June 16, 2010

Out of the desert... John Ray

Tonight our hearts are heavy.

Pensive and sad, yet peaceful and rejoicing.

We have lost a friend, brother, mentor and teammate...

In our small group we talked about the old self verses the new self. As J and I prayed together at home and shared what the Lord has been showing us, we discussed the Israelites in the desert.
Today I read how Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?". This was after God had saved them from Egypt via ten awe inspiring plagues.  After God led them through the desert and opened a sea up to swallow a powerful army.  After God rained manna and quail down for them in the desert.

After all of that they wanted to know where their water was.

And they tested the Lord.

The older I get the more I identify with the Israelites. 

 Don't I complain? Don't I test?

And like them, don't I often long for Egypt? The land where "we had meat". How easily we forget the bondage. How easily we forget the beatings and the back breaking hopeless labor.

We forget.

  We want to forfeit our new found freedom for the bondage we once considered 'safe and familiar'.

So we wander in the desert. With a mighty God who delivers us, and guides us, and gives us manna and quail and water from the rock. Yet we wander.
Yes it is hot. Yes it is tedious. But we have a pillar that goes before us. We have a mighty God. We are not alone.

Today, we lost a beautiful friend and brother in Christ whom we love.

Our friend John Ray has died.

There is a time to mourn. It is not bad to be sad. I hurt for his beautiful bride left behind. I am sad I will no longer get to enjoy his presence on earth.

I mourn.

I weep.

Oh how the heart chafes and rubs raw against it all...

Yet ..through the tears...I rejoice.

I rejoice that John ended his race well. He ran with faith and perseverance with his eye on the prize.  Even in his suffering he pointed us all towards a deeper faith. He didn't look inward but kept his eyes upward.

How many people can say that?

What a precious example!

And while Jacob and I held one another and felt this loss, we came to this realization....

John is in the promised land.

John no longer must wander in the desert.

His thirst is quenched, his sight restored, and he is in the presence of a mighty and wonderful God. He can dance, and stand and sing... He has been freed from his shackles to suffer no more!

John is home.

We will miss him here, as we continue to wander in the desert, and cling to the promise of eternity. 

Praise God almighty, our deliverer forever.  Even in suffering and pain we thank you....


Leslie said...

What a beautiful tribute. Love you and praying!

Abby said...

I'm sorry you lost your friend. Hugs.

Jay and Amy said...

We have been learning the same thing. For the first time in my life, I think I no longer judge the Israelites, but identify with them completely. I seem to take control of things when I get scared that God won't come through. I have suffered the consequences and discipline becuase of it.
So sorry you lost your friend, but I LOVE what you wrote.
I look forward to the promised land, where all my physical pain is gone, my son is whole within his mind, and I can rest. It's hard sometimes to wait for that day. But, the hope of that day, gets me through the wilderness.

The Reeds said...

Thanks everyone. It's a big lesson to learn isn't it Amy? It amazes me that there is always so much left to be taught.

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