Monday, April 18, 2011
Today you are 38. As birthday's come and go, often times we find ourselves trying to dismiss the idea of another year older. While that is custom for folks our age, I just want to say that I wish it was not so...You are just now beginning to blossom into the mature intelligent graceful woman God has called you to be...and I have never been more proud of you in my life of knowing you. I have seen you climb some very difficult hills and slide down some you have already crested.. but that is life I guess. You make me a very proud husband and father for the way you handle each day that is thrown at you. Tirelessly going to work and leaving your family behind despite your longing desire to stay home. You rarely complain and stay up all night and still you find time to be with your kids, bake some cakes and spend some time with me at lunch, the gym and the small errands we need to get done. You function on little to no sleep and for the most part keep a very cool and calm head. I am often inspired by the way you keep your self together all the while juggling all this..Let me also express how very proud I am of you for how well you have done with your weight loss and exercise training. You are relentless with the discipline you have displayed since Thanksgiving. I must say I am not really all that surprised at how well you have done but I am inspired to be sure. You reached a milestone just today reaching a weight you have not see in some years and I know that is fuel for continued hard work, sweat and toasted muscles.
I want you to know that I love you and cherish for who you are. I feel like the most privileged man on earth to be your husband and partner. I am so Thankful and grateful for God placing you in my life and nothing brings me more joy on this side of heaven than to be in your presence. You are my best friend and despite my many faults and misgivings, you stick by my side and you believe in me like no one ever has. I am blessed beyond measure and never want to take for granted the joy you have brought into my life thru your own person, our beautiful children and the soft spirit to which I see displayed often.
God Bless the broken road
that has led us both right here,
many days seemed like to much
but together we faced our fear
Smiles, laughter, accomplishments and joys
tear, sadness, disappointment and woes
both of which have shaped us profoundly
more than anyone really knows
Thru the various trials of life
we have been tossed around a bit
looking back on all those moments
has affirmed our perfect fit
By Gods own hands
You were made for me
I was once alone and in darkness
but now I am able to see
The endless wisdom of our maker
His hands have crafted just for me
A woman who captures the very essence
of what love was always meant to be
38 years ago this day
God brought you in this place
almost 20 years ago
He revealed your gorgeous face
You are my soul mate
One crafted ever so sweet
and Oh how His power reigns
the day He allowed us to meet
No words can ever express
my deepest and longing endeavor
that is to live my life
with you forever and ever !!
Happy Birthday my wonderful friend, partner, wife !!
Monday, January 17, 2011
Here is what I have discovered and not at all something I am proud of..I am the Lukewarm Christian, going thru the motions because that is all I FEEL like doing, taking my life for granted, often being upset with God for my circumstances. Contentment..what is that. ? I used to long for contentment and feel like wherever I was that is where I was suppose to be but for the last few months (many months) I have become discontent and that has spawned an awful spiral in my life, my time with God, my time in the Word and Prayer. Intellectually I can see this taking place but in my heart there has been no resolve to stop it and get control of the tailspin. It is a very weird thing to know what is going on and care nothing about really changing it. It is frustrating and discouraging. It seems Satan has a foothold on me all the while me not really caring..thinking that someday I will just shake him off and things will return to normal.. Big Mistake. I have written blogs in the past about the power Satan has in this world and about what kind of adversary he is..yet in my own little world, I have seemed to reject this notion that "I" can wrestle with him and leave the match unscathed. That is exactly where Satan is most dangerous, when we feel he is not as powerful as he really is. This leads me to my point........
