ONE INEVITABLE EVENT

These are uncertain times!  How often have I heard that phrase in the last few months?  The uncertainty brought about by this Coronavirus, and the rioting in our streets, is extremely troubling, but calling this “uncertain times” is kind of strange, because all times are uncertain.

A friend used to say, “Sometimes life turns square corners,” simply meaning, that for better or for worse, we cannot see what the future holds.  We tend to think, that as long as we can go about our “normal” lives, normalcy will continue forever.  When no major disasters are taking place, we are lulled into thinking the future is certain, but the future is not certain and never has been.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  In trying to make his point about the uncertainty of life he implies that, “Death and taxes are inevitable, unavoidable, and certain to happen.” No way to get around it.  We are all going to die sooner or later, and we have no choice but to pay taxes. Well, I guess we have a choice, BUT!   Some joker has said, “The difference between death and taxes is that death does not get worse every time Congress meets.

We don’t like uncertainty.  We would rather know we are going to suffer something catastrophic than to not know what is coming.  While we, of course, are hesitant to acknowledge it, uncertainty is a natural and unavoidable part of life.  Very little in life is constant or totally certain.  We cannot control everything that happens to us.  Life is unpredictable and can change very quickly.

To cope with uncertainty, we try worrying.  We somehow believe that, if we just agonize over a problem long enough, if we spend enough sleepless nights, if we think through every possibility, if we explore everyone else’s opinion, we will finally find a solution.  Of course, none of this works.  Worrying can’t give us control over uncontrollable events.

Truth is, no matter how we try to plan and prepare for every possible outcome, life will still surprise us.

This Pandemic has been a social game-changer demolishing the best-laid plans of people around the world.  Countless events have been postponed or canceled.  Summer Olympics, Expo 2020, school, sporting events, vacations, weddings, birthday celebrations, and even funerals.  Funeral homes and crematoriums have been so overloaded that normal rituals of death and grieving are all but impossible. 

Literally no one has been exempted from the uncertainty of life. 

The GOP’s plans to hold a traditional large-scale convention, in Charlotte, North Carolina, were canceled due to health concerns.  Now, this all-important convention has been reduced to a one-day event with only 300 delegates in attendance instead of 2,500.

It was necessary for Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Beatrice, to reschedule and totally redesign her wedding plans.  She was finally married on July 18, in the chapel at Windsor Castle with 20 close friends and family instead of hundreds of world-famous guests.

You see, no one escapes the uncertainty of life, but it need not defeat us.  We wear ourselves out trying to cope with the many obstacles we face, trying to find answers to unexpected problems, but where do we go when the burden overwhelms us and our inner strength is depleted?  I know of only one source.

Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.”

I Peter 5:7 also tells us, “Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you.”

You need not bear your burdens alone. You can depend upon God’s strength and wisdom to help you carry the load.  AND, please know, there is hope for the future—a time when all uncertainty will cease.  There is a great and glorious, unavoidable, inevitable event on the horizon.  

In the epilogue to Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam,” the poet writes these words.  “One God, one law, and element, and one far-off event to which the whole creation moves.”  He is thinking about the brevity of this life and the inevitable end of the world as we know it.  Tennyson reminds us that our uncertain world is moving toward one God-ordained event that will bring history to a close.

We need not fear the future, for one day Jesus is coming back, and for those who love Him, all the turmoil and uncertainty will be over.

He gave us His promise in Revelation 3:11 and 22:20, “Behold! I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”  Again, “…Surely I am coming quickly…”

The fact is no one knows when Christ is coming, but He cautions us in Matthew 24:44 saying, “…You also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Believe it or not!  One of these days, perhaps before long, Christ is going to lift His followers off this embattled planet, and take us away to live with Him forever, in the place He has prepared for us.  ONE INEVITABLE EVENT!  There is no uncertainty about that.

I WANT TO BE READY!

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

IT’S TIME TO SPEAK UP

I woke up this morning thinking of waffles, that crisp, golden brown, delicious thing swimming in butter and maple syrup.  Yum!

Waffle recipes and waffle irons came to America in 1620 with Dutch pilgrims arriving on the Mayflower.  They have always been part of our cuisine, but I gained a new appreciation for waffles when I lived in Belgium.  Waffle stands or carts were frequently found on city streets.  Batter was waffled right before your eyes and sold by the piece.  You could walk away with a crusty, hot treat munching on it as you strolled along.  Unlike American waffles, pearl sugar was mixed into the batter, and as the batter heated, the sugar melted and oozed in little chewy bits throughout the waffle.  Now that’s a Belgium Waffle!  Be leery of American restaurants that list “Belgian Waffles” on the menu.  They are usually disappointing.

Well, I didn’t have a waffle this morning.  I had my usual fruit and one slice of toast. I have decided that during this time of isolation, I will lose some weight instead of gaining it, so I have cut out the treats.  I guess that’s the reason I woke up thinking about waffles.  Poor me!

However, those thoughts led me to remember another meaning, not so delicious, I grant you, for the word “Waffle.”  There will be no chewy sweetness in this Waffle.

