Today, every year is hard for my whole family. Me and my husband and kids, our parents (Zekey’s grandparents), our siblings (Zekey’s aunts and uncles). So, as I often do, I write my thoughts out. Where my head and heart are. It’s healing for me, and it brings me joy to keep sharing him with all of you- those who have followed our journey for 8+ years and those who are new.
Ash Wednesday: Sharing our Story together.
My husband and I were asked to speak at our church for Ash Wednesday as our church started the Lenten season- “An unlikely Path of Hope.”
I read the email that asked us and had to re-read it as I had never been asked to speak alongside Andy. He is so gifted and anointed. So Andy preached and I shared our story. It felt so good and right to do it together.
This was also a great honor and we didn’t take it lightly. The Lord showed up beyond what I could have imagined. He filled us all up as The Body of Christ in that room and equipped us to share the message of Hope and redemption. So many came up and hugged us afterwards, tear-filled eyes and said, “Thank you so much” or “Our church needed to hear this”
It confirmed, yet again, something God keeps calling me to- I, we need to keep sharing not just our story, but God’s character in the midst of suffering. While writing my talk out, I started to let fear or doubt or intimidation-like thoughts creep in. God always gives me the confidence I need in order to say things that may shake our [the] Church views of God and His character- who He is in the midst of suffering.
You can watch here by clicking: Ash Wednesday Service Andy starts at the 8:30 minute mark, then I go up, there is a song, and then Andy goes back up to close our time speaking. If the link doesn’t work, go to: HeritageCC.org and click on ‘sermons’, and find the “Ash Wednesday Service”.
Philippians: How God has used this book in this season.
Philippians has been the book of the Bible that God has drawn our family to, especially Andy and me. I started a Bible study at church from Jill Briscoe’s ‘Spiritual Arts’ book on Philippians and had no clue how often the Lord would use this book to speak to us.
Andy is currently working on a devotional through Philippians, and my study is over for now, at least meeting in person, due to the coronavirus. But up until even now, Philippians 3:21 has come up multiple times.
On October 30, 2019, I made a Facebook post after these verses jumped off the page: “I was reading these verses and I thought how much I’m so grateful that my Zekey no longer has a ‘weak, mortal body’. Those last months were so painful to watch as a momma. We begged that God would take him home. We begged because we stand on this promise, “He will take our weak, mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own.” Philippians 3:21″ And I looked at my watch and it was 11:19, Zekey’s birthday and I praise Him for that promise!”
I ended up closing my part of the Ash Wednesday Service with this verse and I want to break it down a little- as to what it means, and what I believe it is saying. I’ll start the passage in Philippians 3:12-21.
Paul is writing a letter, from jail (‘jail mail’ as Jill Briscoe calls it- which is one of the many reasons I love her…that silly humor) to the Philippians:
“12I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing; Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. 16 But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct (the way they act) shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. 20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak, mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”
We aren’t called to teach or encourage or talk about things of the Bible because or only when we have it all figured out. That’s the attitude Paul had. He knew he wasn’t perfect, none of us are, but He had a heart for the body of Christ, and although he was always writing from a place of suffering due to persecution (the kind of suffering God says will come if we follow him) it was because of his love for God’s people, and wanting the gospel to keep spreading so others would know of this Jesus that saves and is worth the suffering we encounter. Paul had not this life in mind, but the life eternal to come. Paul knew that this suffering would only be for awhile but the prize of heaven, we only gain because of Jesus’ gift of the cross, is what he longed for and I believe is a part of what kept him sharing the gospel, even with all the beatings and prison time he received for it.
Andy and I said that in the grand scheme of things, Zekey’s suffering (and in turn our suffering, watching him suffer) was minuscule compared to the glory of eternity in heaven. This doesn’t mean it meant nothing or that it wasn’t that big of a deal. No, it shook everything in our lives, for our family and those who love us and know us, but let’s look at the second part of verse 14:
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
We don’t have to, but we want to press on. We want to keep sharing the story of our hope and Zekey when asked, even if it rips our hearts out time and time again because we want to share ‘how’ we got through it and ‘Who’ got us through it and ‘why’ we long for heaven and home.
