Comment from Ken: Love lifts up as our Savior would lift up a lost sheep. He lifts us with His love.
11Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?
12Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.
14Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.
It is beautiful here in Hopkinton at this moment. The sun is brightly shining, the snow is white, pure, and not too deep, there is no wind, and the temperature is around forty degrees. The sun makes it feel like a warm day even though winter has come upon us again.
I always welcome the snow, as long as I do not have a commitment that compels me to go out in a cold winter’s day or storm. Of course, living near to Concord now brings back a flood of memories about winter here years ago and snowstorms. There was one winter when I was to officiate at a funeral for a member of South Church when it was snowing, almost a blizzard. The committal was to be held near Lebanon, and we travelled off on Route 89. The driver of the hearse could only see the highway with great difficulty. When we arrived at the cemetery, it was in a hollow or a valley. Down that tiny road, we went in snow that was unplowed and at least six inches deep. I wondered how we were ever going to return up the steep road we had descended.
A granddaughter made this pastor feel much better when she said, “ My grandmother loved it when it was snowing. Sure enough, there was a cap of snow on all the monuments, and if you took a moment to forget you had to leave, it was a beautiful sight of life at that moment in that valley. As a Christian, you can still find beauty even at a very sad time for your faith tells you of eternal life. Remembering back, we easily drove up and out of that valley.
The first funeral I officiated at in Concord was on a cold, blustery, winter day. At graveside, I stood ready to begin the service when the funeral director looked at me and whispered, “And if you don’t start wearing a hat in this weather, we will be planting you!”
Once more, I remind you that I never know what we are going to converse about on our walks, but I must tell you I am walking with you on Molly’s first birthday. And guess what, we did not need to have her recite a list of what she would like for her birthday as our children once did. Just our love would have been enough for Molly; however, Dale saw to it she had a cookie birthday cake and a few toys – a Tony the tiger and a stuffed toy woodchuck. Dale remembers how the woodchucks used to destroy her garden so she does not feel badly when Molly shakes that new woodchuck and then throws it over her head. Molly is all about love, unconditional love.
Missing so much about the active ministry, I have downloaded several hymns on my phone. When I am riding in my truck or working in my shop, I constantly listen to the music and the hymns I loved serving the church. So many times, I hear a certain hymn over and over in my head and sometimes the words can be very persistent. Yesterday, last night, and this morning repeatedly, I heard the music and the words to a hymn. The hymn is “Love Lifted Me”. No, I certainly will not sing it to you, but I will tell you the words.
I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I
Love lifted me!
Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me!
All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling,
In His blessed presence live, ever His praises sing,
Love so mighty and so true, merits my soul’s best songs,
Faithful, loving service, too, to Him belongs.
Molly’s presence and faithful love always lifts Dale’s and my spirits. When I am lonely, Molly comes over and sits by me. When I was feeling sad the other day remembering an unfortunate incident with one of my children, Molly came over and placed her head on my arm. She does that often when we are riding in the truck together. Molly lifts up my spirits over and over again, but Dale also does for me what Molly does; yup, sometimes she rests her head on my arm, but I mean by her words and presence, Dale can make my day as bright as the light upon the snow is today.
Dale is so very thoughtful of me and has been ever since we were married. She often surprises me with her loving thoughts and sometimes gifts. When we were first married and I went to bed one evening before her (I have often told this story) I was half awake when she came up to our room. She walked over to the bureau and picked up my wallet and looked into it. She was not aware I was half awake. My thoughts were, oh my, she is the kind of wife who is going to check out my wallet, and what is in there.
In the morning, I could hardly wait to pick up my wallet and look into it. Never one to carry more than a few dollars of cash in my wallet, I found in there a twenty-dollar bill. Dale had actually put money in my wallet. Now how wonderful is that.
Dale went off shopping last Thursday, and when she came home, she brought me home three items I had mentioned during last week. I wished to purchase a small calculator, some Tic Tacs and some Tylenol. When she came home, she had all three things for me, and I had not mentioned them for a few days. That is thoughtful, and that is a love that lifts you. Oh and more than that – if you are a husband reading this take heed, she told me later that she had transferred two hundred dollars into my bank account. Up until my retirement I had always been the major breadwinner but Dale is now. Sometimes I run short but never if Dale is aware of it. Dale’s kindness and thoughtfulness I try to repay by loving and thinking of her each day as I work around out home.
Perhaps I am telling you this because Dale and I will be married thirty years this coming April. How fortunate I have been to have Dale come into my life. Her love has lifted me and brought me happiness over and over again.
My Lord Jesus Christ about whom that hymn, “Love Lifted Me” is written, is the Savior who brings me joy and removes my fears. Over the years since I was baptized, Jesus has led me in my life and has lifted my spirits in times of stress and difficulty and at times of serious health issues. In the dark valleys, Jesus has been there; in times when I know I committed a sin, Jesus still loved me and gave me new life. Love lifts us be it from our Lord, from our family, from our pet – their love makes us whole and brings us from darkness to light, from depression to joy, from indifference to life to purpose and direction.
Who has brought you joy, forgiveness, and love in your life? However, more than that, who have you lifted with your love? Of whom have you been thoughtful when times were difficult? Who did you lift with your love yesterday and today and whom will you lift with your love tomorrow? Oh and the same questions are asked of me. Christian life is all about loving and that love will win over darkness and sadness for eternity.
Heavenly Father, touch our hearts with kindness and love that we may share that love with others. Show us those who need their spirits lifted by love, our love and may we bring to them as well the loving, lifting Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thank you for walking with me – until next week, “May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”