Ten Reasons to Thank God for the Valley

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The valley is a place that we never choose for ourselves, but God chooses it for us. His plan for our life doesn’t just include the blessings and the mountaintop experiences.  His plan includes the valleys. At times, we are so deep in a valley that we forget God and His promises.

The valley challenges our faith in many areas, including our trust in God, our steadfastness in Christ, and our love for God and others. When we enter the valley, we struggle with having a grateful heart before God. We look at our dire circumstances and feel numb. We feel as though we are watching a tragedy unfold and we are one of the main characters. We lose our focus upon God as we travel deeper into the valley.

After the initial shock of entering the valley, we realize that we need to cry out to God. We ask for deliverance. We ask for relief. We ask for strength. We ask for wisdom. However,  worry and fear are still affecting us spiritually. Why is there no relief? Have we neglected to thank God for our valley?  How can we travel through the valley with an ungrateful heart? Giving thanks to God helps to give us perspective concerning the valley. Gratefulness enables us to see the valley as a place of abundant blessings from God.

As the song writer wrote: “When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed; when you are discouraged thinking all is lost; Count your many blessings, name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” What are some of the reasons that we can thank God for the valley.

1. The valley gives us a thirst for God. Nothing can satisfy our soul in the valley but God Himself. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” (Psalm 42:1) The valley causes us to run into the arms of our loving Father. The valley creates a thirst that only our Heavenly Father can fulfill.

2. The valley gives us a broken and contrite heart. The valley has a way of bringing us down to our knees. The valley shows us our weakness and need for God’s help. Our heart becomes broken and humble before God. Nothing is more special in God’s eyes than when His children come to Him in complete desperation.  “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

3. The valley gives us an eternal perspective concerning life. Often we are so involved in the things of this life that we forget our glorious future with the Lord. When God takes us into the valley, our perspective on life is changed. The eternal suddenly becomes much more important in our lives. “Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2)

4. The valley causes us to search our hearts. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: (Psalm 139:23) The busyness of our lives often keeps us from reflecting upon our hearts. We go through the motions and neglect to take inventory of our lives. When God takes us into the valley, we find ourselves looking for answers. This helps us to search our hearts as to our past, present and future.

5. The valley can often bring marriages and families closer together. “Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he (Lazarus) whom thou lovest is sick.”
(John 11:3) Tragedy and heartache can bring families closer together or further apart. In the case of Lazarus, his death brought his family closer together. When one member of a family enters into a valley, it is a great opportunity for others in the family to travel with their loved one.

6. The valley tests our friendships. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17) The valley exposes the true loyalty of a friend. A true friend doesn’t run away when their friend enters into the valley, but they encourage him. They do whatever they can to help their friend. There are many so-called friends who are exposed in the valley because they watch from the sidelines as their “friend” travels the painful road in the valley.

7. The valley gives us a hunger for the Word of God. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:71) When times are going well, we read our Bibles out of obligation, but when we enter the valley we read our Bibles out of necessity. The Word of God opens up to us with its promises, comfort and even conviction.

8. The valley is a place where Jesus becomes our sweet companion. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) The valley is a place where we may feel lonely, but we are never alone. We have a companion who walks every step of the way in the valley with us. The walk in the valley is difficult, but we can find it pleasant because we experience a closeness to the Lord that we don’t normally.experience.

9. The valley broadens our ministry towards others. “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4) God’s ministry of comfort, strength and encouragement in our valley enables us to have compassion upon others who are in the valley. When we respond to the valley in God’s way, we will find many doors of ministry that will become open to us.

10. The valley enables others to minister unto us. “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:” (2 Timothy 1:16) The valley enables others to reach out to us. We become thirsty for encouragement and people see this need and refresh us. They can refresh us with their presence, with their words, and with their prayers.

Yes, the valley doesn’t seem attractive when we first enter; however, as time goes by, we learn the secret of the valley. This is a place of great blessing. This is a place of experiencing God’s love. This is a place of spiritual growth. The key to having the valley become a very positive experience is to thank God for this time in our lives.