I have this faucet in my kitchen that I tried to repair some 10 months ago and for the most part I did fix it but just not the way it was suppose to be. See no matter how long I would wait after I turned the lever to the left for hot water it would never get really hot..in fact it would barely get warm..I would wait and think well it is just needs time to travel from the heater to the faucet, or it is just cold outside and this is as hot (warm) as it will get. Each day I would turn the faucet to the left hoping for hot water and all I ever got was LUKEWARM Water..So I decided a few days ago to swallow my pride and take this faucet back apart and see if something was damaged, not right or just simply wore out. So I gathered my tools and I commenced to taking this thing apart piece by piece. I shut the water off, I disconnected the water lines, I loosened the bolts and I dismantled this thing to the core of it..I discovered a small tiny piece inside the faucet that was adjustable that regulated how far the lever would turn to the to left and to the right and to my chagrin I saw that the piece could be adjusted to allow a much further turn to the left which should in theory allow the water to move from LUKEWARM to Hot. So I slowly and carefully made the adjustment and put it all back together.. Water lines connected and now the time for testing..I pushed the lever up and all the way to the left and .....YES the water was not only hot, it was scalding..I did it. I fixed it..So how does this relate to my walk with Christ. You see, no matter how many times I got out of bed and wanted to be on fire for God intellectually, I was barely LUKEWARM. Waiting for my circumstances to change so I could Love God again the way I knew I should. Just like the faucet, nothing changed and still Lukewarm. It was not until I took the faucet apart down to its core and rebuilt it did it have an affect. My life is much the same. God is my creator and he has been trying to take me apart and rebuild me the way He knows I need, but I have stiffed armed him not allowing that to take place. Some parts of me need serious adjustment and repair and if I would just allow God to make those necessary repairs and adjustments, I could finally move from LUKEWARM to ON FIRE. Instead I have allowed the weeds to choke out my faith, my fuel, my desires...Just exactly what the Bible says will happen when we stray from the Word and try to do things our way. I would say to myself, I wished things were different. That is saying God I really dont trust you.. I would say, I need something good to happen to me. That is saying God you are not really sovereign. I would get upset at my circumstances and get angry with God. That is really saying that God doesnt really care about his children and what is best for them. See I have a serious infection in my life and it is called Self. I am like the worse cancer to my spiritual life. I can infect myself so badly that spiritual death can be imminent. My lukewarm state of being is a very sick state. If we let this continue in our life and refuse to deal with it, we will suffer the consequences and life that can be full of Joy and Peace will slowly move to Discontent and Despair. God is at work in my life and while I am not enjoying the pain associated with the work He is doing, I must cling to the promise that He is Good and that He is going to complete this work in me that He started. I must hold tightly to the promise that our Hope in Him does not disappoint. I have been bought with a price, a price so expensive that it would be unjust for God to send that sacrifice for me and then just let me be to myself not caring about me, my circumstances, my struggles.
So I have come to a place of repair, I am broken and need to be adjusted and just the like the faucet, I will once again be what I am supposed to be and that is a Soldier for Christ, loving Him, living for Him, Spending time with Him and then Letting that spill out of me like the broken clay pot I am. The three D's are not of the Father: Doubt, Discouragement, Despair and I will add one D....Discontent. So, I will resolve to reunite with my Lord and surrender totally to His will and to get out of the way so He can work in and thru me for His Glory. It is then I will find Rest for my Soul, pleasures forever more and Joy unspeakable.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I also want to make it clear that as a DAD, I have longed for this day, but honestly feel (felt) so unequipped to handle such a decision. What do I do? How do I know? What if I don't recognize the signs? What if I say the wrong things? What if I mess up such an important life altering event? But then....why not me? Why do I feel I need someone else (Pastor, etc) to be sure? I am the one who labors with her each and every day, training her in the admonition of the Lord, praying with her and for her... I mean, why not me? The Spirit came over me and said "now is the time, CJ is ready..she has been called to serve the One True God. I wanted to place this in here because I have to believe I am not the only Dad who has these questions but also feel like the reasons I had (have) such insecurities in this area is I have never seen this play out before and I have had NO experience with this in my childhood growing up..so it all seems so foreign to me yet so natural at the same time..My fear is in my humanity..in trying to put my words in where the Spirit wants His..To place my impressions on her where the Spirit wants His..and what I experienced was a Spirit led conversation without me much thinking about it when the actual time came..How good is our God.:)