And this is for the people I love, I share this with you, our hope, our story, and these verses, because someone has to tell you…in love.
18 “For I have told you often, and I say it with tears in my eyes” (Paul’s compassion is so evident, and he is sold on the Truth of the gospel and desperately wants it for all of those who come into his life, and I can relate!) “that there are many whose conduct (or actions) shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god (notice it’s lower case- that means it’s not the One, true God, Yahweh) is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.”
A life that is lead by every desire we have, simply how we ‘feel’ in the moment, or about seeking spirituality in anything other than Jesus, is a life that is headed for destruction. If we are only thinking about this life on earth, we are in denial that something comes after this life. It’s either eternal life in Jesus, or destruction.
‘Enemies of the cross of Christ’. (verse 18) There are two kingdoms in this world, the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of darkness. We can only follow one. The Bible says we cannot serve two masters. Which one are you serving? One leads to life, the other to death.
For those of us in Christ (and ALL are welcome to join His family- Jew, Greek, Gentile, slave, free, black, white, foreigner, citizens or not!) Paul says,
20″ But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.” I like that- it ties us here on earth, with the saints (or other Christ-followers) who have gone before us, together. I love when verses remind us how even though we do not see our togetherness, Jesus is just a thin veil between us and is what connects us together.
And now, more than ever, with all the crazy and unknown going on with the coronavirus, I have heard so many friends and family say, “Come, Lord Jesus”…
“And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”
21″He will take our weak, mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own.” I know I’m excited for a new body, one that will not waste away, but will be ‘glorified’.
And that is what will happen for those in Christ! And this is where I rejoice in where Zekey is now, what he is experiencing and what I will someday experience.
He does this by “using the same power with which he WILL BRING everything under his control.”
God has the highest authority in the whole universe. We can rest in that. He promises that all will be made right someday and that the things we experience (the good and bad) will all be redeemed. Some here on earth, but all of it, in heaven one day.
Living Between Grace & Glory
We live between grace & glory– like the name of my blog 😉
Grace (the Cross): when Jesus died a criminal’s death, when all sins were laid on Him. He then conquered our sin and death by rising again. He did all of this for love. The ultimate act of Love.
Glory (Heaven): The glory of heaven promised to all of those that, no, not do enough good in this world (although that’s always a good thing!!) to ‘earn’ their way, but heaven is for those who realized they can’t save themselves. They can’t be ‘good enough’ to earn their way to heaven. For people who humbly admit, “I need a Savior” and will admit that until their dying breath- daily in need of a Savior. I am still reminded, in my daily failures, that I need Jesus to be enough because on my own, I am not.
So, we are living now after the Cross, but not yet in Glory to come. What does that mean for us?
The world is still full of sinful people, we all fall short. We all make mistakes and all of us are in need of a Savior. The world is still broken, even while Jesus promises He is making all things new.
I’m sure you know, we still experience heartache, we still deal with mental health issues, we still hear of mass shootings, war, natural disasters, murder and rape. This is all a part of a broken world that we still live in. In the last part of verse 21 “using the same power with which he WILL bring everything under his control.” Eventually, all things will be made right. All things will be as they were meant to be and no enemy of Christ will have room to rule in this world any longer. (John 14:30, 1 John 5:19)
We can live between grace and glory confidently and with hope and expectation that Jesus really is coming soon. And we trudge on even though it’s hard, and we do it together. We remember why we are here, sojourners passing through, with a purpose and a message to share with the world.
A letter to Zekey
Zekey, we all miss you. Every day we miss you. It’s fun to think of what you’re doing in Heaven, or what you’d be doing if you were still with us on earth, healthy. I love that somehow, Jesus has us connected, even now. All of us, ‘citizens of heaven’. I long for the day to see you again, so many of us here on earth do. Thank you for giving me a third of four reasons to be called ‘momma’. I love you, Zekey-Zoo-Zoo.
Until I join you,