Over the past three days my mind has been all over the place on what to write about today. I think I have had at least 30 different titles and topics float by, including at least three earlier this morning. However, now as I sit down to write, I cannot recall a single one of them! I will chuck it off as "God's will" as opposed to my failing memory. The past three days also are packed with personal stories from longer ago - but these I will never forget.
It was on Monday, January 7, 1991 that my father was suddenly called home to heaven. He was just 69 years old at the time. My mother found him dead on the basement floor when she got up in the morning. He had died of a heart attack. The memories of the phone call Monica received from the police (my mother was too shook up to talk) and the whirlwind of activities that followed are a part of who I am. Just the week before we had all been together as Monica's sister got married.
It was on Thursday, January 9, 2007 that my mother fell asleep in Jesus' arms, never to wake again in this vale of tears. When the desk at her assisted living facility could not reach her by phone, they went to her room. They found her lifeless, still in bed. It was after 1:00 p.m. before they were able to track down either my brother or me. Eight years later to the day, the wife of our best man died just as suddenly down south - and January 9th is his birthday, too!
In the middle stands January 8. In 1995 it was a Sunday. That is the day, 24 years ago now, that I was installed as Senior Pastor at STL. All I have to do is look at my picture in the hallway outside the office to sense how long ago that is. I can't really remember anything about that day, or being 41, for that matter - but the years since have certainly been filled with many stories.
David put things this way, "I trust in you, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and my persecutors! Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!" (Psalm 31.14-16) Lest we be deceived, it is important to remember that our only "enemies and persecutors" are the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. I praise Jesus that from these three he "saves me in his steadfast love!"
Among the bible's 'holy' numbers (3, , 7, 10, 12), the number three reveals the person of God - as in "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" (Isaiah 6.4) He has shown himself to me in multiple ways on the three dates of January 7, January 8, and January 9. He has revealed himself to be a God who loves and forgives, and one who consistently makes silk purses out of sows' ears. David's words ring richly in this sow's ears - and I hope in yours as well - "Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!" (Psalm 31.24)
While I do not know what the next three days will bring, I do know that when I look back at them, just as when I look back at January 7, 8, and 9, I will be able to say (again with David - and hopefully with you), "Surely goodness and mercy have followed me these three days ... and all the days of my life." (Psalm 23.6a) ... which leads us to the one sure thing about the future: "and (we who believe and are baptized) shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalm 23.6b) Yes, it is God in Christ Jesus who rescues us from all of our enemies and persecutors ... and has a silk purse prepared for us all!