“Dear Lord, I didn’t ask for this valley. I didn’t expect this valley. Yes, this valley has been difficult; however I thank you for this valley. It has been an experience that I wouldn’t trade. You have used this valley in my life in so many ways! Please don’t ever stop your work in my life. Thank you for the your wisdom, tenderness, strength and love that I am experiencing in this valley. Amen.”

Do Not Fear God’s Plan. Embrace it!

The Smoky Mountains at Sunrise (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)
The Smoky Mountains at Sunrise (Photo by: Mark J. Booth)

A young girl was suddenly confronted by a strange visitor whom she had never seen before in her village of Nazareth. This visitor greeted her with very strange words. “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”

What was going on in Mary’s mind as she heard these words? The Bible says that she was troubled in her heart and was quite perplexed.  She probably couldn’t understand why this visitor was talking with her.  In her humility, she couldn’t believe what the visitor was saying about her character and her close walk with God.

Mary’s life would soon change in a way that she would never imagine. God chose her to give birth to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Because of God’s plan for her life, she would almost lose her future husband Joseph.  She would face misunderstanding.  She would give birth to the Messiah in a stable.  She would see her son suffer and then die upon the cross.  Mary didn’t choose this type of life, but God chose it for her.

Mary had a choice when her visitor, God’s angel, shared God’s plan with her. She could fear God’s plan and reject it, or she could heed the words of the angel: “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.” (Luke 1:30) Mary chose to embrace God’s plan when she said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38) Mary cast away her fears and embraced God’s plan for her life in spite of the obstacles she would face.

God’s plan can create fear in our lives.  We fear surrendering ourselves totally to God because His plan may include pain, suffering, rejection, and sacrifice.  Our fear causes us to forget that our loving God knows what is best for us and for those around us.  We find it difficult to say: “I am your servant. Do as you please with my life.”

All through the Bible, we see people who did not fear God’s plan, but embraced it.

  • Abraham embraced God’s plan when he left all that he knew to go to an unknown land.
  • Moses embraced God’s plan when he left the quiet life in the desert to lead God’s people.
  • Joshua embraced God’s plan when he defeated Jericho according to God’s plan of action.
  • Ruth embraced God’s plan when she left her land of Moab to go to Israel.
  • Jeremiah embraced God’s plan in spite of the persecution he faced.
  • Hosea embraced God’s plan when it didn’t make sense to him.
  • Steven embraced God’s plan though it meant certain death.

Will we listen to God’s voice when he says: “Fear Not”?  Will we embrace His plan regardless of the consequences?  When we embrace God’s plan, we will not only be blessed of God, but we will also be a blessing to others as Mary has been a blessing to the world.

David shares His desire to embrace God’s plan when he wrote: “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.”
(Psalm 143:10) God is good and His plans for our lives will lead us into a life of blessing and joy. Let’s not fear God’s plan today, but let us embrace His plan with all of our hearts.

Under the Shadow of His Wings

Free Photo provided by: www.sxc.hu
Free Photo provided by: http://www.sxc.hu

“How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” (Psalm 36:7)

Often, as a pastor, I minister to people facing tough times. We have all experienced the death of a loved one, a serious sickness, issues within the family, financial setbacks, sin problems, and many other forms of pain and trials. Many times, these problems are unsolvable from a human perspective: however, there is a place of security, love, comfort and peace. The Bible calls this place, “under the shadow of His wings.”

David often faced great difficulties in his life. In Psalm 36, David writes about those who would bring harm to his life. He realizes that he is helpless in face of these schemes; so he chooses to find refuge under the wings of his Lord God.

The words, “under His wings”, refer to how a young bird finds protection from danger within the shadow of his mother’s wings.  Whatever danger that comes to the young bird must first pass through the ever vigilant mother. God is like that mother bird. He gives us a place of refuge under the shadow of His wings. Nothing will enter our lives until it first passes through His ever vigilant eyes and protection.

Here are some examples of times when we need to seek the security that God provides for His children.

  •  Fear. (Even groundless fear is still painful.)
  •  Danger. (Self, sin, Satan, and foes)
  •  Inability to defend or overcome without help
  •  Foresight that sees the storm coming and looks for safety.
  •  Prudence to hide before the storm.
  •  Times of fatigue, discouragement, or temptation.

David fled to the safety of the shadow of the Lord”s wings because He knew God personally; thus, he could trust Him. How well do we know God? In Psalm 36, David focuses upon five attributes of God that will help us to know Him better.

1. God is merciful. We don’t deserve His forgiveness, compassion and protection; and yet  He shows mercy unto us.  “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens;” (Psalm 36:5a)

2. God is faithful. People may come and go in our lives. People may not want to help us. Sometimes, others may get tired of helping us, but God demonstrates His faithfulness by His presence in our lives. He never leaves us, nor does He forsake us.
“Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” (Psalm 36:5b)

3. God is righteous. We can trust God because He can do no wrong. When God makes a promise to us, He keeps His word. There is great comfort and strength when we flee to God’s Word to claim one of His promises. God will never fail us, nor wrong us. “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains.” (Psalm 36:6a)

4. God is just. Everywhere we look we see injustices occurring. We wonder, “where is the justice?”  When we flee to God, we will receive justice. God’s justice is perfect and impartial. “Thy judgments are a great deep:” (Psalm 36:6b)

5. God is love. God knows our weakness. He knows our need of Him, more than we do. His love says to us: “Come unto me, I will take care of you” “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!” (Psalm 36:7)

When we find refuge under the shadow of His wings, we will find abundant peace, protection and guidance from our Heavenly Father. David testifies of God’s provision in the life of those who live under the shadow of His wings. “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” (Psalm 36:8-9)

“Dear Father, instead of finding refuge under your wings, I try to solve my problems on my own. I know that I should come to you. I know that you love me; yet, I seek to go my way. Help me to trust you when hard times come. Place me under your loving wings; so that I will know the warmth of your love, peace and protection. Amen”

Perry Mayton: A Faithful Pastor (My Father-in-Law)

Perry Mayton (1919-2003)
Perry Mayton (1919-2003)

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

(1 Corinthians 15:58) Every time I read this verse, I can’t help but think of my Father-in-Law, Perry Mayton.  He lived out this verse in his daily life before his family, and every person who knew him.

Perry Mayton was born January 3, 1919 in the small city of Harriman, Tennessee.  God was preparing Perry’s heart to serve Him through two tragic events in his childhood.  His dad died when he was six years old and his mom died when he was a teen.  These tragic events would help give Perry a compassionate heart as he ministered to people throughout his life.

Harriman was a city filled with gospel preaching churches.  As a result, Perry accepted the Lord as his Savior during his teenage years.  For a few years he didn’t grow in his faith, but God was preparing him for future ministry.  After leaving the army, Perry began working in one of the mills in Harriman.   During that time, he met his future bride Iva Olmstead.  In 1948, they married.  Soon after the wedding, Perry believed that the Lord had called him into the ministry.  He demonstrated this calling by his faithfulness in serving the Lord for over fifty years.

There are several things that stand out in Perry’s life and ministry.  One thing that always impressed me was his tireless service for the Lord.  During most of the years of his ministry, Perry also had to work a day job.  This meant that he would work all day and then take on the demands of a pastor during the evening and Sunday.  I never heard him complain because he found great joy and peace in serving the Lord.

I was also impressed with Perry’s knowledge of the Word of God.  He never had much formal Bible training, but he knew the Word of God.  He understood the doctrines of the Bible as well as any person who had formal training.  He loved to study His Bible.  His passion for God’s Word is expressed by the Psalmist in Psalm 119:16: “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”

Perry also had a compassionate heart towards others.  He showed concern for any person in need.  He had a special compassion for the lost.  A few times, I would go with Perry when he did his weekly radio broadcast.  His passion for the lost was clearly seen as he would plead for the lost to repent of their sin and turn to the Lord as their Savior.  He had the unique gift of having both the heart of an evangelist and a pastor.

The fourth thing that impressed me about Perry was his great spirit of humility before God and others.  I never heard him talk about any of his accomplishments.  He did God’s work and didn’t think about the praise of men.  He sought to please God alone.  This humility was obvious to any person who had Perry as their pastor.