So about a week ago, we (the girls and I) had this special moment one evening just before bed time as we read from Lilygrace's new purple Bible. This night was no ordinary night. As I talked about knowing God and being accepted into His Kingdom and How Big God was and powerful He is...that by His very voice, He can speak things into existence..No shovels, no armies, no tools..just His voice.. The more I talked, the more I could see CJ and Jaydin's face change..a true genuine concern came over them! They began to cry rather loudly and became very concerned about not going to Heaven..unlike anything I had ever experienced with them before..so I prayed fervently that night for the Lord to MOVE in their life, for the Lord to make it clear to them. I have to be honest, this was not the first time I prayed this for them, but this was the first time I prayed it with such a passion and earnest desire. CJ asked me " What if God doesn't call me?" and I explained to her that question would not even be asked if God was not working in your life preparing the way..So I wanted to intercede on her behalf and seek God out to give her the assurance she was desperately seeking. So each day after this night, I could see something was bothering CJ, but when I asked her what might be wrong, she would shake her head (as to signal nothing) and say "nothing"...but then a tear would slip out of her eye and roll down her cheek. I admit I was puzzled. I could not understand why CJ would not open up to me and tell me what was bothering her. I was careful not to press for fear of causing her to shut down further..but I truly began to worry she was hiding something so large she could barely contain it..She was not herself..Her eating patterns had changed, she all of sudden wanted to sleep with us (which is highly out of her character), her playtime seemed dull and drab and dis interesting..so it was clear, something was going on...AS the father of a young girl, all sorts of thoughts came to my mind..thoughts that frightened me and touched nerves I did not know existed..thinking someone has harmed my daughter and then finally Sunday, May 23, 2010 came! This morning in church, I noticed again more tears streaming down the cheeks of her precious face as we sang..and I had never seen her cry at church before so this again caused me concern and caused me to think..what is bothering her..maybe after church today I will try and talk to her again.. We went out to lunch at Ruby Tuesday's after church and all seemed very normal. We got home and her neighbor friends were playing outside in the sprinkler in bathing suits and that got them excited..CJ went outside and after about 10-15 minutes she came back in and sat beside me and we began to watch this movie on TV..Once again, I saw a tear slip out and roll down her face, so I asked her to to come sit on my lap and she immediately came to me.. I asked " Honey, can you please tell me what is bothering you?"...I was determined to not let "nothing" suffice..and so she finally began to open up..
She said " I have been having these visions and they are really scaring me"..I thought to myself "visions???" and I asked her to explain. She finally said "that something has happened to me and I don't know what you would do"...LIGHT BULB. It all began to make sense to me..I remembered in a conversation that night I spoke of earlier where I had told her that I did not know what I would do if something would happen to her and she had not accepted Christ and chose to delay that for fun in this world.. That was my subtle way of trying to express the urgency of the decision of living for Christ..that no tomorrow is guaranteed to us and so as soon you knew for sure, don't wait..She had been thinking non stop about this conversation and about being sure she was going to heaven..worried sick to the point of visions of not going to Heaven and not ever knowing Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. So we talked about 2 hours or so and I shared with her what I felt the Spirit wanted me to share..and then it dawned on me..This was it..!! Now is the time..She is ready and so I asked her "Do you want to pray and accept to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior and to receive full assurance of your place in Heaven..to be saved from your sinfulness...and she just lost it and broke down in a loud sobbing cry and the word YES came from her distraught little voice, intermingled with sniffs and snobs..
So we prayed right there in that moment to receive Christ and she repeated after me and hearing those words come from her mouth was truly an amazing experience..one I will never forget..How awesome is our God!! I shared with her all the wisdom God had given me in hopes that I could pass on some of what I have come to know..
Salvation has come!! Assurance in Heaven was finally hers! I could immediately see the peace of that decision and assurance come over her. So the journey begins!! She has been given new life and a new heart. My prayer for her is that she runs the race with endurance all the way to the end, placing all her hope and trust in Him who saved her...that she would surrender ALL of herself to Him and SERVE Him to Glorify Him!
