Tarrying Grief (Poem)

Painting for dad

It’s only been a few months since I saw you last.
Seems like it’s been longer since the day you passed.

I’m trying to remember your last words before departing from this place.
I didn’t realize it would be the last time that I would see your face.

I want to pick up the phone and call you for one of our little talks.
Then I realize you won’t answer and my heart wants to stop.

My eyes look for signs of you and sometimes feel you near.
Then I realize you’re with God and not actually here.

Sometimes I gasp for air in moments of tears and grief
Then our family receives a painting and their love brings relief.

I wonder how the reunion is going up in heaven above.
Do you see all the others who believed in Jesus’ love?

Are you busy praising God like the scriptures say?
What’s it like to be there in His presence on this very day?

My view from here is skewed but my perspective hasn’t changed.
I will tell others, if only a few, about eternity set for days.

Jesus came to save our soul; no other gospel is true.
God’s redemptive love poured out upon the likes of me and you.

Kim Thomas
June, 2018

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

Our Lord and God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things, and by your will they exist and were created. Revelation 4:11

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Life After 9/11

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Beam left standing in the form of the Cross

I realize we are past the 15th anniversary of 9/11/2001 and publishing this post may seem late. However, I beleive the timing is perfect for someone and I’m praying for the person(s) this is meant to encourage. For me, 9/11 it’s a constant reminder that I need a deep relationship with God. Last year I went to New York for the first time in my life and when I returned, I started this post. However, it has been sitting as a draft ever since. I knew when the timing was right, I would share. Here’s my experience and I hope you will come along with me.

Saint Paul’s Chapel was the only building that didn’t sustain damage on September 11, 2001. I recall hearing about this at the time but there’s nothing like seeing it with your own eyes.

It was my first trip to New York and I was so happy to see the city with my precious step-daughter, Chelsea. She invited me to come along on a work trip so we took advantage of the opportunity and went early for the weekend to take in the sites and see a Broadway play.

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The whole weekend was amazing! We started day one with a tour of New York City. It was a rainy and windy cold day. It was Fall which is something Texas doesn’t do well. Our tour consisted of bus and boat and it was fantastic! We saw many sites such as the Empire State Building, Flatiron Building, Rockefeller Center, Madison Square Garden, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial site and much more. Our tour guide, Bernice, was great! You could tell she loved her job and the city.

She shared wonderful details about all the sites and when she talked about 9/11, her story became personal. Seems like everyone has a 9/11 story if you were alive that day. However, her story really resonated with me and I want to share it.

Bernice had a dream the night before 9/11 of planes crashing into the World Trade Center buildings. She was scheduled to give a tour of the World Trade Center to a bus load of people at promptly 9:00 am on September 11, 2001. She called in to work and told them that she needed to cancel the tour and would not make it to work that day.

I don’t have to tell you what happened because you know the rest of the story of that horrible day. Bernice praised God for saving her life and others.

Bernice has had other dreams and learned to pay attention to them long ago. On another occasion she dreamed of leaving her apartment and being mugged and badly beaten. When she woke and left her apartment the next day, she was mugged and badly beaten. Bernice has learned something that some of us might want to think about. I believe she listens to God and this is how God speaks to her. He speaks to all of us and often times we are not aware or we choose to ignore.

God spoke to me loud and clear to me following that dreadful September 11th day. You see I had a relationship with God for eternity, but not a relationship for the here and now. The bible tells us that Jesus came they we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). The Common English Bible translation says “…so they could live life to the fullest”. I knew he wanted me to find a place to worship and grow in the knowledge of who he was, is, and is to come. That day was a turning point in my life and I sought God with all my heart. Looking back, I’m grateful for taking the next step toward God and can see why he was preparing me for a better life…a life with Him at the center of everything.

Nothing can shake the foundation set in place by the One who delivered me from sin and death. I’ve been able to endure grief, sorrow, pain, and loss because God is my strength. I’ve also been able to experience joy, grace, peace, love, and life because God is my strength.

I believe God gave us a strong message by the standing and unaffected Saint Paul’s Chapel during the 9/11 attacks. There’s no explanation for why that building is still standing as it is literally across the street from where the Twin Towers stood. God purposely preserved this chapel and for me, it’s a message of hope and eternity. Don’t wait another second to follow after God and may you respond to the call he has on your life.

Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27

 

 

 

 

 

Suffering

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This time of year can be joyous and painful. I find it to be a mix of both. As I reflect on my past, I remember a loved one. As I consider my present, I’m blessed with family and friends.

There is much conflict in the world around us and it seems to be encroaching into our own part of the world. We are unsure, we are uncertain, we are afraid, and we are sad. We want life to be the way it used to be but then we see beauty in today when someone is kind, thoughtful, and loving.

We don’t know who to blame for chaos in the world or in our own heart. We don’t know when it will end. We hold on to the very Word of God and Jesus who is our hope and our future. We hold to the Healer who mends our hearts and heals our wounds.

Suffering

In the suffering and in the pause,
We search for meaning and the cause.

Nowhere to find the cause nor blame,
Often leads to sob and shame.

In times of difficulty, trial, and disparity,
We pray to the Lord and look for charity.

Asking God to take this cup from me,
We yearn for healing from this we grieve.

Our hearts are anxious and all a flutter;
Then mouths are filled with words we stutter.

In the face of mistrust and uncertain danger,
We look for hope amidst the manger.

Where Christ offers peace like no other,
Sharing good news and how His love covers.

Lives are at stake for all who are lost;
It is Jesus Christ who paid the cost.

So suffering will come, and suffering will leave;
The Word is our hope and our future to cleave.

Fix your eyes on the Healer who delivers us all,
Knowing Jesus has answered from the very first call.

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. Isaiah 53:4-5

Kim Thomas
November, 2015

He Is Your Life

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So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. Colossians 3:1-4 (The Message)

When I consider the passage above, I am reminded that we are to die to our old self and live in the newness of Jesus Christ. This is a choice, even though the Holy Spirit guides us, because we can choose to grieve the Holy Spirit and live in the old self. I find that sometimes I want to put on the old self. Anyone else? Our nature is to satisfy self and live in our desires. This is how the world lives and we see it everywhere every day.

I love how the Message translation reads “so if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it”. So true….actions say a lot don’t they? Pursue the things over which Christ presides is a perfect way of telling us to pursue godly things. I don’t always feel like reaching for my bible first thing but when I do, I am the one who is blessed. I am the one who benefits from spending time with God. Then I find like the next verse that I am not self-absorbed when I do spend time with God. I think about others and I seek to help others just like God would do. I am able to be a vessel for Him and be used in ways that only God can use a person.

If I am dead to my old life and my new life is real, then Christ is my life. Of course, this is not referring to physical death it’s referring to spiritual death. However, I want to share something about physical death. In my position at the church, I am the Director of Congregational Care and Adult Discipleship. In the role of congregational care, I help to care for people who are sick and hurting and some of the sick die. Being with those who are believers when they die, those are holy moments. You feel an assurance and presence of God in those times. I was at the bedside of my mother when she went to be with God. It was beautiful and something I will always cherish. She had fought a long battle with cancer and it was time to go be with God.

On May 15, 2015, my husband and I were driving home from dinner and we took another route home instead of our usual. This two-lane road did not have shoulders and it is a road with a few hills. It’s a pretty drive and it was a nice evening, still daylight around 7:30 pm. We came over a small hill to see two cars in front of us and it was evident they had just collided. There was a car in front of us and we stopped. We jumped from our cars to see it was a horrible accident, a head-on collision. Pieces of the cars and items from the cars were strewn everywhere. One of the drivers was coming in and out of consciousness and the other was unresponsive. We could not get them out of the cars because the cars were too mangled. All we could do was call 911 and try to put out a small fire under the hood of one of the cars. You can imagine our relief when the fire trucks showed up to make sure this situation didn’t get worse. That accident didn’t end well for one of the victims and a 28 year old woman was pronounced dead at the scene. This has affected me and like most traumatic experiences and I am changed.

My perspective is fresh and my purpose is clear—we do not have time to waste. There are people out there who do not have a relationship with God through Jesus. I know that I cannot and do not save people, that is God’s job alone and I am not judging this young woman’s salvation because only God knows a person’s heart. But I will tell you that following the accident, I could not find evidence of God in her life when looking at social media and family comments. A memorial service was held at a Universalism Unitarian Church and this tells me there is confusion among her family regarding Jesus. All roads do not lead to heaven only the path through Jesus Christ. I am praying for her family as they grieve and for a real saving knowledge of how to receive eternal life.

So what are some ways we can share Jesus with people we barely know? May I suggest putting on Christ every day and living out the Christian life by putting on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another. Above all, the scriptures tell us to put on love—the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3:12-14).

Pray for opportunities to share Jesus with others and God will give them to you. And if you chicken out at the time of opportunity, pray for another opportunity. I have found God to be faithful to give second chances and third chances and so on and so on.

Here’s a thought, next time you are at the store, notice the person who is at the register. Make time to have a one to two minute conversation about them. I have found that some are quiet and don’t want to talk but many are eager for someone to ask them something about them. They have to say things like, “did you find everything ok today?” and if you respond with a question about them such as “how’s your day going” or “how are you today”, I’m always amazed at how people want to share. We just don’t take the time in our busy all about me world to ask a simple question. So think about making yourself available at an inconvenient time to listen to someone else by acknowledging them. Nothing makes a person feel more valued that someone spending time with them and often times, it only takes a minute or two. This is just one small way to show God’s love to people and you never know the impact it could have on a person. You may just be the only person who seems to care that day.

So don’t shuffle around with your eyes to the ground
Absorbed with the things in front of you
Look up, be alert and make yourself found
Be the person God can use.

Love Made Known

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John 17:20-26 Jesus Prays for All Believers
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Jesus was betrayed and led to his death on the cross, but right before that happened he prayed for all believers. He prayed for unity among believers and complete unity with himself and God. He said if we have this unity, then the world will know that God sent Jesus and the world would understand God’s love.

I wonder if we have missed the mark and this saddens me. I don’t know if we are united as a group of believers. I don’t necessarily see us all working together for the kingdom as much as working to make our own churches or ministries successful. We get so hung up on our doctrine that we forget lives are on the line.

Last weekend, I attended a memorial service for my uncle who was a Jehovah Witness. It’s my understanding that he believed Jesus existed but didn’t believe he needed him as a Savior. He didn’t believe in hell and didn’t believe he needed “saving” from his sin. He “worked” hard to achieve in that faith and believed his “good works” would allow him to be resurrected when Jesus comes to establish his kingdom on earth. Until then, he will be asleep like being under anesthesia is how it was explained at his memorial service.

I loved my uncle, he was my mother’s brother. There were approximately 20 Christ believing followers at his service among approximately 100 Jehovah Witnesses. We were definitely outnumbered but all of us were praying for them while they were trying to convince us of their belief system. You see the power of God and God’s love can and will transform hearts under any circumstances. Unfortunately, it’s too late for my uncle but it’s never too late for those who are still drawing breath.

Will you unite with me and join me in praying for those who need to know God’s love and saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? Because when Christ does return, my hope is that we can say we did all we could.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:13

Waiting

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I waited patiently for the LORD, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help. Psalm 40:1

As I am anticipating the anniversary of my mother’s death, I am reminded that The Lord hears me and my cry for help. When I am a mess, He is not. When I am sad, He is not. When I am angry for a death that came too soon, He is not. When I am tired, He is not. When I am weak, He is not.

So I wait patiently for the LORD in many ways and areas in my life. When I wait for Him, God is doing a work in me and is always faithful. He turns to me like a parent to a child and says, I am here and I hear you. I see you and I hear you, I am here and will never leave you.

Last evening my church held a Service of Hope and Healing for those who are experiencing grief during this Christmas season. It was a small, quiet and very meaningful service. The Stephen Ministers served Holy Communion, assisted those in lighting a candle in remembrance of someone and were available to offer a prayer. Our Pastor anointed those with oil who needed a blessing and gave a beautiful message of hope through Christ who is our light in the darkness. It was beautiful and I hope those who came felt the presence of God deep within.

In ministry, I see a lot of hurting people for all kinds of reasons. But one thing I have noticed is that all need Jesus. Jesus truly is the bread of life and without him, we are lifeless. Jesus tells us in John 10:10, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” Jesus not only wants to give you life for the hereafter, but also for the here and now. Only Jesus can do that for you and me. So if this holiday season is difficult, call out to Jesus. He sees you and hears you.

I close with this thought, in the first New Testament book of Matthew 1:23. The prophet Isaiah is quoted, “See the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel.” The name Immanuel means God with us. Glory to God, for He is with us. Know this dear brothers and sisters, God is with you.

Will you allow His presence to comfort you this season?