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What’s Up Ahead?

There are two things I love outside of my family: writing and knitting. Oh, and the color blue. Give me anything blue and I’m the happiest woman in the world! Yet, if I had to choose, I’d write until I had no life left. Unfortunately, Ninja Turtles barge in with swords and masked faces to interrupt all that I hold dear, if for no other reason than to keep my attitude in check so I’m reminded of what’s really important.

Knitting is a lot like writing. It has a tendency to keep you isolated. I could visit my favorite shop and sit with other ladies and knit until my heart is content. But at some point, I always find myself in my favorite chair knitting alone. Writers are also loners. It doesn’t bother them to sit for hours at a time to create a story. I, for one, don’t need anyone to keep me company; and I don’t need to be inside a knitting store to get excited over a new project or new skeins of yarn.

Because I’m wearing a lot of the scarves I’ve made, my knitting projects have come to the attention of many at my congregation. Unexpectedly, knitting is doing something out of the ordinary. It’s drawing people into my inner circle. And this unexpected gift is what has inspired this article.

Weeks ago I had a new knitter come visit me and we sat and knitted while we talked. Since she’s been knitting for a little over a year now, I challenged her to spread her wings and tap into new knitting techniques; to try SSK (slip, slip, knit), simple basket weave patterns, and new ways to cast on. As I tried to demonstrate the Provisional Cast On method, I noticed she continuously asked if this was the only technique used to perform a Provisional Cast On. I said yes, then hesitated, realizing rather quickly there are several ways to perform a Provisional Cast On—with a crochet hook, or with a knitting needle and two different colored yarns.

I wondered:  Why does she need a road map for each new technique?

Then something occurred to me. More often than not we all want to know what’s ahead of us. Where is the next turn? How far do we need to go? Will we make it by dark? Is there enough food? Will the pain be bearable or longsuffering? Just how long are patients on a waiting list for a transplant? Will mine occur soon enough? Is there a cure? Will it hurt to die?

I grew impatient with this probe into the unknown. I wanted to get on with knitting. I had a learn-as-you-go attitude. I have no fear of this adventure because I’m accustomed to it. My new knitting partner, however, had no idea where she was headed. She was afraid. Reluctant. And it didn’t take long for her anxieties to transform her lazy way of talking into a rapid, almost breathless screech of despair. Her hands shook. Her voice raised a decibel or two. Without warning, she declared rather loudly that all she wanted to do was knit and purl as before, not be thrown into an abyss.

Can you imagine laboring over half-filled fishing nets, dragging them to shore as you weigh your debts against your menial profit? Then from out of nowhere, a fisherman calls out to you, “Come, follow me!”

I’m certain my initial response would not be: Drop the net and follow the stranger. I don’t care how peaceful or loving he appears, I’m not following anyone I don’t know. My deep, furrowed brow would convey my reluctance and my thoughts would be: Has this guy lost his mind? I’ve got a family to feed.

Dread would surely consume me if an angel entered my dreams and said, “Behold, Donna, the Son of God is growing inside your womb.” No way I’d hear the announcement that I should name the child Emanuel, the Prince of Peace. Not me. This angel chose the wrong woman. Sorry, Gabriel, but you got the wrong house. I think you meant Mary across the street. I’m telling you, I’d leave my bed and take out in a dead run, stopping only when I felt safe and out of harm’s way.

For God to stop me on any road to confront me and redirect my path to Damascus would have scared me so bad that my heart would probably burst open. And not being able to see would have caused sheer panic and soiled garments.

And yet . . .

I can’t find a place in the New Testament where one of the disciples ever asked, Why? Where are we going? How long is the journey? I’ll be right back. Let me call my wife.

Who are these men? What’s driving their faith? Aren’t they worried about the unknown?

To answer these questions, I had to get real and dig deep into my journey as a knitter.

There was always something intriguing about using a single strand of thread (yarn) to create a garment. I desperately needed to know how to manipulate this strand . . . how to twist and stretch and whirl it around so it would lay neat and flat in all its splendor. My curiosity intensified to the point that I ignored fears of entering a store to inquire how to knit. That visit led to another, and before I knew it I was knitting a child’s sweater.

I think that’s the way it happened with the disciples. Jesus didn’t just hastily spring upon them. I tend to believe the coming Messiah was so much on their hearts and minds that they spent hours upon hours hashing and rehashing how he’d appear . . . when he’d appear . . . imagining how much raucous he’d cause once he showed up. John the Baptist’s preaching of the Messiah fed their anticipation, their desire for him reaching unimaginable proportions. By the time Jesus stood along the shore and beckoned them to, “Come, follow me,” they were eager to obey.

