Thursday, January 05, 2006

Weekly Word for January 5, 2006

Weekly Word - January 5, 2006

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven - - -
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1)

It is 2006! When I think about that fact, I can’t help but look back at the year that has just left us. It was a year filled with so many changes in our lives. There were times of great sadness, as well as times filled with joy. There was uncertainty and fear, as well as healing and laughter. As I think back over the past year, the past month, and even the past week - - - I realize how uncertain our days can be. And in a moment - our lives can change forever . . .

A time to give birth, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 2)

As I woke up that morning, the blackness of the skies seemed to fit how I felt. I didn’t look forward to the day, and all that lay ahead. Ted had to work that day, and so I was left to go alone. I was heading to a funeral, and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. As I drove up to the church, the skies seemed to open up, and the rain came pouring down. Getting out of the car, I pulled my raincoat closer together as I headed up the stairs and into the church.

The funeral was for Bill. We met Bill the very first day we had moved into our new apartment. He was an older gentleman who lived two houses down from us. He liked to sit on his front porch and watch the people go by - always saying “hello“ to everyone. So when he saw Ted’s white truck sitting in front of the house, he just had to come down and find out who we were. Ted and I found ourselves talking to Bill for quite a while, hearing about the neighborhood and a little bit about Bill’s life. As we turned to head inside, Bill said: “You are both so nice, your smiles warm my heart”. And then he turned and headed for another neighbor’s house.

From that moment on, Bill always said hello when we went by. His eye sight wasn’t very good, and so he didn’t always recognize us. But when he did, the conversations would start. He loved to tell “old men” jokes that sometimes made others blush. But I just laughed as he told them, liking him despite his bad jokes!

“Blessed is the man whose hope is the Lord.”
“For he will be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river, . . .”
(Jeremiah 17: 7 & 8)

As I sat in the pew, listening to the service, I thought about the man who’s coffin was now at the altar. I couldn’t help but think back over the past year - and the few times we spent talking . . .

Bill had locked himself out of his apartment. It was early spring, and pouring outside. I was working in my office when I heard the doorbell. There was Bill standing on the front porch. He was wearing only his t-shirt, sweats, and slippers - and I could see he was very upset. I tried to get him to come into my house, but he wouldn’t budge off of the porch. He wondered if I could help him by calling his family to help him get back inside. Having no luck with the phone calls, we headed back to his house - hoping to find a way to get him inside. We must have looked quite strange, as we tried to figure a way to get me up and through one of his windows. When we finally gave up on that idea, I told him to wait on his porch as I ran back to my house. There, I called the fire department. As I told them about Bill, I asked if they could help. They told me they could, and I ran back to tell Bill that help was on the way. “Stay with me until they come” he asked. And so I sat down next to him, waiting and talking. He told me little bits about his life, about his family, and then he told me about his wife. She had died a few years earlier, and he told me how he believed she had made him a better person. With tears in his eyes, he told me how he still missed her. When the firemen came, they quickly got his door open, and he was soon back in his apartment. And I - well I went back home - thinking about Bill.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
(Mathew 5: 3 & 4)

As the service continued, I thought about the last time I visited with Bill. It was summertime, and I had decided to take a walk. As I got in front of Bill’s house, he was there sitting on the porch. His eye sight had gotten very bad, and so I had to tell him who I was. “Oh Debbie, it’s you!” he said. And I laughed and told him it was me. I knew that a few people on the road avoided stopping to talk, as Bill loved to talk - and for long periods of time! But on this day, I stopped. I can’t remember all that we talked about, but I do remember bits and pieces. We talked about church - and we talked about faith. We talked about his family, and then about his wife. He told me how he knew his wife had helped him to be more patient with his children. He told me he was more caring because of her. He told me he wondered if God could forgive him for being “who” he was, because he hoped he would see her again - when he left this world. As he talked, the tears were there again - as he told me how much he missed her . . .

For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee.
(Psalm 86: 5)

The funeral service continued, and I wondered about so many things. I hadn’t known Bill very long, but he felt like a friend to me. As the service was almost over, the priest blessed the casket and all who were there - and then he called Bill’s grandson up to speak. I had never met him, but I liked him instantly. He told about his grandpa Bill, and about all the people who his grandpa would stop and talk to. His grandpa seemed to have the ability to just talk with anyone and everyone. He laughed easily, and smiled a lot. As his grandson continued to talk, the tears came. I sat there listening to him tell about the man I only knew a little bit. A man who was a friend - and knew how to love . . .

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
“The one who does not love - does not know God, for God is love.”
(1 John 4: 7 & 8)

As I drove away from the church, the tears continued to fall. I hadn’t known him very long, but I felt like the world had lost someone who knew how to be a “friend”. As I wiped away the tears, I headed home to change clothes. I really didn’t have much time to mourn though, as I was needed to babysit my grandchildren.

As I opened the door, two little girls came running - grabbing my legs and yelling “Grandma, it’s you!” I laughed and scooped them up, loving them both so much. As I walked into the living room, I heard the baby fussing in his crib. As his momma brought him down the stairs, he looked over at me and smiled. I couldn’t help but smile back at this beautiful little boy.

The rest of the day was spent playing with the children. I fed the baby, watched Abby dance, and read stories. And then, as she was playing on the floor, Emma looked over at me and said: “I love you Grandma!” It was said so simply, and yet it made my heart feel so good - on a day when earlier it had felt so sad . . .

And there is a time for every event under heaven - - -
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1 & 4)

We all face days of sadness and goodbyes, but there is also the promise of laughter and love. This past year has been a time of struggling with personal hurts and pain - as well as celebrating new life and healing. As I think back on this past year, I am grateful for so much! I am thankful for the gifts of loving my children and my husband. I am also thankful for the friendships in my life - even those I have had to say good-bye to. Their lives, made a difference in my life!

When I look back over the past year, I think about that one day - so full of every emotion. It was a day of “good-byes” as well as “I love you”. It was one day - of living “life”.

Each moment we take a breath on this earth, we have the ability to touch another life. Just like Bill, we have the choice before us - to say hello - or to walk away . . .

But let all who take refuge in Thee be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And mayest Thou shelter them, That those who love Thy name - may exult in Thee.
(Psalm 5: 11)

As you face this brand new year, each day is a mystery waiting to unfold. Each moment holds the choice - to love or to care. There will always be times of troubles and sorrows - but the Lord also promises love and great joy! Will you ask Him to walk with you each moment of each day - showing you how to live “Life”? When you do - our world is changed forever - as you say “Hello” to those you meet - along the way . . .

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.
(Psalm 30:5)

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
(John 15: 11)

God bless you in this brand new year of 2006!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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