The Free Gift

Resurrection Sunday will be on April 4, 2021. As it nears, I sense, deeply within, the death and resurrection of Christ once again.

But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

During seasons of Lent, I do not give up anything physical as many do during this time before “Easter Sunday.” I actually desire to dwell in the Word, Christ’s dying and His death, and His resurrection. Christ went to the Cross carrying all of my sins with Him, nailing them to that Cross, just as He was nailed there, nails through the palms of His hands, through His feet. He took my place. Although He nailed my sins to that Cross, I am still a sinful human being. I still do, think, and feel things that are of that original sinful nature.

“But Jesus took them. That is what you said, didn’t you?” you might be thinking to yourself.

Yes, He did, but that does not leave me to never sin again. I do sin still and always will…until I die. BUT…I am forgiven and have been given the gift of His mercy and His grace. I know that I have sought Christ as my Lord and Savior, receiving Him into my life. I have sought His forgiveness and He has forgiven me. I know that I am His and He is mine.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the One Who was to come. Romans 5:12-14

Jesus Christ is the Second Adam. He was the One Who was to come. And He is yet to come once again, the Second Coming! Hallelujah! He will come to take me Home if I have not already left this earth via death.

This chart below really clarified that which I sort of know but now know better:

There are two Greek words from Roman 5 that I am pondering this day: trespasses/transgressions and gift. Through these words, I see more clearly the gift Jesus gave to us by His death on the Cross.

παράπτωμα

paraptōma

(Some Bible versions use “transgressions” while others use “trespass.”)

  1. to fall beside or near something
  2. a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness
    1. a sin, misdeed
  3. a side-slip (lapse or deviation), i.e. (unintentional) error or (willful) transgression:—fall, fault, offense, sin, trespass.

I transgress. I fall. I offend another. I trespass upon another by not living correctly, and not being a light in this world. I sin.

Yet I am forgiven.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that One Man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the One Man Jesus Christ. Romans 5:15-17

χάρισμα

charisma

  1. a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own
  2. the gift of divine grace; the economy of divine grace, by which the pardon of sin and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration of the merits of Christ laid hold of by faith,
  3. the gift of faith, knowledge, holiness, virtue
  4. the economy of divine grace, by which the pardon of sin and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration of the merits of Christ laid hold of by faith
  5. grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit

Merriam-Webster Dictionary included the following: The Greek word charisma means “favor” or “gift.” In English, it has been used in Christian contexts since about 1640 to refer to a gift or power bestowed upon an individual by the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church. (This sense is now very rare.) The earliest nonreligious use of “charisma” that we know of occurred in a German text, a 1922 publication by sociologist Max Weber. The sense began appearing in English contexts shortly after Weber’s work was published. Today’s English definition of charisma is: A rare personal quality attributed to leaders who arouse fervent popular devotion and enthusiasm; n. Personal magnetism or charm.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Jesus came to die in my place, giving His all to save me from going to hell where I would be separated from God for eternity. Had I not accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at age 45 (or at any age, for that matter), I would have been living this life on earth away from God (which I truly did for the first 45 years of my life, although I did not understand that reality during those years). Then that would have extended for all of eternity. Oh my! But I have been forgiven! Thank You, Jesus.

Christ, the Righteous One, the sinless One, gave Himself to die for my sins….your sins, my friend.

Hallelujah!

Romans 5:12-17

Thank You, Jesus, for loving me, for drawing me to Your breast. You have given me life through Your death on the Cross. You paid the ultimate price for one such as I, for many such as I. Thank You, Lord. By Your righteousness, Jesus, You justified me, acquitted me of my sins, pardoned me of all my unrighteousness. Thank You does not even say all that I feel in my heart towards You, for You are The Gift that God gave to me so that I may drink from the Living Water and eat the Bread of Life forever and for always. You are my life. I am with You forever. While saddened that You had to die for me, I am rejoicing in You for the hope, the love, the grace, the peace, the faith, and the life I have in You. I am decreasing in this life while You increase in my life. I cherish You for You are my Gift. You are the Light of my life. Thank You, my Lord. I am so grateful to be Yours. In the Holy Name of Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Photos and Graphics:

Romans 5:8 @ Flickr/Joshinpowers

Adam – Christ @ Bible Book Club

Purple-Wrapped Gift @ PublicDomainPictures

Cross/Romans 5:12-17 ~ created by me @ WordArt

Lighted Gift @ FreeImages/Tracey Brown

To Covet; Not to Covet

“I covet your prayers.”

