Does the experience of closing one book and opening another distance or draw you closer to Christ? This story stirred on a recent ‘stay at home day’ when storms brewed and blessings flowed. Rising early, I flew to the window with hopes of seeing snow; some things never fail to bring out the child in us!
In the kitchen, breakfast – banana and water – settled as I penned names on the last page in our prayer journal. I prayed for homeless families to find shelter in the storm. While writing names of families whose loved ones closed their books recently, memories of Forest and Beth sparked sadness and smiles simultaneously. I squeezed prayer requests for my children and grandchildren on the last line while thanking God for preparing a place for us to go and begin a never ending book when He calls us Home. Can’t you just see Forest making Jesus laugh, while Beth cooks cakes and pies for the feast that welcomed them to Heaven? Some things we just don’t understand, like how Heaven will be.
Closing our book of life here comes quickly, with the Word reminding us that ‘life is but a mist!’ The peace and joy of writing our books with a sweet spirit of love, while living by Jesus’ example, can never be bought. God’s grace and glory fill each chapter as we live out loud in love here while preparing for the glorious ending that promises ‘happily ever after’ there. Oh, to think of dying without being prepared, without accepting Jesus into one’s heart, or without friends and family to give care and comfort. Adjusting to life here – when they are gone – takes lots of time and prayers. Closing the book of life comes like words shouted while playing childhood games of hide and seek…’ready or not here I come!’ Being ready at any moment to close our book with blessed assurance that we are ready to meet Jesus is a wise and wonderful way to write. Telling our stories helps people while honoring God. Never hesitate to share your story and show your love for Jesus, for you could be entertaining angels unaware!
People will be sharing their stories tomorrow at Rise Up – Restore from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p. m. The day begins at 8:30 a.m. with a hot breakfast and stories by Jennifer Brewer and Mary Gaye Borum. Kent Fann, New Bethel Quartet, Cedar Point Choir, Jane Poole, The Marksmen, Elevate Praise Band, Scooter Banks, and cancer survivors have amazing stories to tell and songs to sing.
All veterans will be honored at 2:30 p.m. by coming forward as the theme song for each branch of service is played. Oh, the stories each veteran could share if only there was time. The Wounded Warrior comes from Ohio with a story that promises to make the hairs on our arms stand at attention. Honoring those who have served and are now serving our country shows our respect for their loyalty and love for America. Come to Rise Up tomorrow and support our veterans and wounded warriors. A love offering will be taken for Wounded Warrior Project and Tim’s Gift Inc.
Settling down, after cleaning baseboards, dusting, doing laundry, talking and praying with a brother in Christ who came out in the storm to deliver a gift, I laid the filled to the brim prayer book beside my computer and began writing. Ice pellets pounded the pavement outside my window. I paused and pondered bits and pieces of stories in my life’s book and wondered when it will be completed. That fleeting thought did not consume me. Christ has that answer as I keep writing (living) and filling up the rest of my book.
Focusing on pictures and prayer requests that covered my walls, love and joy rose inside, sorrow settled deep within where healing happens, and I humbly thanked God that He giveth and taketh away, for we come closer to Christ through both. When we faithfully weather life’s storms, continue writing and sharing our stories through loss and gain, and cherish a close relationship with the Lord and loved ones, we experience the joy of Rising Up and being Restored.
Before placing the filled up prayer book on the shelf with my other journals, I read several entries and remembered with humility. The first date was Oct. 8, 2013. James and I filled the page that morning with names of our children and grandchildren written right under the date and requests for healing in peoples’ lives and our nation. Each page, front and back, was filled with names of people we cared for and prayed for. Then, it was only my prayer requests that filled the pages…for James’ book was completed and Christ called him Home. I read my writing penned on Feb. 2, 2015 in awe of the relevancy of our faith (or lack of it) for such a time as this!
“The enemy tries to fill us with fear. Through Jesus we must fight for what is right. With God’s help we can go forth and not rest in this time when He needs us to Rise Up.”
I sat in silence before placing my filled up prayer journal on the shelf and searching for the right words to end this story. I picked up a book, Healing After Loss, given to me when James left here for Heaven. Still seated on the floor with computer in lap and book in hand, I read a quote by Elie Wiesel, “Whoever survives a test, whomever it may be, must tell the story. That is his duty.”
It is our duty to Rise Up and tell our stories, to be restored and enjoy a close relationship with our Lord and loved ones, but the greatest duty of all is to…LOVE!
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.