Smart Heroes

For some time now, I’ve been talking about “Heroes of the Faith”: those remarkable men, women and children who by their trust in the Lord left a legacy that blesses us all to this day.

While looking for more “faith giants” to report on, I came across one of Tony’s Creation magazines and found an article about Albert Einstein. Unfortunately, he was not what we would call a “hero of the faith”, since he seems to have abandoned God as he grew older. But I was surprised to find that Einstein had heroes of his own, three of them, in fact. Each was known for his advances in science and each merited a picture on Albert’s study wall.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) is best-known for his discoveries about gravity and the subsequent motions of the planets and stars.

Michael Farady (1791-1867) had a lot to do with our understanding of electricity, and,

James Maxwell (1831-1879) is responsible for a unified theory of electricity, magnetism and light.

The things these three accomplished in their lifetimes formed the basis for Einstein’s groundbreaking development of the whole “relativity” thing (Remember E = mc2 ?), and he freely acknowledged their work, hanging their pictures up as a daily reminder.

But what surprised me is the fact that all three of these men were also known as being committed Christians. Newton wrote more on theology than he did on science. Faraday was a member of the Church of Scotland’s fundamentalist group known as the Sandemanians, and Maxwell interacted with some of the best theological minds of his day.

Read the biographies of these three remarkable scientists and you’ll see that everything they did was based on absolute belief in the promises of God and His revealed Word. None of their discoveries would have come about if they had not placed their faith and assumptions in Him.

Unwittingly, Einstein placed his faith in the accomplishments of Newton, Faraday and Maxwell, but failed to see the God Who made it all possible. I’m really grateful today for the dedicated men and women who were bold enough to invest their minds in the truth of God’s Word and make no apologies for it.

True Heroes of the Faith, that’s for sure.

Marsha

Returning to Say Thanks

Good morning all,

Last week I was talking about something I came across in the 17th chapter of Luke.  Today I’d like to talk about a little ‘hero’ that I may have mentioned in this blog years ago. The story following last week’s passage is what brought her back to my mind.

First a little refresher, from Luke 17:11-19,

“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’

When He saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’”

One day many years ago, a girl came to the door of our Japanese Church.  “Would it be OK if I came in today?” she asked tentatively, clutching a Japanese Good News Bible. Of course, we invited her in with open arms. After the service, during tea time, I asked her about herself.  From the time I met her until she left, she never let go of her Bible, but held onto it like it was a newborn child.

“I am a Foreign Exchange Student at the university nearby.  I don’t know a lot of people, but I was assigned a study carrel that belonged to one of the older students who was planning to be away during the school break.  I looked forward to the quiet space where I could study. But more than that, I was hoping to improve my English as I was finding the lectures especially difficult.   The student had left several books behind on the shelf, and I noticed one in particular called the ‘Good News Bible’.  The English looked simple enough and so, instead of studying, I started reading it to see what I could understand.  I read it all.  I wanted to know about this God who loves me and sent His Son. When the student returned from his holiday, I asked him about it.  He was happy to tell me that it is a true story.   ‘A few days later, he found me and gave me this’.

She loosened her grip enough to show me the Japanese version of the Good News Bible in her hand. ‘Now I have believed in Jesus and I wanted to come today and thank you Christians and especially God for making it possible for me to believe.’

Now the amazing part: that day at our worship service, Tony preached from Luke 17: 11-19, about the 10 lepers who were healed and the one (ironically a foreigner) who returned to thank Jesus.

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

The girl, whose name is Miki, went on to become a baptized church member, a real blessing for all of us for several years before she graduated, married a fellow Christian Japanese and left for new destinations. It’s not always easy to stop and say “Thank you”, especially to strangers. From Luke’s account, only about one out of ten manage it. But in her heroic act of faith, Miki moved from stranger to sister in the Lord.

And if by some miracle you come across this blog, Miki, let me say a big THANK YOU for encouraging me all those years ago.

