Good Friday - the day we remember that Christ died on the cross. Sometimes its a day that we can let pass us by without thinking about it. I didn't want that to happen to our family this year. We cleared the table, put down some black material and scattered one big candle and 7 smaller candles around the table. We then set up a cross at the other end, which incidentally was made from some scraps of barn wood from my grandparent's barn that's over 100 years old.
We sat down at the table and we read the 7 sentences that Jesus spoke while on the cross. We would read one, discuss it, then blow out one of the smaller candles. The kids took turns blowing out the candles. We had some interesting conversations - while they knew the story more or less, interesting things came up.
Luke 23:33-34 "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing."
We asked "Why would Jesus say that?" We talked about how Jesus prayed for His enemies, rather than cursing them or attacking them.
Luke 23: 39-43 "I assure you: Today you will be with me in Paradise."
What assurance that is - the thief knew he had done wrong, and Jesus gave him assurance that he would die and go to heaven. The man knew his wrong and admitted it. One said "He was a thief." We said the Bible doesn't tell us what he did. That was news to him.
John 19:25-27 "Woman, here is your son. Here is your mother."
We brought home the point that Jesus still took care of his mom. One asked "Where was his dad?" We said we don't know, but most likely Joseph had died by that time. As the eldest son, Jesus was to take care of his mother. At his death, he made sure that his mother would be taken care of.
Mark 15:33-34 "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
If you read the verses, you will see that they were recorded in Jesus' language. "You mean when he spoke it sounded like gibberish?" "Yes, and our language would sound like gibberish to them." It gave us a chance to talk about how people died when trying to translate the Bible into other languages. We discussed how Jesus felt separated from God and how that hurt.
John 19:28 "I'm thirsty"
We were able to emphasize his humanity, and how it was hard to die on the cross.
One asked: "How can it be hot if it's dark?" The other said: "Maybe it was a solar eclipse!" Me: "A solar eclipse lasts only a few minutes." "How do we know?" Me: "You saw one in August."
John 19:29-30 "It is finished!"
He paid the price for our sins. His job was completed. One said "Oh, that's what we will observe on Sunday." We replied "No, we celebrate that He rose from the dead."
Luke 23:46 "Father, into your hands I entrust My spirit."
We talked about how even though Jesus felt separated from the Father, He still said 'God, I will trust You with everything."
When we finished, all the candles were blown out except for the big one, and we discussed the Passover and its meaning and how Jesus was the Son of God. We then took time to pray together and just thank God for the sacrifice of Jesus. Simple, yet so meaningful looking at it together.
Sorrow - how life would be so much better if we didn't have to deal with it! No one enjoys those moments of pain. Sometimes one feels all alone in those times of grieving. It looks different for each and everyone of us, but for me, it was the loss of my mother on January 19, 2018. A moment we knew would come one day, but like everyone, always wishing that day would come later.
Her health hadn't been the best, but it wasn't the worst, and she had been showing signs of getting better. She ended up in the hospital as the doctors couldn't stabilize her blood pressure. The next day we got the phone call that we needed to come to the hospital to say our good-byes. That morning, before we got the call, I woke up and looked out the window and saw the sun rise and I thought of the song "10,000 Reasons" which says:
"The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning,
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes."
Little did I know that my mom would pass that evening. I guess I had expected a long drawn out process, where she might gradually lose consciousness. My mom was alert to the end, able to talk and recognize people, etc. While there was lots of family gathered together, I was able to hold her hand til she passed into the Lord's presence. She held my hand when I came into this world - I got to hold hers when she left.
"And on the day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forever more."
While not about me, I applied those words to my mom. She's no longer in pain or suffering. Eternity has just begun for her. On this side, I still can sing God's praises. While I miss my mom, I'm thankful that we got to talk to her before she passed. I'm thankful she was able to be in her home except for the last 36 hours of her life. I'm thankful she could make decisions on her own. She was able to give advice and encouragement.
I realize that not all situations are like this. Sometimes it is more difficult to be thankful in times of sorrow. Sometimes sorrow reveals bare emotions, and emotions can sometimes lead us to places we never intended to go in the first place. Yet, taking time to sit and thank God for what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do helps keep the focus on God, and not dwell on what we lost or what we don't have any more.
"Bless the Lord, of my soul, oh my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before, oh my soul,
I'll worship Your holy name!"
As I sit and play that song on the piano, or sing a long with it on the radio, I thank God for giving me a mother who developed in me a love of music, who encouraged me to draw and paid for drawing and painting lessons, who always took us to church so we could learn about God and His expectations. I also thank God that she was able to see my book published. Praise the Lord, oh my soul.
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