Thursday, November 17, 2011

Another Pine Box

Maybe I am beginning to grasp the grief Jesus felt. Maybe.

The charter plane landed. Me and 25 others, flags unfurled, formed a semi-circle of commendation to an already-aching family. The door opened. A lieutenant and a Sargent came down a short ladder. Immediately, a color guard made another pine box stable.

Cringing, the family crossed the runway. Assistance was given the thin, fragile grandmotherly woman. Some made strides to the casket. Others, distressed, had no longing to draw near, having been schooled in grief.

I am acquainted with a family member. She is inconsiderate, oblivious, and a throw-everything-to-the-wind soul. The family towed her to the pine box. Grief took charge. The wails were prolonged, perpetual, and, piercing.

The chaplain prayed. More tears and additional mourning flowed. A family member prayed. “Lord,” he said, “You tell us this is to be a happy day. All I am praying for is the strength to endure this adversity.”

The family turns to leave. The one I know is drug away. She struggled with them, loudly wailing. Family members restrained her.

I remembered Paul's words to the Thessalonians. “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorry as others who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). He was preparing believers for the inevitable pain.

Jesus knew the pain. He cared. “Now as he drew near, He saw the city and wept over it...” (Luke 19:41). John records Jesus' emotions when He visited Mary and Martha, Lazarus' family. “Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.”  (John13:33). Later John added, “Jesus wept.” (John 13:35).

Today, I think I suffered a sadness like Jesus did.

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Have you had a similar experience? Would you share it in the comment section?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pity the Poor

Financially, I felt like a June bug hitting a car glass at 60 mph---not much left. Three of us attending college, four others at home, and only my wife's salary.

I was blessed to preach Sunday's, and teach a Wednesday night class, at Aldridge Road in Percy, Arkansas.

One Sunday night, after locking up the building, I plopped into my high-mileage Chevy S-10 pickup for the tiring, 78-miles home. What is this? A brown paper sack of groceries? The unsigned note spoke of someone thinking I could use them. They were right!

The next time the church met I thanked the mystery person(s).

About six weeks later, I found $50 extra dollars for my electric bill. Again, I thanked the congregation for the generous, anonymous soul(s).

I suspected a few members, but none ever suffered financially.

So, Proverbs 19:17 is true. "He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given." Someone at Aldridge Road had pity on this poor man. And God made sure no one suffered.

Matthew 6:3-4, "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."

Shortly, we will enter the season of giving. I challenge you to test God. Find one person or family in financial distress. Give them something useful without them knowing you helped. Then, watch God give you something as repayment. If He keeps His word, what worry do you have?