It is not hard to see that we live in a world with decreasing standards. I love that I can count on the Bible to give me rock solid foundation for living. In my journey through life toward the city of God, the question I have often asked myself is simply “how can I remain uncontaminated. I can’t speak for anyone else but in my experience, but my road can get really muddy or really dusty. It is hard to keep from getting muddy or dusty at times. And there is only one way that I know of to keep from getting dirty and that is walking according to the principles that God has so clearly laid out for us as a road map, no matter what the conditions of the journey. “Blessed are those who live without blame. They live in keeping with the law of the LORD.” [Psalm 119:1 NIrV]
Ed Nobel talked a lot about habits this past few weeks. One of the important habits is consistently obeying God’s rules for conduct. There are just two basic rules for living. First, have the right attitude toward God. Second, have the right attitude toward man. And where do I learn what that attitude should be? By reading and applying what I read. Psalm 119 is a great place to begin. I have learned that I experience the most happiness and contentment when I learned to become habituated to consistent listening and responding to God in obedience.
Make no mistake. I am not talking about religious habits that make us think that we are something special to God and therefore have a certain holiness by obeying certain rules. What I am talking about is having conversation and action that is without hypocrisy. What I desire is that my will should be brought into alignment with God’s purpose. I want to experience unbroken fellowship with Jesus. Psalm 119 is the possibility psalm. It is really a clear statement of what I can experience when I believe what God says and then walk by faith according to his promises. God promises that my life will be blameless in His eyes if I follow His lead.
All people have the possibility of genuine contentment but few take the right way that God has laid out for us to follow. God has established a hedgerow for us to live within and when we get obstinate and break out of the hedgerow by doing what we shouldn’t we end up with consequences not to our liking. And then we blame God or others.
“And there it was—the star they had seen in the east! It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was.”
We have an awesome God as our Savior. Our American traditional Thanksgiving pales compared with the humbling thanksgiving we feel as we consider once again the love of God that is demonstrated through Jesus. From heaven’s throne to a dingy stable; God sent a gift that never stops giving!
This has been a busy year. It has been a year of elation, sadness, grief and then profound peace, in that order. Elisha [oldest daughter 46] was diagnosed with throat cancer last April. After treatment of three rounds of chemo and 35 doses of radiation, she was declared clear. That was the elation. She was on the mend physically and mentally. Then in September they discovered that the cancer had aggressively invaded her body; brain, lungs and bones. That was the shocking sadness. One month after that she died last Monday morning [11/25]. Eight months from diagnoses to her death. That was the grief. But there is more. That is the beauty of being in relationship with Jesus. Grief is not the end.
Elisha died, we know, in Jesus’ arms. She was at home with Kathe and I during the last six weeks of her life. She had been in a great deal of pain and as she got sicker, it became a maddening balancing act of trying to manage the pain but not kill her with the drugs. Even though some awful physical events were happening during the last few hours of her earthly life, she seemed to be at peace. A couple of minutes before she died she opened her eyes. Kathe stood up and closed her eyes and told her “Keep your eyes closed and just rest.” She did and simply quit breathing, not gasping or struggling at all. Her face was truly beautiful.
Her death was such a marvelous witness to God’s love and mercy. I [Kathe, my wife] tell everyone about it, especially my non-Christian friends at work. Glen and I had continually prayed for her healing, but if not, then to take her home quickly. It was very, very quick. We believe God orchestrated it from the beginning and we are very grateful to Him for His mercy to her and us. Kathe and I have been at the bedside and watched two people in our immediate family die. One a Christ follower and one consistently rejected Jesus. The difference in their deaths is phenomenal. The pagan struggled and seemed to resist death. There was a sense of fear present. Elisha struggle also and then just surrendered. She knew where she was going and with Whom.
What about the profound peace in the face of this? Oddly, we are looking forward to this next chapter in our lives. It is a “God thing.” Elisha is missed and this is a time for us of having moments of grieving. But we also have the opportunity to bring witness to others of God’s amazing grace in our lives. People who do not know the Lord Jesus [and even some ‘lukewarm’ Christians] wonder at our calmness in the face of tragedy. I personally tell people that I feel content. Yes I said content. I am content because I know that Elisha is now healed in mind and body. She is no longer in raging pain that overwhelmed her mind and body. More than that, she is with Jesus. We will see her again. Those who spend their lives rejecting Jesus have a different ending. When a relative died she and I were there during his final hours. His death was so different from Elisha’s. His was fraught with fear because he consistently rejected the Savior’s call right up till the moment his heart stopped. He died without knowing where he was going and to whom he was going to meet. Elisha died peacefully.
That brings us back to thanksgiving. We have a new appreciation for what God initiated over 2000 years ago. Rejoice and be thankful. It is all about the greatest gift known to mankind. And His name is …
Name above all names
God is with us