to the One Who really loved her the most and from Whom she gained the greatest strength. 

Her conversations with us centered on that relationship with God that was growing in her life through her extreme difficulties, her hurt, and her declining health.  Mary turned her back on being bitter and instead turned her heart to God’s forgiveness of her, and thus her forgiveness of those who had done so much wrong in her life.  She had counted on some earthly financial help to come her way but when it did not, she learned the value of counting on God instead…and from that experience, she grew so much.

On what was to be her last holiday season on earth, Mary sent us this message.  I will simply let you read her exact words:

“I’m at the cancer clinic right now getting my blood drawn and waiting to see my oncologist for my usual follow up. On the way here this morning I passed the mall and stores with their crowded parking lots full of Black Friday shoppers. It really caused me to think about what’s most important in this life. It’s God, our Salvation, family and friends. Even if I never ever had another present under the Christmas tree, it wouldn’t matter. Because I’ve already been so richly blessed, and you all are a part of that blessing!  I have so much to be grateful for.”

We commented to her about how thankful we were to have been given the opportunity to know her better over the previous months.  Our relationship probably would not have happened had it not been for the wrong that was done.  But we were sorry for her advancing cancer and for her hardships.  Again, Mary’s words:

“That’s one of the many good things that’s come out of a bad situation. My cancer journey has brought me into a much closer and deeper walk with God, which I am grateful for.

It’s strengthened my faith, and brought about peace, joy, and a sense of assurance, much stronger than I had before. It’s had a positive impact on all areas of my life. It’s truly amazing how our God moves and works His will in our lives.”

What a beautiful example she was of how God makes beauty from ashes!  Her testimony continued to shine with us until her death seven months later. 

Another person recently died, too…a person who was largely responsible for the wrong done in Mary’s life.  He had everything of earthly value that anyone could want, some not rightfully his, but when I think of him, I think of what Jesus said:

“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?”

A real-life lesson from two people who made choices, one choosing the narrow path and one the wide. 

Two lives…two choices…two eternities.

Which one are you, my friend?

Just Being Here

I was having my quiet time this morning, and it was just that…nice and quiet.

I stepped out of the room for a few minutes and when I came back, this is what I saw.

“Aaron,” I asked, “what are you doing on the bed?”

“I’m just being right here,” he flatly answered.

I had to smile.  He certainly was just being right there.  He didn’t care one bit that he was messing up the bed that I try to keep all tidy and neat and unwrinkled.  He didn’t care one bit that he was interrupting my quiet time. 

Aaron is right here in our lives every day.  He is right here because God has placed him here. 

No matter where we go, with or without Aaron, he is right here in our lives and in our thoughts…in our planning…in our EVERYTHING.

Yesterday he was right here, in the Wal-Mart aisle as I turned the corner, happily oblivious to any thought that he was most unusual as he knelt on the floor to retrieve his favorite candy.

He was right here recently after a night of seizures, waiting for me to pray before he ate his fried eggs, and we watched an episode of The Waltons.

And more often than I enjoy, Aaron is also right here in his autistic frustrations that interrupt our life and often dictate our routines. 

Just like that crumpled bedding that once was smooth, Aaron can most definitely cause lots of wrinkles in what was at one point a smooth and happy day.

How I handle my emotions during those many moments is up to me, which is why I was SO excited to find this picture recently that I instantly knew MUST go above my quiet time desk.

Today I choose joy!

Not because I have some super perfect power to do so.

But because I know the One Who does have the power to give me joy.

Oh, trust me, I lose my temper and I get very frustrated and all the other “stuff” that comes with being human.

But Jesus is right beside me with His forgiveness and with His nudging toward joy.

How about you?  What is right here in your life that is hard?  Make a conscious effort to choose joy and just see what God will do for you.

“And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

(Nehemiah 8:10)

Where Is Your Faith?

Jesus and His disciples had gotten into a boat on the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus told them to go over to the other side of the lake.  As they were sailing along, Jesus fell asleep.  Soon a huge wind arose, and their boat was in real danger of capsizing.  The disciples awakened Jesus and with terror told Him they were perishing.   But Jesus rebuked the winds and the surging waves, and soon there was calmness.

Jesus looked at His disciples and said, “Where is your faith?”

Jesus is still asking us that question today in our storms.

Aaron collapsed with a drop seizure last month after going for two years without one of those dangerous seizures.  Where was my faith?

