What are four things we cannot recover? This story stirred in my heart recently when Connor and I visited my son and his wife in Tampa. As the four of us watched Superman with 3D glasses and heard squeals when he kissed Lois Lane and finally defeated the enemy, I was reading through one of my journals from 2010. Having a journal handy is a habit I began in the early eighties. A top shelf in the library at Tim’s Gift is home to many filled journals and special family books. Do you journal and preserve things that time can easily erase from our minds? It is a wonderful way to record things that can become treasures in time. Writing and saving tidbits of our love stories, adventures, trials, triumphs, faith, and family experiences is wise. Keeping them safe and secure ensures plenty of good reading to help us remember the way we were and what has become of us through seasons of sunshine and sorrow.
The journal I tucked in my suitcase while packing for our trip to see Clint and Jamie was given to me by my niece, Kandi, in 2007. After settling in, I opened it and found little space for new entries. My journal was filled with writings that lured me in like a fisherman after a huge catch. Reading page after page brought a peace inside that only comes from Christ. One page focused on setbacks not becoming our focus, on how stumbling blocks can be stepping stones, and how life is too short to have victim mentality. As the movie progressed, so did my reading and remembering.
Reading words – penned from past seasons – that stir fresh meaning on the sting of death— stung deeply. Tears dripped like water from a spigot from my blue eyes, hidden by dark glasses that made things seem much closer and more intense on Clint and Jamie’s big screen television.
Connor, my grandson who has walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death twice – in 2007 with his Poppy and 2014 with his step-grandfather, asked, “Nana, why are you crying over Superman?”
Clint handed him a tissue to give me and motioned for him to be quiet. Tears turned to cheers as the good guys were finally supporting Superman in a movie and my family was supporting me in real life.
Action settled on the screen giving me time to squeeze in more reading. It seemed the message written years ago was meant to be read again today.
“We aren’t defined by our past; we are developed (prepared) by it. Unfair things – death, job loss, unwise choices – may bring us down. Nothing is happening to us – it’s happening for us. We must stay in faith. God will give beauty to our ashes.”
David said, “I walk through the valley”…not staying there but moving on! I AM going through this!
In Psalm 84, we are encouraged that when passing through the valley of weeping we will find pools of blessings.
Many entries were incomplete sentences with thought provoking messages…such is life!
The movie intensified with the death of Superman’s step-dad and the onset of outer space enemies. Choices had to be made with what appeared to be unfair circumstances.
When I turned the page in my journal and read words I had written years ago, I marveled at God’s perfect timing in our lives and the message on that page. Unfair things happen!
Has life been unfair to you? Do you wonder why things happen as they do? Are you calloused and cautious about stepping in faith – getting out of the boat – and enjoying life…even though things are not the way you planned. Is your attitude toward the Lord, your loved ones…life in general positive or negative, happy or sad, loving or hateful and hate-filled? Think on these things, being honest about how you handle what happens.
It is no coincidence but the prompting of the Holy Spirit that led me to this journal of old writings -for such a time as this- in 2015. Turning the page and reading my last entry in 2008 enlightens this message.
“Fear not – God can restore what Satan has taken and give it back seven times. Fear not unknown – God is working out our tomorrows and we aren’t even aware. We are the Champion. Think it – Act it – Live it! We are winners with Jesus. We are responsible for what happens in us – not to us”!
Reading those words gave me strength as did words on television from the holligram of Superman’s father sharing how working together is wise. The angry attitude of his rival showed he wanted to conquer and kill even if it meant genocide. The father’s faith in his son’s strength and heart to do right never faltered. Going through losses with right attitudes and believing in God makes us winners! He empowers us to overcome even when weeping creeps in as we journey in faith.
We go through a loss – we have one of two attitudes. We can chose to be bitter and bellow, “This is not fair” or we can say, “I don’t know why this happened (or is happening) in my life, Lord, but I am trusting You. Please guide me through this tough time.”
We might feel like we are “in the garden” (as was Jesus when He was alone and crying out to His Father to take the cup. Then, He rose up and pressed forward in faith).
When we are in the garden, God will send an angel. Oh, how He loves us and sends angels to guide our steps and strengthen our weary souls.
The fantasy movie ended with Superman being a champion and earth being saved. The best part was when he finally kissed Lois Lane, who remained by his side through tough fights and times that did not seem fair to either of them. Their positive attitudes and inner strength kept them grounded in the good times and the bad.
Life here will end one day for all of us as we head to life eternal with with our heavenly Father or to life of endless torture with Satan. What will be the ending of our love stories here? Will we be champions who fought a good fight with Christ as the main character in our lives or will we live life with an attitude of denial and destruction without accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior?
Choose the right channel! Discipline your thought life. Live out loud in love. Make Jesus Lord of your life. Keep God first place…and you will live happily ever after in Heaven!
Becky Spell Vann is a long-time columnist for the Sampson Independent’s Faith & Family section and owner of the outreach ministry Tim’s Gift.