I have heard this sentence uttered many times.

Then there is the Tenth Commandment:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17

So what does to covet mean? How can I be obedient to God yet still covet someone’s prayers?

Of course, that leads me on a word study!

In the Hebrew:

חָמַד

ḥāmaḏ, châmad

to desire, take pleasure in, delight in, to delight greatly, desire greatly, to lust

From the very beginning, the word, covet, was used in different ways.

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6

Looking closer at this Hebrew word in the two contexts:

More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Psalm 19:10

For He grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him,
and no beauty that we should desire Him
. Isaiah 53:2

Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
…. Proverbs 6:25

They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them away;
they oppress a man and his house,
a man and his inheritance.
Micah 2:2

And then in the Greek:

ἐπιθυμέω

epithymeō (Key word)

to set one’s heart upon, to have a desire for, to have a longing for (especially for what is forbidden); absolutely, to desire; have a craving for; to lust after, covet, of those who seek things forbidden, to have desires opposed to a thing, to long for, covet a thing; of sexual desire; a longing

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:11-12

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28

Where is my heart? Is it for God only? Or is it straddling the line between Heaven and the world? Or is it for the world only?

God wants things for us. Where the line is drawn is in the position of my heart and mind. They need to be rightly fixed upon the Lord. He has a plan for me. His will for me most likely includes some “things.” Whether or not there are “worldly” things, His will is what I must desire. He will provide. I am to trust Him for my needs. I should have no need to be jealous or envious of others’ things. Envy and jealousy are not to be a part of my mind nor my heart. I am to be growing in holiness as He sanctifies me. Thus, I am to be content in all I am and all I have while I walk with and near to my Christ. So when one “covets” my prayers, my love, my care, or my concern, they are desiring these for the possibility of being touched by the hand of God, for He may be using me on behalf of my brother or sister in Christ. My heart and mind need to be directed to God and not at myself, nor even to the person coveting my prayers. God is the focal point from which those prayers, that love or care is coming from and is directed by Him through me if my heart and mind are right with God.

Romans 7:4-8:2 is a long passage yet it is extremely important to what I am wishing to learn through these two meanings of covet. Plus, these verses show me how confused I can become when I lean on my own understanding. Take your time and read these verses slowly.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.

For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 7:4-8:2

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Romans 7: The more pure and holy the heart is, it will have the more quick feeling as to the sin that remains in it. The believer sees more of the beauty of holiness and the excellence of the law. His earnest desires to obey, increase as he grows in grace. … For as the believer is under grace, and his will is for the way of holiness, he sincerely delights in the law of God, and in the holiness which it demands, according to his inward man; that new man in him, which after God is created in true holiness.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. I Timothy 6:6-10

Father, guard my heart and mind that I would always be content in all of my circumstances. I want to walk in Your ways for the rest of my life, Lord. I do not desire to be jealous or envious. Please forgive me when I am. I am sorry. Teach me to love all, Lord, no matter how rich or poor. I have been given the greatest gift of all. This gift is Christ, Your Son. I have been saved by the Blood of the Lamb and have all that there is to have. He gave His all for me. I do not need to want what others have. I do not need to wish for anything but to walk in His grace for the rest of my days. I want to walk a straight and narrow path to Your heart. I want to be close to You and desire that which You desire for me. Teach me to be content. Teach me to covet that which You have already planned and prepared for me. Guard my eyes and ears, my heart and mind from things of this world. May I look, listen, love and contemplate Heavenward and that way alone. You created me and know every bit of me. You also love me, so please guard and guide me, Father, that I covet only that which You orchestrate for me. I pray that I not covet anything against Your will. In the strong Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Cross photo (w/”Coveting” graphic by me): WebStockReview.net

“Do Not Covet” graphic: First Baptist St. Charles

Cloud photo by Pexels (w/graphics by me) @ Pixabay

Graphic Roman 7:22-8:2 @ Desiring God/Youtube

Charles Spurgeon quote on photograph from Pinterest

Bethesda

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda (or Bethsaida), which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. John 5:2-3

There is a Bethesda in Maryland, USA, located just northwest of Washington, D.C. It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House (1820, rebuilt in 1849), which in turn took its name from Jerusalem’s Pool of Bethesda (Bethsaida in some versions of the Bible). 

