Wednesday, August 31, 2011


It was 3 0’clock in the morning.
 I startled myself wide awake.
The picture of his dying breath; a smile on his face,
as a kiss lingered on his lips.

The DVD keeps playing in my mind.
 Pictures from yester-year; from yester-day.
 scenes from our life,
 randomly scrolling across the screen.

Children sitting on Daddy’s lap,
 laughing and smiling for the camera
 as they blow out the birthday candles.

Children sitting on Daddy’s bed,
 holding out cupcakes and Mtn. Dew.
 The oxygen machine breathes softly into his nostrils,
 the bedside tray across his lap,
 the hospital bed, the only way he can move.
 Children sitting beside him
 smiling for the camera for Father’s Day.

The soccer coach. Tall and handsome.
Teaching young men how to dribble a ball
 and how to live their life.

Teaching children.
 Reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.
Teaching them to love, and be loved.
 To laugh. To smile. To cry.

A picture of a friend.
 A friend who was kind and gentle.
 Always caring, always hoping, always patient,
 always faithful. 

 A friend who became a husband.
The words inside her wedding band,
engraved forever on her heart,
 “All my love, forever.”

Picture his wife sitting at his feet
 putting socks and shoes on his swollen feet.
 As she ties the shoes,
 a tear falls down her cheek as she says in her heart,
 “It’s an honor to serve you.”

A picture of serving.
 No matter the hour, no matter the day, or the need.
 He considered it an honor.

Sitting in a wheelchair
 confined by his own body.
 Trapped inside of legs and arms
 that won’t listen to him anymore.

 When asked “How are you?”
 he answers, “Pretty good, how are you?”
 On an especially difficult day,
 one might hear him say,
 “Pretty good, I guess.”
 Those who knew him well knew
 he was especially frustrated.

Picture a father and friend
 walking on the shore.
 Bending over to examine sea shells
 and wave battered stones.
 Finding beauty in each one.

 Showing his children
 and those he loved
 how to love life.
 Tender, gentle, and kind.
 Finding beauty in each one.

He taught so many how to love.
 How to love as Christ did.
 As only Christ could.
 He seldom used words to teach.
His life spoke loud enough.

A picture of a terrible day.
Filled with peace.
 A funeral. Filled with hope and love.
 Death filled with comfort.
 Tears that wash away pain. Songs that bring healing.
 A picture of a beautiful day.

Pictures of family and friends.
 Cousins and grandparents, aunts and uncles.
 Moms and Dads.
 Holding hands around the Table.
Father, we thank you for this day.

The music continues to play.
 The songs scroll along with the pictures.
 The words echo in my mind as the melody plays.
 The notes gently playing on the keys of my heart.

I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering
There will be a day with no more tears,
 no more pain, and no more fears.

 Be still,
O restless soul of mine.
 Bow before the Prince of peace.
Let the noise and clamor cease.
In a place of quiet rest.
Near to the heart of God

Be still.  
Be speechless.
Be still and kiss the rain.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Patient Endurance

.....Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith....Heb.12:1,2
First of all, the race is marked out for us, set before us. We don't need to know the course ahead of time, we just need to know that if we just keep our eyes open and move forward, we will know where to go. We must fix our eyes on Jesus. Second of all, we know that the author and finisher has gone before us. We need not look anywhere else. No one knows better what path to take but He who not only designed the course, ran it himself, and now waits at the finish line. Don't you want to hear from the author and finisher, Jesus, when you get to the finish line? I want to hear him say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
"I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the Island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." Rev. 1:9 The author and finisher sometimes takes us to an island called Patmos in our race. Is the island of Patmos simply a 'water stop'? A port-a-potty stop? Hospital Hill? (I'll never forget hospital hill. Mile 12 of the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon. The hill feels like it's a mile long, and it goes right up behind Mary Washington Hospital. Half way up, the runners pass a huge sign on the right pointing to the entrance to the emergency room.) Could it be when we face an illness? Lose a job? Lose a loved one? Whatever Patmos is, it is merely an island in the big sea of Life. And the author and perfecter has already been there. He has gone before us. He is the One who laid out the course, ran it, then sat down at the right hand of the Father to cheer for us as we run the race. Somehow I picture He and the Father and the Spirit standing up to cheer, especially when we conquer challenges like Hospital Hill or the Island of Patmos. I can picture the three of them cheering, calling me by name. I feel the Spirit in my body giving me strength to run. His hand on by back gently pushing me, and in my legs reminding me that those who hope in the Lord will feel new strength, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint. (Is. 40:31) I hear the voice of Jesus, the author and perfecter calling to me, "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for you souls." Mt.11:30 Oh, that sounds so good. Rest for my soul.
So what is patient endurance really? In Revelation, John refers to himself as our companion and brother in the 'suffering and kingdom and patient endurance' that are ours in Jesus. I think this means we share these three with John because of our belief in Jesus. The suffering, the kingdom, and the patient endurance are all ours. Jesus said to the church of Philadelphia, "since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole earth to test those who live on the earth." Rev. 3:10. Later in Revelation, John writes that when the beast of the sea is given power by the dragon, he will make war against the saints and conquer them. He is given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. All whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life will worship the beast.  John writes, "this calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the  part of the saints. Rev. 13:10. Again in Rev. 14, John calls for patient endurance from the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. We are told there is no rest for those who worship the beast or anyone who receives the mark of his name. Remember Jesus said, "I will give you rest."
Check out what Paul and Timothy say to the church of Corinth in 2Cor. 1:6. "If we are distressed it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer." What is Paul talking about? Is this the same patient endurance spoken of in other places in scripture? What were they, or are we being called on to patiently endure? Look ahead a few verses to 8,9,10. "....we were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope.
Set our hope. The race that is set before us. Hope is set before us as we fix our eyes on the author. The race, the course is set. Marked out for us. If we are going to make it to the end, to see the finish, to run the course that is set before us and see the finisher of our faith, we too must patiently endure, and we must rely on God. Only then will we find His rest.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


