Springing Forward Without Regrets

Well, here in Tennessee we set our clocks forward one hour. It’s called, “Springing forward.” It is easy for me to be hopeful this time of year because after the cold, dreary winter months when it appears most of the plants and trees have died, they suddenly  burst forth with new life.  The weather is warming up, the flowers are budding and blooming, and once again, I get to wake up to the birds singing. It’s a time of new beginnings.

I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13, 14.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

There is some danger in looking back.  The Apostle Paul had a background of persecuting the early church before he was converted and really came to know the Lord Jesus Christ. I imagine it was quite painful for him to think about the damage and pain he caused, not only to the followers of Jesus, but to the Lord Himself.

I don’t know about you, but I have regrets when I look back over my life.  Can we conscientiously live without having regrets? I really don’t think so. But we must be careful to not camp out there.  We are human so we will mess up.  (“Mess up” sounds so much better than “sin,” don’t you think?) But hopefully, we learn from those mess ups and as a result, become better people having had the experience.

Interestingly enough, today marks the second anniversary of my husband (David Hughes) and best friend’s home going to heaven…..the same day we “spring forward.” Two years ago I thanked the Lord that I didn’t have to go through those first difficult months of grieving during the dead of winter.  I honestly think it would have been more than I could bear.  God has shown me grace and mercy in so many ways.

Last year on this day, my daughter told me our first grandbaby was on the way. That lightened the grief of that first anniversary.

Destin with his Gigi. January 2017

For most of today, God allowed me to see big, beautiful snowflakes float from the sky.  Watching the snow fall is one of my favorite things to do.  (We don’t get to see that often in Tennessee, especially in March!) It may be prideful, but I felt like the snow today was a special gift to me from God. I believe my God is that personal and cares that much for me. He showered His mercy on me in helping me to not just “get through” what could have been a very sad day, but be joyful and thankful in it.  That is God’s amazing grace.

David and Gaye- January 2014

I wonder if we can fully appreciate our loved ones while we still have them with us. It is so easy to take  them for granted. I wish I could have 15 minutes to once again tell David how much I appreciate and love him. I tried to do that often while he was with me, but I long to express it even more now.  But I think he somehow knows that. And I believe he would feel the same way if our situation was reversed.  David gave me such a gift when he told me a few weeks before he died, “Gaye, when my time comes, let me go and don’t look back. You’ve been a better wife to me than I could have ever asked for.”

So there is a fine line in reflecting on our past.  If we can look back and are motivated to not make those same “mistakes” again, but rather, live more wisely, then that is good.  But we if look back too long and become depressed about things we can’t change, it is nonproductive and steals our joy and effectiveness of today.

I have not “arrived.”  I am not what I want to be, but I’m not what I used to be.  We can joyously spring forward because, although we will mess up again, we have a loving Savior walking with us, teaching us, and guiding us, and forgiving us if we ask Him. First John 1:9 is one of my favorite promises in God’s Word.

Recently, a preacher admonished the congregation with, “Live in such a way that you won’t dread looking back.”  That’s a good goal.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

Circulating Jesus’ Love

13892189_10208765354150021_528678173187263753_nMy church recently had Circulation Day!Members brought household items that they no longer needed and we basically had a huge, free yard sale. People were excited to receive many nice items such as…a washer and dryer, tread mill, books, pictures, kitchen tools, etc. The goal was to show love to our community.  As the people came, we gave them some Bible verses and invited them to visit our church. There were no price tags so when someone was interested in something and ask how much it cost, we would tell them it was theirs for the taking. It was really neat to see the responses.  Some just couldn’t believe it.

To entice people to come, we held large signs and waved to the people as they passed on the  busy highway in front of our church.  As I stood there and witnessed the many people drive pass, I wondered how many knew Jesus personally and had peace in their hearts as only He can give.  Also, here we were offering nice, free, needed items, but many would not stop to check it out.  I wondered why.

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Maybe they were skeptical.  Maybe they didn’t think they needed anything we had. Maybe they were distracted by other things. Maybe they had more important places to go.

