Dad Planted Acorns

Memories are a big part of what gets you through the days of inevitable grief when you lose a dear one to death. I’ve been amazed the past couple of days at how many times I’ve panicked thinking “Oh no. Who is taking care of Dad? Am I supposed to be there?” And then I remember the painful reality is that I will see his body tomorrow, but not HIM. I’ll have to wait a while to see the new “him.” When I do, I will know him and we will have forever to reminisce and catch up.

 

And then I go to the only place I can see him with clarity and detail–my memory bank. Here is one memory from 2010 about a “roasting” of my dad in his Prime-Timers group. I’m glad I wrote about it that night when I got home because, every time I read it, the sweet memory is newly etched in my heart. I know there are blessings all around and all 58 years that I’ve had my dad have been nothing but gifts. I know he is in glory. I know he is wholly healed.  In fact, I cannot understand why my heart hurts this week; I just know it does. I think God must give daughters who have good dads a special insight into what devotion to a father is like, so they can be all the more devoted in service to THE Father. I hope it can be true, in my case, anyway. 

Here’s a good memory from the archives. It was written during  my dad’s 88th year:

 

Tonight I went back to the fellowship hall of the congregation where I attended the first five years of my life for a get-together of those sixty-ish and above. My dad is eighty-seven, so he is definitely the senior member of the senior group. He sometimes talks about how it’s fun to go be with those people except “some of them are just really old.” He sometimes tells me on those Thursday nights that he’s going to meet with  the “Alzheimer’s group.”  Tonight Dad took pimiento and cheese sandwiches and egg salad sandwiches. His egg salad is the best ever.

It was really fun to visit with them tonight because it was the night they were having a surprise roast—sort of a mini “This is Your Life,” for Dad. Both of my sisters were able to make it and all of his grandchildren except for my two were also able to be there. We listened as Robert Whiten and Homer Smith said some funny things about my dad; some stories from when he was a kid like how he tore apart a Victrola when he was a small boy so he could see the tiny people inside who were singing; and some stories from now, when he’s old,  like how he accidentally microwaved his hearing aid in a bowl of jelly beans. There were some stories about his extreme frugality and some memories about his football and coaching days. There were a lot of things said that made me miss my mother and be really glad for the longevity of Daddy’s good life.

And then there was some serious stuff about how he had some good parenting ideas that somehow worked to make us all grow up to be Christians. There was a reading from Ephesians 6:4 about fathers training their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. There was a little history of the Jacksonville church; how that Daddy was one of the trustees when the property on which the building now sits was purchased back in the 1950s (he helped negotiate that deal); how that he led the singing on the first Sunday night in that old building. Someone in her sixties from the audience spoke up and said that he was her Sunday school teacher when she was a kid back in the old building that pre-dates the present location. Then someone pointed out that Daddy had planted 10 oak saplings in the churchyard back in 1959, when the property was newly purchased.

Now I’m sure that when Dad planted those trees, he didn’t think about how that his grandchildren would one day play under the shade of those trees. He didn’t think about the hiding places that those trees would afford kids in games of hide and seek. He probably didn’t think that one day the architects for the fellowship hall would give attention to the placement of one or two of those trees. He probably didn’t think about the preacher’s kids climbing them and tire swings perhaps hanging from them in the days when they provided shade for the preacher’s house that hadn’t even been built at that time but has now been removed. In fact, he probably planted those trees on a regular day, when he was thinking more about his job, his household budget, his wife and son, and the baby they were expecting (that would be me) and the new house he was buying about that time. He probably was sweating when he climbed back into his pick-up after digging those holes, unloading those little trees and packing the dirt back around them. He was probably thinking about supper that night, but not about a fellowship supper that might occur 50 years later at a VBS under the shade of a big tree you could no longer get your arms around.

Four of those trees remain today. They still make homes for birds and squirrels and they still make piles of leaves for kids in the fall…and they still make acorns which still hold the germ of life from that one acorn that first grew the sapling.

