Hope in the Fog

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? Romans 8:24

 In the town where I spent my teen-aged years there is a hill we called Mount Pleasant. On most days it was just another rolling green hill. But on mornings when it was perfectly sunny elsewhere, you often found yourself surrounded by deep impenetrable fog.

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Though the fog bank usually was no longer that the short half mile over the crest of the hill, the only safe way through was to slow to a crawl and keep your eyes on the yellow center line. You just had to keep going and it would not be long before you would break back out into the sunshine.

Fog banks come to all of our lives. A single phone call, one visit to the doctor or a short screech of tires on pavement and the familiar landmarks of our world can quickly disappear under dark foreboding clouds. Living in Long Term Care or in the shadow of a diagnosis, can sometimes feel as if life has entered a fog bank from without any end. But  God’s promise for us in those moments is that He will still guide us. He gives us His hope to light the way even if just one inch at a time. God will stay with us and carry us all the way through. When dense clouds close us in we need to remind ourselves that on God’s mountain road the brightest hope is just over the top of the hill!

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The Value of One Life

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?     Matthew 18:26

The world counts success in gaining position, possession or pleasure as something of value. Those who break through hardships to lay hold of a passing prize are loved, envied or hated depending on which side of their battle you happen to be on. They win respect and by that respect are counted as persons of value. From the other side of heaven’s window  the race for value takes on a different hue. While the world pours praise on outward beauty, or physical ability, God treasures the hidden inner value of a soul. There was in fact no price too high to pay for the value that Jesus said rests in the blossom of even one single soul.

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

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Often lost in the whole pro-life/ pro-choice debate is the heart of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the defender of life but we must not be so focused on life beginning at conception; that we forget it doesn’t end at birth. In God’s eyes; life is not only about its opening chapter, but also about its closing lines. The same Savior, who writes down the name of every child in His book also offers to carry each of us in His arms to the very end. Where we stand on the issue of life is not only about what we say, but more importantly is about what we do. How we chose to invest our time and hearts in the lives of others will reap returns for all eternity. What better pro-life statement can we make than to serve the real people in our own small corner of this world from conception to their final breath?

He came and daringly broke through the barriers of shame, hardship and suffering and paid the terrible price on the cross to bring us to the throne of mercy. Jesus came to give value, not to take it. Jesus came to pay a price, not to exact one. As we venture out into another week of busyness, work and struggle we should ask God for His eyes. Only when we ask to look out through heaven’s windows will we know as He does the price and value of the lives around us as well as for our own!

The Value of a Song

I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4 NLT

As we were singing “How great Thou art!” at the nursing home last week; it occurred to me that some of my friends could no longer remember where they were or how they had come to live there. A few had forgotten their children’s names and one or two, even their own. But as we sang that familiar chorus; most had no trouble at all remembering the words as we lifted up our voices in praise.

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As the last notes faded away I remembered that what really mattered was not how smart we were, how much money we had in the bank or where we lived; but in how much we mattered to God. He has given us His promise to carry us not only during our years of beauty and youth but on through white hair and failing memory. His love is an eternal and unchanging commitment. Even when everyone else forgets, Jesus will still take care of us. He has promised to carry us for a lifetime: and no matter where we live we can still sing to Him today!

 

God’s Greatest Purpose is Love

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me please.” And he said to them, “I am Joseph whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Genesis 45:4-5 ESV

Too often the unknown stories of residents in long term care are the wounds left behind by unresolved family differences. But the good news is that God isn’t finished with any of us yet. Remember that as a young boy, Joseph had a dream which got him into trouble with his brothers. Some of us probably think of Joseph’s life as a blueprint for success. We figure that if we can just stick it out like Joseph did,  then one day we will get the great job, the big home or the perfect marriage that we always dreamed of. But the story behind Joseph’s problem was his father’s favoritism and because of it the hatred that his brothers had towards him. But then God intervened.

 

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God’s dream for Joseph was not about his becoming rich powerful or successful. God’s intention was for Joseph and his family to discover that the greatest treasure of all was forgiveness and reconciliation. Though we can never undo our past, we can find a way forward by learning to forgive, accept and allow God to restore us. The separation of anger, distance or even death can be bridged because on the cross Jesus gave his life so that ours could be restored. This morning’s news is that no matter our memories of past hurts or sorrows; God can heal and through forgiveness discover His greatest purpose is love.