There is another Bethesda within the Maryland Bethesda that I know very well. My Daddy was hospitalized for five months in the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He died in that hospital at his young age of 46 from Pancreatic Cancer in 1960. It will be 60 years September 18, 2020.

This was the hospital in 1960. If my memory serves me right, Daddy was up on one of those upper floors. When I read the name, Bethesda, in the Book of John, I think of that five month period of our lives. There are so many memories: good, hard, sweet, sorrowful.

The photo below is more like what it looks today.

It is now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). It is the combined legacy of National Naval Medical Center (once referred to as the Bethesda Naval Hospital and/or Navy Med) and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, having brought the two medical facilities together in September of 2011, as decreed by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law of 2005. Currently, this is a United States’ tri-service (Army, Navy, Air Force) military medical center, located in the community of Bethesda, Maryland. It is one of the most prominent U.S. military medical centers in the United States, having served numerous U.S. presidents since the 20th century. It is also near the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

~

Many find healing at this huge hospital complex. Others wait to get into the pool of stirred waters for some kind of healing. And others die there. No matter where on that spectrum one finds themselves, this hospital is a place for healing. That is its purpose…to find ways into and through diseases even though the physical healing may not occur for some such as my father. Yet this Bethesda is still a place for hope.

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved,
For You are my praise.
Jeremiah 17:14

In pondering Bethesda, the pool in Jerusalem, I found my mind and heart wrapping around this incredible place where healing took place in Jerusalem. It was around this pool where Jesus healed.

Βηθεσδά

bēthesda

a pool (a pond or bath), which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda – the house of mercy, house of kindness, place for receiving and caring for the sick; flowing waters, the waters of which had curative powers

From the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: …for therein appeared much of the mercy of God to the sick and diseased. In a world of so much misery as this is, it is well that there are some Bethesdas – houses of mercy (remedies against those maladies), that the scene is not all melancholy.

Also, from the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: Bethesda …had five porches, cloisters, piazzas, or roofed walks, in which the sick lay. Thus the charity of men concurred with the mercy of God for the relief of the distressed. Nature has provided remedies, but men must provide hospitals.

One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. John 5:5-9

This man did not have to get into the waters that day. He did not need to depend upon another person to place him in the pool which he obviously did each time the pool was stirred. Jesus healed this man after years and years of waiting. He was a patient man, to say the least. Jesus spoke the words and the man got up on his own at once. At once, he believed. At once, he was no longer an invalid. He could walk. There was no lifting or trying to get up. He could take up his own bed. At once, he obeyed. He did not know Who he obeyed at that moment, but he soon found out the man that spoke the words was the Christ.

At once…his physical health and, presumably, his spiritual health were healed.

We are always wanting a cure for that which ails us. Those physical issues gnaw at our minds until we can find out what is going on. We are all staring down the barrel of COVID-19 right now and want all of the answers yesterday. We want to “get back to normal.” We want to have the medical profession tell us the right answer without any mistakes on a disease we have never had before. When they error and then correct themselves once they know differently, we are upset that they did not tell us that the first time. They are doing all within their power to find the answers and give us the straight-up truth. It is just hard…real hard right now. Any time we are awaiting a diagnosis, a way forward for treatment, a healing, it can be hard.

Do these scenarios play out in our spiritual lives as well? Do we want to just be healed immediately without patiently waiting and trusting in the One Who heals? The Lord guides us, teaches us, feeds us His Truth. Do we want to have it all yesterday so we can just get up and walk? Do we depend upon our pastors to teach us the Truth that they have been given by the Holy Spirit? Do we allow fellow-laymen to care for us as we wait and watch, listen and learn, pray and be prayed over? Do we allow them to provide the hospitals, the houses of mercy, while we wait? Or do we have that short attention span, wanting it all now? Do we obey or expect cures, answers without any obedience on our part?

