What is Certain?

Recently I’ve been thinking about the saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” I’ve been thinking about how untrue that statement is. There are so many more things that are certain, just as certain as death and even more certain than taxes.

So, today, on the eve of the memorial service for a precious saint, I am pondering what I am sure of. I pray it will bless your soul, as it has blessed mine.

I am certain of God’s eternal existence. (Romans 1:19-20)

I am certain of the truth of God’s Word. (Luke 1:1-4)

I am certain that God formed me in my mother’s womb, and numbered my days before even one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

I am certain that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. (John 20:31)

I am certain that God will never forget me. (Isaiah 49:15-16)

I am certain of God’s unending love. (Romans 5:8)

I am certain of God’s boundless mercy and grace. (Hebrews 4:16)

I am certain of God’s abundant forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)

I am certain of God’s Almighty power. (Revelation 1:8)

I am certain of God’s great and daily faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

I am certain of the coming hope of heaven. (John 14:1-4)

I’d love to hear what you are certain of. Please leave me a comment. Let us encourage one another with the Word of Truth, Hope and Certainty. Let us choose to doubt our doubts, and doggedly believe our beliefs.

Enjoy this beautiful song by Ellie Holcomb “As Sure as the Sun.”

“As Sure As The Sun”

There is good news
There is good truth
That you could never change
No matter what you do

You are loved
More than you know
More than you could hope for
After everything you’ve done

As sure as the sun will rise
And chase away the night
His mercy will not end
His mercy will not end

There is good news
There’s a promise
That no matter where you go
You will never be alone

In the dark
In the doubting
When you can’t feel anything
O His love remains the same

As sure as the sun will rise
And chase away the night
His mercy will not end

Even through the night
Ohh…
Silver stars will shine
Hope of glory’s light
That will wake us once again

As sure as; the sun will rise
And chase away the night
As sure as the sun; will rise
His mercy will not end
His mercy will not end

When Joy and Sorrow Meet

So often the Christian life is a mix of joy and sorrow.

Life and death intermingle. Death for the Christ-follower is the beginning of a new and joyous life with Christ in the heavenly eternity. Our lives here on earth are but a breath in light of eternity.

Yesterday was one of those mixed up days for me. Sunday night, Bill and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. Afterwards I couldn’t seem to fall asleep and was laying in bed scrolling through Facebook.

Around 1am, I received a text and a phone call that three children of an Indian missionary that we love and support were killed in a house fire in Collierville where they were staying for Christmas break, along with the mother, Kari, of the family that was hosting them. Kari is the wife of our youth leader, as well as a friend and fellow homeschooling mom. Kari’s husband and youngest son were also home, but they escaped the fire through a second-story window.

All I could think was, “No, No, No. God, it just doesn’t make any sense. Why would you let this happen? Why, God, why?”

That morning at 7 am, I was scheduled to teach English online to my favorite little Chinese student. Before the class began, with my heart reeling, I saw his excited little face appear on screen. Suddenly, he began to play “Silent Night” in English for me. Tears began to roll down my cheeks as I just soaked in the mix of joy and sorrow. For that brief moment I reflected on the deep joy and sorrow in the mix of Christ’s arrival on earth, cloaked in the form of a human child, destined to die for the sins of man.

I moved through Christmas Eve Day with our family in a state of shock, all the while knowing that my son had a special surprise in store for us later that day. Yesterday afternoon, my oldest son, Nick, proposed to his incredible girlfriend, Kristen, and she accepted. Our hearts rejoiced with the hope of a coming wedding, but the joy was tinged with grief as I sat thinking of the grieving families who were missing their mom, and missing their children. How could I be happy when so many of my brothers and sisters are in the throes of despair?

Maybe you’ve had times like these, too. Times where joy and sorrow meet. Times where God has given and taken away in such close succession. It happens often in our broken world. I remember when my sister’s second son, Matthew, was born, only for her first son to die the very next day. I remember when my grandmother died, December 12, 2006, only to learn 2 weeks later on Christmas Day that I was expecting our youngest son, Daniel.

I guess we all have a choice to make. Will I believe that God is good, loving and sovereign? Will I choose to praise Him for bringing me through 24 years of marriage and blessing my son with a lovely bride? Or will I say that God is mean, uncaring and distant for the deaths of these saints?

Like the towel I stitched for a Christmas gift, I choose to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) This is a choice, a covenant, a faith of hope in the coming future. I will choose to trust Him, and His word. I will speak to my own soul, and to yours, “God is trustworthy and good.”

