I Can’t Imagine

One of my friends met Jesus face to face yesterday.

This friend lived a hard life. At first, I found it ironic that she spent her last several days in a hospice home that likely was the nicest place she ever lived. But then I thought that this peaceful place was “training wheels” for the eternal home she would soon enter.

Several years ago my friend gave her life to Jesus. The day she was told it was time for hospice she called me. We talked about the excitement of knowing our final destination but the fear of the route we need to take to get there. I encouraged her to run without delay into the arms of Jesus whenever He called her name. I believe she did.

sun-rays-182170_1920I know what the Bible says about Heaven. The pearly gates, the streets of gold, the homes prepared for us by Jesus himself, the banquet feast we will share, a place of no tears, a place of no sin, and best of all . . .  Jesus. A forever home with Jesus.

Yet my finite mind can’t really grasp Heaven. I am glad my friend can now. The suffering and pain she endured, I am certain she would say, pales in comparison to what she is experiencing.

I have no idea when God will say it is time for me to join Him. Until that day comes I want to be present and engaged with the life He has entrusted to me. But when my time comes, know I too will be running into the arms of my Savior.

A Foot in Two Worlds

Holy Week.  Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday.  This is the pinnacle of my faith.  Jesus whose birth I celebrate at Christmas as Emmauel, God with us, took the golgotha-1863767_1280ultimate step of being with me.  He didn’t offer his life on the cross because it was easy.  He didn’t carry my sin because it was light.  He didn’t break his fellowship with the Father because he wanted to.  He did that because he loves and wants me – and you – to be with him and his Father forever.

I can’t explain exactly how it all works in detail – that a sinless God-man died for me before I was even conceived, to forgive and destroy the penalty of the sins I would commit.  But I don’t need an explanation. I only need faith to believe.  And gratitude for this life changing gift.

I have been stressing in the last week about the  living with one foot in Pennsylvania andone foot in Florida.  Wrapping up living here while preparing for the life to be lived there. But whether I live in Pennsylvania or Florida, this world is not my home.  This is not the home I was designed for. sunset-3054191_1920

This week as I remember and celebrate my Savior and King, may it reinforce my focus toward Heaven.  Jesus carried my penalty and gave His life so I would never have to be separated from Him again.  He rose again to prove he conquered death.  He returned to Heaven to prepare a place for me, and for you. This coming move for us is temporary.  hand-truck-564242_1920Heaven is my forever home, prepared for me by my Lord.  I sure am glad I won’t have to pack or organize transit for that final move!

What Am I Packing For?

Almost daily Jerry and I have conversations about our upcoming move to Florida. Last week one of those talks was followed with a devotion about Heaven. Jerry made the comment that it would be ok with him if God moved us on to Heaven before we got to Florida.  Smiling I said, if He is going to do that I hope it is soon before I sort through and organize any more boxes.

box-1209969_1920Packing and sorting, or more to the point, discovering memories, sorting, recycling, trashing, or repacking seems to be my constant activity these days.  While we don’t know the when of our move, we know the where (Lakeland, FL) and the why (just look at the weather in Philadelphia and Lakeland, among many other reasons).  I don’t want to be caught short when “the when” comes, so I am trying to stay ahead of the move details doing a little each day.

Like Jerry, I would take Heaven in a heartbeat over Florida or any place else. Like our upcoming move, I know the where (with Jesus) and the why (because I accepted His gift of love and grace to forgive my sins) of Heaven but I don’t know “the when.”  Most of us don’t. Each week, sometimes more often than others, I hear of people, from little ones to seniors, who enter eternity on a different time table than they or their loved ones thought they might.

I don’t know if I will be one of those who will still be alive to meet Jesus in the air when He comes again or if He will call me home sooner.  The chat Jerry and I had reminded me that I don’t want to get caught short when “the when” to eternity arrives for me. coast-565401_1920

He’s right that I don’t have to pack and sort any belongings for that move, but I still have a lot of preparation to do. Sorting out the areas of my life that don’t reflect Jesus and parting with them forever.  Packing my days with the joy of serving others, of building my relationship through Scripture and prayer with my Heavenly Daddy, and learning to know His voice better.  I can even make heavenly deposits by sharing my hope and inviting those I meet to join me in the ultimate move one day.

What about you? If you wonder how I can be so sure of my final move please ask. . .

Today, what are you doing to prepare your life and loved ones for the move to eternity? I’d love to hear from you.

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Enhanced Benefit?

In my part time work in a financial planer’s office I sometimes hear phone conversations between  one of our customer service reps and fund companies.  One of the questions that still catches my attention is when our rep asks the vendor if the particular product they are discussing has “an enhanced death benefit?”

I  shake my head and smile.  I don’t know how the vendor replies, but my answer every time wihtout fail is YES!  I have an enhanced death benefit – and it is called Heaven with Jesus!

Occasionally when someone has asked how I was doing I would reply something to the effect of, “It’s been a hard day, but it beats the alternative.”  One day it struck me how absolutely untrue that statement is for those who know Jesus Christ, so I no longer answer that way.   The absolute best day of my life on this earth cannot begin to compare what I will experience upon entering the pearly gates and meeting my Savior and Lord face to face (or more likely face to feet as I fall on my face before Him!)

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The reason I love and follow Jesus though, is not just because I have “an enhanced death benefit.”  I also have an enhanced life benefit.  Yes,  Jesus took my sin (and yours) upon Him when He died, so I was no responsible to pay that penalty.  By rising from the dead, and giving me His Holy Spirit as a seal on my heart and life, He made His life and power available to me each and every moment.

