It’s a Wonderful Life

As I watch snippets of the Christmas classic, I wonder at the lengths it took for George Bailey to see that he had a wonderful life. But then again, I am not so different than him.

I returned earlier this evening from a memorial service for someone who knew her life was wonderful.  It ended far earlier than she would have chosen.  It was a wonderful life and no one had to remind her of that truth. She knew it.  She longed to keep it and hold it close and never let go.  But the plan for her life was different. There is a husband with the biggest hole in his heart imaginable. There are 3 children who will never have there mother back to live their big and small moments with.  It was a wonderful life and she lived it to the full until it was done.

I get George Bailey. All kinds of dreams to travel the world and do and be someone.  So many dreams.  So much vision.  And yet the life he was supposed to live was in Bedford Falls all along.  It wasn’t always easy and it got really hard.  He wondered what he might have been and where he could have gone, especially when the worst came. He even came to the point of despair… It’s easy to understand.

I live in Bedford Falls.  I get it that life is meant to be here… sometimes… but too much of the time I long for more.  I wish for more excitement.  I wonder what it would be like to live in ________ or be doing _________.  Why is what I have and where I am rarely enough?  I want  this life to be a wonderful life every moment.

It is the big things that make life clear for us.  Losing a loved one, the birth of a child, marrying your soulmate.  But it is in the little moments that we savor what we have.  We look past the imperfect and lay hold of what we know in our hearts we could lose at any moment.  We need to live the little moments with as great a clarity as the big ones.

Easier said than done I know.

It was said of Debbie (the mother, wife, daughter and friend now in heaven) that she had a verse for everything.  This one comes to mind:

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider:  Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.”  Ecclesiastes 7: 14

We know nothing of what will come our way.  Our prosperity is with us most of our days if we have the eyes to see it.  Joy should be our portion.  When the hard days of adversity come, do we consider?  We know nothing of what will come.  We must savor.  We must live life in joy and consider, trust, hope when adversity comes.

…Always knowing if we are living life with Him, it is a wonderful life.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hitting a Nerve

Just the other day, I spoke with a woman who told me about her dad who died of renal failure.  He had other complicating factors and wasn’t willing to consider a transplant.  My story touched her heart in a way that brought pain.

I understand.  It’s the same way that I feel when people tell me about this or that person who is a cancer “survivor.” I think “Wow, that’s great!”  But it hurts all the same as I wonder what life might have been like if my loved ones had been counted among the survivors.

It is that feeling that I get when I see children with their mom and grandmother as if that is the way it is going to be forever and they don’t see how fragile life really is.  It reminds me that I didn’t live like every day was precious and a treasure while I still had them too.

But there was a different nerve that my gift hit.  It was the nerve that said:  “I could never give a kidney to my dad because I can’t forgive him for…”  It was a nerve I never imagined was there let alone that would be hit by what I gave and who I gave it to.

I said at the end of my last post that by the time I decided to give a kidney away, I would have given it to the bum on the street if God asked me to.  The desire to give became so strong and came right from the heart of Christ:

“for while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Jesus didn’t give an organ for a dear loved one.  He gave His life for people who rejected and hated him– the very people who put Him to death.

As the donation process moved forward, it became so much more about giving the gift of life and following in my Savior’s footsteps than doing something for my Daddy who I love with all my heart.

Who are you struggling to love today?  Have you been rejected or wounded by someone you trusted?  Or do you think everything is fine with the people in your life?  What about that person who just cut you off on the road?  Do you think you are better than him and more worthy of love?  What about the people in your life you just tolerate but don’t really care about?

Ask yourself this one question… If Christ gave everything for you, what do you count dearer than that?  Your pride?  Your time?  Your affection?  Your good will?  Your benefit of the doubt?

What does your kidney recipient list look like?  A list of “worthy” people and “unworthy”?  If so, how easily would someone move from “worthy” to “unworthy” or how difficult would it be for someone to move from “unworthy” to “worthy”?

I am so thankful that Jesus had no such list when He laid down His life.  He knew He had to die to make a way for the unworthy and only the unworthy to be saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her Father’s Eyes

“She’s got her father’s eyes, Her father’s eyes; Eyes that find the good in things, When good is not around; Eyes that find the source of help, When help just can’t be found; Eyes full of compassion, Seeing every pain, Knowing what you’re going through And feeling it the same…”

These lyrics to an old Amy Grant song are meant to refer to the eyes of the Heavenly Father but I see my own father in my eyes and I am so thankful for the soft, tender eyes I have always found in him.

It is difficult to put in words what one parent becomes when the other passes.  My mother has been with Jesus now 13.5 years.  It is still hard to believe.  As most moms, she was the glue of our family.  Once she was gone, more than one thing unraveled, including my dad.  Not only was he heartbroken, I literally think he didn’t know how/if he could make it without her.  The road forward was rocky, not only for him but for the rest of us as well.

