Are You Going Through Difficult Waters?

Sometimes when we are going through difficult things we may feel alone. Friends and family may be with us for a time but they have their lives and issues to deal with too. At the time of a death in the family there usually are people around us from our family, from our circle of friends, and from our church family. As time goes by not many, if any, of those people can stay close to us as we deal with the ongoing grief.

Grief can seem to engulf us at times and threaten to destroy us. If one of your children has died you probably know what I am talking about. At times we can't see or feel how we can go on, but we can.

I found a great promise from God found in the book of Isaiah.

“When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown.” Isaiah 43:2

Though we may at times seem to 'drown' in our sorrow, grief and pain; notice the word 'through' in this Scripture. First, God does not promise to keep us from deep waters or rivers of difficulty. Second, nor does He tell us we will be destroyed. Third, and most important, He indicates not only will we go 'through', but He will go through with us and promises us that we will not 'drown'. When you go through something it means you come out the other side.

When I was a child they built a highway across part of our small farm, but because there was a small stream that flowed at that point they put in a culvert under the road so the water could flow through. The pipe was big enough for me and my brother to crawl through. The water was usually pretty low so we could crawl through to our field on the other side of the road.  It was great fun.  Recently I looked at that pipe and wondered how I ever was able to crawl through that small pipe. When we look back on our rivers of difficulty we may also wonder how we ever got through.

Amazingly, every time I crawled 'through' the pipe I came out on the other side! Every time you go 'through' those rivers of difficulty, because He goes with you, you will come out on the other side. Does that mean everything will be sunny and wonderful? No, but we can go on living and even be a blessing to others going through their rivers of difficulty.

As long as we live in this life the rivers of difficulty will be there. Sometimes the water is raging, sometimes it is more calm, but nothing can destroy us and nothing can separate us from our relationship with the Lord!

“Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.” Psalm 3:4

Let There Be...


I’m currently doing a study in Genesis. It talks about how God created the heavens and the earth, the stars and the moon, the animals and man. God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” Genesis 1:3

As I read through Genesis and study God’s word I’m reminded that God can say one word and things can be created, birthed or changed. He speaks and things happen.

When life seems chaotic, when our days feel overwhelmed with pain from grief and mourning - today, I hear God speaking “let there be HOPE” into His people’s hearts.

Today, my prayer is that you hear His whisper, that you feel him breathing “the breath of life” and HOPE into your spirit. New mercies every day is what He has promised. Let’s claim those mercies.

Father, thank you for breathing life into us. Thank you for being present in our lives, even in the midst of our brokenness and hurt. Thank you for the light in the darkness. Speak into our lives and let there be HOPE.

She Must Have Done Something Wrong


Why would anyone say that of a mother who had just had her small child hit by a car and killed? At a recent support group meeting a bereaved mother shared with us that at her church that was the comment made by one woman to another woman, implying that God must have allowed her daughter to die in an accident because God was punishing the mother because she must have done something wrong.

NO! NO! NO! That is not the way God operates, but where does that idea come from? I think it partly comes from the misconception that if we are a believer then our lives should run smoothly and if trouble, or tragedy  occur it must be because we are not living right. That way of thinking is a misconception of the Christian life.

Jesus said about His Father in heaven: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) We live in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people, even people who are faithfully serving God. Look at the disciples. Ten out of the twelve were martyred. They were surely serving the Lord faithfully and effectively, yet they were killed. That was not only a loss of their lives but a great loss to their family and friends.

I don't know why God intervenes sometimes to heal or prevent tragedy and not at other times. I do know that even those God heals eventually die. However, we also know that this life is not the end. For believers, eternal life is promised in a place free from all heartache, sorrow and pain. In the meantime, God has promised His presence, grace, comfort and strength. I find the words of the following song an encouragement:

*“God hath not promised skies always blue,

flower strewn pathways all our lives through;

God hath not promised sun without rain,

joy without sorrow, peace without pain,

But God hath promised strength for the day,

rest for the labor, light for the way,

Grace for the trials, help form above,

unfailing sympathy, undying love.”