See, they didn’t need to ask, Why? They understood why. Of course, their reasons for his coming and what he’d do once he came were misconstrued. But their hearts never waivered at his appearing. Their soul and spirit knew.

We also know.

Amid all the noise, turbulent storms, strife and heartaches, sickness and despair, we know.

We just need reminders. Encouragement. Refreshed hope. (“I take great joy and encouragement in your love, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 1:7)

Every last one of us wants a bright and prosperous future. And we don’t want anything to impede our hopes for it. But that’s unrealistic. Broken hearts need mending. Those who promote social injustice need repentant hearts and forgiveness. Truth needs to replace lies. Diseases need to be cured. And the dead, spiritual and physical, need raising.

When prayers for such things go unanswered and the road map leads in another direction, we proclaim God isn’t listening. Surely, if he loved me . . .

Consider this:

“Indeed, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted . . .” (2 Timothy 3:12)

Really?

What if God gave you this warning:

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Look, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will suffer tribulation for ten days. Be faithful even unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.” (Revelation 2:10-11)

Why is any of this significant?

Because God does not promise we won’t encounter hardship. One of you may be overtaken by a deadly disease. Another, by injustice. Yet another, by poverty. And then another, by famine.

If the ire of those who suffer go against God, who will be left to serve and praise him? Are there any righteous among you?

I declare to you: God is alive and hears every plea placed before his throne.

“When He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held the golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8)

God is a fine architect. The finest of all. He has designed a segue of pillars and floors and walls and roofs to protect and keep you safe.

He knows the number of hairs on your head; knows everything about you; and can read the heart of man and discern his intent. (1 Chronicles 28:9)

For us to declare that we know what and how God will do what he sets out to do is foolishness. No matter how we spin it, we will never know the fullness of God until we meet him face to face. My knees shake as I think of what it will be like to see him, to bow in his presence, to feel him, to encounter his endless love.

It is absolutely useless for us to fret over what’s around the corner. We are like children, holding daddy’s hand as he leads us through life’s supermarket of twists and turns. We can no more guess what’s ahead of us than we can predict the return of the risen Savior.

Our time is better spent reflecting and praising God for all that he’s brought us through. It’s time for us to go down Memory Lane and smile at all the times he rescued us from the perils of our own misdeeds. It’s time to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving for his endless mercy. To remind ourselves of the grace we’ve been given and don’t deserve.

Life is indeed a supermarket with gnarled speed bumps in the aisles. Some of those bumps slow us down and hamper our goals toward success. Often those speed bumps are so dangerous that we must choose another route. We often become disappointed and discouraged by these detours, only to find out much later that God had something better in mind for us.

We cannot second guess God. We need to stop trying to do so.

There is, however, one thing certain.

He loves me! He truly loves me!! And he wishes no harm come to me.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

God will never lead you astray, leave you alone, or allow you to fall farther than he can reach. He doesn’t know how to fail. And he surely didn’t fail when he created you. He designed every fiber of your being with his masterful hand. No mistakes made. Everything is set in its proper place. And you, dear friend, are a masterpiece. Unique. One of a kind. Special. Kept completely whole and continuously cleaned by the blood of Jesus Christ.

You are a living and breathing child of God. Only he knows what’s best for you. He’s created a road map specifically for YOUR life. Your destination: heaven. At a long, splendid and elaborately set table is a seat for you and in the next room is a place to lay your head. You know your starting point. You know your end. Everything in between is a marvelous, adventurous journey with testy steep hills, high winds, rainy Sundays, and at last, brilliant Son-Rises. We must find joy while on our journey and not get distracted and sidetracked along the way.

Trust and be obedient to God and he will save you.

“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)

The next time you set out on your spiritual journey, pack the sword of truth. Set aside your anguish. Gird yourself with joy, peace, love, and hope. Because just over the hill, to the right, in that bend in the road is a shining light waiting for your arrival. Prepare yourself. Strap in tight. For God Almighty is about to reveal himself in all his glory. And with outstretched arms, he’s soothing all that aches inside you.

Take a deep breath and feel his presence.

Amen!

Donna B. Comeaux

He is Alive!

He is Alive!

 

Mary wrapped barley bread, dried olives, dates, and figs in a cloth and placed them in her husband’s pouch.  Cleopas extended his arms, allowing his wife to tighten his girdle with a clasp then tuck coins in one side of it and on the other side a small serving of figs and nuts.  When Cleopas lowered his arms, Mary beckoned him to raise his left again so she could slip a water-filled goatskin up his arm and over his shoulder.  Mary tugged at the sword fastened to his girdle.  Satisfied that it was tightly in place, she took a step back and looked him over.  Her sad penetrating eyes grew with concern.

“I wish you would stay with us,” Mary whispered.  “There is danger.”