NOTE: We had previously scheduled an appointment to meet with Pastor Clay (children's pastor at Parkwood) on June 1 at 3:45 to actually talk about this due to the way that night went I spoke about in the beginning..but it seems God was not willing to wait. I guess we will make known to Pastor Clay of her decision and make this known to the Church Body in a public profession and then seek to baptize her in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
A very special day in the Bailey family..:) :) :)
Thursday, February 11, 2010
God in Loving Pursuit
"You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?"(1)
C.S. Lewis, the most reluctant and dejected convert in all England, penned this now famous and oft-quoted account of his conversion. Unlike some who decided to follow Jesus with urgency and willingness of heart, Lewis came into the Kingdom of God kicking and screaming! While some of us resonate with Lewis’s dread of conversion, most of us, like the Prodigal Son, gladly pursued the path home.
Lewis’s reluctant conversion fascinates me, but I am even more moved by the glimpse into God's character his story affords. For Lewis reminds us of the love of God that relentlessly pursues even the reluctant prodigal who would turn and run in the opposite direction in order to avoid God’s gracious embrace. The God revealed in Lewis’s account is a God who pursues sinners. Indeed, even the reluctant convert is wooed, courted, and embraced by God’s love.
The apostle Paul often talked about the love of God for sinners. In what is perhaps the apex of his letter to the Romans, Paul writes: "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates God’s own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of the Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Romans 5:1-11).
Paul’s progressive description of our condition before God reveals the depths of God’s love. First, Paul notes that God’s love pursued us "while we were still helpless." Then, Paul states that God loved us “while we were yet sinners,” and finally, God loved us and reconciled us even "while we were enemies." Indeed, Paul insists on God's great love towards even the vilest offender through the life and death of Jesus. He doesn’t make this claim as one who stands removed from the vilest offender. Indeed, he identifies himself as one who found mercy as the foremost sinner of all: "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all."(2)
But Paul's recognition of God's grace didn't end with himself. As Paul grasped the depths of God’s reconciling love in his own life, it led him to proclaim that same reconciliation for others. To the Corinthian church he wrote, "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
In reflecting on the reconciling work of God in Christ, scholar Miroslav Volf draws a pointed application: "God does not abandon the godless to their evil but gives the divine self for them in order to receive them into divine communion through atonement, so also should we-whoever our enemies and whoever we may be."(3) As we reflect on our own standing before God, our own inclusion into God's gracious love, may we not be reluctant converts blind to the depths of our own reconciliation. Rather, may our common heritage as sinners move us to pursue others as God has pursued us.
Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
From each sermon at church, my private study of Colossians, my preparation for leading the Spiritual Disciplines Class, my reading of "My Utmost for His Highest", to listening to pastors on the radio...ALL of them are pointing me to this one key concept - TO KNOW HIM.. Now I can understand how that doesn't sound either profound or unique..however might I suggest that very few of us actually comprehend this to the level to which we are capable..Let me explain a little further..
*Our pastor Jeff Long was preaching on the Trinity this past Sunday and made the comment that God the Father, Christ the Son and The Holy Spirit were full of JOY before we ever we created..and that He (God) did not create us to make Him more happy or feel better..So Why then? SO that we could know Him..
*Spiritual Discipline Study I am preparing for right now is about the different disciplines in which to become more Christ like..to attain godliness..Each of the disciplines such as Bible Intake, Prayer, Service, Fasting, etc are all for us to be able to Know God more..Not to earn God's favor or to be a better Christian..But to be more Christ like is to know Him
*My Utmost for His Highest" says on Feb 16th devotion "The inspiration of Spiritual Initiative" and he quotes Ephesians 5:14 " Arise from the dead"..We all have a number of visions and ideals when we are young, but sooner or later we find we have no power to make them real. We can not do the things we long to do and we are apt to settle down and count them as dead..and God has to come and say "Arise from the dead". When the inspiration of God does come, it comes with such miraculous power that we are able to arise from the dead and do the impossible thing. God does not give us overcoming life...He gives us life as we overcome..!!
