Following God with Courage

"This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be

afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." -- Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013

With Easter on the horizon, my thoughts and emotions have been all over the place.  I want tomorrow to be a Holy experience with God, but it is hard for me because last year was such a hard, yet, special Easter.  I fear that all others will pale by comparison.

Last year, Nehemiah was in the hospital in Birmingham.  Josh was in Mobile having gone back to work and having become sick with a stomach virus and unable to come see Nehemiah and I.  Last year on the eve of Easter, I was splitting my time between the Ronald McDonald House and my son’s hospital room in the RNICU. 

But, last year was such a very special year.  God was so very, very near to me as I told my son of the baby that was born a little baby like him but grew to be a big man like Daddy and died on a cross so we could all go live with him & his father in a wonderful place one day.  I felt like I could reach out and touch God because He was right there in the room with me, and I never felt alone.  I missed Josh and my family tremendously, but I did not feel alone. 

This year is so very different.  Josh and I have spent the day together.  We had a relaxing morning lazing around and eating pancakes.  Then we cleaned house together, and finished the day off with a date to one of our favorite restaurants.  There is a part of me that feels like I should feel so much more blessed this year than I did last year because things are going “good” this year.  But, I know that last Easter was an especially BLESSED Easter. 

I have spent a lot of time over the last year thinking about what “blessings” are and what we really pray for when we pray for blessings.   In her song “Blessings” Laura Story sings:

When friends betray us

When darkness seems to win…'Cause what if your blessings come through rain dropsWhat if Your healing comes through tearsWhat if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise”.
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life

I have spent a lot of time thinking about that.  The first time I heard the song, I knew there was a message there that resonated with me.  Blessings did come to me in the form of events that caused me to shed a lot of tears.  I had to wonder if that was what blessings really were, and I struggled with anger when I thought that it was. 

We pray for blessing because we want good things for us and good things for our family and friends.  We pray for blessings because we want to be happy and we want the difficult time to end for us and our loved ones, but what if God has something else in mind?  So, I turned to scripture, and this is what I found Jesus teaching about blessings:

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
    for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,[b]
    for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
    for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
    for they will be called the children of God.
 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”  --  Matthew 5:3-10

And, it occurred to me that the things God blesses and the blessings he bestows are not really what I am most often thinking of when I pray for blessings. 

It caused me to stop and think more as I pray.  When I am thinking of praying for God to bless a friend, do I mean help them be humble, help them hunger and thirst, help them work for peace, mourn, or be persecuted for doing right?  Not usually.  I usually mean to ask God to take some of the burden off of them and to make their life easier, but maybe I should pray for them to experience God in the blessings He knows to be best for them. 

I mean I would like for my life over the last year to have turned out differently.  I would have loved to have spent last Easter and the last year at home with my wonderful husband and beautiful son.  I still physically ache for Nehemiah.  But, if we had gone home from the hospital in February and all been healthy, I probably would not have experienced God on the level that I did.  I probably would not have felt Him so real in the room with me.   I would be a different person, and I would not have the testimony of how very true that verse four is when it says those who morn will be comforted.

This year, Easter means THANKSGIVING to me.  Thanks to Jesus for coming to this earth and enduring all He did so I can go live with Him and my son one day.  Thanks that he gives me comfort and strength to carry on here on earth while I wait for the time I can go live with Him.  Thankful that He lived and died and arose... very, very thankful.

Happy Easter, everyone.  

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