Sunday, July 26, 2020

No one is promised tomorrow 
so make sure you logout!
(Addendum: I wrote this last year August 16, 2019, right before my mother's funeral in my previous Blog: The Woman at the Well)

Tomorrow, I will bury my mother with my five siblings, of which I wrote in an earlier post. It was an unexpected death, not sudden, but surely unexpected.  Cancer came in and humbled my mom, because sometimes, that is how GOD has to do it.   People say that GOD never sends cancer, well, I happen to disagree.  The Bible is clear that GOD sends calamity.  Maybe it is not done by His hand specifically, but He is ultimately Sovereign, and nothing comes by us or to us without His prior knowledge and permission.  
 We read in the first chapter of Job that GOD was bragging on his faithful servant, Job, when the devil approached GOD and accused him of being faithful only because he had everything served to him on a silver platter, to quote a contemporary colloquialism.  GOD let Satan stricken Job taking everything away from him, children, livestock, servants, and all his earthly goods.  When Job did not curse GOD, the devil had something else up his sleeve, PAIN!  It's one thing to loose all our earthly goods, it's a whole new ball game when physical pain and discomfort torture us, wearing us out.  
Again, Satan had to seek permission from GOD, and it was granted, however the devil was to spare Job's life. (Hence, the devil has power to take life, according to this Scripture.  Remember that little point!)  The devil has to seek permission for everything he does, so the devil gets the blame, but GOD gets the glory in it, if we let Him. (Romans 8:28)   The devil hit Job with everything he had, and yet, Job did not curse GOD.  
 Now, Job may not have cursed GOD, but boy oh boy, he surely did complain, and who wouldn't?  This is where GOD becomes an even bigger GOD, who can handle all our complaints, and He actually prefers that we do come to Him, and Him alone.   Job was not suicidal, but he cursed the day he was born.  Things went from bad to worse when Job's "friends" instead of grieving with him, accused him of deserving of this punishment from GOD.  There was no mention of the devil in those days, so all things came from GOD's hand, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  The mere thought that something so dreadful just happening upon a righteous man, for no reason other than to resolve a bet between GOD and the evil one was simply unheard of, unthinkable, and quite frankly, disturbing beyond human comprehension.     
My mother's cancer came like that, out of nowhere, unexpected, unannounced, and unheard of, as cancer was not in our family history.  I guess we all thought we were safe.  Cancer runs in families, right?  If no one in your family or line of ancestors had cancer, well, then you were going to dodge that bullet, or so we like to think.  How wrong we are.  I was the first in my family to contract it, a very very rare form, parotid cancer.  Only one in every 400,000 women, my age contract this kind of cancer.  It is even rare for older men, let alone a middle-aged woman.  This I knew was from GOD, because I sort of got a heads-up on it.  I believed that the Holy Spirit warned me two years ahead of time that cancer was coming to humble me and keep me humble. Again, I wrote about this ordeal in an earlier blog.  (Cancer, Death and Humble Pie).  
My cancer was stage one, so easily defeated with a little radiation HELL!  It was slightly under six months of hell for me, but it did the trick.  It drew me closer to GOD. It taught me more of Who He is and His grace being sufficient in my weakness.  It had the intended purposed affect on me, and now, I'm a "ticking" time-bomb with all the radiation I did receive, thus perpetually feeding me humble pie for the rest of my days here on this planet.  My mom's cancer was quite a bit different.  It had an appetite for her body that was ravenous, and it fed on her like a famished lion.  In less than twelve weeks, my mom was gone.  
This cancer was brutal, tumors grew like wildfire and burned like it also.  My mom suffered terribly for about eight weeks.  It was a suffering one would never want to watch their parent endure.  I learned that it is just as hard to watch one's parent suffer as it is one's child.  As would any child, I rushed home from one thousand miles away to be with my mother in her worst hour of suffering, and to be with her and my siblings as she exited this world and entered the next.  I don't like to use the word dying, I'd much rather call it graduation or demotion.  In my mother's case, I truly think it was a graduation, as I did not know her spiritual status.  I did, however, receive what I thought was revelation from GOD that He had her up there in heaven, and all was well, now.  The minute after she died, John 3:16 popped up as the first tweet in my Twitter feed.  There was one other thing that I believed was from GOD, and that was what I was reading the second she took her last breath.      
I just so happened to be in 2 Chronicles 33, reading about King Manasseh.  Now, that was a bad king, so bad that he caused the final judgment from the Lord, to come upon Judah, the southern kingdom in 586 B.C.  Both the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom had turned their back on GOD and worshiped other gods, and that was the least of their sins, from a human perspective.  There were far more evil things they did that you can find out with a little investigative work on your own, but be prepared to have your stomach turned upside down.  King Manasseh, though, he took the cake, and the frosting, and the candles, when it comes to evil.   It is said of him that he lined the streets of Jerusalem with the blood from one end to the other.  It is even reported that he had the prophet Isaiah hung on a wooden X and sawed in half from the bottom up.  Now, that's a scene I can't even fathom to visualize, nor would I want to.  You really can't get much more evil than that.  
 Both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles speak of just how evil was the son of the good king, Hezekiah, but only 2 Chronicles tells of Manasseh's repentance.  When God wants to humble a person, He knows just what it will take, and a hook in Manasseh's nose and bronze fetters on his feet did the trick.  In his affliction, King Manasseh called out to the LORD.  Now, we humans would have said, "tough cookies, bud, you deserve this."  Aren't we glad that we are not GOD and GOD is not us, that we don't think like GOD and GOD doesn't think like us?  One small act of humbling himself before the LORD, a sincere act of repentance (a change of heart), and GOD restored the evil king, who was immediately transposed into a good king.  He proved his repentance was genuine as he went about restoring Jerusalem, the Temple, removing the wooden idols, and demanding that the people worship only GOD.  It's an amazing story of just how big and wide is the Grace of GOD with one simple, sincere act of humiliation before him.  

