Another lesson in life……….gosh there are a lot of these

EarlDottie Rankin

Love your enemies
We have all heard we are to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. There is even scripture upon scripture telling us just that. Matt 5:44, Luke 6: 27-36, Romans 12:14, these are just a few of the scripture found in the Bible.
Seems pretty cut and dried to me, bless those that curse you and love those who are making your life miserable. Yes, that is to the point and our Master did not mince words, we know what He wants us to do and how He wants us to act.
That is all well and good…………..until you are faced every day with those who are making you life miserable, until you are forced to deal with hatred, manipulation and dishonesty on a daily basis. If you are like me, and I know many of you are, you are saying to yourself………how and no way! How do I turn the other cheek, how do I love this person when all I want to do is lock them in a closet for the next 57 years.
I have thought about this a great deal the last few weeks and have come to a few conclusions. It all boils down to submission to our Lord.

I have to deal with the situation with respect, courtesy and honesty. The strange part is I have found that dealing with the situation in that manner, while good for the other party involved helps me mostly. I can sleep at night knowing that I at least have acted with dignity.
I know that Jesus realized how hard this would be for us when He gave those words to us. He knew that we would have a great deal of trouble trying to love someone who was trying to defeat us on a daily basis. We need to remember that and to remember He is available to help us.

I start by looking at myself and making sure I am not doing anything to make this situation worse and to determine what part I played in making this problem what it has become. I think it is beneficial to actually start looking for the attributes in the other person that are commendable and let them know you appreciate those traits……..sometimes you have to really look but usually they are there.
Maybe (ok, probably) God put you in this situation to shine light on Himself and this is your chance to glorify Him. Retaliation and retribution are not exactly a good reflection of what God is doing in your life. While vengeance feels good in the short term rarely does it have any lasting effects that are noteworthy and good.
You can bet when you are in a situation like this, to a large extent emotions are controlling what you say and do and you can also bet that isn’t a good thing.

In reality, maybe they are persecuting you and cursing you and talking behind your back. Do you think that you are going to change their behavior? Probably not. While I may be a scrapper when I need to be, there are times when diplomacy and detachment are necessary.

These situations seem like a perfect opportunity to grow in Christ. It is hard to love and forgive when your enemy goes on with the war despite all your best efforts. What a chance for growth, what a chance to pray and change hate and strife to love.

One final point. If we are to “Love “ our enemies, are we remembering what the Biblical definition of love is? Maybe we need to look it up and meditate on it for a bit.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. “(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

It seems I have my work cut out for me and I would do good to realize that this is not an overnight thing and it is something that probably needs to be worked on each day. It is a good thing that God is perfectly capable of helping me do these things because I certainly am not up to the task without His help.
……………….and so I ride

God Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle………………….I Guarantee It

We have all heard the sayings, God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, if He brings us to it He will bring us through it and even in scripture it says that all things work together for the good to those who love God. We often kid that we have no trouble handing our troubles over to God but the troubling part is leaving them there. We are a people to love to maintain control over our lives.
I don’t want to be consumed by what I went through with my Father as he died and I don’t want to over focus on it but I do want to use the experience to point out some things that I learned from that experience.
Watching Dad die was like trudging through every level of hell in slow motion and at heightened sensitivity. It was all consuming and is still very alive to me. With that said, as horrible as it was, I felt God’s presence washing over me day after day, God was so present it was almost like I could reach out and touch him. The moment Dad died was not horrific, it was peaceful and God was fully present for both of us. Dad literally passed from my hands to Gods hands.
God does give us more than we can handle, I guarantee you He does. He wants us to need Him. He wants us to cry out to Him when we can no longer bear what is going on around us. The funny thing is even though I felt God so strongly there were times I was tempted to (and did) forget He was there. It was easy to ignore His presence and fall back into the struggle of handling things my way instead of letting the comfort and strength that was literally washing over me carry me through the struggles.
It is the control freak that lives inside me I suppose and now I know that to some degree anyway that control freak is guided by Satan. God had his ways of getting my attention back on Him however. When I was focused on what God was doing in that room I was content, comforted and supported. When I let my attention wander the days were torture and filled with chaos.
This might sound simplistic and let me tell you for certain………………… is simple.
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me………..for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matt 11:28-30)
It was wonderful being surrounded by my family and the many friends who came in. They offered comfort and support in their own way. However none of them could substitute for the presence of God in that room.
It was a valuable lesson for me.
……………………..and so I ride
Matthew 11

Going Home

DadHe is there in times of trouble and times of turmoil. There is lots of scripture to reinforce the fact that this indeed is true. In Deuteronomy it tells us that God Himself goes before us and will fight for us. Psalms showers us with an abundance of the comfort that God offers us. He is our stronghold, our light, and our salvation. He is our confidence and our unfailing love.
Well, I think that I got special training in pursuing the truth of these statements. It is a special kind of agony to watch a loved one wither and leave this earth. To need them here but to want them to go is a pain I wish on no one.
When the hospice nurses tell you to tell them that it is ok to go rest now, that they have your permission to leave and find the light, if you were like me, your first thought was………
Then on second thought I found that an answer of “no” was more for my benefit and not for my Dad. Telling him it was ok to go meant that I had to come to grips with the enormity of what I was losing. But wait a minute, wait just one dog gone minute. Isn’t that discounting totally the enormity of what Dad was gaining?
My Dad is being taken home very, very soon, much to quickly for me. It is easy to get stuck in the sorrow and pain of living without him. I can’t stay in the sorrowful place, I am concentrating on the wrong thing. I can rest assured and celebrate the fact that he is indeed being taken home. The legacy he leaves us is priceless but the prize he is about to gain is irreplaceable, incomparable and precious.
So yes, I whispered those words in my Dad’s ear…………….”it’s ok to go rest now Dad. God is here with us and always will be, He will take care of us. Now you go rest my dear Father, God is waiting for you.”

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye. 
How do you prepare for the inevitable end of life that we all must face and when there are decisions to be made about how that happens, how in the world do you ever hope to make the right choice. 
When you know death is approaching I guess there are choices to be made. Everything boils down to faith doesn’t it? We watch our loved ones pass from our hands to our Fathers arms. That means we trust in God’s love and we have to give up control. 
I think that even though we have been saying goodbye the end probably won’t be any less painful. With each goodbye the hope of tomorrow gets a little bit dimmer. You know what is coming and you know there is no choice but to let it happen. But all you want to do is turn around and go the other way. It doesn’t work that way, you can’t turn around, you simply keep whispering goodbye. 
Alzheimer’s is an insidious disease that is cruel and callous. I read the most accurate description of this disease I have ever found. “Then one day, in a complete twist of what you believed to be fate, life changes drastically and forever. The sense of hopelessness is only softened by keeping in mind that God is near. 
Even though we seek peaceful release for our loved ones it is hard as time marches inevitably on closer and closer to death. We are mourning sadness for what could have been and sorrow for what is lost. 
They say time heals all wounds but I wonder will it really? Comforting words cannot be heard when waves of sorrow keep crashing in your soul. Ecclesiastes 3:14 says to “everything there is a season” I believe this is our time to cry and grieve but there is only one cure for the pain of grief, only one way to find comfort and hope. We can find the light at the end of the tunnel in our Father. Remember this little ditty I read, where there is a shadow, there is usually light on the other side. 
If the question is nagging us whether our loved one believed in Jesus, trust God, and remember the truth of scripture that says our God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. I can’t rest in the stark baroness of circumstances, I rest in the truth of God’s love. Though we mourn and we know the road will likely get worse, we are promised that those who mourn will be comforted. I think I will rest there as I continue to say goodbye.
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