Take Heart, He has overcome the world…
Take Heart, He has overcome the world…
I can hardly believe I am now 64 years old! In so many ways I feel like the same person I was in high school ….…then, the other day, one of my daughter’s third-grade students tells me that I remind her of her grandfather!…. So much for my vanity : )
Ok, ok, in reality, quite a bit has changed since high school …. I have been married three times (certainly not to my credit –see below). I have a wonderful daughter by my second marriage, two step-sons by my present wife of almost 12 years. I have completed 26 years working in telecommunications. I’ve been to Italy, the Bahamas, New York City, Disney World, ….. Cade’s Cove, TN…
To be sure, a fairly skimpy life story by some standards,….quick! where’s that bucket list!?
Actually, one particular change has taken place in my life that, in turn, has changed everything else. By no merit of my own, I received the overwhelming, unyielding love of the One who not only created me, but knows everything about me –including the stuff I would rather not face, much less talk about.
(As you may have imagined at my implying two divorces above, I have tried a lot of doors toward the affirmation and gratification of “me”, … ways to elevate my pitiful, self-perceived status in a culture that celebrates wealth, sex, style, attention and so many other vain routes to self-validation. In the process, I have trampled over the feelings of others, missed priceless moments with my daughter, abused myself and wasted lots of time.)
My relationship with the Lord is beyond words; but, I can tell you it is open, personal and healing. His love for you and me, our children, our neighbors all over the world and our families is pure. It’s unconditional and immeasurable. It’s taken me a while; but, I believe that in Him is the only life that matters. (Deut. 30: 20)
Even so, we wake up every morning in an unfair world. I believe that because of the disobedience of the only two who lived in a perfect environment, Adam and Eve, we live in a fallen, corrupted world that is not our home. Our hearts, our relationships, our physiology and our physical environment including weather, are all warped from what they were designed to be. So warped, in fact, that when the Lord of love came into our world as one of us, we sneered, mocked, whipped, shamed, degraded and killed Him.
While he was here, he said something that I hold to tightly. He said:
“In this world you will have tribulation …
(that is, heartbreak, disappointment, affliction, loss, betrayal, misunderstanding,…experiences that can be summed up in: “it’s not fair!”)
… but, take heart, I have overcome the world”.
In the book of John, two friends of Jesus came to inform Him that another friend of Jesus was deathly ill and suggested that He come to Bethany without delay.
I love what Jesus told Mary and Martha about their mutual friend, Lazarus (Mary’s brother) there in John 11:1-4 (NLT). He said: “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death.” Well, we know the Lord knew that Lazarus would, in fact, die. We also know that Jesus was not surprised to find that, indeed, by the time He arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been in the tomb four days.
I’m 64! (still can’t believe it) . That I have a corruptible body, in effect, a “sickness”, is more noticeable now. Gradually, it is weakening, wearing out. I eat blueberries because they are a powerful antioxidant; but, I can’t eat enough to overcome eventual physical demise. Sooner or later, I will die……… from kidney failure, a return of cancer (lymph node and tonsils removed 2009), heart disease (seemingly a family trait),…. something.
Back on the morning of December 19, 1988, I sat in a small room at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, NC where obstetricians sometimes take naps between deliveries and other duties without having to go home only to have to come right back. I was there not because I was an obstetrician. Rather, a nurse had ushered me into the room. I carried my son who had died when the umbilical cord gradually became too tight around his neck. This happened just a few hours before he would have passed through the birth canal and, no doubt, announced his arrival with loud crying.
As I held William Michael in my arms, I asked God not to let this happen…..I asked God to fill his lungs with breath and refresh his heartbeat. I had confidence He could. I know he could have, much as he raised Lazarus in John 11; the Jarius’s daughter recorded in Matthew 9 and His own self on that Sunday morning after His brutal crucifiction. Our God has full mastery over death! But, this time, God, in His awesome, unfathomable wisdom, had ordained that Will would return to Him.
There was great sorrow and mourning, as you can imagine. There were questions of why.
Amazingly, over time, that tragic event has increased my closeness to God. Deut 30:20 reads:
“…that you may love the Lord, your God, that you may obey His voice and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and your length of days….”
I’m a clinger.
I have learned that this earthly existence is so brief—“as a vapor” (James 4:14) especially compared to our forever with Him.
We love our families; we ache for them when they suffer. Jesus ached for his friend, Lazarus. In fact, He wept. Even though Jesus knew better than anyone that—besides living more years in this world—Lazarus would live forever in God’s incorruptible, unfailing love, He wept. He shed tears. Jesus knows all about our cares and feels our pain.
But— our “sickness” will not end in death! I believe our tribulation and suffering in this world —though huge and immediate to us who are impacted at the time— are positive in God’s larger plan. I believe they are opportunities for God to work His glory through us.
Paul wrote in Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”. I know that as much as I love Will, the love my Creator has for him and the (undeserved) love He has for me is far greater! It is astounding. It is indescribable—beyond human comprehension. Praise His Glorious, Holy Name!
The Lord is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Eph 3:20). His ways are not our ways (Is. 55:8). He knows us intimately; He loves us amazingly. His way and His timing, ultimately, are perfect.
May we trust Him ever more confidently.
Posted by Ken Shires at 10:56 AM
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