Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Nobody Cared that this guy died.

The stories of the Old Testament kings are fascinating.  Too many people read the New Testament with great delight, but neglect the Old Testament because it is complicated, full of violence, and confusing.  Don't do it!  Read the entire Bible, for there are treasures to be found therein. The following story is found in 2 Chronicles 21. It's the story of wicked King Jehoram.

Jehoshaphat was a good king, but he had a very wicked son, Jehoram.

Jehoshaphat walked with God, slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Jehoram his son reigned in his place.  Their father had given his sons great gifts of silver, gold, and valuable possessions, together with fortified cities in Judah, but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram, because he was the firstborn. When Jehoram had ascended the throne of his father and was established, he killed all his brothers with the sword, and also some of the princes of Israel.  He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.   He married the daughter of Wicked Ahab, and he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.

Bad News

God is always watching.  Jehoram's actions did not escape His attention.  He spoke through Elijah the prophet:

 And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father, ‘Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel and have enticed Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom, as the house of Ahab led Israel into whoredom, and also you have killed your brothers, of your father's house, who were better than you, behold, the LORD will bring a great plague on your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions, and you yourself will have a severe sickness with a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the disease, day by day.’”

Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord

And the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the anger of the Philistines and others, who invaded Jerusalem and plundered the king's house, carrying off his sons (except for the youngest - God's provision so that the line of David would continue) and his wives and his possessions.

And after all this the LORD struck him in his bowels with an incurable disease. In the course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony. His people made no fire in his honor, like the fires made for his fathers. He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed with no one's regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.

He Departed with No One's Regret

Whereas Jehoram's father Jehoshaphat "slept with his fathers" and was buried with his fathers in the king's tomb, there was no honour done on behalf of this wicked king Jehoram.  He departed with no one's regret.

Lessons to Learn

God is Sovereign.  He blessed the line of David and preserved it so that Jesus would be born from David's line.  Yet in this line He included one of the most vile people who ever lived.  

God is Omniscient.  Nothing escapes His attention.  Don't fret about wickedness in the world, or wonder what this world's coming to.  God sees, and knows.

God is Omnipotent.  He will bring vengeance on those who deserve it in His own time.  Wicked men may think they are all powerful, that nobody can touch them, and that they can wreak havoc without repercussion, but a day of reckoning will come.  God may have the bowels of the wicked come out, and they may die in great agony some day.  He is just, and He will do what is right.  There's a part of me that says "YES!" when I read about Jehoram's horrible end.  He got what he deserved.  

He departed with no one's regret.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Second Childhood - A New Life!

“When all my days are ending
And I have no song to sing,
I think that I shall not be too old
To stare at everything;
As I stared once at a nursery door
Or a tall tree and a swing…
Men grow too old to woo, my love,
Men grow too old to wed;
But I shall not grow too old to see
Hung crazily overhead
Incredible rafters when I wake
And I find that I am not dead.

A thrill of thunder in my hair:
Though blackening clouds be plain,
Still I am stung and startled
By the first drop of the rain:
Romance and pride and passion pass
And these are what remain.

Strange crawling carpets of the grass,
Wide windows of the sky;
So in this perilous grace of God
With all my sins go I:
And things grow new though I grow old,
Though I grow old and die.” 
- G.K. Chesterton
I have often thought of reaching heaven (finally!) as being born another time.  A baby in the womb is contented, comforted by the sound of his mother's heartbeat.  He hears her voice as she talks to her family or sings a hymn of praise.  It's muffled and in the background, I imagine, but the sound of her heartbeat is ever near and pleasant.  He has room to move, to kick, to swim, to suck his thumb and stretch and wriggle.
Alas!  It simply gets too tight.  Too confining.  
Contractions begin, and I think the baby must be disconcerted and frightened at the changes.  He has no idea how this is going to turn out.  He feels himself squeezed, pushed, squeezed again.  He feels pressure on his head, and he does not understand why it is uncomfortable, even painful.
Unbearable for a time, then lo and behold! What is this new and wonderful world?  Where moments before his entire world was his mother's womb, now he is aware of space, of light, of sound, of laughter and joy and singing and tears.  All of a sudden, his world has expanded exponentially.
Earth is our womb, our constricted space.  We know very little of what lies ahead.  We near the end of our life here on earth, and we're squeezed, pushed, and squeezed again.  The journey that lies ahead is one that we take alone, just as the baby goes down the birth canal alone.  
Just imagine for a second how big, how beautiful, how wonderful our new life will be.  It's unfathomable.  Like a baby cannot comprehend the new life he will experience outside his mother's womb, we cannot begin to comprehend the new life we will live in eternity, in heaven.  
Know this: it will be amazing.
In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. ~John 14:2-3 ESV
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,  nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reflections on Chronic Pain without Cure