While the question my co worker asks a vendor strikes me funny, it is totally appropriate in the context of the office.  What is really the silly sad reality is how often I, who know better, do not fully embrace the enhanced life benefits at my disposal.

. . . I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  John 10:10b NASB

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If this post sounds like crazy talk to you, or has left you confused, please leave a comment.  I’d like to interact with you about this!

Waiting in line

In recent weeks it seems that Heaven has gained a lot of mighty fine people who are dearly missed here.  I know that happens every day, but we seem to know more people who have made that journey recently.

I was talking with a friend (and my chiropractor) about this as together we traded favorite stores of a shared friend who has passed.  He shared this thought with me, and my reply was “Oh, that’s good, if you don’t write on that I will.” Since I haven’t seen a post from him, here is mine with credit and appreciation to Dr George Foedsich.

At our age we are beginning to see the generation ahead of us pass on.  At some point (as it is in both Jerry’s and my immediate families) we become the older generation.  I don’t say that to be morbid, it is the truth.

People waiting in line

The thought George shared was this (my paraphrase): It’s a bit humbling to realize we are “next in line.”  But think about it, if we were in line at Disney (or substitute a favored location for you) we would be so excited that the line is moving forward and we see ourselves inching closer to the ride – our awaited destination.  Why is it that as we are “in line” for Heaven, our final destination that FAR outweighs anything Disney could ever offer) we fear the line moving forward?

See, I told you it was good!

I am grateful my times are in God’s hands, and only He knows when my spot in line will move to the front.  No one likes the process of being “in line” but remember it is not a static waiting period. In the words of Steve Green, “Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.” May I be busy about the things that matter until I am next.   And oh how sweet the destination that awaits!

Our Friend Kay

Our family has often smiled that my mom found people she knew everywhere she went.  She had only lived in PA for a few weeks (Jerry and I had already been here 3 years) when we walked into a department store and right away she saw a new friend!

About a week ago one of mom’s dear friends, Kay joined her in Heaven.  I know the highest priority for each of them is to worship their Lord and Saviour Jesus.  Beyond that I don’t know exactly how things work in Heaven, but if there is opportunity for them to do so, I suspect Mom and Kay are off on another comedy caper together!

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Oh the predicaments these two could get in to, like a modern day Lucy and Ethel!  They had absolutely no sense of direction, and I was always on call to figure out where they were and how to get them to where they needed to be.  They spent every Monday afternoon playing cards, and would meet up for meals several times a week.  Sometimes I wondered if I would have to perform CPR or pick them up off the floor they laughed so long and loud together.  I miss that sound!

Almost every time they were together there was a story to tell about it.  Even at church!  The senior man who was sitting next to Kay fell asleep and as he nodded off his head dropped from his own shoulder to Kay’s and then slipped down to her breast – never waking!  Mom and Kay laughed so much the man behind them asked if he needed to separate them!

Knowing Mom and Kay are where they long desired to be is a real comfort for me as I grieve the loss on earth.  You see, Kay wasn’t only a friend of mom’s, she was a dear friend to Jerry and me.  In fact Kay was sometimes identified as Jerry’s “other mother-in-law.”

Kay was just shy of her 96th birthday when she died.  I miss her already.  I loved any and every opportunity I had to sit and listen to her stories and learn from her.  Kay was a woman of great faith, great prayer, great humor, great grace and great generosity.  Not only do I miss her personally, but I miss her impact on our ministry at Joni and Friends.  She prayed for us daily and deeply.  She introduced people to the ministry at every turn.  I am convinced that the reason there is disability ministry in the church she called home is only because of the many years she prayed it into existence!

One of the things I will miss most is introducing her to the young women on our staff.  I thought it was critical for young Christian women to hear from this woman who broke barriers long before it was the thing to do.  Kay would tell of her attendance at Temple University (in the 1940s  I believe).  Her training was in education, though due to health she was unable to graduate.  One of her jobs in the 50’s was in a public school with children with handicaps, an unusual opportunity at that time in our history, particularly because her job was to teach skills of independent living!

A story that never grew old to me was Kay telling about her first overseas short term missions trip to Haiti at the age of 80.  The team was helping a local church put on a new roof.  Kay wasn’t sure what her role would be. Once she got there she climbed up that ladder and was part of the line to move the buckets of cement and block on top of the building.  I don’t think I could do that at my age let alone when I get to my 80s!

Apparently that trip lit a new fire in her heart because Kay continued to do missions trips to Guatemala, Mexico and with Joni and Friends to Spruce Lake Family Retreat (yes at 80+ pushing a lady in her manual wheelchair around camp!).  As if that were not enough, she was so disappointed the year she got a pacemaker and was not allowed to ride the power swing at camp!  That lady was always up for an adventure!

I could go on and on about our friend Kay, if you want to hear some stories just ask me, but before I close I need to tell you the most important thing about Kay.  She made clear that when she died she did not want the service to glorify her or speak about her – she wanted it to point to Jesus.  That’s what I loved most about Kay, the sweet aroma of Jesus that seeped out of every pore!  As much as I’d love to tell you more about Kay (and Mom) I’d love even more to tell you about the God they loved with whom they now dwell.  It would be my honor, and their delight to greet you one day in Heaven- just ask me!

 

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