Sunday, December 30, 2012

"...ought never to complain."

The other day I read an essay written in 1702 by Wilhelmus a` Brakel, a Dutch pastor, who was writing about God’s acting through His free grace in bringing people to saving faith in Christ, and the consequent ways in which this faith might show itself in their lives.  Late in the essay a pair of sentences just jumped off the page at me.  They said, “Persevere in seeking the Lord.  And friends, let me add that he who can pray ought never to complain.”
By way of context a` Brakel was writing about the Lord’s directing a believer’s path.  In some cases God’s love may be clearly evident in a person’s life.  But there may also be times when it may please the Lord to lead in a way of darkness.  The story of Job comes to mind as an example of the latter, where Job went through a very difficult and challenging time, a time that was ultimately to God’s glory as Job remained faithful to God.  This is an example of the dark places at which a` Brakel commends perseverance in faith and trust in God.
The phrase of a` Brakel that continues to stick in my mind is “he who can pray ought never to complain.”  According to an online dictionary “to complain” means: “to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault; to tell of one's pains, ailments; or to make a formal accusation.”  By the reasoning of the world Job was easily justified in making complaint to God over his circumstances.
By a` Brakel’s reasoning, if a person can pray then complaint should be removed as an option when their circumstances aren't to their liking.  My human mind wants to rebel at this suggestion.  It wants to keep the option of complaint alive.  It wants to keep the option of complaint inside my toolbox so I can use it as I see fit.  But a` Brakel is wise in suggesting that I discard complaint.  The only reason he gives is that we have available the option of prayer, and that reason alone is more than sufficient.
In Hebrews 4:14-16 we have a biblical rationale for resting in prayer,

"Since then we have a great high priest who was passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

 There is a lot of injustice in the world that we will never fully understand this side of heaven.  There are often things going on in my life that I just don’t get, things that I would much rather turn out a different way. 
God’s Word in Hebrews reminds us that Jesus has already experienced everything that we can imagine of the brokenness in the world and in our lives, at least as we see them from our vantage point.  But we don’t have God’s vantage point.
What we do have is Jesus, to whom we can turn, in prayer, knowing that we will always receive His grace and mercy.  And His grace and mercy are infinitely more satisfying than anything that could come from a complaint.

  Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: In Remembrance of Him by Guilemus Saldenus and Wilhemus a`Brakel

The phrase “In remembrance of Him” is one that is intimately connected with the Christian sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  It is frequently used in the worship liturgy and it is written onto the front of many altars and tables in church sanctuaries.  But what does it mean to “remember” Christ when we feast at His table?  Answering that question is the goal of the two essays in the book In Remembrance of Him: Profiting from the Lord’s Supper, by Guilemus Saldenus and Wilhemus a`Brakel (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012). 

As might be guessed from their names, Saldenus and a`Brakel are not exactly 21st century authors.  They are two pastors/theologians who were active in the Netherlands in the 17th century.  And despite the passage of time, what they have written here has much to say to strengthen and enrich the practice of the Lord’s Supper today.  Saldenus focuses on the efficacy of the Lord’s Supper, first addressing the comfort found at the Lord’s Table and then the way in which taking the Supper nurtures the Christian’s sanctification.  a’Brakel writes in three parts, dealing with the issues of preparation, celebration of, and reflection on, the Supper, followed by a meditation on how the sovereign work of God’s grace is active in the Supper.

I thought that the writing of both authors was filled with relevance for today’s church.  While they both write from a place that theologically is deeply within the Reformed tradition, they powerfully invite Christians of any tradition to consider more fully what a biblically-grounded view of the Supper entails.  Fallowing are examples from each author.

Saldenus, writing on the theme of sanctification and how taking the Supper can lead to a greater abhorrence of personal sin, concludes a very rich paragraph with these words: “It communicates that it is according to God’s will that precisely that body and blood which is set before you in the Lord’s Supper is ordained to be the atonement for your sin.  And if this is true for the least sinful thought, we cannot begin to fathom how utterly abominable and accursed the entire mass of our sins must be.”  (63-4)

a`Brakel, writing on the nature of reflection after partaking of the Supper includes this advice: “We should first of all attentively and calmly reflect upon the steadfastness and immutability of the covenant of grace, and upon all its promises that have been sealed to us by means of the Lord’s Supper, such as forgiveness of sins, comfort, sanctification, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Additional promises pertain to God’s preservation of believers in the state of grace, as well as to the eternal salvation in heaven that shall be their portion after life.” (108-9)

I found a lot to take from these authors and only a small bit that seemed to me to be less relevant.  The less relevant writing was primarily where they addressed the matter of taking the Supper unworthily, which was a real issue for the early Protestant church as it reformed practices that had been a part of the Roman Catholic tradition.  Yet even in the way they dealt with this issue they did so in a manner that can deepen the way we prepare and approach the Lord’s Table today. 

