The Greatest Gift During The Hardest Days.
Some days are harder than others when living on the opposite side of the world than your family. Today is one of the hard days.
My Great Aunt Deby went to be with Jesus very recently. After a long battle against Pulmonary Hypertension, she doesn’t have to fight anymore. We are praising God that she had accepted Christ as her Savior and Lord and is now spending eternity with Him in Heaven. However, our hearts are aching wishing she was still here with us.
A week or so before we left the States we were able to spend a day with Aunt Deby. We got to watch her love on and enjoy our girls, eat spaghetti, and cherish the memories. It was a sweet time of goodbyes. Though we knew it was a possibility this might be the last time we said goodbye to her, we were clinging to hope. Although, our earthly hope wasn’t fulfilled, we take great joy in knowing we get to see her again. Next time we see her she will have a perfectly healthy body. No oxygen cords, no struggling for breath and no more pain. We will have the privilege to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords alongside Aunt Deby for eternity. What immeasurable joy!
But oh how I wish I could be there. I wish I had been there to hug Aunt Deby, let her see the girls laughing and playing, and thank her for being such a loving encourager throughout my life. I wish I could let Brandi and Brandon know how much we love them and loved their mom. I wish I could be with my mom, aunt and grandmother as we all share in grief. I wish I could pick up food and bring it to everyone as they navigate these hard days ahead. I wish. I wish.
Although I don’t doubt that we are where we are supposed to be, today is a hard day. I want to be in Memphis, not Malawi. I want to be there as our family grieves. I want to be there to hold our new niece. I want to be there to comfort hurting friends. I want to be there to bring meals to friends who are having the joy of welcoming new miracle lives into their families. But God doesn’t always give us what we want. He gives us “immeasurably more”.
As we settle into our new home, we are trusting God for immeasurably more. As we begin pouring into the lives of the children at MCM, we are trusting God for immeasurably more. As we begin opening our home to the hurting and the joyful, we are trusting God for immeasurably more. Receiving God’s “immeasurably more” doesn’t make us miss home any less, but it does give us the joy of obedience. Psalm 119:35 mentions the joy or delight that obedience brings: “Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it.” Even on the hard days, I pray that Josh and I walk in the path of His commandments, so that we can delight in His Word. We are so thankful for God’s presence, even when we long for the presence of our family.
It would be wrong for me to neglect the opportunity to write about the “immeasurably more” Aunt Deby is experiencing right now and how you can experience it as well.
God is a loving Father who created us in His image. He longs for us to know Him and experience Him deeply. Unfortunately, each and every one of us has chosen sin. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sin is anything that goes against the Word of God and His character. No matter how hard we try to live up to God’s standard, we will always fail. Scripture says our good deeds are like filthy rags compared to the holiness of God.
Our sin has consequences. The punishment for sin is death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). This kind of a death is spiritual. For those who have not turned to God, they will spend eternity separated from God in Hell.
Because God is holy and just, He must punish our sin. Because God is loving and merciful, He provided a payment for our sin, His only son, Jesus Christ. The most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God’s Son died to take the punishment for our sin. Why would God let his Son die in our place? God wants to have an intimate relationship with us while we are here on earth, and He wants us to spend eternity in Heaven with Him and our loved ones who’ve accepted this free gift.
Because Jesus was the sinless Son of God, He alone could take our punishment. He bore our sins and took the punishment of death for us! He now offers us the free gift of acquittal from our sins. This gift can never be earned and must be accepted. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” We can’t do anything to earn the gift of salvation from our sins. Our good deeds will never be enough. God offers salvation to us freely.
We aren’t granted this free gift just because our parents/grandparents were believers in Jesus. We aren’t granted this gift by going to church. We aren’t even granted this gift because we read our bible and pray.
So how do we accept this amazing gift? We repent of our sins by admitting that we can never reach God’s standard. We ask Him to change us and make a commitment to turn away from our old sinful ways, and turn towards God and His righteousness. We do a one hundred and eighty degree turn away from our sins and towards God. Scripture tells us that when we make this decision, our sins are wiped away and we can experience the incredible gift of God’s presence with us in our daily life. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19 NASB)
Then we believe that Jesus Christ took our punishment as our sinless sacrifice, died on the cross, and conquered death and Hell three days later by rising from the dead. When the jailer asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to be saved, they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31).
Finally, we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord. In doing this, we surrender our life to God and place Christ on the throne. We give Him full authority over us. When we do this He gives us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives inside of us and walks with us as we learn to follow Christ and live according to the truth of the Bible. The Holy Spirit gives us a desire to learn God’s Word, pray, be part of a Bible-believing church, and become more like Christ. We will still sin but the Holy Spirit convicts us so that we can ask God to forgive us and choose differently in the future. The Holy Spirit gives us just what we need each day. He is our constant companion, encourager, and joy-giver as we walk through life.
There is no greater gift than salvation and it is completely free. My Aunt Deby knew Jesus while she was here on earth and is getting to see Him face to face in Heaven. If you don’t know for sure that you are saved, please contact me. You can email me at merribrooke@intentionalgospel.