Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Test of Faith

As you might suspect, I have quite few blogs on my morning reading list. I used to get very impatient when they failed to offer me a full dose of their profound wisdom on a daily basis. Oh sure, they sometimes mentioned (in advance) that they would be on vacation, getting married, or actually doing some paying work on a (ugh!) job. Even then I felt somewhat deprived. After all, didn’t they appreciate that I had clicked in to read their offerings? Did they not know, as we at Zion Beckons are so aware, that the reader is the life blood of any on line journal? Well, yes, they do know and they also have a life. A life, which by its very nature, is chock full of the unexpected.

The imprecise nature of the rhythm of life is all too apparent around our house these days. With no close relatives near at hand our daily existence is not really disturbed by the holidays. Since we awake every day praising God for the morning and thinking of Him and His gifts, each day is in essence, Christmas. As far as seeing the old year out with a huge drunken splurge, no thanks, “Been there, done that!”

Now the exceptional has proven to be the rule. We are suddenly made aware that no matter how stable life seems to be, it can unexpectedly be disturbed. We suddenly see that rather than being humdrum and ordinary, it has taken on a new and frightening dimension. At our age – mine especially – it is reasonable to assume the presence of life-altering happenings. We have recently seen changes which blow the mind.

At Thanksgiving, my brother Craig was ill, sitting in a chair, walking with difficulty and hearing poorly. Before Christmas, he was bedridden, deaf and it required great effort to get him into the bath. Now, nearing New Years, his care is supervised by hospice personnel, his speech has become slurred and he is obviously in vital peril. It is very difficult to grasp.

At the age of 62, having lived a successful and extremely athletic life, we find him facing one of life’s defining moments. He fully understands this and has no desire to be the burden to his wife and caretakers which he has become. I salute his reason and his courage. As his closest living blood relative – he has no children – I feel compelled to be with him every moment I possibly can. Unless we have an intervention from Almighty God, I see little possibility of recovery from either his cancer or the incumbent symptoms.

In this circumstance I am fully acquainted with the necessity to realize that my plans and desires are not always in concert with the mind of God. In my life, I have attended to the burial of my parents, one son, my uncles and aunts, and numerous friends of long standing, and confess that in each case I questioned God. Selfishly, it is my wish to retain them all in my circle for my own reasons. Apparently what I can’t seem to fully understand is they are not “mine” but rather are His, to do with as His will directs. Faith is easy when it has a positive result for me. It is not so easy when it has what I determine is a negative outcome.

All that having been said; I will continue to pray earnestly for him and beg you to do so as well. This is a test of faith for your host. Please join me in a prayer to the Almighty for a fuller, richer understanding of His will.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, December 24, 2007

Monday Morning Rant 17

Cecil has been in Lisle, IL with his brother and doesn't have access to a computer on which he can doodle about with the blog, so I'm filling in for him. For those of you who still like me: greetings. For those of you who think I've gone to the Dark Side: deal with it.

On this blog it's still all right to say things like "Christmas" and "God" and "Jesus Christ" and even "salvation'" without fear of censure or censor. For the past several days I have been thinking about sacrifice. Merriam-Webster defines sacrifice as: an act of offering to deity something precious: esp: the killing of a victim on an altar 2: something offered in sacrifice 3: destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else: something given up or lost. The Hebrew and the Greek translations, according to Strong, center around the slaughter of an animal, as Old Testament priests were wont to do.

William Jefferson Clinton had it nailed when he sacrificed the sanctity of the Oval Office, the honor and dignity of the office of President of the United States and the respect of the American people on the altar of a cocktail dress. Sadly, this country apparently "got over it" and as a result diminished herself in her own eyes and in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Men and women have been sacrificing themselves for our nation in times of peace and war since the first shot was fired at Lexington. They have proudly put themselves in harm's way for God and country (the sake of something else) keeping their eyes on the greater good and not minding the loss. It's an innate quality which contributes to the survival of the species. It's also, I believe, a noble trait that sets us apart from the void.

This past week Cecil sacrificed his comfort, his status quo, and his Christmas preparations to drive to Lisle and be with his brother Craig. He will continue to make himself available any time for as long as necessary. It may involve frequent commutes between Verona, Missouri and Lisle, Illinois at inopportune times, but he will do whatever it takes to be available to him and his wife Lynne.

The common thread that runs through the above items is, of course, love. Love of self, love of country, and love of family. There's another love that is unfathomable to us meager humans. It's the supernatural, agape love that God has for us. The love He had, and still has for the world that caused Him to sacrifice His only begotten son. (John 3:16) I don't know about you but I have trouble wrapping my brain around that kind of love. A love that knows the outcome, that knows the stakes, that knows the pain, and does it anyway. What an ungrateful world we are. As I look around at this time of year I see a lot of love: love of shopping, love of decorating, love of wrapping, baking, entertaining, and love of complaining about the things that were just mentioned. When did it become that way? When did we sacrifice the love for our fellow man on the altar of commerce? When did we allow a few mean spirited and ill intended groups to take the Christ Child out of the season?

I've had lots of time to reflect on this while Cec has been gone. The strange thing is that while I've been here in the house except for a haircut on Saturday and church yesterday, I have felt more in tune with the season than ever before. Our Sunday School teacher Sunday morning said that his wife had asked him if he was going to teach a lesson about Christmas. He replied, "Christmas is always with us." My prayer for all of us is that we can keep a Christmas attitude until He comes again. Merry Christmas to you all.

In His love