Waffle or waffling implies “the inability to make a definitive decision, or the failure to make up one’s mind.”  It may also mean to vacillate on an important issue, to flip flop, to fluctuate, changing one’s mind from day to day.  “Today I am for it.  Tomorrow I am against it.” One might say, “I have made up my mind.  My answer is MAYBE

  Avoiding expression of one’s opinion often disguises fear and insecurity.  I believe that is what we are facing in our country today.  Many of our leaders are strangely silent regarding the critical issues America is facing.  They dare not express their opinions for fear of repercussion.  Our country has been polarized into two completely opposing groups so different it seems as though they are at opposite ends of the earth. 

All reason has flown out the window, and it seems like no one is standing for the good of this country and its citizens.  Each side just wants to win.  POWER is the prize for the winner in this confrontation.

I have never really been political.  There are many things I do not understand, but I do recognize when this “Land that I Love” is in extreme straits. 

When I watch the evening news and see the devastation in some of the most beautiful cities in America, when I hear that innocent citizens are murdered daily, buildings are burned, those in law enforcement are abused, symbols of our history are destroyed, and before long, if something is not done, we will be told how and when and if we may worship.  I believe it is time to speak up.  If our leaders won’t do it then we must.

We must not be bullied into zipping our lips and acquiescing to the evil around us.  We must not be contented to hide behind closed doors.  We are waging war against the wickedness that rages in our streets.  At least, we ought to be.

Do you know that there are close to 240,000,000 people in our country who call themselves Christians?  That is 65 % of the adult population.  If all those, who are true followers of Jesus, would come together, what a mighty army that would be—an undefeatable army, an army to wage war against evil.

Oh, I am not suggesting that we wave our guns, and confront our enemy with the intention of doing physical harm, for there is more than one way to fight a battle.  I am suggesting that we find our voice, and stand shoulder to shoulder, that we shout the truth, for truth is the only thing that will disarm the lies that are poisoning our land.  Truth is the only way to do battle with those who would rob us of freedom, erase our history, and bring to a standstill life as we know it.

2 Timothy 2:3-4 tells us that it is God who has enlisted us as soldiers, and we must “…endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Thank God, we do not have to withstand the enemy alone!

The Apostle Paul tells us, in Ephesians 6:10-18 (The Message), exactly how to fight this battle.  He says, “God is strong, and He wants you strong.  So take everything the Master has set out for you, well made weapons of the best materials.  And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the enemy throws your way…Be prepared.  You’re up against more than you can handle on your own.  Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued…Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.  Learn how to apply them…God’s word (BIBLE) is an indispensable weapon (His word is truth, sharper than any two-edged sword)…and prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.  Pray hard and long.”

 

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, YOU soldiers of the cross.

Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.

From victory unto victory His army shall HE lead,

Till every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed.

 

Only with God’s divine intervention can we hope to put things back together again.  Are you enlisted in His army?

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

LIFE INTERRUPTED

I have lived by the clock for many years, even after retirement. I thought when I retired, I could wean myself away from a schedule—that I could just do whatever, whenever it felt good. But actually, I am happier, more secure, and more productive, when I have a plan, and I can look back at the end of the day and see what I have accomplished.

So when I awake each morning, I know what I am going to do. Certain things happen at the same time every day. I ride my bike at 12:00 noon, and my meals are prepared and eaten on schedule. The rest of my day is filled with things that need to be done or things I want to do, but there is always a plan.

Then, of course, there are those interruptions. That’s the problem with plans. The phone rings, there’s a knock at the door, and the continuity of thought or action is broken. I must admit that these interruptions annoy and frustrate me. An elderly friend of mine has a way of calling right at dinner hour. I put the phone on speaker and continue stirring, but
my schedule is messed up and I will miss Jeopardy.

I realize that I am being petty when I think about how this Pandemic, which we now suffer, has interrupted all of life. Loved ones have died, jobs are lost, businesses closed, people are angry, children are longing to be back in the classroom, longtime plans have been scrapped (this was my summer to cruise the Danube), and many are lonely.

Few people, if any, will remember outbreaks on the same scale as Covid-19, but history shows us that, although what we are experiencing today is devastating, the worldwide spread of a new disease is not unusual.
My Mother and Father lived through the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918-1919.

Fifty million people died globally, and 675,000 in the U.S. We have not yet reached that mark with Covid-19. So far 585,000 have died worldwide, and 139,000 in America. Covid-19 cannot yet be considered the worst pandemic in history. However, it doesn’t matter how it is rated, it has interrupted every life. The media will not let us forget about it for a moment. They are on the air twenty-four hours a day telling us what to do and what not to
do, and the information changes from hour to hour, because no one is really sure.
I just want to get back to normal, but I am afraid it will be a “new normal” that I will not recognize. I think now of the phone calls I received this morning and this afternoon, the calls that interrupted my writing, and I realize that the persons who called are important and they
deserve my attention. It is tempting to be frustrated, but we must never underestimate our ability to make someone’s day by the way we respond to the interruption. We need to learn to make the most of these unplanned, unscheduled moments. Who knows? It may be the most
important part of our day.
Jesus was constantly interrupted as He went about His ministry here on this earth. In Matthew 15:22-28, a woman came to Him begging healing for her daughter. The disciples had no patience with her. They said, “…Send her away, for she cries out after us,” but she kept asking anyway. In verse 28, “…Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is
your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’”