In sum I highly commend this book to pastors, elders, professors and Sunday school teachers who want to learn more about the powerful way God touches people at His Table and then bring what they have learned to the people they minister among.  And I recommend it to the lay person who wants to deepen their own understanding of the way God touches them through this sacrament, a sacrament that always points to God and His covenantal promises.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Inexpressible Joy

This morning, during worship at our church, our family read aloud the Advent reading and lit the fourth candle on the Advent wreath, the candle for joy.  We had been provided with the reading a few days ago and we looked it over with our daughter, who chose the last sentence as the one she would read.  She is a kindergartner and just learning to read.  The sentence she chose was the last one, which said, “And we are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy.” 

Inexpressible is a mouthful of a word, particularly if the one reading it is on the cusp of being six years-old.  Preparing our daughter to read this sentence in church had two parts.  The first part was teaching her to say the word.  My wife helped her break it into syllables and it didn’t take her too long for her to teach our daughter to be able to say the word clearly. 

But what does ‘inexpressible’ mean, particularly in reference to Jesus’ birth, to a six year-old?  We did the best we could to help her understand it.  A sense of joy that is so great that we can’t really say how excited we are about it.  The birth of Jesus makes us so happy that we can’t even say how happy we are.  The paradox of ‘inexpressible joy’ is that it’s such a marvelously good thing that it is a really hard concept to grasp and explain. 

This last sentence of the Advent reading was derived from 1 Peter 1:8-9, which says:

“Though you have not seen him, you love him.  Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

We have joy, inexpressible and glorious, not simply because of Jesus’ birth, but because of the reason for His birth, the salvation that comes to those who believe in Him. 

On Christmas we remember that God broke into the world in a powerful and unique way.  He arrived, in human flesh, so that through the means of His departure, as the crucified one bearing the punishment for human sin, those who believe in Him would be reconciled with God and receive the salvation of their souls. 

This Christmas may you know the inexpressible and glorious joy that is only found in Jesus.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 21, 2012


“That’s how I roll.” 

Have you ever heard that phrase?  I’ve heard it a few times recently.  I used to work with someone and it was one his trademark sayings, something you could count on frequently showing up in conversations with him, often in an amusing way.

“That’s how I roll” is used in reference to the way a person ordinarily does things.  It means “Other people may do something different but this is how I act in this situation. End of story.”

Yesterday I was talking with a person, someone who is going through some adversity, and his very good friend.  During the course of the conversation the friend mentioned that the reason he was there and helping as best he could was “Because that’s how God rolls.”

Whoa!  That changed the direction of our conversation a little bit.  He wasn’t present because he was a good friend, or a loyal friend, and therefore being present was the noble thing to do.  He was there because he was a Christian and as a consequence of his faith he lived his life according to certain values.   Values determined by God.  So he was present to his friend because that was what God was calling him to do. 

As I thought about this the Bible verses that came to mind was Isaiah 55:8-9,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

These verses come in the midst of chapter 55, where Isaiah talks about the compassion that God has for his people.  It was a privilege for me to see God’s compassion being lived out in a human friendship, one where both friends knew who the Author of their friendship really was.

And pondering this brings to mind some current things going on in my life and my family where I am attempting to act not according to my “natural” instincts but in a manner more in agreement with the one I call my Lord and Savior. 

Because that’s how God rolls. 

I know that I am best off rolling His way rather than my own.  Where is He calling you to roll with Him?

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Book Review: With Heart and Mouth: An Exposition of the Belgic Confession by Daniel R. Hyde

A number of statements of faith came out of the Protestant Reformation during 16th and 17th centuries, statements that described what constituted belief by a particular group in contrast to the Roman Catholic Church and other groups .  Many of these statements, both catechisms and confessions, were so well-written that they continue to be held as basic statements of faith today.  The Belgic Confession is one of these enduring statements, and it is affirmed by several denominations that identify themselves as theologically Reformed, including the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church.