The greatest impact that Perry had upon my life was through his daughter, Sharon. Perry did a great job of preparing his daughter for being a wife and mother.  Sharon understands to this day what it means to minister in a local church.  Her father also taught her how to love the Word of God and minister to people with a heart of compassion.

Our Wedding (June 22, 1979)
Our Wedding (June 22, 1979)

Perry was quite well-known in the Harriman area because he had been the pastor of several local churches.  I never heard anybody say a bad thing about “Brother Perry”.  He was beloved by the people in his churches and he loved them.  He would continue to minister via the radio and preaching in churches until his health kept him from doing what he always loved.

On September 1, 2003, Perry would enter into the presence of His Savior.  The funeral visitation was a great testimony to his over fifty years of ministry.  The line to greet Perry’s widow, Iva, went outside of the doors of the funeral home. Many people told us how God had used Perry in their lives.  The outpouring of love was a testimony to Perry’s faithfulness in his service to the Lord.

Yes, Perry is missed by his family, friends and many of those to whom he ministered; however, his testimony lives on in the lives of many people.  The words of Matthew 25:23 apply to the life of Perry Mayton.  “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant;”  Perry has finished his labors here on earth, but his legacy lives on through his family and many others who were blessed by his ministry.

What about Bad Tidings in the Season of Good Tidings? (Psalm 112:7)

Storm brewing over Downriver Area of Metro Detroit.
Storm brewing over Downriver Area of Metro Detroit (2011)

“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” (Psalm 112:7)

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” is a Christmas Carol that people sang since the 16th century in England.  If is a song of joy as expressed in the words: “Good tidings we bring to you and your kin. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”  However, not everybody receives good tidings during this time of year.  We still face trials, sorrow, and pain.  Many people even feel a deeper sense of loneliness during this time of year than at any other time of the year.  Yes, evil tidings don’t stop during this time of year: however there is good news from God in the midst of evil tidings that may come our way.

In the Bible, we see many people who triumphed over the evil tidings in their lives.  Joseph overcame many evil tidings, including betrayal, slavery, and prison, to become the prime minister of Egypt.  Ruth overcame the evil tidings of the death of her husband and living in poverty.  She would soon marry Boaz and become the great-grandmother of King David.

God gives us his Word to encourage us as we face the evil tidings of life that may come our way.  Every day, “bad news” can surprise us. We don’t ask for it, but it is a package delivered to the doorway of our lives.   How can we triumph even in the midst of bad news?  How can we see good news come out of the bad news?  Psalm 112:7 gives us some answers to these questions.

Normally, our first response to bad news is to be afraid or fearful.  Fear paralyzes us.  It causes us to focus upon the bad news instead of our Great God.  God tells us that we do not have to be afraid of the “evil tidings” that enter into our life.  God knows that fear will keep us from seeing Him clearly.  Fear causes us to doubt the goodness and the power of God.  For this reason God gives us many verses that command us to “fear not”.

  • But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob,and he that formed thee, O Israel, FEAR NOT: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
  • ” FEAR THOU NOT; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
  • “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, NEITHER LET IT BE AFRAID.” (John 14:27)

When fear departs in the midst of the bad news, then we are able to do the next step in facing our bad news.  We now can “fix our heart” upon the Lord.  Our bad news is an opportunity to focus upon God.  We can focus upon all of His attributes and promises.  When we fix our heart upon the Lord, it may not change our circumstances, but it will change how we face our circumstances.  We will understand with the Apostle Paul that
God’s grace is sufficient for the “evil tidings” that may come in our life.

Once fear has departed and we have fixed our heart upon the Lord, then we can have faith in Him.  Faith is responding to all that we know about God.  The more we know the Lord, the more we will be able to trust Him.  True faith knows that God will never leave us, nor forsake us regardless of the “bad news” that may come our way.  His love is an unchanging love.  He loves us with an “everlasting love.”.  Faith in our Lord will dispel any fear in our life.  It will enable us to bear whatever “bad news” that comes our way.