As I always say, How GOOD is God!

Marsha

Refrigerators in Heaven

Today I found an interesting passage in the Bible, a verse that really caught my attention as we soldier on through this series of  “Heroes of the Faith”. It’s in Luke 17, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. To begin with, let’s talk about the generation that we see growing up around us. For myself, that would be two generations away from mine, as I look at the lives of our grandchildren.  Let me be fair: if you have any distinguishing trait, such as the color of your skin, or the heritage that defines you, or if there’s anything about you that has resulted in your being set apart by someone’s definition of cruel ways, then you might possibly be singled out as someone in need of a special exemption from normal living. Please hear what I’m saying –  I’m generalizing here – but there may be a case for special treatment and an extra measure of mercy and grace.    Now, let me get to the thing that caused me to pause and consider this morning. It’s a fact that I personally have the greatest grandchildren on the planet. I watch them growing up and I have to thank God every day for the wonderful parents they’ve been given. But even as I rejoice, I’m saddened to know that not all children are so blessed. And I’ll leave the conclusion-drawing to others smarter than I, but it seems there is a growing attitude around me that has pervaded our society and it’s made manifest in the nature of child-rearing I’m seeing. Now, I come to the Bible verse that startled me, Luke 17:7-10: “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?  Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

I remember hearing (probably from my sister who had these kinds of conversations) that my Daddy did not believe in praising children for what was expected of them. That’s how I grew up.

Before you feel sorry for me, understand that I grew up feeling much loved and honored, but I had chores and they got done.  I was praised for random achievements somewhat, but what I remembered most was a feeling of loyalty and responsibility to be a “Smith Girl” who was expected to do the right thing at the right time.  What helped with this, is that I felt that they also seemed to believe that I would …. do the right thing.  That made me proud and also instilled a desire to not let them down.

Granted, I wasn’t a servant or a slave, as insinuated in this passage, but I felt very much a PART of a PLAN, and I had my self respect that I would be the agent to get it done, just as the servant in Verse 17 comes in and EXPECTS to make supper and clean up. I never, till this morning, have come across this attitude in the Bible, certainly not from Jesus, who is supposed (as the well-known chorus goes) to be my best friend.  But there it is. And I think in having this attitude, Jesus gives me real honor by expecting the job to be done, just like I think He did when He watched these many heroes that we’ve been looking at of late.  What did Spurgeon say last week?  “The greatest joy of a Christian is to give joy to Christ.” I’ll save you the rhetoric about the “Me” generation, but I think you know what I’m talking about here.  I pray for my grandchildren as I always to, that they will FEEL the honor of doing what they’re meant to without expecting to be praised and coddled for just showing up. There will always be plenty of chances to praise them, like yesterday when 5-year-old grandson Micah went out onto the basketball court for the first time, suited up for a real game with real referees. He may not have made any baskets, but the joy on his face made it worth the trip. And I let him know how proud I was of him. I’d like to think that if there were refrigerators in Heaven, God would have something of mine stuck on the door with a magnet. He would point to it with pride and say, “That’s My girl!” Not because of anything I’ve done, but because of who I am.

The Joys of Work and Play

Tony and I took a few days off this last week to “chill out” up in Far North Queensland. I use the term loosely, since the temperatures are nearly ten degrees warmer in Cairns than back home on the Gold Coast. We’re officially in Springtime here Down Under, and ten degrees can make a big difference in the swimming pool!  But our main reason for going north is the sad fact that, with all the CoVid restrictions, we’re pretty much limited to travel within the State. Now I won’t mention to “some” of you out there, but since Queensland is two and half times bigger than Texas, we do have lots of options. Oops, I mentioned it; sorry about that!

It’s called the Tropical North up there for a reason … it’s HOT and WET, but also beautiful, with abundant flora and fauna everywhere you look. The night of our arrival in our Cairns hotel, I was graced by the presence of an Africa Sized Cockroach who, even with the room lights on, just wandered into our room to say boo.