He sent His only Son, Jesus, into this broken world to save sinners like me. Praise His Holy Name. This Christmas Day and every day to come.

The God of the Weak

God chose to send His angel personally to the shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night. “The angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”” (Luke 2:10)

God chose to send His own Son, Jesus, to be born of a young virgin girl named Mary. Her betrothed, Joseph, was no more than a carpenter. Jesus was wrapped in simple swaddling cloths and laid to rest in an animal trough, for there was no room for them in the inn.

Jesus chose poor fishermen to be His first disciples. The crowds were amazed at “the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men… And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 ESV)

Do you ever feel like God can’t use you, that you’re not smart enough, not famous enough, not good enough?

“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-31 ESV)

Whither Thou Goest

I burst through the front door, “Hi, Grandma! I’m here.A pint-sized girl with a head full of curls, I looked forward to spending a week with my grandma on our family’s Iowa homestead.

“Hi, sweetie,” my grandma called back from the kitchen. “Make yourself at home. Don’t forget about the big can of V8 in the ‘fridge. I got it just for you.”

Even though I never liked V8 — Campbell’s Tomato Juice was my thing she bought a can for me every summer, looking forward to my visit. And every evening, I’d force myself to drink a glass, just to see the smile on her face.

The next morning, Grandma and I headed out for breakfast at Perkins in her rusted green pickup truck. Widowed at fifty-seven, my grandma hated to be alone. She and my grandpa had been married for just short of 40 years when he passed away from pancreatic cancer. Now my Grandma Norma ate out twice a day, whether by herself or with one of her lady friends. As we pulled out of the driveway and onto the gravel road that led into town, Grandma stealthily applied bright red lipstick to her thin lips. Suddenly, she burst into the first verse of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” in her strong, soprano voice. I joined in, off-key and happy. Grandma always told me that singing kept her awake, which I’m sure it did, but I knew she liked it, too.

Entering the comfortable restaurant, the cashier greeted us.Good morning, Norma. Is this the granddaughter you’re always telling me about?

Yes, Beth. This is Kim. She’s my companion this week, helping me out at the antique shop. This girl is fearless. She walks up to all the customers. And smart as a whip! She shows them around, rings up their bills and even makes their change! I don’t know how I manage the store without her.”

After downing a heaping platter of chocolate chip pancakes and a large glass of tomato juice, I headed out to the truck with Grandma for a quick trip to the bank. Wherever we went, Grandma greeted everyone with a charming smile, a pleasant word of encouragement and two listening ears. It seemed like she knew everyone, and I was proud that this was my grandma.

On our drive back to the farm, she reminisced about all the good times she and my grandpa had enjoyed together, working the farm, raising children, singing duets at church. She shared with me about a gentleman friend who’d recently courted her, going so far as asking her to marry him, but that she just could never love anyone like she’d loved my grandpa.

Opening the backdoor of her antique shop, we were greeted by the smell of paint thinner and the jingle of bells hanging from the doorknob. Grandma, never one to sit still, set right to work caning an old chair she had bought at one of many auctions. I, too, kept myself busy admiring the countless knickknacks covering every surface of the two-story converted barn, hoping for a customer to come in and make a purchase.

After our dinner trip to Perkins, Grandma and I made our way to the couch in her simple ranch-style home. We sat quietly side-by-side, my grandmother working on her latest cross-stitching project and me gazing at the walls covered with framed black-and-white photos of days gone by. My personal favorites were the 8 x 10 photos of my grandparents as two young lovebirds. I could’ve stood there for hours. Their eyes simply oozed with love for one another. I thought, “Someday, I want to love somebody like that.”

And one day, a dozen years later, I got to put into practice those lessons in friendliness my grandma had taught me. Needing directions to a nearby event, I walked right up to a handsome young man and introduced myself. Eight months later, when I married that special man who my eyes oozed with love for, my grandma pulled me aside and placed a framed cross-stitch in my arms. The words “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” were carefully handstitched next to a silhouetted bride and groom. Today, with our 25th wedding anniversary on the horizon, I’m thankful for a grandmother who taught me to be friendly to strangers and faithful to the one you love.

Dedicated to my grandma, Norma Myers.  This story has been submitted to Chicken Soup for the Soul with hopes for publication.  You’re free to share it, but please link back here.  You can read my last two stories about my Grandma Norma here and here.