Where is your power to hurt?

For what is mortal must be changed into what is immortal; what will die must be changed into what cannot die. So when this takes place, and the mortal has been changed into the immortal, then the scripture will come true: “Death is destroyed; victory is complete!”

“Where, Death, is your victory?
Where, Death, is your power to hurt?”

Death gets its power to hurt from sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

So then, my dear friends, stand firm and steady. Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless.

1 Corinthians 15:53-58 (GNT)

In the past five years, I have lost various friends and family members, ranging in age from 36 to 96. It has made me realise that our culture acts as if death is something that can be overcome by sheer willpower, or else something to be ignored, until it happens. Which is ridiculous. Old age and infirmity are treated in the same way. Also ridiculous.

To prevent some of the painful, distressing events that occurred when my in-laws became infirm and subsequently died, I have come up with a plan: a questionnaire about funeral, burial, infirmity, illness and the dying process. If I can get everyone to fill it in this Christmas (which is the next time we’re getting together as a family), from the youngest to the oldest, maybe we can be a little better prepared for when the inevitable takes place.

What happened with my in-laws, as much as it was distressing it was equally infuriating because with a little bit of planning and forethought, so much could have gone so much more smoothly. Their suffering, let alone that of their nearest and dearest, could have been reduced. I’m not in any way blaming my in-laws – they were just behaving in the culturally-accepted norm. Everyone was trying their best as they saw it at the time. But it is a norm that is unnecessary and can often be actively harmful to both the ill or infirm person and to their loved ones. I don’t want my kids having to make those kinds of decisions when the time comes, or for them to be placed in those circumstances. I want them to already know, to have it right there in black and white what my wishes are about end-of-life care and what happens after.

I came across this video on youtube that may be helpful (in fact there is a great deal of helpful content across the channel as a whole):

I can also recommend the following books that changed the way I approach old age, infirmity, illness, dying and death:

Contented Dementia by Oliver James

In the Midst of Life by Jennifer Worth

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

Are there any books, videos or websites that you can recommend on any of these subjects? Let me know in the comments. Thank you. God bless you.

Faster than Grace?

‘The enclosed is an answer to that which I received from ____. Please deliver it to her. She is full of good will but she would go faster than grace! One does not become holy all at once.’

~ extract from the 9th letter to a friend, Brother Lawrence, as found in ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’

Wise words! I wonder how many of us (especially mothers?) try to ‘hurry’ grace? We’re so used to being competent, to looking after those around us (we’re so used to wondering how on earth they’d cope without us) that we lack patience when it comes to godly matters. But we can’t rush God.

Two extracts from the New Testament come to mind, from The Message. The first is from Romans, chapter 12 verses 1-2:

‘So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life… and place it before God as an offering… fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.’

Secondly, the words of our dear Saviour Himself in Matthew, chapter 11 verses 28-29:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

Wayward Thoughts

matthew-6-33-bible

‘One way to recollect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquillity, is not to let it wander too far at other times. Keep your mind strictly in the presence of God. Then being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least to recall it from its wanderings. I have told you already of the advantages we may draw from this practice of the presence of God. Let us set about it seriously and pray for one another.’

~ Brother Lawrence, eighth letter to a friend,

‘The Practice of the Presence of God’

‘…seek first the kingdom of God…’

Matt 6:33 (NKJV)

All Our Strivings Cease

‘… spend the remainder of your life only in worshipping God. He requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance of Him from time to time, a little adoration. Sometimes to pray for His grace. Sometimes to offer Him your sufferings. And sometimes to return Him thanks for the favours He has given you, and still gives you in the midst of your troubles. Console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him at your meals and when you are in company. The least little remembrance will always be pleasing to Him.’

~ Brother Lawrence, extract from his seventh letter to a friend, from ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’

When I am weak, then I am strong’ wrote Paul.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matt.11:28-30 NRSVA

Stop trying so hard. Just fix your mind on Jesus. ‘Whoever has God lacks nothing’, Teresa of Avila wrote, so why do we always think we ‘ought’ to be more, do more? Do I think I can out-do God? Ridiculous! When my gaze is fixed on Him, all the rest follows as effortlessly – and as incomprehensibly – as day follows night.

Thank you, Lord, for Your abundant goodness; may I never forget that Your grace is always enough. Amen.

In Humility

Our sanctification [does] not depend upon changing our works. Instead, it [depends] on doing that for God’s sake which we commonly do for our own.

The Practice of the Presence of God

~ Brother Lawrence

 

I have a lot of boring tasks, being a housewife. I have had to give up studying with the OU, again, because I can’t keep up with it and keep up with caring for my family. I had my doubts about whether I could manage it when I started the course in October, but it was worth a try. It was with some sadness that I decided to stop, but also a sense of relief. Now I know that I am doing everything I need to do, not for my sake, but for His (also, God was gracious enough to allow me to leave on a high note, having scored 97% in my latest assignment, so at least I know I can pick up where I left off when I’m better)!

I have to rest a lot, so I have been trying to incorporate this attitude into even my resting. It’s not so bad feeling rough if it’s for God’s sake. The thought brings comfort. And then when I do have my energy restored, I can go about my tasks with a heart of humility and service. Also, I make sure that Sundays are a day of rest. This helps prevent any sense of resentment or negativity. God planned for us to work and be diligent, but He also planned for us to rest. I think we too often ignore this in the 21st century. Our digital era insists we never stop. But we must.