The Belgic Confession was written by Guy de Bres in 1561.  De Bres was a pastor in the Netherlands who had previously studied in Geneva under John Calvin.  De Bres’ intent was to provide a systematic statement of belief, one that demonstrated that orthodox Protestant belief, particularly the theology we know today as Reformed, was thoroughly biblical and consistent with the belief system of the early church, and of no threat to the government.  De Bres may have failed in his intended purpose, for he was martyred in 1567, a victim of the persecution he was seeking to end, but the confession he wrote continues to speak vibrantly today.   Teaching the 21st century church the relevance of a 16th century confession is the purpose that underlies With Heart and Mouth: An Exposition of the Belgic Confession by Daniel R. Hyde (Grandville, MI: Reformed Fellowship, Inc., 2008).

Hyde takes a systematic, step-by-step approach in his discussion of the Confession.  He provides an introduction to the setting, theologically and politically, that led to its writing, and he then goes through each of the Confession’s 37 Articles.  De Bres organized his writing well, outlining in turn doctrines of God, Man, Christ, Salvation, the Church, and the End.  As he explains each Article Hyde demonstrates its grounding in history and its continued relevance to the church today.  Time and again Hyde shows how the questions and problems facing the church in the 16th century are questions and problems that we seek to answer again today. 

One example is in the discussion of Article 14.  De Bres wrote a brief yet thorough and biblically-based statement regarding the creation, fall and corruption of man.  Hyde then explains how de Bres’ words remain relevant today, how despite the passing of over four centuries of theology, philosophy and psychology, we have the same desire to understand the world and our place in it.  Hyde shows that the Confession points the Christian to this conclusion: “So - Who am I?  Where did I come from? Where am I going? This is our message to the world – that we were made in the image of God but have shattered ourselves into a thousand pieces by the fall and our actual sins.  Yet in Christ we have been remade, and a day is coming in which we shall be completely remade and restored.” (194)

In addition to thoroughly discussing each Article of the Confession Hyde has included several study questions with each Article, questions that deepen the reader’s understanding and which may also be used to shape a small group or class undertaking a study of the Confession.

In With Heart and Mind Hyde has taken what many people may consider to be a rather black-and-white topic, a somewhat little-known 16th century confession of Christian faith, and presented it in full color.  I highly commend it to anyone who seeks to understand Christian faith in a robust way, both for their own spiritual growth and as they witness to faith in Christ in the places where they live.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Be Still My Soul

Yesterday, while we were driving home from Milwaukee, we learned of the tragedy that occurred in elementary school in Newton, Connecticut.  We were enjoying the morning together, heading home following a week of caring for my mother.  We were a mom, a dad, and a kindergarten-age daughter enjoying a sunny day, remarking on what a good traveler our daughter has become.  And at the very same time there were many parents of similar aged children experiencing the unfolding of something so horrible as to be beyond imagination or comprehension.  I don’t have words that can speak to the pain of this tragedy.

Our practice at bedtime is to read from the Bible with our daughter and then to pray with her.  After the prayer one of us stays with her and sings to her.  We take turns.  We used to hold her and rock her as we sang but now she lies in bed.  Last night it was my turn. 

I sang one song and then I did something that I haven’t done since she was too big to rock.  I hummed a melody.  I hummed the melody known as Finlandia, by Jean Sibelius.  It is the only melody I’ve ever hummed with her.

There are several hymns that use that melody and after tucking her in I looked up the lyrics to the one I am most familiar with, Be Still My Soul, by Kathrina von Schlegel.  Here are those lyrics and I offer them as a prayer to the parents and other people who have been directly impacted by this tragedy. 

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well-pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” 
Ephesians 3:20-21

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Now what? Going Home, part 6

This journey concerning my mom, our family and our travel with her while she is on hospice is going places I never would have anticipated when it began.  She went to the hospital late one day, was critically ill overnight the second day, and had a test that revealed something very seriously wrong on the third day.  There was one treatment option, a large surgery that carried very significant risks.  She declined the surgery and chose to come home with hospice care. 

Earlier this week I learned from my brother that the surgeon expected that her body would fail in 2 to 8 days.  Today is her 25th day at home. 

The day that she came home I slept in her room and her breathing was so labored that I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had died overnight.  And there were two other nights in those first two weeks where I went to bed with the same sense of anticipation, thinking it to be as likely as not that she would die overnight. 

I have been back with her now for six days and things are very stable.  Her breathing is normal, in the sense that it is regular and quiet, so that I don’t have a constant awareness of it.  Her pain is improved to the point that her use of pain medication, which at its highest was much less than what was permitted for her, is currently at zero.  Her last pain medication was 18 hours ago. 

She is still quite tired, napping frequently during the day.  She isn’t eating much but she is eating what she wants, when she wants to, so that in regard to rest and nutrition she is getting what her needs met her way.

I spoke with the coordinator of her care through the hospice agency and they are of the opinion that her precipitating medical condition has, unexpectedly, stabilized.  Her overall physical condition continues to qualify her for hospice care.  The nurse will make daily phone calls but likely be checking on her personally less often than she has over the past three weeks.

When our mother came home from the hospital my siblings and I put together a plan for one, and often more, of us to be with her all of the time.  That has worked well to this point but one of the “Now what?” questions for us is how do we continue to care for our mom, whose death does no longer seems imminent but who will still require 24 hour supervision and assistance? 

These last 25 days have been at times arduous and wrenching on my siblings and our families.  They have tested our relationships with each other, and speaking for myself, have strengthened them. 

This has also been a rich time for me to be present with my mom.  I think that I will always treasure the memories of being with her during this period of her life.  The sheer number of days with her has been a gift.

And this has been a rich time for my mom to visit with friends and family.  It has been a privilege to be present and to hear their stories.  

 I am not certain what is coming next in this journey with our mother, but I do know Who to ground myself in as we seek to find our way.  I join with the Psalmist in saying:

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I left up my soul.” Psalm 143:8 NIV

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christ, our righteousness

The book I am currently reading is With Heart and Mind: An Exposition of the Belgic Confession by Daniel R. Hyde.  The Belgic Confession is one of a number of Protestant confessions, or basic statements of belief, that came out during the Reformation.  The confessions were attempts to articulate what various Protestant groups believed, particularly in contrast to the beliefs held by the dominant Christian group, the Roman Catholic Church.  Two other major confessions are the Augsburg and Westminster, from the Lutheran and Reformed branches of Protestantism.  The Belgic, Augsburg and Westminster Confessions were so comprehensive and clearly written that they are all still held up as statements of faith today.

I could say more about the Belgic Confession and the rich, powerful story that underlies it, but that will wait for another post and/or the book review when I finish my reading.  Tonight I want to talk just a bit about something powerful I read today.

As Hyde explains Article 23 he talks about the negative and positive aspects that come for the person who has faith in Christ. 

Negative benefits to faith?  That took a bit for me to understand, but it was really quite simple.  Negative is in the sense that the believer loses something.  And what the believer loses is his/her sin and the consequent condemnation that the Bible teaches all sinners are due.  In receiving forgiveness the Christian has lost the thing that they will be eternally glad to be rid of.  That is the kind of loss we should rejoice in…often!

So then the positive aspect of faith must be forgiveness, right?  Well that could seem to be the case but Hyde shows us that the positive aspect is so much more.

The first sentence of Article 23 says, “We believe that our salvation consists in the remission of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake, and that therein our righteousness before God is implied; as David and Paul teach us, declaring this to be the blessedness of man that God imputes righteousness to him apart from works.”

God “…imputes righteousness...”  Imputes means that God gives something to believers, and specifically this means that God gives righteousness to believers.  We are not merely cleansed of our sin but we are clothed in righteousness, the righteousness of Christ. 

Hyde explains, “In his wisdom and goodness, our heavenly Father not only completely forgave all our sins but replaced them with something: the righteousness of Jesus Christ.” (306)

He then says, “Our blessedness is founded on the truth that every single acceptable, good, holy and righteous work that Christ did during his life was imputed to us,” adding “In fact, Christ’s entire life of obedience to God and his law; every single moment he lived in which he loved God with his whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and his neighbor as himself in thought word, and deed; and every single moment he lived in which he hated sin, is imputed to our account and reckoned as if we ourselves had done the work.  Since Christ’s merit is infinite, we have an infinite holiness, righteousness, and goodness before God.” (308)

In his second letter to the church at Corinth Paul wrote:

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 6:14

I don’t know about you but as I ponder the image of God viewing me not as I may think of myself before Him, a sinner saved by grace, someone wholly undeserving of God’s mercy, but as someone washed clean of sin and clothed with every good and perfect work of Christ…well, that image is too powerful for me to truly grasp.  It is a vision that leaves me breathless. 

While I can’t really grasp the fullness of being clothed in the righteousness of Christ it is an image that brings forth from my heart and mouth thanks and praise to God, the God who alone could do something so wonderful for me and for all who would call on Him in faith. 

May you know this gift of righteousness as well, a gift that is perfect in every way and one that will endure forever.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

“This Jesus…is the Christ.”

It is a quiet morning at my Mom’s house.  My brother-in-law stayed the night and left for the day at 7:30.  Mom was up about 6:30 but by 8 she was lying on the couch, asleep.  So here I am, with my Bible, some coffee and my computer.  If you haven’t read my blog before, or recently, here is the most recent installment of the story about my mom.

This morning I read Acts 17 and 18.  In my Bible the book is titled The Acts of the Apostles, which it rightly is, but I tend to think of it more often as The Acts of the Holy Spirit, because the presence of the Spirit permeates everything that takes place in the book. 

These two chapters are rich in describing the activity of the Holy Spirit as Paul and his companions travel through Greece.  One of the verses that jumped out at me this morning was Acts 17:3.  Paul had spent three Sabbaths at the synagogue, using the scriptures of the Old Testament as he taught about Jesus.  The verse concludes with Paul saying,

“This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”

Just yesterday I saw a news story where a prominent public person stated that Christianity was not a religion, but a philosophy.  He made this claim, clearly and deliberately, at least twice in the interview segment that I saw so there can hardly be the chance that he misspoke or was misquoted.  And it seems a bit ironic that I read Acts 17 this morning, because verses 16-34 describe Paul’s visit to Athens, where his teaching was given publicly to the leading philosophers of the day, many of whom received it as just one interesting idea among many.

But Paul brought all of the teaching regarding Jesus together with one definitive claim, one that we still need to be mindful of again and again.  “This Jesus…is the Christ.”

Jesus is not just a good teacher, someone who tossed some new twists on the best ways to live in the world, reminding us that we should all work to get along with each other, at home and throughout the world. 

Jesus is not a philosopher presenting another system for us to understand the world and our place in it, such as the Stoics and Epicureans of Paul’s day or the Existentialists of a more recent time.

Jesus is the Christ.  He is the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews.  The One anointed by God.  The promised and expected Deliverer of God’s people.

Jesus doesn’t come to just teach us about God but to do the one thing that we most certainly can’t do, which is to bridge the gap between a fallen humanity and a holy God. 

I am thankful this morning that “This Jesus…is the Christ” and that I can pray to God knowing that amidst the brokenness in which I continue to live that I am also held closely by God’s Anointed.  And my prayer of thanks to Him includes the request that He holds you too.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

“How’s your mom?” Going Home, part 5

“How’s your mom?”  That is a question I have heard numerous times since I last saw her, four days ago.  Nearly everyone who has asked it already knows something of her situation. 

Some asking the question know only that she is not well.  That she has been in the hospital a few times recently and is now at home.  And others who ask know enough of the fuller story.  They know enough that they don’t expect an answer such as “She’s coming along” or “She’s doing fine.”  She may be doing both of those things, but not in the ways that most people would understand those answers to suggest.

I usually start my response by noting that she is slowly failing.  Then I add that she is at home, where she wants to be.  Her pain is being managed.  As best as she can she enjoys the people who visit her.  The person asking and I are usually gently nodding our heads at this point, understanding what these statements mean without having to say any more.

My siblings and I are taking turns caring for her at home.  We are doing so with excellent support from Horizon Home Care and Hospice.  After being away for four days I am back now for a five-day shift.  One of my brothers, who lives nearby, will be checking in and giving occasional relief during my stay.

Our mom is visibly weaker today than when I saw her last, and at that point she was weaker than when she came home from the hospital and began hospice care.  Tonight I learned that her physician anticipated that at that time she would likely live no more than 8 days.  In what has now been nearly three weeks there have been three nights where I slept in her room and she seemed to be having so much trouble breathing that I thought the night could easily be her last. 

I sometimes wonder what is keeping her alive.  Is there any particular reason her failing body has not exhausted itself?  It can’t be because of a tenacious inner desire to live as long as possible.  If that were the case she would not have declined the surgery she was offered.  She would have accepted the risks inherent in it and gone forward. 

It also seems very unlikely that she is “waiting” for a last visit from a particular person.  The people dearest to her, living both far and near, have all been to see her since beginning hospice. 

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

I can speculate on the “reasons” my mom is sleeping in her bedroom right now, rather than resting in the eternal grasp of her Lord and Savior.  But all of my speculation doesn’t change the fact that all of her days, even this one, were known by God before a single one of them came to be.  He has His reasons, and as I care for my mom on this visit I do so knowing that His reasons are always best. 

“How’s your mom?”  “She’s fine.  She’s resting for the journey home.”

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.