HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

Celebrations of meaningful life events is common in our culture, and I expect in many cultures that differ from ours in various respects.  We celebrate events that are exciting, which are blessings to us, which have consequences and expectations that reach far into the future.  Consider birthday parties, for example. 

Birthday party and balloons (C)
Birthday balloons 

Being the intrepid dog lovers that we are, we even celebrate the birthday of our canine family members.  Here is a party when our beloved Goldie, a retired racing greyhound, was the Birthday Princess and, standing next to her, was her sister, Sweetie, wearing a snazzy party hat.

Doggie party

Today is the 32nd anniversary of my marriage to my husband, Bill.  It is a date that we celebrate because of the love we have for each other and because November 27, 1986 marked a wonderful change in our lives, and in the lives of our children.  Both of us had been married previously so the marriage was between us as husband and wife as well as between us as parents of the children.  (We avoid the step-child/step-parent designation.  We both share in the children as if they were our own to the best extent possible.)

We thank God every day for the love that He has given to us in the form of our spouse.  And we thank God that He is part of our marriage. 

Triangle for marriage illustration

We often praise God for when we draw closer to each other, we are closer to God as well.  And, when we are closer to God through worship, our Bible reading, study, and fellowship with others, we are drawn closer to our Christian marriage partner.

We are in the midst of the “holiday season” in which we celebrated Thanksgiving Day (in the U.S., at least).  As a matter of note, we were married on Thanksgiving Day in 1986, signifying our thanks to the Lord for His hand in bringing us together.   Now that we have finished the Thanksgiving turkey, we turn our attention to the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, Christmas Day. 

The heavenly host celebrated Jesus’ birth with their choir anthem to the shepherds.  The magi celebrated in worship when they delivered their gifts to Him.  But there is no directive that we are to celebrate His birth.

We remember events that may not be exciting or happy but are events which mark a change in our life or future.  Consider the remembrance of major surgery, or the marking of the date that a parent or spouse died.  These remembrances are not usually considered celebrations in the party-like sense, but they are things that we recall because of the effect that they had on our lives.

There is such an event described in Scripture.  Indeed, it is something that the Lord expressly directed His disciples to do, to celebrate, to remember.

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’”

Luke 22:19-20

Jesus celebrated the Passover feast with His disciples the night he was betrayed into the hands of the soldiers. He knew what was immediately ahead of Him, what suffering and humiliation He was going to endure.  He knew that the disciples would abandon Him and that He would be scorned, beaten and crucified.  He also knew that He was innocent of any wrong-doing.  He had lived a perfect life (which  we cannot live) and He was going to die a hideous death (a death that we deserved because of our sins).  He was going to die so we could live. 

That is a celebration that we have every time we participate in the Lord’s Supper.

Beloved, celebrate the wondrous things in your life – anniversaries, birthdays, births, weddings, and the list goes one.  Remember the difficult times in your life – deaths, illnesses, divorce, and the list goes on.

Above all, celebrate and remember what the Savior has done for you, no matter if everything is bright and rosy in your world or if everything is dull and gray.  The Savior has given you life, abundant life now and eternal life hereafter, if you believe in His name and claim Him as your Savior.  Honor Him and remember His sacrifice for you. 

Listen as the hymn “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” is presented on the album Hymns in the Vineyard by Vineyard Music.

Keep your eyes upon Jesus, and He will be near you no matter what this world throws at you.  Celebrate His presence and you will find His peace even in times of hardship and difficulty.

Father, thank You for bringing us together in marriage, and thank You for being with us through various trials, surgeries, and difficulties that the past 32 years have brought.  Thank You too for Your gracious loving hand on the family and on each of the children and grandchildren, for which we praise Your Holy Name.  I pray that these words would be of encouragement and that You would be glorified.

THE LAST WORD

We go camping fairly often and, when we do, we frequently take the dogs with us.  Years ago we had retired racing greyhounds as our canine daughters, and they LOVED to ride in the RV.  They were quiet and never barked, even when we were in the campground.  Perfect traveling companions.

Goldie and Sweetie in Pace Arrow
Goldie and Sweetie on sofa in RV

Now, as the hounds have passed on, and thinking that greyhounds were too big for us to handle, we have two small MinPin canine daughters, Cuddles and Snickers.  I frequently refer to them in posts as they provide never ending illustrations, usually of behavior that we should avoid!

Cuddles and Snickers - did you call us
Are you writing about us again?

We have been trying to train them not to bark when we are in a campground.  That is no small task given the fact that there are people (many of whom have their own dogs on leashes) walking past the RV, there are campers coming and going, there are people talking outside around the campfire, there are just noises upon noises all beckoning the girls to bark.

For Snickers, this no-bark concept is especially difficult.  We don’t know how she was treated before coming to us, but she is very defensive and the hackles on her back raise at the slightest sound, which she then barks and growls at for an extended time.  We have used various techniques and we are on the way to getting her to behave better, but we have found it curious, and humorous, that she has to have the “last word”.

She will start to bark and we say “No bark”, she will shut it down a notch and after several rounds of this between us she will put her head down, grumbling in doggie language, with one final subdued “woof”.  If we say “No bark” after that “woof”, she will whine and then even more softly go “woof”.  It is as if she has to have the last word.

All this background is to say that, if we are honest, we really are no different from Snickers.  Consider for a moment Moses when he was saw the burning bush. The Lord told him that he was to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but Moses raised numerous objections detailing why he could not do it. Exodus 3.  The final “woof” was Moses’ cry “please send someone else”! Exodus 4:13. Scripture says:

“Then the Lord’s anger was kindled against Moses.”

Exodus 4:14   

No more excuses, Moses.  Do what I direct you to do and I will be with you.  Moses obeyed, God had the last word.

We humans think we can have the last word, but in reality, it is God who always has the last word.

We are lost in sin, we cannot stop ourselves.  We may be able to do some nice things for others, but there is almost always a self-centered aspect to our activity.  We are the center of our universe, and we think that this entitles us to have the last word about anything that touches us or our own universe. 

This attitude ignores the cosmic reality that we are nothing, we are created beings who depend upon the Creator for our very life, for the air we breathe and for each beat of our heart.  Satan is ruling us because of our sinful nature, but God even has the last word in that regard.

When Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross, it was not because of any sin that He had committed, rather it was because He was taking on the sin of all God’s children.  Jesus was paying that price that God’s justice demanded so that those who believed in Jesus would be saved from eternal death.  Just before He died, we read these words:

“… ‘It is finished’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”

John 19:30

Jesus did not just mean that it was time for Him to die.  He meant that the job He came to earth to do was completed.  There was nothing more that needed to be done to save His people, to satisfy the debt that they owed because of their sin.  The way of salvation was completed, it was then and it still is finished.  Sin had met its Conqueror, and God had the last word.

God will again have the last word as we see in the final book of the Bible, Revelation. 

So, Beloved, rest in the Lord.  When He is leading you to do something, do it without giving in to the temptation to try to get the last word, the final “woof” if you will.  God always has the last word.  Don’t test His patience, just raise your arms to your Father and thank Him for loving, guiding and encouraging you through whatever is ahead of you.

Father, please forgive me when I have insisted on having the last word.  Enable me to see that this is disobedience of the highest order.  I pray that the Holy Spirit would touch my heart when I am tempted to disobey and run in my own arrogance away from what You desire for me.  Enable me to love You more, through Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Redeemer.