Tag Archives: death

The peace that passes understanding…

This week has been one of the roughest from the standpoint of ministry I’ve experienced in a long time…

Two beloved members of our extended church family were called home…. One as a consequence of beautiful old age, the other because of a senseless mistake on a roadway on the part of another driver.  People were not only killed others were injured…  and one of our most beloved young men was missing for the greater part of a week…

Yet, a sense of peace filled the service tonight as Pastor tied up the frayed ends….. it was Pastors grandmother who died of old age… This was one precious woman very, very like my mother in faith and life.  My mother left to be with the Lord two years ago.   How can a Christian find peace in the death of a loved one.  You can when the loved one dies in the hands of Jesus Christ. 

The night before my mother died, she was fighting… she seemed to be struggling in agony… she could not stop moving… could not stop looking around her bed for what turned out to be me… my heart was breaking for her… she was blind so she could not see me in her Earthly eyes… in excruciating pain from every bone and muscle when she moved… but she could not be still… her moanings were to find her beloved son… me… and I was right there.. but she was still unsure….

The doctor in the ER had lost his own mother a few weeks before… He called me aside……

He told me “you may have to give her permission, she is fighting for you, her only son, her only child”.   Reflecting I realized the times she had expressed her concern for what I would do when she passed away. 

So my sweet mother struggled to live at 92 with her broken body for me….

A few moments later after a very intense but short prayer I went to her beside…. I had been up 48 hours…. I leaned over her bed, took her hand… she became calm and looked toward my voice with her blind eyes….

“Mom, if this is too hard, fly home… fly home to Daddy and Jesus… don’t worry about me, I’ll be alright… you’ve taught me everything I need to know….. Just fly home sweet heart if all this is too hard… I’ll be alright”…   I leaned further placing my cheek against her tear-stained and wet cheek…. I lingered there breathing the shimmering air  with her…. just living with her for the last time…. reluctant to leave even though she would be with loving relatives… so I could rest to prepare myself for the rest of the fight.  I then kissed her.  Let her hand slip from mine… when I looked down she had a slight smile on her face… I was suddenly filled with peace beyond understanding…

When I walked away from that room I knew that I had spoken to her for the last time in this life…  And I left my precious mother … the most important person in my life right then in loving hands and the hands of God….

The next morning as I was getting ready the call came.  The nurse told me that I needed to get to the hospital quickly.. I told the nurse….. “just tell me”… “please”…The nurse said your mom is almost gone… she has moments…. if you can get here quickly you may be able to see her alive… some may find it strange that I did not get into a big hurry… for I knew….

You see we have a small dog… a dog that mom loved to sit and pet…and the pup loved her…. as I finished dressing I heard her whining and barking… ..When I walked out into the living room Princess our dog was running in tight circle looking up, as if she looked up into someone’s face… then she rose up on her hind legs and leaned on something invisible… still… for moments…

“Mom are you here..”  I said through my tears, then peace began to fill me… an acceptance I couldn’t explain….. Princess dropped down and I felt wrapped in a warmth like a beautiful blanket as I stood there…. “I love you mom”…. then the feeling changed… I felt a warmth full of love.  Princess stood silently looking up… The love stayed…

I knew my mother had started down that beautiful roadway through green fields to Heaven… I started driving to the hospital and the cell rang…. It was my wonderful friend Connie… she said “She’s gone Honey, She’s gone”..  I said… “I know, she just came home to say goodbye”.   And I believe she did before she went off to heaven down that beautiful road…

When I arrived and looked down on her Holy Body… I knew Mom wasn’t there…..  I knew she was truly gone…. but the love stayed….

And over the next few beautiful sad days I had the peace that passes understanding… because of the Holy Moments God allowed me to share with my precious mother. 

I will have more to say about that wonderful peace in future blogs… God Bless you who are reading this blog… May you too know the peace that comes from knowing your loved ones are in the loving arms of Jesus Christ….

Advertisements

Living

On the last day of the school year in 2010 I survived what could easily have been a fatal automobile accident.   The engine of my vehicle was suddenly in the seat beside me throwing gasoline everywhere including on me.  I had to turn the engine off with the ignition key.  The vehicle I was driving was totaled.  I received minor injuries from the seat belt as well as a fairly severe knee injury from broken blood vessels.  There is no good reason the vehicle did not explode killing me in a fiery conflagration.  I was covered with fuel.  If the engine had ignited I would not be here today writing this blog. 

