By the end of the week November will be over. Thanksgiving is past. We anticipate Advent and the beautiful season of our Lord’s Nativity. It is our first Christmas on Bittersweet Farm. They say by morning we can expect a significant snowfall. That will add to the festive mood and help me as I prepare my Christmas messages for Bethel Church. We added a couple new bird feeders last week. One looks like a red barn and the other looks like a little white church. I filled them with black-oil sunflower seeds and the birds and a squirrel were busy around them tonight while I puttered in the yard and enjoyed an evening comfortable enough for a light jacket.
They Must Have Prayed for Us
Thanksgiving ended and a little at the time the children took the grandchildren, strapped them in their little car seats, and drove away. As is our custom we stand and wave until they disappear over the hill to the west, then we walk back into the house with a lump in our throats.
We pick up the little things they left laying around and every thing reminds us of them, what they said, and the little people they are becoming. We tidy the house and put things back in order…
And we pray.
We pray that these dark and evil times will not crush the life out of them. We pray that they will have the endurance to stand against the strong tide of evil that pushes against them. We pray that the children will be safe and well, that they will know God intimately and love Him deeply.
We pray that they will turn their back on the empty promises the world makes and build their lives on the promises of the Word of God.
We remind ourselves that we are not the only generation, not the only people, who have had to keep the fire of our faith alive while cold winds of cynicism and skepticism, immorality and infidelity threaten to blow it out.
We climb the stairs to bed and we talk and our hearts breathe out prayer to God for their lives and their precious souls. Though more and more the world around them is filled with people living in open rebellion toward God or in dark ignorance of God.
We pray that they will flourish spiritually, a remnant of faithfulness, a faithful minority in whom the sweet Holy Spirit of God dwells.
We pray that they will be holy and happy and healthy, filled with all fullness of God and strengthened with might by His power in their inner person.
We pray that they will be among those of whom Paul wrote to the Ephesians there would be… “…glory in the church through all generations…”
We pray and plead with God to keep growing us into the example they need of people living in joyful and complete dependance upon God.
We pray and confess our great weakness, our poor examples, our failures and sins and selfishness–all of the ugly things in us that might have distracted them from the beauty of Jesus.
Then we drift off to sleep and wake up in the night and their faces come before us. We remember the things we said to them. We remember the words they said to us. We know in the stillness of the night that You alone are our only hope and help. You alone are their only hope and help.
I wonder if my grandparents who all came to know and love the Lord in mid-life, felt the same way about us when we drove away from a long holiday weekend together. Then I remember their sober faces and their eyes searching our eyes for understanding. I remember their affirmations of love, the preparations they made, the tender warnings they gave. When I think of it I remember their gentle warnings and their worn Bibles and I remember their habits of faith and faithfulness. I remember their practical gifts. I remember their humble homes. I remember the little circles of prayer when we parted and their tearful eyes.
And then I know that when we drove out of sight they must have gone to their rooms and they must have lay in their beds and their hearts must have ached with tenderness and they must have prayed for us. They must have remembered the things I said. They would have noticed how quickly I had grown since last I saw them. They must have wanted to open my little heart and take the love of God they had found and put it into mine… I’m sure they worried. It was the sixties. The world was becoming a scary place to raise kids.
They prayed. I’m sure of it. Sure of it. And they are with the Lord now and they have been for years. But I have built my life on the promises of God. I have placed my hope in the God of my Fathers and the God of my Mothers. Those people who stood waving goodbye, walked back into the house fighting back tears, lay in their bed and prayed. Carried their Bibles to church and sang and prayed and listened to the preaching of God’s Word and hoped for grandchildren would follow Jesus.
Summit Township, Michigan
November 25, 2018
I have created a podcast called; Stories from Bittersweet Farm. You can listen to it here. Soon it will be available in iTunes. I will point you to it what it is available.
Like a John Sloane Print
If you know the Bittersweet Farm story you know that the first time we saw the place it reminded me of a John Sloane print. This was the kind of house John Sloane would paint. Often there would be a middle-aged man standing in the picture looking off in the distance. Every year I would purchase a calendar of John Sloane pictures. Every month I would turn to the new month and stand in my study for a quiet moment and imagine myself in the picture. Fact is at the time I had to drive 30 minutes to a Metropark and I had to purchase a special sticker for my window just to take a walk under some trees.
Since God provided Bittersweet Farm, all I have to do is step out the back door. The fields around are owned by a kind neighbor who has given me permission to roam the hundreds of acres afield whenever I want. This week I wanted you to see a side-by-side comparison of a John Sloane print and a photo I snapped of our home this fall.