Last night on the CBS News Scott Pelley reported the news from a small barrier island off the coast of New Jersey, called “Long Beach Island.”  LBI for short. My son-in-law sent a link this morning with more images of the damage to LBI.  Scott reported that LBI took the worse damage to the barrier islands up and down the entire east coast.

LBI has been my families home for over one hundred years.  We survived the hurricane of 1944 and the “March storm” of 1962.   That storm broke through the Island in six places.  I remember boats stacked in my front yard.

My grandparents, my parents, my aunt & uncle and myself all had homes there. I built my first home there in 1970  for my young bride and first born son. Seeing all the devastation is unbearable.  My dad’s home and mine were on small foundations, so I don’t know if they made it through.  My uncles home is on pilings so I am guessing it made it if the sea did not break through there.  I saw businesses that were a part of my everyday life there either damaged or gone.  I know the light  house made it.  I could see it out my livingroom window when I lived there.

I spent a great deal of my childhood and early adulthood growing and living there.  Most of my family’s histories come from LBI.  I would go back on occasion in these later years.  I took both Peggy & John back for their last visit home before they died.  I would grumble about the changes.  When my uncle died in 1996 that was the last home we had on the island, but always it has been my home, my roots.  We are talking here of oven one hundred years of family history. I feel devastated and numb,unable to grasp the reality from so far away.

So why am I telling you all of this?  Many reasons perhaps, most of which I don’t know.  But here are some thoughts that have come to mind.

Most of you who know me or read my story, know the losses I have had in my life.  This last one certainly ranks among the worst.  Seeing your whole family history washed out to sea is well —

After my wife and brother died, I didn’t do so well.  In fact I was dying of a brokenhearted until the Lord came and restored my life.  That was about four years ago.  afterwords I told Him I never wanted to feel those kinds of feelings again.

The first year I was all excited, happy to be alive.  I started a new life in a new church, making friends and enjoying my family.  I found a hobby I love and enjoy.  But I was missing the intimacies of married life.  Most of the time I was fine, but then when the “lonleies” would come I would wonder if I should consider another marriage.  But I also knew that to do that would mean to risk hurtful feelings again and maybe more loss.  I became very afraid, but didn’t know it.

I tried some on-line dating a few times, but they didn’t workout.  So I decided to lay down the marriage thing for a while.   Wouldn’t you know it – that is when the Lord stepped in.

About six months later He brought a woman into my life, that I was not interested in at first.  But last June the romance bug  bit us.  my life had been fine no painful emotions.  Starting to have some fun, but still something was missing, something not right.  Where was my life going and I wasn’t truly happy.

But when the Lord woke me up from this life I was living, I realized I was slowly building a life of loneliness and isolation.  I wasn’t really living, I was slowly dying.  I had lost touch with my feelings creating a man cave to feel safe in, but one on in it with me.

The Spirit the last few days has touched the deepest places in me.  Places I didn’t know and honestly are very painful and haven’t wanted to look at.  But isn’t that just the way He is?

Do you not know that . . . you are not your own? —1 Corinthians 6:19

There is no such thing as a private life, or a place to hide in this world, for a man or woman who is intimately aware of and shares in the sufferings of Jesus Christ. God divides the private life of His saints and makes it a highway for the world on one hand and for Himself on the other. No human being can stand that unless he is identified with Jesus Christ. We are not sanctified for ourselves. We are called into intimacy with the gospel, and things happen that appear to have nothing to do with us. But God is getting us into fellowship with Himself. Let Him have His way. If you refuse, you will be of no value to God in His redemptive work in the world, but will be a hindrance and a stumbling block.  Why shouldn’t we experience heartbreak? Through those doorways God is opening up ways of fellowship with His Son. Most of us collapse at the first grip of pain. We sit down at the door of God’s purpose and enter a slow death through self-pity. And all the so-called Christian sympathy of others helps us to our deathbed. But God will not. He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, as if to say, “Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine.” If God can accomplish His purposes in this world through a broken heart, then why not thank Him for breaking yours?-Chambers

In the midst of this agony If find this all hard, but I love my Lord.

Then today the Spirit brings:

Obedience or Independence?        If you love Me, keep My commandments —John 14:15

Our Lord never insists on obedience. He stresses very definitely what we ought to do, but He never forces us to do it. We have to obey Him out of a oneness of spirit with Him. That is why whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He prefaced it with an “If,” meaning, “You do not need to do this unless you desire to do so.” “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself . . .” (Luke 9:23). In other words, “To be My disciple, let him give up his right to himself to Me.” Our Lord is not talking about our eternal position, but about our being of value to Him in this life here and now. That is why He sounds so stern (see Luke 14:26).

The Lord does not give me rules, but He makes His standard very clear. If my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love someone I have placed in competition with Him, namely, myself. Jesus Christ will not force me to obey Him, but I must. And as soon as I obey Him, I fulfill my spiritual destiny. My personal life may be crowded with small, petty happenings, altogether insignificant. But if I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God.  If I obey Jesus Christ, the redemption of God will flow through me to the lives of others, because behind the deed of obedience is the reality of Almighty God. —  Chambers

I certainly have mixed emotions and thoughts about all of this, but the Lord is making it plain and I have a choice.  He has awakened me to life.  I was slowly building a world to die in.

The truth is that life is painful sometimes. In fact it often feels unbearable.  Without Christ it is.  But He also made us human and realized we needed a helpmate.  When He woke me up, He also gave me a helpmate. Her name is Cheryl. Christ is our helpmate.  We are His helpmate.  Now that I am alive again, yes I feel all of my emotions again. Today is especially hard listening to the news from my home.  But I must always remember that I am not suffering alone and He uses it for purpose, for good. And thankfully He gave me Cheryl a new helpmate as I learn to live again and a new life at that.  Reminds me of “Job”.

So if you are feeling loss of some kind and it is leaving you in despair – There is hope.  Jesus Christ.  I have lost everything that has meant my life to me.  My family and now my legacy.  But in the midst of all of this agony that is where you find Christ.  There is no other way.

 

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