Cleopas kissed his wife on the forehead then held her tight.  “I will return before nightfall tomorrow.  Do not worry.”

Mary gazed over her shoulder at the disciples.  “Everyone is so worried what the Romans will do next.  I am afraid for you.”

“Meydad is with me and we will protect one another if anything goes wrong.  There is no need for concern.  If Ha’Adon is willing, I will return.”

“Be safe,” Mary said.

“Meydad, come.  We must go.”

Cleopas took one last look at the disciples, each one standing or sitting in various areas of the room, their faces perplexed from the stories they had been told by the women, and Peter.  Earlier this morning they discovered Yeshua’s tomb was empty.  Peter fled the house with John (whom Yeshua loved), Cleopas and several other disciples at Peter’s heels, all rushing to the tomb.  It was as the women had said.  The tomb was empty.  Yeshua was gone.  Distraught and weakened by what he had seen, Cleopas returned to the house, wondering what all of this meant.

The disciple hugged his wife again then he and Meydad set out for Emmaus on foot.  They took time to labor through memories of the last three days, how they had gone from joy to that of sadness.  Cleopas couldn’t believe that one day he had witnessed Yeshua riding into the city on a donkey, everyone rejoicing and praising the Messiah.  Then the next day, Yeshua was carrying his cross on that long walk to Golgotha.

Cleopas couldn’t reconcile the live Messiah with the dead Messiah who had succumbed to a torturous beating and crucifixion.  To complicate matters, the women and Peter claimed to have seen him.  Cleopas didn’t know what to make of this.

I am the resurrection and the life . . .

Those words burned in his soul even now, but he no more understood them today than he did yesterday.

“What are you thinking, Cleopas?  You have not said a word since we left Jerusalem,” Meydad said.

“I am searching for understanding.”

“I am too.  Do you still believe Yeshua was the Messiah?”

“I do, but there is so much that does not make sense to me.”

“Now that he is dead, the answers may have been buried with him,” Meydad said.

“I do not get it, Meydad.  One day he is preaching ‘I am the way,’ and the next day he is gone.  And we do not even have a body to prove he died.  I know he died.  I saw him.  Bloody linen in the tomb attests to the fact that he was there.”

“You think the Romans took him?”

“Perhaps.  No!  I do not know.  But if the women and Peter saw him, then where is he?”  A long silence wedged between Cleopas and Meydad as the two men pondered the question.  “You should have seen him in the temple, Meydad.  There has never been anything like it.  He sat among our people teaching with authority.  He spoke of love and unity . . . of G-d the Father.  He spoke of a new heaven . . . a new earth.  His words brought peace and hope.”

“That may be, but we are still under Roman rule,” Meydad said, stating the obvious.  “There is no new heaven or earth here.  He failed to rescue us from the hands of these butchers.  All he may have done was make things worse for us.  Our people are nervous . . . scared.  They have no idea what will happen next.  It seems to me that we are far worse than we were at the beginning.”

“I do not believe it,” Cleopas said, trying his best to hold on to hope.

“You mean you will not believe it.”

“Here is what I know, Meydad.  Yeshua was crucified for a debt he did not owe.  He died in place of Barabbas.  It is Barabbas who should have died on that cross.  Not Yeshua.”

“Why do you think Yeshua let it happen?”

“Meydad, what makes you think he allowed it?”

“For one thing, he never defended himself.  Is that not odd?”

“That is so troubling to me.”

“For another thing, the miracles he performed are widely known.  Are you forgetting about Lazarus, how he raised him from the dead?”

“How could anyone forget Lazarus’s resurrection?”

“Then why Yeshua did not prevent his own death?  Did he not have the power?”

“Of course he did.  He fed five thousand people with three fish and two loaves of bread, Meydad!  He made the blind see and he healed the sick.  Of course he had power.”  Cleopas stopped for a moment and dragged his hand on his face.  “That is the very part of all this that I cannot comprehend.  He did not need to suffer.”  Cleopas walked ahead, his feet pounding the dusty road in anger.  “There he was standing in the midst of all Roman and Jewish authority at a perfect time to destroy them and declare his kingdom.  He had the power to end all Roman rule with a mere word from his mouth, but he did not do it.  He never said a mumbling word.  Why?  Why?”  Cleopas was clearly frustrated.

“Maybe it was just his time to go,” Meydad concluded.

“But there is so much more work to be done,” Cleopas said.  He wasn’t quite sure who he was trying to convince, Meydad or himself.

“Do you believe the women?  Do you believe Peter?  You think he is alive?”

“If so, where is he?”

“What is it that you are discussing?” a traveler asked as he joined in their walk.

