So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

Did you find yourself singing this song from The Sound of Music as you read that? Me too! It causes me to recall the children singing and the whole movie summed up in a few seconds. That movie is a family favorite, and the charming song of farewell warms our hearts.

But goodbyes are rarely heart-warming. Many of us struggle to some degree with those big farewells: kids moving hours away into a college dorm, the husband in his uniform being deployed, grandkids heading back to their home hundreds of miles away with no idea when they may return, a family member with a new job moving to another country. Even things like aging parents moving out of the generational family home and into an assisted living, severe illness, abuse, or addicted family members can cause us to have to say goodbye to memories, our way of life, or our expectations of what we thought would be.

How do we handle these emotional transitions?

If we know Jesus and trust that God is in control of our lives it helps make these times easier. What do we need to keep in mind?

  1. God’s plan for His world includes each of us. He manages the world and allows the people, places, and circumstances of our lives to carry out His plans, not just for us but for others we impact. This goodbye is for purpose.
  2. When bad things happen to us we keep in mind that walking with the Lord does not guarantee an easy journey. Joni Erickson Tada has said, “God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” We must choose to walk through it with our eyes on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-4)
  3. God loves us and has promised to be our strength and our refuge. (Psalm 46:1) When we have said “So long” to a family member, we put them into God’s hands and trust His love and provision for them and for us. We can run to Him in our tears and loneliness to find comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
  4. Life is an adventure! God is taking us on this great adventure to new lands or new situations. Some may be scary. Some will delight us. Some may stir up doubt and worry. But just like riding a canoe down a flooding river, we hang on, paddle like mad and trust Him to get us through. When we come out on the other side we will be exhilarated with the thrill of it all, and boy will we have a story to tell! (Isaiah 43:2) Embrace your adventure!
  5. Faith triumphs over fear, worry, or loneliness. When the time comes to say goodbye, those negative feelings may overwhelm us. It is usually an attack on our heart by the enemy. We must prepare in advance for battle by staying in God’s Word and must oodbyechoose to trust God every minute, then we set our thoughts on the proper things to make it through the lonely days. (Philippians 4:8) Set your mind on the things of the Father.

I don’t know what “Adieu” you have said recently or what “Goodbye” is looming for you in the near future, but I know that we have a Father who loves you. He is walking through this time with you, He has a purpose in your situation. Cling to Him, the One who will NEVER leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) There are no Goodbyes in Him.

You Are Loved!

Here it is again – the one day out of the three hundred sixty-five that many people seem to dread – Valentine’s Day. It stirs up regret of what was or longing of what has yet to come. It seems totally focused on Eros – that romantic, physical love. And while romantic love is nice, there are so many other aspects of love that are so much more fulfilling and rewarding: friendship, nurturing, that brotherly/sisterly love, and most of all God’s perfect agape love.

God’s true love is precious beyond imagination. With Him you are loved no matter what you’ve done and NOT because of what you’ve done. But because you are His beloved creation made in His image. God loves you and nothing you do will change His great love for you! He knows you! You are HIs, Precious One!

You don’t have to measure up. Just as you are – that’s the girl He loves, “warts and all” as my grandmom used to say.

So … Be kind to yourself. In fact, be as kind to the girl in the mirror as you are to your best friend. you wouldn’t shame her or guilt her or point out all her negative attributes or call her “Stupid.” So show love to yourself as much as you do to others. Why?

Well here are some thoughts. We all know these famous words of Jesus on love from the book of Matthew:

Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Matthew 22:37-39

We are told to, first, love God, but also to love others. There is a third person to love in these verses, did you catch it? I’ll give you a minute…

We are to love ourselves! We cannot genuinely love others well until we learn to truly love ourselves with all our failings. So here’s the process:

  1. Love God. His love is unconditional and He teaches us how to love.
  2. Love self. Not in a selfish “me first” kind of way, but accepting ourselves the way God has made us and not overdoing our focus on our achievements or our failings, but having a correct view of ourselves, and loving who we are because we are His. (Romans 12:3)
  3. Love others. Out of the abundance of love God has for the world, he enables us to love, genuinely love, even those that are hard to love.

So your challenge today is to accept God’s love for you, love yourself, and spread that love to those you encounter. Here’s a song that will help heal a wounded, unloved heart. Know today that I love you and better than that, God loves you.