* In my study of Colossians chapter 1 verse 11 says " strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with JOY". God will give you everything you need to deal with whatever you are facing..It is promised here and in other places throughout Scripture..2 Peter 1:2-4, John 10:10, Matt 11:28-30 are just a few
So after reading, hearing and meditating on all this recently revealed information... it became clear like the stars on a cool summer night..I felt the Holy Spirit move in me to bring it all home..To complete the particular work of wisdom that He desired for me to fully comprehend..and it culminates in this part of Scripture John 14:19-24...The indwelling of the Father and the Son..and there are two verses in particular that were just illuminated beyond all others for me..Verse 21 " The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him." . Don't miss this!!!!!!!!!..I also will love him and REVEAL MYSELF to Him...God wants for us to know Him and He desires to reveal Himself..but there is a key concept that many a Christian today totally miss.. The one who has My commands and KEEPS them..Folks this is not new but is certainly profound for our Western viewpoint of Christianity..We think it OK to attend Church, participate in bible study, tithe and maybe a some service...but intertwine that with an occasional trip to the club, an occasional gossip about a fellow brother or sister, a swipe at another church or past church, moving in with the girlfriend or boyfriend, committing adultery in the heart when we lust after another, etc etc etc..Now I am not saying we have to be perfect...in fact that has nothing to do with what I am getting at..What I am saying is this...GOD wants for us to surrender to Him..Totally and completely..Not 90%, or 95%..and when we do offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) then God will reveal Himself to you and Life will take on a totally new meaning...The desire to follow God begins to rule and reign in your heart so that any ungodliness in our lives convicts us to such a degree that it is ceased immediately....See what most of us do (including myself) is we merely nibble on what God has to offer..We are not willing to go all out for God for various reasons... Time, priority, embarrassment, whatever..and when we hold back on God. He cant allow Himself to be fully revealed...because we are not keeping His commands..What we are doing is age old in America..We say (and mainly to ourselves not to other people)..I am mostly good..I do way more good that right..and we find people to compare ourselves against to help make us feel better about the life we are living..when our only comparison should be against Jesus Christ..The only model we should follow..and when we truly see how we stack up against Christ, we begin to see our total depravity and need of His Grace and Mercy..If we compare ourselves against another person, we will find someone who we know we are better than and then we justify our behavior in that manner..losing our sense of depravity and our total dependence on Christ and the Mercy and Grace we absolutely need..and we carry on about life thinking none the more about truly KNOWING GOD..We would rather place God on this high mantel and call on Him and pray to Him..but truly Knowing Him is just for those really religious people if He can be truly known at all..
Then the other verse of that John 14:19-24 is verse 23..I love how The Message captures this verse..it says "If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we'll move right into the neighborhood!". Can we imagine for a second what it would mean to have God in our neighborhood..What this is saying..to me at least is ....God will be as real to you as if he were your next door neighbor whom you wave at on a regular basis..He will no longer be this distant deity who only governs the cosmos..but rather a close friend, companion, confidant..Someone who can calm the most ferocious of storms and lift you up out of the most desolate pits..The actual Scripture reads(ESV) "23Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.".
Here is where the Spirit unlocked my understanding..This all comes with a catch..The catch is we must KEEP HIS WORD..We must abide in Him only. Not this world or not what this world says or deems acceptable..We have a very special book to filter everything through..and it is sufficient and capable of bringing clarity to any and all circumstances and situations..No one is afforded the "right" to step outside of Scripture to suit themselves...if you do, you will never know what it means to KNOW God..
We we all wonder why things don't go as we want or the peace that we are after is just not there or why the world is SO debased..Those who truly LOVE God will not compromise....They will abide in Him and they will experience a JOY so astonishing that nothing, and I mean NOTHING in this world can compare to..There will be no need to try and please the flesh any longer because it is so far from pleasing when compared to the TRUE JOY of Christ dwelling inside you..
