Statement of faith

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)

"The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.
- Warren

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: December 14, 2015                              
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

The holiday season can stir up in us a sense of sadness when we have experienced loss. It's a time of year when the enemy of our soul attempts to keep us from focusing on the true meaning behind the celebration. And, he uses our personal circumstances to do just that. The following is a portion of a talk I prepared for a bereavement group that included individuals who had lost children.  I pray it will encourage someone out there this Christmas season. MERRY CHRISTMAS and may you experience a bright light of hope through these words which are a part of my personal testimony of loss.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:7 

You might say you have never buried a child and you would be absolutely right. Because of this I cannot experientially know the brokenness of your heart.  What I can share with you is that I know very personally the sadness of loss. I have had to say good-bye to more people that I cared deeply about in my 55 years than I care to list. One such relationship was my young brother who left this world in a tragic house fire when he was just 13 years old and I was 23. I also lost my cousin that day. He had been spending the night with my brother, he was 14 years old. We also lost our family home which was full of our personal memories. Praise God my sister and her dad were able to escape the flames. So yes, I never buried a child that I gave birth to thus far, but I have buried valuable pieces of my heart. 

With that said, I want to share a revelation that God has gifted me with and I hope it brings encouragement to you. It is the very thing that helps me see hope in loss. This revelation hit me recently as I sat with my hands folded in prayer for several children fighting life-threatening illnesses. My heart aches for their parents and the families that were hoping for a miracle. Some will get that miracle through healing, but others will feel as if they have been jipped through death. 

My message today may be very difficult to hear especially if you currently find yourself in the midst of personal loss. I encourage you to stay with me.  For those of you who have not yet discovered the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, my words may sound like clanging cymbals in your ears. I encourage you to stay with me also.

Friends, when we think death is the end there will be no hope! But for those who have been gifted to understand God’s Holy Word; you know that death is not the end, it is the first moment of eternity. This is where believers  find hope in personal loss. I did not always have this. Today as I cling to the reality of what God did for me at the cross where His One and Only Son hung beaten and battered for the sin of all of mankind, I can in a sense, contrast His feelings of grief with my own. Separation is painful but it doesn’t have to be the end. Knowing Jesus’ life story opens the door for eternal hope. If you don't know this story I am speaking of  I would be happy to talk with you personally. 

I was in my early 20’s when our tragedy hit. I had been in church all my life and knew about God, but the reality is I really did not fully understand the true character of God. So, when Satan began to point out how God failed to rescue my brother and my cousin, and  when he pointed out God’s inability to save our family home which I could physically see as charred rubble; I began to buy into his deception through a heart of anger. You see,  I expected God not to let me down ever! I prayed often.  I went to church most Sunday's. I put some money in the offering plate. I said my rosary and went to my religious classes. This was not supposed to happen to good people! Because of this mindset I was ill-prepared for the sudden and unexpected loss that cold February morning. 

Nothing prepared me for the overwhelming emotions that would invade my mind for many, many years to come. On that day there was no time to process how I should react as a professed child of God.  I kept begging God to let this be a bad dream and when it was my reality, I wanted nothing more to do with God.  I asked some of the questions I imagine some of you have asked. “Where were you God?” “How could you let this happen?” “Why, why, why? echoed in my head constantly. 

As I reflect back now I recognize that this was a defining moment in my life where Satan entered  my heart through the deception of my mind.  The last thing the enemy of my soul wanted, was for me to get to the place that I am today with God and he has been relentless against me ever since I have rejected his lies. The last thing he wanted me to understand is that “I WIN” whether I walk onward on this earth, or whether I am called home. The same is true for those I love. I cannot hold onto them with a closed fist any longer, they are not mine. They belong to God. He created them for His purpose. I am a guardian for those I love. And, if I am ever to survive loss in my future I must hold my hands open. 

The truth is no one was physically created to live forever so we will have  times of separation from those we love.  But, we don’t have to live and grieve as people who do not know. The enemy wants us to see life through his distorted viewpoint.  He wants us to see the storms and disappointments of this life as reinforcement of his deception that if God was so good, He would never allow death or suffering. In this fallen world we have the foretelling that that is a lie. Let's take a look at John chapter 16 verse 33. 

We were not created to be of this world (Romans 12:1) we were created to make a difference in this world. Some of us will walk many years trying to accomplish this and others will do it in a very short period of time before they are called home. This doesn’t mean God isn’t good or that He wants to withhold something good from you. When we view our loved ones as exclusively ours we will always end up where I was back in my 20’s. But when you begin to allow yourself to embrace that God creates human beings for an eternal relationship and purpose with their Heavenly Father, your hands begin to open and your heart will soften. You begin to understand that He has the right to call them to Himself whenever He desires to do so.  Whatever time we are given to share in their life is a gift. 

I am so grateful today for the 13 short years I had with my brother. I thank God that I was privileged to be his sister on this earth. I praise God that we had many, many beautiful moments of humor and love in that short time. And one day through our faith in Jesus Christ together we are going to have a wonderful day of reunion in the presence of Jesus. 

What changed in my heart? I allowed God back in the heart reserved for Him. I allowed Him to show me His Son coming to rescue my brother from eternal death on that day,  I saw it in three ways. The first was through the declaration of my brother that he knew Jesus was The Way. This brings me comfort in knowing his soul resides with his Creator. Secondly it came through a vision of Jesus coming into that burning home and carrying the boys out before the fire ever touched their souls. And finally I was reassured through a dream in which my brother let me know he was ok.  It was a dream that I didn't want to wake up from. I hang onto that dream because it reflects a Father that desired me to have peace as I go on without my brother. You too can have that peace through a heart of surrender. The alternative is living the rest of your days with a heart of anger, bitterness and personal turmoil. It is living with grief that will consume you. It is unhealthy!

This Christmas, let God help you see who He truly is. Open up His Word and let Him comfort you through His presence. Spill out your heart before Him, He can handle it. Ask Him to heal you of your broken heart so you too can be used to comfort others as I have attempted to do today.  Take His heart and allow it into yours. I can assure you this is where the peace that surppasses ones understanding comes from.

Be blessed broken souls. Beauty can arise from ashes. 

In Christ by grace,

Praise to the God of All Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Good good Father by Chris Tomlin

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