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

“…For I am the LORD who heals you.” Exodus 15:26b

יְהֹוָה

Yehovah

Jehovah, the Lord, Yahweh, the Existing One

רָפָא

rapha’

to cure:—cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair, thoroughly, make whole

Jehovah Rapha – The LORD Who heals

Both, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, Jehovah Rapha is present, healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He is with us today.

The LORD sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness You restore him to full health
. Psalm 41:3

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases,... Psalm 103:2-3

And His name—by faith in His name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. Acts 3:16

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:13-16

~

Father God, thank You for being willing to heal us of our broken bodies, our broken hearts, our broken spirits. Thank You for forgiving us our daily trespasses and giving us our daily bread. May we seek You in all ways, coming from a heart that is tender toward You and toward our brothers and sisters. May we draw near to You no matter what our circumstances may be. I pray I stay on the path that You have directed for my life. May I be obedient to Your commands, humble to Your call. “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. May I boast gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I also pray…”For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For (I am) also weak in Him, but in dealing with (others) (I) will live with Him by the power of God.”** In the Strong Name of Jesus. Amen.

Graphic/Map of “Pools of Jerusalem. Shows area north of temple mount. Photo by Leon Mauldin.”

Photo of “Excavations at the Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin”

Photo of Bethesda Meeting House; English Wikipedia User: by Daniel Case

Postcard of Bethesda Naval Hospital

Photo of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center: Wikimedia Commons

Graphic: Jehovah-Rapha

** 2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Corinthians 13:4

After Easter Comes What?

easter

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Galatians 2:20

After Easter…how do I live?  Do I go back to ways that forget what the Crucified Christ means to me and how His resurrection affects me?

Easter is central to my Christian beliefs.  His crucifixion is very difficult for me and yet His resurrection is resplendent.  Easter is a beautiful remembrance of all Christ did for me over 2,000 years ago and Who He is to me now.  I want to live intentionally and thoughtfully in regards to what it means to be a person of the Resurrection in my world all year.  I want to continuously experience the Presence of the Living Christ.  I want to then walk in His Presence before others.

Yet, I seem to still be in the womb so much of the time, afraid to come out.  (As a baby in my mother’s womb, I did not want to exit then either!  Mom said her labor was hard and long.  “You just fought,” she said.)  Christ holds me near as I learn to walk in His Light more and more.  I must come out from the womb, that darkness.  I am to do His will on roads, in cafes, in hospital rooms, in homes…the world.  This is not a doable calling from a safe, warm womb.  

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.  Isaiah 25:8 ESV

As a person of the Resurrection, I would like to believe that my life shines Christ for others to see, hear, and read, sensing that they have touched the Living Christ, the Hand of God.  Sometimes, this is true, but not always, to be sure.  I want to be less of Linda and more of Christ with each moment.  I am continuously being woven into the tapestry that will be perfect in Eternity…one.thread.at.a.time.

Easter brings HOPE.  As a person of the Resurrection, I pray I am able to offer the beauty of HOPE to a world that finds reasons all around for despair, fear, and hopelessness.

Being a person of the Resurrection allows me to live under the umbrella of God’s GRACE and MERCY.  I accept His forgiveness, offered to me in love.  I pray, too, that I may give these generously.

Easter is all about LOVE“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16  As a person of the Resurrection, I desire to love from His heart, to give from His hand, and share the LORD through my actions, words, love, and life.  May this LOVE cause me to be open and caring towards others. 

As a person of the Resurrection, I do know that the Holy Spirit has come upon me.  I also know that my humanness squelches Him under the Linda that thinks she needs to be in control. Forgive me, LORD.  Please forgive me.  

As a person of the Resurrection, I no longer live in the dark, but carry the Light of Jesus within me as I share light in a dark world.

Delightful Daffodils

God, make me Yours wholly.  Give me courage and strength to be the Linda You desire of me.  Give me wisdom that I would have Your Words and the openness to share Your Truth.   I want to be one of Your people of the Resurrection each and every day, walking in faith.  As You continue to grow me, may I spread hope, love, grace, mercy, and light through Your Truth.  Thank You for giving me life through the death and resurrection of Your One and Only Son, Christ Jesus.  You truly are gracious towards me, Father.  May I carry a Daffodil of peace with me, LORD, wherever I go.  Daffodils just seems to be filled with hope, joy, love, and beauty, all that You are Abba Father.  In the Name of Your Son, I pray.  Amen.

beblacksig

My Spirit Faints Within Me

Fainting

The word “faint(s)” in Psalm 142 and 143 seemed unusual as I read these Psalms.  We read 142 one evening and then 143 the next and there that word was again.  So I decided to look it up and see where God would lead me.

