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‘As long as there’s breath, there’s hope’

COME JUST AS YOU ARE

Good morning, my friends! Today, I’m doing some reflecting. It seems like only yesterday I was groaning about winter setting in and now, once more, it has passed. Here we are, almost passed by spring and about to embark on summer.

I have always said that my favorite times of the year are the spring and the fall; planting and harvesting. New life, new beginnings. Fall brings the harvest, the rewards for our labors in the spring.

With Mother’s Day celebrations behind us for another year, I’m reflecting on the past. Where have the years gone? What may lie ahead? Did I have the right priorities in my fleeting years with my children? What kind of mother might I have been had God’s grace not covered me all those years? Can I see where I failed? Do I recognize God’s touch on my own life and what a difference that made in the lives of my children? Was it enough?

Yes! It was enough! It has to be, because He is enough! What ever short-comings I may have had, or you may have had, the grace of God covers it all. The older I get, the more clear it all becomes — no matter what, all of life holds a million teachable moments. We are not perfect and were never intended to be. What does matter is how we handle the trials, and the blessings that come our way. All of life is an opportunity to point our loved ones to God, whether it be through very difficult situations or in the celebration of the blessings given to us.

On a recent trip to visit family, I gave a young grandson a cute little slingshot, doting a bear on the handle. I just couldn’t resist. It did register for just a minute that maybe he is too young yet for a slingshot, but grandma’s often leap before they think. He, of course, was simply ecstatic. After watching him bounce stones off the side of a shed, I grew concerned about what could happen. Maybe his sister would get in the line of fire and need — well — let’s not go there. I was having some serious second thoughts, but how could I take back the gift I had given?

The following day, our son informed me that his little son had shot stones til dark, and then took that slingshot along to bed. Shortly before falling asleep, he hollered up the stairs to his drowsy parents, saying, “Daddy, can I take my slingshot along to heaven with me?” Aw, my heart! Not wanting to break this child’s heart, his dad responded, “I don’t know, bud…probably…yeah, yeah, you can take it along to heaven.” To which our five year old grandson replied, “How?” Um, okay, maybe we aren’t ready for some of those hard questions that five year olds so often ask. Too cute! But got me thinking…

Am I ready for those teachable moments? Are you? What are we teaching our children and grandchildren along the way? I certainly am not criticizing our son for the handling of this conversation. It’s just too precious — a young child’s innocent thoughts. A delicate thing. A trusting heart. A heart entrusted to parents to lead and guide “in the way that he should go.”

Moving from children and grandchildren to marriage. One of my grandchildren recently asked me what the secret is to keeping a marriage together for nearly 50 years. Well, that topic is a lot of fun! The first thing out of my mouth was to laugh a lot. Not sound advice, though not bad overall. No, I told her to love deeply. Love covers a multitude of sins, the Bible says. To forgive. To offer grace; the same grace I want to receive. I informed her that there’s been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears over the years, and we haven’t always gotten it right, but we both still know that the Lord had this marvelous plan for the two of us, and though I didn’t always see clearly or love as deeply as I ought, still, the Lord continues to lead us and teach us both. As we’ve learned that marriage is not 50/50, as the world says, but rather it is 1,000/1,000, we continue to know that God holds us in the palms of His very loving hands, and His grace covers us. And I’m so very thankful for this man I call my husband; this man the Lord gave me to love and care for me.

I also realize that not only has the Lord entrusted the hearts and lives of children to their parents, He also has work for those parents to do in the following generation, and Lord willing, even the next. Teachable moments. I can’t know where you all are in this circle of life. I only know it’s my responsibility to share my experiences with the younger. God had a beautiful plan for the older to teach the younger, and for the cycle to continue on for the following generations. This is what matters. This is the path that matters; parents passing on faith to those who come behind.

King Solomon was very wise when he reflected on life and came to some profound conclusions. He makes me stop and think about my life. What really matters anyway? While we live in such a hurried world with work at the front of all, it seems, Solomon concluded what we all know. We brought nothing into this world, and we take nothing out when we leave. All of our labors under the sun are in vain as we face the fact that it will only be passed on to another. Solomon admonished us to “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Sobering, yet I find wisdom in that advice. Yes, enjoy our lives here on earth, but always keep in mind the brevity of life. God rains on the just and the unjust, and none of us know the day or hour of our passing. We need to be ever mindful that our lives are but a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow, so while it is today, we have work to do God’s work. Teach in the moment. Love deeply. Forgive always. Offer the same grace you want to receive. Be so thankful for the grace God has shown you, and then teach it to those who come behind you. Slow down. Take time with hungry hearts. Tell them all about Jesus. Lead them in the everlasting way.

Over many years, I’ve listened to hurting souls share the pain of past regrets or fears for today and tomorrow. I have always said, “As long as there’s breath, there is hope.” Hearing this, most breathe a little easier and smile a tiny smile of relief and reply, “I hope.” Listen, friend, as long as there’s breath, there IS hope. HOPE. His name is JESUS. Teach it well. Never miss a teachable moment. God’s grace goes before you and makes a way. He comes behind you and covers all. Press on! Don’t spend too much time looking back. It only robs you of today. Live your life to the fullest and be sure to let God use whatever mess you feel you’ve made, and turn it into His powerful message of healing and redemption. The souls of your loved ones just may be waiting on the evidence of your faith filled life to inspire them. Just some random thoughts at the time of planting…the Harvest will come! Will we be found faithful? Time to get back to my “garden” now. Blessings to each of you, in the precious name of Jesus!

•••

Debby Renninger is a freelance writer and inspirational speaker. She holds a Bible study in her home in McVeytown, where seeking women are always welcome. She may be reached at (717) 250-7086 for speaking engagements.

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