Friday, April 14, 2006

Easter 2006

Weekly Word for Easter 2006

“Truly, truly I say to you, that you will weep and lament, . . . You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy.”
(John 16: 20)

The other day, I went to visit an old friend. I have known her for almost 20 years. We met just around the time I met Norma. Our friendship is the type that comes and goes - there are times when we see each other quite a bit - and then there are the times when it seems like years go by. There were years when we attended the same church and the same bible studies. We were both good friends with Norma. But even so, we were never very close. We always said “hello” when we saw each other, and always asked about the other’s family when we met. But that was about all we shared. That is, until the difficult times. Then - - - we were there for each other . . .

So on this day, as I drove to see my friend - I wondered how things would go. I couldn’t help but think back over the years. To other times - when life seemed so difficult . . .

“Therefore you too now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you.”
(John 16: 22)

It was the day before Thanksgiving, very early in the morning, when the phone started to ring. Half asleep, I picked it up. Her voice was on the other end, telling me what had happened. As she talked, her voice cracked with the emotion of all she was dealing with. Just before I hung up, I told her I would be right over. Nervously I got ready, wondering what to say when I saw her.

She had woken up that morning, knowing her husband of 40 years was already up and dressed. It was his routine, waking up early to check calls and do a little work in his office, before anyone else had gotten up. So as she started toward the kitchen, needing a cup of tea to wake up, she heard him call out from his office down in the basement. She headed to the top of the stairs, wondering what he wanted. He was standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at her with a strange expression on his face. In what seemed like slow motion - and then faster than an instant - he collapsed on to the floor. Somehow, she made it to his side - wondering what was wrong. She heard his groans, and raced for the phone. What happened next, is a blur in her mind. There were firemen, and ambulances - all rushing to help. Most of that, she doesn’t quite remember. But what she does remember - is holding his head on her lap, and his eyes looking into hers - and then - in a moment - he was gone.

“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.”
(John 16: 5 & 6)

I made it to her house as quickly as I could. When I drove up, a few other cars were already there. As I went inside, she grabbed me - holding on tight as if she needed someone to keep her from drowning in the tears that kept coming. I remember sitting at her table, watching other friends come and go - and wondering why things happened the way they did. Every once in a while, she would stop and look at me - as if she hoped I could give her an answer. Finally, the pastor came to the house. When she saw him, she broke down crying again, and he listened and offered to pray. That morning, seemed to slip by so quickly. When I left, I wondered if I had helped her at all. She had lost the man who had been her friend, husband, and father of her children that day. And I wondered how her heart would heal from the loss.

Over the next few days, we celebrated Thanksgiving - and we mourned the loss of her husband. I can’t say how the two seemed to fit together, but they did. Ted and I sat together in church, as the memorial service for this man was held. He had never met him, but was able to get a glimpse of his life - from the people who were there. There was the choral group that he had been a member of for years, and their beautiful voices filled the little church - as the tears flowed. His daughters each told of a father who taught them about love and life. And the friends filled every pew and seat in the church. As we left that day, I knew that his life had meant a lot to so many people - and they were thankful to have known him.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
(John 15: 11 & 12)

Through the years, my friend and I would get together - now and then - to share the difficult things that life seemed to bring along the way. After her husband died, we visited a few times. I wasn’t always sure that I was able to help, but I listened. Sometimes we prayed together, and sometimes we just had a cup of tea. Then about a year ago, she called and wanted me to visit with her again. She sounded so happy, and I wondered what news she had for me.

Over a cup of tea, my friend told me about a new man in her life. Her cheeks turned a cute shade of pink, as she told me about how he had asked her to go out on a date. As she spoke, her eyes sparkled with such life, telling me all about him. And then they clouded over. “Am I doing the right thing?” she asked. “Am I making a mistake?”

“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name. Until now you have asked for nothing . . . Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.”
(John 16: 23 & 24)

The change in my friend seemed so wonderful, and I couldn’t find a reason to tell her “no”. She had been married to her first husband for 40 years. She had loved him from the time she was a young girl. And just like every marriage, there had been times of heartache and difficulties. For all those years, she had loved just one man. But now - he was gone. She wondered if what she was feeling was “foolish”. And she described feeling like a young girl again - with her heart beating fast whenever he came by. Was it possible that she had fallen in love again? When I looked at her - I knew that it was true.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16: 33)

A few weeks ago, my friend called me again. When I got off the phone, my heart hurt a little bit. I really didn’t know how things were going to go, as my friend was now battling cancer. She wanted me to come visit, but I was nervous and afraid. “Lord, I already lost one friend to cancer - do I have to go through this again?”

“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

It was a moment of selfishness, and I felt guilty right away. So as I drove to see her, I asked the Lord to be in charge . . .

There was laughter, and tears, during our visit. Her birthday was the next day, and so I had brought her a present. I had found a small painted pot, with a sunflower planted inside of it. The bright yellows and oranges seemed to make me smile just to look at it. So when I gave it to her, it surprised me that she cried. But that was how the visit went. She told me about her treatment, and I felt so bad when she said how sick she had been. I didn’t know what to say when she bent her head - showing me where her hair was falling out. But her eyes began to sparkle, when she told me about her new husband - and how much she really loved this man. He had taken her to every appointment. He was kind, and he was gentle. And I knew he was just what she needed, not just for now, but for her whole life. This man made her life complete - and full of joy!

“But now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy made full in themselves.”
(John 17: 13)

When I left my friend that day, I knew that she was facing one of the most difficult battles of her entire life. She has been through heartaches and losses before - and each time she had asked the Lord to walk it with her. Now, she is facing this new battle - and again she is holding on to the hand of the Lord. But He has given her another hand to hold on to as well. It is the hand of her new husband. Together, they will get through this. I don’t know how many years she has before her. But I do know - that she is full of Life . . .

This week is called “Holy Week” in the Christian faith. It is the week leading up to the death, and resurrection of the Lord. It is a time to reflect on what Jesus’ Life, and Death, means - to each of us. It is a time to look at our own lives - and realize that God wants us to have more - more Life and Love - - - forever . . .

“I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”
(John 10: 10)

Easter - “New Life” - - - God’s miracles are happening all around us. The winter snows have passed, and the ground is starting to thaw. The robins have returned from their winter places, and the flowers will soon begin to bloom. Wherever we look, the signs of “new life” are starting to show.

My friend has a brand new life and love. She is also facing a very difficult time in her life. But she is not alone. The Lord is with her - blessing each day - and walking with her - into forever . . .

That is my hope for you as well. That no matter what you face on this road ahead - that you will ask Him to walk it with you. He has been waiting for you - - - with outstretched arms - for you to say “yes”.

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 15: 11)

God bless you and keep you during this joyful Easter celebration - this celebration of a brand “new life”!

. . . These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing - you may have life in His name.
(John 20: 31)

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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