*"God Hath Not Promised" Annie J. Flint, 1919

Someone Just To Be There

When we are grieving we don't need theological explanations or simplistic answers like, "God's in control."  Knowing God is ultimately in control doesn't help me cope with my loss and heal my broken heart today.  Most times we don't need to hear from someone else as much as we may need for someone just to hear from us and listen to how we are feeling. Most of the time all we may want is their presence, not their wisdom or advice. A friend of mine who now works in hospice care was a pastor for quite a few years.  He shared an experience he had as a pastor when one of his church members died.  He was a relatively young pastor and went to visit the family at their home in their time of grief.  He said he sat there with them and couldn't think of much to say.  He spent a few hours there.  He shed some tears with them but kept trying to think of what else to say to help and comfort them.  Finally he had to excuse himself because he had another appointment.  He said he went out on the porch and broke down, feeling like a failure as a pastor, because he couldn't come up with the "appropriate" things to say.

My friend said that eventually he moved on to another ministry but occasionally would see this family. Even years later when he would meet up with the family they would mention how much they appreciated his visit in their time of grief.  It was his presence and his tears that made all the difference, not his words.

When someone does talk to us it is comforting to hear them mention our loved one's name and share thoughts and memories about them. This may bring tears and even some pain, but at the same time, we will find it comforting and healing.



Death Is Not The End

It's been said that the only certainties of life are "death and taxes".  Death still makes house calls but for the Christian death is the door that leads to real life.  When terminal illness is the diagnosis we hope and pray for a miracle. That's what we did when our daughter, Crystal, was diagnosed with leukemia.  We knew God had healed people in the past, in fact, He even raised some from the dead.  In the Bible, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead but eventually he died again...two funerals for the same person? In the end death is not our enemy.  Robert Wise reminds us that for the Christian, "Death is the greatest  miracle of all."*  Crystal had a battle with leukemia.  Many would conclude that she fought hard but in the end leukemia won.  They would be wrong, for in her  battle with leukemia, Crystal definitely won.  She won first, because leukemia did not destroy her faith and her attitude.  More importantly, she also won because Jesus already won the victory over death and shared that victory with her, as He does with all believers, and as Robert Wise reminds us, "The last battle is the only one that really maters."**

That is certainly good news, but grief is still a fact of live.  It cannot be avoided, but it need not be our enemy.  Grief is a gift from God to help us deal with our deep sorrow.  In grief, though we may have sorrow, we also are reminded of the precious memories of the past.  Grief also helps us cope with the present and even prepare us for whatever lies in the future.

"Death has been swallowed up in victory....thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Corinthians 15:54-57

*Robert Wise, "When There Is No Miracle", Ventura, CA:Regal Books, 1977 (1983 printing), 164

**Ibid, 48

Supporting Children at a Funeral

Many families wonder if it is appropriate for children to attend a loved one's funeral. Every family is unique and every loss comes with its own set of circumstances that surround the death therefore, I believe it to be an individual family decision. Below are a few ways to support children before and during a funeral...

1.) Children cope better when they are prepared. Adults can help children prepare by explaining things they may see. For example: people may be crying or may be wearing black, people may tell nice stories about the person who died, etc. It is helpful for children to be prepared for the funeral, especially if seeing the body. For example, one can say: when someone dies their body stops working, their heart stops beating, their lungs stop working and they do not need to eat or drink. One can explain that the body is a shell and when someone dies their whole body is buried in something called a casket because you do not need your body anymore. For young children 2-5 years old it is important to explain that this will be the the last time they see the person who died because children at this stage of development do not understand the finality of death. This may need to be repeated to young children several times as they may ask when they will see the person who died. Then you can explain that their soul goes to Heaven if they have given their life to Jesus. I love the C.S. Lewis quote, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

2.) If children attend a funeral, many families have found it helpful to have an adult that is removed from the situation that can attend to the needs of the children at the funeral. For example, to take a break from the funeral to draw, play, have a snack or take a walk outside.

3.) Keep in mind that funerals only happen once, so children and teens have one chance to attend a loved one’s funeral to say goodbye and to be with the entire family. Some children may want to attend and some may not. Either decision is okay. In my experience, I have heard children say they wish they would have been allowed to attend their loved one’s funeral.

Again, every situation is different and what may work for one family may not for another family.  Praying for wisdom and guidance for families currently in a situation where children have experienced the death of a loved one and may be attending a funeral. May the Lord's presence and comfort be with you.


Do You Have a Life Jacket?

