SWINGING ON A STAR… My Little Sister

Two weeks ago I moved my little sister from her home of forty-five years to an Adult Care Home.  Miraculously, she went without a murmur.  Now I am cleaning out her house and getting it ready for sale.  It is a sad, sad time for both of us.

There has been no time to think about my blog, so I have decided to recycle one of my favorites:  “YOU COULD BE SWINGING ON A STAR.”

You will understand that lately, at least emotionally, I haven’t been doing much star swinging.  I have been muddling around in stark, painful reality, but I am reminded continually—God is there.  Even in these circumstances, I can sit with Him “…in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  I am hanging on to the stars!!!  You can hang on with me.

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YOU COULD BE SWINGING ON A STAR

“Would you like to swing on a star

Carry moonbeams home in a jar

And be better off than you are

Or would you rather be a…”

 

Swinging on a Star” was an academy award winning song, in 1944, when WW II was in full swing.  Burke and Van Heusen, song writers for Bing Crosby’s forthcoming movie, “Going My Way,” were told to write a song that amounted to the Ten Commandments with a rhythm section.  The producers wanted to positively influence the viewing audience to a better way of living.  That’s pretty amazing!  Don’t you think?

The premise of the song is that we can be satisfied with who we are never aspiring to be better or to do more.  The cute and entertaining lyrics give us a choice.  We can choose to be like the stubborn, stupid mule, the fat, lazy and extremely rude pig, or the slippery, aimless fish.  Or we can shoot for the stars and become more than we ever dreamed.

Most of us have had and still have dreams, many of them not yet realized.  And, sadly enough, for one reason or another, some of our dreams will never come true.

We dream of establishing families and homes and careers.  We dream of wealth and conquest.  We dream of scaling mountains and sailing seas of writing books and composing songs.

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As a young girl, I dreamed of handsome suitors, and bouffant wedding gowns, of sweet, plump, cooing babies, and a preacher husband with whom I would captivate the multitudes.  I dreamed, also, of becoming a famous writer with a vast following.

In fact, I spent the first half of my life just yearning to be noticed—to feel important.  I wanted to be included, to be one of the “in” crowd—the popular bunch.  I was raised by Godly parents, who did not allow me to participate in many things my peers enjoyed.  Consequently, I sometimes felt that I was on the outside looking in never part of what was really happening.

]Looking back, now, I realize that many of my young dreams, dreams that are common to most little girls, never came true.  A bit of sadness comes with that realization.  Yet, those unfulfilled dreams were replaced with bigger, better almost unimaginable goals.  When you can’t have what you think you want, you don’t give up and do nothing.  You fasten your hopes on something else.  I was taught to be strong and determined, enterprising and energetic.  My Mom was not the “giving up” type, nor am I.

\When that groom and bouffant wedding gown didn’t materialize, I knew I couldn’t sit down and quit, so I concentrated on my education and got on with my life.  I fastened my heart and mind on a new dream—a new hope.

Psalm 39:7 says, “And now, Lord, what do I wait for?  My hope is in you.”

When Christ truly became the center of my life, my hopes and dreams changed.  Being noticed, being important, being in the limelight didn’t matter so much anymore.  I hitched my wagon to the stars and sang the old song, “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord. I’ll be what you want me to be.” And that’s exactly what I did!

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I must tell you that I have been swinging on a star for close to fifty years.  I have never aspired to be an astronaut exploring the far reaches of space, but God has blessed me “…with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Eph. 1:3.

I have never been invited to the White House or Buckingham Palace, but every day I worship at the throne of Almighty God, and I speak daily with The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I will not be satisfied with the status quo, because, even at the age of eighty with diminished physical strength and glaring family needs, I believe God yet has bigger and better things for me.  I’m excited!!!

Here is the message.  YOU HAVE A CHOICE!  Like the stupid, stubborn mule, you can spend your time kicking and braying at the inequality of life.  You can, like the rude pig, snort around in the slop of this world searching in vain for some satisfying morsel, or like the slippery fish, you can go with the flow aimlessly swimming to and fro eventually snagged by  some fisher’s hook.  Don’t you know?   God has something better for you.

