Glory to God in the highest, the One who is worthy of all of our praise!
While sitting in a parking lot this morning, waiting on someone in a shelter to come out so I could give them a ride to work, who called me to say they had literally just woke up when I texted them to say I was there, (mind you, I had gotten up at 6:30 a.m. just to be sure I wouldn’t be late to get them to work on time and it was now 8a.m.), I had the wonderful opportunity, as I waited for 15 minutes, to reflect on nature. J (Yes this is my subtle way of venting.) There was a cluster of trees on the far end of the lot, completely bare on this brisk morning of 12 degrees, with their arms raised as if they did not know any reason as to why they shouldn’t praise the Creator. What struck me was their bareness. All their covering had fallen away, yet they didn’t look stricken that their fullness was gone. In fact without the leaves you could see more clearly how strong and diverse the branches were. Regardless of if there was any hope of a season of abundance, their only thought was to continue reaching upward. What option do they have? They know that every good thing that comes to them comes from somewhere above themselves, so sight unseen, they just keep reaching for it. I didn’t think any less of them for standing there in their vulnerability, but admired their determination to wait. When everything that we think defines who we are has been stripped away, will we be as determined to keep reaching for the Only One who can add to our worth? I would love to be so noble as any one of those trees, not moving, not bending, not looking for a better location, not blaming the tree next to me for blocking my light, but standing firm, holding my own ground, knowing without a shadow of a doubt that the One who brought me to bloom in previous seasons, will be the One to fill my arms with new life this season also.
It’s with a heavy heart that I write this letter because just a little while ago someone called to say that a woman I knew in prison died there this morning. I met her in 1985 at the Indianapolis Women’s Prison. We were both 22 years old that year. She had been arrested the previous year and was given a 98-year sentence for aiding in the deaths of 2 men and helping dispose of their bodies. Her mom was arrested on the same charge and was given more than 100 years. (Her mom died at the prison some years ago.) When she passed this morning, she was my same age, only she’s never left prison during these past 34 years. She had 5 more years to go before she’d of been eligible for release. I have no idea if she had a relationship with Jesus, which is heart breaking. “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”
During my prayer time this morning, I looked up out the window, and seen the branches of the tree next door, kind of tangled together, and immediately the image of the ram caught in the thicket came to my mind. “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.” (Gen 22:13 NKJV) How refreshing is that thought! A sacrifice has already been made on our behalf! Provision has been made. We are not without remedy. No matter how bleak the day may seem, no matter what bad news may come, He has made a way for us to get to Him. We always have this hope! We have the blessed joy of stepping through Jesus to come into the presence of the Father. How wonderful to be at His feet, the One who looks at us with complete compassion and mercy and find our refreshing there. Praising Him releases that fountain. As I continued kneeling there, bowed down, I had the impression of someone coming to me and saying, “The King will see you now.”
My heart melted, and I said to the Father, “I want that job.” How awesome it is that we have the opportunity to tell others, “The King will see you now.” All because of the sacrificial Lamb. If they will only accept it, they can then step through the veil of Jesus love, into the presence of the living God. And we, as servants of the Most High Court, have the prestigious position, the highest honor, of leading them in.
So although my heart is grieved for a life lost, my hope is in a God of mercy, who knew her completely, who sent His Son for her redemption, and whatever her end, I trust in His wisdom, His righteousness, and His perfect will which He will and does accomplish. We can spend hour after hour letting our hearts anguish over thoughts of where someone is spending eternity after there life here has ended. Or we can simply tell God, “I trust Your righteousness.” Just like the trees, stand firm. There is nothing in this world that could possibly be offered to a tree that could make it any more complete than what God has designed it to be. How wonderful to be in that place where nothing here can either add or take away your value . Where dramatic news doesn’t sway you. Politics don’t bend you. Good days or bad do not change your point of view. You simply keep reaching up.
In two weeks, on the 15th and 16th of March, we will be going into the Blackford County Jail and spending our whole time with the ladies! This has never happened before and we are very excited. We’re taking them pink leather bibles! Normally during a 2-day event, we’d get approximately 1 hour with the ladies. Then the last time we went, the officer in charge, offered to bring the ladies for 1 hour during each session, which was the first time they’d been brought to us in the gym. In the past we always went to the ladies block for the hour. This tells us that God sees the ones who no one else sees and His desire is to bring them forth and let them know that His heart is for them. The least of these. His eye is on the sparrow. He leaves the 99. Your time is never wasted when it is spent on only one person. That’s exactly who He’d have you minister to. It’s what He did at the well. The chaplain has generously arranged this special time for us with them and then two weeks later, on the 29th and 30th, we’ll go back and do the same with men, minus the pink bibles J.
I pray the God of all love and mercy shines upon you so greatly that you become Son-tanned!
Be a reflection of His radiance and your wrinkles will be lost in His glory!
Be blessed in the Name of our glorious Savior, Jesus!