After supper yesterday, the skies turned cloudy and the temperatures dropped into the 80s. The slight breeze was a pleasant change to the insufferable heat that we have been experiencing for much of the month.
While David and the boys played baseball in the front yard, I decided to do a little mowing in the back and side yards. I walked around the corner of the shed and stopped as soon as I saw this.
Wow. It has been over a year since the last time I mowed the lawn.
And it had been with Christian.
In fact, Christian spent that last Tuesday morning mowing the lawn with David.
He loved to sit in between our legs and ride around the lawn-- even with the bumps and dust and heat. No matter what we were doing, he just HAD to be in the thick of things and right at our side.
I climbed on the mower and sat in the seat. I put my hands on the handles and remembered Christian's little hands on them-- always trying to steer and be a big boy. He'd laugh and squeal with delight if I took my hands off and let him steer ALL BY HIMSELF."...'cause I big boy, mommy! 'member?! You fowgot!!!"
Oh baby, I could never forget you! Or how big you were... because you were always sure to remind me. And every time I'd pick you up, I could tell that you had grown just a little more.
My heart has been heavy all week (all month, all year...). Please pray for me and my family, especially as we go through this next week that will mark the 1 year anniversary of Christian's passing from this earthly life into eternal life.
Honestly, it will be nice to just get it over with. Every birthday, change of season, holiday and activity this past year has been met with the bittersweet thought of "...this time last year...".
It has been very difficult at times to put into practice Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
But why should we think on these things? Well, that means we have to read the next verse:
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
While many of you can empathize with my hurt and sorrow, I wish I could show you some of the blessings and lessons of being wounded-- to see and KNOW the grace and peace that God gives. When your heart is crying out to Him and He clearly speaks to you-- sometimes in a whisper and other times clear and loud, like He is right in front of you.
If you have already believed that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died for your sins and that he rose the third day... If you have already asked him to forgive you of your sins and accepted his gift of salvation, then I encourage you, I implore you to practice that verse up there right now. Read the Bible and put into practice what it says. Do it now while things are going well for you. Do it now when things are difficult for you. Then you too will see and know exactly what I'm talking about, you will see and know the peace that only God can give you. Turn your fears, troubles, worries-- no matter how big or how small, over to the Lord.
And since you're going to read God's Word and practice what it says, how about living your life for the glory of God, rather than the glory of yourself? Because that is where true joy and fulfillment lies. After all, isn't that why God created us in the first place?
And if you, my dear friends, have not given your life to Jesus Christ, then I beg you to do it now! You can't piggyback your way into Heaven on the life of your parents. You can't get into Heaven by doing good things, by being baptized, by being "religious", by going to church all the time or by being a better person than so-and-so who says he is a Christian.
The Bible says that "by grace are we saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8 KJV, emphasis mine).
Don't let that one hypocrite or that one joyless person (who claims to be a Christian) be the reason that YOU don't get to spend eternity in Heaven. Don't let that "bad experience with religion" be the reason that YOU don't accept this gift of salvation. And for crying out loud, JUST DON'T DIE. Because when you do, YOU will spend eternity in one of two REAL places-- Heaven or Hell.
You know what? I don't know why Christian died when he was only 3.5 years old. I don't even know how he took his lifejacket off (which he never did before) and managed to circle back from the house to the pond without anyone seeing him (not the adults or my other boys who were swimming right there). I don't know why this had to happen us when we love and care for our children, when we serve God, when we help others, when we are diligent in our parenting... But that is where FAITH comes in! Faith is believing without seeing. Faith puts to death all those unanswered questions. Faith is taking God at His Word. And Faith is not turning from the truth of God's Word when life gets hard.
Jesus said "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (II Corinthians 12:9).
I won't deny that I am so very weak. And I will shout that He is so strong!
It is through His gift and His grace that I KNOW that I will see Christian one day. I KNOW that I will spend eternity with Jesus. I KNOW that this life is fleeting (way too fleeting on the good days and way too long on the bad!). I KNOW that I can grieve differently than those who have not given their lives to Him.
And it is through His strength that I can face each morning.
How will you face each morning? How will you face eternity? And if you were to die today, do you KNOW where you will spend eternity?
Because we have no guarantee of tomorrow. Or even tonight.