Stories that Shine on an Awesome God

Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

Deliverer from Evil

“Momma, I want to sleep in your room with you and Daddy.”

Of course. He needed closeness. But how close was too close? Death was near but unpredictable. Would he suffer from overexposure?

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He was only eight and he needed to be protected. At such an impressionable age, he didn’t need to watch his father die. He needed, especially on the last night, to be delivered from hearing every ragged breath that for hours would rise from the hospice bed and reverberate throughout our home. Caught in a balancing act between the security of closeness and over protecting, I gave him permission.

A week, maybe two, passed. Most nights he slept beside me, but on the night of death he slept at his grandfather’s home miles away, protected and a safe distance from pain.

Our heavenly Father is caught in a similar balancing act. Does he let us see all the evil, especially the spiritual warfare, or does he keep it invisible? After all, our physical world has enough of its own pain.

Recently, a friend of mine prayed to see behind the scenes, to be given a glimpse of the warfare. As a new day dawned, she gazed out her window and asked, “Father, would you let me see behind the clouds, to the spiritual war that is raging?” The clouds parted and the sun shone very bright. She held her breath. An intense, blue sky radiated. Only the sky. She listened in silence to the Father’s voice.

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“You don’t need to see in the heavens where the real war is raging, for it all belongs to me. Remember, it is my battle. Rest in the assurance that through all the evil, my kingdom will come. Let me protect you. Rest in me through praise, through song and worship and words.”

God is caught in a balancing act. Does he let us experience all of the evil or does he protect?

“He suffers a broken world, still balancing it on the beams of a cross” Garden Surrender.

Regardless of our exposure, we can trust that he will never leave us or forsake us. He will protect our souls. In the meantime, we can repeat Christ’s words, “Deliver us from evil.” We can pray that his kingdom come on earth just as it is in heaven.

If you are a parent, what has worked for you as you attempt to protect your children? Comment below or Share here.

Respecter of Choice

“People aren’t stamped with an expiration date.” The oncologist’s kind eyes and graying temples coaxed me into belief.

“Prognosis for Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer: Three to four months.” My previous web search contradicted. I kept the contradiction to myself and squeezed my husband’s hand.

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The man I loved straightened his shoulders. “What do you recommend, Doctor?” His question fell clear and strong like the ring of an ax.

The doctor’s long legs swiveled his stool. He faced my husband square on. He laid out our options, answered all our questions, then shook our hands and took his leave.

“I’m going ahead with the workshop. I’ve always wanted a workshop. I’m not stopping now.” My husband declared on our drive home.

“Are you sure you won’t over do? What about our son? He’s only six.” My mind reeled.

“I’m positive. His tree house is going up along with my workshop. There will be a swing and a slide underneath and a climbing net inside. I’m not just going to lie down and die. And I’m getting a second opinion.”

Yes, yes. Stand like a tree. Don’t give in. Stay in control.

Six months later: The workshop and tree house were finished. The second opinion had confirmed the first. Our son was seven.

My husband bent over a notebook, tabulated and cross referenced. His strong, neat handwriting listed and located every tool and piece of equipment, every type of oil and service schedule for tractor, boat, and cars, and every name and number of his favorite service men.

“It’s for you, my Love. You can do this. You can get people to help, and I’ve taught you how to drive the tractor.”

Yes, yes. The ax is sharp, but I can do this. He believes in me. Stay in control.

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Six more months: All funeral plans had been made. All financial details had been finalized. All titles had been put in order. Our son and I had started home school.

At the dinner table my husband took a bite and started to gag. The chemo and the cancer were taking their toll. Our son, knowing what was coming, bolted out of his chair. Before his dad could heave out the bile, he was behind his bedroom door seeking his own control.

“Come, Sweetie. You can come back and eat now. Daddy is getting sicker isn’t he? But, come, you must eat.”

Be like a sapling, my son. Bend, bend with the wind.

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Yet another six months: Chemo trips were a weekly routine. The oncologist hadn’t aged, but his patient had. Cheek bones protruded. Eyes recessed. Our eight year old son sat silent in the back seat on the drive home from the clinic. My husband was still at the wheel.

“I’m not doing any more chemo.” He reached across the console for my hand. “And I’m not taking any more natural remedies. We have no evidence that they are helping.”

I caressed the paper thin skin on the top of his hand while his words sank in. “You have the right to this decision, you know. You have to choose your own way. It’s your life. It’s your death. It’s your choice.”

No, no. I’m not in control. I’m not in control at all! What a relief! What will be, will be. God knows the when. God knows the how. But I am NOT in control. And that is a very good place to be.

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The ax was slow at its work, but steady on. Six months later, in the middle of the night, the tree groaned heavy and long. It groaned and heaved and groaned again, forever into the night, consciously aware of the biting blade. It shuddered. It gave. It sank. Deep, deep into its bosom earth. Forever out of control.

