This is the Day

exploring the soul's quest for joy

Tag: faithfulness

It Is Well

Last night I said goodbye to the man who taught me what love is, as my father gently stepped out of this life and into the loving embrace of his heavenly Father. He has always been my rock, my anchor, my safe harbor in every storm. In times of sorrow, in times of joy, my father’s faith was unshakeable, as his spirit would declare, “it is well with my soul.” 

 

 Through his love I discovered the love my heavenly Father has for me.

 

Wave after wave, my tears rise up and flow down, salty on my lips. Soon the tears will mingle with joy, knowing my father is with his Father, with Jesus his Savior. But tonight, I let the tears flow.

 

Tears of sorrow, for the ache in my heart.

 

Tears of thanksgiving, for the man who was my father.

 

Tears of joy, for the eternal life he now experiences with his Lord.

 

Tonight it seems fitting to share again this post from October 2015, which captures just a small glimpse of the godly man I was blessed to call my father.

 

I’ll love you forever Daddy. 

 

With inspiration from Psalm 106:1-5 and Psalm 71

 

I visited my parents today. My mom is 93, my dad 95, and they are both wheelchair-bound and exhausted. To say they have slowed down is a vast understatement. Our times together these days are filled with more quiet spaces than words; it’s hard to have real conversations with those who can’t remember where they were going with a sentence about ten words into it. I feel like I am a little girl again visiting my grandparents and not my once vibrant parents.

 

Just before this visit today, I was with a dear friend as she laid to rest her step-dad, also 95. The refrain I heard several times at his viewing was, “He lived a happy life.” A comforting epithet for his family to remember as they mourn his loss.

 

As I was driving home from these two events, my mind saturated with thoughts of life and death, I realized that my dad has his own constant refrain, one which he repeated several times to me again today. “The Lord has been very good to me. He has blessed me and our family tremendously.”

 

And it struck me afresh that my father never dwells on the adversity he has experienced, but rather, like the psalmist, declares, “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to Him for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

 

My parents are no strangers to heartache and adversity. Childhood and adolescence for them was not a carefree time, but a time of poverty as my father’s father endured years of unemployment during the Great Depression and my mother’s immigrant family struggled to provide her with basic necessities like shoes. Both experienced great loss in World War 2—my dad in Patton’s army losing many friends and witnessing atrocities no young man should ever be exposed to, and my mom suffering the death of her younger brother while he was serving in Italy.

 

But by far their greatest loss was the death of their firstborn and only son to type 1 diabetes at age 8.

 

And still, my father’s refrain is, “The Lord has been very good to me.”

 

I want to be more like my father.

 

My father has learned that the goodness of God is not dependent on the condition of his life. And he has learned that God’s blessings don’t always look like “good things” in human eyes.

 

Like the psalmist, my father can declare that God is his rock and his fortress. It’s not that he has been spared his share of troubles and distresses, but through the hard times he has found God to be faithful.

 

Like the psalmist, from the time of his youth, my father has made a practice of continually coming to God for shelter in the storms of life. And so he can declare that God is his hope, his confidence, his rock of refuge. There is no storm so great that God will not be for him a rock of refuge, nor any situation so grave that he will cease to praise the Lord and tell of His righteousness.

 

Oswald Chambers asserts, “Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God’s character, we do not yet know Him.”

 

If I’m honest with my response to Chambers’ statement, some days I think I barely know God at all. Isn’t it all too easy to tangle up our pain, adversity, and disappointments with what we think about God’s character?

 

My father knows his Father. He has looked many dark, black facts full in the face and lived through many dark, black seasons, and none of it has damaged my father’s view of his Father.

 

Today I visited my parents and my father struggled to put a children’s puzzle together. The man living in the shell of an aging body is brilliant and overwhelmingly kind. Valedictorian of his high school, he was top of his class at Penn’s Wharton School, where he had a full scholarship. He led men in battle, and led organizations to growth and success. He knows full well what his mind has lost and he lives daily with that frustration.

 

And yet, through it all, his constant refrain is this: “God has been so good to me, and has blessed me exceeding abundantly.”

 

Oh how I long to be more like my father; I have so much more to learn from him.

 

Bloom Where You're Planted

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Part 2 in a 4 part series on Psalm 37

 

Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.                             

 

The Land.