I recently was reminded of a story about a speed boat driver who, having survived a racing accident, described what happened.  He said that he had been at near top speed when his boat veered slightly and hit a wave at a dangerous angle.  The combined force of his speed and the size and angle of the wave sent the boat spinning crazily into the air.  He was thrown from his seat and propelled deeply into the water - so deep, in fact, that he had no idea which direction the surface was. He literally didn't know which way was up. He remained calm and waited for the buoyancy of his life jacket to begin pulling him up.  Once he discovered which way was up, he could swim to the surface. Sometimes we find ourselves in a crisis of surrounding circumstances, too deeply immersed in our problems to know which way is up.  When we are grieving we have similar experiences.  When this happens we too must try to pause and wait for God's gentle tug to  pull us in the right direction.

Our life jacket" may be other family members, Scripture, the Holy Spirit, a friend, another grieving person.  They may help us to recognize our dependence on God.  We really do need each other and God uses others to provide the tug we may need at times.  That means we too can be the "tug" that someone else needs and "tug" rhymes with "hug," so maybe that tug may sometimes be as simple as a "hug" for a hurting person.

As God said to Joshua many, many years ago, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you: I will never leave you nor for sake you." Joshua 1:5


Precious Memories

Recently as I was working on another project the old gospel song, “Precious Memories” came to mind. God made us so that we could have memories and memories can be wonderful blessings. They also can be painful. Often our memories are a combination of the two types.

When we grieve the loss of a loved one the memories that come in the early period of grief most likely are ones that cause us pain. These memories may cause us to miss our loved one more even as we may have happy memories but realize we can never have those happy times with our loved one again. So, even though the memory may initially be a pleasant one we usually don't want to dwell on the memory too long because it quickly turns to a painful experience.

What do we do about this? Put away the picture albums, or the things that remind us of our loved one?  No, I have found that as time goes by I can hold those memories longer, even though they may still bring tears and sadness,if we are fortunate to be able to share some of them with family and friends they can bring more comfort then pain.

This is where support groups can be a valuable help in our journey of grief. Writing stories of our daughter and sharing them with others has helped the healing process in my journey of grief. I don't know who may be reading this blog, but if you are a grieving parent I would wish we could share sometime together. I could tell you some of my “precious memories” of our daughter and I would love to hear the “precious memories of your loved one..

Jesus shared with His disciples that, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 3:15. I think Jesus was talking about more than putting our physical life on the line for someone but that true love causes us to give of ourselves to others, to be there for another hurting person, to listen to their “precious memories”.

If you and I may not be able to meet and share those “precious memories” of our loved ones, I pray that you might find someone this week you can listen to and also have them listen to you. God bless!

Comfort Through Laughter?

Today we had a picnic for bereaved parents. We had good weather, good food and great fellowship. We enjoyed being together. We wished the circumstances that brought us together were different. The death of a child as the common bond is not one that anyone would wish for. This bond brought us together from different backgrounds, circumstances, and locations.

One would expect such a gathering would be a rather somber occasion. There was some sadness and some tears, of course, but there was also a lot of laughter and fun and enjoyment of the day together.

The laughter did not help us put the tragedy of experiencing the death of a child “behind us”. Bereaved parents know nothing puts that “behind them” or enables us to just “move on”. It is not something we “get over”. However, God enables us to move ahead even with our sorrow and grief.

Some might think that everybody at the picnic has now gone home after an enjoyable day only to pick up the sorrow, grief and hurt. It is true that such a time is a welcome break from pressing grief and sorrow, but I would suggest that that is not a complete picture of what happened today.

Someone at the picnic reminded us of a comment they had heard describing laughter as a”physical sign of hope.” Yes, it is one day at a time, yet we are linked to the past and look to the future. The past contains both precious and unpleasant memories, even very painful memories. We can not change the past and we don't know what the future holds. This reminds me of the words of a song, “Yesterday's gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.”*

At the picnic we took advantage of “today'. We embraced it. We enjoyed it with others who could at the same time share our sense of sorrow and pain over the loss of a child. Having fun and laughing gave rise to new hope for strength and grace for another day.

As I reflect on this day I am grateful for my friends who came to laugh with me and enjoy my company as I did theirs. I know God understands but it helps me when He sends others who understand. Today, probably without realizing it, we lived out the Scripture,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4

Now, the surprising thing is that God makes comfort possible not only through tears but also through laughter.     Isn't that neat?          Praise God!

*"We Have This Moment" by Bill and Gloria Gaither

The God Who Carries

In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 46, the Babylonians are under siege and they turned to their gods, Bel and Nebo for help. To avoid total defeat they retreated carrying their gods with them.  But the dead weight of the idols dragged in slow moving carts by plodding beasts would become a burden for the Babylonians.  Instead of their gods saving them, the gods would become a major factor in their defeat. We may not have gods made of gold or silver but anything we place first in our lives becomes our god, be it money, pleasure, power, success, position, etc. These false gods can drag us down just as Bel and Nebo did.