 

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Is God really in control? Or is He a God that allows our choices to control things here in this world? Jesus taught us to pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This suggests that God’s will is not always done on earth.

Perhaps our God is not the controlling God that is often portrayed. He guides. He woos. He pleads. But perhaps, just perhaps, He truly respects our choice.

For more Biblical insight into this concept, please take the time and listen to

If God is So Good

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Have you ever felt out of control and found God there? Please share your story and help us find God there as well.

Perhaps you are or have been a caregiver to the sick or dying and have felt inadequate or imperfect.  I have a friend and fellow writer whose blog, The Imperfect Caregiver, is dedicated to encourage caregivers like yourself.  Click here to link to Bobbi Carducci’s blog.

Little Ones to Him Belong

_MG_9068.jpgBWShe knocked gently on the door to the room where strange, unintelligible sounds came from a crib-like bed pushed up against the wall. It was the result of her nursing assistant training, this knocking, even though she knew that she wouldn’t get an appropriate, “come in.”

The sun shone warmly through the windows, caressing the floor in front of the bed. Her nose caught the smell of excrement before she saw the bed’s tiny occupant — bone thin, her only clothes a diaper, half torn off, legs bent, contracted and stiff. Her body lay in an “S” shape with just her arms and hands free to flail around. It was obvious that she had sometimes been able to make her hands work. Dark smudge marks on the sheet and walls proved that; as did the smelly dark material that was under her fingernails and on her belly. A bath was in order. And a bath is what the teenage girl in the striped uniform had come to give.

Laying down her stack of towels, bed linen and toiletries, she remembered tales she had heard from more experienced coworkers.

“Better watch out for that old crow. She scratches and bites. And if she draws blood, better disinfect it immediately. Smears her fecal matter like it’s finger paint. So gross. That’s one we all try to avoid. Despicable!”

Small, beady eyes stared up at her as she approached the bed. “Yaoww!” A guttural howl emerged from a toothless mouth. “Yaoww!”

Turning to the sink, she filled a basin with warm water and started to hum a hymn that she remembered from a childhood of hymn singing. The howls stopped. Sudsy water and soft wash cloths soon cleaned up the mess. The “old crow’s” beady eyes never left her face. Needing to change the sheets, she clumsily turned the thin body, but the wizened head twisted around so that eyes never left her face.

Her music seemed to mesmerize her helpless, fragile patient.

“My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” As she worked, memories of her mother lit her mind. How momma loved this song. “I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name.”

Finishing that song, she gently sang another of her mother’s favorites: “What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and grief to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.” The eyes from the emaciated body followed her every move. The toothless mouth closed slightly and a soft sort of sound escaped the dry lips. Covering the twisted body with a clean gown, she secured its ties behind the thin neck.

“Do you like to sing?” She smiled into the wrinkled face.

There was a nod. The mouth opened wider. The off-key sound grew louder. Instantly she knew what this bundle of humanity needed.

“It might seem crazy,” she muttered as she grabbed a soft blanket. “The nurses won’t understand, but . . . .” Wrapping the blanket around the worthless body, she lifted it with her capable arms and carried it, like a baby, to a rocking chair in the corner.

While the sunshine made warm puddles of light on the floor, they sat, nestled comfortably, and rocked and sang. Above the regular, “Cer-reek, cer-reek” of the rocker, her young, clear voice mingled with the rasping, old croaking one.

“Amazing Grace how sweet the sound . . . . I once was lost but now am found . . . .”

“When peace like a river attended my way . . . . Whatever my loss thou has taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.”

How sad, thought the girl. Our soul still needs hope and peace no matter what age does to our bodies. She felt the woman relax, almost snuggle down into her lap. Just because she is old and incapable of doing what her younger body did, she still longs for love and a caring touch. Her soul still needs to be well and to be found. God knows who she is and where she has been and all that her life has held. And He has given me this moment to reassure her of His love. What an honor this is.

It seemed appropriate to sing her childhood favorite: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak but He is strong.” This too is a weak little one! And Jesus loves her too!

She looked down to watch as beady eyes closed on the upturned wrinkled face. The toothless mouth still moved, though soundlessly now. Carefully she carried the little one and placed her in her clean bed. Then she tucked soft blankets around twisted legs.

Contributed by and co-written with JerryAnn Berry, April 20, 2014

“Listen to me . . . [you] who have been borne by Me from before your birth, carried from the womb and even to your old age I am (S)He; and even to gray hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will save.” Isaiah 46:4

Do you have an experience where you knew God was like a mother, carrying you? Please shine the light of that experience to brighten our lives.

To hear more of a God who, like this young aide, embraces humble servant love follow this link.

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