New Realities

This past week I started my new job. It was a tough couple of days, much harder than I expected.

It was a process of saying goodbye to co-workers and friends from my previous employment so it didn’t really hit me. I remember one of the last things I said before I left was, “It doesn’t feel like I’m leaving. I hope I don’t drive here next week on accident!”

I didn’t. I made the drive in the opposite direction. Kind of symbolic in a way. When I checked in at my new job, reality hit me. Reality caught me with a cheap shot right in the face. I don’t usually feel lonely, but I did that first day. Suddenly it was real, I won’t be back at the church I worked at for the last 4 1/2 years. This was my new reality. Honestly, it kind of sucked.

That day I got home and Emily’s friend was over. She worked with Emily a while ago, but had to leave the island and seek out treatment for cancer. Frequent and on going medical procedures, hair loss, lifestyle changes and permanent impacts on her life were her new reality. I’m certain the adjustment was tough, I just cannot imagine. Here she was, months later, pressing on, keeping a positive attitude in her new reality.

My father had part of his leg amputated when he was in his 20’s. Most people don’t even realize he has a prosthetic leg. Again, how does someone deal with that? How do you go on? He did. He got married, raised children, had a successful career, still went hunting and fishing regularly and accepted his new reality.

So many people are encountering new realities that take an adjustment. Change is inevitable. Sometimes it is as simple as switching jobs, other times it’s drastic, like physical impairments or loss of a loved one. We face the new reality, then we learn to move forward in it.

Have you faced changes recently? What’s your new reality?

The change and challenges may seem insurmountable, but do not lose heart. You will get adjusted to your new reality. Remember also, change is inevitable, so keep looking forward and be prepared for the next part of the journey.

The best path to take is the one that the Lord lays out ahead of you. There may be oppression, there may be deserts, there may be many challenges, but when you know the final plan, it’s all worth it. When you seek the Lord with all your heart each moment of life becomes the reality that leads to one glorious destination. No fault of man, no poor choice, no hurdle of life will keep you from the grace of God. (cf. Romans 8:38-39)

Embrace your new reality and discover the possibilities that lay ahead on the journey. I know for me I will get settled, find my place, and by the grace of God, bring Him glory in my work. Know also that you are not alone, not only does the Lord desire for you to call to Him, but I want to walk with you in the changes of life, the hurdles, and the challenges. In whatever way I can, I will support you in your new realities. -jason

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Too Soon AND Right on Time

Last year at our church’s annual Memorial Day picnic, I had the privilege of baptizing Irene alongside Pastor Tim. Members of the church gathered at the beach at Bellows and joyful shouted praises of joy when Irene reemerged from the waters. I met with Irene and her husband the month prior and she was very clear about her faith in Jesus. During that time Irene had a little concern about the baptism, she had severe back pain and had been resting it so she could be there.

Last month I took Irene to two doctors appointments. They were radiation appointments to treat the cancer that spread through her body, the cancer that we later learned was causing the severe pain in her back.

 

Last night we got a message, Irene had passed away.

 

Irene was a young doctor. She shared with me the dreams that she had for her practice. She truly just wanted to help people. In the times that I was able to spend with her, she was always pleasant, always warm, even when she was in constant pain. One thing I will remember was her faith. She trusted that the Lord could heal her body, and she also knew that if her time came, He could call her home. She had faith in God’s all-powerful healing hand, and also God’s all knowing sovereign will.

There is peace in knowing that Irene is with the Lord. We can rejoice in that. No more pain, no more suffering. Still, there is loss and grieving for her husband and two teenage children that she leaves behind. There is sadness and broken hearts for her church family that has been praying and visiting with her. For us, Irene has been taken too soon. There was so much more she could have done with the dreams of her medical practice. There were so many more memories to be made with her family. Her church family was looking forward to serving along side her in the work of the gospel ministry. Too soon.

Irene’s own faith reminds me, her death is right on time. It was a faith that knows the Lord sees the bigger picture. Sometimes tragedy and triumph coexist. Irene knew that that Jesus is victorious. Jesus defeated death. He lives. Through her faith, Irene too will defeat death because of Jesus’ victory in the resurrection. Because He lives, she will also. In the ultimate plan for creation, I don’t believe God caused Irene’s death, but I do believe that in His sovereign will, He allowed it and saw that it was time. Right on time.

It’s both, too soon and right on time. It doesn’t make sense and so we grieve. We must. We find peace and comfort through our grief in knowing that God is good and He loves Irene more than we could ever. We trust it was the right time and we seek Him for guidance through our grief.

Too soon and right on time has been something I am seeing all too much. There is a lot of suffering in the world. Stay near to the ones you love. Don’t wait till tomorrow. We must trust in the Lord’s divine understanding, His sovereign will and be prepared when that right time comes much too soon for us. -jason

 

Life Assurance Policy

Life Assurance Policy

 

Last week I pulled my phone out of my pocket and it fell flat on it’s screen. I could hear the crushing of the glass on impact. Sure enough, it was shattered. Little pieces of glass hanging on, while others left holes where it used to be. As I tried to slide my finger across, small chards of glass would fall out. Good thing I got Apple Care! Sort of…

Apple’s insurance policy is called Apple Care. You pay a fee when you purchase your device and you are covered for 2 years. Covered just means you don’t have to pay the full price of what they would normally charge you, but you still have to pay. In some ways, I guess it’s like a deductible for any other insurance policy.

The whole insurance system is such an incredible thing. There are brilliant people that are employed as actuaries. Actuarial Science measures and manages risk and uncertainty. These professionals can calculate the expectancy of your life by analyzing certain factors. With this calculation they will determine how much you should pay in premiums for specific policies that you apply for. Amazing! Not too long ago I took out a life insurance policy. Seems I’m actually worth more dead than alive! The other thing I have been looking into is long-term care insurance. So many forms of insurance we need to consider all based on the unknown. We pay insurance premiums because we don’t know what might happen. There is one area of life that I know what the outcome will be. No insurance needed.

All too many people live out their faith as though it were an insurance policy. Fear of the unknown after death leads people to church. They are seeking answers and hope. They want to find peace and comfort in their fear of death. Sunday worship attendance, midweek Bible study and service in the church are nothing short of individuals paying a premium for their Afterlife Insurance policy.

This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. When the truth of the gospel is revealed to you by the Holy Spirit that is your Life Assurance Policy. John 10 is rich in the depth of the theology of assurance. Verse 27-30 says:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

            When you hear the Lord’s voice and recognize it is the voice of the Good Shepherd, you have no fear. No one can snatch you from the Father’s hand. I can see those in the church that live out their faith like an insurance policy. Their faith in Jesus is important for their death. Education, career and other things are more important in life. We put the majority of our focus of the things of this life and give money to the church, attend when we can, say prayers before our meals so that when we die, we know we have paid our premiums every month. True faith in Christ does not work that way.

You see, Jesus paid all your premiums in advance we couldn’t afford it. He paid it on the cross. Jesus is in the business of assurance, not insurance. When someone truly understands the gospel, I see a different faith lived out. Christ is the most important over everything in life and death. Those with the assurance policy of the Holy Spirit have a freedom about them. They have a peace that surpasses all understanding. Everything they do becomes worship and obedience to the One who paid it all. When you hear the voice of the Shepherd and you recognize it is the Lord, you cannot do anything else in life apart from Him.

How are you living your faith? Is it an After-life Insurance Policy? Or are you living with the full assurance that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you that Jesus Christ is Lord!? The way you live reflects the heart that seeks insurance or has assurance in what is beyond this life. -jason