Archive for July 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Now He Has All The Time In The World

On Tuesday, July 14th, 2015, the Lord took home to heaven our dear Father.  His final few days on earth were a time of great blessing, a time when we could sit together around his bed and sing Psalms and Hymns of the hope we have in Jesus.  This was the hope he talked about often.  A hope so great it was a message he yearned to share unreservedly with his family and friends.  And yet this weight of glory was so heavy for him.   His greatest regret in life was not being able to adequately put into words what his heart was so full of.

Dad was born in Holland just 4 years before the outbreak of WWII.  He was a darling little fella who could literally charm the potato peels off a German soldier, managing in this way to keep a few scraps on the family dinner table during those lean years.  Never a very good student, his educational career ended early and he entered the workforce where with his gift of ingenuity, he thrived.

Once he was able to do what came easy to him, his passion for working hard took hold.  An engine of productivity, Dad came to Canada and started his own electrical business with just a VW Van and a few tools.  On the strength of that meagre beginning he was able to marry the love of his life and raise a God fearing family of 6 kids.  He provided them with a warm home full of music and gospel.  He ensured that all his children were educated according to the promises he made at the baptismal font and in the ways of the Lord.  He gifted them all with his passion for hard work, love for their neighbour and most important of all, the joy of faith.

However, having been drenched with blessings from above his whole life long, there was one thing Dad most desired of the Lord which to his great disappointment he never received.  What he truly coveted was the ability to speak easily and clearly, most especially about the love Christ has for all mankind.  With little formal schooling and a learning disability for stumbling blocks, Dad yearned earnestly for an easy way with words.  He would often feel frustrated with himself for not being able to quote scripture or paraphrase the great Church fathers like Augustine and Calvin.  After retirement he began a diligent course of reading in hopes of loosening his tongue with a deeper understanding of the faith.  However, the more he read, the more the words eluded him.

"There's not enough time anymore." we heard him mutter not so long ago from his wheelchair prison.  His eyesight was failing, making reading an impossibility.  His hearing diminished along with his vision, so that even conversation could be quite frustrating for him.  His life long pursuit of lady wisdom was at an end as the fog of old age and disease descended slowly upon him.

And yet, for those who knew Dad well, his greatest virtue was the fact that he wasn't a man of many words.  Rather, he was a man of much work. His heart was full of compassion for his neighbour and without saying a thing he showed what it means to be a man of God.  If you needed food, he gave you bread.  If your marriage was falling apart, he sat with you late in the night and prayed with you.  If your car broke down he gave you a ride to work. If you lost your job, he would hand you a shovel and show you where to dig a hole for a project he came up with on the spot.  

James 2:15 "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

Recently,  the building contractor Dad worked for many years ago came to visit.  Frail and thin Dad sat in his easy chair by the window, a shadow of the man he used to be, chatting about the good old days on the job site.  "Pete" his visitor declared "I knew that I could even trust you with my wallet!".  Dad's eyes lit up with unshed tears.  This spontaneous testament spoke to the way Dad communicated his faith best.  With few words but much honest work, he demonstrated the ways of a man saved by Christ unto a new life.  

Dad's ultimate desire may never have been granted here on this earth but we are deeply comforted to know that he has finally received that ultimate prize for which he yearned so earnestly.  He sits before our Father's throne, with tongue loosened and wisdom granted, there to praise Him for all eternity!

Now he has all the time in the world.


And that is enough to raise your thoughts to what may happen when the redeemed soul, beyond all hope and nearly beyond belief, learns at last that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please. There will be no room for vanity then. She will be free from the miserable illusion that it is her doing. With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be, and the moment which heals her old inferiority complex forever will also drown her pride… Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.” 


Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Thy People Shall be my People" - A letter to my daughter

Dear Daughter;

A week has passed since you married my son.  He whisked you off to a sandy beach somewhere warm where you played in the ocean together, he learned how to eat snow crab straight from the shell and you got a nasty sun burn while snoozing in the sun.  

It's a pretty good bet that you have already had your first major argument as man and wife.  It was probably over some silly thing like Reuben setting his wet swim trunks on top of your brand new suitcase, leaving a salt water stain and ruining the fabric.  Or maybe he was unwilling to go into that one last store you really wanted to check out with all the pretty bathing suits hanging in the window just begging to be tried on.  Trust me when I tell you, dear daughter, that thing you argued over will end up being one of your favourite honeymoon stories to tell your kids some day!  

How do I know this?  Well, my dear one, I was once on that same beach, scorched by the same sun's rays, wearing that same adoring look in my eyes, gazing on my new husband as he played in the swirling waves so many years ago.  He was my all and everything as I know Reuben is yours.  In my youthful heart, bursting with love and admiration for my new husband, I thought that he was my Boaz and I was his Ruth.

"Wither thou goest, I shall go" was a refrain that echoed in my mind. "Wither thou lodgest, there shall I lodge" comforted me and gave me courage as we began our lives together in an old farm house just a few miles from where he was born.  His quiet and firm faith was such a joy to me.  A man not of words but of actions, he swept me off my feet with the soundless gestures of a steadfast servant full of selfless giving.  I silently prayed that I might be a crown of choicest diamonds and sapphires to adorn his head and bring him honour, giving my life to him so that he might be built up more and more.  

Dearest daughter, the most amazing part of Ruth's story for me though, was the vow she made to Naomi long before she ever met Boaz.  As those two weary widows, hearts full of suffering and loss, walked slowly back towards the land of Israel, Ruth knew without a doubt where her true hope and comfort lay. "Thy people shall by my people" she said.  She, a daughter of Moab, had the audacity to cling to the covenant promises she knew in her heart were hers, no matter where she came from.  

I identified with Ruth, feeling like a stranger in a strange land.  I came from a family broken and torn apart by divorce.  Sure, I shared the same history as my husband.  We were both born of dutch immigrant parents.  We were both baptized by the same Minister, wet with the same cleansing water at our baptism when our parents promised to bring us up in the way of the Lord.  We even went to the same christian school and sang in the same church choir.  

But my youth was messy and full of the baggage that comes with the dysfunction of a broken home.  I had seen the dark side of marriage and I was not sure I could learn how to be a good and faithful wife like I saw in my mother-in-law.  In those early years, I was so inspired by the way she prepared meals for her family, gathering her children around the table for physical and spiritual sustenance every night.  Every evening my father-in-law would fold his hands and pray a simple prayer, his quiet voice laced with a thick dutch accent, petitioning for those in physical and spiritual need, always following it up with a jolly "Amen!" and "Goede bekomst!" .  It wasn't fancy but it was truly from the heart.

How would I ever fit inside this family with such a completely different upbringing than I?

I know, my daughter, that these thoughts and fears are weighing on your heart at this time as well.  You were born a pastors daughter and Reuben a farmer's son.  You were born Presbyterian and Reuben Dutch Reformed.  You were born an American and Reuben a Canadian.  You were raised in a home full of good books and rich conversation while Reuben learned through calloused hands and heavy labor.  You express your needs and desires in words while he is most comfortable with unspoken gestures.  Could the two of you be any more different?

And yet the words of Ruth which comforted my fears all those years ago, "Thy God is my God", are the great constant we all share, no matter who we are or where we come from.  He is our Saviour and our Lord.  He brings all men together through the saving power of His love.  Let His word be your guide in your married life and He will light the path forward.  He will not let you falter.  

With much love;

Your Mother