On another occasion, in Matthew 19:13-15, children were brought to Jesus, so that He could lay His hands on them and pray, but the disciples scolded them saying, in essence, “Go away. Jesus has no time for you.” Verses 14-15, “But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And He laid His hands on
them…’”

In Mark 5, Jesus was on his way to heal a little girl who was dying, when a sick woman came behind him touching the hem of His robe. He did not reprimand her, but said, in verse 34, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” These needy people and a multitude more did not interrupt Jesus’ ministry. THEY
WERE HIS MINISTRY! He came to meet the needs of needy people. Don’t ever be afraid of interrupting Him. It is not necessary to stand on ceremony with Jesus. Come with a broken heart, an ailing body, an empty bank account, a ruined business, a confused mind, a lost soul, or
a lonely heart.

He has the answer to everything that hurts.
Jesus does not consider your need an interruption, for YOU ARE HIS MINISTRY. Jesus’ invitation is found in Matthew 11:28. “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
John 6:37, “…the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”

A multitude of needy, hurting people surround us, perhaps more than at any other time. Don’t ignore them. Forget about your schedule. Put your arm around someone. Take time to listen to his need. Let the love of Jesus flow from your heart to his. The time you spend will be of eternal value. You will make his day.

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

NO REGRETS

NO REGRETS

My sister, who will soon celebrate her 93rd birthday, is sharp as a tack, but she is limited physically.  Because of this pandemic, she rarely leaves her house, and I don’t visit her because I do not want to compromise her health.  However, we do talk on the phone.  Last week she told me that her boys, her boys, who are nearly as old as I am, her boys, who love her exceedingly, do come to see her.  They come to play dominos.  If one of them sees anything in her house that needs to be repaired or replaced, he goes to Home Depot, buys whatever is needed, brings it back, and does the work.

“I don’t want them to do that,” she told me.  “They don’t have the time or the money.”

“Listen to me,” I replied.  “Be grateful they love you, and let them do for you whatever you need.  That’s one thing they will never regret.  They will never regret the things they do out of love.” 

I have learned there is no such thing as a life without regrets.  In fact, regret is a big part of life.  If you live long enough, you will make mistakes.  At one time or another, we all do or say things we desperately wish we could undo.  “If only,” and “what if,” must be the four saddest words in the world.  “If only I had done this or that—we continually try to rewrite history in our head.”

Regret is the most common emotion that people mention in daily life.  It is a conscious, negative emotional reaction to an undesirable situation.  It brings a feeling of sadness, loss or sorrow over something that has happened, or something that might have been.  Regret, and the self-recrimination which comes with it, tends to be a long lasting emotion, almost impossible to shake.

When I left my work and my home in Belgium to come back to the U.S. to take care of my mother, I regretted the necessity, but I never regretted what I did for Mama, because I did it out of love.  However, lest it seem I am painting a self-portrait of a perfect, dutiful daughter, I will tell you that, early on in life, I made some block buster mistakes.  Those mistakes no longer haunt me, because I have committed them to God, but when I think of that time, which is rarely, I realize that I learned a lot about how to live in the future.

No amount of regret can change the past.  Regret is a form of punishment itself, and it is an appalling waste of energy.  You can wallow in your failure and constantly replay it until you are out of your mind, or you can try to make things right, but for the most part, you cannot undo what is done.  You can, however, see your mistake for what it is, try to understand, and learn from it.

I have discovered that, more than things I have done, I regret offending or hurting others by things I have said.  I have a big mouth, and I don’t always think before I speak.  Scientists say that every word that has ever been spoken, since the beginning of time, still hangs on the air waves.  If that is true, they believe that one day we will be able to retrieve from the atmosphere words that were spoken centuries ago.  For example, we could retrieve Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and hear him deliver it in his own voice.

Honestly, I don’t want anyone to retrieve my voice and hear the words that I have said.  Sometimes it may be possible to undo offensive actions, but I don’t believe you can really undo words.  No matter how much you apologize, no matter how sincerely you seek forgiveness, the words are still there to be remembered, words that you regret.

Regret can be a healthy thing.  It is a sign that you care, that you are paying attention.  When you see your mistake for what it is, it is time to do something about it.  It is time to seek forgiveness, not only from the person offended, but also from God.  

Learn from your mistakes.  Don’t allow regret to control you.  Every day is an opportunity to turn your life around, to begin afresh.

Even the Apostle Paul admitted that he was not perfect.  He says so in Philippians 3:12 (The Living Bible), “I don’t mean to say I am perfect.  I haven’t learned all I should even yet…”

In verses 13 and 14, the Apostle says, “…Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.” 

When you have done all you can do to make up for your mistakes, don’t continue to live your life regretting yesterday.  Commit yourself to The Lord, forget the past as Paul did, and live your life so tomorrow you won’t regret today.

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!