The Expense of Safety – A Reprise – And The Rest Of The Story

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A Good Friday Story;
A Good Anytime Story –


The Expense of Safety

The Ferry to Safety was ready to depart.
Freedom, so close!

Special admission only???
Hope fading.
Whoever missed the boat was lost.
Completely lost and without hope.
One solitary, stringent ticket stand.
A waiting line far too long.

Serious guards watching.
Last chance.
Distress.

But I had not the standing,
Not the requirements,
Not the paperwork,

Nor the price of admission.
I stood forlorn in fear that
I would always wear these chains,

Or be, (oh, so slowly) tortured and killed;
Despair.

Then a man stepped up,
Radiating such undisguised love,
Unveiled compassion.

He gave me his own precious ticket with a smile.
No hesitation.
He paid my price.
Dooming himself with the selfless gesture.
Bewildered, I caught hold of it.

And just in time.
I stood astonished,
Forgetting even to thank him.
“Hurry, it departs;
It’s your one chance,”
He cried over his shoulder

As they cruelly restrained him,
Beat him to the ground,

Roughly dragged him,
Torn, and bleeding,
Yet miraculously silent as
They pinned him brutally against the ticket stand.

His fate I couldn’t know,
Couldn’t imagine.

Didn’t want to guess . . .
In horror and denial,
I watched the scene as I walked backward,

And stepped,
Not nearly grateful enough,
Onto the departing boat.



The Rest of the Story

I was in shock.
And I was safe.
My chains had dropped from me,
into the water,

as I stepped onto the ferry.
Relief overwhelmed me.

Was this how true freedom felt?
After a time, I noticed many others were there.
Some were kneeling, some looking upward
with bowed heads and raised hands.
A woman saw that I was alone.
“You are the last.”
“Yes . . . . . ,
I . . .
It’s incredible!

A man paid my price!”
I was still astonished.
“Mine too!” she exclaimed.
A man looked up . . . “Mine too!”
A child waved; in her hand a ticket:
“Me too!”
“Me too!” cried a young boy.”
A group of teenagers:
“Me too!” “Me too!” “And me!”
“He paid my fare!”
“He gave me his own ticket!”
All of us!
People were gathering into one group,
listening to each other.
“I threw my pass away years ago,
but he gave me another today!” said several.
“I lost mine and he gave me a replacement as well.”
“I didn’t deserve one.”
“I was in prison.”
“My neck was in the noose; I was good as dead.”
“He let me off the hook for the terrible things I said about him.”
“He forgave me too!”
“He gave me another chance.”
“He gave me another, and another, and another.”
“He told me it was ‘never too late’,
when he handed me his boarding pass.”
“He looked at me with love.
Nobody ever did that!”

“I know he saved my life, and not just once!”
“He told me God loves me!”
“I heard him forgive those guards.”
Yes, even while they did detestable things to Him.
I . . . I think . . . they killed him.

“Because of us,” I thought, in sorrow.
“Because we couldn’t get our own passes.”
“We could never qualify.”
“He deserved his ticket more than anyone,
yet he gave it to all of us and forfeited his life.”
 “He loved his life as much as we love ours.”
“Who was that poor man?”
An elderly lady approached on unsteady legs,
holding her ticket toward me in an outstretched hand.
Her eyes were filled with tears.
“He gave me this. I tried to refuse, but he insisted.
It was all . . . he . . . had.

What love he radiated. What love!” she sighed.
Her pass was identical to mine.
They all were.
I looked up at the wheelhouse,
and, to my delight, noticed that the huge watercraft
was named JOY.

As the day passed, people began telling their stories.
Everyone had a story involving the man we called
our hero, our rescuer, our deliverer.
We praised the man with our stories and with singing.
We fasted, partaking only of sweet, cool, water   –
The purest we have ever tasted.
In the evening we ate bread and grapes.
All these things were provided from coolers on the deck.
We became conscious of God’s presence and provision.
Those of us who were new to the faith experience were welcomed
into the family of believers and followers of that one man.
Because of what he did for us, we all worshiped him;
Because he showed us compassionate love,
We adored him;
Longed to see him again,
If only . . .

The boat seemed to expand in size while more people
came up from below.

So many breathing freedom!
Our ongoing rescue continued through the second day,

through which we repeated the fast, the worship,
the stories, and the evening meal.
When would we finally reach the Land of Promised Safety?
We wondered, but with faith and confident hope.
The massive boat churned a wake and plowed its way forward,
persevering steadily on course 
through a third day,
 as our faith and hope grew.
Then, in the cool of the evening of the third day,
we saw land . . .