Cleopas and Meydad stood still and looked at the traveler with dismay.  The traveler had sandals on his feet, a scarf loosely covering his head and draped around his neck.  But he had no provisions—no food and no water.

“Are you the only one in all of Jerusalem who has not heard what has happened there?” Cleopas asked, his emotions on the brink of collapse.

“What things?” the traveler asked.

“The things about Yeshua of Nazareth, a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of G-d and all his people . . . how our chief priests and rulers ridiculed him, falsely accused him, then delivered him to Pilate to be crucified.  We were hoping he was the one who would redeem Israel.  But now he is dead.  He has been gone away from us for three days.  Our hearts ache for him.”  Cleopas choked up, tears welled in his eyes.

“Then something strange happened this morning,” Cleopas continued.  “Our women went to his tomb with spices to prepare for his burial, but they came back to the house claiming he is alive . . . that his tomb is empty . . . that they had seen him.  I followed Peter to the tomb and we found it indeed empty.  How can all this be?  How is it that he is now alive?  What does it mean?  And where is he?”

“Oh, foolish men who are slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary for Yeshua to suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  Then beginning with Moshe (מׄשֶׁה) and all the prophets, the traveler explained to them all things found in the scriptures.

By the time they reached Emmaus, it was nightfall and they pleaded with the traveler to stay with them.

Women and children helped prepare the evening meal, lit candles, and set wine on the table before their guests.  There was something different in the air—an unusual warmth, a welcomed peace that neither Cleopas or Meydad understood.  They enjoyed

the traveler and admired his knowledge of the scriptures.  In fact, Cleopas hadn’t heard such teachings since . . .

Cleopas furrowed his brow as memories of the Messiah flowed through him like warm honey.  “. . . have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”  Cleopas also remembered, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.”

He almost fell to his knees when he recalled how Yeshua sat on the mountain, saying:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth . . . .”

The disciple wiped away tears and forced himself to leave the memories behind him and join the others at the table.  When everyone was poised and ready to eat, the traveler gave thanks and broke bread, passing a portion to each of them.

At once, fear and elation rushed through Cleopas, then Meydad, for they recognized the traveler as Yeshua!

“Yeshua . . . Ha’Adon!” Cleopas and Meydad shouted.

Then Yeshua disappeared.

Cleopas and Meydad stared at one another, in awe of what they had seen.  Their hearts pumped with joy.  They were so excited that they tried to talk at the same time, but it was Cleopas who was the most outspoken.

“Did our hearts not burn within us while he talked on the road and opened the scriptures to us?” Cleopas asked.  “Hurry!  Hurry!!  We must go to Jerusalem and tell the others.”

When Cleopas and Meydad returned to Jerusalem, they pounded the locked doors of the house where the apostles were gathered.  John (the one whom Yeshua loved) opened the door and Cleopas rushed pass him and declared, “It is true!  The Lord has risen and he appeared to Simon just as he said.  And now he has appeared to us!”  Cleopas grabbed Nathaniel by the arms and shook him.  “It is true, Nathaniel.  Thomas, James, Philip, do you hear us.  It is true!  We have seen him!  We have seen the Lord!  We have seen Ha’Adon!  He is alive.  I tell you, he is alive!”

 

Waiting for the Messiah

(a fictional short story based on biblical truths and ancient customs)

“Beulah, I do not understand why Avi does it—sit there day after day weaving away, hardly sleeping.”

“Shh, Ephah, she will hear you.  Let her be.  Whatever Avi is doing she has her mind fixed on it and there is nothing we can say to change her purpose. Now, come,” Beulah said as she tugged on Ephah’s arm.

Ephah pulled away and reached for the long cloth covering Avi’s open door.  “I think we should go in and sit with her and find out what she is doing, Beulah.”

“No!  Ephah, do not.”

“Are you not curious?”

“Yes, of course I am, but it is none of our business.  We should go.  We have work to do.  The men will be home from the field soon and I must cook lentils and lamb stew for dinner, at the request of my husband.”

“Humph.  Tomorrow then,” Ephah said, sorely disappointed that they did not have time to go inside and probe Avi about her sudden withdrawal from her people.  “Tomorrow we will make her tell us.”

“No, Ephah.  No.  Tomorrow we must busy ourselves with preparations for the Pesach.  We have one week left to get ready.  Tomorrow, and all the days thereafter, we must leave Avi alone.  We have too much to do.  Come, go quickly.  There is so little time.”

A slight breeze blew the thin covering nailed to Avi’s door and cooled the stillness in her one-room bavith.  Plumes of dust entered the room as the two women outside scurried away.  Avi stopped weaving and listened.  “Adonai, thank you.  It is peaceful again.”

