Valid Grace for an Invalid Race

(Repost from 2011)

Two months ago I called my nephew for an update on my brother who was in ICU, following an emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder.  After a second surgery to stop his hemorrhaging, the surgeon told my nephew, “One of his systems is shutting down (they did not know which one, and could not go back in for a third surgery because of the risk with his heart); we will do all we can to make him comfortable.”

Jerry and I drove down that afternoon prepared for the worst. The second week of his stay at Upson Medical we went, again prepared for a funeral. My brother stayed in ICU for three weeks, during which time his kidneys and liver failed, blood circulation was cut off from his legs and feet, he suffered a mild heart attack, was given a form of morphine for pain, and antibiotics for infection. After being moved from ICU to a private room for a few days, he was moved to Roosevelt Rehabilitation Center in Warm Springs.

My nephew had told me about my brother’s toes turning black—gangrene was the result of a lack of circulation.  Their family doctor told us that it was possible that with dry gangrene my brother’s toes would simply dry up and fall off.  My nephew and I both thought that this was “ridiculous.”  We had never heard of such a thing. And I never wanted to see those toes—I had seen enough skin tissue turn black before Jerry had his leg amputated five years ago.

We visited my brother the day after he was moved to Warm Springs.  He was slumped in a wheelchair — the first time I had seen him out of bed. His feet were bandaged, but his black toes were exposed. Though I was standing in front of him and he was looking straight at me he still did not see me.  The shot the nurse had just given him for pain was so that they could get him back to bed and give him a bath, and since he still could not get in and out of bed on his own, he had to be moved with a lift.

I stayed for a while, but the nurse’s guess that he would be awake after his bath was wrong.  He was “out of it” and even though they only gave him a weaker pain reliever the next day, he still did not know that I was there.

Days later, my nephew related to me that he had watched the nurses turn his dad in the bed.  It was easy to hear the sadness in his voice when he said, “Aunt Fran, he’s an invalid.”  We have both come to realize that invalids can still live a productive life with the help of those who are stronger than they are.

We have very distinctly seen our prayers answered.  We did not pray for him to live except according to God’s will.  He would have been merciful to take him to Himself because of his former health problems.

My brother was moved to Providence Nursing Home in Thomaston on his 80th birthday, August 8, where he is still dependent on the nurses and a lift; but he is talking, feeding himself, going through rehab, and watching his toes gradually shrinking.

Thursday when I visited him, I thought again that I could avoid them; but no, I had to adjust his boots for him.  The nurses there have never seen such a “ridiculous” thing.

This thing of which many people have never heard has turned into a work of God’s grace for many to see.  When I visited him this week my brother related to me that “the Lord has kept me here; He must have something else for me to do.”The Fall
From the time of Adam’s disobedience, God’s records show the whole human race as “INVALID.”   We all were destined to be invalids after the Fall.  We are of no use to ourselves or anyone else; least of all to God.  We can’t even turn ourselves. “Dead in trespasses and sin” we are unable to even see, think, or speak anything that makes sense.

If my brother could “will” it, he would be on his feet, walking.  His toes are already in the grave.  But for the mercy and grace of God, his whole life would have been snuffed out.  We have enough evidence—according to the records—that he was at the point of death more than once.

All this has reminded me several times of the sufficient grace  — the powerful grace  — of our Father, His Son, and His Holy Spirit to do the impossible, the thing we cannot do.  We cannot save ourselves.  We cannot give ourselves “Life.”

We cannot even think of what that means, except by the working of His grace to effectually reveal our invalid condition, regenerate a new heart within us for a valid faith and repentance—by His own goodness turning us to Himself through the authority of His Word and the power of His Holy Spirit.

Our family would not choose to go through these episodes again.  I recall saying to my nephew when my brother got through the first week, “God has something to teach us here.”  My brother is not out of the woods yet, but the Lord has given us much of his valid grace to go on for a long time, and a greater desire to experience this grace for the rest of our lives—for His glory and our joy.

(The above article was posted ten years ago. My brother lived for five months after his gallbladder surgery, transported from rehab to a nursing home and from there back to the hospital where he died. His heart could not endure the necessary amputation of his toes.

We all learned much of God’s grace during those months. He led us by His grace to encourage my brother through his pain and tribulation. Losing my father with cancer, my mother with Alzheimer’s Disease, and enduring the years after Jerry’s amputation has given me the experience of the Lord’s valid grace. I have learned, especially in the last eight months, how very helpless we are.

We cannot help ourselves, but His grace is sufficient for all our needs, beginning with grace for the great salvation that keeps us close to Him for all times and eternity.)

