"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 6, 2014
We have all heard the saying, "Home is where the heart is," and that is very likely true. But there is also something very special about having deep-grounded roots.
Jon and I were recently talking about how blessed we are regarding this very thing. This house we own and live in full-time is the home that Jon grew up in. Our home in Oklahoma is the house that Jon's parents brought him home to when he was born, it's where he grew up and lived until he moved away to college, and it's where his parents lived until we got married. Jon has roots and memories in this home because it's where his dad and mom lived for approximately thirty-five years or so.
When we got married, his parents' goal was retirement and they decided they wanted to downsize, so they offered to let us rent this house from them. A few years ago they offered to let us buy it from them, so we now own it. Jon has emotional attachments to this property, because this is "home" to him. I've also begun to feel as if this was home to me, because it's the only place Jon and I have lived since getting married, so we have nine years of putting down roots here together.
But we also have the home in Missouri where I grew up; my sisters and I are co-owners of that property. Jon and I enjoy getting to spend time there as often as we can. That is the house that I grew up in, so I have a lot of emotional attachments there, and I still call it home. I have so many memories of living there with my family and have a lot of roots there, also. Jon absolutely loves it and that is our happy place that we go to when we need to relax and get away.
Here's the main difference between the two properties (other than one being in the city and one in the country.... one in Oklahoma and one in Missouri....): Jon and I have bought the house we live in together in Bixby, Ok from his parents.
On the other hand, my dad paid off the mortgage on the property in Lampe, MO before I was even born. Even after my mom passed away and Daddy remarried and moved to my step-mother's property in Arkansas, he retained ownership of that property. His desire was to keep it to give to his five daughters as an inheritance one day. And that's what happened. When Daddy passed away a few years ago, the deed to the land was put in our names and we now share ownership of it.
In order for us to have inherited the house and property, my dad had to die. As long as he was alive, he held the deed to the property and was the one responsible for taxes and upkeep and keeping renters in the house. But after his death, the land passed on to us five girls and we became responsible for taxes, upkeep, and what to do with the property. Our choice would have been for Daddy to live and have him here with us. But we are so grateful that he left us this shared inheritance, and we choose to be good stewards of what he has left us and take care of it.
Daddy didn't want to leave the property to just anyone. He didn't want it to go to a sibling, nephew or niece, or even to a grandchild (although I'm sure he would be happy the grandkids enjoy going there). He wanted it to be left to his children -- his daughters. And as his daughters, we have a right to the inheritance that he willingly left for us.
In Romans 8:14-17 the scripture tells us that all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. We're not fearful slaves, but God has adopted us as His own children. Now we can call Him "Father". Since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Jesus, we are heirs of God's glory. Some versions word it: "If we are children, then we are heirs -- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ." That sounds awesome!! We are God's children, therefore, we are an heir to His glory! Woo-hoo!!
But then we finish reading the verse that follows this promise. "But if we are to share His [Jesus's] glory, we must also share His suffering." NO!!! We want to be co-heirs in the glory and good stuff, but we sure don't want to have to also share His suffering.
If we continue reading, verse 18 tell us this: "Yet what we suffer is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later."
In order for us to become sons and daughter of God; in order for us to become heirs and be able to share in the inheritance of God's glory, someone had to die. Just as my dad had to die in order for us girls to become heirs of our family homestead, Jesus had to die in order for us to become heirs in God's glory. We can only inherit this glory because of Jesus giving His life on our behalf.
Growing up, my family was very close and we shared life together. We shared the good times and laughed together. But we also shared the hardships and cried together. One example is when my mom was battling cancer and became so very sick. Finances were tight, more times than not. But the responsibility of the family didn't lie completely on Daddy's shoulders. We all did what we needed to do and pitched in to help. I was still in high school, so was limited in what I was able to do. Two of my sisters were still living at home and were working. They often used their own money to help buy groceries and pay bills. They didn't do it grudgingly, and I doubt that Daddy ever even asked them to do so, but they did it willingly because they knew there was a need and helping out was just what families do. One of my sisters quit her job and stayed home to give care to Mama when she needed someone with her continually. We all pitched in and shared in the duties and responsibilities and we bore the burden together. My point is, as a family, we carried the load and all shared in the hard times to make it easier on one another. My family had a lot of good times and times of blessing, we also had bad times and times of hardship; but regardless of the situation, we shared it together.
In life, there will be those times of blessing and everything going smoothly. But there will also be those times of suffering and hardship. Sharing the suffering of Christ doesn't mean that we are all going to go through exactly what He went through. The life of Jesus wasn't always easy and blessed, and He endured a lot. He was criticized, mocked, falsely accused, ridiculed, had people offended by His message, was beaten, tortured, and crucified. I doubt that we will be tortured and nailed to a cross. But we may go through times of being criticized or ridiculed for the stand we take for our beliefs and faith in Christ.
