Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Come Home

Our seventh Christmas without our precious Bronner has just passed, and as this year of completion comes to a close, I am filled with thoughts of him, of all God has already done through his life and legacy, and the purpose for which he was given to us.  Memories are vivid and powerful as my heart overflows with love not only for my youngest child but also for my God, the Giver of his life. 

God gives and takes away, yes, but there is so much more.  I have hashed it all out with Him.  I have pondered and prayed and wept and wondered at it all, and now the book is written.  It was completed this year, 2014, and took so much time and effort that upon its completion a time of rest was given to me this fall.  But I know that my rest is now complete and that my work and witness must begin again.

In just days from now, January 19, 2015, will mark my son's 7th year in Heaven.

What amazing adventures has he been on?

What beautiful things has he seen?

What does he know and see and do?

I am sure of only this:  that his life still is, that he is held in the arms of Love, and that I was given a great treasure in him.

As the 8th day begins, I pray that we as a family will be given renewed purpose, strength, and determination to carry not Bronner's story to the ends of the earth, but God's.

I often wonder at those whose sympathies cannot fathom the justice in God's eternal purpose.  It IS hard to understand from our human perspective.  That is why we must try to look at it from God's.

Someone once asked me, "What is it all for?" and "Why are we even here?"

Grief is a part of our existence.  We are all grieving something.  The circumstances of life in a fallen world weigh us all down so much so that such despondency as exhibited by my question-bearer must certainly come to us all at some point in life.  I am sure I have asked these same questions before: "What is it all for?" and "Why are we even here?"

We are here because we are and because He is.  If that seems too simple, think of it in reverse.  What if you never were, where would you be then?  We ARE because there IS a Creator, Almighty God, and He is filled with good things.  He is love and light and beauty beyond compare.  He is incapable of wrong, for He is perfect.  You may ask, "If this is so, why is the earth riddled with injustices?"  For surely each of us, with the moral compass and logic implanted in us by our Maker, can clearly see much that is wrong in the world in which we live.

Even if we can see evidence of His majesty and glory everywhere and in all things, we can't overlook the fact that the opposite resides here as well.  The two extremes of good and evil can't but confuse us.  That is why an answer must be given to the questions posed by my friend.

"What is it all for?" and "Why are we even here?"

God's purpose is this:  to gather for Himself a people tried and tested in the furnace of affliction, who have walked through this valley of the shadow of death called earth, and who have come out of it with life everlasting.  The redeemed of the earth, when all is said and done, will have chosen the good portion.  They will have have been humbled under the mighty hand of God and will have bowed down before the throne of His grace. 

Our lives here and now are short; eternity is the real question.  You have heard it said that the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour, but have you considered that God's Spirit also searches the earth looking for someone to rescue and redeem?  It is a question of submission versus self-reliance, humility versus pride, good versus evil.  

The prideful will never submit to the authority of God and His Word.  They make THEMSELVES judge of what is good and what is evil or perhaps deny the existence of evil at all.  This is a very sinister spirit, and our culture is filled with it.  We do not accept God's law or standards for living as written in His Word, for it we do, we are convicted of our own sinful nature.  And we must never feel badly about ourselves.  We are all good, says the culture, just misunderstood.  Sin has become a thing of the past.  No one sins anymore, therefore no one deserves punishment for sin.  This is what we have come to believe as a society and in the world at large, but the truth, as written in God's Word, tells a very different story.  It tells us that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.  That Savior has been given.  The Way of Salvation has come. 

God commands all people everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30)

To repent means to turn away from sin.  It involves an acknowledgement of one's own sin, the acceptance of God's mercy, grace and forgiveness, and a renewed life in the Spirit of God by faith in the One who died to pay the price for the sins of the world, Jesus Christ. 

This may seem narrow-minded or obsolete, but look around and you will see the truth of it.  The world in its current state is in need of salvation.  Look into the face of danger or death, and each of us will cry out for help.  Where does that help come from?  It comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth.

God has provided a Way of Salvation for us all.

Will you take it?  Will you submit to the Lordship of Christ Jesus?  Will you acknowledge your sin before a holy God and be ransomed as His own?

Sin is selfish and brutal and unrelenting.  It visits us day and night in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions.  Jesus, alone, turned away every and all temptation by the word of His mouth.   We can't boast that nor can we boast a love greater than His.

Some look at God and see a tyrant ready to throw us all into Hell unless we do as He says.

The Bible does say, "His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with an unquenchable fire."  (Matthew 3:12)

We don't like to think about this, but herein lies the answer.  The earth is God's threshing floor, and He is asking us not to be its chaff.  It's up to us to accept what has already been freely given on our behalf.  This place and time we exist in is for a purpose, God's purpose.  It is where God separates what is good from what is unusable and unworthy.  Wheat makes bread to eat. Chaff is good for nothing, and it will be discarded and burned.  That is God's truth.

We don't like to believe that anyone under any circumstances can be discarded.  In our pride, we see ourselves as more compassionate than God and our own righteousness above His because we would never cast anyone aside.  We believe we love others far too much for that, but consider this:  Until it is you who wears the crown of thorns upon your head, until your beaten body hangs upon a cross and a sword pierces your side, you cannot say you love them more.

The cross reminds us of an unsurpassable Love that pursues us with the kind of unrelenting passion that none of us could even fathom.  Our bleeding hearts grieve and offer sympathy, empathy, and love, but He, alone, is able to redeem anyone or anything.  He has, He does, and He will.  We are the reason He hung there.  Sin is what crucified our Lord, and it is His love for us that motivated Him to go through with it.  The cross brings life into death, hope into hopelessness, peace into despair, love out of hate, and a place to belong for the wandering soul.

Come home, it cries.  Come home to the place for which you were created.  "Come to Me, all who are weary, I will give you rest.  I love you, and I will never forsake you." 

It is His kingdom to reign.  Will you submit to Him?  Will you follow?  Will you be bread and not chaff?  Will you choose the good portion, the Bread and Living Water, whose name is Love?  I pray you will.