This month–the month of June 2020, we experienced three life griping events: my mother-in-law passed away, our third grandchild was born and we celebrated the birthday of our departed son.
All this intermingling of grief and joy and exhaustion, has brought me to a place, I’ve been before, but do not care to visit often. It is the place where I am at the end of myself, and am crying out to God to, “HELP!” In this place, I am vulnerable to sickness of the body and the mind. Negative thoughts assail me, viruses take hold of my body, and I have no strength to fight.
When this happens, I cry out to God. I tell Him what He already knows–that I need “Help!” We have been told that God helps those who help themselves. We have been told a lie. God helps those who can not help themselves. God is near to the broken hearted. God hears our cries! God answers us and saves us!!
That is what I wanted to share. I have been crying out, “Help!!” and God has been answering me. He has answered through friends and family who have reached out to us. He has answered through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. He has answered through the timely messages of scripture. He has answered in whispers of love and encouragement. Sometimes, I don’t hear His answers–and then I cry out to God to give me ears to hear.
So I write to encourage you, if you are in the same place, or even if you are not–you can cry out to God, and He will answer. He will answer.
“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4: 14-16
So Be Encouraged!!
***Picture was taken in 1997. My father-in-law and mother-in-law holding baby Sean.
Jim Wunder, missionary in Yugoslavia, talks about the spiritual dimensions all around us. If you want to know more about how to embrace the mystery of this while engaging in spiritual battle–this is a great 5 minute video to watch.
My Dad has been in heaven for 10 years – 11 this coming October. On Father’s Day, I was thinking about my Dad’s life and how his story might speak into the current crisis we are experiencing in this country.
My Dad was a State Trooper. He was a policeman. I believe his early life shaped his desire to become a policeman.
My Dad’s parents divorced when my Dad was 10. His parents remarried other people, and his stepfather was an abusive alcoholic. My Dad saw his mother beaten up, and he and his three brothers tried to intervene and stop it from happening, only to be beaten up themselves. When they got strong enough, big enough and old enough, they were able to protect their mom and themselves.
My Dad grew up with a great desire to protect and serve others. He found that desire satisfied in being a policeman.
Yet, in that desire—he had compassion for the people he arrested. He would tell me that many of them would start telling him their stories as they sat in the back of his cruiser—stories of their own abuse from others and from their own hands—of all the ways their lives had led them to this point in time. My Dad would listen, and he would encourage them, telling them that they could make different choices– they could get help–they did not have to be the people they currently were– God would help them.
My Dad had a best friend and partner who would eventually leave the State Police and become a Pastor and an Evangelical Speaker, as the calling to speak hope and forgiveness and grace into others’ lives became a fulltime calling.
So– what is my point—policemen and policewomen are somebody’s dad or mom, somebody’s husband or wife, somebody’s brother or sister, somebody’s somebody. Police officers, like all people, are created in the image of God, and they are loved by God.
Scripture tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but it is a spiritual battle.
In order to properly fight this spiritual battle, we need to use spiritual means. We don’t fight hatred and evil, by using hatred and evil. We rely on God and His wisdom and His resources.
God is all about love, forgiveness, saving and redeeming. If we listen to His words, we become His ambassadors here on this earth, spreading His love and His forgiveness.
God wants us to be aware of what the source of the evil is, and to not give into the hatred. Hatred destroys. There is a movement now, to correct some of the injustices and evil that is being seen in how some police handle race relations, and handle enforcing the law.
Martin Luther King headed a movement based on non-violence. That movement brought about great change in this country. This movement was based on believing God’s Word—that we must love even our enemies.
I would like to close with a video by an interracial couple, I know personally. Dirk and Lorna Johnston were on staff with Cru at Michigan State University when I was a college student. I went to their wedding. They talk about experiencing racism and how God lead them to deal with it—resulting in the transforming power of God’s love.
My mother-in-law—Marilyn— entered into eternity this month. She was 90 years old. I am writing a tribute in honor of her.
Marilyn was such a hard worker and showed her affection in acts of service. She would do our laundry when we visited her, and when she visited us, she would involve herself in a project to better our lives, whether she thought we needed a new rug, or landscaping or a new sink, or insisting that the bubblegum pink bathroom needed to be repainted before her husband arrived, as he would never use it.
When we moved into the first home we bought, she and my father-in-law purchased a new washer and dryer for us. After years of carting our clothes to the laundry mat, I thought I had gone to heaven!! I told my husband, I had nothing to complain about anymore, as I did not have to chase a toddler all over the laundry mat while trying to fold clothes!
Marilyn was an amazing decorator. Her decorating, picking great locations and properties and the passage of time, brought tremendous profits when it was time to sell a home and move. Even though she never worked outside the home, she helped to increase their family’s finances.
My mother-in-law loved her children and grandchildren so much. She did not know how to verbalize that love, but she tried to show that love in shopping for them or taking them shopping. She was a great gift giver. She would often be up all night, the night before Christmas, wrapping gifts.
She threw great parties, and each one was filled with fine food, interesting conversations, and beautiful surroundings.
My mother-in-law was a tennis player, a golfer and in her last years – a pool player. She studied each sport and applied her standard of perfection to each one. Her children inherited her and her husband’s athletic abilities. My sister-in-law played competitive tennis in high school and college and my husband swam competitively in high school and college.
My husband tells the story of how they joined a country club started by the Jewish community in their town, as in the 60’s and early 70’s, the country clubs that existed did not allow Jewish people to join. He said that most of their friends growing up, were Jewish. At a time when many people were self-segregating, my husband’s family was integrating with others.
When my husband and I lost our son Sean, Marilyn was devastated as well. She loved her grandson so much. She was 5 years old when she lost her brother. She told me that her mother did not speak her brother’s name after his death, and she urged me to talk about Sean for the sake of my children, especially my youngest who was six when her brother died.
Marilyn also told me that her mother never went to church even though her father did. I asked if her mom stopped going to church after her son died and she said, she thought that is what happened, although she was so young, she wasn’t sure.
Marilyn was raised going to church, but she did not go when she was an adult.
I had many conversations about spiritual things with her over the thirty years I knew her. She had many doubts, and questions. The Friday before she died, we talked again. Once again, she told me she had doubts—I told her that she could ask God to help her with her doubts, just as the man in the Bible asked Jesus to help him with his unbelief. She told me that she wanted to see my son Sean again, and her family, and she wanted to see God. I told her to tell God that—to tell Him, she wanted a place with Him. I said, God wanted her to be with Him, so much, that He sent Jesus to die for her. She said that she believed that, and she would ask God and tell Him, she wanted to be with Him.
In past conversations with Marilyn, her biggest obstacle to wanting a relationship with God was because of the problem of pain– how could a loving God allow pain on this earth? Marilyn herself was in a great deal of pain before she died. She fought this pain, she hated it, she was angry at it. Ironically, it may have been this pain, that brought her to God. I saw this pain soften her to God and humble her before Him. No longer could she be the self-sufficient woman, who could meet all her own needs. This pain made her aware of how vulnerable she really was and helped to bring down the walls she had erected towards God.
My husband and I had prayed for decades to see his mom, soften towards the Lord, and receive His love and forgiveness, and at practically the last hour, we saw the answer to that prayer.
So, now we say, “Thank You”, to our Lord, and to Marilyn, “We will see you again!!”