If we want to be heirs of God and share in His glory, then we have to remain faithful at all times, regardless of our circumstances. We have to keep our focus on God and love Him and serve Him, even if we feel like the world or our situation is overwhelming and falling down around our feet. Jesus stayed focus on His mission and His purpose for coming, even during those moments when He got frustrated and angry at people and what was going on around Him. He knew that the glory that awaited Him was far greater than anything He would endure during His time on earth.
We have that same promise. Regardless of how tough life gets or what we have to go through, it's nothing compared to the glory that awaits us for all eternity. However long our life may be on earth, it's just a grain of sand in comparison to the length of eternity. I don't like suffering, I don't like hardships, I don't like problems, I don't like difficulties, I don't like sickness, I don't like stress...... and all those other things that comes with our life at times. I fall down and mess up and make mistakes and get side-traced at time. But I always get back up and try to get my priorities in order and refocus on what's truly important. Anything I go through on earth is really nothing compared to the glory our Heavenly Father will one day reveal!!!
I want to live my life as an heir of God. I want to stayed focused and remember the glory that will one day be revealed to me by my Heavenly Father. It will be worth it all when my life comes to a close and I stand before God. I want to hear Him say, "Well done, My daughter! You've run the race well and did good! Welcome home!!" I pray that is your desire and goal, also!
I've been reading Genesis lately. And one of the more recent parts I've read about is the inheritance Jacob and Esau fought over from Isaac. Isaac was old and going blind, so he called Esau to give him his final blessing and inheritance. In chapter 27, Jacob stole the blessing, and had already bought the inheritance from Esau for a bowl of soup. Jacob left the inheritance with Esau and fled for fear of Esau. Isaac isn't mentioned much again till chapter 35. It was over 20 years later, when he was 180 years old, that Isaac died "at a ripe old age" (or maybe past ripe). That would make Jacob and Esau about 80 years old when they buried their father.
I remembered that Isaac didn't really die soon after he gave the inheritance to Jacob, but didn't notice it was many years later. In the meantime, Jacob went to stay with a relative, took two wives and two concubines, had 12 sons (the twelfth just before Isaac died), and became very wealthy.
How often do we jump the gun, and prepare for death or whatever calamity we expect? I'm sure Isaac was well taken care of, but he gave over everything to his son when he assumed he was just about to die. And then he lived on 20 more years. We shouldn't give up so easily. I think it's fine to make a will, and be prepared to go. But don't dig your grave just yet.
Tin Foil Dinner
(This meal can be made over a campfire or in an oven.)
1 lb. Ground Beef, crumbled
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 potatoes, quartered
Green Beans (optional)
6 carrots, cut into chunks
1 onion, sliced
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Place meat in center of large piece of aluminum foil (you may want to double the foil to make sure it doesn't tear holes in it while cooking). Cover with vegetables; add salt and pepper. Fold foil over and seal securely. Place on top of hot coals; cook and turn. Cook until done.
You can also bake in 350 oven for 1 hour or until done.
Jon and I have been talking lately that we spend way too much time in front of the TV. Often we will have it on, even if there is nothing worth watching on at the time. We decided that we would have one night a week where we would turn it off and go without TV; but so far we haven't done too well with that. It's a bad habit that we've got into, and one that is tough to break. Although we have good intentions, we often don't follow through.
When we go to our property in the country, we go the entire time without TV. There is one in one of the bedrooms with a VCR attached that some of the family will watch occasionally when they are at the house, but Jon and I choose not to watch it. There is no internet at the house, so we have no computers.
We have found that that is some of our most enjoyable times. We will sit outside and relax; just visiting, looking at the scenery, listening to the birds, etc. In the evenings, we will read. This past weekend when we went, we took a board game that we played together. Spending that time with no distractions is some of the best quality time we get.
We have decided to try and make a greater effort at turning off the TV and electronics and spend time really enjoy that time. When we go out to eat, we're making more of an effort to keep our phones off and not use our iPad. We've been playing board games in the evenings sometimes.
Sometimes we, as a whole, get so caught up in letting electronics and TV steal our attention from one another. We forget how to focus on one another and give our undivided attention. We do that not only with our spouses, but with friends and family and sometimes even at church.
I remember growing up, we would go visit aunts and uncles many evenings. The grown-ups would sit and visit and we kids would play. We didn't watch TV or play video games or play on phones; mainly because we didn't have most of those things back in those days. But our extended family was extremely close, and I believe it was because we spent time talking and listening and enjoying time together.
I challenge you, and me, to make more of an effort to begin to carry on some of those traditions from the "old days". Concentrate on others, and put away the phones and electronics. Turn the TV off occasionally. Focus on others and building relationships.
Here is my challenge to us all: For the month of August, take at least 1-2 days a week where you turn off the TV and all electronics for the entire day. What?!?! When you have dinner with someone, keep your phone in your pocket. If it rings or you get a text, you can always call or text back later. Who's with me?!? I'd like to hear from you at the end of the month, if you will join me for this experiment, to let me know how it went.
The optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon