One Journey

         When Ed was diagnosed with dementia in 2012, I knew it to be a pronouncement of challenge and purpose.  As the journey began, I packed information into living and planned the differences in our changes each day.
         The first challenge was preparation to move closer to ‘family’ in a different state. When our third son visited, I heard a word that would describe the next five months – ‘downsize’.  Downsize means ‘letting go’ of things. Our four children rallied and took time off from work to help us move.  What a blessing!
         Then came a season of new things.  A new church family, doctors, grocery store, living in a condo, changing address phone number, zip code, and recalling all the numbers ‘on call’!  Another change is that the snow doesn’t melt as quickly as it did in Arkansas here.
         During the next four years, we watched our birthdays fly by.  It was then our daughter convinced me that physically I could no longer take care of their Dad, even with part-time help. We moved Ed to an Alzheimer Nursing Care facility just a year ago. 
         We celebrated our 64th Wedding Anniversary in the nursing home.  Another anniversary is fast approaching.   Time passes, and I know I didn’t ‘pack enough’ to sustain me.  This last year I have learned to live alone.  The emptiness of the house often cries out to me in the night.  During this time I turned to writing blogs and brief scriptural snippets in earnest, to fill the time between visits with Ed.
         Our daughter and her husband, plus our second son came for a brief visit just before Christmas.  It was on Christmas Day I visited Ed and received one of God’s most beautiful gifts – PEACE.  Peace that God IS and He alone can care for Ed more completely than I can. I praise God each day for His Goodness.
         Our visits have become an oasis of hope and rest  — praying, listening to music, and talking of our children and the generations to follow, and Heaven.  It is then Ed knows me and is at peace.  A visit to another world is the best way to describe my time with Ed and reminds me that we are all on a journey in this life.
         A Journey can be a horrific experience when we have not packed our hope in Christ.  Curious, I searched the Bible Concordance for Road Trip or Vacation.  They are not listed.  Just journey… 
         One of the most notable journeys in the Bible is the forty-year trek the Children of Israel made in the Wilderness. Their trip began by fleeing through the bottom of the Red Sea, escaping the clutches of the Pharaoh’s pursuing charioteers.  This journey was a guided tour through the wilderness.  They were fed Manna from Heaven by their Tour Guide.  It was a time of turning away and returning back to God.
         This might describe Jonah’s journey as well –God sent him to Nineveh with the message of repentance.  Jonah went in the opposite direction and tried to sail away from God.  When asked during a storm, Jonah said he worshiped God.  Is this the way to worship? Escaping God?  He told the sailors to toss him into the sea, and the storm would cease.  That is when the big fish arranged by God swallowed Jonah.  Jonah realized that there is no escape from God and prayed and he was released.
         Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time:  “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” Jonah 3:1-2
         God gives second chances and He pursues us.  He may not send a big fish to swallow us, but He sends us on a journey that teaches us that He is our Lord! 
         Apostle Paul’s three journeys to teach Jesus is summed up in 2 Corinthians 11:25-28.  Apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul, the persecutor of Jews.  He learned God’s Way on the way to Damascus to gather more Jews to persecute. As I was on the road, approaching Damascus about noon, a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’  Acts 22:6-7.
         God pursued Saul-Paul and turned his life completely around.  Were Paul’s Three Journeys vacations?  Paul didn’t come back with photos and descriptions of the scenes he had seen. (Scenes that God created)  No.  A Journey has a purpose – a God-given purpose. 
         Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.  I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.  I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 
         How could Paul have endured?  He did not pack as we would for a ‘journey’.  He packed things not made by hands. He packed faith, trust, love for others, and a deep desire to serve God in his heart. 
         Our lives have purpose.  We are pursued by God to learn to live peacefully and with joy.  How often I return to the Fruit of the Spirit and contemplate these qualities no law is against.
          But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  Galatians 5:22-23.
         For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
         We are born into this world for God’s purpose.  We are living our one journey.  When our perspective is on the Eternal Presence of God, we will live with intentional expectation of the coming of Jesus.  When we see all of life through the eyes of Christ and His Love, we are blessed with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. 
         But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.  Philippians 3:20
         Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.  Philippians 1:27


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