Monday, June 8, 2015

40 Hours of Reflection

The following was not written by me.  It was written by my mother-in-law.  It was recently read at her funeral.  I hope that when my time comes, I’ll have something as profound and meaningful to leave for my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  Tom Williams 

40 Hours of Reflection

by Darlene Wilson

A church service is 2 hours long. The Titanic movie 3 hours long. Watching 40 episodes of the Friends TV program back to back would take 20 hours. 40 hours is a full work week.

I spent the longest and most challenging 40 hours of my life trapped in a bathtub. I was not trying to set a world record for the longest bath for 77 year old woman, it was an accident. I'm telling you this only to glorify God, because God is my strength.

My story begins on Tuesday, December 15, 2003, shortly before 10 p.m. I had spent several hours handing out oranges at the food pantry and doing errands and was incredibly tired. I raced through the front door my mobile home without even locking it behind me as I really needed to get to the bathroom! I was so exhausted I fell asleep sitting on the stool. When I finally woke and stood up, my right foot and leg were numb and I lost my balance.

The stool was near the tub and the shower. The tub had a hard plastic folding shower door with a soft blue cloth shower curtain covering it. I fell against the folding door and into my empty four foot long bathtub with a crumpled shower door underneath me. I faintly remember removing pieces of the shower door, then assessing my situation. I was fully closed, but without my shoes. I was wearing my glasses and watch. The light was on.

I tried many times to get out of the tub without success. Since my knee replacements, I couldn't kneel, so that made it difficult. As a diabetic, I needed medicine and food. I began praying for God to be with me and for him to do a miracle. I asked God if I was being punished or had done something wrong. He assured me that I wasn't being punished; it was an accident. "Forgive me for thinking that. Devil get behind me, I belong to Jesus Christ and you can have none of me." I bound the devil and kept chanting Jesus, Jesus, and Jesus.

Eventually my family would come looking for me, however, I have no idea how long I would be confined to the tub. I did know I needed depend on Him for survival tactics. I am week, but he is strong. I needed to keep focused and listen to him.

There was no one to talk to other than God. I pray and read my bible every morning, but this was closer communion for a longer period of time than I had ever experienced. These were some of the things He told me:

- He was there for me and would never leave me or forsake me

-He was not the cause, but the answer to my problem

-I must move my feet and legs and do ankle pops. I must do some exercises to keep my body moving.

-I needed to breathe deeply and cough so I wouldn't get hypostatic pneumonia. I didn't even know what that was!

-I needed liquid to survive

-I needed to sleep, if possible

I thanked God the bathroom door was open, the heat was a at 70ยบ and I was warm … most of the time.

I tried to turn on water, but the faucets were high up on the wall. I finally got the cold water on a bit. It dripped on my feet. I cupped my hand to get a few teaspoonfuls of water so I could get a drink. The water dripped on my blouse and chilled me as I brought my hand to my mouth. After drinking a little water, I worked to shut it off. Many times over the coming hours I repeated the steps to keep from dehydrating.

The muscle spasms were intense starting at my groin is spreading down my legs. I prayed through them. They kept coming and I kept praying. I was uncomfortable in other ways. Let's just say I know why a baby cries when their pants are wet. God was there for me spiritually, physically and emotionally. His staff ministered to me at all times keeping me from feeling sorry for myself and helping me control my thoughts and emotions.

I sang hymns and childhood songs, recited the books of the Bible, praised God, prayed in tongues and recited poems I had learned in grade school. Occasionally, I slept. I kept remembering events from my life as I thought about my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I reminisced about my husband, Darrell, and good times we had in our life together and about my parents, four brothers and four sisters.

I thought about my extremely hard of hearing grandmother, Hattie Teter, and what a strong influence she had on my life. She was the spiritual leader of our family reading the Bible to us, taking us to church every Sunday and setting a good example. She reflected the love of God.

One thing she taught me was not to worry. She said worry with a lack of faith in God. If you had faith in God, you gave your problems to him and it was up to him to solve them.

I laughed at some memories I realize I had never even told my children. We attended a small country church with a potbellied stove. There was no water, no inside toilet, just a path out behind, but God was there and so was I. At age 10, sermons could be rather dull. Sitting next to the minister’s daughter, I played a game during the sermon. She opened the song book and explained that to every song title we added the words "under the bed."

