After having been gone for such a length of time, I might need to update you, my dear reader, as to what this post is all about because you may be lost if you are just now dropping by. Just step back a day, and get caught up on my trip to ancient Thessalonica.
For those that follow faithfully: I so love you!!!!! Thank you! Thank you! You give me affirmation and bring my life such joy to know that someone cares enough to hang in there with me.
Also, you may never know what wild hair will grab hold of me, and what I will then put on this little blog.
But in the meantime…
Have you been to Thessalonica yet? Or in other words, did you read the books of Thessalonians? Does it mean restoration or resolution to you?
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13
My hope was and is in Christ Jesus, God the Son. The fact that I had lost someone I dearly loved in death and, quite literally, lost my children to trauma or illness or addiction, was overwhelming. I have intimate knowledge of the word despair. Even though we as Christians always have hope in Christ, our physical and mental well-being does not always recognize that. The brain is such an awesome organ, and when it gets sick, the devastation is tremendous. The fact that we are Christians has nothing to do with the physiology of brain chemistry. And I am appalled at those Christians who seem to think a person has control over that physiology; then, through their own ignorance, will condemn the actions of the very people who need help the most. In my embarrassment, however, I have to admit that I have been one of those Christians, making judgments, condemning, seeing the sin or act instead of the person. God and I have had many, many talks about that; He has heard my cries of repentance and sorrow and self-loathing over those things; He has in His graciousness made me whole again.
“So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.” 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3
So back in 2002, in the dead of winter, in a place called the Eagle’s Nest, on a farm heavily covered in fresh snow, I clung to the hope God promised me: to strengthen and encourage me. Paul and Gretel Haglin owned that farm; two beautiful people full of mercy and grace and service. Their ministry with this farm, this place of refuge and renewal, was only one of the many ways they have served God throughout their lives. They allowed me to stay here, alone with God, occasionally with them in order that they might strengthen and encourage me, letting me walk the trails they had made and sit at the benches they had placed throughout the 200-acre farm.
“And give relief to you who are troubled.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17
And God my Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, himself, gave me promises and told me how to live and breathe again, how to put one foot in front of the other to continue the life that was still before me. He showed me how it was He who first had cried in a loud voice of sorrow “WHY?” He showed me how the world had changed from the beauty of His making to the ugliness of sin. He filled me with the knowledge of His great sorrow when the children He loved turned from Him to choose their own way, the opposite of His instruction. As I sat on the bench crying to God, “Why?” for I had prayed, my friends had prayed, churches had prayed for the healing for my son, a healing that did not come, God opened my eyes to the very beginning of time.
He let me hear his cry of anguish and pain over the deception of His children, a cry so loud and sorrowful that all earth mourned with Him. The earth trembled and pushed outward in its effort to bellow; it sagged inward with its great sadness. God’s tears fell, filling those low spots, rushing across the earth, imparting His sorrow.
Those two whom God loved, the two who walked daily with Him and enjoyed His fellowship, his friendship, had opened Pandora’s Box and let sin in. And in it came. Rushing with its white hot wind, scorching the earth, burning the two as well. I could see the plants turn from their beauty as sin rushed by, now reaching out with thorned fingers to catch hold and entangle the unsuspecting, just as sin had taught it to do. Sin hurried on, creating suspicion in the once docile animals, causing them to turn on the two, putting fear between them and the two they once called friend. Death began. The change was too great, the sin ever-present. Beauty destroyed by decay.
God’s sorrow was more than I could bear for it overshadowed the grief that had overcome me. No, I was not the first to ask the question Why. God, Himself, was.
But as is His way, He comforted me, filled me with His presence, His greater-than-sorrow love. The kind of love that makes the eagle soar, that causes it to rise above the storm. The kind of love that sustains and carries and says, “You can do this.”
He then sent me back down the hill to make the call I had been dreading to make.
(to be continued)