LET ME CALL YOU SWEETHEART

 

“Let me call you sweetheart.

I’m in love with you.

Let me hear you whisper

That you love me, too.

 

Standing by my front door, Cecil asked, “May I call you sweetheart?”

“NO!” I replied.  “I’m not your sweetheart.  I’m not anyone’s sweetheart.”

At the age of seventy-six, I had long since given up on the idea of romance and everything it implied.

“But,” he said.  “I think I am falling in love with you.”

That scared me to death.  I didn’t love him.  Sometimes I didn’t even like him.  Though we had been acquainted for twenty-two years, I didn’t really know him.

let-me-call-yousweetheart-1

“Cecil,” I said as gently as I knew how.  “You don’t want you to love me.  I have been alone too long.  I am selfish and stubborn.  I’m extremely opinionated, and I talk too much.”

Love is complicated.  It is incomprehensible, unexplainable, and at times, unreasonable.  It is miraculous and mysterious.  That’s what I think.  Webster doesn’t explain it much better than I do.  He says, “Love is affection and devotion and unselfish concern for another.”

Songwriters and movie moguls paint love with a broad, glittering brush.  They sing:

“Love is a many splendor thing.

It’s the April rose that only grows

In the early spring.”

 

That kind of love is exciting and sentimental, but like the April rose, it can also be fragile and fleeting.  It is amazing how quickly today’s society exchanges one love for another, like an unwanted Christmas gift.  I’m convinced that love is so much more than that—more than a feeling—more than a physical attraction.

I’m glad Cecil didn’t give up on me.  I did fall in love with him.  Why?  Why did I love him?  Oh, I can make a list of reasons.  He was cute, funny, gentle and kind.  He was smart and unafraid of hard work.  He loved the Lord, and the list goes on.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who gave us, perhaps, the world’s best-known love poem, wrote:

“How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways…

I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears of all my life…

And, if God choose, I shall love thee better after death.”

 

Though her words are an emotional declaration of love, still they do not tap its true essence.

An old western song comes closer to explaining love’s reason.  Jim Reeves sang:

I love you for a hundred thousand reasons.

But, most of all I love you ‘cause you’re you!

 

Because you are you!  There are millions of men out there who are cute, and funny.  Why didn’t I love one of them?  Because he wasn’t Cecil!

You!  I love you—the sum total of who you are—more than your curly white hair and infectious grin.  I think that is what is meant by “soul.”  The soul is man’s moral and emotional nature.  It is the quality in him that elicits genuine love—not lust!

What can I say?  My soul and Cecil’s soul reached out and entangled themselves with each other.   Our souls were knit together.  That’s the unexplainable aspect of love.  Have you ever been guilty of asking, “What in the world does she see in him?”  That beggars the question, “What in the world did God see in me.

let-me-call-yousweetheart-2

Psalms 139:13 – 16 tells me that from before I was ever a twinkle in my daddy’s eyes, God knew me.  He formed me in my mother’s womb.  He knew exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculptured from nothing into something.  His soul was knit with mine.  He made provision for my redemption and plans for every day of my life.  Do I deserve it?  NO!  But still, GOD LOVES ME!

Love may be a “many splendored thing,” and it may be like an April rose.  Yes, the beauty and the sweet fragrance of love are to be cherished but love best shows up in our unselfish attitudes and actions.

Notice that I Corinthians 13:4 – 8 (The Message) defines love in a very practical sense.

            “Love never gives up.

            Love cares more for others than for self.

            Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

            Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head;

            Doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,”

            Doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

            Doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

            Puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best,         

            Never looks back, but keeps going to the end.

            Love never dies…never fails.”

 

I hope I loved Cecil that way.  I know that’s the way God loves you and me.  Try it.  It works!

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

 

That’s my Girl!

 

When my Cecil was diagnosed with an inoperable Aortic Aneurysm, we knew, without Divine intervention, his aorta would rupture and he would die.  There were no treatments, no cure—the doctors’ hands were tied.

After a few days in the hospital, where they lowered and stabilized his blood pressure, we came home and played the waiting game.  Our days were quiet, our activities low key.  We lived as normally as possible.  Cecil had calmly accepted his fate, but I refused to believe it.  Surely God would do something.

Untitled design (44)

One morning, after arising, Cecil slipped back into bed with me.  He drew me close and said, “We have to talk.”

Immediately tears began to flow.  I didn’t want this conversation.  It made everything too real.  But as hurtful as it was, I knew it had to be.

Finally, I said, “Look, Cecil, if you die, I’m not going to rant and rail against God.  I’m just going to believe that this is God’s time to take you home.”  Brave words from the comfort of his arms!

He looked at me with such tenderness and said, “THAT’S MY GIRL!”

In the weeks and months following his death, I heard his voice again and again.  “THAT’S MY GIRL!  THAT’S MY GIRL!”  Those words were his seal of approval.

As I struggled with the sorrow of his death, the pain of my aloneness, I couldn’t help but wonder what Cecil was doing.  I knew he was in the presence of the Lord.  Was he relaxing on the banks of the River of Life dangling his toes in the crystal clear water chatting with a fellow Pilgrim?  Did he have any idea of what I was suffering?  Did he care?  He told me I would be all right.  But I wasn’t all right.  Did he know?  I wanted him to know I was hurting.

In my search for comfort, I was reminded of the words of Saint Paul.  In Hebrews 12:1, Paul speaks of a great cloud of unseen spectators hovering over and surrounding us; spectators who have already run the race and reached the goal.