Our daughter called us from Texas two weeks ago.  She was in the ER with a pulmonary embolism.  Where was my faith?

Old hurts and unresolved issues about a situation from years ago started spilling out as I talked to a sweet friend the other night.  Where is my faith?

A friend with a daughter going into drug rehab.  A friend recently diagnosed with cancer.  Another whose daughter is fighting a recurrence of her cancer.  A job lay-off of one’s husband shortly before he could have retired.  A friend whose son is having sudden and very serious seizures that are escalating.  A friend betrayed and now divorced.  Some are grieving prodigal children.

Where is their faith?

Jesus hung on the cross.  “It is finished,” He cried.  His battered body was lowered, and He was buried.  His disciples were crushed, full of terror far worse than the terror on that boat.  Where was their faith?

Satan was jubilant, thinking he had won.  Jesus was dead!

“Now where is your faith?” he probably hissed to all who followed Jesus.

Not so fast, Satan! 

This happened!!

The tomb was empty on that Sunday morning.  Jesus lives today!  We serve a risen Savior! 

Where is my faith?

My faith, in every circumstance and storm and trial, is in a Savior Who has defeated death!

Jesus is with me in my boat today, very much alive and in control of every wave…every toss…every fear…every hurt.

We serve a RISEN Savior!

Hallelujah!  

A Woman’s Real Power

Everybody’s scratching and clawing for their place today.  The attitude is one of, “I will NOT be marginalized and pushed aside just because I am….”  And then one can fill in the blank.  Don’t push me aside because I am this color, this gender, this orientation, and on and on.

The world tells women to look at Kamala as an example of power.  Look to Cardi B as an example of sexual freedom.  Look to Caitlyn Jenner as an example of being who you were meant to be.  Look to Planned Parenthood as offering many the way to achieve their dreams.  My body…my choice.  Sounds so appealing and enticing, this ability to be in charge of myself.

Satan offered all of the above to Eve in the garden, and more, but it ended in horrible tragedy and the life-long battle of sin that we see all around us today.

Jesus says to look to Him.  He, and He alone, is the way to real freedom and peace and power.  But it’s not freedom and power such as the world gives.  Today the way of Jesus is condemned and ridiculed.

Jesus says look to the woman in Luke 7. 

Jesus was invited to a Pharisee’s house for a meal.  Jesus accepted the invitation.  He sat there among the powerful and prestigious of that day, in that town.  The meal was a big deal, seen in the fact that the guests were reclining around the table in the way they did in that culture.  The setting was open so that bystanders could stand on the perimeter, observing and listening…and in this case, judging.

They were judging Jesus for eating with sinners.

And they were judging the woman who appeared at Jesus’ feet.  She was a known sinner in that town.  We can only imagine for what sins she was so labeled and demeaned.

In that culture, a woman did not ever do what she did next.  She stood behind Jesus, where she poured perfume on his feet.  The perfume, mixed with her tears, fell on Jesus’ dirty feet.  Then scandalously, she undid her hair and wiped His feet dry with her hair. 

Her actions were unheard of in that culture!  She was already a castaway, and now she was a total disgrace.

But can you just imagine the strength it took for her to buck every social norm, and to endure the judgment and intense stares of the men around her? 

Where did her strength and power come from anyway?

It came from her faith in Jesus, God’s Son.  Her strength came from God’s forgiveness of her sins.

Nothing is different today.  Our real power and freedom as women comes from the power of being forgiven by God…not forgiven because of anything we have done or achieved, but forgiven by the grace of God.

Jesus told this woman, “Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace.”

Her faith was demonstrated in her actions of love to Jesus…in her tears…in her bravery to show herself in that setting and worship her Savior.

The world doesn’t define power the way God does.  The setting today could easily be the Garden of Eden, and our choice is easily the same as Eve’s.  Will we women listen to Satan’s voice, or to God’s?  Will we fall for the lies that tell us to “be all we can be” while ignoring God’s words?

Real progress…real peace…real power, come from knowing that we have been forgiven for our sins through the blood of Jesus. 

Purposeful repentance and faith in God through His Son, Jesus, is the only way of salvation and the only source of that for which we truly yearn.  Don’t fall for Satan’s lies and crumble under this world’s pressures that call for you to set out on a path of sin.  Don’t think for a minute that this world’s promises can hold a candle to the promises of God.

Accept true freedom through knowing and following Jesus. 

Power AND peace…priceless!