Thursday, February 23, 2006

Visiting Mom

I have just left my mother in a nursing home on the other side of this country. As the plane carrying me back to Alberta scribed a straight line across the top of Lakes Huron and Superior, then angled slightly across Manitoba and Saskatchewan, her eyes haunted me. They are sunken because she has no appetite anymore. They are old because she is almost 87. And they are bewildered because she has Alzheimer's disease.
"There is something wrong with my brain," she told me the morning I went to say good-bye. I try to distract her by asking if she has seen any birds in the tree outside her window. She stares for several long minutes before she shrugs. She picks up my second book that I brought to show her, remembering her excitement over my first. "Is this yours?" she asks. When I say yes, she tries to give it back. "No, Mom, it's okay, I tell her, I brought it for you." She stares at the first page for half an hour, while my sister and I chat, our eyes often darting to her bowed head. It's been more than a year since she attempted to read anything.
I try to engage her in conversation again, tell her I'm leaving today, going home.
"Where am I living now?" She asks. When I tell her, she says she doesn't like it here. "But the care is good, I'll give you that, the care is very good here." She stops for a moment, then tries to continue, but she has lost the thread of the thought. She drops her head and stares at the open book in her hand. "Is this yours?" she asks.
Just as we leave, she says again, "There's something terribly wrong. I felt it at breakfast."
My sister says she will stop in again that night, but that does not seem to help. She opens her mouth but says nothing more as we move from the room.

I pray that she will hang on long enough to have a bit of a visit with my brother when he goes to see her in March, and my daughter, when she arrives in May. But I'm not sure that prayer will be answered. Some day soon, another prayer will be - some day soon she will wake with complete understanding and the twinkle that has always been in her eyes will become a beacon of light, reflecting the light of her Saviour. Perhaps that is the prayer I should whisper now, as her eyes continue to haunt me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Be Mine

Be Mine
By Marcia Lee Laycock

I ripped the cellophane wrapping off the small package with delight. The cards my mother had bought that morning were perfect. They were bright red with hearts all over them and short funny sayings appropriate for Valentine’s Day. I spent all that evening addressing the envelopes and signing my name to all the cards. All, that is, but one.

There was one card in the package that was larger than the rest. It said, “Be Mine,” and the verse inside was not funny. In fact, to me, it was so serious that my heart beat faster. This card was going to someone I thought was deserving of something so special. His name was Darryl. I was ten years old and I was “in love.”

I did not sign my name to the card addressed to Darryl because I was afraid. I did not want to admit my feelings for fear of being rejected. What if he just laughed? What if he threw the card in the trash and someone else saw that it was from me? What if he left it behind on an empty desk for anyone to see? No. I would not put my name on that card, but I would pray that Darryl would know who it was from.

Giving your love and affection to someone is a risk. You become vulnerable to being hurt, to rejection, perhaps even to ridicule. Jesus knew all about that when He agreed to be born as a tiny babe on earth. He knew that many would spurn His love. Many would scorn his affection. Many would just laugh. And then a mob would demand His death. No one would understand. None of it would look like a fairy-tale and the ending was anything but happy. It would look like defeat and it would stink of death.

But it was the greatest act of love this world has ever seen. Christ gave up the glories of heaven, took on the physical limitations of a human body and then allowed that body to be tortured and killed. He did it all so that we would be able to live in the presence of His Father’s love eternally. He did it with an anguished cry of, “Be Mine!”

Jesus was neither afraid nor embarrassed to sign his name on the card that revealed His love for us. His card was a cross erected on a hill outside the city of Jerusalem. He signed it with His own blood and when it was delivered to the world at the moment he died, all the barriers between us and God were torn down. Forgiveness was ours for the asking and hope became a reality.

It was therefore true when the apostle Paul said to the people in Rome – “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

That is a Valentine worth cherishing.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Most Excellent

It must have looked like this was an important prisoner. He was guarded by two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen. They had heard there were men who wanted him dead, so they had taken measures to assure his safety. He was, after all, a Roman citizen. When they arrived without incident at their destination, the man was handed over to the Roman governor of the province. His trial lasted only long enough for two witnesses to make their statements and for the prisoner himself to plead his innocence. There really was not enough evidence to imprison the man, but the governor, the “most excellent Felix” (Acts 24:3), put the prisoner, the apostle Paul, under house arrest.

From time to time Felix would have Paul brought before him and the apostle would tell him about “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25). Many times he talked with Felix about faith in Jesus Christ. Felix heard Paul’s story, listened to his discourse. At times he was afraid and sent him away. But he kept calling him back. He kept calling him back over a period of two years!

As I read this story in the book of Acts, I wondered about the battle that must have been going on in that Roman governor’s mind and soul. He heard the words of truth, but, sadly, there was something else of more importance to him. Verse 26 says – “At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.”

Felix was so focused on what he wanted that he missed what he really needed. His greed blinded him to the most costly gift God could offer, and though it was offered for free, he did not receive it. Then he was replaced as governor and the opportunity, as far as we know, was lost.

I wonder how often we do the same. We too are sometimes so focused on our wants that we miss the one thing we really need – a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. The pursuit of prosperity and happiness too often supercedes the pursuit of our spiritual well-being. We should all heed Paul’s words, those he no doubt spoke to Felix as he did to the people in a place called Corinth – “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2b).

Opportunities to receive God’s gifts are offered to us every day. Grace, forgiveness and righteousness are available for free. They were purchased for us by the Son of God. All we have to do is receive them.

A Winning Sites Contest

Katie Hart is hosting this -
Christian Novels: Marcia Laycock - A Winning Sites Contest

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

We'll See

“We’ll see,” I said, and heard my daughter sigh. She knew what that meant, just as I knew when my mother said it to me when I was her age. It meant the answer was probably “no.” It meant my mother didn’t want to come right out and say that word, but was leaning strongly in that direction. It meant she had some serious doubts about letting me do whatever it was I had requested. It meant she’d talk it over with my dad and then have the added weight and authority of his ‘no’ to back her up. When my mother said, “We’ll see,” it meant we wouldn’t.

Sometimes it feels like God is doing that. He won’t give a direct answer, but we can tell we are not going to like it when He does. Sometimes, as we wait for the answer, we have little hope that things will turn out the way we would like them to. We are reluctant to believe that God wants to say, “yes.” We see him as a parent whose lips are permanently shaped in the form of the ‘n’ word.

But God’s letter to us, the letter that was written down thousands of years ago, tells us differently. The Scriptures tell us that God sings over us and delights in us. He longs to give us good things. He tried to convince His disciples of this when he walked and talked with them while he was on earth. Jesus said – “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

“Well, then, you ask, why isn’t there a Porsche sitting in my drive way?”

There would be, if a Porsche was what was needed to help others and bring glory to God.

Look at the next verse in Matthew 9 – “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” (v.12). Suddenly the focus is not on the one asking for gifts, but on others around him who should be receiving them from his hands. Jesus is saying, look to the needs of others and your needs will be taken care of. He always taught us to have an outward view – look to others before looking to ourselves. In that way He is honoured and we are blessed. He will never fail to give us whatever we need to accomplish that purpose, because it is His purpose.

Perhaps, then, when we think we are hearing God say, “We’ll see,” we are hearing Him say, “examine your motives.” Perhaps then, we should ask ourselves that bottom line question – will this bring glory to God, or glory to me?

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Laura and Bengali girls

Just wanted to share this photo Laura sent from Bangladesh

It's so good to see her smiling face! :)