Though I am sure that Paul is referring, first, to those great men and women heralded in chapter 11, who were martyred for their unswerving faith, perhaps, he also includes others who, through the centuries, have run the race, finished the course and arrived safely home.

Untitled design (60)

If that be the case, it is all right for me to believe that my Cecil is one among that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on and that he is aware of my life now without him.  He sees my tears and my pain, but he no longer weeps for me.  He sees beyond my struggles and stumbling, into the recesses of my heart.  He is aware of my deep longing to please God and be of benefit to God’s kingdom.

Every time I successfully take another step toward that goal, I can hear Cecil, with warm, loving approval saying, “THAT’S MY GIRL!  THAT’S MY GIRL!”  I know that’s not as desirable as, “Well done good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of the Lord.”  But for me it runs a close second.

Approval or esteem is one of our basic human needs.  Approval simply means:  To hold or express a favorable opinion of something or someone.

It is amazing how much we long for that broad smile and that pat on the shoulder, to hear those words, “That was great!” “You did well.”  “You’re something else!”

We sometimes go to great lengths saying things we do not mean, doing things we do not like in order to garner a bit of approval, a word of praise.

Significance, recognition, validation, prestige, attention, being wanted, being special to someone.  These are things we all struggle with at times.  However, when we find significance within ourselves, we don’t need so much approval from others.

chair

A genuine relationship with God is the only one way to find true significance within.  When things are right between me and God, I enjoy His approbation – His big smile of approval.

Romans 14:17 – 18 tells us, “The kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.”

The Message says it this way.  “God’s kingdom is…what God does in your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. YOUR task is to SINGLE MINDEDLY SERVE CHRIST.  Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone; PLEASING THE GOD ABOVE you and PROVING YOUR WORTH TO THE PEOPLE around you.”

Are you longing for approval?  God is your source.  Serve Him SINGLE MINDEDLY.

 

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

IF JESUS GOES WITH ME…

I’m really a pretty resilient person.  I have been able to compartmentalize my life so that, normally, distressing situations do not take me prisoner, rendering me incapable of functioning.  I am aware that this balance stems totally from my relationship with God.

However, the past weeks have been so difficult, the problem so seemingly impossible that the shine on my calm demeanor has dulled and my smile is sometimes fleeting.

If Jesus (1)

Saturday afternoon, I felt so sad and tired and helpless. My mind was tangled with all the things that didn’t work and none that did.  I couldn’t see anything good coming from all of this.  But, I couldn’t sit and mope, so I crawled off the sofa and went to the piano.

Now, you already know, from past blogs, that, though I can read the music, I do not really play the piano.  I “plunk” the piano.  Opening the piano bench, I found an old, thin, paperback songbook – “Evangel Songs.” The pages are yellow and brittle and stained.  My father’s name, W.H. Clark, is scrawled in large penciled letters, in the top margin of page 1.  That made me smile. The Book was published in 1931 and cost $ 0.20.

If Jesus (3)

I leafed carefully through the book until I found the song on page 8 – “If Jesus Goes With Me.”  As I began to sing and play, I was immediately transported back to the beginning days of my ministry, when as a young woman having left an assured teaching position I was now trying to find my way into what I was sure was God’s call upon my life.

In my time of need and uncertainty, God sent me a mentor.  This roly-poly evangelist and his wife radiated the beauty of Jesus, and I fell in love with them.  Whenever I was in the area, I showed up at their front door.  They always welcomed me.  Rev. Wood and I sat together for hours talking about God and the ministry.  He shared personal experiences of his own struggles and successes.

If Jesus (2)

One day Claude Wood took my hands in his, and looking me in the eyes, began to sing.

If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!

‘Tis heaven to me, wherever I be, if He is there!

I count it a privilege here His cross to bear;

If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!

It may be in the valley, where countless dangers hide;

It may be in the sunshine that I, in peace, abide;

But this one thing I know—if it be dark or fair,

If Jesus is with me, I’ll go anywhere!

Things thought impossible... (1)

As my friend sang those old words, the presence of God settled around us and His peace filled my heart.  I knew in that moment, as I have known all these years since, that regardless of what the future holds, Jesus will be there.

Sitting at the piano on Saturday afternoon, I felt as though I was, once again, that uncertain young woman looking for an answer.  Then that same divine assurance came flooding into my dark valley, and I knew that God, in His own time, would solve this unsolvable situation.

This truth is not new to me, but being human, I am sometimes overwhelmed by situations and circumstances.  And I am still human enough to want to solve the problems on my own.  I have GOOD IDEAS!  They don’t work, but they are good.  I fuss and fume and try to reason with unreasonable people.  I lose sleep and limp through the days.  I tell God how I want this thing accomplished, and when it must be done.

storm (3)

The reality is, sometimes I cannot help myself.  I can’t solve the problem.

The Psalmist says in 124:8, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Think about it!  That One, who made earth with His outstretched arm, extends his strong hand to you and me.  His reach is long.  It stretches to wherever you are today, both physically and spiritually.

Hebrews 13:6 say, “…The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?” So, my job is to trust Him.

storm (4)

Proverbs 3:5 – 6.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him…”

Micah 7:7 sets us an example.  “…I will look to the Lord.  I will wait for the God of my salvation.  My God will hear me.”

I will no longer look to my own abilities or resources.  I will look to “…Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all…” Ephesians 3:20.

Remember, no matter how deep and dark the valley, Jesus is there.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!