Gracious Father, thank you for your amazing grace through Christ that saves us, dead in our sins and trespasses, keeping and bringing us through this world of trial and temptations with the hope of eternity with you. In Jesus’ name, I praise you. Amen.
Fran

A Year Worse than 2020?

2006 was a different year with different circumstances and the only reason I record the events here is as an archive for our family. So, if you who are reading, don’t like to hear how God brings His children to love and depend on Him more, you may want to skip this post.

The first six months of that year were the last for Jerry and me to care for my mother with Alzheimer’s disease. After four and a half years with us, she died on August 2 and was buried on August 7.

August 9, we learned our pastor and half the families in our church were moving to Tennessee ~ a drastic division in the church.

September 19, Jerry had an emergency by-pass surgery on his left leg.

October 24, his leg was amputated.

November 8, he came home from rehab.

For the remainder of the year, we waited for healing which did not happen until three years later, after another surgery to remove the graft inserted in the by-pass.

We experienced a physical and a spiritual amputation in our church that year that took years to reconcile. Recovery from both came about the same time as we were drawn closer to the Lord.

That was 2006. Fast-forward to 2020. 

On this day, fourteen years ago, I am recalling that day of amputation and the years that followed until Jerry’s death on June 1, five months ago.

Of the fourteen years, he did not walk for the first three years. As we waited for healing, he was fitted for a prosthesis but every time he tried to use it the wound opened.

After the last surgery, he still experienced spasms and pain, soreness and discomfort that he finally accepted. He used a walker for eight years as he was able. He drove again for about five years, until 2017 when he could no longer wear a shoe and resigned himself to a wheelchair for the last three years. During these three years, we knew the Father’s care through our church family and our children and their families.

The date, October 24, 2006, and the anniversary, startled me as I lay in bed this morning. I was frozen as I imagined how he faced that day until after 5:00 P.M. His life would no longer be the same. He was 70; I was 67. We were both still strong enough to face that trial physically. It was not until the week before his death, we understood how strong our heavenly Father had made us, spiritually.

All we lost was for our gain, for eternity.

He did not complain; I did not complain ~ we both learned to praise Him in all things ~ to establish and live by the Glad Rule our heavenly Father taught us. 

In his last days, Jerry would say, “I wonder what it will be like.”

Could he tell us, we might listen and take heed to what waits for us beyond this wilderness ~ and praise Him. 

Heavenly Father, thank you that you gave us a spirit of praise and thanksgiving. You showed us your grace, mercy, and glory in the middle of the worst times in this life. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that lives in your children to declare the love of Christ and your kingdom on this earth. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 
Fran

Image: Google

Everything New

The first morning Jerry was in ICU, Eyes of Agony were my thoughts for both of us. I could only record my thoughts, not his. When I saw him that afternoon, he acknowledged he was dying (his heart was losing its beat). He already had his share of suffering and did not want any help to remain here.

The second morning’s thought was completely different. “Everything New” seemed so strange in light of what was happening. What could this mean except the Holy Spirit’s insight for me to know that for Jerry everything would be new for him in heaven?

What about me?

I sensed an assurance that in the Lord’s timing, he would make all things new for me, too. I have to continually remember those thoughts.

The first month I had to settle a lot of things, transfer data to my accounts, and other things ~ social security, etc. There was no time to think of what had happened that week in the ER, ICU, and Hospice.

Last month I began taking care of things here in the home.

Sorrow came in spurts as if my heart was being sucked out of my chest. I felt I had died with Jerry.

A week ago and through my first birthday without him in 59 years, I was in a dark tunnel.

These feelings have been uncontrollable, making me know the truth of God’s Word from Lamentations 3:26 “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”

After days in the tunnel, I found myself on a deserted island. It was time for me to face the reality of being alone ~ but at least there was fresh air, blue skies, and vegetation. (The Glad Rule)I knew there had been others on the same island when I fell into a pit. It was shallow enough that I could have climbed out, but the small space was just right for my pitifulness.

Days later, I experienced what seemed a tidal wave so strong as to wash me out of the pit, off the island, and into the ocean ~ a sea of uncertainty.

I thought, “I have to walk on water or drown.”  Instead, I sensed a lifting and holding and later the ability to float. This has to be the result of many prayers for me.

At times I thought I would see land.

There is none in sight, yet. I am waiting, still dealing with the sorrow ~ but even in tears, to replace these thoughts with the promises of my heavenly Father and everything new He has planned.