Well, I’m no philosopher, but it strikes me that there’s still a lot to be said for the ordinary life. It starts as something very unremarkable. My dad was just the son of a sharecropper. It just takes ordinary days … days of planting seeds; then days of dependence on God for the rain and the sunshine.  Mother and Daddy were given four tender hearts into which the Word of God could be planted. They did this, in the most natural ways through days that have all run together now– in conversations, in choosing faithful bodies of God’s people wherever we lived, and in sacrificially making Christian education possible for us. They did it in benevolent actions toward friendless people and in going out of our way to pick up children we invited to worship with us; children that sometimes didn’t smell good. They did it by always being at every visitation meeting, working the bus route to bring kids to church and then going to every assembly thirty minutes early so we could go pick up the kids who signed up to come. Of course that meant staying thirty minutes late to deliver them home, too. It meant taking our friends who were from un-churched homes to Woody’s Drive –In for ice cream after services. (You know, one of my girlfriends from childhood who had no mom at home is now faithful and married to a deacon in the church in Virginia Beach? We made lots of trip to her house to pick her up for services and I helped her get the baptismal robes on when she was baptized.) It meant teaching us to use those old Jule Miller filmstrips and providing the cookies when we did show them to our friends. It meant sending us up the street to pass out invitations every time we had a gospel meeting. It meant occasionally walking a couple of miles in the snow when we couldn’t get down the mountain on Sunday morning in a car. It just meant lots of different things that we thought were very ordinary. As a matter of fact, I’ve never really thought about my dad’s life as being anything out of the ordinary at all.  In fact, it really hasn’t been.

But God can use even the ordinary for His glory. He does it all the time. He took a little boy’s loaves and fishes, a widow’s mite, a shepherd’s rod, a few pitchers of water and, thankfully, a baby in a manger and provided what multitudes desperately needed. Whatever I have to give Him is surely meager. My time is so finite, my power so limited, my wisdom so irrelevant and my mortality so evident. But He can take my meager and make it mighty. He can take my finite and make it infinite. He can give my wisdom relevance and He clothes my mortality with immortality (I Corinthians 15:54).

I’m glad my mother and dad planted acorns on all those ordinary days—really glad.

 

Tomorrow will be another memory of an ordinary, although very difficult day. But one day…ahh, one day will be extraordinary.That trumpet will blow, we will rise and nothing will be ordinary ever again!

Sister to Sister: Are You Trying to Say “I Love You?”

Tonight in this hospital room, this daughter experienced a few very sweet moments. I will treasure them in memory whether my dad and I have lots of future sweet moments in time or not. As today has gone by, my Father who has said precious little, and only in in breathy, labored tones for several days, has become more and more alert. Mind you, what you might think is pretty much asleep all day was still more alert to those who have been keeping this vigil. 

Every time I see his eyes open, I try to go to his side and grab his hand. Tonight he grabbed right back. He even gave me his signature quick nod of recognition. 

Then I always think of everything I can talk about in his one ear that now has a hearing aid. (The other hearing aid was crushed on the floor of the ambulance—and that was another story as Sami chased the driver down and out of the building to try and find the missing hearing aid.) I talked about football. I talked about getting better. I talked about what I was eating and about breathing treatments. And then I told him I loved him. He slowly forced out the “I” and then put his very sore tongue to the roof of his very blistered mouth to make that “L” sound. 

I said “Are you trying to say “I love you?” 

“Yeah” he said. 

That’s all I needed to hear to be okay through this long night. Such a great little present for a this weary pilgrim. But that was not all. I asked him if he wanted me to read the Bible. This time I got a clear “Uh-huh.” 

Before the hospitalization, we’d been reading in Acts and we were ready for chapter seven, so I read the story of Joseph to Him as told by the first martyr, Stephen. I think I was reading so that all the staff out at the nurses station could probably hear. When I got to the resolution part about Jacob going down to Egypt, Dad just drifted back off to sleep.  

I’ll take it. A few minutes of communication is a great source of comfort in this very well-lit, bustling, but yet, very lonely room. It is the best one of today. There are a few lessons in every gift. Here are tonight’s five lessons. 