Tony, ever the hero, played hide and seek with him for at least an hour, while I cowered under the sheet, wishing for my old trusty mosquito net from adventures long past.

The carnage the next morning was testimony to the night’s battle, when I picked up a three-inch leg, but we got no sympathy from the ‘natives’ when we complained. “I’ve seen bigger,” was one comment, accompanied with a photo to prove it.

But, truth be known, our real reason for this time away was to take a breath and make plans for the rest of the year. For a couple of retired folks, we’ve been finding ourselves almost busier than we ever were when we were actually employed. Preaching, teaching and other ministry opportunities have been coming in from all sides, and while we welcome them, we’ve felt the need to ‘corral them in” a bit so we can give them our very best.

As you’re reading this, we will have been back a day already and Tony will have preached twice, once in Japanese. But before we can start to feel overwhelmed, all we have to do is look around to see that we still have it pretty cushy. One of the really “greats” comes to mind, and I’d like to turn the light on him for a moment: Charles Spurgeon.

You may remember that he was born in the mid 1800’s, didn’t profess faith in Jesus till he was a late teen, and yet, soon became one of the greatest preachers of all time. More than 56 million copies of his books and sermons have been circulated in over 40 languages. Among that wealth of material comes a steady stream of quotable quotes. Vicar J. John (who is the grist behind this ‘Heroes of the Faith’ series) has pointed out two that I especially like:

“A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”

“The greatest joy of a Christian is to give joy to Christ.”
In 1861, because of his relatable but truthful and non-compromised preaching, his followers had grown to the point they acquired the Metropolitan Tabernacle, (in London) which seated 5000.  To attend, you had to have (free) ticket, and it was always full.  One time he preached to 24,000……….and always with no amplification!

Later along, he and his wife, who was a semi invalid, took to living in the south of France a good part of the winters to write and reflect.  However, he remained, as much as possible, at the tabernacle until he died 38 yrs later at the early age of 57.

I would like to compare my family to Spurgeon’s. However, unlike Charles Spurgeon, Tony does not usually work 18 hours days, preach without amplification or have 57 million copies of his writing in 40 languages (at least not yet, but one can hope!).  Neither am I, his wife, an invalid, but I have to say we certainly have enjoyed the few days away to sit and reflect for the next season.

Except for the cockroach, it was a lovely break.  I hope all of you, wherever you are today, are filled with lots of fulfilling work, along with the chance, once in awhile, to get away from it.

Marsha

Finding the Restaurant

One day this last week, I was sitting with the grandkids looking through an old photo album. Soon we came across a picture of their parents (son Nathan and wife Kylie) sitting and smiling, at what appeared to be a Japanese Restaurant.  When they asked about it, I laughed and told them the story that goes with it..

It began when Nathan was about six years old. Along with his older brother, Trevor, we were vacationing in the beautiful mountains west of Tokyo.  We came across a particularly lovely hotel/restaurant about 5 miles across the lake from where we spent many a memorable summer, and even much later, two whole years leading up to and during the 1998 Winter Olympics. But back to the story.  We ordered breakfast and I said with a sigh of contentment,

“Ah, boys, someday you’ll bring your brides here!”

That’s when I realised the underlying stress my little Nathan was under.  He was the only foreigner in the Japanese school near our home, and I realize now that being bilingual and having lots of friends wasn’t enough to give him true “local” status. Instead of smiling along with his brother at this acknowledgment of impending maturity, where he’d have a bride to show around, he dropped his head into his hands and, looking up to us, cried, “I don’t know how to get here!”