“You can be better than you are.

You could be swinging on a star.”

Eph. 1:3.  “How blessed is God! And what a blessing He is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in Him.”

THE SUN WILL COME 0UT TOMORROW!!!

 

 

LOVE DOESN’T WANT WHAT IT DOESN’T HAVE

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Hebrews about that peculiar kind of love that Christians have for each other said, “Let brotherly love continue.”

In keeping with Paul’s admonition concerning Christian love, I want to latch onto the coattails of last week’s blog and examine another characteristic of this unique love.

“…love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have…” I Corinthians 13:4.  (The Message)

The New King James says, “…love does not envy…”

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I was amazed to find that the word “envy” encompasses a broad spectrum of negative emotions that crop up in our relationships.

ENVY is that resentful desire for the same thing that someone else enjoys.  Envy also speaks of MALICE—the desire to see another suffer. (It serves him right!)  Then, there is the holding of a GRUDGE—a deep seated resentment toward another, and Jealousy is an intolerance of a rival—suspicious and distrustful.  PIQUE is also implied simply meaning to purposely arouse anger and resentment.

That’s a pretty ugly picture, isn’t it?  We declare that we love one another, and yet we fall easily into these traps of resentment, of jealousy, of suspicion.

When I was a little girl, Mama took me and my sister shopping just before Easter.  We went to the local Woolworth, five and dime store.  There displayed in row after row were the most gorgeous Easter Baskets all dressed up in colored cellophane and big puffy bows.  Mama was there to buy buttons or some such thing not realizing the temptation that awaited us.

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My little sister stopped dead in her tracks in the aisle and said, “I want that one.” Even now it hurts to remember that Mama couldn’t buy it.  When every penny counts, even a little bit is too much.  There was no way to explain that to a child, and the tears flowed freely.

As adults, we sometimes behave in the same way wanting things we cannot have.

When I finished my missionary assignment in Europe and returned to the good old USA, I was determined to buy a house.  I wanted to live like real people.  I guess you could call that “envy.”  I drove up and down the streets near our church—streets lined with beautiful, old custom built homes.  I didn’t hate the people who could afford to live in those houses.  I just wanted what they had.  I wept knowing there was no way I could buy one with my income. The longing was like a physical pain.  Only when I surrendered that desire to the Lord was I able to rent a lovely apartment, and live happily in it for eighteen years.

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“Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.”  I find that really hard in a world where we are constantly bombarded by a plethora of available things.  The shopping networks offer easy pay.  It only costs $11.00 a month for the next @#$%^& months.  I must admit that I am tempted by the advertisements for walk-in bath tubs.  At my age, that would be a sheer pleasure.  Then I read the fine print.  You pay only $50.00 a month for the next nine hundred years.

In my first job as a school teacher back in 1960, I received a salary of $280.00 a month. My rent was $80.00 and I had a $50.00 car payment.  Oh, for the good old days.

One day I answered the door to a pots and pans salesman, who was determined to sell me his wares.  Foolishly, I allowed him in.  He made a beeline for my little kitchen and began to examine my cookware.  My Mom had given me what she could—a cast iron skillet, a couple of mismatched sauce pans, a muffin tin and a cookie sheet.  For some reason this intruder found that hilarious.  Yes, he talked me into buying an expensive set of cookware that came with a free set of “fine” china.  Did I want it?  Yes!  Was it a wise thing to do?  No, and I knew it before I finished signing the contract.

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“I’ve changed my mind,” I said.  “I can’t afford this” The salesman reached across the table and picked up the contract.  “Please tear it up,” I pleaded.  He laughed and said, “Your merchandise will arrive within the week.”

When it arrived, I loaded it in the car and took it to the freight office, and sent the pots and “fine” china back to the company C.O.D.—cash on demand.  I knew I couldn’t afford it.