As I mentioned, I was reading these verses just as my mom took her last breath, and that is no coincidence.  I truly believe that GOD wanted me to know that all the sharp words my mom used were thrown in the deepest part of the ocean, gone forever, and not held against her, and let me tell you, she had a tongue sharper than than a finely tuned razor blade.  She could chop a person to pieces with it, with no effort at all on her part, and in no time flat.  She wasn't just a Italian Yankee firecracker, she was a nuclear explosion when her fuse was lit.      Little did I know that later, by accident, I would happen to stumble upon some of her emails  she wrote to my siblings about me and my children. After reading about twenty of them, because I had to stop there, I had seen more than my eyes should have seen, there is NO question in my mind why my Stone siblings hated me so much.  Mom was the fuel that fed that fire of fury  She had said the most dreadfully horrible things about me and my children that no decent relative should say about another, let alone a mother about her own child.  I had no idea that my supportive mother who could pick a fight with me in an instant, was not only not so supportive, but she had hoped to see me fail.  I will never understand this, but here is where that BIG huge Grace of GOD comes into play.  
My mom's heart was like every human heart, deceptively evil, hard to fathom, (Jeremiah 17:9), and GOD, knowing that her time was coming soon, instead of letting her evil heart drag her into hell, he gave her an opportunity to be so afflicted that her only option and hope would be to call out to GOD, as did King Manasseh.  The Bible says in several places, "Whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be saved,"  and I heard many times during that brief time of severe suffering, her calling on the name of Jesus for relief and mercy.  I could hold a grudge against my mother, but what purpose would that serve?  My tongue is just as sharp as hers, and I've ripped a few people apart in my day, even in recent days, when my fuse was lit.  It's a terrible sin, but it's the human condition.  We let our emotions dictate our words and actions when under a great deal of stress or distress.  I am no angel and in need of just as much mercy from GOD as was my mom.  My mom didn't get a chance to apologize to me, but GOD let me see just how He works in forcing an apology, even a silent one out of one's heart on their deathbed.  I, on the other hand have plenty of opportunities to apologize, still, and I plan to make that a common habit, hoping for a little understanding a great deal of mercy from those I've offended.  
There is a difference between the human condition, falling into sin, and an evil heart, plotting sin.  My mom with malice-aforethought, and for no reason, said the most hateful things about all of us.  I am in the former camp. Either way, sin is sin, and we are in need of forgiveness from GOD for every sin, past, present and future, whether it is planned or unplanned.  Here is where GOD looks at the righteousness of Jesus and his work on the cross, and not the decades worth of sin that we either fall into, or plot in vain.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I see this suffering as a gift from GOD.  He could have just ignored her evil intentions, and let them slip her into the eternal abyss of suffering and gnashing of teeth, as Jesus warned, but He didn't.  I would like to believe that He took pity on me and my mom and taught us BOTH a very valuable lesson in how GOD not only humbles us in our sin, but just how BIG and WIDE is His grace and mercy.  

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