Bring Him Home

When I was a wee little girl I sat on my Daddy’s shoulders as he ran and my mother screamed. He had been a competitive sprinter and he didn’t hold back. I thought sitting up there was the greatest feeling in the world.

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Today I believe he knows freedom from an old man’s body and the chains of dementia and is again running as free as the wind.

His health was declining. He was becoming more child-like and he spent a lot of his time staring out the window, longing to see Jesus face to face and be reunited with Leah, the love of his life. But he told me he was afraid of pain and the process of transitioning beyond this physical place. Yesterday morning I was listening to a new recording by Josh Groban of the song “Bring Him Home” and turned it into a prayer that God would take my Daddy home, without pain, in his sleep.

My heavenly Father heard and answered, just the way he did when I prayed for Him to take Mom home. In the afternoon I got a call that when my sister-in-law went to check on him at noon she found he had passed away in his sleep. He had a recording of “How Great Thou Art” made at an anniversary party for him and Mom playing on repeat in the background.

God is good, full of mercy and very, very kind. Precious in His eyes is the death of one of His own.

I will miss him, and the conversations that never happened, but in the light of eternity, it will only be a short time before I see him again.

My Dad was a writer and a story-teller. A month ago I snapped photos of him telling one of his many tales of a Saskatchewan boyhood.

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Many people will remember him for his writing and story-telling in schools and theaters and old folks homes.

I will remember being carried on his shoulders, sitting higher and moving faster than anybody else in the crowd because my Daddy was the fastest, handsomest, greatest Daddy in the world.

Showers of Blessing, Seasons of Refreshing

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All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. (Ephesians 1:3 NLT)

The main character on the old TV show “Maude” had an expression: “God is going to get you for that.”

It was funny in the way death and taxes and old age jokes are funny, because behind a lot of humour there is a vault of anger and feelings of helplessness. Some people who want to be in the business of speaking for God must be taking Maude more seriously than she took herself, because there are a lot of God-is-gonna-get-you-for-that doom and gloom prophecies abounding on the internet lately. Lots of shoulds with no hows. Given the dire predictions that God is fed up with our behaviour (and voting patterns apparently) and is going to switch from showering us with blessings to dumping nasty judgments on us, I have to stop and ask, Is that God? What does the voice of God actually sound like?

Lately I was totally rattled when I heard the voice of condemnation saying, “You are not good enough… you are a disappointment… you have failed… who do you think you are…”

All those things were factual. I have failed and disappointed people.  I had not lived up to even my own standards. I felt shame (more than “I did something wrong,” but I am something wrong”) and I didn’t know how to fix it. I spiraled down rapidly. I stood on the precipice of depression again.

Then, in His kindness, the Lord brought words of correction into my life through a random podcast and when a page fell out of my journal He reminded me that this part of the journey is about learning to better discern His voice for myself.

“The fruit of the Spirit,” said the speaker, “characterizes the way the Holy Spirit speaks.” I understand that to mean that it’s His fruit, not something I have to conjure up on my own. It is His character. He is love. He is peace. When He speaks He speaks with the voice of love, of kindness, of the reassurance of His faithfulness in seeing me through and does not reject or condemn me. His tone is gentle, kind, patient and peaceful because that’s who He is.

A question: Even if it was firm, was the voice that told you that you are a failure gentle, patient, kind, joyful, inviting you to a deeper relationship? If not, it was not Him. Wrong voice. If God is asking you to change the way you think so that it shows up in your choices He gives you access to His patience and self-control. With every challenge that will help you grow there is a provision set aside – a spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms – that will enable you to change. You need to keep your eyes on Him to access it.

Of course we reap what we sow. That’s a universal principle so obvious that even toddlers get it. Pull the cat’s tail and there is a natural consequence. Act in a self-centered manner and there is a consequence. But the voice of God doesn’t condemn and leave us there. It goes beyond should to how – and the how is all about relationship and drawing closer to Him. His voice shows us how to hit the refresh button, to agree that we have been wrong and want to change the way we think, and to feel the joy of knowing we are forgiven and starting fresh.

Instead of “I am going to get you,”  He says, “Don’t worry. I’ve still got you – and I love you very, very much. I will strengthen you and help you. I began this work in you and I will complete it.”

Sometimes There Are No Words

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Did any of you parents ever hear your child wake from sleep with some panic fear and shriek the mother’s name through the darkness? Was not that a more powerful appeal than all words? And, depend upon it, that the soul which cries aloud on God, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” though it have “no language but a cry,” will never call in vain.
– Alexander MacLaren

My friend’s handsome young son is dead.

In a moment of hopeless despair he took his own life.

All I can do is cry out.

I have no more words than that.

Grace and Glory

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To live by grace means to know that there is light and there is shadow in our lives. There is glory and there is shame.

But grace draws us into the light. It coaxes us out of hiding. It wakens our dormant hopes.

Grace exchanges our shame for glory.

 

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

(Psalm 84:11)

Haven

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It’s so easy for us to turn the things God designed for pleasure into a task. As soon as someone says to me, “You have to…” it begins to feel like a burden, a chore.  I think we’ve done that to prayer – and especially corporate prayer – as well. Instead of thinking that we are privileged to spend time in the presence of the ultimate lover of our souls who brings us together in relationship with Him and with each other, we talk about scheduling meetings and getting down to the work of prayer. We bring our agendas and have our lists that must be covered in well-worded presentations. Okay, time to drop the pleasantries and get down to work.

Even our times of worship can turn into hurried rituals of sound checks, singing songs, or genuflecting, or waving incense or flags, or lighting candles, or shuffling the two square foot pew-side hokey-pokey, whatever, trying to think of ways to get God in the mood to respond to us (or manipulate our own emotions to be in the mood to worship and pray. It’s hard to tell sometimes.) Why does it sometimes feel like one more thing to check off the to-do list before we can get on with the program?

What if the Lord just wants to sit on a deck chair beside us and be welcomed into our conversation? What if Father, Son and Holy Spirit want to welcome us to sit with them and be part of their conversation? What if entering his rest is realizing that he is not hurried or anxious or stressed like we are? What if worship is enjoying him in that place of rest?

What does it mean to enter his rest together?

So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. (Hebrews 4:9, 10 NLT)