Scripture of the Month (August)
“In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
-- John 14:2 NIV
My dear uncle Bob passed away recently, and I was asked to speak at his memorial service. Here is some of what I said last week to honor and celebrate the life of that godly, loving man.
Uncle Bob was not only my uncle; he was my confidant and spiritual advisor, and a very good friend. He taught me that it’s not as important to be busy doing things for God as it is to simply enjoy His presence. Imagine, if you will, sitting on a park bench with the Creator of the universe—would you really ask a hundred questions? Uncle Bob didn’t think so. He believed he would be wrapped up in total adoration; he’d just want to sit quietly and soak up God’s incredible love. In many ways, Uncle Bob did exactly that each day as he opened his Bible and read, memorizing and letting Scripture seep down into his heart.
“Heaven is our heart’s deepest longing,” Uncle Bob told me more than once. (Yes, he'd read Peter Kreeft's wonderful book Heaven, the Heart’s Deepest Longing.) Uncle Bob believed dying would be as effortless as going from one room to another—from this life to the glorious next. Like stepping onto a new shore and discovering it’s heaven, like touching a hand and finding it’s God’s. Home at last!
My wish for you this month is that you will bask in the presence of our great God. And if you do not know the Lord Jesus, that you will open your heart to receive the One who gave His life for you, and for each of us...that we might live beyond the grave. Blessings, dear friends!
Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
-- Psalm 16:1-2 NIV
Have you ever stopped to think what are your most cherished possessions? If you had to evacuate your home, what would you take with you?
A few days ago, Dave and I found ourselves considering those very questions as mountain wildfires raged just a few miles from our home—the now epic Waldo Canyon Fire so many are still bravely fighting.
Attempting to remain clearheaded and calm, I went through each room in our house, beginning with my office. I saw the awards for my novels, and the irreplaceable research books, some very old and passed along by my mother’s Plain relatives. And I noted the numerous editions of each of my own books—the many dust-jacketed hard covers, as well as foreign, large print, and book club editions.
Ten years ago when we evacuated, due to the Hayman Fire, I packed about thirty boxes of things I thought I would miss! This time, far less. The kids’ framed art, family albums, important papers, two special bracelets from Dave, an heirloom quilt, my leather Bible, and a letter my mother wrote to me, to be read upon her death. The latter is timely, especially because today, June 28, would have been her ninetieth birthday. I love you, my darling Beverly. I believe in you, because you gave your heart to Jesus when you were just a little girl of six, and you yearn to follow His ways. Cling to His loving hand, always…and trust wholly in Him. Reading those words again reminded me of all I really need: the Lord Jesus.
The Lord is our only true refuge. He is our “good thing”—the greatest treasure in my life, and in yours. I knew that. But I realized it afresh as I read the words written by a sweet mother who always encouraged me to follow God and His call upon my heart. To this day, she is the reason I write my inspirational stories.
Yes, it took a very short time to pack my most important things this past week. Tangible memories, impossible to replace. They are now contained in three boxes, waiting in case we have to evacuate. But the best treasures aren’t physical, are they? We remember the precious smiles on the faces of our children and grandchildren, the heartfelt “I love yous” said by our spouses—nothing can take those things away. Best of all, as it says in Romans 8:35, nothing can separate us from the love of God. We carry His love in our hearts each day, no matter how calamitous the circumstances around us.
I wish that kind of love for you and your family. May you, too, find that God is your “good thing” in every circumstance.
My son, listen to your father’s discipline, and do not neglect your mother’s teachings, because discipline and teachings are a graceful garland on your head and a golden chain around your neck.
— Proverbs 1: 8,9 GOD'S WORD Translation
Father’s Day champions faithful and caring dads. Yet what’s a joyful day for many can be difficult for those whose fathers have abandoned them.
I personally am grateful for a father who entrusted his life and his family to God. Called to ministry in a Kansas cornfield at the age of sixteen, Dad has followed the Lord in every respect, as a pastor of several church plants, in missions around the world, and in encouraging other ministers. He is a godly example to many who’ve followed his life’s work and ministry. Following Dad’s retirement from pastoring, he and my mother made more than twenty trips into mainland China. Oh, the stories of redemption that come from their life of ministering together! (Mother went to be with the Lord six years ago next month.)
My dad’s first “brush with temptation” came at the age of fourteen, when he and his fifteen-year-old uncle decided they were tired of their little town and made plans to run away from home. They jumped into an empty boxcar on the Union Pacific train tracks in Lawrence, Kansas and waited for the engine to hook up. While waiting, Dad began to ponder the fact his father was on the road, hauling cattle...which meant my dad’s chores of milking the cow and feeding the chickens—and all the other outside chores—would fall to his already very busy mother, who at the time had five children.
Without saying a word to his rambunctious uncle, Dad changed his mind, jumped off the boxcar, and headed down the hill toward home. It wasn’t long before he heard the tramp of footsteps and turned to see his uncle Henry coming up behind him. Both boys returned home that afternoon to their families. Responsibility and good training had won out!
Even though I heard this story many times growing up, my dad, who will celebrate his eighty-seventh birthday this fall, recently shared this account with me again. It struck me that my dad valued responsibility, love of family, and hard work from even early on. I owe so very much to my godly father, who instilled the same traits in me and my younger sister.
Happy Father’s Day to my dear daddy! And blessings to all the fathers represented here.
"We ask this so that you will live the kind of lives that prove you belong to the Lord. Then you will want to please him in every way as you grow in producing every kind of good work by this knowledge about God."
-- Colossians 1:10 GOD'S WORD Translation
I'm fondly recalling my recent Spring 2012 Book Tour to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, where I met some of the nicest people! Thanks very much for coming out to spend time chatting with me, getting The Fiddler signed for yourself and your friends, and sharing Christ’s love. I also truly enjoyed the opportunity to give many library presentations. Thanks to the librarians—salt of the earth!—and to the seemingly “whole towns” that turned out.
This morning I have been pondering the verse above, wanting to share it with all of you...trusting God to continue His blessed work in all of our lives. When we imitate our Father in heaven, it is His great love that our families and those in our circle of friends experience.
And Mother’s Day is coming soon, an opportunity to celebrate the wonderful calling of motherhood. Many of you are new mothers this year. Oh, do I ever remember the bliss of holding our three little ones for the very first time as an adoptive mother! It seems like just yesterday.
There is something precious and amazing about a mother’s love...and a mother’s fervent prayers for her family. I believe prayer is our first calling as moms, and I love honoring that precious "call" on my own life after waiting years to finally lay eyes on our first baby, now a beautiful mother to her own little sweetie. Some of you mothers of grown children may also be delighting in holding your grandchildren this year. Such a gift!
Blessings to all the moms especially this lovely springtime month!