I sit here in my little corner where I spend the first hour of most mornings, basking in peace that is palpable.  Bulova clock ticks softly in the background, like a heartbeat- constant tempo giving me comfort.  The previous owner, a godly lady, has gone before me to heaven; some day I will tell her that I am grateful for the use of her travel clock.  Neither of us will need it in that place where time shall be no more.

Pain is my constant companion.  Sunshine streams in the window, reminding me of the Son Who knows my frame, Who has lovingly given me this thorn in my flesh.  How can I best make use of it?  Lord, show me.

My friend does not understand my longing to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.  My daughter does understand me, but is not yet willing to give up her mom, the Granny to her children.  I love that she wants me to stay.

My life is in the Lord's hands.  He numbers my days.  My heart's desire is to live out the gospel daily, to extol the Beauties of my God forever.

I admit to a twinge of jealousy over those whose life is cut short.  But that feeling, I know, is selfish.  It is better for my husband of 39 years, and for my precious family and friends, that I should remain, in pain, but with my eyes fixed firmly on my Lord Jesus.

Let me serve You well, dear Lord.
     Let me bless Your people in my weakness.
          Let me praise You no matter what comes my way.
You are my Rock.
     You are my Clock.
          Your timing is perfect.
               Your presence is constant.
     In this I rest.
     I am content.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

They Also Serve Who Only Sit and Wait

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,-
'Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?'
I fondly ask:- But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, 'God doth not need
Either man's work, or His own gifts; who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at His bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.' 
                                                          ~John Milton 

John Milton was stricken with blindness when he was only 44 years of age.  He wrote this poem, considering the fact that he was blind, therefore could not do everything he wanted to do.  This is an encouragement to me, as I am stuck in a wheelchair for now, and unable to do the daily chores I am accustomed to completing.

In my words, this is what John Milton is saying:

When I think about how I spend my days in this dark and wide world, and how I am no longer able to see when I am only half-way through my life, I realize that I am expected to use my talents faithfully for our Master's benefit.  That one talent, my being able to see, is useless...yet the desire of my soul is to serve my Master with my sight, as I don't want Him to be displeased with me.
Does God expect me to labour without light? I foolishly ask.
Patience teaches me that God does not need anything.  He does not need my work, and He does not need the gifts HE has given.  It teaches me that to bear this yoke without murmuring, for it is a mild and easy burden that He has placed on me.  In so doing I serve Him best.  
Thousands speed and travel over land and sea without res, doing the bidding of their King.
Milton is rejoicing in the fact that there is no such thing as a 'greatest worker'  - there are only those who serve God, and those who do not. And if God asks that he 'stand and wait' then his service is complete doing just that.

In God's providence He chooses some to suffer great trials and disabilities.  John Milton composed his epic poem Paradise Lost when he was completely blind, by dictating it to his daughter.  Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadraplegic confined to a wheelchair for decades, has had a vital ministry, writing books, painting, and speaking to the hearts of Christians who suffer.  Beethoven composed great symphonies after he became deaf.  Pete Gray, with only one arm, earned the right to play major league baseball.  

I am sitting in a wheelchair for a reason - God has a plan.  I do not believe that this means I can go on a holiday and pass the days mindlessly vegging out in front of the television.  I cannot do housework, and simple tasks like having a shower, brushing my teeth, and getting dressed take more time and effort than I would have dreamed possible.  However, that is no excuse.  I can use the talents God has given me to create and dream and teach; to glorify Him in this situation.

What prevents me from doing whatever my hand finds to do?  I cannot walk, but I can do so much.  I made a list today of things to tackle over the next few weeks.  Lord, help me to accomplish things for Your glory, and to reflect a portion of Your beauty.