“I Make All Things New!” Jesus Christ


 
I received news of my aunts passing, early this morning. It was mixed emotions which I had. She had created turmoil in our lives, yet the Lord does use all of these experiences to “work together for good.”
As a child who had experienced, much pain and separation, at such a young age, this particular aunt was the one, whom I held the biggest grudge. That is, until I became a believer, and the Lord healed my heart.
Yes, I was a small child, when I was thrust into an adult world. She was the last stop before the final ‘stripping away,’ of everything and everyone, I held close.
She would scream and yell at me, when I lived with her for a very brief time. I became the scapegoat for everything which was wrong in her life. I had just lost my young brother, and even though, it was quite traumatic for me, somehow I could take the blame for this as well,
I didn’t clean the house enough, I didn’t love my father enough, I didn’t help my mother enough. I had supernatural powers, which every child believes, when they suffer this kind of loss. We take all the weight of the world and bear it for the adults.
Of course, I had no idea, that this aunt had some problems. I internalized everything she said to me.
When decision was made, not to care for us, but to place us in a Children’s Home, I believed that was my fault as well.
Surely, there must be a reason, for all of this.
I shared the quarters with children, who had been physically abused. Some still wet the bed in their teens. Other’s just abandoned. How would I know that I didn’t deserve this special punishment?
My mother, was ill, and she was furious to find out that her own children, seemed to be ‘tossed out,’ like yesterdays garbage.
Yet, her sisters had no idea, what to do, and they didn’t understand the tenacity, which my mother had. This event made her more determined than ever, to recover.
 
Now, as I said, I did not process things as an adult would, so I had no idea, that this aunt had serious issues as well. All I knew, was that I was angry. All the terrible things she spoke to me, and the cruelty of her behavior, only exacerbated my anger, when I was in this home.
But the Lord “is close to those who are brokenhearted, and those who are crushed in spirit.”
Yes, it is true. I had a nurse who I remember, to this day. Rocking me in a chair as I wept, and consoling me with the words, “Your mother will return for you.”
I also remember having a Sunday School, which we went to on the grounds. I was given my very first bible at this school.  I still have it, and have read the words written on the cover many times. “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey, Robert, the Sunday School teacher.”
Yes, we don’t always understand the impact we are having on a young child’s life, when we say and do these things.
But God knew, that one day, He would heal my deepest hurts in a most miraculous way.
 
I became a believer, and I started to see the things which I harbored in my heart, were a stumbling block, to the transformation which the Lord was going to bring about.
I started to pray for certain people, who I knew were assigned to me in a special way. Those who had brought the deepest wounds to my soul, would be at the very top of the list. The Lord reminded me, that I may be the only one praying for these souls, and if not, then the power of combined prayer, would be even more dynamic.
As I prayed, I was reminded that it really wasn’t about, ‘how I felt.’ This enabled me to lift them up to my Father, and release the anger, I had felt.
I knew when I took a step in faith, and this being the act of my will, the emotions would follow. As I could see a changed heart, I would perceive this person differently.
Well, with this aunt of mine, the Lord brought the visual picture full circle.
She had been such a painful part of my past, when my mother had her breakdown. After losing everyone close to me, the last person in my life, who was part of the decision to place my siblings, and I, in the home, was this aunt.
How many years, did I harbor this anger and hurt? I can say, for half of my life.
Then one day, after becoming a believer, it happened. This aunt called me.
Full of fear and extremely depressed, she had come down to my area of the country. She had lost her husband, spent a lot of money, while running, and systematically, ‘cut off,’ the communication with her own siblings and children.
Now she was calling me to come and help her. She had a breakdown and she was in a residence near me.
The thought first came, “Serves her right. The exact same thing has happened to her, and now she also lost her own children, by her own hands.”
How incredible was this, I thought.
Then the voice of someone close to me spoke. “Do you really believe that any of this is a coincidence? I mean of all the places for this aunt to be, in the whole world? She’s 15 minutes away from you? And not to mention, she’s in the same situation as your mother was.
Don’t you think, that the Lord is doing something?”
As much as I didn’t want to believe it, I had no other choice. If I were to plan a revenge, this would be similar, except the part about the phone call would have been played out in a different manner.
I would have instead, answered the call and twisted the knife. “Oh, you say you had a breakdown, like my mom did? Oh,, and you have no children to help you? Oh, and now you are calling me, the one child you tormented and placed in a home, oh so many years ago? Hmmm, that’s too bad. I’m very busy.”
 
