Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ian Alexander Loewe

Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. Lamentations 3:33

We said good-bye to a good friend this past week.  Our friend, Ian, struggled for life from the day of his birth; and struggled against death for half of his 15 years. 

In dying he did not lose that struggle; in death he won the eternal life earned for him through the work of our Savior. 

The body Ian lived in was falling apart and he was tired. His body was no longer a safe place for him to be. Our Heavenly Father came and rescued Ian from the destruction left by illness and treatment. The cancer took his body, but could not take his life.  God brought Him home to where he will always be safe; always be happy; always be fulfilled.  We cannot deny this joy to our friend Ian.

Ian did not fall asleep. This is a phrase about death that can bring comfort to adults and terror to young children.  The image of pain-free sleep may be comforting to us, but I do not believe this metaphor is accurate.  Ian is awake, now more than ever.  He is completely aware of God’s mercy and grace.  He stands in awe on holy ground.  We need rest from our sinful days.  Ian no longer needs rest. 

It was not God’s will for Ian to die. It is not God’s will for any of His children to die.  It was His will that we live a perfect life in the perfect world He created for us.  Our sin is the cause of our death. Sin is, in no way, a part of God’s will.

God did not take Ian’s life; He gave Ian eternal life and joy. Ian left behind pain, sorrow, and darkness.  God brought him to light, and the source of his faith.  Ian knows God fully and his earthly life no longer encumbers him. 

Thank you, God, for Ian, for heaven, for salvation and for grace.
For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1: 21

Monday, June 4, 2012

The still small voice

And he said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. I Kings 19: 11-13 ESV
Elijah saw God's power bring the Israelites through a climate drought, but when faced with a spiritual drought brought on by an evil king, Elijah retreated to the barrenness of the broom tree. He was ready to give up, both figuratively and literally. Believing he was the last person alive to hold to faith, he wanted to die in that faith.

God said "no" and gave him something to eat. 

God sent him to a mountain. Mountains put you in a vulnerable position and Elijah didn't even have a broom tree for protection. Standing on the mountain we can imagine that Elijah saw the enormity of God's power as he contemplated God's creation. Then as he felt the power of the wind, earthquake and fire, Elijah was viscerally reminded of God's omnipotence. 

It is interesting to note that Elijah does not retreat to the cave until he hears God's voice in the sound of a low whisper. His retreat is not out of terror, but out of fear. Elijah did not fear for his earthly life; he feared for his spiritual life. 

God's word has a way of killing us; it seeks to kill the old Adam in us. As strong as his faith was, Elijah's old Adam was a lack of faith. He knew there was nothing more that he could do to protect himself and his fellow children of God from the evil that surrounded them. He simply forgot that God did have that power and a plan. 

That small still voice was sent to remind Elijah of an unimaginable power. 

The graduate program that I am in has stretched me beyond my abilities and I have reached a point of constant reminder that I do not have the gifts to complete this journey. I am not smart enough. I can't do the numbers. I can't do the words. I want to quit while I still have some confidence left.

God says "no" and feeds me through His word and sacraments.

He says that now that I know I am not able to do this on my own I am ready.

What is the "impossible" you face today? Is your faith stretched to its limits? God will stand by you through the wind, the earthquake, and the fire and then God's law will remind you of His power; His grace will remind you of His mercy. 

Here is some food for the journey:

We need God because we are not enough:

Therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden." Isaiah 29:14 ESV
God is stronger than we can imagine:

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
I Corinthians 1:25 ESV

God will be what we need:
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 ESV