Bel and Nebo had to be carried everywhere.  Picture it: "Be careful with those gods...don't drop them.  We can't afford to have a broken god."  Is our God that fragile? He is not!  He comes to our aid, not us to his.  Bel and Nebo had to be carried everywhere.  Our God is everywhere.  He carries us"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall."  Psalm 55:22.

Today you can lean upon the "God Who Carries".  He is the true and living God, the same yesterday, today and forever.  Be encouraged by God's Word: "I am God, there is no other.  I am  God, and there is none like me."  Isaiah 46: 9.  Remember this as you cope with your grief.

A boat capsized and the person in the boat began to swim for shore but became exhausted still a mile from shore.  He finally gave up and when he did his feet touched bottom.  He was over a sand a bar.  He had been swimming furiously and struggling for a long time to keep afloat in water up to his chest, when all he had to do was put his feet down and stand.  My friend, "underneath are the everlasting arms"  He is the "God Who Carries!"


A Lesson From Geese

As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird following. By flying in a V formation the whole flock adds 71% more flying range than if each bird flew alone.

People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another. Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed where we want to go. The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. We need to make sure our honking from behind is encouraging and not something less helpful.

When a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese drop out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is able to fly again. Then they launch out on their own with another formation or to catch up with their flock.

If we have as much sense as the geese, we’ll stand by each other like that.

By Milton Olson

This is community and a great example of how and why BASIS support groups work. People who have had a child die come together with their own story. Some parents may be further along in their grief. Some parents’s grief is almost debilitating. But, they are there for one another. Listening, being present, praying and encouraging one another.

If you know a grieving parent, invite them to one of our BASIS support groups. As always we are praying for you.

Which Way Is Up?

In the movie, "The Poseidon Adventure", the ocean liner, S.S. Poseidon is on the open sea when a huge storm comes up.  Lights go out, smoke pours into rooms and amid all the confusion and problems the ship flips over.  Because air is trapped inside the ship it floats, but upside down.  In the confusion the passengers can't figure out what is really going on.  They scramble to get out, most following steps to the top deck.  The problem is, the  top deck is now the bottom deck  under 100 feet of water.  In trying to get to what they still perceived was the top of the ship, they drowned. The only survivors are the few who do what does not make sense.  They do the opposite of what everyone else is doing and climb up into the belly of the ship until they reach the hulk (the bottom), which is now at the top.  Rescuers hear them banging and cut a hole in the hulk and free them.

In life it's as if God turns the ship over and the only way for us to find freedom is to choose what does not make sense--the only way to get to the top is to go to the bottomThe way to save your life is to lose itThe way to receive strength is to acknowledge our weakness.  The way to receive is to give. There are things we encounter in life that we are really not equipped to handle ourselves.  That's why we need each other and we need God.

God brings other people into our lives to encourage and help us and He provides His Spirit to dwell in us to strengthen, guide and comfort us.  This is God's plan.  When life has you down so that you don't seem to know which way is up;  trust  God!  Psalm 20:7 declares, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."  It may not be chariots and horses in our day but if our trust is in God we can find our way up.  Our grief may not disappear but it will not drown us!

Thirty-six Years Doesn't Seem Enough

That was my thought after our daughter, Crystal, died from leukemia at age thirty-six.  But on further reflection the Lord helped me to see things from a little different perspective.  It doesn't answer the question "Why?'  It doesn't lessen the loss, nor take away the pain of living life without our precious daughter. What God showed me may not help you because your circumstances of grief may be much different, but I pray that someone may be helped by relating to my experience.  This is what I believe God helped me to see:

Thirty-six years doesn't seem enough....

  • Until you remember, Jesus had only thirty-three years on earth.
  • Until you remember how special those thirty-six years were.
  • Until you remember, some people seem to complete their mission and purpose quicker than others.
  • Until you remember the legacy of her husband, Dave and children Robin and Jeffrey.
  • Until you remember Crystal is now with the Lord forever.
  • Until you remember how many lives she touched in a beautiful way.
  • Until you remember you will see her again and then forever!