  1. “Yeah” is easier to say than “I love you.” . That’s true in just about every relationship. Short answer quizzes in families and friendships are just easier.  Sometimes in all kinds of life problems, we have to help each other say those three words. It’s always better, if someone’s having trouble saying them, to assume he means them till you know differently.
  2. You never know the value of healthy communication until you have to do without it. So don’t let days go by—days when you could be talking and sharing with the ones you love. Don’t let those days escape while you pout or exchange the silent treatment or engage in hurtful communication. Especially, don’t do this in your marriage. You will experience deep regret.
  3. Only the people you’ve really loved with agape can appreciate fully the three words when you say them. See, Daddy did not love me just enough to share some material blessing with me (although he certainly worked hard to do that). He did not just love me enough to put up with my inadequacies (although he surely was in the next room during the messy, late- night-studying, bathroom-hogging teen years). He did not just love me enough to build things in the wood shop for Christmas (although there was the doll bed and the cabinet for my tea set during the sixties and the wooden purse, stilts and shuffle board game of the seventies and the marble mazes and rocking horses and graduation banks for grandchildren of the eighties). He, along with my mother, who was also sharing and making and building, loved me enough to give their lives for me, if needed. They loved me enough to pray about inadequacies and to correct them. They loved me enough to build more than toys and purses. They loved me enough to build character. That’s the most enduring home-made gift.
  4. There’s something very ironic about the goal. Heaven is THE goal. Ironically, God has placed in us a very strong desire to keep our loved ones here with us rather than to be completely willing to have them go and be with the Lord. I cannot fully explain that fierce desire to preserve and protect feeble life. But I know it is right to have it. It is right to protect and preserve life, because that defense is innately built into the moral compass of people of conscience. One has to be trained to devalue life. It is not the natural affection of Romans 1: 31 and 2 Timothy 3:3. So I grab that hand and it’s the best when he grabs it right back.
  5. There’s great comfort—always, in all ways— in the Word. There’s an amazing example, for instance, of the application of Romans 8:28 in that ancient account of Joseph in Egypt. We get to look at how a faithful person perseveres when there are family members who are spiteful or friends who falsely accuse or forget about the good things we do for them. We get to see, up-close and personally, how the  faithful react to both poverty and riches. Sometimes, when we are weary, there’s so much comfort that we can go right off to a deep and peaceful sleep while reading the Word. I think I can maybe even do that tonight…right here in this chair. 

For the Diggers: Loving the Young Hearts in this Dig

                                        Melanie Pinedo (center) is one of our younger 2017 diggers!

 

We have several young women, even several pre-teens, who are diligently studying the Great Escapes this year with our international Digging Deep group. They are learning how to rescue souls. Kaitlyn Epling, age 12, of Elizabethton, TN was disappointed earlier this week when we failed to get to question number 10 in our podcast discussion.  Here’s her list (verbatim) of several rescues from Acts 9-17. Kaitlyn’s styles of listing and study may evolve as she grows in Christ, but grow in Christ she will if she stays in the book!

 Digging Deep- Great Escapes- Month Three- Question 10

The disciples of the Lord were saved of Saul by Jesus 9:1-6.

Saul was saved of his blindness by Ananias 9:18.

Saul was saved of the Jews by the disciples 9:25.

Saul was saved of the Hellenists by the brethren 9:29-30.

Aeneas was saved of being paralyzed by Peter 9:33-34.

Dorcas/Tabitha was saved of death by Peter 9:40.

All those being oppressed were saved of the Devil by Jesus of Nazareth 10:38.

Jesus was saved of death by God 10:40.

Sinners were saved of sins by Jesus 10:43.

Gentiles were saved of sins by Jesus 11:18

Peter was saved of contending by his dream 11:2-10.

The people were saved of famine by disciples 11:28-29.

Peter was saved of prison by an angel 12:7.

Peter was saved of Herod by God 12:11.

Peter was saved of Herod by the brethren 12:19.

Israel was saved of the nations of Canaan by God 13:19.

Jesus was saved of death by God 13:30.

Paul & Barnabas were saved of abuse & stoning by themselves 14:5-6.

A man in Lystra was saved of lameness by Paul 14:8-10.

Paul was saved of death by himself 14:19-20.

Timothy was saved of the Jews’ wrath by Paul 16:3.

Girl of fortune-telling was saved of a demon by Paul 16:16-18.

The Philippian Jailor was saved of suicide by Paul 16:27-28.

Paul & Silas were saved of prison by the Philippian Jailor 16:33.

Paul & Silas were saved of the Jews by the brethren 17:10.

Paul was saved of the crowd by the brethren 17:14.

                                                                           Kaitlyn Epling 

 

I was kind of sad we didn’t get to that question, too. I had hoped to share my list from one single chapter, noting how God can use the faithful and the rogue to rescue His own and further the gospel. Let’s look at this list of ten rescues from chapter nine:

9: 7-8 Look at how the enemies of the cross are being used to lead around the most influential 1st century missionary.

9;13 Notice Ananias arguing with God, but then going straightaway to rescue the preeminent New Testament writer. God always accomplishes His purposes.

9:15, 16 Can you think of a more unlikely candidate to be the rescuer of Gentiles?

9:25 Those disciples could not go and powerfully write and preach, but they had a rescue basket for  the one who could!

9:27 Barnabas would be greatly overshadowed in Scripture by Paul, but Paul might not have had the chance to do what he did without the jumpstart given by Barnabas.

9:30 Jerusalem was not the right place and time for Paul. But there were rescuers who knew how to get him to the right place and time.

9:33-35 Aeneas was a rescue tool for the people of Lydda and Saron.

9:39 Dorcas was a rescuer using needle and thread.

9:42 Peter rescued the recipients of Dorcas’ goodwill when he raised her.

9:42 In turn, Dorcas became a tool to rescue the people of Joppa.

Another young digger, Grace Yocum, of Louisville, Kentucky.

For the Diggers: Lessons from Jabesh-Gilead

The town of Jabesh-Gilead was in the half tribe of Manasseh that settled on the east of Jordan. Jabesh was the name of the town and Gilead was the region, that region being partially in Manasseh and partially in Gad. Jabesh-Gilead was in the land belonging to Manasseh. (You will remember Manasseh was one of the sons of Joseph, along with Ephraim.) We remember that one of the stipulations for their being allowed to settle on the east side of the river, before the conquering, was that they would go across the Jordan and help their brethren fight for the promised land, driving out the inhabitants of Canaan. We read about this agreement in Joshua 1: 14,15:

Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD’S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.

It seems that the two-and-a-half tribes kept that commitment to go in and fight for the whole of Israel as they conquered Canaan. But it was during a later civil war that erupted between Israel and a remarkably immoral tribe of  Benjamin, over an abused concubine, that the men of Jabesh-Gilead went AWOL and failed to defend the honor of the nation against Benjamin. Because they failed to show up in this important and God-sanctioned war, the men and married women of the city of Jabesh were killed in the very last chapter of the book of Judges. A curse had been pronounced on Benjamin, because of their immorality and violence, that no man of Israel would give his daughter in marriage to the Benjamites. So, because of this failure to come to war against the Benjamites, the remaining unmarried women of Jabesh-Gilead were given as wives to the Benjamites who had survived the war.  (After all, this was not technically a violation of the curse, since these virgins had no fathers to give them in marriage. Their fathers had been killed in the punishment on Jabesh-Gilead.) These marriages were performed in order to preserve the tribe of Benjamin, threatened by extinction because the few men who remained had no wives.  Thus began the rebuilding of the tribe of Benjamin (of which Saul, coincidentally, was a son).

Fast forward to I Samuel 11. Though some years had passed, it appears to me that there were some of the men of Judges 21, who may have  been living still by the time of the events of I Samuel 11. (Some commentators put these events in close proximity time-wise. Others believe they may have been some 300 years apart.) The young boys who were left in Jabesh-Gilead had perhaps had time to reach adulthood or even be grandfathers, but the city would have likely been yet vulnerable to attack since its utter destruction had occurred in the not-too-distant past (although the exact date of the civil war is not certain). 

At this point (I Samuel 11), Saul was on the brink of becoming the brand new king of Israel and his first major challenge was when the Ammonites, under King Nahash, attacked the city of Jabesh-Gilead. The vulnerable city attempted to make a league of service to the Ammonites, but the men of Nahash the Ammonite required that the men of Jabesh-Gilead have their right eyes plucked out before coming into their service. The men of Jabesh-Gilead asked for one week, during which they appealed to Israel for help, in order to preserve their eyes and perhaps maintain their liberty. It was Saul, who organized an army and rescued Jabesh from the Ammonites. Lots of questions can emerge from this scenario. 

  1. Was Saul’s mother or grandmother one of those women who came from Jabesh-Gilead in forced marriage to a remaining Benjamite? Was this one reason he was quick to go to the rescue of that city? Did he have relatives who were young boys at the time of the initial destruction? 
  2. Was Saul lacking in character as the first king of Israel because of the fact that the male leaders of his tribe were almost all killed as a result of their immorality? Was this, perhaps, part of God’s purposeful lesson in giving the nation a human king rather than allowing the intended divine system to remain in place? 
  3. Lastly, we see that the bodies of Saul and his sons following their deaths in battle against the Philistines were left on the wall of Bethshan (I Samuel 31:11-13). Who was it that went to get the body of the former king of Israel and bury him? It was the “valiant men of Jabesh-Gilead.” They brought Saul and his sons to Jabesh and buried them under a tree. David later thanked the people of Jabesh for this act of piety (2 Samuel 2:4-6). Why, out of all of Israel, who had served under this the first king of Israel, was it that the men of Jabesh went to get the body?  Was it possibly because the king’s matriarchal ancestor was from Jabesh-Gilead? This is impossible to ascertain, since we cannot be sure of the exact chronology of the events in Judges 21 or the exact identity of Saul’s mother, but it is interesting to ponder. 

