Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Birthday On A Funeral Day (The God of Cupcakes and Caskets)

Today one of my dearest friends will celebrate her mother's #birthday and will attend her father's #funeral. My heart aches for her and for all that are bookended by joy and sorrow. We all know how that feels. If not, just keep on living. (Join me in praying for all that are hurting and bereaved.) 😥😳😞 Have you ever felt like you had to walk through the valley in mountainous seasons in life? Feeling somewhere between one of these. 😃😊😥😜😀😚😫😊😔 How is it possible to have a funeral on someone's birthday? To have cupcakes and caskets? It is very possible because celebrations of life are happening constantly. Happiness and sadness can live on the same street. People are being born and people are dying and the world is pausing to celebrate in joy or in tears. Yikes! Is the first thing I thought when I learned of the birthday and funeral date but then it made since because life is just that way. Life has bumps and bruises but does not stop. ****Benedictions are happening but so are invocations! Every day is someone's birthday and death date and every day we are celebrating and suffering. That's real life! It hurts and yet it's hopeful. I recall a day that I witnessed a firing on the way to a birthday party for the one that was fired. Awwww mannn! That was tough but life moves on. We can either be frozen by pain or allow it to propel us to new levels of gratitude and maturity in Christ. I HAVE SEEN THE WORLD FIRE PEOPLE AND THE LORD HIRE PEOPLE. WATCH HIM WORK IN TENDER AND TOUGH MOMENTS. Life is filled with "ouch" and "ahhh" or “ahhhhh” and “awwww” moments. We are all walking, ever changing emojis. 😀😱😥☺💃😤😨😔😂😥😉💃😊 One moment we are happy, then sad or shocked, the next moment we smile, then we laugh or dance and sometimes we repeat that cycle after a good cry and find joy again. One phone call or life circumstance can change the mood of the day. Everyone's journey is different, but we all come face to face with our own mortality and reminders that time is 'filled with swift transition.' We must take time to reflect, remember and take in real moments, good and bad. They are all apart of the human experience. One writer said, “ The struggle is a part of your story.” How true that is! One moment we are blowing up balloons and welcoming guests to a party and one moment we are welcoming guests to a funeral and sprinkling flowers over a grave. LIFE IS PARADOXICAL! We may have a great day at work on Monday and a terrible day on Tuesday or an awesome morning and a terrible afternoon all on the same day. We may get a promotion one month and a pink slip shortly thereafter. You may be popular, sought after and admired one day and ostracized, criticized and bullied the next. Just ask Jesus who was welcomed and called "Hosanna" by the same people who would shout "Crucify him!" Life makes no promises that each day will be perfect, understandable or even comfortable, but God assures us that "He will never leave us nor forsake us." Hebrews 13:5 It is important to fix our eyes on God as life is always changing. He is the author and finisher of our faith and remains our stability in unstable times. We must look to Him and not be shaken. Hebrews 12:2, Psalm 16:8 As our friend watches God sustain her today with one foot in joy and one foot in sorrow, let us watch God sustain each of us as well whenever we are confronted with both joy and sorrow at the same time. God delights in meeting us at our point of need. I believe my lifetime commitment will be to keep telling the world that God celebrates and suffers with us. We cannot assume that we are void of His presence just because He allows suffering. Neither should we denounce opportunities to celebrate. Even so, may we night lose sight in celebration that suffering exists. Dr. E.K. Bailey use to say, "Don't get depressed because the ferris wheel of life will go up again and don't become arrogant because it will go down again." In other words, life is cyclical so keep watching it go round and round and hold on in faith. Are you joyful? Are you sorrowful? Are you experiencing both at the same time? GOD CAN HANDLE OUR BLUES AND OUR BLISS! God knows where you are and He is right there. I will say this again- Life is paradoxical. It isn't always black or white. It doesn't always feel practical, but the Lord is awake and aware. We have a present Shepherd that never abandons His sheep. -Psalm 23 We have nothing to fear. He #leads and #lifts. He #guides and #grooms. He #directs and #delivers. He #protects and #provides. He #feeds and #follows. He #humbles and He #helps. He #corrects and #cares. He #gives fresh water and green pastures. He gives a #path and a promise. 🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌 May He chase us into His presence. There we may find #rest that is eternal and joy forever more. Are you #happy? Don’t allow anyone to make you feel bad about feeling good. Dance. Sing. Celebrate. 💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃 Embrace these sweet moments and cherish them. Are you #weary, #sad or #overwhelmed? It's ok to not be ok. Dr. Robert Smith Jr., in the tragic loss of his dear son who was murdered in the recent years, shared these words. They are piercing and true, "God helps us to make sense out of nonsense." He said at the funeral of his youngest son, Tony Smith, "Job stood over 10 caskets. I only stand over 1." Wow! What a reminder of #grace even when life hurts. God cares at the beginning of life and at the the end of seasons and at the beginning of new paths. If we could ask Job about life between celebration and lamentation, I know he would give us great encouragement. God took his health and family. God #suffered with Him. God blessed Him with better health and more children. God #celebrated with Him. He lived 146 years and God was faithful in wonderful times and in woeful moments. The same is true in our lives as well. God grants Himself in fruitfulness and in famine. He is faithful in sickness and in health. He is there in wealth and in lack, in popularity and in isolation and He meets every need. I know myself because I have seen God in public moments that lifted and in private moments that broke me and in public moments that broke me and in private moments that lifted me. God grants grace when we are confronted or presented with caskets and cupcakes. My good friend ended tonight saying, "Mom had a beautiful birthday and we had a good time. The funeral went well and we are sustained by prayer." How is this possible? Because with #God all things are possible- even birthdays on funeral days. The God of all creation loves and He laments. My bereaved friend can rejoice and so can we because hope lives here. Her dearly departed father has gone from life to better life and was celebrated on the day her mother was born. So her father got a birthday too! Both of them will now know life in new ways because God loves them. One has the grace of a new year on earth and one has the grace of new life in heaven. You and I are recipients of that grace as well. Why? Because we are loved by God. One of my favorite songs reminds me of the love of Christ in all seasons. "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so....yes Jesus loves me...." Take a moment and encourage yourself with the truth of God's Word. #God and his #word stands #forever. Isaiah 40:8 Will you #trust Him when life is #sweet and #sorrowful? Dear Father, Meet us at our point of need and grant your power and peace. Thank you for your fresh presence and your pursuit in our #celebration and in our #suffering. We love you and thank you for joy that is not circumstantial but sure! In your name. Amen.

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