What's In Your Heart Activity

I thought this month I would share a simple activity adults can do with grieving children. This activity will help adults have a better understanding of the feelings they may be having. Pictured below is a simple worksheet you can make. Have the child choose 5 different feelings they have felt since their loved one died and have him/her choose a color that represents that feeling. Then have the child fill in the heart with the different colors/emotions representing how their heart feels. While doing so, adults can assess which feelings they can further talk about with the child as well as work with the child to come up with ways that help him/her cope with those feelings. It is important that children know that all feelings are okay, but that it is important to learn ways to express those emotions in healthy ways. For example, if the child is mad then ask the child what he/she thinks would be healthy ways to express feeling mad (playing sports, punching a pillow, stomping their feet.) Finally, at the end of the activity on another piece of paper or on the back write the word HOPE. Share that we always have HOPE in Jesus. So even when feeling sad, scared, mad or worried, we should always remember Jesus is HOPE. Explain that when we are feeling overwhelmed with different emotions we can simply ask Jesus to calm our hearts with his LOVE and HOPE.

We have this HOPE as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19


Gods Day Always Ends In the Morning

Each day after creation the Bible says, "And there was evening and there was morning," (Genesis 1:5...)  Someone has pointed out that we would turn that around because we think of starting our day in the morning, but God's day always ends in the morning for He never lets darkness have the last word.

Gloria Gaither has described this truth in a beautiful song:  "Then came the morning, night turned into day; the stone was rolled away, hope rose with the dawn.  Then came the morning, shadows vanished before the sun.  Death had lost and life had won, for morning had come." *

In a real sense, God's day only has morning and it never ends.  If we are believers our bodies may be put in a tomb just as the body of Jesus was put in a tomb, but our stone will be rolled away too, because in Christ we too will rise to new, eternal life. By His resurrection, Jesus caused the death of death! So grief and sorrow will be banished forever.

Jesus gave us this assurance, "I am the one who raises the dead and gives them life again.  Anyone who believes in me, even though he dies like anyone else, shall live again.  He is given eternal life for believing in me and shall never perish."  John 11:25-26.

*"Then Came the Morning", Bill and Gloria Gaither and Chris Christian 1982 Word Music, LLC

Better than Answers

  Today, I spied a little booklet in a stack of materials I needed to go through in preparation for moving to a new office. The title caught my eye, Why Would a Good God Allow Suffering?* As I skimmed through it I was intrigued that the author did not offer “the answer”. He suggested four possible partial answers, all of which had some merit: to alert us, to direct us, to shape us and to unite us.  But as I often do in picking up a new book, I found myself flipping to the end of the book to find some “conclusions” under the heading, “Better Than Answers”.

Since our daughter, Crystal, died from leukemia nearly nine years ago I have read quite a few books on the above subject. I found this little booklet, especially the last page quoted below, to be one of the most helpful to me. I hope you might find it helpful too.

We cry out for complete answers. God offers Himself instead. And that’s enough. If we know that we can trust Him, we don’t need full explanations. It’s enough to know that our pain and suffering are not meaningless. It’s enough to know that God still rules the universe and that He really does care about us as individuals.

The greatest evidence of God’s concern for us can be found by looking at Jesus Christ. God loved our suffering world so much that He sent His Son to agonize and die for us, to free us from being sentenced to eternal sorrow (John 3:16-18).  Because of Jesus, we can avoid the worst of all pain, the pain of separation from God – forever.  And because of Christ, we can endure even the worst of tragedies now because of the strength He puts within us and the hope He sets before us.

The first step in coping realistically with the problem of suffering is to recognize its roots in the universal problem of sin. Have you recognized how much Jesus suffered on the cross for you to free you from the penalty of sin? Put your trust in Him. Receive His free gift of forgiveness. Only in Him will you find a lasting solution of the problem of pain in your life and in the world.”

 *”Why Would a Good God Allow Suffering”, Discovery Series, 1999 RBC Ministries, Grand 

Where The River Flows

The beginning and the ending of the Bible are similar. God was at the beginning and He is at the ending. In the beginning there is “paradise” and at the end there is “paradise. In the beginning there is a river: “A river watering the garden flowed from Eden…” Genesis 2:10. At the end: “The angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.” Revelation 22:1 -3. We live in between the beginning and the end and it is no longer “paradise” for sin entered the world and with that came a fallen world with sickness, sorrow, pain and death, but even still, a river flows, the river of God’s love, grace, forgiveness, comfort and hope. Through Jesus we can receive the blessings of that river that flows from God’s throne now.