When my spirit faints within me,
You know my way!
In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.  Psalm 142:4

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.  NIV

When I am afraid,
    you, Lord, know the way out.
In the path where I walk,
    a trap is hidden for me.   NCV

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
You knew my path.
In the way where I walk
They have hidden a trap for me.  NASB

Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled Psalm 143:3

Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart is desolate within me.  NASB

Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed.  NKJV

So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.  NIV

My spirit is weak within me; my heart is overcome with dismay.  HCSB

עָטַף

`ataph

(aw-taf’)

a primitive root; to shroud, i.e. clothe (whether transitive or reflexive); hence (from the idea of darkness) to languish:—cover (over), fail, faint, feebler, weak, hide self, be overwhelmed, swoon

David reminds me that I may become overwhelmed with fears, with darkness, with frustration, with a variety of emotions, with the things that are happening all around us…in our country and world.  A mind can become oppressed from the inside, while outward troubles can bring on these fears as well.   Matthew Henry states in his Commentary, “It is sometimes the lot of the best men to have their spirits for a time almost overwhelmed and their hearts desolate, and doubtless it is their infirmity.  David was not only a great saint, but a great soldier, and yet even he was sometimes ready to faint in a day of adversity.” *

I have not literally fainted to the ground, but the fears and emotions have overtaken me over and over during my life.  It is just human for most of us, I believe.  Yet, David reminds me that, although, the likes of Saul, Absalom, armies of many sorts may be holding us captive, reaching out to God is the answer.  God listens.  He hears our prayers.  God knows where we are…physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally.  He watches our backs.

Jonah calls out to God ~

When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the LORD,
and my prayer came to You,
into Your holy temple.  Jonah 2:7

Jonah knew that God was with him.  He desired to be close to his LORD.

David also knew just Who to call upon and Who would hear him.  These men praise God for His faithfulness and His protection.  I can sense the love of God through their words too.  I know God is near.  I know He is with me.  I know these truths.  Teach me more, my Father. 

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;

from the end of the earth I call to You
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,

for You have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me dwell in Your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of Your wings!  Selah  Psalm 61:1-4

Father God, You are my Refuge, my Shelter when I become afraid of the future, of growing older, serious family illnesses, the violence in our country and in our world.  Father, my heart feels weak and weary sometimes.  You know how things affect me.  Yet, there is only one answer to any darkness of heart or mind…You are that Answer.  I call upon Your Name and You hear me, my Father.  You treat me with love and care.  You nestle me near to Your breast and I know comfort.  I know love.  I know gentleness.  I know You…more and more with each day.  Oh, how grateful I am, my Father.  Thank You for teaching me the Truth in Your Word.  Thank You for healing my faint and stumbling heart.  I want to walk in Your ways and only those.  I fail and yet You forgive this child.  I desire to walk uprightly.  Guide me, LORD.  I love You so.  How can I love You more yet I do with the passing of each day.  I pray in the Truth of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

Illustration of heart with heartbeat, electrocardiogram. Vector illustration

beblacksig

 

* from “Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Psalm 143”

Unsearchable

romans11_33b
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
  Romans 11:33

ἀνεξεραύνητος

anexeraunētos

not searched out, i.e. (by implication) inscrutable:—unsearchable

ἀνεξιχνίαστος

anexichniastos

not tracked out, i.e. (by implication) untraceable:—past finding out; unsearchable.

that cannot be comprehended

past finding out

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

These two Greek words almost look alike, mean almost the same thing with just slight changes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Versions of the Bible use different words to lay this meaning out before us:

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!  NLT

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!  NKJV

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  NIV

Oh, the depth of the riches

both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments

and untraceable His ways!  HCSB

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  NASB

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!  NET

Impossible, untraceable, beyond our ability to trace or to find out, unfathomable…the greatness of God, His Omnipotence, His Omniscience, His Omnipresence…He is far more than we can possibly understand at this time.

Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast You save, O LORD.  Psalm 36:6

Your way was through the sea,
Your path through the great waters;
yet Your footprints were unseen.  Psalm 77:19

God, You are more than my mind can wrap around yet my heart feels Your love and Your care for me.  I know You are with me and hear my prayer.  You are unsearchable but I am learning more and more about You.  I am in love with You and praise You for Who You are.  I thank You with my whole heart for saving me through Your Son’s sacrifice and His love for me, for many such as I.  He was resurrected from the grave and told His disciples that He will return for them, for me.  One day, we will be together and You will still be more than I could have imagined here on this earth.  Will I be able to fathom You even then, Abba Father?  Your mercy, Your grace, Your greatness, Your faithfulness, Your power and Your might?  Jesus said that we may not understand but one day we will.  I look forward to that day, Abba Father.  I lift this prayer in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”  John 13:7

grand-canyon-south-rim-overview-011

befuschiasig

Photo:  Heartlight.org @ http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/526.html

I Found Him — When Someone You Know Dies from Suicide…and You Are the One Who Finds Them (Part 2)

SONY DSCWhen you are the one who has lost someone to suicide, whether you had been the one to find them or not, the emotions are huge.  The memories haunt.  The loss is beyond what you could have imagined. If you found someone dead, the images are etched in your mind. They are painful. I am sorry. I understand because I know. Take time to let all of this roll around and be processed. For many, if not most, in this situation, getting counseling is so very important. Going as often as you need to go is really quite okay.

If your mind is filled with the image of suicide, get sweet pictures of this person and look upon them. Place them around the house…around you. Think about him or her when they were alive. Remember things you did together, words shared, special moments. Fill your mind with those images. Talk about his or her life with others who care about you. Celebrating his or her life will help tremendously to change what is imprinted upon your mind from that day. These are ways to work through the pain and begin to replace the images of finding one with happy images. This is not a process that is over in a year or even five. It seems to be ongoing but is less and less over the years. God wants your mind and heart filled with Him.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Remember:

  •     You may feel strong anger. That, too, is normal.
  •     You probably feel numb and have difficulty concentrating. Again that is normal.
  •     Be gentle with yourself.
  •     Give yourself time.  Please take care of yourself, and take your healing one step at a time.
  •     And remember that you are a special person.

I journaled in order to express how I felt.  I wondered often what I could have done to prevent this suicide.  I read books on suicide and found that I probably could not have prevented it and should not blame myself, nor feel guilty.

Other things I have found that helped me along this unbeaten path were:

  •    Understand that everyone grieves differently.  You may read about “the stages of grief,” but each person goes through them in their own way.  Your way is the best way for you.
  •    You may deny what happened. Understand that almost everyone does that. It is a normal part of the healing process that you are going through.
  •    Also, unfortunately, there still is a stigma that exists around suicide. Most people do not understand what you are going through. Their words may blame you or are harsh about the one who is dead now. It does not seem fair nor make sense to those left behind.  But stigmas with the word “suicide” do exist.
  •    And please keep in mind that you can decide not to answer any questions that others may ask you. If someone wants to know how your loved one died, you can say that you do not want to talk about it. It is up to you.  No explanation is necessary.  Some people may even ask, “Why did he do that?”  “What could you have done?”…questions that you do not need nor can you even answer.  Giving those questions no answer, or “I don’t know,” or “Please do not ask me this,” may be your best way to handle the insensitivity.
  •    Yes, people can be insensitive. People can be rude. People can be intrusive.  You decide who you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, for how long you want to talk to them, and about what.

Through Jim’s art, I met the wonderful man to whom I am married to…22 years now.  I had a display of Jim’s paintings scheduled to be on our main library’s mezzanine.  Ken was the Art Center’s volunteer to hang those displays.  We met and that is a whole story unto itself, but God worked through tragedy, bringing beauty from the ashes.

