Birthday Ponderings…

 

Eighty-one years ago, today, December 28, 1935, I was born in Fort Cobb, Oklahoma.

Daddy took my older siblings through the snow, to stay with the Baggets, and brought the doctor back home to help with my birth.

My mother named me Fayrene after some Hollywood Starlet, of whom she had read.  I don’t know where Ruth came from, but there I was, Fayrene Ruth Clark—fat, little bald-headed baby.  My six year old brother, Paul, wanted to name me Patsy, after his little black bulldog.  Somehow I am glad my mother insisted on Fayrene.

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I am alone today, having just put that same brother on a flight back to Fort Worth.  So, this is a day for reflecting.  I have done a lot of that in the last little while, and after much consideration, I have come to this conclusion:  I HAVE LIVED AN EXTRODINARY LIFE!

Oh, measured by many standards, that would not be so.  However, I am measuring by my standard, and my standard says, considering everything, I have lived and am living an incredible life.

Born into a humble, God fearing home, with church the center of my universe, was the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me.  I laughingly say that I have been in church every time the doors were open since I was two weeks old.  My parents never found a good   excuse for staying home.  We went to church without question.  I was an adult before I realized I had a choice.  By then it was too late for me.  I was hooked!

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I could have been born in Syria, where women have no rights.  Now how would this determined, strong-willed girl survive such a culture?  Or perhaps I could have begun my life in Afghanistan or India, where the state would have determined my religion.  Think about being buried in the frozen north of Siberia, where the name of Jesus is just now being shared.  No! Thank God I was born in America.

In church and Sunday school, I learned that God loved me, and I fell in love with Him giving my heart and life to Him at the age of five.  It was there that I learned to serve singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school, and leading the youth group.  It was there where I answered God’s call to ministry.

Oh, the Blessings!  Chosen by God to serve Him in far off places, I have traveled much of the world.  I think I was born with the wander lust, and God made it all right for me to roam far afield, always with His purpose.  I think of precious souls in places like Tajikistan, Poland and France, South Africa and India, Turkey and Spain.  What a privilege to have touched lives and seen them transformed by the power of the Gospel.

I am thinking of my parents today—parents who loved God and loved me.  They had a limited education, rarely traveled far from home, and eked out a living working tirelessly to provide for our needs.

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In contrast, I have earned an advanced degree, traveled the world, live in a home that is paid for, and, in my retirement years, I don’t worry about paying my bills.  From my perspective, that is pretty incredible.

As a young adult, I dreamed about being important—of mingling with the beautiful people—of making a name for myself.  I longed to be recognized—to be lauded.  Did I ever become important?  Did I ever make a name for myself?  No!  Somehow that desire diminished over the years, as I became more concerned with pleasing God and doing His will.  Oh, I am sure that I am important to my family, and I know, for a brief time, I was extremely important to my sweet Cecil, but to this world……….?

I have stood before royal palaces from Agra to London, from Copenhagen to Madrid, from Istanbul to Monaco.  I have waved to the king of Belgium, watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and wandered the gardens at Windsor Castle.  I am fascinated by the idea of royalty.  I love the pomp and ceremony.  I have followed the life of Queen Elizabeth II since she was a girl, and well remember her coronation.  I love reading about Prince William and Kate and the babies.

Now, in these moments of reflection I am reminded that I am a child of THE KING OF KINGS.   Revelation 1:5 says that Jesus Christ is, “…the ruler over the kings of the earth…”

John 1:12 tells me, “…as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God…”

 In 1 John 2:1, He calls me His little child, and Isaiah 9:6 tells me that the child, who was born to be my King, is also my everlasting Father.

WOW!!!  Now that’s incredible!  Fayrene Ruth Clark Reese, who once longed to be important, is a member of royalty!

Happy birthday to me !!!

The sun will come out tomorrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closer Than a Brother

 My big brother left home to join the Navy when I was seven years old.  We never lived in the same town for the next seventy-three years.  For years we were separated by the Atlantic Ocean and then by the North American Continent.  However, in spite of the distance, we were close.  We wrote, we talked on the phone.  He came.  I went.  As unlikely as it may seem, we were probably closer than our other siblings.

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He was kind of nutty, my brother.  He loved to laugh and joke.  He was talented and funny, and smart.  He had made a name for himself in the world of Opera both in Europe and here in the States.

 

A few days ago, at the age of ninety, he died leaving his sweet wife and son and grandson and me.  I miss Him!  Though we seldom saw each other still I miss him being there.  A certain richness has gone out of my life, and I feel bereft.  The world is a lonelier place without him.

In 1974, when I broke the news to my Mother and Sister that I was going to be a missionary, My Mom said, “Oh, no!”

My Sister cried, “No, don’t!”

I said, “But, Mama, all my life you have taught me to do exactly what I am doing.”

The day that I left her house to begin my missionary deputation, Mama stood in the driveway by my car.  With tears running down her face, she said, “Now you’ll always be alone.”    In a sense, my Mother’s pronouncement was prophetic, for I was, to all appearances, alone for many years, in my life and work and ministry.

Have I ever been lonely?  Of course, I have.  Occasionally, over the years, I watched families and other groups engaging with each other, and for a brief time loneliness threatened, but I had learned to deal with it.  After Cecil died, however, our house was empty and my heart was empty.  I kept looking for him in every room, but he was gone.  Even surrounded by people I knew and loved, I suffered intense loneliness.  It was and still is, perhaps, the deepest pain I will ever know.

goodbye After my sister’s husband died, she told me, “You know, I am lonelier at church that I am at home alone.”  I believe that kind of loneliness is lessened only through the grieving process.

However, I have discovered that there is a great difference between being alone and being lonely.

Loneliness is a painful, negative state.  It is where we feel estranged from other people.  We feel excluded, unwanted, unimportant or unnoticed.  We miss being with someone.

In contrast, being alone can be wonderfully satisfying.  Just ask a mom with young children in the home.  It is where we are perfectly happy to be by ourselves, and relish and enjoy our own company.  I sometimes choose to be alone rather than go with the crowd.  I suppose that stems from the years of having no choice.  Truth told I like my company.  Being alone gives me time to rest, relax, reflect, rebuild and refresh.

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When I was a young rookie missionary, I heard the story of an elderly missionary to India.  In her early twenties, Anna found herself, the only foreigner, in an isolated area of the country working with widows and children.

 

During the day, while she was busy, she was all right, but when she returned to her humble room at night, the loneliness was unbearable, like a physical hurt.

Finally, she cried to the Lord, “God, I can’t bear it.  I’m so lonely I’m going to die if you don’t help me.”

In that moment she felt the warm, comforting arms of her Savior encircle her as though physical arms were holding her close.  She was not alone in her loneliness after all.  That revelation of Christ’s physical presence enabled her to stay the course.  Of course, she was lonely but from that moment, Anna was certain she was never alone.

All those years ago my Mother said, “Now, you’ll always be alone.”

At the risk of contradicting my sweet mother, I must tell you, “NEVER, never in all these years, have I ever, for one nanosecond, been alone.”

Yes, my brother and I were close, but Proverbs 18:24 tells me I have a friend “who sticks closer than a brother.”  He is a friend with whom I can share my greatest need and my darkest secret.  He hears my cries and feels the pain of my loneliness.

In Hebrews 13:5, He Himself said, “I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.”

Please know today, no matter what you suffer, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW