Tuesday, December 15, 2015

~Ripped Saints~

These past few months have provided several opportunities to really notice the saints of God around me.

I am ashamed of my woeful oversight.  Missing the important things and focusing on the stupid things.

Observation and awareness get lost in our fast pace overly busy lifestyles.

I am thankful that God has awakened my eyes to see beyond the surface...

By awakening me...He has encouraged me through the struggle and stoic faith of others.

Before I brag on some of these precious people I want to explain why I refer to them as saints of God.

We usually classify someone a saint that lived an exceptional life here on earth and has now gone on to Heaven.

I hate that.

There are saints alive and well among us.

They live, breathe, work, struggle and tarry in this world just like we do.

They do not live perfect lives.
They are imperfect people serving a perfect God.

~However God has allowed something to be ripped from them.  And they remain faithful to Him.~

He has allowed their health to fail.
He has allowed their finances to dry up.
He has allowed a life-altering diagnosis.
He has allowed the death of a cherished loved one.
He has allowed the present circumstances of their lives to topple over and spill out into chaos bringing fear and helplessness.

These are real people.
I sit next to them.
I sing with them.
I live life walking beside them.
I question and ponder and pray with them.
I watch them with awe, wonder and tremendous respect.

Selfishly my own faith is strengthened because of them.

What makes each of these folks a saint of God in my book is that they have experienced a tearing away.  God has allowed something precious to be ripped from their hands.  The word ripped conjures a strong mental image. It is intended to.

When I think of something being ripped from my hands I immediately think of grasping the object so tightly.  Almost protectively.  Hanging on with every fiber of my being.  Feeling the sting when whatever I am holding is taken.  As if I feel the immediate weight of its absence.

**There is a woman I know that sings like an angel. Seriously...angelic.
She has faced numerous health battles.  Most days she can pull off  walking with only a slight limp. Other days she has to almost hobble.
Yet~ she doesn't stop hobbling.
She doesn't stop singing and worshiping Jesus.
As long as she has breath...she sings for her Lord. Loud and proud.
I am certain she hates the pain that never leaves.  I am certain she wishes she could walk and not wince with every single step.  But still she sings to the One that is worthy.
She sings to the One that allows the pain.

**There is a man that serves as a physician in our community.
The love of his life and the mother of his son died this past year.
I sat next to him not too long ago and just talked about her and the Lord.
His smile was genuine although I am not sure mine would be.
He did not deny his pain.  His utter loss.
He did not shy away from the difficulty of grief that greets him every single day.
Yet~ his love for Jesus was MORE.  More than the grief.
His resolve to serve and live for God was strong and purposeful.
He refuses to shut out the One that allowed his wife to be taken away.
More than that~ the man boasts in the One that sustains him daily.

**There is a family in our midst that astounds us all.
They are facing mountains of fear and uncertainty on every side. Each time they come through a battle,a new and bigger one, takes its place.
They are normal people.  With jobs. Pets. A life.
But for the past month they have literally lived in the ICU of a children's hospital.
They are watching one of their children fight cancer for the second time in her young life.
Each time I encounter them they manage to smile at me.
Seriously....they smile.
Could you do that?
Not without the grace of God.
They pray relentlessly.  They notice others around them that are battling sickness and pray on their behalf as well.
As angry as they may be...as frustrated and exhausted as they must be....they refuse to stop storming the throne of the One that has allowed this diagnosis.
The lives that they know have been ripped from them....YET they cling tightly to the One that can repair and restore anything.

**I know a family that has recently lost a beloved daughter.
An unexpected car accident tragically took her life.
She was a missionary~ giving her days to her the Lord Jesus, her husband and three young daughters.
Her mother and I have known each other for years.
Each time I get the privilege to sit down in her company she glorifies God in the wake of her loss.
She doesn't pretend the ache is not real.
She doesn't act like she is happy about the fact that her son-in-law and granddaughters are missing their wife and mother.
She wishes it was different.
She cries real tears.
She asks real honest questions.
But she refuses to stop loving her Lord and Savior.
She cannot physically touch the daughter she lost but she can AND DOES cling to the Almighty Hand of God that calms her in this devastating time.

My list goes on.

There are other real live people that I know that walk boldly forward when all of the rest of us want to shrink back.
Without the help of answers.
Without the promise of a better situation here on earth.

Don't you ever marvel at people?

Maybe I should say....don't you ever marvel at the Holy Spirit in people??

Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the Hall of Faith in God's Word.

It is one of my favorite pieces of scripture.

Miracles are listed repeatedly....but so are the real live people that lived them out.

These people missed the mark.
They got furious.
They were cheaters.
They were impatient.
They were liars.
They could not figure out God's plan at times....yet they are known as our heroes of the faith.

Because God came through on behalf of plain ol' people.

Yielded people.
Surrendered people.
Willing people.

Hebrews chapter 11 continues on today.

The people that I have described to you are in my personal Hall of Faith.

Their lives are not included in the written Word but their stories are written on my heart.

Their lives help me walk out my faith.  Day in. Day out.

They persevere.  In turn...I want to keep on going as well.

If our lives are a written story for the world to see...faith should be a bold refreshing main character. The unseen being seen in our lives.

By faith~ they press on.
By faith~ they refuse to quit.
By faith~ they wait on God.
By faith~ they trust in His Word.
By faith~ they sob in His Arms.
By faith~ they believe what they can neither see or feel.
By faith~ they live.

May I boldly do the same.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'" Romans 1:16-17