Avi stood then stretched her back and wiggled her toes, shook the mat and repositioned the blanket that she had folded underneath it.  The earthen floor of her bavith was smooth, hard packed; the walls made of clay.  The bavith was old, built by her late husband and two sons—all dead now.  Her roof, well-established, had a beam that ran from wall to wall and atop was a healthy crop of grass, barley, and the dying beginnings of a fig tree that wouldn’t survive the summer’s heat.

Simmering in a corner of the bavith was a pot of lentil soup.  From the market, she had purchased a leg of lamb and placed half of it in the soup; the other half she shared with a neighbor.  A small basket protected a portion of raw grain, enough to last three days.  In a tiny bowl covered with a cloth were a handful of dates, olives, and a small serving of buttermilk cheese to nourish Avi if she needed to eat before dinner.

On the opposite side of the bavith where she was hard at work, was a bed mat rolled up neat, pressed against the wall.  Next to the mat, all the clothes she owned lay wrapped and tied with a string.

For nearly a year, without fail, she rose early to fetch water from the well, filling two goatskins to capacity, doing so before the other women came to gather and participate in idle talk.  Then she’d rush back to her bavith to cook today’s meal before returning to her sewing.

Avi shared Ephah’s need to understand, but even Avi didn’t know why weaving the garment until the wee hours of the morning had become an obsession.  Sewing this garment, a man’s ef’-od, was a mystery to her, and she had no idea who would wear it.  Without knowledge of his breadth, height, and age, everything about this undertaking seemed pointless.  But the moment she made up her mind to stop fighting the message that kept running through her mind as she slept, her energy increased and she soon discovered that four hours of rest each night was sufficient.

With a week left before the Pesach, her people’s commemoration of G-d passing over them when he slew the first born of Egypt, Avi became more determined than ever to finish her work.  Everyone in Jerusalem anticipated the holiday—buying and selling goods to ensure they had enough to host kinsmen and friends coming from afar.

Avi worked tirelessly and as she did so she pondered rumors of a man claiming to be the Messiah close to her heart.  Ancient stories of the coming King had circulated throughout Israel long before her birth.  As a child, she remembered the elders talking around campfires, saying, “He will rule the earth and bring us peace.”  They celebrated this promise in full expectation—dancing to lively music, roasting the best lamb, feasting on honey, and drinking the finest wine.  Recent rumors of this miracle worker who had come to save Avi’s people spread through Jerusalem like warm honey.  She had yet to investigate these stories to determine if they were myths or truths.  Perhaps he was another imposter who might leave her people downtrodden once again, casting doubts upon the ancient tales of the patriarchs.

She’d been too preoccupied with the task at hand to walk a mile or two or three to witness the teacher everyone raved about.  The vast majority of her people reported he had healed the blind, made the lame walk, turned water into wine.  The entire countryside went into an uproar when he supposedly raised Lazarus from the dead.  The most absurd story of all, at least for Avi, was his ability to walk on water.  Avi couldn’t put that story to rest.  It agitated her, woke her in the middle of the night, caused her to call upon Adonai and cry herself to sleep.

Not long after the dreams ceased, for reasons she still couldn’t comprehend, Avi saved every denarius earned from repairing neighbors’ old garments. With the money, she bought fine expensive yarn.  Since Avi’s family died many years ago, it didn’t make sense to buy it.  What would she do with this elaborate twisted fiber?  Avi wondered if she had acted foolishly.  So taunted with worry, she wrapped the yarn of fine linen inside her cloak then sat near a lamp and stared at it as if expecting it to move about her bavith and perhaps convey a message that she had somehow missed from the Holy One.

Then one day about ten months ago, she set her loom in the middle of her bavith.  Upon a thin strip of leather, she placed seven needles.  She commenced to inserting these sharp splinters of bone and bronze in and out of the yarn to begin the painstaking task of weaving a seamless garment from top to bottom.

Everyday since Avi sewed, stopping long enough to fetch water, cook, eat and drink, bathe and lie down.  Her source of income came to a halt for she had given up mending her neighbors’ cloaks and scarves and belts, but was never in want.

Three days before Pesach, something strange occurred.  She fastened the hem then clipped the thread and held the finished ef’-od up to examine it.  “Perfect,” Avi said.  Delight filled her eyes.  She started to mount it to the wall to stretch and shape it in case the man who would wear it proved to be much larger, but an eruption outside interrupted her.  Avi held the undergarment tight to her breast, refusing to allow it to touch the ground as she stepped outside.

Not far away, people shouted praises, fanning palm branches high and low.  Something moved her forward, arms gently caressing the ef’-od in her hands, her feet unable to stop until . . .

Their eyes met.