In time, he made efforts to see past his own pain and remember the pain his own children must be feeling.  He tried to be faithful in remembering birthdays and holidays.  He tried to remember to call and wrote cards in his chicken scratch.  He knew he couldn’t be mom but he tried to fill the hole as best as he could and I will always be thankful for that.

My dad is the hardest-headed, softest-hearted person I know.  It is impossible to stay upset with him but so easy to get frustrated with him.  His strongest love languages are gushy affection and lavish words of encouragement.

As the song says “Eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain”… those are the eyes my Daddy has and the heart he walks around with each day.  In many ways I am my father’s daughter.  I am stubborn to a fault but easily moved to compassion at the slightest hurt I see in others, ready and quick to help and soothe the pain though I don’t always know how.

He was always precious to me but these last 13+ years have increased his value to me and those whose lives he touches.  He seems more earnest to live his days in faith and hope and full of overflowing love for his God and others than ever before.

He was certainly more than worthy of receiving a kidney from his daughter but by the time I made the decision to give, I knew I would give it to the bum on the street if God asked that of me…

to be continued…

The beginning of the road

I will never forget the day when I got a call that my dad was not well.  He had some serious and concerning health problems and he got to the hospital just in the “nick of time.”

Soon after that, I  drove out to Pennsylvania to see him and heard the news that his kidneys were failing due to years of hypertension.  He had been set up to receive dialysis and there was some hope that at least one of his kidneys might bounce back.

As I sat by his bed, I said to myself “Well it’s not cancer” (a relief since both my mom and my mother in law died of cancer) and then out loud I said to him “If you need a kidney, I’ll give you one.”  That was June of 2014.

What followed in the year plus after was a journey of faith and hope for both of us.  There was wrestling and doubt mixed with some of the greatest earthly love that could be known between and father and daughter.

A fear that soars

I remember seeing on my sister’s refrigerator years ago a quote from Chuck Swindoll:

“A fear that soars is faith.  A faith that sinks is fear”

Have you ever thought of how close to one another fear and faith are?  They are really twins if you think about it.  Both have to do with attitude and heart responses and little to do with what is being feared or the object of faith.  Both are very fragile. Each has the great ability to motivate the one who possesses it.

If you consider the object of a person’s fears, there are different sizes.  Spiders, mice, earthquakes, tornadoes?  When it comes to small things,  I have no problem squashing any bug or setting it free.  Bees have little affect on me except when my son thinks he sees one, then the whole world knows!  Mice, however, oh my!  The idea of little scampering creatures that hide in holes and sneak into pantries and cabinets.  Ahhh!  Let’s just say they give me the “heeby jeebies”

When it comes to large scale catastrophes, many feel fear because the devastation can be unimaginable.  It is an understandable fear albeit outside of the realm of what a person can control or predict.  The same could be said of death, terrorism or school shootings.

“The only thing to fear is fear itself.” FDR

Living by such a statement has enabled great triumphs in history.  It takes people of courage who stare fear in the face, not allowing it to conquer them to achieve great victories for the good of humanity.  Winston Churchill comes to mind as the epitomy of this.

What is missing, however, in such a statement is Who lies at the heart of the kind of fear we should all possess.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

This brings us back to the likeness of fear and faith.  Objects of fear grow in proportion to the extent to which one allows the fear to have a grip on the heart and soul.

Faith is also proportionate to the extent to which the object that is believed in.  If we exercise faith in a person, we can easily increase the magnitude of that person to a degree that binds them to meet the extent of our expectation.  Such faith is bound to fail all too often because the object is a flawed human being.

If we choose to have faith in “goodness” “justice” “love” we find ourselves creating a world that can be contained in a concept.  We keep hanging onto the faith that things will turn out according to these ideals and we easily become disillusioned because the tangible cannot live up to the intangible of our own construct of the concept.

When we put our faith in God, we enable Him not to be more than He is but to be exactly who He is.  And we allow that faith to apply to our own lives and the lives of those dearest to us.  We increase in faith not by believing more in the ability of what we can achieve but in just how Big our God is.  Our fears can soar when we look up and see the One who holds this Universe in His hands and who is faithful to every promise He has ever made.

We taught our kids a song when they were very young and I often wonder if I believe it myself:

My God is SO BIG, SO strong and SO mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.

The mountains are His, The valleys are His, the stars are His handiwork too.

My God is SO BIG, SO strong and SO mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.

FOR YOU!

Don’t fall prey to a sinking faith because you have a small God.  If you read this and live in fear, remember your fear can soar because there is a BIG GOD who holds every bit of this universe in his hands.