Tag Archives: death

What a Difference an “S” Makes

My times are in Your hands:” (Psalm 31:15 NKJV)

Image by LittleAngell from Pixabay

I understand this to mean God determines when I am born and when I die. I believe He chose my parents, the era I live in, my country and my birth order.

One of my favourite Psalms is 139.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my informed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Verses 13-16 NIV)

The Lord has chosen my station in life, where I live and what happens to me. I can say with the Psalmist, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”(Psalm 16:6)

So to say, “My times are in Your hands,” is to state a fact.

However, if I say to God, “My time is in Your hands,” it’s a totally different thing. It means, “I commit the time You have given me to Your control and management.” It is a prayer of commitment, of surrender. What a difference an “s” makes!

Jesus didn’t have control over His own time. On the day He heard about the beheading of John the Baptist, He longed to get away to a quiet place by Himself to mourn and process the events. Instead, He was inundated, first by excited disciples who had returned from a mission, and when He took them with Him to a quiet place, the crowds were waiting for Him. He loved them. He gave them His time and then fed them, more than 5000 of them.

Sure I can make plans. I need to go shopping, sort out admin, enjoy coffee with a friend. I need to earn my keep, take care of the home and family God has given me. But I need to remember Whose time it really is.

My prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. You know my beginning and end. Thank You for where you have placed me, my country, my city, my home. Thank You for the family You have given me. I commit to You now, my time. ‘Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.'”

The last line of my prayer is from a hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be,” by Frances R Havergal, 1874.

Chris Tomlin has revamped it in this You Tube version.

Words to Remember

Last night our fellowship group got together to remember Pat King, our beloved friend and hostess. She died within days of receiving the diagnosis of Myeloid Leukemia. Somebody read the words she had given to each of us at our last physical meeting before lockdown. They will be her permanent message to us.

Lord – I believe

Lord God – I believe that you love me and that you made me for a purpose.

Lord – I believe that I shall not die a moment sooner or later than you decree.

Lord – I believe I shall suffer neither more nor less than you decide.

Lord – I believe that I shall complete the work that you have planned for me to do on earth.

Lord Jesus, as you died and rose from death, so I believe that I too shall rise from death.

Lord – I believe that in that resurrection I shall see and understand all that is hidden from me now.

Lord – I believe that because of this resurrection, new life springs out from every kind of death.

Lord – I believe that all my dear ones in the same way, are safe in your capable and moulding hands.

Therefore Lord – I believe that all anxiety is sin and I renounce it as unnecessary, wasteful and hurtful.

And Lord – I commit myself to you with all my heart to be set free to live and love and serve your children.

Memorial service leaflet

When a Good Friend Dies

Yesterday a good friend died. She hosted our fellowship group which will never be the same again. It wasn’t Covid. It was leukemia and it was sudden. We got the first message saying she was in hospital with some weird blood disease on Saturday. She started chemotherapy on Monday, Yesterday morning we got the message that she was unresponsive and by 3pm she had gone to her Lord.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I was shocked out of comfort into stark reality. Death is so final and so disruptive to our everyday life! Could I have been a better friend?

I realised again that we should tell the people we love that we love them, while they can still hear, that we must forgive while it is still possible, that we should always keep in mind that we, too, can be taken suddenly in the midst of living.

Our possessions, home, car, pets are only ours while we are alive. One day somebody else will sort out our freezer, make plans for our animals, donate our clothes, close our bank account.

Stephen Covey recommends that we start with the end in view. I am going to die. What would I like my friends and family to say about me once I’m gone? That my house was always tidy or that I dropped everything to enjoy an outing with a friend? That I published a book or made memories with grandchildren? That I brought encouragement or pointed out mistakes?

These and many more questions I need to think on in the coming days. The advice in Philippians 4:8 is always helpful.

Finally, Brothers and Sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Goodbye, Pat, I will always remember you. You were a hostess who cared about each individual guest, even the ones who didn’t like curry or pork. You knew our favourite drinks and made sure you had them. You noticed the quiet members of the group and encouraged them. Your love for life inspired me, your unwavering trust in the Lord I strive to attain. You will be missed by a large circle of friends. I feel honoured that I can count myself one of them.

Exceptional Gifts

On Monday night, our fellowship group had our “last supper.” We all saw how things were going and knew it would not be long before South Africa, too, faced a lockdown. As a group, we watched the president’s address which confirmed it.

