Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Chains are gone . . .

I have sat down many many times over the past year or so and started several blog posts, yet found myself not actually posting.

Now, tonight I am compelled to sit in the quiet and remember and write.

I pray that what the Lord has impressed upon my heart to share here in 'blogosphere' will somehow reach a hurting heart and give them hope; maybe even peace to a broken spirit; or if the Lord so sees fit, may he cause a lost soul to surrender to the cross of Jesus. 

“There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still.” Corrie Ten Boom

September 7, 2014

My (ex) brother in law Keith Robinson passed away.  Leaving behind my beloved nephew Dalton, my beautiful niece Gracey.  His mom and sibling's and nieces. Lastly, he left behind my sister whom he loved here on this earth until his death.  Since his death I have pondered what happens in heaven and I believe that Keith loves them still.

I was able to speak at his memorial service and the following is what I said all encompassing.  I say that because I left parts out not intentionally but I was just unable to form the words.

"My chains are gone I have been set free my God my Savior has ransomed me and like a flood His mercy reigns unending love AMAZING GRACE..." ~ Chris Tomlin (Amazing Grace - My chains are gone)

John 10:28
'I give them eternal life and they will never perish and no one will snatch them out of my hand.'

Only God knows the heart of a man ...

If  Keith were here today he would tell ya'll that he knew I would have something to say and I do.  Let me start by saying that he was more than a brother in law to me he was my friend.  I lovingly referred to him as 'noodle'  mostly because of his curly hair. 

I remember a time in Keith's life where he was committed to the Lord, I saw a different Keith.  Now, looking back I know that what I was actually seeing was a true repentant heart.  Keith had made a decision to turn from  his choices of self destruction and was making a concerted effort to live his life according to God's word.

He and Ginny were married and soon after came Dalton, the joy and delight of his life.  However, life was not without challenges and struggles.  A few years down the road Gracey was born, a daddy's girl right from the start.  Choices were being made and the consequences were devastating for the children, their marriage had ended.

Romans 3:23-24
'for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.'

Being Keith's sister in law I had the awesome privilege to be there for some really big moments in his life.  I got to hear the news of their engagement first and see the ring.  I was in the room when the ultrasound was done and they found out their first born was a son! I was the first to see Keith's face beaming with pride as he brought Dalton out of the delivery room.  I remember seeing him after Gracey was born and noticed that there was a suttle but obvious softness about him.  He fell in love with her.  Keith had a big heart and tried really hard to keep up a tough exterior.

Only God knows the heart of a man ... 

I also had the near death experience of riding with him and Brady when they thought that it would be fun to try and drag race Brady's pick up truck in the yard.  That was not fun for me but he and Brady thought it was great!

I came home one afternoon and he and my cousin Mikey had figured out how to make a sleigh out of the hood of an old yellow bus, Keith's old blue pick up and some rope.  Mind you there was no snow . . . but man did we have fun.

I always knew Keith loved me.  He accepted me as he did everyone else, for who we were.  He never asked us to change never demanded anything from anyone.  My relationship with him was bittersweet... I could love him and hate him in the same moment for the choices he made and the consequences that followed. 

Ephesians 2:8
'For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing it is the gift of God.'

Every person in this room and that you see around the world is a SOUL to our Lord Jesus.  We were ALL created in the image of God by God.  Genesis 1:27

Psalm 139 tells us that we were each created perfectly and wonderfully and that there is no where on this earth that we can run from God.  He sees when we sit and when we stand.  We cannot know the thoughts of God because they outnumber the grains of sand.

Many of us may be looking back on his life and see the grief and pain of consequences to his choices and how they have affected those closest to him.  We may find ourselves thinking it was a wasted life.

Oh, but NOONE knows the heart of a man but God.

Some of you may be familiar with the story of Job in the Bible.  He was a righteous man and God allowed great suffering and pain to fall upon him through the hands of Satan.  He lost everything, his family and material possessions.  He had some great friends who tried to console him and offer an explanation as to why God allowed all of this devastating tragedy. Then Job himself questioned God.  I love God's response . . .

Job 38:1-2
 'then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: Who is this that darkens my counsel by words without knowledge'

Who am I to question why God allows a torturous spirit to fall upon a man, and allow destruction at every turn of a soul that he loves.  Who am I to think that I shall not be sifted like wheat is one of us here greater than another in the eyes of the Lord?

Only God knows the heart of a man . . .

Anyone who knew Keith knew this ... he loved my sister, he loved his kids and he loved his family.  This was affirmed again as I walked into his room Sunday night.  There was scarcely an inch of wall space in his room that did not have a photograph of Dalton, Gracey, Ginny, his mom, siblings and nieces.  He kept cards from them by his bed.  He had handmade treasures from the kids for Father's Day.  He didn't just stop loving her on Sunday, he stopped loving them. ((*what was not mentioned at the service but those close to us knew is that Keith had made his arrangements two years ago due to an impending surgery.  His only request at his service was that George Jones 'He Stopped Loving Her Today' be played.  It was truly a haunting experience to see those lyrics actually come to life in his room))

A few years ago I saw a truly repentant heart and life in Keith.  We all fall short of the glory of God, we all sin.  No sin is greater than another sin in God's eyes.  We humans are the ones who have made one sin greater than another sin in that substance addiction is greater than food addiction or social media addiction.  We all cope in different ways with all of life's challenges, life is hard BUT God is good.

The good news, wonderful news is that while we were/are still sinners God sent his only son to die on a cross for our sins so that we may have eternal life with him in heaven when our earthly bodies give out.  If Keith was the only person on earth God loved him so much that he still would have sent Jesus to die for him for his sins.  Keith believed that, he trusted that.

John 3:16
'for God so loved the whole world that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.'

If you are here, or in this case reading this and you have not put your trust and faith in the Lord, I would like to encourage you to do so.  It's a simpler prayer.  Confess your sins to God and ask him to forgive you to save you and he will.

Because, only God knows the heart of a man.  Keith's chains are gone now, he has been set free, His God and Savior has ransomed him.  'like a flood His mercy reigns unending love, amazing grace' -Chris Tomlin