I had to laugh when I read from John 14 this morning. Jesus had just pronounced some of the most comforting words in the Bible. “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you. And if I go to prepare a place, I will come back and take you to be with me ….. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Dear Thomas speaks up in a future echo of Nathan’s own fears: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5-6)

I’m going to guess here that Thomas was also carrying a heavy load of anxiety.  Just read back a few chapters and it’s not hard to imagine. Maybe Thomas’s fragile heart wasn’t too evident until he made this comment.  Fortunately, his fears were put to rest; and I’m happy to add that Nathan also experienced a happy ending.

Twenty years after that fretful time, Nathan was able, without anything more than a sturdy car and a GPS, to bring his bride back to that lovely restaurant, a personal fulfilment of my prophecy.

We live in uncertain times, that’s for sure.  When we do decide to watch or read the news, we don’t feel better.  We feel lost.  We feel unable to figure out how we’re going to find that celebratory restaurant or that elusive dream or that pathway to peace…….. But we can rest in the promise that Jesus HAS gone before us and prepared a place for us, and we WILL know how to get there when the time is right.

This morning we attended the dedication of our littlest grandchild, Jeremiah Nathan.  Of course it couldn’t have been any sweeter than to see two parents, aunt, uncle, cousins and four grandparents all together with the church, praying that this precious baby will know a life of peace and joy, purpose and fulfilment. We hope that Jeremiah will never experience stress, but when he does, we know that he will never be far from the One Who gave him life, and a great family and an even greater future.

Bless all of us and give us courage,

Marsha

Surprises in the Snow

Last week I talked about three great men who impacted our lives for the good: Steve Metcalf, Eric Liddell and David Hayman. This morning, just for a break, I’d like to tell you, as that late great news commentator Paul Harvey used to say, ‘The Rest of the Story’ about Steve. Tony and I had heard this story a number of times back when we knew and often worked together with the Metcalfs, but we still shake our heads in wonder.

After being released from the POW camp in China and being reunited briefly with his family, Steve went to Japan in 1952 to be a missionary.  This was to the people he had hated so much from his wartime internment camp, but thanks to his friend and fellow prisoner Eric Liddell, had learned how to forgive.  He was single, and so attacked Japanese language school with a fervor given to those who were not encumbered with family.

I look back on my own language school experience, and it still makes me tired!  We had a family, and we found that learning what one 16th century Jesuit missionary called “the devil’s language” was a real strain.  We attended a Catholic language institute, which by Tokyo standards, was an ‘easy commute’ of only 90 minutes each way, and I remember leaving school every day, envying the priests and nuns who could go home to a prepared meal and a quiet contemplative evening.  Of course, the evening for them continued in Japanese, since it was the only common language for these folks who had come from all over the world, and it was no surprise to discover that they learned their lessons much faster than I did.

But back to Steve, he was single, as I said, and with all the distractions of language and culture learning, wasn’t all that interested in the opposite sex; that is, until he met Evelyn.  She was an Irish redhead who was 100% dedicated to her ministry.  She was a couple of years behind Steve in school, and for the most part wouldn’t give him the time of day in any language.  Steve tried writing her a couple of times, but was rewarded with a reply absolutely devoid of compassion saying firmly that he was barking up the wrong tree.

As is often the case with ‘forbidden’ things, the more he thought about her, the more he felt that she was the one.  But now he was scared. So scared that one day, when traveling in the North of Japan with two other missionaries, he chose to suffer rather than be brave. It began to snow, as it only can in Northern Japan, and finally the train was overwhelmed and stopped.  This was not uncommon, but in this case especially awkward, since the only refuge in this particular little village was the home that served as mission headquarters ……… and where Evelyn herself lived. It had been 4 months since she told him to take a hike and he hadn’t seen or heard from her since.

When they arrived at headquarters, Steve, in an act of self-preservation, chose to sit out on the front porch in the blizzard, rather than risk being discovered and accused of making the weather get bad enough to stop the train. As he sat shivering, the door opened with a bang, and out popped Evelyn, obviously intent on some errand as she pulled her collar around her ears. Then she whirled around to see him and stopped dead in her tracks with what can only be described as a look of horror. While Steve was looking for a place to duck for cover, she said in a loud, accusatory voice, “We have to talk!”

