It always grieves me when someone dies and people assume it’s because God needed or wanted their loved one with Him in heaven. This line of thought portrays a God who is unmerciful, incomplete, and unloving. God does not need anything or anybody….WE NEED HIM! He is always righteous, always just, always merciful, and always perfect love. God does not snatch those we love away from us because He needs them more than we do. His great mercy is what daily sustains any of us in the midst of this fallen world of disorder, chaos, and death. All He does or allows is solely to secure the greatest benefit for His creation. God is complete in himself and has no lack or any desire but to extend His love and goodness.
Our time on earth may be long or shortened, and we often fail to remember how it comprises such a tiny portion of our eternal existence, but the purpose of our earthly duration is to provide the opportunity to be reconciled to our Creator and have our soul restored by receiving His life and nature. “The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace;” (Isaiah 57:1-2).
Another common misconception is that our obedience or good works are somehow for God’s benefit. This also presumes that God has some lack or need of anything outside Himself. Everything He has done, and all of His instruction to us, is for OUR benefit, not His own. “Look to the heavens, and see; And behold the clouds which are higher than you. If you sin, what do you accomplish against Him? Or, if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to Him? If you are righteous, what do you give Him? Or what does He receive from your hand?” (Job 35:6-7). God has given us His Word and His Spirit, and laid out the way of salvation to bring the eternal life of righteousness, joy, and peace into our hearts. If we choose to remain on the broad road that leads to destruction, and never re-route to the narrow road that leads to life, it is to our own detriment.
Our spring and summer have been abundantly filled with opportunities to proclaim this everlasting gospel of grace. April began at the PCA Rodeo in Tifton, GA and the IPRA Rodeo at the University of Georgia in Athens. After a quick trip back north for the monthly meeting at Salacoa Valley, we spent the next few days preparing for the crowd who would gather for the annual Easter celebration at our place. Despite the abnormally chilly weather, it turned out to be a blessed day filled with bountiful food, priceless fellowship, and loads of fun. The next weekend, we traveled to another IPRA Rodeo in Evans, Georgia. After a late Saturday night drive, which is harder on us than it used to be, we were at Circle A Arena in Live Oak early Sunday morning for a NTRL Roping and at Circle Cross Cowboy Church in Lake City later that afternoon. The first weekend in May was spent in beautiful Pensacola, Florida where I even snuck in a little beach time between the rodeo performances. Our next destination was the Georgia Sports Arena in Swainsboro and then on to the annual 4L Ranch Rodeo in Summerville. After holding meetings before both performances at the ranch, we also ministered at United Christian Fellowship on Sunday morning, which always proves to be a refreshing time in the Lord. In June we were back for our 21st year at the rodeos in Shady Dale and Dahlonega, Georgia. On June 30th we were privileged to speak to the REACH group at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Tucker, Georgia. These folks are the very core of this large church and it was a honor to exhort and encourage them in the Truth. By the 4th of July we were back on the rodeo trail in Wedowee, Alabama; Ringgold, Georgia; and Savannah, Tennessee. We ended July at Glory Hill Cowboy Church in Valdosta, Georgia and look forward to being back with them in the near future.
On the home front, being grandparents is everything we always heard it would be….and so much more! Anna is now 16 months old —– walking, talking, and keeping us wrapped around her little finger. Jared continues to excel in his career which makes it possible for Rebekah to stay home with Anna. Carson’s latest adventure took him to northern Arizona to work for a large ranch near Seligman. He has recently asked Brooke, his girlfriend for the past 5 years, to marry him and she said YES! She already feels like part of the family, and we are excited for this new chapter in their lives.
The functionality of my hand continues to improve, the surgeries are all behind us, and our frequent trips to therapy are coming to an end. When the accident first happened 16 months ago, and we began this long journey, it was hard to imagine the day when life would be back to ’normal’. But life is full of different seasons and experiences, and our ’normal’ may sometimes change.
Though my left hand still has some limitations, there has been no limit to God’s grace that has carried us through each day. The scars and altered appearance serve as a reminder that our bodies are simply temporal vessels of God’s love and presence in the earth, to be used for His glory.
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20).