Then I thought about how it is similar with the gospel. Here we have a message of Good News that costs us nothing (but Jesus His life), that is a positive life changer to those who will believe, yet many will not accept it for some of the same reasons as above.  It’s hard for them to imagine a God that would love them enough to give His life for them. They think they are fine the way they are and don’t need Jesus.  Or maybe they are so distracted by what this world has to offer there is no room left for Jesus.

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It made me sad to think about people living their lives not even realizing what they are missing by not having a personal relationship with this Jesus who loves them so very much.  Jesus calls us to give the gospel out. We aren’t responsible for who believes it or rejects it.

Today I was driving about 15 mph on a lone, back street looking for a business. There was an oncoming car approaching.  I drifted across the center line as I was looking for the building. I realized what I was doing and quickly got back into my lane.  The oncoming car was several car lengths away and it wasn’t even close, but she let me know in no uncertain terms that she was very upset with me. I was definitely in the wrong.  I made a sad face, hunched my shoulders, and mouthed, I’m sorry! I wish she had extended more grace. And this reminded me that I need to extend grace to other people because I often don’t know what they are going through.

LoveThyNeighborAsThyselfI’m SO glad that, as believers, we experience God’s grace and mercy every day and will for all eternity.  We don’t deserve it. And because Jesus has given us love and mercy, we need to be quick to share that with others.

Last night I  heard this….God formed us, sin deformed us, and Jesus transforms us.

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I would like to leave these lyrics with you from, I Saw Jesus in You by Ron Hamilton.

When I enter Heaven’s glory, And I see the Savior’s face,

I will offer Him ten thousand years of praise.

Then I’ll find that special one, In whose life I saw God’s Son,

And thru tears of joy with trembling lips these words, I’ll say:

Chorus:

I saw Jesus in you, I saw Jesus in you.

I could hear His voice in the words you said–

I saw Jesus in you.

In your eyes I saw His care, I could see His love was there.

You were faithful, And I saw Jesus in you.

Verse 2

When I stand before my Father, To receive my life’s reward,

And my soul is bathed in God’s eternal day,

When this race on earth is run, And God sees the works I’ve done,

More than anything I long to hear my Father say:

Chorus:

I saw Jesus in you.  I saw Jesus in you.

I could hear His voice in the words you said–

I saw Jesus in you.

In your eyes I saw His care, I could see His love was there.

You were faithful, And I saw Jesus in you.

 

May we let Jesus’ light and love shine through us,

Gaye Hughes

 

 

Where Do You Stand?

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I was at the event, One Day of Hope, in Manchester, Tennessee. This is a yearly event where the surrounding churches come together to provide for many needs in the community. Medical and dental services are provided along with lots of clothes, bags of groceries, hair cuts, family photos, hot meals, etc. and everything is free. It is such a blessing to see so many various churches work together to show God’s love to others.

The volunteers began working a few hours before the recipients arrived to make preparations. I noticed a line started forming outside the gate an hour before the doors were scheduled to open. It occurred to me that the only thing that separated those receiving from those giving was a chain length fence.

I thought of a few of the thousands of possible reasons why one person would be on one side of the fence verses the other side. It could be as simple as the family one was born into. Maybe it was a job opportunity afforded verses one that was not. It could be the result of a critical decision.

I was humbled to have the privilege to be on the giving side of the fence today. It has been no merit of my own. God has abundantly blessed me much more than I could ever deserve.  The Creator of the universe has extended grace and mercy to me when I have acted foolishly and not sought His will as I should have.

I could easily find myself on the other side of the fence next year. This life is full of uncertainties. But whichever side of the fence we find ourselves on, we can count on God’s promises. One of them is found in Philippians 4:19 which says,

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ

Jesus.

Also, more important than which side of the fence we are on is where we stand in our relationship with God. Are we depending on Him or what we have? Are we trusting in our Savior or our riches? Are we content and thankful for what we have or always wanting more? Do we love our things, more than we love God? What or Who do we spend most of our time thinking about?

May we whole-heartedly make King David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14 our own.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes