My daughter recently sent me a video of my grandsons snuggled in close to her, watching a scene from the movie Dumbo. The soft words touched my heart and I couldn't help but cry. Dumbo's mother was singing a lullaby that my sister in law Amy used to sing to her babies, and even to my own whenever she would rock them. "Baby Mine". I would watch her with each of them, rocking and singing that precious song with so much love in her eyes. What a feeling to be cradled in the arms of one who loves you so much, listening to those words.
I will never forget the day I sat in the dark, rocking her youngest, trying to sing that song but not getting past the lump in my throat. His sweet mother was gone. She would not be here to sing to him like she did to the others. Only 6 days old. My heart ached for this child. I wanted to hold him forever and take care of him and show him it would be ok. That he would never be alone.
I know I have written about this before, but death touches us all at some point, maybe even someone today. My heart wants to give you hope. I may never know why God chose to take Amy home to be with Him. I do know that it's awfully hard to get through the hurt and trust His plan. Sometimes we can't seem to get past the anger we might have or the depression, sadness and even fatigue. It's hard to see Jesus through the darkness our souls feel, but those are the times we need to look for Him the most. When we're alone in the dark. When we can't get past the lump in our throats to speak to Him. When the pain seems almost unbearable and we don't want to move on. I also know that Heaven became a little sweeter to me that day and every time I lose a loved one, it only gets sweeter and sweeter. A homecoming awaits, and when I hear songs about heaven they mean so much more to me now. Every time I read God's words about the streets of glory, my heart fills with comfort and joy and I smile, thinking of them all there. I also know that even in that darkness, I am never alone. My loving Father is holding me with so much love in His eyes and just like an infant cradled in His arms, I should trust in His care. Secure and loved. Never alone. Taken care of forever.
The words to that old lullaby from Dumbo have so much more meaning to me now because I know that my Heavenly Father is singing those precious words to me....."Baby mine, don't you cry. Baby mine, dry your eyes. Rest your head close to my heart, never to part, baby of mine."
I'm a Martha trying to be a Mary.
Bear with me if you already know this Bible story. Two sisters. The first, Martha~I can picture it all in my head. She wants everything perfect. The house, the food, the music, the atmosphere. A Pinterest worthy post. As the day goes on and the arrival of guests gets closer, the stress levels rise.
Then there's Mary~carefree and excited. Maybe laying on her bed, scribbling into a well worn notebook all the questions she wants to ask her Guest. Smiling just knowing that whatever His answers are, they will be just what she needs to hear. In her excitement she finally sits at His feet, soaking up every word. Forgetting everything else. In the mean time, Martha is hot, tired, stressed and angry at her sister for not helping her at all. I am Martha. I am Martha trying to be a Mary.
As soon as I typed those words, I knew what my problem was. "I'm trying". Me. Myself. I don't think Mary was purposely being unhelpful. She probably didn't think twice about what she was doing, she just knew she was in God's presence and didn't want to miss one word. In the heat of the moment though, Martha could only think about her self. Because I am so much a Martha, I suspect that all the hard work of the day had nothing to do with her Lord and more to do with the praise of men. Deep inside she wanted it to be for the Lord, but she just couldn't get past the idea that everything would be a reflection on her. Which in turn took away the reflection of Christ and His glory. She was so stressed over perfection that she forgot Him. She neglected to sit at His feet
I don't know how often I have read this story through the years and become Team Martha. I relate to her 100% and roll my eyes at Mary. I have argued with myself and maybe with God, saying in my mind-"what's wrong with trying to have everything perfect?." But God always shows me why I'm wrong. It becomes wrong when our service isn't about Him. When we work and work and work~whether at home or at our jobs or at church or in ministries~ until we feel like we have nothing left to give, and then get angry inside because no one else is helping. We are the only ones. We begin to feel sorry for ourselves. If we aren't careful bitterness can arise and a prideful heart, believing we are somehow right with God because of all our hard work, when in reality it's all about us. If we were truly doing it all for Christ to begin with, we would do it with joy and our hearts would sing at the idea of doing something for our Savior.
Perhaps Mary was a little in the wrong as well. If Christ has allowed you time on this earth, you should always be looking for opportunities to serve Him, not just to sit and warm up a pew on Sunday mornings. At the same time, let me give you a piece of advice. Don't be a Martha trying to be a Mary and don't be a Martha pretending to be a Mary. Trying to act carefree yet spiritual when deep down inside the stress of everything around you has you in knots. Be that woman who starts her day serving at her Savior's feet. Spending time with Him and asking Him to use all the work of your hands for His glory alone. It will change your life. You will find joy in serving, no matter what the task. After all, you aren't really ever working alone, He is working right along side you. Be you. You with your Savior.
Share a moment of the past with me today and take a trip back in time, back to the time of our Pilgrims. Try to imagine leaving everything you love to travel to an unknown world. Imagine the worry of possibly losing your husband or your child on the way. Imagine never seeing home or family again. Imagine a passion for God that burns in your heart so deeply that you would be willing to do all of this for Him and the monumental trust you would have to put in God alone and His goodness.
I'm kind of a history nut. I absolutely love it, and my passion is everything Pilgrim. God gave me a special heart for this time in our history. It just speaks to me. This past week God blessed me with the opportunity to visit the homes of some beautiful people in Massachusetts and to also visit Plimoth Plantation. It is drenched in the history of our beginnings and when you walk through the gates of Plimoth you are transported back to the time of our Pilgrims. I wanted to soak up every word each pilgrim spoke and I wanted to touch every piece of furniture. To actually touch a piece of furniture at Pilgrim hall that our Pilgrims owned and to see the pieces that they left behind is absolutely amazing to me but as much as I love the furniture of that period, their furniture wasn't their legacy. Their things weren't important to them. God was. God alone. He was everything to them. They left us a heritage. They showed us thanksgiving to God despite every trial they endured. They showed us a love for His Word that was incomprehensible. They showed us what knowing God personally was all about.
Now take another trip with me to the future. This time look into the eyes of your children or maybe even your grandchildren and look into their future, not your own. When you look up from your computer, your cell phone or laptop, look at everything around you. What do your children see? What will your grandchildren see? What legacy and heritage are you leaving behind for them? What will they remember was most important to you? What will they remember about you? Many of our "things" won't stand the test of time but God's Word will always, always stand the test of time. Your passion for God and His Word can change the future of your children and grandchildren.
I am absolutely sure our Pilgrims had no idea that 400 years later Charisse Goforth's life and perspective would be forever changed by them. I have learned so much from them. Continued thankfulness despite continued heart ache. Perseverance. Faith. Trust in God. A tremendous love for His Word and most important a love for God that cannot be compared. That's what I want my children and grandchildren to remember about me. That's the legacy I want to leave behind. Everything else is only wood, hay and stubble. I cannot take it with me but I will strive to be a Pilgrim on this journey for a better tomorrow. A hope. A faith. A burning love for God that can change lives for generations to come.
I'm that mom that cried from Pensacola, FL all the way to Ohio (if I'm honest, it was probably Michigan) after dropping my firstborn off at college. With each one of my children I pretended to be strong and told them how awesome they would do and how much fun they would have. With each of them I stayed strong as we said our goodbyes because I could see the tears forming in their eyes and I could hear their voices becoming shaky. Let me tell you something ladies, the minute we were out of sight, the tears came~and they came and they came. My heart was screaming inside. "I'm not ready! They're not ready! I have so much more I want to teach them! This isn't right, it can't be right to have to say goodbye like this!" Except for the occasional sob, my poor husband drove in silence for miles. The very day my third child (and only son) went off to college for his first year, my oldest daughter got married. I barely had time at the wedding to tell him goodbye as he drove away and minutes later I was saying goodbye to my firstborn as she drove off with her husband. As happy as I was for this new chapter in their lives, I'm pretty sure I cried myself to sleep that night. It didn't get any easier and as hard as I thought that was, seeing my granddaughter go off for her first day of preschool sent the same ache through my heart. Yes I'm that hysterical mother and grandmother.
At the time each of my children left, I had no idea what the future held. I was sure that my Michigan raised daughters would meet someone from across the country (or another country) and I would never get to see them again, except for maybe the occasional Christmas visit. This was it. The end of their childhood as I knew it. God was smiling down on me that whole time. As I cried and told Him how desperately I wanted His will for their life~ "but it's JUST. SO. HARD. God!" ~kept coming out of my mouth, and yet He smiled. When my eldest got her first apartment with her husband, 3 hours away, He smiled. When my son took a pastorate job 3 hours away (and I did let the tears fall as I said goodbye) He smiled. When my baby told me she would be living in FL after her college graduation, He smiled. Yes, God's plans are not our plans and as that hysterical mother (I think I cried the entire year my youngest was a senior in high school) cried out to God, He heard me and He smiled. And so, I fixed my thoughts on Him. I prayed for my kids and I knew deep down that they could never, ever be happy outside the will of God. Even though I had no clue, God knew that one day they would all be ministering here at Calvary Baptist with us (and now I'm crying again). Moms, it can be so hard to trust that our children are truly seeking God's will and if we are honest with ourselves, it can be hard to trust God, but if we don't~ we WILL not, we CAN not~ ever have the peace that passes all understanding. Don't be fooled into thinking that your will is God's will for their lives. Give your kids to God. I mean really truly hand them over to Him and then trust Him with their future.
Today you might be watching your own senior drive away for her final year of high school. Today you might be saying goodbye in front of a dormitory. Today you might be standing to a wedding March as your baby becomes joined to another. Today you might be hugging your grandchild as their tiny feet take them into school for the very first time. God understands exactly what your heart is screaming. Trust Him completely. Let Him hush your heart's cries, realizing He holds their future and knowing that whatever that future holds, He is smiling down on it because you gave that future to Him.