Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Text from Heaven?

The text couldn’t have arrived at a better time. After an incredibly difficult week, I had just read a chapter about the power of encouraging words in Sally Clarkson’s book, The Ministry of Motherhood. Hundreds of other women around the country have joined in reading this book as part of an online Bible study at Good Morning Girls, and so far, it has been an amazing, profitable journey in the Word!

The message came from my almost-70-year-old mother –- THAT in itself was precious –- like God had chosen her to reaffirm all I had just read in Sally’s book. But even more priceless was the fact that MY MOM had used a text and texting lingo as her vehicle of encouragement! (Did I mention she’s nearly 70 and not very “techie”?) Her words instantly brought a smile to my face and made my day:

You r a wonderful daughter. I love u a whole lot. Thanks for loving the Lord n following n His ways. Pray n 4 u. Be safe. Mom

Such simple words of love and affirmation. Yet so incredibly powerful and life-giving.

Moms (and Dads), never underestimate the power of your words. Whether you are praising a toddler for putting his cup in the sink, a teenager for taking out the trash, or an adult child for trying his best to live for God... Your words matter.

Sally’s prayer at the end of this chapter summed up the cry of my heart so perfectly:

Father of Encouragement, Thank you for taking the time to show love to your disciples by affirming and encouraging them. Help us remember that our well-aimed words will carry life to the hearts of our children. Teach us to extol their positive characteristics whenever we can and to resist the temptation to use words only for correction. Give us lips that speak grace and that show the heart of your love through the things we say. Amen

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tears in a Bottle

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

A little over a week ago, a member of our small church family – a beautiful young mother of three – was taken to heaven violently and abruptly, leaving her loved ones to face the utter shock and pain of her untimely departure.

We prayed and cried for our friends who had lost their cherished daughter and sister.

We mourned for her children, who will never experience their mother’s gentle touch on this earth again.

We grieved for our church family, who will miss her vibrant smile and sweet spirit in our congregation.

Yet, in the midst of unspeakable tragedy, there was hope. The family chose the Casting Crowns song Praise You in This Storm to be sung at the funeral. An amazing testimony of their unwavering faith in a sovereign God.

A line in the song says, "Every tear I've cried, You hold in your hand." That line grabbed my heart. Was this really true? I wondered. "Does God really keep track of each tear we cry?"

Then I found this obscure verse in the Psalms:

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

The realization hit me… I do not serve a God who is indifferent to the cries of His people. I serve a God who knows and feels my pain deeply and “collects” my tears in His bottle.

When I think of this verse, I picture a never-ending room in heaven with shelves upon shelves of bottles, each labeled with a different believers’ name: Julie, John, Tracey, Erin, Donald, Kevin, Joy…

Many tears in the bottles were shed for lost loved ones… others because of hurtful words… still others fell due to dashed hopes, broken dreams, fractured lives.

No matter the reason, each tear holds special meaning to the Father. He lovingly catches each drop as it rolls down tear-stained cheeks, and then He records it in His book. He does not forget our pain. He remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:14)

Thank you, Father, for loving Your children so deeply. Thank you for the reminder that our tears are important to You and that You – the God of the Universe – are affected by our pain. When no one else understands, You do. Thank You.