Although I had been expecting it, I was surprised by my own reaction of shock. I have been on-and-off tearful since. I don’t know what’s the matter with me. I do not fear the virus at all. I think I am mourning for a lost way of life.

Two exceptional gifts have helped stabilize me. The first is a laminated statement of faith which was a gift from our hostess, who always provides wonderful suppers for our meetings.

It reads:

Lord God – I believe that you love me and that you made me for a purpose. Lord – I believe that I shall not die a moment sooner or later than you decree. Lord – I believe that I shall suffer neither more nor less than you decide. Lord – I believe that I shall complete the work that you have planned for me to do on earth. Lord Jesus, as you died and rose from death, so I believe that I too shall rise from death. Lord – I believe that in the resurrection I shall see and understand all that is hidden from me now. Lord – I believe that because of this resurrection, new life springs out of every kind of death. Lord – I believe that all my dear ones in the same way, are safe in your capable moulding hands. Therefore Lord – I believe that all anxiety is sin and I renounce it as unnecessary, wasteful and hurtful. And Lord – I commit myself to you with all my heart to be set free to live and love and serve your children.

Yesterday, as our motor-home needed a run before we are all confined to our homes, we went to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens where I received my second exceptional gift – the reminder of how great and creative our God is.

Every day, everywhere, are reminders of God’s glory. Let’s keep our eyes open to see Him and our ears attuned to His voice.

Feelings and Faith

“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”
― George Muller

Although I had decided to trust God with the matter of our air tickets, it didn’t stop me from being anxious about them and living with a knot in my stomach.

Speaking to my son helped. He is very adventurous and recently did his first sky dive. I asked him if he had butterflies in his stomach before jumping, even though he totally trusted his parachute, the laws of physics that enable sky diving, and his instructor. He admitted that he had. So even though I thought I trusted God implicitly, it was understandable that I felt anxiety.

Recently I’ve heard a number of things that have tried my faith.

A couple had been praying for fifteen years for a baby. Finally there was a pregnancy, and amid much rejoicing, a baby was born two weeks ago. A couple of days ago, the baby was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I feel so sad and disappointed for those parents. My boss had a Down Syndrome baby and I know how much of a life change is involved. Questions arise. Why didn’t God answer sooner? Surely He gives good gifts to His children?

A friend’s daughter-in-law died of colon cancer. The funeral was yesterday. She leaves behind young children.

My best friend’s son is a pilot for an airline which is in serious financial difficulties and they don’t know from month to month whether they will be paid. We’ve been praying for months for another job for him. He applied for a position in England and had an interview scheduled for later this month. He borrowed money to fly to England to attend the interview. Yesterday he received a letter saying that owing to the Corona virus outbreak, the airline had decided not to hire any more pilots as all airlines were facing a drop in custom.

I know, and I am absolutely convinced that …all things work together for good for those that love the Lord… (Rom 8:28,) that even these negative things can be worked out for good. However, that doesn’t stop me from feeling sad or even depressed and confused by these events.

When I discussed this with my prayer partner, she raised the question, “Why did Jesus weep when confronted with Mary’s and Martha’s sorrow following the death of Lazarus? (John 11:35)” Surely He had perfect faith in the Father. He knew what God was going to do in response to His prayer. Why then did He feel and express these human emotions?

I think it’s because Jesus understands. He knows our feelings and identifies with them in the same way as the little girl who said to her father, “I’m going to my friend’s house because the dog got her best doll …

Image by Frank Becker from Pixabay

and I’m going to cry with her.”

Image by Mariangela Castro (Mary) from Pixabay

I am far from being a Christian like George Muller who trusted God so implicitly that he had no anxiety. My Lord knows that. He knows I am weak and He understands. He will cry with me.

Reflections

In response to this week’s Flash Fiction challenge by Priceless Joy.

The challenge is to write a flash fiction story of 100 – 150 words. I am trying to limit myself to 100.

This is the prompt photo by Priceless Joy

I see her everywhere. If I look up into the sky, the clouds arrange themselves into pictures of little girls – little girls playing, little girls sleeping. Sometimes just a face. Her face.

In the bath I lie and stare at the tiles, mottled and marbled. More pictures emerge. Babies turn into toddlers. Very rarely I can make out an older girl – a teenager who will never be.

Reflections in the rain-spattered surface are in technicolour. Surely that’s Amy! I turn around, tears mingling on my face with rain. She died a year ago, the day before her fifth birthday.