One day there will be a new heaven and new earth. God will restore what was lost and those who receive salvation in Jesus will enter the new “Paradise” prepared for His children. Yesterday we celebrated the homegoing of my mother of 99 years who recently had quoted, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” Psalm 23:6

It is comforting to know that "paradise” awaits believers but also to know that the river of God’s grace, mercy and love flows into our lives each day of our sorrow and grief.

'Tis So Sweet

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,And to take Him at His Word; Just to rest upon His promise, And to know, “Thus says the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!

O how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood; And in simple faith to plunge me ’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease; Just from Jesus simply taking Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend; And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end.

I recently attended a church service in Nashville, Tennessee. We sang this song and a few words really stuck out to me so I thought I would share them with you.

First was "take Him at His word." Wow, its that simple. He has given us His word and we have the privilege to do just take Him at His word. I just love that. He is with us in every season and He will never forsake us.

Secondly, "rest upon His promise" really comforted me. Today, think about how you can rest upon His promises in your sorrow and in your grief. Praying the line "life and rest, and joy and peace" for you today as you trust in Him.



What Am I Supposed To Do?

One day as Jesus was walking along a lake he saw a couple of fishermen and He called to them, “Come, follow me.” Matthew 4:19

Jesus went on to call ten others to follow Him and they became known as the twelve disciples. But the call to follow Jesus went out to others that Jesus preached to, and in fact the call goes out to everyone.

As a very young boy I recognized through hearing the Word of God that God was calling me to follow Him. I had no idea where responding to that call would lead me in 2014. I knew His call was a call for me to confess my sins and invite Him into my life as my Savior.

In my teen years I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life.  As a senior in high school I began to understand that God was calling me not only to follow Him as a beliver but He was calling me to become a pastor. After my preparation in college and seminary I became a pastor for more than forty years. Many people have referred to me as a “minister.” I am a minister but so is every believer. We are all ministers. Some of us minister as pastors, some as missionaries, some as teachers, most as followers of Jesus in every day life and vocations.

Part of my ministry now is to bereaved parents as Director of BASIS. My role is as a director, but my ministry is simply to hurting, grieving parents, and just as my role as pastor did not make me more of a minister than any other believer in my church, so too, my role as Director does not make me a better or more effective minister to grieving parents than anyone else. God has gifted us all differently but with a purpose to be His ministers

My point here is that God can use you to minister to others. He has a plan for your ministry. The truth is not that God is finding us a place for our gifts, but that God has created us and our gifts for a place of His choosing and we will only find fulfillment when we recognize and follow His call for ministry.

That ministry God has created you for may be as simple as coming along side of another grieving parent, not by offering brilliant words, but just offering your presence and genuine care.

I have learned that in my role as Director of BASIS, many times the most valuable thing I have to offer is not my words but my tears.

May I challenge you to let God lead you to minister in ways He as gifted and prepared you for. Jesus asys, “Come, follow me.” Will you follow Him?

Glad For A Broken Heart?

Really!  How can a broken heart be a good thing?  On the surface that sounds morbid, abnormal, perhaps impossible.  Yet, think about it for a moment.  As I stood at the graveside of our precious daughter, Crystal, my heart was surely broken, and even though there has been some healing, there is a huge scar and it is still not fixed.  My heart still breaks and I have come to realize that is a good thing. I'm not glad that our daughter died.  I'm not glad it happened.  It has been by far the most painful thing in my life, but think how tragic it would be if  my heart was not broken over the death of my daughter.  I am glad for the love we shared.  I'm glad for the bond that held us together.  I am glad for the wonderful memories.  I'm glad Crystal came into our family and blessed us so much for thirty-six years, so it's only natural that I should have a broken heart when she is no longer with us.  To not feel a deep loss would diminish the value of our relationship.

To love deeply also means we hurt deeply when the one we love is no longer with us.  The saying, "It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" is in reference to love between a man and woman when one party does not return that love.  In the case of me and my daughter it is not that one party does not return love but that death has brought a separation for the rest of this life.  So, even though it hurts and my heart is still not fixed, I'm glad God created Crystal and that she was part of our family.  I'd much rather have it this way than to think it was no big deal that my daughter died because there was no strong bond of love.  I am glad I loved her deeply and she loved me, even though that's why it hurts so much.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal live."  John 3:16.  God's love for us is so much stronger than our love for Him or our love for each other. God understands broken hearts and one day my heart will be completely whole and I will be reunited with my daughter whose new body will be whole!