“The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have and so I put my hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
Sunrises and sunsets remind me of my friend, Julie. Even before she passed away, if I saw a great one, she would come to mind because I knew how much she loved them too. And Herefords. She was a Hereford gal too. During the beginning and ending of the days when God blesses us with a vibrant sky full of oranges, reds, blues, pinks and purples, I feel connected to her even more. It’s been over a year since cancer took her from us. I found a journal entry I had written from that time. I poured my heart out in sorrow for the loss I felt, as well as recalled all the wonderful memories I had of her. Julie touched so many lives with her presence. My family holds memories from growing up showing cattle with her kids, and playing with their outgrown toys at her house while she and I chatted over hot coffee. She was full of grace and hospitality. A capable cattlewoman, doting wife and mom, and loyal friend. There are times when something has happened in our life, and I catch myself thinking, “Julie would love that. I need to share this with Julie.” Grief really is an interesting process. It comes in waves. I’ve heard that before and now have experienced it in a way as never before. When the tears come, I pray. I pray for comfort in my sadness, for Julie’s family as they carry on without her, and that I can be a friend to others like Julie was to me. This world could use more Julies.
In that same journal entry, I also summarized a Bible study chapter friends and I had been studying. We were working through Kelly Minter’s All Things News, which I highly recommend.
I know there are times where I feel very close to God (studying his Word, having quiet time, listening to a song, talking with others about Him.) But, I don’t always channel that closeness with Him when my kids have just burst through the front door after school, backpacks strewn everywhere, cabinets opening/closing as they look for snacks, everyone talking and trying to tell me about their day. At that point, God feels the farthest thing from me. It’s noisy and very real. But, he’s there. And this is when I need the Holy Spirit to speak my words and guide my actions more than anything.
In 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Paul gives us five commands; rejoice, become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind and be at peace. He encourages us to live at peace and love one another.
It’s in this life we lead that the truths we’ve learned throughout 2 Corinthians are really played out. Corinth was an ancient city, but not that different from our world today in terms of temptations and what challenges we face. Are we relying on God’s power in our weakness and His grace during our trials? Do we give freely with open hearts in our time, talent and treasure? Do we reach out to others within our circles and beyond for fellowship?
The overall theme in this study is to see God in our lives, not just the times when we’re studying His Word, focused on him, but when we’re in the trenches.
The Corinthians longed for proof of Christ’s power. I think we still do too. Do I look for proof of God’s goodness only when things in my life are favorable or in material blessings? Kelly points out that the proof of Jesus’ hand on our lives isn’t only in big money, big deals, fame and big dreams coming true, but also in giving grace to the unlovely, reaching out in faith when we’re scared to death, forgiving, and hearing words of affirmation to our broken hearts.
We are all on our own spiritual growth journey. I need to show grace before punishment, to give benefit of the doubt before judgement, and to see the good of others as more important than personal gain.
Moments, such as experiencing a sunrise or sunset, cause me to pause. I feel a closeness with my Creator as I take in the beauty of the sky before me. This simple pleasure grounds me when the world is rather loud, distracting, and messy. I miss her so much, but am thankful for the encouraging, faithful example Julie set for me; I will never forget her. I’m grateful for quiet mornings and nights on the ranch to stop and appreciate this life I’ve been given. I pray for the Holy Spirit to continue guiding me through this journey.