No one ever described him, or told of the kindness in his eyes, the joy emitting from his face.  If they had, their report was inaccurate.  There was much more to him than the miracles they proclaimed.  Avi searched for a word to describe him, but all her mind could come up with was love—something she felt the moment they locked eyes.  The crowd all about him shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”  As if someone had bellowed a thunderous command, the people stepped aside, making a clear path for Avi which led directly to him.  Before she drew a breath to speak, he said, “Thank you.”

“My Lord, are you the one they speak of . . . Yeshua . . . the chosen one . . . the one who has come to save us?”

“I am he,” Yeshua said.

Avi loosened her grip on the garment, knowing without a doubt that the ef’-od belonged to him.  After she gave him the robe, she fell to her knees and hid her face.  In a low muffled voice she praised him.  Overcome with unspeakable joy, Avi couldn’t articulate her thanksgiving above a whisper, but Yeshua heard every word.  Yeshua touched her arm.  Avi stood.

“Thank you, my Lord,” Avi said, “for I have received endless joy on this day and forever.  All is now well with my soul.”  Avi’s spirit confirmed what her heart had wrestled with for quite some time.  As she had worked on the garment, a burning grew inside her, driving her, encouraging her, guiding her hands until she finished.  Now, in this moment, gazing upon the Messiah, everything in her was complete and fully satisfied.

Point of Interest:  Just as Ahijah tore his clothes into twelve pieces to represent the twelve tribes of Israel, depicting the division of the kingdom (I Kings 11:29-39); Christ’s seamless undergarment represents one robe in which we are all clothed and cannot be torn apart.

Definitions:  ef’-od = Hebrew reference to an undergarment or tunic; bavith = a house, usually one room, can have an upper room/level; Yeshua = Hebrew name for the Messiah, Jesus Christ; Pesach = Passover.

Donna B. Comeaux has been writing for the Ruby for Women Magazine (http://rubyforwomen.com) since 2013.  Donna has also written devotionals for Hopeful Living, a publication designed to encourage senior citizens, and for Believer Life.  She also contributes to The Christian Post blog section at http://blogs.christianpost.com/search.html?term=comeaux.  Not only will you find other inspirational stories on her website, you will also find tips for writers, devotionals, and a few of Donna’s political views as well.

Donna and her husband have two grown sons and eight grandchildren.  They reside in Oklahoma.

This story is also in the March 2017 issue of the Ruby for Women Magazine.  Click here to purchase a hardcopy:  https://www.createspace.com/6972935.

This story can also be found on The Christian Post:  http://blogs.christianpost.com/an-unlikely-choice/waiting-for-the-messiah-28715/

My Joy Isn’t For Sale

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him,
you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  (1 Peter 1:8-9)

 

Have you ever lost something valuable?

Recently, I had a conversation with my sisters in Christ and discovered we all had something in common—we had lost precious diamonds.  One dear sister told us of the tragic story of how she sat in her car one day and took off her wedding rings to lotion her hands.  Afterwards, she grabbed her purse and proceeded to go inside the store, only to rush back half an hour later in desperate search for her rings.

She never found them.

I had a watch my husband bought me in 1987.  That beautiful watch had 32 diamonds in it.  One day the battery died and I slipped the watch inside my purse with the intent to take it to the jeweler across the street from my office.  About two weeks later, I discovered the watch had disappeared.

Had I lost it?  Or had it been stolen?

Most women love jewelry.  When you lose something so precious, you are sick to your stomach.  Sometimes we mourn over these precious minerals for years.

Don’t you feel like this sometimes when you’re robbed of your joy?

We rise in the morning with the intent to follow a schedule, not a rigid one, just one that gives us a sense of direction.  We’re open for change.  We don’t have preset agendas.  We don’t have specific people in mind we need to set straight.  Not looking for a fight.  Not looking to defend one either.

Our day is highlighted by a nice hard rain from the day before.  We smile because it’s sunny, the earth has been nurtured, the flowers are blooming, spring, or autumn is in the air.  Birds are singing.  Our family is at peace.

Then you get a phone call.  Maybe it’s a nasty look.  Perhaps someone misunderstood something you said.  Or were you cornered into taking the fall for something you didn’t do?  In a split second, your whole world comes crashing down.  Everything seems to spiral out of control.  Whether it’s pent up emotions, or the results of evil hands, you’re in a tizzy.

You convince yourself to take the high road.  If you don’t say anything, how will anyone know what you’re going through?  So you pick up the phone.  You get on Facebook.  You send out e-mails.  But no matter how many numbers you dial, who you e-mail, or how many social outlets you contact, no one heeds your pleas for help.

The last thing you want to do is sit and cry alone.  You’re miserable and you want company—someone to help you muddle through your mess.