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” Isaiah 41:10

“For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.” Isaiah 54:5

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Dear Father, I believe Your Word is true and powerful to accomplish all you say you will do. I praise you for your promises and wait for you. Fill me with your Spirit and move me as you desire to accomplish all your holy will for me. Let me continue to be a witness of your grace, goodness, and glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

The Eyes of Agony

Looking for that blessed hope,
and the glorious appearing of the great God
and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Titus 2:13

Jerry was taken to ER on May 26 where the medical staff did not see a possibility of his surviving. I paced and prayed outside while Lee was with her dad. Then, seemingly better, after I was with him, he was taken to ICU.

As we waited at home, overnight, to hear results from tests and an ultrasound of his heart, my most excruciating thoughts turned to the stark probability of losing the man with whom I had spent the last fifty-nine years.

I agonized, seeing what seemed inevitable ~imagining what my life would be without him.

Then, came the vision of how I would have to let go of what I held dear and precious, the man I loved, especially the last thirteen years as Jerry’s caregiver.

As I agonized over what I faced, I was reminded of the agony of my Lord and Savior.

First, in the garden of Gethsemane, he saw the vision of His cross, sweating drops of blood as He prayed. What awaited Him was the fierce reality of separation from His Father as He would suffer for the sins of His people.

Then, he knew that in order to save us, He would have to let go of His own will and life. He gave way to the will of the Father and gave all to Him for our salvation.

“NOT MY WILL”

“Not my will, but thine be done” is only possible in our lives through the humble, sacrifice Jesus made for us.

As I write this, three weeks after Jerry’s death, June 1, the words, “Not my will” are late in coming. But I must give all to Him, submitting to the will of the Father even as He did. Jesus’ death and resurrection are the means for me to live without Jerry until He brings me to glory with them.

As He leads, I must walk hand-in-hand and heart-to-heart with Him through this valley of tears and agony, keeping my eyes on the hope that is set before me ~ the hope He secured for me on Calvary.

By His grace, Andy, our son, Lee, and I were blessed to be with Jerry the second night in ICU and the last four days in Hospice. It was during those days He was preparing us to see the Father’s will and to hope in His will for our future.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and is set down
at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2

Keep yourselves in the love of God,
 looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ 
unto eternal life.”
Jude 1:21

Dear Father in heaven, by the precious gift of eternal life through Jesus, your Son, you have made it possible for us to endure the pain and sorrows of this world. Thank you for the love, mercy, and hope you bestow on us as your children. Let me remember you are my Maker and my Husband and you have made me to be a bride of Christ. Continue to prepare me to share your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

Staying In The Ship

“Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”   Acts 27:31
774px-The_Shipwreck_engraving_by_William_Miller_after_Turner

Paul’s last voyage was not a pleasant one. From Caesarea he was being sent to Rome as a prisoner to be tried before Caesar. The storm encountered was causing the ship to break apart as it ran upon the rocks near the beach of Malta.

Before running aground, where the bow stuck and the stem was being broken by the surf, the prisoners could have escaped by throwing out the anchor and letting down the lifeboat. This could have been Paul’s chance to avoid being carried to Rome. But, he knew what was happening was within God’s plans for him.

The following night, after Paul was arrested, “the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” Acts 23:11

Then, during the storm, Paul stood to encourage all who are in the ship, “Take heart for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, Do not be afraid Paul, your must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you. So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.” Acts 27:22-26

Paul trusted God’s plan for him; he trusted His Word, and he was obedient to the will of God. His was the example of the obedience of faith he preached in the gospel to the Roman Christians.

God’s plans for us may be that we go through the storms and waves of this world. The relationship we are in may break up, and seemingly all hope is lost, but in faith, we must stay in the ship. Our relationship with God may encounter upheavals; our fellowship with other believers may run aground, but we are called to obedience to stay in the ship and endure through the entire course, even if that means that we are heading toward the end of this life.

Paul survived his last voyage with other prisoners and soldiers. Undoubtedly, they were non-believers, not knowing the promises or power of God to save His people. Paul is the example for us, even in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation to shine as lights in the darkness.

Cutting Away the Lifeboat

“Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.” Acts 27:32

God is able: and He promises in His Word never to leave us nor forsake us. At times He may have to cut away the ropes of anything that might help us to abandon ship.

His church is that great ship that is often run aground, but He has not forsaken her. Many leave the ship, and often have a difficult time finding it again.

Marriage and family units are vessels that have to bear the storms. Many find these relationships on the rocks, but when we rely on God’s promises, His presence and power as Paul did, we experience His working through the upheavals. He can restore these ships, sometimes to better relationships than they were before.

We may be the only one with faith, courage, and perseverance to stay with the ship, knowing the God to whom we belong and worship. We may be the only light that God chooses to save a whole family from darkness and disaster.

We accept this reality with humility, not pride. It can be a heavy burden for us, but in time it will produce the joy that He intends for us. Wherever we are is where God places us; to testify of Him.