I’ve spent the time since there coming to grips with what happened.  I have been healing both physically but more spiritually and psychologically.  I do not pretend to have any clue as to why I was spared.  But, I am determined to use the time God has given me well. 

I have been forced to confront so much that has helped me grow in my faith.  This was a gift. 

I am thankful that I am alive to write this blog.

I am thankful that things seem to be working out financially.

I am thankful for everyday I have had since the accident.

I am thankful for, of all things, Facebook that has become both a ministry and a support group for me. God works in mysterious ways.

I am thankful for the kindness of so many friends and family.

I am thankful for the kindness of strangers.

I am thankful that people cared enough to make room for me in their hearts.

I am thankful that the things about which I worried and about which I was frightened did not come to pass.

I was thankful for the first few breaths of air standing soaked with fuel when I stepped out of a crumpled piece of metal with a hot engine on the front seat.

I am thankful that for some reason I was spared what could have been my fate on that day.

I am thankful for the year of teaching I spent last year with incredible teachers, administrators and kids. 

I am thankful that after a long period of being unable to write words are coming back to me.

I am thankful for the mystery that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am thankful for a young man who is named Aiden McGeough in Ireland who may be a relative.  He discovered me on Twitter.  His friendship lifts me up everyday.

I am thankful for Jim Lewis, the Men’s Ministry at Lakewood Church and how much they have done for me that will never know. 

I am thankful to the beautiful people of Cathedral of Praise Assembly of God and their loving acceptance.

I am thankful to the young people in my youth ministry’s who have given me a reason to go on.

I am thankful that I am here now and ready to write. 

Blessings to all….

I remember now… why I became a teacher…there is greatness there

Last week …. horrible and beautiful at the same time…. it was a time of death and of new lives begun….times of struggle and high drama… times when you fight for the mind and soul of a kid…. One more young man dies in an automobile…. 12 graduate into new lives….

There is a time to live and a time to die….   but my dear Lord too young… Dear God.. he’s sixteen… just beginning ot taste life…and having lived more harshly than many adults can imagine…Dear God there is not a mark anywhere, as his stricken parent tries to look at his face, tries to form the word “yes” then “that is him”.   

in life so grown…in death so child-like…as if he is becoming the little child you told us all we must become to enter in…. My deepest soul tells me he is resting in you… the next loving face he will see will be yours….

times to struggle and times to savor triumph… magnificent people surround me….  a team made up of people who were born to do this job….though some wonder if they were….if they are  helping kids grow….  but they are… every moment they spend with the kids….

Gleaming faces as they walk…. diplomas…. tassels…. folders with fake diplomas…. they will pick up the real ones later….

There is a time for sadness, then a time for great joy… and they are separated by only a few miles.

There can be no great sadness but for the presence of great joy.  Great happiness and great sadness are so close… they are so closely related. 

The truth is I didn’t know the boy who died.  But his death moved me nonetheless.  We share in any death because we will all taste physical death.   We know…..  We understand that we will all go that way someday… we will walk that path…

But the death of a young person seems to have such a deeper meaning…. In death a young life that would have been part of the greater story of mankind is removed to early.  We lose their humanity, their love…. We lose the greatness that could have been…  the graduation that was not to be… the life that was not led… then children who were not born… the mountain top moments that were not experienced.  

So this is what I tell young people and what I would tell the graduates. 

Live as if you had 6 weeks…. how would it change your life… what would you do to raise your life to the highest levels in the time you had left.   And to teachers what would you say to classes if it were your last time to speak with them alive… what would you tell them… what part of your heart would you reveal… how would you treat them… how would you love them….

If you had 6 weeks to make your mark on the world, what would you do… what would you say…

And you may have 6 weeks, you may have less… what would you want to get done… but most important what would you say to your children in that six weeks.  What are the things you would teach them… What are the things you would want them to accomplish….

In the eyes of every child is greatness…  In the heart of every child is love… In the soul of every child is eternity…

Please God let me live my life as if my days were severely numbered… as if I had only a few weeks to save a soul or to fulfil my life to you Lord.  Please God let me understand my mortality so I can know what i have left to accomplish so i don’t waste my life on the small things… but on making a profound difference in lives around me. 

