Monday, June 23, 2008

A Reason to Mourn

Last month a mother died. And as the austere funeral dirge rang out, her little boy cried. The boy cried tears that burned like acid the soul of a child brutally separated from the parent who loved him best. The mother whose body once nurtured and caressed now is reduced to mere ashes in a box. I hear his cries and my blood runs cold. A shiver runs up my spine and I feel my very soul shrivel in sympathy to his ache.

“The wages of sin is death,” Paul wrote to the Romans. Sin is death. Death is the ultimate experience of separation. And what is sin but utter separation from God?

2000 years ago, a Father died in the form of a Son. Yesterday, I invited the enticing emptiness of sin to separate me from that parent who loves me best. But I did not cry.

I fear death. But strangely I do not fear sin in the same way. When I consider the possibility of losing a child or my husband to death, it makes my blood run cold and I tremble. When I consider sin and its cruel separating force cutting me off from God, I shrug my shoulders in something frighteningly akin to indifference. If I loved God half as much as that child loved his mother, the thought of Sin’s separating impact would send me into throes of grief.

Is not God my heavenly father? Does not my sin separate me from Him? Oh God, let me ache and mourn when I sin. Give me pain, grievous pain of bereavement when I allow sin to separate me from you and sever our relationship. Let me recognize it as the death that it is – that you might accomplish true resurrection in me. Amen.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

"But God, She's Dead."

Have you ever known a person who truly knew God in the most intimate of ways -- whose life enriched yours simply by being near. Yesterday, I learned that one such person had passed away.

I pushed the news into the back of my consciousness and moved on to the people and issues of my day, but this morning when I took time to enter the presence of God, it all came back to me and I said, "God, Monyi is dead."

It is incomprehensible that such a relatively young and lively woman could really be gone. Monyi truly loved the presence of God, if anyone ever did. She lived in it. I suspect there is not a person alive in this part of the world who has not been impacted if not actively by her life, then certainly by her prayers. She would rise at 4am to get a good two hours with the Lord, before her day began.

Praying was like breathing for her, inextricably linked to her very existence. If a need arose, be it for family or ministry, her gut reaction was to pray, even if the solution seemed obvious. She knew how to hear God too -- even in the hard things.

To tell you the truth, I only met her a few times, but she had that kind of spirit that quite simply glowed in a way one cannot see with human eyes and yet, is unmistakably there. We did not speak the same language, but that did not matter. Christ so permeated all that she was that her very presence exuded Him.

So many faithful, constant, continuous prayers exhaled from one gentle spirit. I have no doubt her words in Christ's name uttered so humbly to the Father caused battalions of demons to tremble and flee. Having Monyi pray for you was like calling in a spiritual brigade of reinforcements.

I can't help but wonder how Hungary will go on without her prayers supporting us. And yet, why do I think her prayers somehow ceased with her death. Why would she who communed so naturally with God over the affairs and spiritual state of her people in this life, where one can see only dimly, suddenly stop when she sees her God face to face. (1Cor. 13:12)

This morning when my eyes welled with tears and I said to God, "Monyi is dead." God spoke back. "Trudy, Monyi is not dead," He said. "She is alive like she had never been alive before. You should see her."

I wish I could see Monyi in God's presence now. She lived to be in His presence in the weak way we frail creatures can stumble into his presence in this life (thanks to Christ's blood). But now, in her death that overwhelming passion for His presence has been made complete as she will truly dwell in the house of Lord forever. Amen.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Remember ... and Do Not Forget!

"God is big on urging us to remember," I noted in a recent Bible study.

"We are big on forgetting," a friend wisely replied. And she is right.

Nearly 100 times in scripture, God commands or exhorts us to "Remember" or "Do not forget." In fact, God rooted the whole Jewish system of sacrifice and ceremony in remembering, from the passover feast which reminded them of their slavery and deliverance to each bloody sacrifice which reminded them of their sin. (Heb.10:3).

Why is God so emphatic that we remember? Because we are so prone to forget and when we forget, we so subtly, yet steadily drift away from Him.

"Remember," says the Lord over and over again. "And do not forget..."

What is it that the Lord wants us to remember?

As I reviewed all these passages over this past week, I found four fundamental categories of commands for remembrance.

1. God, over and over, calls his people to remember their slavery (Deut 5:15, 15:15, 24:32), the days of darkness (Eccl. 11:8). Remember the days of suffering. (Hebrews 10:32).

2. Remember God's deliverance from that severe time. (Deut. 7:18,8:2, 16:12, Matt 16:9)

3. Remember the law of God. (Joshua 1:13,Mal. 4:4)

4. Most abundantly, the scripture urges us to remember the deeds and attributes of God, who He is in His very nature and how He has proved it in His actions. (1Chron. 16:12, Job 36:24,PS 77:11)

"Yeah, yeah, I know all that stuff," you may be thinking. But when was the last time you sat down and took to time to remember, to think back on the darkest, most painful time of your life and remember those days of suffering, and then remember exactly how the Lord brought your deliverance? And in light of what the Lord has done in your life, when was the last time you simply reflected on his word and prayed it back to him and celebrated in either written on spoken word, the sheer delight of who He is?

Our time is precious to us. But the Lord has commanded us to "Remember!" So here is a challenge: Take time this week to remember these things, either sharing it with a friend or writing it in a journal or simply praying it aloud to God, himself.

Let's take some time to remember, and perhaps in this discipline, we will discover a new richness in relationship with Him.