Foretaste of Heaven

My flowers put on quite a show this spring. The roses are trying to take over the backyard flowerbed. The white peonies bloomed first and the deep rose peonies are almost ready to open.

Last week, with a thunderstorm imminent, I raced out into the yard, clippers in hand, to cut roses and peonies, so I could continue to enjoy their beauty in vases on the dining table.

”Roses are red, violets are blue”…..” Every kid has written those words to his sweetheart.

“My love is like a red, red rose….” words written by Robert Burns in 1794.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” William Shakespeare in the play, Romeo and Juliet in 1597.

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”  Song of Solomon 2:1, New King James Version Bible.

Someone wrote a gospel song from that verse years ago, comparing Jesus to the lily of the valley, the Rose of Sharon, the Bright and Morning Star. I have sung it for years, in congregations and at times when the song just suddenly appears on my lips. And sometimes when I hear those words, love bubbles up in my heart for Jesus.

God is a gardener. ““The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.”” Genesis 2:8-9.

He planted trees and all other plants on earth for our food but also to enjoy looking at them. See where it says the trees were “pleasant to the sight.”

Ever wonder what heaven will be like? Revelation 22:2 says, “In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

When I gaze upon my beautiful roses, it is just a little foretaste of heaven.

Waiting for That Day

Easter was always my favorite holiday next to Christmas when I was growing up. Besides the excitement of getting a new dress and new shoes for church, it was because we got to see our cousins from Wichita after a long winter apart.

Our cousins came home to Vinita for Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Rodeo Week, and Labor Day, but they stayed in Wichita the rest of the year to celebrate the holidays there. Their daddy and my mama were brother and sister who had grown up out north of Vinita on a little farm and still called Vinita home. Since there wasn’t a house on the old farm, everyone always gathered at our little house to visit.

If they didn’t have any car trouble or flats they usually pulled into Vinita by 9 o’clock Friday night for Easter but I started watching for them as soon as supper was over. Every few minutes I’d go look out the front door expecting them to drive in. Any time a car drove by, I just knew it was them, so I’d race out the door.

When the lights of the car shined on the front door, I ran out the front door, slamming the screen door behind me. I always wanted to be the first one there when the car pulled into the driveway.  Before the car had even come to a complete stop, I already had the car door open, and I was inside, on their laps, hugging and kissing.

That’s how I imagine it will be when we are ready to go to heaven. Our loved ones who have gone there ahead of us will be waiting for us to arrive. Some of them will be so excited they might even show up early to escort us across the great divide. You know, it is common for people who are getting ready to go to heaven to see a loved one coming to escort them home.

Jesus told us, In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2-3.

This isn’t home. Heaven is home.

 

 

Deep Roots

 

Grandmother’s silver-leaf maple tree fell over on a bright sunny day. There might have been some wind, we weren’t sure. No one was living in her house, because Grandmother had moved to heaven several years before. Grandmother’s backyard was peaceful and quiet, almost like being out in the country. She had rosebushes, Rose o’ Sharon bushes, plum trees, and one big silver-leaf maple tree.

The trunk at the base was about 2 feet in diameter–not a small tree. When we found it, it had been pulled completely out of the ground. The roots were all showing, a lot of little roots, but no tap root. Not a single long root going down deep into the earth.

The silver-leaf maple tree is very good for poor soil and is easily transplanted. The silver-leaf maple has many small shallow roots. It is hardy and survives in a variety of harsh conditions, but the wood is soft and can be damaged by severe wind or ice storms.

Because of this, the silver-leaf maple in Grandmother’s backyard was weakened by storms over the years. Then when an adverse wind came, the tree blew over.

Even though the tree fell over suddenly, it was in the process of falling for many years, because the root system was not supporting it.

Jesus told a parable about a farmer going out planting seeds, and described how some seeds developed.

“These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness, and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.” Mark 4:16-17 NKJV

Jesus indicates that a deep root is developed because of hearing the word of God and receiving it, but the rocky soil of the heart keeps the root from developing.

Rocky soil has to be cultivated, dug up, the rocks pulled out and disposed of. The rocks of your heart will block the word of God from taking root and that will cause you to fall when the storms of life come.