Please God let me live my life as if the children you have given me have only a few weeks…. as if I have only a few weeks to give them every kindness, all my love… all my teaching.

Please Lord let me live as if I have no life of my own…that it will one day go back to you….. Let me remember that the last words I say to someone may be the last words they hear… let my words be your words, righteous, just, loving, protecting.

Thankfulness and grace

I turn into the driveway…. all is dark, quiet… the world at peace…. I turn off the engine…. silence

No sound of war… or of crying… no sound of gunfire… of violence… of death…   I look at my home… now going on 15 years being my home…  and I love it… and I am thankful for it… it is there before me in the peace of night…

And I think of the grace that allows me to have it…  the phrase that goes through my mind on this Thanksgiving eve is how did I come to this home… this life… all the blessings in the last year when it seemed that I would sink below the waves at any moment… that a hand reached out to me every last-minute… often unexpected… every time unasked… but a hand came. 

Tomorrow I will feast… too well… in the warmth of family, in love, in joy… what did I do to deserve this wonderful life… a home, more than enough, wonderful and meaningful work, a soft bed, warmth when I need it, cool when I need it… in a moment I will open the door and a little bird will screech its welcome… a loving, devoted dog will jump with joy…

There will be music if I want it…. silence if I want it…. sound if I want it… water when I want it… food when I want it… presently because life continues as it does… with life… and with death… I will be alone for a time… the one I took care of for so long is gone… out of pain, out of sadness… living in a home God created for her where she is living in perfect joy… 

But there are others… a loving family around the world… electrons away from me…  all I must do to hear their voices is cause electrons to move along wires… invisible signals through the air… and they are with me… 

Good friends invite me to join their family celebrations… members of my family call me to come offer thanks with them… I am not alone… I am surrounded with love… with friendship… with caring… so I will be with my family because I need to be with them… what a blessing to be able to choose between offerings from those who love me…

Then I have been given two great churches in which to worship and to serve… to minister… one small… one large… one in the country… one in the city…  both places where I meet God… Both places of great joy and friendship…

When I drove into my driveway… I was 30 minutes from the place I have been given by grace to work… where I have friends I have known for greater than half my life with whom I work… with whom I teach….

The building in which I work is new… state of the art really…  and I think of something else….

That I am one who has in a world where so many have not…. so many will not lie down on soft bedding tonight… millions will not be able to eat their fill… more than there fill tomorrow… millions who could not walk in a miracle where we have ever kind of food to choose from brought from every part of the world… 

And I have to ask why?   ….   Why was I born here in this most magnificent of countries?… Why was I born to the parents I was given?  …. Why do I have friends who are actually friends, who care, who would mourn, who did mourn with me a year ago when my mother slipped away into eternity with the Lord…

Why was I born here and named John?   Why was I not born in another country to parents who would beat me, where I would not have had enough to eat, not enough water to drink, nothing to learn or to hope for and named John?

I was given grace.. it was amazing grace… I was given all of this… why?  Just so I can be thankful?  Just so I can celebrate as across the world 18 children will die each minute as I will laugh tomorrow with my family….

And I think that I was given this so that I could give it away…  to those who are given much, much is expected… 

Father am I giving much as I have been given much… As I give Thanks am I pleasing you?  Do I love my neighbor as myself?   Do I really?  Will you be able to say to me “Well done my good and faithful servant”?  Will you say it?  Will I deserve it?   Oh, Father why am I not the child in the pictures with the swollen stomach whose equally weak mother brushes away flies from my near lifeless eyes….

So how do I thank you father?  Do I thank you in eating myself so full I must rest?  Am I honoring you?  And are there ways I can still honor you?  Father, what can I do? 

When I thank you for the food I will eat tomorrow will I be really pleasing you Father?  Will you look down on us and say well done? 

Oh Father in this season that starts tomorrow help me find some way each day to help someone…  so I can thank you for the opportunity… help me to feed the hungry… help me to clothe the naked…. help me find homes for the homeless…. Help me to find a way each day to do something that will help someone…. to love them as I love myself… for in that is true Thanksgiving…. giving with thanks for what we have been given.  

I lay here on the couch with the little dog laying on my chest feeling so blessed but also feeling that I have been given much and so I must give much… as I’ve done before to find that there was great joy in giving freely and without reservation.  

Please dear Father give me a thankful heart filled with

thankfulness and grace…..