“To console those who mourn in Zion,

To give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61: 3

Amidst the grief, Kenneth and his dear mother introduced me to Jesus.  I read the Bible, studying it as voraciously as I could.  I talked to Kenneth about suicide and Jim.  He spoke and read verses to me…God’s Truth.  He placed me in the hands of Jesus to teach me all He could to help me know that Jesus is the answer.  I called upon the Name of the LORD and He answered me.  He guided me.  He holds my heart when I think about Jim.  I am sorry he did what he did and that he went through pure and certain agony to reach that place.  But Jesus gave me new life and continuously affirms the beauty of our relationship.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

He wants me whole as I grow to be more and more like Him.  He wants that whole Linda to become holy as He is Holy.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

Father, You have saved me from myself and given me a new self in rebirth.  Father, if one is reading this post and has been through the loss of someone they have loved or cared about through the act of a suicide, I pray that Your tender mercies rain upon them and come to reign in their hearts.  I pray that You hold them near.  If they do not know Jesus as their LORD and Savior, I pray that they will seek Your face. Father God, may we each and all know that Your care for us is steadfast.  You hide us in the cleft of the Rock, protecting us, providing for us, and comforting us. Should there be one reading this post who has thought about suicide, I pray for Your saving grace to rain upon them and reign in their hearts.  I pray that they look to You, Jesus, focusing their eyes upon You for You will not lead them astray.  Only satan would do that.  May they rest on Bible verses that touch their hearts. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 … Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?  Ecclesiastes 7:17   May Your Word stand strong before them and fill them with Your Truth.  May we trust in You and only You.  In the Strong Name of Jesus, I lift these precious sisters and brothers to You as well as myself.  You are the Holy One. Amen.

Resource: http://www.suicide.org/suicide-survivors-forum.html

 

 

beblacksig

I Found Him — When Someone You Know Dies from Suicide…and You Are the One Who Finds Them (Part 1)

SONY DSCI write this from the perspective of the one who found a dear friend after he had killed himself…suicide.

How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.  Psalm 13:2-4

This man, Jim, was 46 and decided that life had no meaning any longer, I presume. I will never really know…just a heart-felt and honest guess.  He was an artist, but had a hard time making a living from his beautiful airbrushed paintings. He was a machinist by trade.  He had some tough relationships over his all-too-short life.  He had been sober for almost 8 years, had quit smoking for 2 years.  He came from a family of drinking. His mother died of cancer. His only sibling was a brother who chose to separate himself from my friend as well as his parents because he had chosen not to drink.

As a friend, I cared about Jim like a sister would care about her only brother.  We were both searching for Jesus at the time we met.  We did not know that, but we were.  We searched in many-a-dark corner, but continued looking.  I never knew him during his drinking years so my perspective is a bit skewed from others who knew him earlier in his life.  As an artist, a weaver, myself, we began doing shows together to try to make a living being artists when I moved into this same city.  Neither one of us made enough to pay for doing what we loved, but we tried for a while.

I finally found full-time work for I needed a steady income.  Jim continued to paint and even went to New Mexico for six months to gain a different perspective while continuing to paint.  Eventually, he moved back here and then had a hard time finding a machinist job.  Things were not going as he had hoped.

I came home from work one day and found an envelope in the mail slot of my door.  It was from Jim.  He had placed his car title, some cash, and a short note of some silly words that meant something to only me, words we had shared. My heart sank, although I could not really know by the note what I was about to face, and yet, I had an idea. I quickly got in the car and raced over to his house. I let myself in only to find the same note there on the table by the door, along with a note to emergency staff should they have found him before I did. I knew now. I tiptoed through the house until I found him. He had killed himself in a manner that did not leave blood and gore for me to find, but he still killed himself. I still found him. That was 23 years ago. As I type this, it seems like yesterday.

Earlier, I said that Jim and I were searching for Jesus. I never knew if he found Him, but he had a Bible with some verses in the New Testament underlined. He had been reading. He had been looking and, hopefully, had found the One and Only LORD and Savior. I will know him in Heaven should he be there. I pray so.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

Suicide is a terrible thing. Having never been around it up close and personal, I could not have imagined that I would have to deal with one in such a way: police interrogation of me to make sure that I had not killed him (which was such an awful experience and is a vivid memory, even today), neighbors wanting to know why all the police, ambulances, and medical examiner were at the house for over two hours, the remnants of his life in a house that I would inherit because he made a will and left his world to me. I had very few other contacts here except through work, so with friends caring about me from afar, the phone calls were long and tear-filled.

