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Tidings of Convicting Rain

Mom B's 96 birthday with Eddie 010It started out as a short morning walk down the green belt near my house. I didn’t know deep conviction was going to rain on my heart before I got home. I walk on this green belt several times a week and usually speak to the neighbors I pass. Sometimes it is a simple hello to a runner and sometimes I stop to admire an adorable child or a cute puppy. I might warn those I pass if I see a snake on the trail. That day I saw a rabbit and told the person behind me to look for it. I like to start a conversation if I am not in hurry.

At the end of the tree-lined trail I could see the black western sky. It reminded me of the color of the sky in Memphis the day the so-called Hurricane Elvis came out of nowhere. Even the local news stations missed the warnings. It tore a path of trees and power lines down the center of Memphis and many homes were without electricity for weeks. The wind was so strong the window panes in our house rattled. No one should be out in that kind of weather, so I warned the  people I passed on my way back home.

As I rounded the corner and passed the little playground by the lake, a guilt storm hit me. I find it so easy to tell others to look for a cute rabbit or a half-hidden deer, but not so easy to tell them to look for Jesus. I find it so easy to warn them about a coming storm, but not so easy to tell them accepting Jesus protects from the storms ahead. These thoughts convicted me, but I still fall back into old habits. I need to form new habits of sharing the good news every chance I get.

How about you? What convicts you?

Mom B's 96 birthday with Eddie 006

Discovering Jesus in the Faces of Grief

You may have heard the word “grief” all your life, but you never had anyone tell you exactly what it means. You could be in the midst of it now and still not understand. Grief, this confusing, devastating, volatile mixture of emotions, is a natural response to any loss: death, divorce, loss of health, familiar surroundings, or treasured possessions. Grief affects the mind, body, and spirit. It seems impossible to concentrate or think clearly enough to make even the simplest decision. The body reacts in unexpected ways: pain, sickness, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing, over-whelming fatigue for some, and for others, amazing bursts of energy. For some, grief brings a deeper, more satisfying walk with their Lord. Others build a massive wall between them and their Savior.

Surely, all who take the journey through grief find that it transforms their relationship with God. For example, Susan, a college student, had a sharp drop in her grades after her divorce. She tried to deny the pain, but it showed. The stress caused the skin on her face to turn a bright red and she quickly gained twenty pounds. Despite this, she learned to depend on God to help her though the sleepless nights. On the other hand, Stephen has not been to church since he lost his son more than ten years ago. He, like many, is mad at God. Even now, he continues grieving for his son.

Normal grief is an essential part of healing. Abnormal grief occurs when a person withdraws too long, pushes others away, or becomes bitter and depressed. Unresolved grief may bring on the symptoms of the illness of the loved one who died, or cause involvement in detrimental activities such as drugs, alcohol, or other addictions. It can even affect the immune system and increase the risk of cancer. Grief seems like a silent enemy, but if you face the enemy head-on, it can become your friend.

The Bible says that Jesus was “A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:6 [NKJ] We know that He has not asked us to experience anything He has not experienced, so we know He understands. One of the hardest parts of the grief process is the loneliness. Jesus must have felt lonely in the Garden of Gethsemane and even more so on the cross. He endured that for His children, so we can have a relationship with Him and so He could send us the Comforter to help us. Take your grief to Him. Tell Him about the pain. Let Him comfort you in your time of sorrow. He will get you through the lonely nights and it will get better.