In summary, when we receive bad news, Psalm 112: 7 tells us three ways to respond to the “evil tidings”

  1. Do not allow fear to dominate our thoughts and actions.
  2. Fix our heart upon the Lord.  Let our thoughts focus on the Lord.
  3. Place our faith in the Lord.  He will carry us as we face the “bad news’ in our life.

When the “evil tidings” enter into our live, God has a way of turning those evil tidings into an opportunity to see Him work in our life and in the lives of those around us.  God will turn those “evil tidings” into “good tidings” that will draw us closer to Him, and bring glory to His name.

“Dear Lord, the news that I receive is not always good.  I see people who are suffering.  I visit those who have marital problems.  I talk with those who have a loved one who is dying.  I see people who have turned away from you.  I also face difficulties from time to time in my life.  My tendency is to face the bad news with fear.  Help me, to turn my eyes off the “bad news” and fix my heart upon you.  Please, increase my faith.  Help me to believe that you will take this “bad news” and make it into something good. Thank you for your great plan for my life. Amen”

 

Jesus is Knocking. Will I Answer? (Enjoying the Presence of God)

Rogue River Trail-Rockford, MI (Photo by: Mark J Booth)
Rogue River Trail-Rockford, MI (Photo by: Mark J Booth)

The Christian life encounters many pitfalls. One unsuspecting pitfall is that we lose the joy of being a Christian.  We become lukewarm in our relationship with Christ.   Prayer is routine.  Bible study is a chore.  Our worship has become cold and formal. What has happened to our lives?

There was a church in the New Testament that had these same problems.  Jesus spoke these words to the church at Laodicea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”(Revelation 3:15-16)  This church was religious, but they no longer enjoyed Christ’s presence. They had lost a vibrant relationship with their living Lord.

What was Christ’s answer to their problem? “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) Christ was telling the church that they were leaving Him out of their lives.  He politely was knocking on the door of their hearts; so that they would once again enjoy having fellowship with Him.

Chateau-Abbadia (Southwestern France)Photo by: Mark J Booth
Chateau-Abbadia (Southwestern France)
Photo by: Mark J Booth

 A meal in Bible times was a time-consuming event where people enjoyed talking and listening to one another.  Jesus longs for this kind of communion with us.  Have we opened the door?  Christ has prepared a meal for us with His presence and blessings. Have we sat down and taken the time to enjoy His presence?  He is waiting. 

When we take the time to enjoy Christ’s presence, we will view life and our circumstances from a totally different perspective.  We will see life as God sees life.  We will see our problems as God sees our problems.  God has prepared a banquet for us. Here is what He offers to us as take time to enjoy His presence.

1. We have guidance in our life.  “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me;” (Psalm 43:3a) The question is often asked: “How can I know the will of God?”  To understand the will of God means more than following a formula, but we follow the Lord.  As we commune with the Lord, we will discover what pleases Him and what doesn’t please Him.  God’s greatest priority for our lives is that we know Him.  His light and truth will guide us. 

2. We enjoy true worship of God. “let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.” (Psalm 43:3b) The Psalmist in the midst of all that was happening in his life saw the importance of worshiping God. Worship is not to please ourselves, but to please our Lord.  He desires worship because He is worthy of our worship.  Our worship is bringing glory to God in all that we say and do.  When we worship God, we recognize His presence and majesty.  

3. We have joy in spite of the circumstances in our life.  “Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy:” (Psalm 43:4a) The Psalmist faced many trials in his life which caused him to become to discouraged and depressed.  He understood that in God’s presence there is great joy.  No matter what is happening in our lives, if we remember that God is with us, we can experience a joy that is not based upon circumstances, but based upon a relationship.

4. We have an attitude of praise.  “yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.” (Psalm 43:4b)  We often give praise for the blessings that we receive from God, but what about giving praise to the giver of those blessings.  When we enjoy God’s presence, we will focus upon all that God is.  We will praise HIm for His attributes and titles.  Every day, we should take the time to praise God for all that He is and does.

5. We have a contented spirit.  They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” (Psalm 36:8)  A lack of contentment is a warning sign that we are not enjoying God’s presence.  When we are walking with God, we will be totally content. When we are close to the Lord, everything else will fall in place. 

