It is part of my job to send an email to all the families and team members who were part of a Legacy Retreat when someone from that retreat passes away. Sometimes I feel like I am sending out one of those death notification emails every day. It is overwhelming at times. There is so much loss. The loss of someone’s husband or wife. The loss of someone’s mom or dad. That person was someone’s daughter, sister/brother, friend co-worker. But, those of us who have served many IoH families have served some families that, even though they may be at the very end of their earthly life, they still have SO MUCH life.
Inspirational Christian Writings
Originally written in September 2010, Kristen’s words hold true a decade later.
I just heard Jonny Diaz's "Waiting Room" on the radio for the first time. With another major surgery approaching and the thought of hours waiting for the results, the lyrics immediately captured my attention:
Here in this waiting room yearning for You to say go
And though I’m convinced that a yes would be best
This time You’re telling me no
It's not that I don't have an answer
It's just not the one that I'd like
But through this time Lord I must keep in mind
You're always wiser than I
Good morning everyone! I’m going to begin our time by reading just 5 words from a Bible verse. In Philippians 1:12, Paul is writing about something bad that happened to him, and he says, “What has happened to me...”
Before we see exactly how Paul continues, what about us? Has anyone here ever had something bad happen in your life? If you’ve been living on planet earth in 2020, then the answer is yes. We’ve all had the bad experience of a pandemic happening to us.
How do we respond to that? What do we say? We might say things like "What has happened to me/us…
- has messed up our plans"
- has messed up our finances"
- has stressed our relationships"
- has messed up our work"
- has messed up our entertainment"
- has messed up our sense of control"
We are Inheritance of Hope. So, I was pondering: what is hope? If you ask most people about hope, they will tell you about their dreams. I hope to retire with enough money to live comfortably. I hope my kids grow up to be happy and healthy people. We think of hope as a maybe. I hope it doesn’t rain this weekend. We think of the word hope as a synonym for wish or want. Usually our false pursuit of hope is focused on a pain-free life without any suffering. But here we are, walking very realistically into people’s suffering with terminal illness. So, as we ponder our purpose here, are we offering an Inheritance of “I hope so”? I hope not! That kind of hope is disappointing. So, what is hope for us, who call ourselves Christians?
No one was there for me when I needed them! How many times have you heard or said this? When the Apostle Paul was in prison and his friends in Philippi weren’t there for him, you have to wonder if he was tempted to feel this way. If you were in prison, especially for a just cause, I imagine you’d expect your friends to be there for you. It seems like the time you’d need them the most! If they didn’t come through for you, you’d likely feel let down and like they must not have really cared about you. Paul shows us a different way to respond, though.
I’m going to start off by telling you about a family we served. This family went on the California retreat in August of 2018. The mama of this family passed away about 6 weeks ago. And a few weeks after she died, the dad texted this:
“Isn’t it hard for you to get to know so many people that end up passing away? And after asking you that, we couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity it was to come out to Cali and spend time with you and everyone else. I was texting Jon [their volunteer] and told him when I get things settled and in a routine I wanted to volunteer and give back to some families. Jon, Olivia, you, Brian... you will be lifelong friends for us. The experience you provide is priceless.”
As we get ready to meet and serve so many families, what a joy it is to see and spend time with so many wonderful people on this amazing team. Everything we do well happens because of great teamwork, and that is true of these coming days, full of new ways of serving. I know there’s curiosity about how we’re serving these families, and we’ll certainly be sharing a lot of that. I want to kick us off, though, by emphasizing why we’re serving these families.
To illustrate the importance of why, think back with me, deep into history... to that time long ago when sports were a big deal. Can you remember that? Remember when sports even happened?!
Prayer--whether private or public, poetic or plain, we need it. In times of both praise and pain, the truest prayers humble us and connect us with our creator who loves us. Since 1952, presidents from both sides of the aisle have designated a national day of prayer to be held each spring. Now, when we see more than ever just how deeply we are connected and how tenuously we are tethered to this life, may we pray together as people, not as members of a particular religion or political party. It is time to pray humbly, lovingly, and hopefully, following the directive of Mahatma Gandhi that “Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.”
I would like to share perhaps a familiar verse, but one that I love that I want to encourage us all with!
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. -- Matthew 11:28-30
Basically, a yoke is a piece of wood that is used to hold two animals together in order to plow fields for a new season of crop planting. Jesus’ audience would have recognized and completely understood exactly what a yoke is and what a yoke does. They would know that a yoke is not a light and easy thing to bear. It bears weight...a lot of weight! They also would know that stronger oxen were matched with weaker or younger oxen in order to help it become stronger without overwhelming it. The stronger ox bears most of the weight, yet the two oxen are in step together sharing the load, doing the work together.