Deep roots are developed when the weather is nice, in every-day life, day by day, not when the storm is upon you. The time to prepare for the storm is now.

 

Wrinkle Free

Mother had a clothes line where she hung clothes to dry. Many times I had to hang clothes up with wooden clothespins when I was a kid, one chore I didn’t really care for. Later on as a young teen, I remember sometimes going to the laundromat by Eddie’s grocery and washing several loads at once, drying in the big dryers, where the sheets especially came out fluffy and more wrinkle-free.

When I married, we had a brand new washer and dryer from Sears. No more hanging out clothes on the clothes line for me. If I added a little Downy, then I could get by without ironing. I was hooked.

When I had kids, I always made sure I bought permanent press that needed no ironing. If something was wrinkled I’d tell the kids to throw it in the dryer with a Bounce sheet and “fluff” it. The only time I ever ironed anything was when I was sewing, or when we were attending a special event. Weddings, funerals, high school graduations.

We have an invitation to a wedding. One of these days, whether by the Lord’s return or by death, those of us who have been born again will enter the Lord’s presence. We will be part of those who go to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” Rev. 19:9. NKJV.

Our garments need to be prepared for Christ’s return, cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God and the water of the word of God, but also prepared by our service and good works for Him.

“Just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27

When I see Jesus, I want to be presentable, with my best clothes on, garments that are spotless, fluffy, unwrinkled, pure and holy before the Lord.

Payday

How do you get paid? By the job? By the month? In tips? Once a week?

My first job was working after school at the Hotel Vinita Coffee Shop, which I began in the late summer of 1965 just before rodeo week. From then till June, 2003, when I started drawing a monthly check, I received a paycheck every two weeks at each job I held.

God has a payday system in place in the universe. Spring is the season of planting, summer is the time of growth, fall is the time of harvest, and winter is the time of rest and reflection.

God doesn’t always pay on Friday. He promises us that we will be rewarded but some rewards are given here and some in heaven. Don’t give up just because you don’t see any results. Each seed has a germination time, growth time, a flowering time, seed-setting time, then the harvest. Some corn and tomatoes ripen by 4th of July, but some not until August.

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 9:10

“Now” means at this very moment in time, not the past, not the future. What God is doing for us is in the “Now.” Time is always “Now” to the eternal God, but His ‘now’ and your ‘now’ may not be the same.

God is the source of the seed we plant and the food we eat. He gives us enough seed to plant and to make into bread to eat. God will multiply the seed you have sown, not the seed you have eaten.

And it all depends on your sowing. “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  Galatians 6:7, 9. 

Keep sowing, because harvest time is coming any day now.

 

The Truth

I started first grade at Riverside Grade School, only four rooms for four grades—1st through 4th. I have sweet memories of Riverside school. Only one block from my home, it was a red brick square building, with a nice playground. We played on teeter-totters, swings, slides, and the merry-go-round. We had our share of falls and spills off them all, but I don’t remember anyone being seriously hurt.

In the fall of third grade, we had a big production play which we combined with Hall Halsell grade school and performed it in the auditorium. We dressed as pilgrims or Indians, to put on our play. At our own school, we made our costumes. Mine was made out of brown paper grocery sacks. The sack had holes cut for the arms and head, and it was colored to look like an Indian dress with fringe cut at the hem. A paper headband with a paper feather finished the costume.

We made papoose carriers out of cardboard, with straps to put it on our back, and colored a paper sack which was stapled over the cardboard. I don’t remember the baby, but it must have been our own doll from home.

When time came to put on our play, I was proud to march around the auditorium, wearing my Indian costume and baby doll papoose on my back. We sang our songs about the pilgrims and Indians and Thanksgiving and recited our pieces as trained. We learned our stories of Christopher Columbus, the Mayflower, the Pilgrims, and the kind Indians who helped them live through the harsh winters of those first years in America.

Now all those stories and facts we learned are being disputed and contradicted. The stories we learned in Sunday School have been disputed and contradicted too, but the more they are contradicted, the more they are researched, the more they are proven true. Archaeology proves the Bible. DNA research proves the Bible.

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Try as they may, the word of God can’t be proven false.