What we can know is that, for whatever reason, Saul was quick to defend the people of Jabesh-Gilead even before he became king of Israel. He was not of the judgment that, because of their prior failures to stand with Israel, that Israel should fail to stand for them. 

Finally, it is interesting to note that the attacking people in 2 Samuel 11 was the people of Ammon. The Ammonites, of course, were the Semitic people born of Benammi, who was one of the sons born to Lot after his incestuous relationship with his daughters shortly following his delivery from Sodom. The Ammonites, though related to Israel through Lot, were a constant thorn in the side of God’s people. 

In all of these interwoven accounts, one thing is very clear. Sin has a very progressively negative effect as time goes by. A “vacation” from the battle for Jabesh turned into the massive destruction of the adults of the entire city. (How much destruction do we encounter/cause when we take a break from fighting the spiritual battles of our own environments?) 

A single act of immorality turned into the humbling of an entire tribe of Benjamites. (How often do we fail to see huge consequences of “a little action” that violates the moral code of God? Is this not the 2017 Fox News story we see being replayed over and over this very week?)

An entire nation of wicked people grew from a single incestuous decision/act on the parts of some desperate women. (Do parents today make decisions that may turn into national tragedies? You do not have to look very far into monarchies and other governments of the modern world to see what happens when parents become separated from Biblical moorings.) 

The rejection of God as king never had a chance of being what was best for Israel. (Spiritually, we rob ourselves of our very best happiness in this life and eternal fulfillment when we reject Him as King in our lives.)

The regrowth of Benjamin without the fathers/leaders of that tribe resulted in moral poverty. (Once again, this is the plight of our nation today. It is the catalyst for moral bankruptcy or, at least, one recurring arc of a cycle of moral depravity.)

Saul and his sons were poor and desperate at the time of their deaths. There was no national mourning for the king, no proper burial and no pomp and circumstance. (When we die without His favor, our desperation is inevitable and limitless in both its depth and its eternality.)

Sister to Sister: A Good and Defiant Heart?

Yesterday at the conclusion of a ladies seminar at which I spoke, I was in conversation with a schoolteacher. She described having been involved in a meeting prior to the school year in which she was told she was not allowed to tell the students she was a Christian. I could go on and on about how twisted this sort of gag rule is; about the absurdity of such a misapplication of the Constitution’s provision for freedom of religion; about the fact that there are other teachers in her school who wear the Islamic scarves called hijab; about the amazing boldness of the devil in our education system today.

But let me suffice it to say that, if anyone, in any place of employment says that to me, at that point I have but two choices: resign from that position or remain on in defiance of the order, come what may.

II Corinthians 6:14 says this:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Many have applied this teaching to the marriage of a believer to a non-believer. While I think there are marital situations to which this verse may apply, I think the verse is directly relevant to the schoolteacher’s situation. While I can be in the yoke with unbelievers (work for them and with them, live in neighborhoods with them, be in organizations with them and play sports with them), I cannot be under the power of any man or group of men who, in the exercise of that power, would force my denial of or disobedience to my King Jesus. The other force in the yoke cannot overpower my will to serve the Lord.

This teacher told me that she would be telling her students that she was a Christian. She said “ Though I may not get the chance to teach them the gospel while they are in my classroom, I want them to grow up and remember that Mrs. Jones was different in a good way…and I want them to remember that it was likely because she was a Christian.”

She understands the choices before her. First, she can keep her Christianity hidden. Or, secondly, she can quit her job and tell everyone she’s a Christian. Or she can defy the order and risk getting fired. Undercover Christianity is not an option for faithful people. So she has chosen to disobey the order and take her chances. She’s doing what Peter and John did in Acts 3-5. They were ordered to stop teaching about Jesus by those who were clearly in positions of authority over them. They did not stop teaching (option one). They did not move to some other location to do their teaching (option two). They boldly disobeyed the orders, risking, and later receiving, the punishment.

As I continue to be shocked at the intolerance toward Christianity in our governmentally controlled arenas (Which founding father would have thought?!), I’m in prayer for all of the Mrs. Joneses who are standing firm in their professions of Christianity. Some are doing it in schools, both as teachers and students. Others are doing it in governmental and judicial positions. Some are standing for God in situations of social persecution.

