Sunday, June 09, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Tea - May our children find us faithful

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful,
may the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone,
and our children sift through all we’ve left behind.
May the clues that they discover, and the memories they uncover,
Become the light that leads them, to the road we each must find.
Steve Green, Find us Faithful

It was lovely having all of our family under one roof again.  Even if that particular day, there were tornado warnings and we had to take shelter in the basement of our New England family's vacation rental.

I'm certain that the Memorial Day tornado warnings will now become part of family legend.  For it is the scary moments as well as the very funny events we seem to remember the most. As my son told his sister, "welcome back to the Midwest".  ;)

Isn't that the beauty of family stories, though?  While we enjoy recalling the lovely days together, it is also those events that interrupted our normal lives that we remember.  They may have been unsettling while we were going through them but down the road a bit, remembering them can bring laughter.   Remember when... ?

The above photo was taken on our honeymoon, how young we both were then.  I had just turned twenty and my new husband was twenty-seven.  In the decades since there have been trials, tribulations, poor physical health, ongoing mental health issues, the death of a child born too soon, financial problems, relationship issues, too many moves to count, and the issues we all face living in a fallen world.

Sometimes I wanted to give up.  I wanted to stomp my feet and shake my fist at God and question His idea of an "abundant life".  I felt more like Job's wife than the ever faithful (yet questioning) Job. The thoughts which ran through my mind numerous times in the midst of the hard times... those whispered to us when we are physically and spiritually worn out by the enemy... just curse God and leave Him behind.  Did he really say?  Can't you see it was all a lie?

However, the One who not only loves but who is Love... He would let me go through the fire for awhile... sometimes longer than I would have imagined I could endure and survive... and then the answers to prayer would arrive.  He had brought me through and yes, as pottery grows stronger in the fire of the kiln... my faith and my ability to know His love grew stronger with each trial.

Quite often the answers looked nothing like what I was expecting and it wasn't until years later that I saw them for what they were... answers to prayer.  What I was expecting may have been an instant healing, money in the bank, a change of mind from another person, not to have to move again, slanderous mouths to be stopped, or discomfort to leave right now thank you very much.

Sometimes there were immediate answers to prayer.  They were exactly what I was hoping for and often far better than I expected.  His grace was overflowing and His mercy was great and His provision was quite amazing.

But sometimes his answers came wrapped in disappointment.  Then.  Not later.  I cannot tell you how many times God has had me look back at a situation and asks these questions... did your faith grow in this?... did you gain wisdom in this?... did you become a more patient person through this?... did you learn an important lesson in this... did this eventually lead you to a better place?

It was because of the hard times that, like Job, I once heard of Him but now my eyes have seen Him.  How is that possible?  I can look back and see His work in my family in such a way that only a truly Omnipotent Loving God could have orchestrated the journey.

If ever I needed a reminder of God's faithfulness, it was in seeing my seven grandchildren together.  From the baby to the seventeen year old... those humans who would not have been here at all if we had made different choices.  Each a unique set of God given talents and gifts and interests.

In a perfect world, my daughter would live near enough for regular visits to our favorite coffee shop near campus.  We would see our New England family more than once a year.  Two years had passed since we saw them this time.  Our son's family would still live down the road, on the way into town. I would be healthy enough to travel again.

What I do know is this, we are all where God wants us on this journey.  When each of our children was new to this planet, we dedicated them to the Lord and asked Him that His will be manifested in them.  Even if that takes them away from the town in which we live.

I turn sixty-five next month and I'm reminded of something Anne Graham Lotz said recently.  When asked what surprised her most about life, she said it was its' brevity.  She never imagined how quickly time would pass.  I think I could easily say the same thing.  It doesn't seem all that long ago as I near the last years of the journey that I was the twenty year old bride in the photo.

I see now why each day is to be appreciated.  Why God tells us to talk about Him as we go about our daily tasks.  Why Bible stories are enjoyed at bedtime, and Sunday School songs are sung in the car (out of tune by this mother), and all the beauty in nature is given glory to God to the toddler as well as the teenager.

There are memories of the aroma of cinnamon rolls as they came out of the oven, watching the boats docked on the lake, hiking the trails in the forest and looking for arrowheads, picnics at the park, remembering how Mamaw used to wrap a chicken leg in a napkin and put it in her purse at the restaurant to take home to her dog, thinking of my mother when a certain country song comes on my YouTube Favorites list.

Not everything has to be Bible story wrapped to give praise to God in our family.  Especially when we value the best this life has to offer and we know every good gift comes from God.  We enjoy beautiful art, and books, and there has been more than one discussion on which Star Trek TV series was the best... knowing that Granddad will always vote for Captain Kirk.

Life goes by fast.  Very fast.  We forget it is lived one day at a time.

I find that the lyrics of Steve Green's song, Find Us Faithful, mean more to me with each passing year.  When my children and grandchildren look back upon our lives, they will definitely not see anything close to perfection.  I can't say I always handle the imperfections of this world perfectly and with grace.  Even if that is a goal.

However, I do hope they find us faithful in the journey.  I pray they remember the good times together and that there is such a thing as having the spiritual gift of making cookies.  But most of all I pray they always walk with Jesus as their best friend and that they will be found faithful to the next generation.


Diane Robertson said...

God bless you, Brenda! You have said beautifully what so many of us who are older want to acknowledge. It is who Jesus is to us and how we have conveyed this to those we love that is the greatest legacy we can leave. We all have a different story, but if the result shows our dependence upon and love for Him, we can give no better gift to our dear ones! May His Spirit work mightily in each of us that it may be so!

Vee said...

Another wonderful post, Brenda. It is most timely for me.

What?! You spent time in the basement together just last Memorial Day? Yikes. The Midwest indeed. A captive family discusses/ does what together? I will never know as New England doesn’t have such outrageous weather. ; >

You will certainly be found faithful. The beauty of this is spectacular when one considers the imperfections woven in. The whole is nothing less than miraculous. We serve a mighty and loving God Who wants nothing more than to see us through.

Sixty-five you say?’re just a youngster!

Nancy said...

I felt that you were speaking exactly what my heart feels, Brenda! I turn 65 in October and have raised three daughters. As I sense that the life left to me is very short, my heart treasures looking back on my walk with my Lord. I love watching my daughters walk with Him, and seeing Him work. He has been there every step of the way, and I see that so clearly in this season of my life. Amen to everything you wrote!!Blessings to you and your family.

Kathy said...

Lovely post!
I admit to feeling more like Job's wife lately, wanting to shake my fist, and ask why. Definitely questioning times for me, but you give me hope that I will pass through this time even stronger. Bless you!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I’ve always loved this song, too! I hope that my kids and grands will be blessed by our lives both now and in the years to come when we are no longer around.

No as to which Star Trek Series was the best, I have to say The Next Generation! Capt.Picard, Lt.Riker, Data, Geordie, Worf, Deanna Troy, Dr.Crusher and Wesley were my favorites!

We are all dysfunctional in some way, that God for grace! I certainly need it!

terricheney said...

Perfectly said...Lovely post, thank you so much for being true to the writing of it.

Melissa said...

Lovely post! And yes, I like that song also, Steve Green's music is so Bible based.
So glad you had "memories" made while the family was here!