Meekly, he followed her into a warm dry room, and as he prepared himself for another final rebuttal, she said, “I guess I need to have a word with you.”  She went on to explain, even though Steve already knew the words to this story, but listened patiently while she reminded him that she was committed to God and needed to concentrate, etc. And then she continued, “Today, as I was praying, I had a picture of your face and, no matter what, I couldn’t get you out of my mind.  In the end, I told God that if He wanted me to marry you, I would need a sign ……. He would have to bring you here to this house …. this very morning!”  And, the rest is history.

Isn’t it amazing when sometimes God just does things?  Steve and Evelyn married soon after that encounter. As a couple, they went on to accomplish a world of great things for God amongst the Japanese. They had five children and were happily married for 57 years before he went to be with the Lord in 2014.

God has blessed us with great friends, with great stories to inspire us, and at every turn in the road reminding us that a life given to Him is the greatest, most productive and rewarding life we will ever know. In our case, it didn’t take a snowstorm to get Tony & Marsha, Inc going, but we can add our “amen” along with folks like Steve and Evelyn, who never underestimate the power of prayer.

I believe Steve mentioned on one occasion that his favorite Bible verse was James 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

Gotta work on that. Join me, will you?

Marsha

Pressed, Shaken and Running Over

With all that’s been going on the last few weeks, it’s amazing that I’ve had the time to read a book, but I think it’s been therapeutic. Especially the one I just finished; it’s called, “In Japan, the Crickets Cry”, and it was written by a friend and fellow missionary, Stephen Metcalf. If I could pull out the “takeaway” from the book in one sentence, it would simply be this: “Stuff happens to us all, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t there”. “Crickets Cry” is the story of three men. Two of them we had the privilege of working with in Japan, and all three are very definitely “Heroes of the Faith”.  Their names were Steve Metcalf (the author), Eric Liddell and David Hayman.  Steve and Eric were incarcerated together in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in China. David came along much later in Japan as a friend and collaborator. All three of these men are now in Glory.

Steve was a school boy of missionary parents, living and working in the remote town of Taku, deep in the mountains of China. His grandfather had gone there in 1906, and two generations later, Steve was born.  According to missionary policy, children of school age were sent to boarding school; so in 1934, 6-year-old Steve said goodbye to his village friends and was taken 2000 miles (and a week’s journey) from his home to a mission school in the city of Chefoo. There, he joined his older sister, who had been there a couple of years already.

Three short years later, the Japanese invaded, took over the school and ‘captured’ all the inhabitants, about 120 in all.  Many nearby expatriates were added, increasing the number to over 400.

At the beginning, things hardly changed, and the Japanese were considerate and polite, allowing them to hold school and worship as usual. But then, as the war drug on, things became more like a prison. The Japanese began to restrict activities and enforced the rules with increasing brutality.  Provisions began to run low, and life became more and more intolerable.

By1945, Steve was about 16 and was doing his best to keep morale high amongst his fellow prisoners, especially in the area of their faith in God. One day an older man named Eric approached him and said, “I hear you’re one of the youth leaders, and also a runner. But I’ve also noticed that you’re running barefoot.  If you can use them, I’ve got an old pair of sneakers you can have.” The two became friends. Eric led a Bible study, and Steve came along.

If you’ve figured it out by now, Eric was Eric Liddell, the great Scottish runner who swept the 1924 Olympics. He was known back home as “The Flying Scotsman”.  If you saw the movie, “Chariots of Fire”, you’ll remember how he refused to run his allotted 100-meter race because it was to be held on a Sunday. After much discussion, including a face-to-face encounter with the Prince of Wales, Eric was switched to the more grueling 400-meter race. He won it handily, but I don’t want to give any more spoiler alerts. It’s a great movie.