There was so much…so very much to deal with, to handle.

I returned to work and took comfort in the busy-ness of that. I sought counsel through a “suicide-survivor group.” I attended only a few times as I just did not seem to need to tell the same story each week to any newcomer. There were people there who had lost a loved one fifteen and twenty years prior. I knew they were there for their own reasons, but I needed the tender love and comfort from my mother, my sisters and friends in other states, and so it was hard being in one state when my comfort was elsewhere. Within a short time, a cousin came from Chicago and stayed for a few days. Then, my dear mother came and stayed for about three or four weeks to help me clean and ready the house so that I could move in within a few weeks. My mother was the best person for me at that time. I needed people I loved and trusted.

Surround yourself with people who understand. Who care. Who are sensitive. And who will support you. Reach out to those people. Never feel like you are a burden to them because you are not.

My boss loaned me the money for the cremation. She honored me by asking if she could help financially in any way. I had no savings and Jim left me what little he had which was not enough to bury him.

When you are the one who has lost someone to suicide, whether you had been the one to find them or not, the emotions are huge.  The memories haunt.  The loss is beyond what you could have imagined.

Please join me for Part 2 to read how I began to heal from this experience, how Jesus met me in my pain, and for some practical advice on how you can recover from a trauma such as this one.

Part 2 will be posted Friday, 8/14/2015.

 

 

beblacksig

Photo: Sony:DSC

With Healing in Its Wings

malachi4_2But for you who fear My Name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.  Malachi 4:2

מַרְפֵּא

marpe’

health, healing, cure

health, as of sound mind

refreshing of the body, of the mind

deliverance

remedy

relaxed, tranquility of mind, meekness

This is where I am today.  Surgery…knee arthroscopy: torn meniscus, arthritis rubbing on bone.  A week ago, that surgery.  Yesterday, doctor appointment.  I am walking without Mama’s walker, weight-bearing on the right knee and leg.  I am not quite ready to leap out of those stalls with the calves, but soon!  I begin outpatient physical therapy this week to gain strength, better mobility.  God is so good and so gracious to this one.  I am so grateful to my Healer.

Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.  Jeremiah 33:6

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.  Proverbs 14:30

A sound heart, a heart of meekness, a tranquil heart, a peaceful heart…gives life to this flesh.  LORD, You alone have given me this calmness throughout this time.  The trust in my surgeon comes from You.  The staff that took care of me from pre-op to post-op and all of those in between were just so kind and caring.  You sent me to this small hospital that is doctor owned two years ago for a hip replacement that first time.  It was just as fine in an outpatient setting as it was when I spent nights after surgery.  You know my every need and You held my heart and mind in Your mighty hands.  Your heart melded around mine and kept all systems running perfectly as I underwent this surgery.  Oh, God, I praise You.  My heart tonight still feels the peace of a week ago.  You have walked every step with me this week.  With all the love I have to give You back, I hand my heart overflowing with love to You, O Father.  In the Name of Your Son, I pray.  Amen.   

your daughter sig

 

Photo:  http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/113.html

In His Strength, Not Mine

1487370_431818586945634_1461583600_n

I have not made New Year’s resolutions in many-a-year, but when I saw this little poster on Pinterest, each “to-do” is what my heart’s desire is for each day, each moment.  I do the best I can.  If my walk is close to my LORD, as I strongly desire, I am able only in His Strength, not mine.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 
Matthew 19:26

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Abba Father, You bless me with every heartbeat, every breath.  May my dependence upon You be full.  I want to live each moment in reliance upon You for all I am and all I do.  I pray I know that every gift I receive is from You.  In every encounter, I want the kindness of Jesus to pour through me, out into the heart of the one I am with at that moment.  I want to give You my need to control.  I pray that I would listen to my heart…not only for the beats, but words and emotions that are coming through this lifeline for they will be from You, my Father.  You are my Lifeline for You have filled my veins with the red blood that keeps this body alive, and The Blood of Jesus that has saved me.  I pray that each day will be productive for Your Kingdom.  I ask for Your peace upon me as I do whatever You call me to do.  The very breath I inhale and exhale continuously is from You, so I want to breathe You all my days.  In Your Son’s Holy Name, I pray.  Amen.