Musing on the fragility and unpredictability of life

No matter how long we are in this world life is short. Life is filled with twists, turns, ups, and downs. There is good, bad, painful, difficult, ugly, joyous, beautiful, and painful as the Bible states in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 there is a time and season for everything. Recent life events have thoughts musing about the fragility and unpredictability of life on this earth. One day a person can have freedom the next a sudden acceleration can kill some people and a person can end up wrongly imprisoned as was the case of Koua Fong Lee who spent two years in prison but was recently released in light of the evidence of problems with Toyota’s and sudden acceleration. Joseph one day was serving Potipher the best he could and the next minute accused of trying to rape his wife resulting in many years in prison. The fact is difficult and extremely painful things can happen to any of us at anytime. They can range from minor irritations like viral infections to more severe forums of suffering.

It Matthew 5:45b (ESV) Jesus states: For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. The good and difficult things that happen in life, happen. The question for each believer is how we deal with both the good and bad. What does mean to be truly at peace and what can bring the perceived peace into question. It is during the difficult and tough times that test how we stand in pain when things are not going well. In the good times, when everything goes well the question is really is how much is the good taken for granted or seen as a byproduct of self? Paul stated in Philippians 4:13 (ESV) that the secret to any situation any season in life is: I can do all things through him who strengthens me. We can say it easily enough, but do we grasp what it means, or is it a nice phrase that can be put on a plaque on the wall?

So what does that phrase really come down to? Well examining the words a little closer it really comes down to the ability to be at true peace and wholeness comes not from our own effort but in surrender and dependence on the Messiah. It really points for the need to surrender. Times of plenty and times of pain are difficult times to surrender. One it is easy to place a lot of emphasis on self, the other to focus on the pain and suffering. Both can lead to a focus on self. Here it is really a true turning from self and resting in Jesus so that what God puts before us we are able to do regardless of season of life.

God only knows what will happen in each of our lives. We can face tests like Koua Fong Lee or Joseph with wrongful imprisonment. We can face choices to serve God and give up what appears to be good for self? We can be asked to give up what God has promised like Abraham. The fact is we will all face times of testing of one form or another. Some testing is short, some are longer, but when you surrender to God, he works to His good purpose. As the Bible states in Romans 8:28 (ESV)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Now each of us may never know what was the good brought in difficult times. God simply asks us to surrender and trust him regardless. It is real easy to lose focus and sight of what God is doing. Honestly there are many times in my life where focus was lost. There are times of great anger and sin that came from circumstances in my life not matching my hopes and expectations and God not bringing things about according to my will. Ultimately the process becomes about bringing my will in alignment to his and living in surrender. For it is only in surrender of self and alignment of my will to God’s where there is any peace and wholeness.

Thoughts from a Funeral: Do you fully love?

My wife plays piano and as such at times I get privileged to attend things like other peoples weddings and funerals that normally would not attend.  Tonight I was at a funeral of  Josephine “Josie” Foy mother to a member of New Joy church, David Foy.  The church is the one I am a member of and had asked for prayer for the pastoral search earlier this year.  I don’t recall if I ever met Josephine in my time around the Foy family, but I don’t think so.   Being around funerals or intense emotion is always intense for me as I take on the emotions that are there as an empathetic response.  The funeral was touching and one that did present a sound Gospel message as well.  The special music was touching and fitting of the event and those mourning the loss certainly must have been touched.   The funeral as a whole touched me as well, particularly the Eulogy David Foy shared and the bit of this woman’s life.

Josephine “Josie” Foy apparently lived a hard life and her father was physically abusive. She was a simple woman with limited skills.  David may the point that why her skills may be limited she always gave her all.  She gave everything she had into trying to raise her children in difficult times and much poverty.  She poured herself into her children.   So the first way I was touched is to reflect on the importance of total giving of self to God.  If we do not give fully of what God has given us and walk in true surrender we fall short of genuine response to God.

Another point that touched me from what David shared in the Eulogy was his description of Joyce as content.  He indicated that  whatever she was asked she responded “I’m fine.”   He suggested that her reply was not the simple polite exchange but a true reflection of her state of mind, for her she was always fine regardless. 

The third element David shared about his mother that touched me, was that he was uncertain until just before she died of her position in Jesus.  His wife Heidi years ago and been led to share Jesus with his mom and her significant other and they at that time, opened their hearts to Jesus.  David had doubted the sincerity of that encounter until his mother assured him that she was ready to die on all levels, meaning she was right before God.

Now all that is interesting but the most powerful element learning about David and his mother was his telling about his reaction to the fact that as children his mother had given away David and his sisters and they moved on to foster care.  David talked about confronting his mother as a young adult and being able to let go of bitterness because he learned that her action was one of self-sacrifice and love.  She couldn’t care for the children herself so she gave them away.   This story really points to the importance of perspective.  When looking at things from our own eyes and pain we can view things that were done of pure love, to be something done out of evil.  We have the view that no one who loves another would cause pain or abandonment.  Yet, here, David’s mother Josephine Foy gave up David and his sisters because she loved them enough to recognize they needed more than she could provide.  And ultimately God has used that story even to this day with David’s Eulogy of his mother, and the impact on myself and others. 

Ultimately from this story the over all message is that of the importance of loving totally, giving all of self.  Josephine gave her all at great personal loss and even becoming the object of anger because of love.  She did not hold back.  Her life reflected brightly God’s love.  True, she likely made many hurtful choices that came from self, but she also reflected God’s love even before she had entered His Kingdom.  In reflecting on  1 John 4:7 (KJV) comes to mind:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

Josephine Foy before officially entering the Kingdom of God, showed pure love.  When she was presented with the opportunity to turn fully to God, she did not hesitate and accepted it so easily it left lingering doubt.  Yet, the quick acceptance seems to flow  from the truth of this verse.  Those that love are born of God and know God and when told of how to reconcile fully to God, there is no real hesitation as the state of heart being centered on love accepts what is known in the heart as true.

Now to wrap this article up, please consider to take to heart the life of Josie Foy.  Love God and others with all that you are and by so doing reflect God’s love.  In so doing you will learn more about God and grow in intimacy, for intimacy with God is known in how we love.