Jesus Wept

This morning while reading my devotion from Journey, the scripture passage was in John 11:1-45. Jesus had delayed in going to his friend Lazarus who was ill to the point of death. Jesus wanted to teach his disciples and others about God’s power to restore life and to trust Him when all seems hopeless. Lazarus died while Jesus delayed. Jesus told his disciples that they were going to Bethany to waken Lazarus because he was sleeping. They didn’t understand that Jesus meant he had died, so they were encouraging him that Lazarus sleeping was good for his healing. Jesus replied to them that Lazarus was dead. It had been four days since Lazarus had passed and when Jesus arrived, Martha, Lazarus sister went to meet him and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would have not died. Even I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus told her that Lazarus would arise from the dead, but Martha thinking in human terms said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” But Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live, even though he dies(physical death), and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die(Spiritual death). Do you believe this?” Martha did believe and then she went to find Mary, her sister, who was still inside their home grieving for Lazarus. Now in this culture, the Jewish people had paid mourners who would come and grieve with them and they were there trying to comfort her in their fashion. But when she heard that Jesus was in town, she left the house and the Jews followed her, thinking that she was going to weep at Lazarus’ tomb. When she saw Jesus, the fell at his feet, saying “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Jesus was torn, deeply moved at her and Martha’s grief and he wept. (verse 35) Why did Jesus weep? Was it because he was sad at the loss of his friend? I don’t believe that it was. I believe that despite the fact that he could and would resurrect Lazarus from the dead, he knew that Lazarus was in Paradise, where no one would ever want to leave, a place where all disease is healed, all griefs are forgotten, and where we shall live with Christ forevermore when we place our faith in Him. But he also knew that he must show the power of God’s resurrection, something that he would go through in a few weeks after this. They were unbelieving, “Lord, it’s been four days and he will be stinking. What are you doing?” But when the stone to the tomb was rolled away, he called, “Lazarus! Come forth.” And there, bound in wrapping from head to toe, came Lazarus, alive and well. Jesus told them to unbind him and set him free.
Jesus came to unbind us from sin and set us free, free from the curse of Spiritual death that came into the world when Adam and Eve sinned, from being separated from a God who loves us more than we will ever know, a God who does not keep an account of our wrongs, but throws them as far as east is from the west and into the deepest ocean when we repent and ask His forgiveness and give our hearts to Him. Our world is wrapped and bound in sin, but Jesus came and died to set us free. Such a gift for undeserving humans that God loves so very, very much! Never doubt his love for you!
Jesus walks beside us through all of our sickness, sorrow, good times and bad times. He is there for us if we will just ask Him to be. He carried the weight of our sin because He loves us! He didn’t have to, but out of love for His created beings, he did. And I am so glad that he did!
And if you are doubting what I am saying, remember this, God did not create Hell for us, it was created for Satan and his angels, and Death. But in our actions we have chosen whether or not to accept Christ’s death on the cross for our sins and have chosen to go our own way. God gives us free will and does not want any one to die in their sin, but he is not going to force us to choose. It has to be our own choice. Which will you choose today?

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A Fresh New Year

As we begin this new year 2014, I reflect back to the years when I was a child and the future seemed like centuries away. The technology that we have now was portrayed as science fiction…and now we have some of it in our homes, our offices, our hospitals, and schools. I am thankful that I live in this time, because of how far medical technology has come. In the 60’s ovarian cancer or any kind of cancer would have been an immediate death sentence unless the Cobalt treatments worked which most of the time didn’t. Because of the new technology, my mother, my uncle and other friends have survived cancer. I am thankful that we have educational tools to teach doctors how to help those who have life-threatening diseases, to be able to detect and to treat those with hidden tumors, to eradicate childhood diseases so that children can live healthy lives. God gives us good gifts and wisdom if we ask and we need to use those gifts and wisdom to help others. I wish everyone of you a happy and healthy, prosperous and joy-filled 2014. Take time to enjoy the small things in life and know that every moment of every day is a gift from God…and cherish it well!

One Remarkable Cat

In 1992, my family and I adopted a gray tabby kitten from a lady in Belton, South Carolina. At the time we got the kitten, I thought it was a boy, so I named it Toby after a kitten I’d had as a child and who had been cruelly maimed  and killed by two neighbor dogs and our own dog. This new Toby turned out to be a girl after all, so I renamed her October, for the month we had adopted her and called her Tobie for short.

Tobie was a most unusual cat in that she liked to “talk.” You could hear her at night when all the lights were out and everyone was in bed. She’d be saying, “Hello? Hello? Mama?” and I’d answer her with “Tobie! Go to sleep!”

She was patient with the children and my youngest daughter used to dress her up in doll clothes. Tobie would look very put out about the bonnet on her head, but she never bit or scratched to get away.

When I was sick, I could always count on Tobie to come up on the bed and lay down beside me until I felt better. I called her my “nurse cat.” She always seemed to know exactly what hurt on me and that was where she ended up. The warmth from her body seemed to ease the pain and I would feel better.

Trying to have a devotion time to read my Bible and pray was always interrupted by a purring gray ball of fur. When I ignored her, she would climb into my open Bible on my lap and sit. She commanded attention!

My marriage failed in 2002 and for over a year I was separated from Tobie, because the kids wanted to keep her with them. I missed my sweet cat! When my Chihuahua passed away, my youngest found another gray tabby kitten for me which I named Missy, after the original Toby’s mother.

In 2004, my Tobie and I were reunited and she was so happy to see me. She wasn’t letting me out of her sight again. Missy and Tobie weren’t very fond of each other, but learned to tolerate as the years went on.

My father was taken ill in 2006 and put into Hospice care at home. Tobie took up residence in the wheelchair outside of his room for two weeks, watching him lying in the hospital bed that Hospice had provided. When he took a turn for the worse, she climbed up onto the bed and stayed by his side, only leaving to go potty and to eat. Then she’d return and stay with him. Two weeks she stayed with him, trying to nurse him back to health.

On the day he died, it was the first of November and a very warm day. We had opened the window in his bedroom to get a little air stirring. The nurse who had come that morning said that it would be just a matter of hours. It seemed as if Tobie knew Dad’s time was short and she left the room. We gathered around his bed as he took his final breaths and Tobie came back into the room and hopped into the open window. It seemed she was saying goodbye in her own unusual way.

Her strength began to wane as she grew older and she was more needy with affection as her life was drawing to a close. She was losing her hair and her weight had dropped dramatically. Tobie had always been a bit overweight and now she was very thin. One night as I was sitting in the rocking chair watching TV, she crawled up into my lap and onto my chest as if to find a place of comfort. I knew she was in bad shape, but I just couldn’t bring myself to put her down. She was my baby!

In November 2009, Tobie was very ill and I knew it was a matter of hours before she passed. I had checked on her throughout the night and at three o’clock in the morning, I heard her cry out. I went to check on her and she was in the throes of death. My heart was broken, my sweet friend had passed on to heaven.

Sometimes, when I least expect it, I can feel a bump on the end of my big toe. My other two cats are either asleep or in another room, so it isn’t them bumping my foot. Tobie was good about doing that when she was alive and beyond the shadow of a doubt, I know it’s her letting me know that she is all right.