I find comfort in the conclusion of this discussion about unequal forces in the yoke:

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty (vs. 17,18).

May we come out and be separate, so we can be his daughters.

Sister to Sister: Unnecessary Risks

So my husband called this morning to tell me that my digital gas gauge read zero-miles- remaining when he got to the end of our driveway this morning on his way out. I knew that, though. I live life on the edge about some things. (I’ve actually put it to the test before and I know that my Honda Pilot gauge gives a little grace…at least two miles once it’s reading zero….And, to be honest, I was coming home from the doctor, where my flu test had yielded a positive reading, when I realized I was almost out of gas, so, in my physically compromised state, I thought it was worth the risk.)

Some things are worth the risk. It’s worth the risk of an extra  pound or two to give yourself permission to splurge on a cupcake now and then. It’s worth the risk of being a minute or two late to the soccer game when you see a yard sale that calls to you. It’s worth the risk of getting stung by a bee or bitten by an ant to go on a picnic with your kids.  And it was worth the risk to me to try and make it home to my bed, even though I knew there was a small possibility that I’d get stuck on the side of the road. 

Some people, though, take spiritual risks and spiritual risks are never worth it. I know parents who know they could be helping to insure that their kids don’t fall away from the church. They could be having family Bible time each day or getting their kids involved in ministering to the elderly. They could be participating in Bible Bowl or Lads to Leaders. But they are willing to risk their children’s faithfulness on a mere three-times-a-week type religion. Big risk (In fact, it’s doubtful, even if their children emerge with the same kind of faith as their parents have, that this weak faith will weather the storms and reserve them a place around the throne.)

I know people who gamble with the calendar. They understand that they are outside of the fold of safety—lost— and they intend to do something about that…later. They fail to understand the risk of early death, the possibility of the coming of the Lord, the lack of desire they may have to obey…later. Big risk. 

I know people who take big spiritual risks in their marriages. Years slowly pass and husbands and wives grow apart, finding fewer and fewer common interests and more and more opportunities to be apart. Communication becomes strained and there are few intimate and tender moments. Marriage takes commitment and work. When one fails to commit to do marriage God’s way, the risks are of phenomenal proportions. They include the occurrence of extramarital sexual fulfillment, the dissolution of the marriage and home, the psychological  and spiritual damage to children and the eternal loss of multiple souls. Big risk.

I know those who have been influenced by others to take risks of addiction. Every first alcoholic drink is a risk. Every first drug use is a risk. Every first purposeful pornography use is a risk. In short, every addiction begins with a first use. That first experimentation is a big risk. 

It’s amazing to me that we live in a culture in which people are not about taking risks with health, or physical safety. Organic, free of preservatives or additives, free of harsh chemicals, safety belts, safety buckles, safety harnesses, safety recalls, the National Safety Council etc…etc…are all words and phrases we hear multiple times each week. It’s got to be a good thing when we heighten our awareness about health and safety. But how often do you hear “He has lung cancer and he never smoked a day in his life.”…Or…” She was killed instantly although she was wearing her safety belt.”…Or…”She was so health conscious. I can’t believe she had a heart attack.”

The point is this: Physical risks are sometimes just not truly calculable. We can do our best, but still not be prepared for what may be around the corner, health-wise. Spiritual risks are more calculable. Every one of us is headed for death. Death is not probable. It is not likely. It is not predicted. It is certain. Why would we not prioritize the spiritual safety measures that are at our disposal? Since it is certain that there will be a day when they will be of ultimate importance, why would we not want to minimize the risk of eternal tragedy in every way possible. 

One hundred years from now, it will matter very little whether my house contained an asbestos residue, or whether all the safety recalls were done on my vehicle. It will not matter much whether my eggs were organic or cost-effective. It will not matter much if my kids took antibiotics occasionally or depended entirely on herbal remedies or other homeopathic or eastern medicines. 

Please do not think this a critique on moms who are making the best health choices they can possibly make for their families. I know that’s a good thing. But we all would do well to compare the measures we take for health and safety to those spiritual measures we take daily for eternal health and safety. There’s so much about physical health that’s beyond our control. Thank God that physical health is passing and the kind of eternal well-being that we CAN control is forever. 

Don’t take unnecessary and irresponsible risks with the health of your family. More importantly, don’t cut corners spiritually. Do every thing you can to insure that every member of your family is anchored in faith…ready for the inevitable passage from life to eternity. 

“…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27).