How does wanting things we do not have relate to our Christian love for each other?  I believe our unfulfilled desires rob us of contentment causing resentment, which in turn affects our attitude toward life in general and fellow believers in particular.

In Philippians 4:11, the Apostle Paul says, “…I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”

 

Remember—the sun will come out tomorrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

LOVE CARES MORE

I Corinthians chapter thirteen is a glorious hymn of praise in honor of Christian love.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul, from a heart burning with the love of Christ, eloquently expressed the characteristics of this special kind of love.   He tells us that it is absolutely necessary—it is eternal, and it is greater than anything else.

I just finished reading this chapter both in the New King James and in The Message.  I am captured by the poetry of Brother Paul, but at the same time, I am appreciative of the plain forthrightness of The Message.

In verse 1, the New King James says, “Love suffers long and is kind…” 

The Message puts it this way.  “Love never gives up.  Love cares more for others than for self…”

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I have experienced that kind of love, first from my mother, then from God.  God has always loved me, of course, even before I was formed in my mother’s womb.  But, I was aware of Mama’s love first of all.

Mama was the strongest woman I have ever known.  I believe her strength came from her suffering, for regardless of pain and sorrow she flexed her spiritual muscles, and determined never to give up.

At the age of twenty—one, Mama lost her firstborn.  Baby Levi, just shy of his third birthday, succumbed to infantile paralysis, and two year later she laid her young husband of six years to rest.  She went to work, chopping cotton, sewing, cleaning, and doing laundry—anything to take care of her two remaining babies.

Mama always cared more for others, especially her family, than for herself.  I know there were times she did without, in order that we have the necessities.

When I graduated from high school, I wanted so much to go away to Bible College, but there was no money, so I went to work.  Hour after hour, day after day, I sewed pockets on pajamas for Sears.  BORING!  I was guaranteed $ .75 per hour, but I was fast—I was good.  I could do twice my quota, so I made $60.00 a week.

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From that $60.00, I gave my parents $15.00 to help with expenses and I paid my tithes.  I saved $1,000.00 that year, and in September, I boarded a Grey Hound bus and zoomed off to Waxahachie, Texas.  After two years, my $1,000.00 was more than used up, and end of term, I came home owing a school bill.

I tried all summer to get a job, but nothing was available, and I couldn’t go back until my debt was paid.  However, I kept preparing for my return hoping that a miracle would happen.

One morning, My Mom disappeared and was gone for a couple of hours.  No one knew that she had walked to the bank.

She went to the bank to ask for a loan.  She had no collateral except our old house, and I know she wouldn’t risk our home.  On her good name alone, think of that, she borrowed enough money to pay my debt and to get me started on a new term.

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She put her arms around me and, with tears in her eyes, said, “Pack your bags, you’re going back to school.”

 I have no idea how my mother ever paid back that loan.  I know that it took a sizable chunk out of my parent’s limited income.  Again she had proven her love caring more for others than for self.

My older brother started preaching as a nineteen-year-old evangelist, but he had no money and no way to get to his first revival.  Mama sent him $50.00 from the cotton she picked or the houses she cleaned.  In 1949, $50.00 was a fortune.

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My brother preached and is still preaching, for sixty-eight years, and I served in active ministry for nearly fifty years largely due to My Mother’s godly love.  No doubt, my Mom will share in any reward we receive.

That’s the kind of love the Apostle Paul was talking about.

Now I am thinking of another debt I owed.  The song says,

“He paid a debt He did not owe.

I owed a debt I could not pay.

I needed someone to wash my sins away.

And now I sing a brand new song: “Amazing Grace.”

Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.”

When I started teaching school, I determined to send my Mama $50.00 a month for the sacrifice she had made.  I did that long after the debt had been paid.  In a sense, I paid her back, but she didn’t ask for it.  She didn’t expect it.  She did it because she loved me.

There is no way I can pay Jesus back for loving me more than He loved His very life, but I can follow His example.  I can quit pampering myself and allow His love to flow through me to a needy neighbor, a family member, a suffering world.

The sun will come out tomorrow