You Are Loved by Ellie Holcomb

Never Too Old

You’re never too old for an ice cream cone, a Bugs Bunny cartoon, “Jesus Loves Me,” to have a dream of a place you want to go, or to learn something new. But it’s funny that there are some things that, according to society’s expectations at least, we are too old for: “You’re good old to wear that style.” “You’re too old to date him.” “You’re too old to be of any use to God.” None of these are true, but if we don’t stand firm in our convictions and even stand up against those negative whispers in our minds, we may buy into such thoughts and miss something important.

Reading through God’s Word this year it startled me to be reminded of how old Moses was when spoke to Pharaoh and ultimately led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. I ‘m sure I had heard this before, but it never registered with my brain. Moses was eighty years old when he encountered God through the burning bush on the back side of the desert. Eighty! (See Acts 7:23 & 30)

God called Moses to a difficult task. He could have said, “Lord, I’ve already retired. I’m tired. I just want to hang out with my family and not be bothered. That Pharaoh is going to be a headache to deal with.”

But he didn’t.

When God presented him with this daunting assignment, Moses countered that he didn’t feel qualified. He had trouble speaking.

Don’t we do that? “Lord, she is so much more capable of this than me. I’m too _________. I can’t ________. I’ve never _________.” (You fill in the blanks.)

God had a solution for Moses’ problem. He provided Moses’ brother, Aaron, to help him. He provided signs and wonders. God will provide help for us as well.

Are we willing to move beyond our self doubt, trust God’s provision, and say yes as Moses did? Some do. Sometimes. But often we use our excuses as a crutch because we are afraid or tired or insecure or we just selfishly don’t want to bother. “Let someone else do it, Lord. Someone younger.”

The challenge today is to say “Yes” to God. What is He calling on you to do? Teach that Sunday class? Volunteer in a ministry? Mentor a young woman? Go to a foreign country to share the Gospel? (Did you know that retirees being appointed as missionaries abroad is a big thing right now?)

Let us never use the excuse that we are “too old.” God has a good plan to use us for our entire life, no matter how old or young, educated or uneducated, fit or faltering, whole or handicapped, retired or not. He will provide others to walk alongside and help you. And He will do amazing wonders on your behalf as well.

White as Snow

Though your sins are as scarlet, They shall become as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18

A recent trip through the mountains became a sermon God preached to me as we drove.

The night before, snow fell steadily along parts of our scheduled route. The morning of the trip dawned sunny but frigid. As we headed into the snow laden territory we were cautiously optimistic about road conditions and thrilled to get a chance for our Southern souls to experience snow.

Within an hour of starting out we encountered patches of “a dusting of snow” here and there. Even that is enough to excite an Alabama girl. By lunch the shady side of the road had an inch or two, and though the sunny side was khaki-colored, dead, winter grass the excitement was mounting in the car. Eventually, the last few hours gave us our hearts’ desire, inches of white covered every hill and valley, laced the branches of trees, and powdered the mountains in the distance.

With clear roads – thank you very much snowy state, you know how to do it – and praise music filling the car, my heart soared! As white as snow! That was the whitest white, reflecting every bit of sunlight that hit it on that clear sunny day.

Though MY sins are as scarlet they shall become as white as snow…

The burning red of my anger and jealousy – made white!

All I could manage was trying to dust the the dirty landscape of my life with white.

The crimson of my selfish pride – made white!

My spotty cover up of sin with legalistic behavior in random places, useless.

The blood red depth of the evil thoughts and intents of my mind – made white!

Man-made snow, false whiteness, an attempt to appear pure myself.

The filthy, black soil of my sinful heart – made white!

All human attempts prove useless in cleansing and purifying.

I couldn’t make myself white any more than I could make snow. Left to my own means, I wallow in the devastation of my sin.

However, there is a solution – a Savior. I can place myself in the hands of the one who can make me white as snow, the one Who bled crimson blood to cover the depths of my sin, the purest of pure sacrificial Lamb Who paid the price for my failings. Thank you Lord for restoration, for giving us purity where we have been impure, and for scrubbing this dirt-dweller up to the brightest, cleanest white – whiter than snow! My life is in Your hands.

Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithfulness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion, wipe out my wrongdoings. Wash me thoroughly from my guilt
And cleanse me from my sin. For I know my wrongdoings, and my sin is constantly before me. Psalm 51:1-3