Monday, April 14, 2014

Jesus is Enough . . . Easter Memories and Mercies

We sat there together on the chalky white bench.

Chips of paint peeling off and dropping like ants to the ground. 

Londie and I . . . sisters in our freshly-pressed Easter clothes, squeaky new shoes on our feet. 

We always wore our new church shoes on Easter Day. 

My Mom would take us to the old Ames, or to Ann and Hope, and we would pick out shoes for Easter -- shoes that we would be able to wear to church through the summer. 

I remember the white patent leather and trying not to let my new shoes get any black smudges on them. 

We were so excited . . . 

Easter was so special to us . . . 

The Day of Resurrection, of joy, of hope after the long days of Winter. 

A Day to celebrate our Risen Lord and the glory that He has shed abroad in our hearts. 

I remember my Mama's face shining in church, the hope in her eyes as she sang the beautiful Easter hymns with gusto. My Mama loved much . . . and loves much still . . . 

My Mom and sister, Londie--shortly after my Mom became a Christian

And my sister, Londie, so full of spunk and like a little mother to me, always helping, always encouraging, always guiding without bossing, her voice scratchy and strong, singing the hymns, too. 

And then little Lishy, her tiny, short legs swinging in the church pew, her long hair tumbling down around her big, lovely, searching eyes.  

Finally, me, smack in the middle -- frizzy dark hair wisping around my face -- my aspirations in those days mainly limited to trying to imitate Sandy Patti, and getting to act the part of "Laura" in all of our Little House on the Prairie imaginary play. 

We would go home to the crispy browned ham and to the lovely round rolls and to our earlier-opened Easter baskets. And desserts would be at Auntie's -- all the wealth and fanfare of an Italian family's delicious sweet spread. 

Easter was so special . . . 

My Mom, beforehand, would prepare her "Easter bread," a huge anise-flavored braid, shiny and decadently-festooned with bright Easter eggs all colored and tucked in to its creases all around. 

And we would cut huge chunks of it and revel in all of its bready goodness. 

We didn't have much, but we had Jesus, and He is enough. 

Easter was special and Jesus risen and our hearts glad . . . 

The glory of our hearts and the light of our eyes -- a time for celebration and rejoicing -- a time to delight in His precious gift of life. 

A time to shout for joy in our hearts and to wear our new shoes and to proclaim that He is risen indeed . . . 

For He is . . . 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Her Soul is Safe . . .

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.

Matthew 10:28-29

She lies still, asleep.

Her breathing even and slow, her face washed over with peace and contentment.

His presence is near and the Guardian of her soul is ever-watching.

Even while she sleeps.

And I watch, too, her tiny frame so small in her crib, so small in our room, in the great world around her.

Sometimes I worry,

sometimes grow panicked with worry--

  --worry is not from Him . . .

Will she be safe?

Maybe it's from reading a lot of missionary biographies, reading a lot about the persecutions endured and suffered by other believers--

But I worry about this a lot -- even before she was born.

Will she suffer persecution as a believer of Christ? Extreme persecution -- the hot, fiery arrows of Satan -- because the world grows darker . . .

And I often wonder if the great darkness before the dawn will fall as a cloud upon us soon.

The world has forsaken Him . . . it will reject us (we are promised this in the Scriptures).

He who endures to the end will be saved. 

Standing over her crib the other night, as she fell asleep -- my mind raced with these thoughts--

Lord, will she be safe? Will the Enemy of our souls seek to crush her spirit, to wrack her body with pain -- with persecutions and agony and suffering? Will she suffer as a believer of Christ?

And then a thought came -- not my own -- but from His Spirit speaking to my heart--

That her soul is safe . . . that alone matters . . .

It came to me then, like a great river of peace into my thirsty, heavy soul--

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.

Not even a sparrow -- my Mama's nickname for little Debbie -- "Row-row" -- little sparrow bird -- not even a tiny, insignificant sparrow.

He soul is safe. If her soul is safe, then there is nothing left to fear, to dread.

Even the grave has no victory.

And there may be pain, and there may be agony and suffering and grief -- but ultimately -- glory -- and peace and rest . . . and eternity with Jesus.

Do not fear those who can kill the body . . 

Do not fear. 

There is no fear -- when the soul is safe in Him.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.