One part I remember especially is the “argument” Eric had with his sister, who felt that he should be more serious about his commitment to ministry, as opposed to doing sports. He said, “When God made me, He made me fast; and when I run, I feel His pleasure”.

It was not only in the sports arena that Eric’s faith was challenged. During the war, he kept insisting, “You must pray for the Japanese. When you hate, you are self-centered.  When you pray, you are God centered”.

Eric Lyddell died in the prison camp at the age of 43, a victim not of Japanese brutality but of a brain tumor. Fortunately his wife and three daughters had been sent back to Scotland a few years before, so they were safe, but it was sad that he was without them.

Eventually, Steve Metcalf was released, had a brief reunion with his parents (they had been separated for seven long years), and then taking to heart the words of his friend Eric, he returned to Japan as a missionary, along with David Hayman, who had also gone to Japan from Australia.  Tony and I were so blessed to know both of these men in their later years.  When asked to speak about Eric Liddell at a memorial service, Steve said, “Eric gave me two things for which I will always be grateful: his shoes, and the understanding that there is great power in forgiveness”.

Words to live by, don’t you think? Let me leave you with some precious words from Jesus, taken from Luke 6:37-38, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.”

Have a blessed week,

Marsha

Living in the Age

Good morning Everyone,

My Australian calendar says so; it must be true: Spring has officially begun. While you folks in the Northern Hemisphere are think about packing away the BBQ, putting the swimming pool into hibernation, and in those extreme places, installing the storm windows and stacking an extra cord of firewood, Down Under, we’re changing our long-sleeved shirts for sleeveless slip overs to go with our board shorts. I think I actually saw a hint of frost last month in the back yard, so I’m still recovering from that bit of trauma. And so with the signs of spring come signs of hope. It’s also Fathers Day here, so the home stores are sold out of power tools and everyone’s doing their best to get together.

Some days, it feels like winter is still lingering, and I’m not just talking about the air outside. The sadness of Dawn’s “graduation” last week, while most of the family remained isolated and unable to be near, remains in our hearts. And then as if to rub salt in the wound, Lyle got a phone call from the police back at his home telling him that in his absence, their entire house had been badly burgled, with just about everything either stolen or broken. He had to fly back home, meet with the police and all the while trying to find a quiet place to grieve with his family.  We are more than thankful for their wonderful church and their people who have worked endlessly to put things back together.

As we speak, I think he’s safe and sound and hopefully on the road to recovery, but it’s been a hard week. They all need a lot of prayer.  Time like this, I’m often tempted to throw up my hands in disbelief and cry out to God, “Ah, come on!” But even as I do, I feel His arms around me, certain that God knows what He’s doing. And I believe Lyle is resting in that same assurance this week. Please remember to lift him and his family up once in awhile, okay?

A friend sent me a copy of some thoughts by C.S. Lewis that speaks right to my heart, and to all of us, as we only seem to hear bad news.   It’s in a book he wrote in 1948, long before things like Polio, the Vietnam war and you name it, and yet it still rings true. I don’t believe I could add anything, so I won’t try. Just have a read, and remember that this man was yet another real “Hero of the Faith”. He writes:

“How are we to live in an atomic age? I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of chronic pain, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways.”“It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty”.“The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb, when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about death. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

Well said, Mr. Lewis. Well said indeed.

Marsha

No Words

This morning it’s with a sad heart to tell you that my nephew’s wife, Dawn, succumbed to COVID last night as her husband Lyle sat by her bedside. I want to say a big thank you to all who have remembered us over here in Australia, unable to travel, during this emotional roller coaster. Dawn was a much-loved wife, mother and friend, and I know that we are all better people for having known her.
I know most of you are no strangers to such painful partings, and you know as well as I do that it never gets any easier, even when all those around are brothers and sisters in the Lord. It’s hard to accept sometimes that our plans and God’s plans are not always the same. But accept it we must, and rejoice in the knowledge that He loves Dawn and knows why He let her be healed only in Heaven.  We also know He loves us and feels our pain as well.