No, I knew that this was not what the Lord had planned, when He said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”
I saw this as something He was doing for me. After all, I had been praying for her.
Now, I made the drive to see her. Still feeling the remnants of my childhood anger, I arrived at this little shack of a house. It held a few rooms and a cafeteria.
As I asked one of the nurses, where my aunt was, she told me she was dining in the cafeteria. She pointed to a small,, circular window.
“She’s right there!”
“I don’t understand,” I told her. “Where?”
She pointed again, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It could have been that I was looking for the woman, who had always looked much younger than her age. Full of spunk, a full head of red hair, and wild as a young girl.
All I could see was an old woman with gray, unkempt hair. Much heavier than my aunt, sipping a spoon of soup, while hands trying to steady the shaky fingers, to her mouth, without spilling.
“That’s my aunt?” I was in shock. What had happened to her?
I realized at that moment, that I was filled with pity. I started to weep. All of the desire for any revenge, left my heart. All I wanted to do was give her a hug, and let her know everything would be ok.
Now, I realized that this was part of the Lord’s plan. Not just for her, but for me.
I sat with her, and listened to her tales woe. Knowing that she had been responsible, did not decrease my compassion. She was the ‘Prodigal Daughter,’ and I know that I have been her myself, many times.
So, I continued to grow closer to her, and pray fervently for her over the years.
I had gone up to pray for her since, finding out she had this heart condition.
I found in my bible, a prayer request listed from my church in 1989, for her salvation.
She was so blessed when I gave this to her. Just to know, I had been doing this for many years.
Yes, I have come to realize that the Lord doesn’t heal us, because we deserve it, but because we don’t deserve it.
This is true grace.
I reflected back on ‘Robert, the Sunday school teacher.’ And this experience which the Lord would one day use, for His own purposes. Who knew,if this aunt had placed me in this awful place, that I would be praying over her one day.
Yes, I am blessed.
 
Now, I heard from my cousin, yesterday, that my aunt had taken a turn for the worse.
I called and asked her caregiver, to place the phone up to her ear, so that my mother and I would be able to speak to her.
As my mother gave her words of comfort and love, I marveled at the things our Lord had done. But the ultimate healing is to be with Him. This was my message to her.
I reminisced of the fun times we’ve had and made her laugh  quite hard, as I recounted some of our experiences together. I told her to ‘hold on,’ to these funny memories, as the Lord came for her. Because it is true, the “joy of the Lord is our strength.
At about midnight, I received a message that my aunt had passed away.
I went to tell my mother, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen my mother cry like this. Even at the loss of her mother. Perhaps it is because of the long history with her own sister, and the fact that they shared the same womb.
I held my mother again this morning and was so comforted in knowing that I am with her, when she heard this news.
Yes, this is difficult, but I can say, “Thank you,” in spite of the circumstances. For the ones, who had given to the Lord. My life has truly been changed.
I will miss her, but the one thing I do know in this life, we will see each other again. In a place where there is no pain or sorrow.
Until that time, Rest In Peace, Aunt Dottie!
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Another One Bites the Dust!


Woman, where are your accusers?

The words are often quoted from the story in John 8:7, “If any of you, is without sin. let him be the first to throw a stone.”

One of my favorite stories in scripture, as it points to the hypocrisy of us all. It brings such conviction as we see so many examples which the Lord was pointing out, in one experience.

First we see that the Lord was ready to teach the crowd, when the Pharisees and teachers of the law, dragged a woman into the midst of all the people. “They made her stand before the group.” (v3) As if that wasn’t humiliating enough for this woman. But at closer look we see their intentions were not so much to bring shame to her, as it was to trap the Lord and discredit him before the crowds He was drawing.