     The words don't come as easily. The thoughts don't flow like they once did. What once seemed natural like breathing has stopped. Fritz has passed from life to death to life. I now have a choice to make. To breathe or to flat line.
Remember the water stops? Runners who need to be re-hydrated? Some elite runners thinking they are invincible, running right on by without stopping; their bodies accustomed to intense physical training. Are they the ones who win the race? Are they the overcomers?  What about those who quickly hydrate along the way, recharged and refueled, ready to tackle the next mile. Are they the overcomers? Many are not very serious to begin with. They have not disciplined themselves to train, and the only goal they have is to finish. Stopping to take their water, they look forward to the chance to stop and drink it, happy to rest while walking.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time. Just one goal- finish the race. Get to heaven. Doesn't matter what it looks like along the way, a long as when its over, you don't go 'there'.  A few people don't make it. You see them lying in the road, collapsed from muscle cramps, exhaustion, or dehydration. The ambulance workers tend to them, carrying them off the race course on a stretcher.
Remember the woman at the well? She was not an elite runner by any stretch of the imagination. She was not disciplined enough and had made many mistakes along the way. But she was consistent at least. She came to the well everyday, and she knew how she should live if she really wanted to do things right. She knew what the law said. Because she knew the law, she thought she wasn't good enough. She thought she was a failure. But she didn't give up; she kept trying. She kept coming to the well everyday for water. At least she knew what she needed when she was thirsty. She was a good runner, until one day Jesus deliberately interrupted her life, giving her living water so she would never be thirsty again. She realized she is good enough. She is not a failure and she is an overcomer. Her discipline, her weakness, her failures, and her ability to believe Jesus' words are what made her an overcomer. She became a great runner.  When Jesus changed her identity as a sinful woman to an overcomer she passed from death to life. She became more than a conqueror.
Our friend John wrote in his letter to the church, "we know we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers....this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." (Jn. 4:14) It wasn't enough for the woman to know who He was, she needed to allow Him to change her life. To believe Him and obey Him and be changed by Him. She drank the water. Her identity was changed. She went back to those she knew and loved them like never before by allowing them to see the change in her life that was a result of her encounter with Jesus. She believed she was more than a conqueror. Because of her new identity in Christ, she was transformed by the renewing of her mind. She knew, as we are told in Romans (5:15-21) the gift is not like the trespass. The trespass brought death to many, but the gift that came by the grace of one man, Jesus Christ, the living water, overflows to many. The gift, the water, followed many trespasses and brought justification, new life to all who will drink it. Where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The scripture says, offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life. The woman at the well offered herself to God as one who had been brought from death to life. All the runners are given the same choice. Run hydrated or hardly run. Run like you're thirsty. Live or die. Die like you're living or live like you're dying. Drink the water or pass on by. Drink the water and be changed, or flat line. Tasteless. Lifeless. Breathless. Flatlined.
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. If God is for us, who can be against us? Christ Jesus, who died- more than that who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. For me! Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Who shall separate me from Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, we face death all day long! All the runners face death with every step, and with every breath. No matter what we bring with us to the well or what we have to draw the water with. We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Neither death nor life....nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28-39