I can remember times when a calamity knocked on my door.  I won’t lie.  I wanted to skip the crying and go right into fight mode.  I wanted to park my Christian faith in the middle of a parking lot, or hide it under a blanket.  I didn’t want to conceal it for long—just for a moment, until I landed the first blow across someone’s jaw.

It’s times like these that we’re so clouded with what’s going on around us that we can’t seem to remember scripture.  For example:

17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19Do not quench the Spirit . . . (I Thessalonians 5:17-19) 

. . .always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 5:20)

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just want to stand toe-to-toe with the evil one and have it out with him.  By myself, I’d surely lose that fight.

I miss my 32-diamond watch.  It’s worth a lot of money.  But here is what I’m determined “not” to lose.

My joy.

I have no plans to put it up for sale.  There’s no bid high enough to auction this precious gift God has given me.  I won’t loan it out either.  There’s not enough room on my bookshelves to hold it, so there’s no room for it among my fiction novels.  I won’t hide it under the cabinet or drown it out with secular music.  I don’t have plans to throw it in with the wash.  And I sure won’t wring it out with mop water and scrub the floors with it.

See, I can’t even mingle my joy with idle gossip, or ungodly movies, dirty jokes and foul language.

And I’m not about to plaster a For Sale sign on my front door.

What I have in my posession is worth more than silver and gold and sparkling diamonds.  My joy down plays the hand-me-down rags I wear around the house and causes me to sing.  It doesn’t frown at my bad breath if I choose not to brush my teeth until three o’clock in the evening.  It keeps me company when things become a bore.  It makes me smile at the little things.  It tickles me until I can’t stand it, making me cry and roar with laughter when God exposes the many miracles he wants me to see.  My need to complain gets lost between the birds’ singing and the sunshine beaming.  And instead of curling my hands to make a fist and fight my next opponent, I’m kneeling in prayer with a smile on my face.

I may not be able to stop solicitations for my joy, but I will definitely use my God-given right to refuse any price offered for it.

So, I declare, no matter what circumstances I find myself in . . .

My Joy Isn’t For Sale.

Scripture Reading

Philippians 1:3-5  I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Philemon 1:7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20  But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

2 John 1:12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Poet, Novelist
May 12, 2015

Spiritual Adoption

“. . . I will show my love to the one I called ‘not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘not my people,’
‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”
Hosea 2:23

Some of us can trace our genealogy as far back as two hundred years.  It’s fun to go on these fact-finding adventures.  While going through your genealogy, did you discover an adopted son or daughter?  How did that make you feel?  Did you feel some resentment over the fact that a member of your family isn’t really a member of your family; not by blood anyway.  Well, we too have been adopted, spiritually adopted, through the blood of Jesus.  And with this blood-stained, spiritual adoption comes an inheritance.

God declares it’s the children of promise who will be regarded as Abraham’s offspring.  Not the children of natural birth.

Too often we get caught up in pedigrees, losing our spiritual self-worth to lowly men of stature.  I have a father who has more wealth than any man.  He provides me with loads of forgiveness and isn’t stingy with his mercy.  He protects me, soothes me, sends ministering angels when I’m in despair, and provides a hedge of protection when danger nears.

My greatest of grandfathers are Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and David.  A host of my brothers come from their loins, but Jesus is my favorite.  Through him we are made special.

Prayer:    God, please help me remember you care about me and that I’m loved by you. 

Think:     If someone stripped you of all your accomplishments, what would you have left?

Read:      Romans 9; Romans 2:28; Galatians 4:23

Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Poet, Novelist
New book:  “Selfish Ambition” – http://www.bn.com
A Christian Romance

God Sees

God Sees

 “. . . Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Hebrews 4:13

Everyday it seems I’m climbing a mountain against my will.  I stand at the foot of my mountain of trouble wondering if I’ll ever make it to the top.  Just when I get my footing, I slip on razor sharp words that rip me in two.  Breathless, I continue my climb only to fall onto a past I thought I had left behind.  In terrible agony, I drench in self-pity, convinced I’ll never know God’s love.

During my treacherous climb, I failed to realize God is with me every step of the way.  I can’t see him.  Sometimes, I can’t feel him.  But he’s there.  “For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths.”  (Proverbs 5:21)

Prayer:    Lord, no matter what my circumstance, help me see your glory.

Think:     How did God bring you out of your troubles?  When did you notice his presence?

Read:      Hebrews 4:12-13; II Corinthians 4:16-18

A Broken Marriage

A Devotional¹

II Kings 22:14-20; 23:4-15, 19-20
II Chronicles 34:3-7, 22-28
(400 Years of History)
NIV Version of the Bible

JOSIAH
Introduction

Within the pages of II Kings and II Chronicles is a story of a rich child-king raised in an ungodly home.  He is not only an eyewitness to sin, he is also surrounded by an idolatrous nation.