Sheet Music: Be Still My Soul
Image

One Month to LIVE ~ A Father’s Last Words

For the past three weeks I have been processing for publication the first book I wrote twenty-two years ago. Two years before, in 1994, I had walked through the valley of the shadow of death with my father. It was this time of year, last of August and first of September, that we learned he had esophageal cancer.

“He can go at any time, and I would not count on more than a month.”

I documented in a desk-top publication for family and close friends what was evidenced as the Lord’s presence during his last three weeks. There were no computers for consumers then, so I typed what was still fresh in my mind and heart; cut and pasted every page and took the little book to a printer. It was simply titled, Daddy.

During this formatting, which our granddaughter Kourtney retyped for me a few years ago, it seems I have relived this event that was a turning point in my life; at least one of the great ones. My dad “rested in the Lord” on Labor Day, after eighty-five years of struggle for peace.

Even so, those years were fruitful as he worked hard and long hours to find his place in the world. But if he could return and recount those years, he would say that he only began to live as he was dying. I witnessed it. I was there to see how God took a helpless dying man and gave him life and peace beyond understanding. It was at his bedside that I learned how to trust the only One who gives life; to live now as if living forever in the presence and power of my heavenly Father. It was there I began to learn to live my life for others. It was then that He started writing His love story on my heart and of which I continue to write. Fran

One MONTH to LIVE ~ A Father’s Last Words is available on Amazon.

Seasons of Grace

“To every thing …….. a season.”

“A time to be born” ………  A time to know.

“A time to die” …….. And then to grow.

To sense the touch of the Gardener’s hand.

With His strength and love ……. to stand,

And feel the rain upon our face;

To live in the sunshine of His Grace.

Ecclesiastes 3:2; Luke 9:24           F.R. 1995

For Emery Elise Bourchier
January 18 – February 15, 2018

Image: Google

I AM a Perfectionist

I AM is a Perfectionist. Remember those italicized words in the King James Version, those smaller words that added clarity to the sentence from the Hebrew translation? I speak here as I have learned from the Great I AM.

I AM is a holy God, a perfect Father, Creator and Redeemer. The realm of His kingdom is perfect, nothing lacking, nothing out of order, no frustration, no oppression, no war, no anxiety, no fear, violence, sickness, death, disappointment or tears. In His kingdom there is no criticism, anger, jealousy, envy, dishonesty, or falsehood. He is surrounded by righteousness, humility, peace, harmony, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and temperance.

The LORD has established his throne
in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Psalm 103:19

Through His Son, Jesus Christ, He rules in power, truth, grace, mercy and glory. From His own mind, heart and Spirit He lives and lavishes His own Being throughout His heavens. As a Perfectionist, He created the heavens and the earth, with expectation of having a perfect family bearing His image.

Did He go wrong somewhere? Then He is not a Perfectionist, and He is not able to rule and govern what He created.

Or is all still going according to His plans? Is providence the working out of His holy will?

Human Perfection
If we were perfect, then we would understand His plans and agree that He is perfect.

If we could see the end of all things as He has planned, we would understand His perfection.
We cannot, so we must look to the Perfect One who makes all things perfect.

“The trying of your faith works patience.
But let patience have her perfect work,
that you may be perfect and entire,
wanting nothing.”
James 1:3-4

Special revelation comes by the power of His Spirit in the lives of those who are His children, born of His Spirit through His Word. Within us He enables us to see beyond this world and its imperfections  (the list is too long). We are brought beyond the power of sin to be occupied with God. The heavenly Father, Creator and Redeemer, whose perfect, heavenly love, humbles us, and begins the process of perfecting us by the power of HIs Son and His Holy Spirit, to share His eternal kingdom.

We give up our human perfectionism when we understand that only He can make things perfect, and His plan for perfection was not intended for this earth, but for eternity with Him. The only perfect thing here on this earth is His love. In the end, it will perfect all those who are in Christ, His Son. We are holy and acceptable in Him, now and forever  (Romans 12:1)

Gracious and blessed Father, Perfect in all things, with the plan to perfect the disciples of Christ, your Son: in the power of your Holy Spirit, birth and train us according to your perfect will through your Word. Through us, by transforming our minds and hearts, make known your love to a perishing world . Fill us with your light that pierces the darkness and brings your children to a perfect love, joy and peace, as we wait for our Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran
Related article: The Power of God’s Holy Will

Psalm 18:32
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

Psalm 19:7
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: .

Psalm 138:8
The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me:

Proverbs 4:18
But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

Luke 6:40
 but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

2 Corinthians 12:9
 strength is made perfect in weakness.

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,

1 Peter 5:10
But the God of all grace…make you perfect.

1 John 2:5
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.