So now you see the pride of man, once again, welling up,and the scheming involved with this setup. Well, after all, they were the teachers of the law. And in accordance with the law, any woman caught in adultery, would be stoned. Ahh, this time they really had Jesus. Or so they thought. I mean, after all, if He was the great rabbi, the teacher, He must fulfill the laws, right?

Well, Jesus, being God, fulfilled the whole of the law. Remember, He didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. And now the first question would be, in my mind, “How did they know she was committing adultery, if they were not also sinning, by watching the act? First point and I’m sure something which crossed all of their minds, when He began to speak.

Now, they reminded Him, that “the law of Moses commanded them to stone such women.” (v5) I have to chuckle at this. When I think of these people quoting such things to our Lord. I have had people come to me and speak total nonsense, and even tell me this is written in the Bible. Preposterous words and ideas, never mentioned. They are convinced it is the truth, and I want to say, “What in the world are you talking about?” But I’m human, imagine what the Lord was thinking at times. Not only knowing all truth, but He is TRUTH.

So, He knew what they were doing and “Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger.” (v6) This is right before He uttered those profound words.

What in the world had He written? Whatever it was, it had a powerful message. It was not just the words He spoke, but the fact that He was giving a word picture, in the sand. It was so powerful that as we continue reading we can see, He spoke of the one who was without sin to start the process and He “again stooped down and wrote on the ground.” (v8)

It was at this point that they began to leave, the older ones first.In that order. At this moment the Lord was alone with the woman and asked her, “where are your accusers?”

The law also required two witnesses before a stoning could occur. Now she stood before the Lord and grace was given. “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

What did He write? Many have pondered this, however, I believe the concept of the names and ages of all the men which brought this woman to Him. They were the ultimate authorities of the teachings and the laws. So it is without question that they knew what Jeremiah, the prophet had spoken.

“A glorious throne exalted from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O Lord the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the spring of living water. (Jeremiah 17:13)

I’m believing that these men did not immediately recognize their own blindness, or they would see that Jeremiah had stated their demise, quite plainly. However, I do believe that the Lord, had written something shocking enough that they dropped their stones, and it certainly would have been something which would fulfill prophecy. This would have  definitely scared them, to see their names and ages, written in the dirt. Especially, since it doesn’t seem that the Lord had known them, personally.

The fact that they left, in the order of the oldest to the youngest, perhaps speaks to the fact that He also had written their ages, and as the oldest seems to be the wisest, showed the understanding each had.

 He basically read their mail, just as He had with the Samaritan woman at the well. However, this revelation, brought shame and conviction to these men, in a way which pointed out their hypocrisy, legalism and sanctimony, which they used to destroy peoples lives, rather than to edify them. The beautiful picture is the way our Lord, extended His loving grace, as a means of leading her to repentance.

After the woman has escaped death, He tells her, “now go and leave your life of sin.” He fulfilled the law and showed the way out of this bondage to sin. It was His love, which  had the power to change her heart.

When we look at a ‘religious system,’ we see many who are still in the throes of legalism. Deceived into believing that they can somehow, fulfill the right codes or laws to allow them entrance into the kingdom of God. Our Lord showed us time and time again, this is an impossibility. “For it is by grace which we are saved, not by works, lest any man should boast.”

Although He was very clear when He spoke to the woman,”go and sin no more.” As Paul said, “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1) Yes, he is adamant about the fact that when His grace is extended to us, He also gives us the power to turn away from sin.

Remember the legalist, will turn away from Him. The living water. But to those to whom the Savior has been revealed, grace has come, and with that the power of His Spirit to change the person. Now they can walk toward Him and turn away from the world.

Ask for His grace and He will open your eyes to the mercy He has poured out on you. This is the power He has made available to all men. A release from the captivity of sin.

I made spikes with red paint on them to give out at Easter,one year. I told people, it was symbolic of our Lord and His sacrifice for us. I had a vision of these men standing in the group with stones, ready to hurl them at this woman. In their other hand was one of the spikes, dripping with our Lord’s blood. After having a vision such as this, I wondered, how can any of us be worthy to throw a stone, when our sins have  been responsible for the nails, in His hands and feet?

AMAZING GRACE!