With a recent newborn in the family, I can’t help but remember the comment made in Tony’s “Letters to Schnicklefritz” (written in anticipation of Grandson Jeremiah’s pending birth). He said, “Keep in mind, kid, that what you’re about to experience will seem like death to you. Your world is going to come tumbling down around you, and you’ll find yourself in a whole new world of unfamiliar sights and sounds. But keep in mind that your tears of grief will be more than matched by our tears of joy. To you it will seem like the end of everything, but all the while we know, Schnicklefritz, that your world is just beginning.”

I think death, for a child of God, is a little like that. A few hours ago, Dawn passed from “life” as we all know it to something altogether different and better. While we sat around and wept, the angels in Heaven were rejoicing to welcome her into what, so far, we here can only dream about. Knowing that, and accepting it by faith, we can rejoice along with the angels, looking forward to that time when we will be together again at His feet.  Dawn, my Mom and Dad, Tony’s parents, our son, Trevor, and so many others will be there to cheer us on.

Nephew Lyle got a tiny glimpse of that last night as he talked and prayed with Dawn. She was in a coma, but we all felt certain that she was aware of his presence. Finally, he told the doctor to “pull it all out” and let her go. “It only took two minutes,” he said. “She was more than ready, and felt no pain.” Dawn is a woman of the rugged west, so I think she can understand the words of the old Indian, remarking on a trapper’s encounter with a grizzly bear, “It was a good death.”  But it’s the living I grieve for today: a loving husband, two fragile young boys and family scattered all over the world and unable to come give them a hug.
Please pray for the family, who thankfully are even now reaching out to God for His comfort and wisdom.

My own measure of comfort came this morning at church, when we read from John 14, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that where I am you also will be.”

Hugs,

Marsha

Living a Life Worthy

Good Morning Praying Friends,

I have good news this week.

The last few days have been particularly hard for us, wondering each day if my nephew’s wife would live or die.  I’m happy to report that, and with thanks for your many prayers, there is some cautious optimism on the part of her doctors. Underscoring that, here’s a little vignette my nephew sent me about something that happened this week. These are Lyle’s words:

“A couple of weeks ago, when Dawn was so sick with Covid that she had to be airlifted to Casper, I tried to call the hospital but dialed a different number by mistake. It went to voicemail. I started talking, explaining that I was trying to reach my wife in the hospital.  Before I finished, a lady picked up the phone, explained that I had dialed the wrong number, and told me straight away that she would be praying for my wife. I apologized for misdialing and hung up. This morning, I felt led to call her number again to apologize and to thank her again for praying for us all. I had suspected that she was screening her calls, and sure enough, about halfway through my voicemail message, she picked up. The lady’s name is Sarah and I got to tell her Dawn’s name and how it was just a blessing to know there are still people like her in this world. I’m going to stay in contact and when Dawn gets out I’m going to see if we can go meet her.”

Think about it: what are the chances that a wrong number would lead a grieving husband to a prayer warrior? And then as if to add his “amen”, our pastor this morning preached from Ephesians 4:1-6. It reads like this:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Living a life “worthy of the calling”; now there’s a message straight to heart! We know nothing about Sarah, except that God used her to bring comfort to a family spread out all over the world, each of us praying for Dawn … each of us praying (if you’ll pardon the obvious connection) for a new “dawn” to bring us out of the dark valley we’ve been struggling through.

What Sarah did was no more than any of you saints would have done, given the opportunity. But praise the Lord for giving her that chance to join us in prayer, and by so doing to life a life worthy of the call she’s been given!

May we all have that kind of faith, and courage, and willingness to be used in whatever situation, even if it’s a wrong number!  Let’s spend the week being a “Sarah”.

Have a great week in the Lord,

Marsha