Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Hot Chocolate Morning

It's a hot chocolate morning. The air is nippy enough to need extra quilts on the beds now, and when I couldn't stand it any longer this morning, I hiked down the basement steps and started the wood stove. Cole even shortened his daily run and only made it to the end of the driveway, cat and dog trailing behind him, commenting when he came in that it was too cold to go any further. Had I been quick enough I would have snapped a picture of the sunrise beaming behind him on his way back up, but the recliner felt too good to move that fast. He sat down at the dining room table with his cup and plunged back into his school work, hoping to finish early so he could be free for the afternoon.

Even hot chocolate hurts. Somehow, it's easier to pour only four cups now, but never without that familiar dull ache that begins around my heart and threatens to overflow in tears. That ache is lighter this morning after being on my knees before God. Today, I was able to remember the promises and look forward to eternity; the bearing of my cross seeming to have some purpose.

My mind refuses to rest, but words have been sparse lately. I tell myself that I will sit down and force them out, but then so often only find myself staring at a blank computer screen. I long for the flow again.

I have been pondering eternity, salvation, suffering, relationships, soap, the great outdoors, and how to live without investing my life here but rather for an inheritance in heaven. I haven't quite figured it all out. I've been wondering if Trent has gotten over the awe of being in heaven yet. As I continue to praise God daily that he is there, it dawned on me that he is there. If my praise has continued for nineteen months, what must his be like?

An amazing conversation happened around our kitchen island the other day when the kids and I were trapped with nowhere to escape because we where elbow deep in pumpkin guts. We started talking about what it might have been like for Trent that afternoon as he went down that slope and saw his first glimpse of Jesus. I nearly held my breath as I heard the work that God has been doing in these little souls that surround me; work that I was unaware of. We live our lives side by side, so close and busy together, but so often we neglect to talk about what matters.

I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to see Jesus. Even the thought brings tears and overwhelms me. I feel the insignificance of being allowed in His presence. I feel the slightest sense of His holiness as I think of it. I feel my sin and my need for a Savior.

God did an amazing work by using Trent's death to save my brother in law. For these many months it has been a great joy amidst the sorrow to see his life dramatically transformed. A couple of weeks ago we had the joy of witnessing my sister's whole family being baptized together. Talking a few days after the baptism, Brenda shared the remorse that it took Trent's death to have their eyes opened. I felt the impact like never before of what salvation really cost. Somebody did die, sin was that serious. Jesus died.

Rob read us the story of the crucifixion from the book of Mark at our family devotions last night. I could hardly stand to hear the words. My finite brain can't make suffering equal eternal glory, but Scripture tells us it's so. If anything, perseverance is going to be what gets me. Only by the grace of God do the days marked off on a seemingly never ending calendar make sense without my son. I used to be so content in this world: goats, food, sunshine, WalMart. Now only what is done for Christ matters. For this pain I try to remember to praise God, too: for nothing satisfying other than Him, for living eternally minded rather than for here.

This concept has been popping up everywhere: suffering equaling eternal glory. James baffles me when he says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) He tells us in the next verse to ask God for wisdom. So I asked.

“Is suffering worth it?” My Bible notes inquire about the age old question to myself again and again.

God's answer to me on that sunny morning nearly a month ago came from 2 Thessalonians 1:11 and 1 Timothy 1:12-18. Sweet promises made personal.

“Suffering causes {me} to be counted worthy of God's calling- it is only endured by God's power- ultimately so that Jesus will be glorified in me, and me in Him according to the grace of God. Scripture says that God appointed {me} to His service. He gives strength. He considered {me} faithful, even though I am a sinner, the greatest of all sinners as Paul says, all by the grace of God that is poured out abundantly. I need to PERSEVERE because through suffering God is revealing His mercy and His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life. All for the honor and glory of God for ever and ever. Fight the good fight.”

Jesus' glory on this earth was the cross. He told us that as His followers we would be given crosses to carry. Heavy, splintered, bloody crosses. Burdens and yokes that would be impossible to endure aside from His grace. A constant reminder that this is not our home, a reminder of our longing for an eternal home. Somehow those crosses work to crush us, the sinful flesh part of us, and allow Jesus alone to shine through. The weight of those crosses seems to be what shatters anything in us that has no godly value and reveals our allegiance to our God, or His to us. They reveal more than we want them to, and make us go deep.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)

Suffering, a crown, eternal glory, and a Savior worth trusting. Somehow it makes sense, even when I can't seem to make it make sense.