 

Something we take for granted in the free western world. But something that was of supreme importance to nomadic people in search of a place to call home. In scripture, the land held a special significance to followers of God. It represented for them God’s promises, their security, and their hope for a future.

 

I still think about verses that speak of the land in this way. They are God’s promises to me. And they have everything to do with my security, and my hope for a future.

 

Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Or in today’s language, Bloom where you’re planted.

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Life comes with neither a roadmap nor an instruction manual. And our journey through life is most often not a straight line from beginning to end, but instead follows its own unpredictable path with many unplanned excursions along the way. My own life has had so many unforeseen twists and turns, many exciting, some scary, that I could never have predicted its course when I stood on the cusp of adulthood. This kind of unpredictable living leads to the inevitable questioning:

 

What am I doing with my life?

 

Where is all this leading?

 

When will I be settled so real life can begin?

 

And God whispers to me to dwell. Not just to travel through, waiting for the real deal to begin. But to truly dwell in every place where He leads me. To dwell there completely by being faithful with what He has given me and with what He is asking of me.

 

Every stop in the journey of life is an opportunity to cultivate faithfulness, to bloom where I’m planted. And it strikes me that perhaps I sometimes ask the wrong questions. Perhaps my questions stem from a desire to walk by sight and not by faith, so that I know with certainty where this journey of life will take me. Perhaps the right questions stem from the overflow of a contented spirit whose trust is in God.

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Who in my world presently needs nurturing?  

 

What is the good work to which God has called me in this place?

 

How can I share acts of faithfulness with others so that God’s love is cultivated in them?

 

And as my gaze shifts to outwardly focused questions instead of inwardly focused ones, my heart can respond with a willingness to look to the Lord, following his lead, so that I might truly dwell in the land to which He has directed me.

 

Those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.

 

His promises are ever true.

 

 

Gift from Heaven

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Lamentations 3:22-23

 

I awoke this morning to a world blanketed in snow.

 

Not the thick, heavy duvet cover of last month’s blizzard. Not the kind you are forewarned of and prepared for. Not the kind of snow that falls relentlessly for days on end.

 

This morning’s snow was a surprise. And it was all the more lovely because no one had anticipated it. It was a gift from heaven. Like manna was to the children of Israel.

 

My blanket of white wouldn’t last long. It couldn’t last. The crystal clear blue sky was promise enough of that.

 

But it was mine for the moment. To relish or to let pass by. The choice was mine to make.

 

Would I see the beauty in this moment or would I see instead the inconvenience of a 2-hour school delay? Would this simply become an intrusion on my tightly scheduled day where I was focused on preparing my family to travel out of state to be with friends for the weekend? How would I respond to this morning’s surprise?

 

His mercies are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.

 

On our drive to school this morning, my 16-year old daughter gave voice to her response to this unanticipated gift of beauty. It was more than a whisper, but too reverent and drawn out for a simple statement of fact. Perhaps it was a prayer of praise to the Artist who gave us this gift. “Oh goodness,” she said, “it’s so beautiful.”

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Mornings like this are a gift. A gift of beauty. A gift of grace. I can pass it by without really noticing or stopping to think about it, and it will evaporate. I can kid myself that I will think about it later. That I will enjoy the splendor later. But if I don’t stop in the moment and make a little altar, and give thanks and give praise, then this gift of grace will melt away, even as this new-fallen snow will melt away, and the memory of it will be no more, and the opportunity to stop and worship will have passed me by. And the opportunity for my fingers and my spirit to touch heaven, while my feet are touching earth will have passed me by. If I want to live connected to the Kingdom of God here on earth, I need to open my eyes and see each of these moments as the gift of grace that they are.

 

And so I too stop, and give praise to the ultimate Creator of all beauty. This is not just a gift of beauty and wonder for my eyes to behold this morning. It is a gift of mercy. You alone, oh God, know how my heart needed this touch of your creative power today. It will sustain me like manna all the day long.

 

In the distance, the trees are already shaking off their heavy white coats, trading them for gossamer gowns of silver that sparkle in the sunlight. I know it is only a matter of time before the silvery streams also melt away and the bare trees stand once again proud and strong in their gray-black winter coverings.

 

But this day I have paused to feast at God’s table in the early morning hours. And He has sustained me in His great love.

 

His mercies are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness Lord, unto me.

 

 

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