One last point..You will not Fool God nor manipulate Him..You will not be able to just say I love Christ and want to follow Him and still act like the world and do things you know are against His commands..He will not be fooled into revealing himself..ONLY to those who keep His commands..and He will test your outward appearance..to see if what you say is what you truly believe..Gen 22..Abraham was asked to take His most precious of things to sacrifice before GOD..to see where Abraham's loyalty and Faith was truly placed..and Abraham believed so much that he took Issac up on the mountain and took his knife and stretched out his hand to slay his son...WHY? because He had total Faith in God and felt if he did kill his son, God would raise him from the dead..He placed nothing before God Almighty not even his own son.. What do we put before God..Our job, our kids, our freedom, our vices, our time, our spouses..NOTHING belongs ahead of GOD..He wants and desires to reveal Himself to us and for us to get to know the JOY and LOVE that is God himself ...for that is why He created us..Don't count on this world to provide joy and love..It cant..It never could..It never will..You will always come up wanting when placing your desires before God..Give God everything and watch what happens to your life..Unspeakable Joy, uncompromising Peace, Unending Love and forever a changed person..Don't believe me?..Then try it yourself..Please don't take my word for it..Give God your all and see what happens..God doesn't break promises..Get to Know Him personally and when God truly reveals Himself to you..There will be no doubt as evidenced by your life..It will change you from the inside out..If you are not experiencing this then you are holding back..If there is no fruit in your life, then you have yet to experience the God of the Bible...because when you come into direct contact with El Shaddai..He will forever change who you are, what your priorities are and what direction your life takes on..You will have no other desires except for those that bring Glory to Him..
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
A small article towards the back of a People magazine told the story of a little girl named Ashlyn.(1) She was described as an incredibly happy child, eager and energetic. According to her mother, Ashlyn has the best laugh in the world, and according to her kindergarten teacher, she fearlessly goes headfirst into everything. In many ways she is a typical, lovable five year-old. But Ashlyn is one of only 50 people in the world with a genetic condition that leaves her unable to feel pain. She can feel touch and be tickled, but she cannot sense pain or extreme temperatures.
Ashlyn's parents are used to being asked why such a condition is daunting news at all. Their reply is one racked with the sting of experience: Pain is there for a reason. When she was a toddler, they had to wrap her with athletic tape because of all the damage she was causing to limbs that knew no fear. She has knocked eight teeth out and dug a hole in her eye without shedding a tear. She once came in from outside proclaiming she couldn't get the dirt off her skin. But it wasn't dirt. Ashlyn was covered with hundreds of biting fire ants.
It is hard to read such a story without coming away with the difficult conclusion that pain is necessary. Imagine not knowing when you have scalded your mouth on a hot meal or bit your tongue so badly that it bled. Imagine your child reaching out for the flickering light of a candle and not having the pain of burned fingers to reinforce your scolding plea not to play with fire.
The great majority of our philosophical frustration about pain is aimed at asking why a loving God would allow it in the first place. And yet, the closing lines of Ashlyn's story were the words of a heartbroken parent: "I would give anything, absolutely anything, for Ashlyn to feel pain."(2) Pain is the body's signal for danger, however severe or slight. It is a navigating force through unknown corridors of life, without which we find ourselves numb to reality, robbed of caution, and disoriented to the world. "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pain," says C.S. Lewis.
There is no doubt something wonderful about the thought of pain removed and eyes wiped dry. We are rightly comforted by the image of heaven as the place where God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. There is indeed much hope in the promise that there will one day "be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4). But perhaps there is also something wonderful about a God who gives us pain as a guide, an orienteer, a loud speaker.
There is a line uttered by the psalmist that has been comforting to my grandmother through many years. To God the psalmist confesses, "You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle" (Psalm 56:8, ESV). Tear-bottles were small urns of glass or pottery, created to collect the tears of mourners at the funeral of a loved one, and placed in the sepulchers at Rome and in Palestine where bodies were laid to rest. In some ancient tombs these bottles are found in great numbers, collecting tears that were shed with great meaning.
Perhaps equally comforting as knowing God will one day wipe away every tear from our eyes is the thought that God does not see our pain here as a pointless or empty occurrence. Just as our tears will be tended to in eternity, the psalmist reminds us that so our tears on earth do not go unnoticed. Our pain is not haphazardly viewed by the one who made tear ducts that spill over with grief and anguish. God has kept count of our sorrowful struggling; each tear is recorded as pain steeped with meaning. Like a parent grieving at a child's wound, God reaches out to you in—perhaps even through—your pain, speaking gently into your heightened sense of awareness. And with the Son who wept at the grave of Lazarus, God collects your tears in his bottle until the day when tears will be no more.
Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.