6. We receive comfort from God. I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) Comfort is not based on circumstances, but upon our relationship with our Living God.  His rod shows his protection against our enemies.  His staff shows His guidance and help in our lives.  When we have His protection and guidance, we are sure of His comfort and love even in the most trying times. 

Enjoying God’s presence begins with salvation, but it continues for all eternity.  We enjoy His presence as we listen to him, communicate with Him, meditate upon Him and pour out our heart unto Him.  Are enjoying His presence today?

“Dear Lord, my life often becomes filled with the routine.  I have lost the joy of being Christian. I haven’t taken the time or effort to enjoy your presence.  Thank you for knocking on the door of my heart.  Thank you for your desire to fellowship with me.  I now open up the door of my heart to you.  Please come in!  I know that the greatest joy in life comes from being in your presence.  Amen.”

Aubrey Oberlin: In the Everlasting Arms

Aubrey Joy Oberlin

What can you learn from a six-week old baby?  I would have never thought about this question until I met Aubrey Joy Oberlin.   I met her for the first time a bit over two years ago. when I heard about her plight. She was born with a genetic disease called Junctional EB (Epidermolysis bullosa).  This disease was painful as it affected all parts of her body.   Her parents, family and friends did a great job of loving her and taking care of her for her six short weeks of life.  Aubrey’s life on this earth ended on November 17, 2010. However, she is far from being forgotten.

1. The first lesson that I learned from Aubrey is contentment. When I visited Aubrey, she always had her eyes opened.   I knew she had trouble breathing and she was in pain, but in all my visits I never detected a complaining or angry spirit. Her eyes were saying: “Could you please help me. I don’t feel well.”   Her eyes convicted me of how easily I complain when things don’t go my way.  Though she didn’t say it with words, her eyes showed me a form of contentment that I need to experience more often in my life.  “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:11-12)

2. A second lesson that I learned from Aubrey is my need of dependence upon God.  “I just want to hold her one last time.  Aubrey loves to be held!”  As I heard these words from Aubrey’s grandma the day of Aubrey’s entrance into God presence, I couldn’t help but feel sorrow and compassion for a dear family who would never again be able to hold their beloved daughter in their arms.  It also brought to remembrance a verse in the Bible that has brought comfort to many people: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:” (Deuteronomy 33:27)

Aubrey’s loved ones had a great desire to hold her in their arms and show their great love for her.   Likewise, Our Heavenly Father loves us and longs to keep us close unto Himself.   His arms are all-powerful arms, yet His arms are also tender.  His arms bring great comfort and protection through whatever trials and pains that we face. His arms will never tire in holding us.

Aubrey did love to be held in the arms of those who loved her.  She felt the love and comfort from those loving arms.  As I thought about this,  I realized that at times I haven’t longed to be held by Our Heavenly Father.  I choose to go my own way.   Yes, His arms are reaching out for me, yet I often resist those loving arms.   May I learn to rest assured in the arms of Our Loving Heavenly Father, even as Aubrey rested so comfortably in the arms of those who love her.

3. A third lesson that I learned from Aubrey is priority.  Being with Aubrey during her last day on earth was very difficult.  She would labor to breathe.   This went on throughout the day until finally later in the evening her heart stopped beating.  Aubrey showed me that truly I need to remember to place the things of God first in my life.  Life is brief.  Every day is a gift from God. Will I live each day for God’s purpose and His Glory?  If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

4. A fourth lesson that I learned from Aubrey is gratefulness for God’s salvation.   As I would speak to Aubrey’s loved ones, I was glad that I could share Bible verses about Christ’s love for the world and how he died on the cross for our sins. Aubrey never had an opportunity to believe (because of her age), but the Bible does make it clear that she is present with the Lord.  David expected to see his baby in heaven.   “Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?  But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12: 21-23)

Two years ago, we said goodbye to Aubrey.  She is now in God’s presence.  I can’t always understand the ways of God, but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to get to know Aubrey.  She was an excellent teacher while she was with us!

P.S. For further information on Epidermolysis bullosa please see: http://www.debra.org