Resting in the Everlasting Arms

 Everlasting Arms

Deuteronomy 32:27: Our eternal refuge with Our Creator eternal, and God’s almighty arms underneath are everlasting.

I am almost three weeks into my radiation treatments for prostate cancer (my prognosis is positive and the treatments are quick and painless, and I am thankful that so far I have had no adverse effects), and share a ride with a woman whom I’ll call Sharon from our church. It’s nice to have company on the 32-mile round trip drive, and I’ve gotten to know Sharon better over the past couple of weeks.

The past couple of weeks, Sharon has shared a number of stories from her past with me. She grew up in Derry, a small town in New Hampshire and went to the local high school, where Robert Frost taught for a while. (She told me she did not have him as a teacher.) The population was so small that one school bus covered the entire attendance area. And I thought I had a long bus ride in high school! Sharon went on to say that buses were only for students through grade eight. After that, they were on their own. Her father went to work at 6:30 AM and dropped her at a traffic circle about a half mile from school. The janitor lived at the school so he had the building open and stoves going when she arrived. I imagine it was a glimpse of Paradise to come in to a warm building from the New Hampshire winter.

Sharon’s older brother was born in 1930. While he was still an infant, his mother stood holding him in their living room while an electrical storm raged about them. Lightning struck the house, traveled into the room and hit the baby, not harming the mother at all. Of course the infant suffered neurological damage and had seizures and other medical problems the rest of his short life. He passed away at age seven when Marge was four, and she spoke with great tenderness of taking care of this unfortunate child.

I had never heard of a babe in arms being struck by lightning, much less while being held in loving arms. It seems to me a parallel to how God treats each of us as God’s eternal children. We are babes in this world, and as the storms of life rage about us, sometimes we are struck by any number of destructive forces. But no matter how we are harmed or the extent of our injuries and diseases, the arms that hold us are everlasting. Let us praise God for God’s goodness, care, compassion and eternal vigilance over us, who are to the Creator as babies to their mothers.

 

 

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Red Shoes

A guest post by our younger daughter Alyssa.

Today I wore a black dress and red shoes.

A little after 2 p.m. Tuesday afternnon I stopped by Pierce Funeral Home to say goodbye to someone I looked up to.  He was many things: a retired Lt. Col, a husband, father, and grandfather, a Sunday School teacher, a friend. Carrol Bryant was a fixture at my parents’ church as I was growing up, and one of the kindest, most real Christians I ever met.  And by “real Christian,” I don’t mean someone that went to church every Sunday and always carried their Bible.  (Because as we know, going to church makes you a Christian as much as sitting in your garage makes you a car.)  He was kind.  He was genuine.  He measured his life in love.

Mr. Bryant and my dad taught a Sunday School class together, which was an odd combination if there ever was one: the veteran marine, and the hippie who was once pepper sprayed for protesting the war.  But they got along famously.  I don’t know that I ever saw Mr. Bryant be unkind to anyone.  In fact, his zest for life was apparent regardless of what he was doing: chaperoning a bunch of sixth graders on a camp retreat (God bless him), repairing a damaged house, cleaning cafeteria trays after Wednesday church supper.  If it needed to be done, he did it, and he did it with a huge smile.  In fact, if anyone wore red shoes–particularly my mother–Mr. Bryant would dance with them down the hallways of the church.

Often many church staff members’ kids became distanced and disenchanted with the church and its politics, and feel as though they were “projects” for various ministers, deacons, elders, and others.  Not so with Mr. Bryant–it never even occurred to him see anyone as a project: he saw a person. He loved people into the church, and that, believe it or not, is a rare quality,  Carrol made me want to be a better person.

So today I wore my black dress for my friend who was double my age, but who had quadruple the heart.  And I wore my red shoes, because when you measure your life in love, sometimes you just have to take ’em for a spin down the hallway.

Alyssa Verner – July 1, 2014

Gone Too Soon

Photo courtesy of the Blue Ridge School

Photo courtesy of the Blue Ridge School

Revelation 21:6: He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

I don’t know if you have as much trouble as I do when a young person passes away suddenly, either from an accident or illness or, worse yet, senseless violence. Maybe it’s because I taught high school for long, or maybe it’s because we had children of our own or maybe it’s just a human reaction to the suffering causes by such losses. I have a hard time with it.

Such is the case with the brutal murder of 21-year-old Andrew Pochter, who was stabbed in Alexandria, Egypt, while he was witnessing the riots there and taking video of them on his cell phone. He was mistaken for a protester and died soon after in a military hospital.

Young Andrew was there teaching English to children and improving his Arabic. He was raised in a combination Christian/Jewish household and had come to embrace the Jewish aspect of his life recently. Here’s a link to a story about his faith journey: http://forward.com/articles/179578/slain-college-student-andrew-pochter-driven-by-jew/

And here’s one about his murder in general: http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/30/us/egypt-pochter-profile

The death of a young person for any reason or by any cause is tragic: it is worse when the young person is young, idealistic, and trying to do some good and help others. I pray comfort for Andrew’s friends and family, and that the Great Comforter will embrace him and say, “Well done, you good and faithful servant.”