Jesus loves me… under the bed. Amazing grace … under the bed. Joy to the world … under the bed. What a friend we have in … Jesus under the bed. We began giggling uncontrollably. Her mother came over and took the song look away from us. We knew better than to try that again, at least not in church!

I remember how happy we were when our first daughter, Becky, was born. We were married 5 years and 1 day when she arrived. I can still see the little pink toes and fingers as I cuddled her cheek. The memory was a happy one, yet brought tears to my eyes. This was the first time we experienced God's miracle of birth. We felt this joy three more times when Linda, Shelley and Janet were born.

I had a flashback to Becky’s kindergarten days. Our wedding anniversary with February 27th and her bath birthday was February 28th. She came home from school on her birthday telling me she had announced to the teacher that her parents were married one day and she was born the next. I quickly ask if you had explained we had been married 5 years and 1 day before she was born. "No," was her response, "she didn't ask!"

God kept my mind busy and I didn't dwell on my situation. Even in the bathtub I had peace and joy. He reminded me of the times He had already saved my life. At 5 I took my 4 year old brother, Gene and our dog to the creek. The dog kept me from drowning that day. To avoid a severe seat warming, I never told my parents.

At 12 I had measles with an extremely high fever and was delirious for three days. During the depression you didn't have a doctor come in for search minor ailments. I survived, although my hair began to grey from that day forward.

At age 64 I was in a car accident that left me pinned in my vehicle while it was turned on its side with the engine still running. The emergency squad broke my back window, turned off the ignition, and cut my seatbelt so they could free me with the jaws of life. I walked away with only bruises. Got protected me, once again.

I thought about other times God was with me. He told me this time was no different. His tremendous love provided divine protection many times throughout my life. Praise God for such a wonderful Savior who cares and protects us.

Outside the bathtub, the world was continuing on as usual. I felt like it was passing me by. I could hear the daily routine to the neighbors and my phone ringing. Was someone looking for me? I could tell daylight from dark and, of course, the time. Although I felt detached from the world, I felt a constant connection with God.

A few minutes before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, December 17, I heard a noise at my front door as someone came in. I always lock the door, but realize I forgot in my haste to get to the bathroom.

As I screamed for help a voice said, "I'm here, Grandma, it's Alyssa."

When I saw her white winter hat as she rushed into the bathroom, I told her she looked just like an angel. “Thank you Lord, thank you Lord, praise His name!”

Alyssa gave me a glass of water and called 911. When the police arrived they ask me some stupid questions to see if my time in the tub had expected me mentally. I told him I wasn't any worse of mentally than I usually was! More police, and an emergency squad and an ambulance arrived to extract me for my plastic prison. I was shaking smelly and ready to be released. At the hospital I was told my sugar level was a little high, my muscles were weak, but all other tests were normal. Once again, God had his hand on my life.

I came out of this ordeal with the greater appreciation for life and God. I cherish many things that I once took for granted. I can use my arms and legs, see, hear, eat and enjoy my grandchildren. I can get a drink of water, drive my car and sleep in a comfortable bed between sheets. He said, “I come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” My life was more abundant because of my 40 hour confinement.

Don't give up because God doesn't answer your prayers in your time frame. God's timing is not ours. He is neither ahead or behind: he is always on time. Although I waited 40 hours, I wasn't mad at God. I knew God was the solution, not the problem! If anyone is wondering if God is real, have no doubt.

Did I mention my insurance policy? It covered me even when I was in the bathtub. My insurance agent is Jesus Christ. I have full coverage and it cost me nothing. He paid the premium in full over 2000 years ago when He died on the cross. If you don't have this type of insurance policy, please consider talking to my insurance agent. His phone number is 1 800 P-R-A-Y-E-R.

Family Is As Family Does

Mark 3:19b-35
3:19b Then he went home;3:20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 3:21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind.3:22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons."  3:23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan?  3:24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.3:25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.3:26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 3 :27 But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.3:28 "Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 3:29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin. 3:30 for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."  3:31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 3:32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, "Your mother ad your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you." 3:33 And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" 3:34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers!  3:35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."


“Family Is As Family Does”

When I read a passage of scripture, I like to insert myself into the story. It helps me to gain a better understanding of the events.

So, right now I want you to use your imagination. I want you to visualize your older brother or a slightly older childhood friend. Think of somebody that you played hide and seek with. Someone that you caught lightening bugs with, went fishing with, climbed trees, fought imaginary battles with, and play board or video games with. Have you pictured that person in your mind?


Now imagine that he has just told you that he has superpowers. He claims that he can leap tall buildings in a single bound, is more powerful than a locomotive, and is faster than a speeding bullet. And he’s serious! He really believes it.

What do you do?

What if he’s brought home some friends that believe him. And they are telling you that they’ve witnessed these amazing feats.

What do you do now?

What if he’s announced his abilities on the national news and now there are crowds of people following him everywhere? Some are following him hoping to see him perform some amazing feat. Some are following him because they truly believe he can do what he says. And some are following because they want to prove that he’s a fraud.

And now he has shown up at your door looking plumb tuckered out and hungry … but the crowds keep pressing in … wanting more and more from him.

Now what do you do?

This is a very intriguing passage of scripture in the Gospel of Mark.

It is not a long passage.

It does, however, introduce us to some characters and characteristics that are worth noting.

Here is the background.

Jesus was becoming well known as a teacher, a prophet and a healer and the crowds kept following him.

There were folks from other countries that came to hear his messages and to witness the miraculous things that he was doing.

He had tried getting in a boat and crossing the sea. Yet more crowds followed.

He’d climbed up a mountainside and they still came.

It appears that, just when he thought it safe to return to his home, more crowds gathered.

Most scholars believe that this was his home in Capernaum (see Mark 2:1) this is the same home where, at another time, some men tore the roof off so that they could lower their friend down to be healed.

He and his disciples are more than tired … they are nearly physically spent.

Many of us know that feeling. Amen?

As a young father, I was working two fulltime jobs, a daytime job and a nighttime job. At one point I had been awake for nearly one hundred hours before I could get home to sleep. I was so spent that I quite literally would fall asleep walking. I’d kind of slump and then catch myself before I hit the floor. Then I’d praise God for the nap.

At least I had a lunch break at both jobs. I could set an alarm and snooze for a little bit in a back room or break-room. And I had time to gulp down a sandwich and a cup of coffee.

The scriptures say that Jesus didn’t even have time to eat because of the demands of the people following him.

So, he has returned home and his earthly family were also there. And they were concerned. Some were concerned for his health and some were concerned for his sanity. In fact they went out to physically restrain him. Isn’t that amazing?

It reminded me of another family that is mentioned in the scriptures. Mark 9:17-29 tells us this story where Jesus comes upon an argument between a group of people and the Scribes. Jesus asks what is going on.

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered.  “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him.

But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.”

But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

This poor father had tried everything to protect his child. He had often had to restrain him to keep him from harming himself. That’s what families do … they try to protect each other. Amen?

Family is as family does.

Jesus’ family was attempting to do the same thing. Jesus was on the verge of collapse and yet the people demanded more from him. The family wanted to forcibly bring him into the house and away from the mob.

Again, use your imagination; put yourself in the role of one of Jesus’ brothers or sisters. You grew up in the same household. He was the older son and had learned the carpentry trade from his earthly father. At Joseph’s death, he would have inherited the family business and the responsibilities of the head of household. He was expected to care for his mother and siblings. But now … now he has become an itinerant preacher. And he’s not even ordained by the General Board of Clergy! He has no formal standing with the ruling religious authorities. In fact, the religious authorities are “out to get him.”

So, once again, what do you do about or for this brother who is acting so strangely?

Do you think that Jesus felt a little betrayed by his family … or was he glad that they cared enough to try and protect him? Because at this point, the family didn’t fully understand the extent of Jesus’ earthly mission. He was unable to turn away from doing what the Father had sent him to do.

We know that there is a large crowd that followed Jesus right up to the door of his house.

Among the crowd that had gathered were the religious leaders and teacher of the day, the Scribes.

Verse 22 reads: “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons." These were leaders and they were in fear of loosing their positions of power and authority to this man who openly claimed to be the son of God and God the Son.

They came to catch Jesus in the act of some deceit or trickery. When they couldn’t find a way of discounting the miraculous things that Jesus did … they tried to say that he was using the power of the devil to cast out the demons.

Jesus makes fun of their argument by basically saying that the devil casting out the devil is just about the most stupid thing that these students of the scripture could say.

He then says in 3:28, "Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"- for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

Over the years I have heard many interpretations about this “unpardonable sin”. But I found the following statement by >>>>>>>>> that seems to explain it within what we know of Jesus character and mission. He was sent, after all, to be the savior because God does not want to loose a single soul.

He (Jesus) warned them about the eternal consequences of failing to recognize His true identity (vv.28-30) That's the only sin which cannot be forgiven... I want to make two brief statements about the verse 29 which says, "...but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”
o   That statement needs to be understood within context of this larger passage...that Jesus was doing amazing, supernatural things the Jewish leaders could not deny...instead of denying His works, they questioned the power behind His works...they looked at obvious work of God and attributed it to Satan...through Jesus, using Holy Spirit as communicating agent, God was revealing Himself to the world... these people looked directly at the revelation of God and rejected it...that's the unpardonable sin...rejecting God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ…
o   The reason that is unpardonable is say a person who rejects Jesus will not be forgiven is like saying a person who refused liquids will die of /starvation...breath / asphyxiation...rejecting Jesus is rejecting our only avenue for Scripture says, "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we might be saved." reject Jesus means to die in our sins and that results in eternal separation from God...

The Scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day. And they should have been the first to embrace this Messiah for whom they had been praying. Over and over again Jesus had told them who he was and what his mission was. They were witnesses to the mighty works he was doing … works that would have been impossible without the power of God working through him. But as John says in his gospel, “He came to his own and his own knew him not.” They should have been acting like family, but they weren’t.

Family is as family does.

Other than the Scribes, who else were following him?

Among the crowd were also those who were just curious. I heard a saying once that nothing draws a crowd of people like a crowd of people. If you see a crowd of people someplace, don’t you stop to see what is going on? I’m sure that some of the people following Jesus around were like that. They were there because they wanted to see what had drawn the crowd in the first place.

Some were also following because of the wondrous signs that he would perform. I mean, really, it must have been a great “show”. Can’t you just see Him on “Israel Has Talent”?

First week he’d turn water into wine. John 2:1-11

Week 2 He’d fill two fishing boats so full of fish that they begin to sink. Luke 5:1-11

Week 3 Walk on water. Mark 6:48-51

Week 4 Heal ten lepers. Luke 17:11-19

Week 5 Raise people from the dead. Matthew 9:18-26, John 11:38-44

And in the semi finals: Raise himself from the dead. 24:5-7

The grand finally: Ascend into the clouds. Mark 16-19

Just try and top THAT!

However, these people were not family.

Some were following because they needed something from him, like the father of the child with a demon. He had come to Jesus just hoping that Jesus could do something. Some were following because they needed a physical healing for themselves or for their friends. When we are hurting, don’t we naturally turn to family for help?

Family is as family does.

Now at this point there were quite a few that he called his disciples.

In Luke chapter 10 verse 1 we read, “After this the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.

So we know that these 72 plus the 12 apostles were following.

Very possibly there were hundreds that were following because they truly believed in him and his message.

It was of these folks that Jesus said in 3:35 “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

Jesus, our older brother, has done something for us that we could not do for ourselves. He has the power to overcome Satan, loosen His grip on us, and set us free...that's the message of the entire New Testament... we were dead in our sins...we were trapped...there was no way out...Jesus came to pay the price for our sins through His sacrificial death on the cross and break the power of Satan over us.

The apostle Paul uses similar analogy when he writes that we were held captive by a hostile power ... held hostage in the kingdom of darkness ... but Jesus came, defeated the evil power and transferred us to His family of light and life.

Rejoice! God, our father, would much rather forgive us than condemn us.

Family is as family does.

Now, I told you earlier that I am a preacher because I expect this message to change you in someway.

We have just heard Jesus say, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

What does that mean to you? Can you claim your kinship with Jesus Christ and God the Father?

John 1:12 & 13 reads “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

To those that have received him I say, “Howdy brothers and sisters.” And ask, “Are following the leading of the Father as an obedient child of God?” If not, here is your chance to recommit yourselves to the family. Remember, family is as family does.

To those who have never received him as your Lord and Savior, I say, “The family awaits your arrival. It is a simple adoption process: Confess your sins to God, ask for His forgiveness, and seek to live a God filled … God directed life.” And we’ll see you at that great family reunion in heaven.