When faced with becoming king at the tender age of eight years old, he had every right to suck his thumb, squat in a corner, and hide from those much older than he.  With his childish mind, he could have beheaded any number of servants who disagreed with his whimsical ideas.

Yet, in the eighth year of his reign, he sought God Almighty and discovered that he and his people had not been living according to God’s commands.  In his twelfth year, he began to make a change.  (II Chronicles 34:1-3)

It not only disturbed Josiah to discover he and Israel waddled in sin, he ripped his clothes when he heard that his people would be taken captive because of their adulterous behavior toward the Holy One.

When was the last time you considered the consequences of your sin?  It takes a humble person to admit wrong.  To spend time examining how far-reaching your sin can be is mind-boggling and may leave you in despair.

There are so many lessons embedded in the story of Josiah, that the only way I know how to tackle each one is to go through the story in chronological order as it is written.

In each line of this series, we will discover how closely related Josiah’s life is to our own.  We will make note of the many lessons learned from his life and from the life of his forefathers.  Together, we will discover that our past should not keep us from a better future.  Matter of fact, because of our past we should indeed become better people—a holy people; a people as intimately connected to God as a marriage.

This study, however, won’t mean much to you if you don’t read the scriptures noted above.  But if you’ll indulge in the reading, God will change how you look at His relationship with you.  For he is indeed a God who . . .

“. . . plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

Lesson One
JOSIAH

A Child Who Would Be King
II Kings 22:1-2

Reflection

As you go through your daily life, who have you influenced?

———

I don’t know about you, but I’d be offended if my son recognized his grandmother as mother.  To me that would be a blantant disregard of my existence and I’d have a few harsh words to express my disdain for his lack of respect.  After all, I brought him into the world.  How dare he ignore me and regard my mother as his mother.  Humph!

That’s exactly how God described Josiah’s faithfulness.  Josiah was like his father, David.  Not like his father, Amon.  If you’ve read the books of II Kings and II Chronicles, you understand why.

King Amon, like many kings before and after him, infested the nation with evil.  There were signs of their sin everywhere.  Asherah poles.  Idol worshippers.  Human sacrifices.  You name it.  Israel wreaked with sin.  So much so that God promised to send them into captivity.

King Amon failed to see how his self-centeredness not only pulled him away from God, but it also destroyed his people.

Left unchecked, sin breeds sin.  If you’re not accountable to anyone, chances are you’re headed for disaster.  And what’s amazing about the disaster about to befall you is that it doesn’t feel disasterous at first.  You ease into it.  It feels comfortable for a time.  Along the way, you persuade others to follow you.  And if you didn’t persuade them verbally, then you’ve convinced them by your example.  If left alone too long, you can’t or won’t turn back.  And not only are you in danger of destruction, but those who follow you are also close to death.

Discovery

Our sin carries far more weight than we expect.

Coming from an ungodly home explains your past, but it doesn’t control your future.  Your past has taught you the wrongs of this life and what to avoid.  But more importantly, you have the freedom to make different choices.  No matter what your circumstances.

Inspiration

All of us want to impact the world in some profound way.  Maybe you want to write an inspirational book that turns the world on its heels.  Maybe you want to put an end to hunger.  Or maybe you want to become President of the United States and return governing to the people.  Whatever you set out to do, your impact will be felt along the way.  Perhaps your impact won’t be on the scale of a presidential candidate, or that of a pop rock star.  Your influence might come in small doses.  Like the time you spent two hours on the phone talking a stranger out of killing himself.  Or by bringing a woman who has come to church for the first time in months a bouquet of roses.  Or inviting a struggling mother of three to your home for dinner.  Or doling out food from your freezer to a family in need.  No matter how large or how small your impact, you will indeed leave behind a trail to be followed by others.

The question is this:  Will it be a godly trail?  Or will it be a trail of destruction?

Response

Make a list of ways you have influenced others today.

Prayer

Holy Father, please correct me and hold me accountable for all I do and say.  Please forgive me.  Wash me clean.  Dwell in me and use me as an instrument to spread your word.  Help me to recommit my life to you . . . to put no other gods before you.  That I remain one with you in body and in spirit.

PostScript:  We are the body of Christ.

“. . . The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us from the dead also.  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?  Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute?  Never!  Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body?  For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.  Flee from sexual immorality.  All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore, honor God with your body.”  (I Corinthians 6:13-20)

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1Portions of this lesson come from my inspirational series entitled “Impact – A Series That Explores How We Affect Each Other.”  This series is expected to be published in 2016.  This, however, will be the only posting from my book.  Lesson 2 will not be posted here as suggested by the text.

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