And I, the undeserving;
I, the ingrate;
I, the impatient;

I, the selfish;
I, the forgiven;
and I, the thankful-rescued,

stood on the foredeck and saw The Man
standing with a grin,
and with open arms,
on the pristine sand of freedom’s shore.

α ∞ Ω
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When Faith Goes Still

I must confess that, at times, usually only briefly, my faith becomes rigid and cold – stark and inanimate. I get the picture of a steel beam lying on the ground. It is of no real use there. Waiting.
It gets that way when my understanding fails. When I think of the rape of an innocent or the murder of a child . . . I am so horrified that I wonder why God is not horrified as well. My distress asks “Why do You not intervene?” That is when my faith goes still and cold, yet I hang onto it and grasp it as if it is my last treasured possession. If I went right now to research answers, I could find dozens of rational answers. Maybe even comforting answers.

At this moment, I just want to see what my own heart says:
That He is God and I am not.
That my understanding is shallow and incomplete.
That He loves the soul of the most demon-possessed murderer as much as He does mine/me,
and He gave Jesus’ life so that one, too, might be saved.
That His forgiveness of a repentant believer is unconditional, as is His love.

That, except for His grace and mercy, my situation could be just like theirs – or worse.
That He doesn’t want to lose even one soul to Darkness.

It is a most difficult concept for me to love that person, or, at least, their soul, as much as I do my own. Just maybe, it might be that the faith and understanding of the above-mentioned innocent child is more animated and warm than my own. Would they gladly give their life for the healing and saving of the soul of their tormenter if Jesus were right there to explain, and help them, and teach them?
After all, He suffered the same horrors.
He understands what is at stake.
Would they gladly forgive?
Would I?
Can I?
Do I?
I should.
I am supposed to.
But, being an older human, it is hard.

The people opposed to God say that they won’t believe in a god who doesn’t have compassion for the innocent – who will not intervene in their behalf when they think He should – a god who loves murderers. If He were the kind of god that they have invented in their minds, they might be right;
but they don’t know Him.
Everyone “murders” something, in some way, nearly every day.
He does intervene in ways unseen.
Jesus was innocent.
He does have compassion.
He IS compassion.
And that, my friend, is the point at which the rigid, cold, stark, inanimate faith that I could only hold onto like a waiting seed, once again comes to life!
Warm, pliable, animated, and comforting because of His compassion and His love.
A gift amidst the horrors of a broken world.
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To A Discouraged Young Man

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I would rather just give you a big bear hug and sit with you quietly, but these words will have to suffice.

To paraphrase Mr. Lewis, this world constantly shows us that we weren’t made for it. We were made for a better land – our true home. We are strangers here, often alien even to our own bodies. Physical issues are hard. Time here is often wearying. Dismay seems to be inordinately long, while fun, satisfying, and pleasurable times pass quickly into the mundane, hum-drum, and mediocre. We long for something we can barely grasp. So much is missing and nothing seems to last except the ache.

Take heart! I’ve found that fixing my mind on our eventual forever home changes my perspective. I don’t know why we are placed here to endure these things, but I do know that we are called, like Saint Paul was, to persevere, and to build character. We are to find our way home and take as many people with us as we can, even if we must carry them, even if we must lead crawling before them. I’ve often seen that the suffering faithful are unintentionally the most compelling role models. Their testimonies are intensely attractive. You are not alone in your thoughts and feelings. You are unique, but not alone. Being older, having lived long in this broken place, I can truly sympathize, and I care about you. So I encourage you, dear brother, to put your hope in Heaven where our Father lives. Believe in Him. Do the best you can in this land, but strive for Home where our real life, true and beautiful, awaits.
Sincerely,
In Jesus’ love,
Me
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A Tribute To The Unforgettable Zina Nicole Lahr.

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Zina Nicole Lahr

Zina Nicole Lahr

 

I watched one of her amazing videos yesterday morning.
“What an inspiring personality”, I thought.
Then reality bit hard and my heart sank.
She is inspiring . . .
And she died.

I didn’t even know her

And I only learned of her existence yesterday,
I learned of her existence, and shortly thereafter I learned
That she existed in the past tense . . .
How heartbreaking that was to me.
But I want her to be remembered.

I want to remember her.
And I want her remembered.

“Why am I even writing this?”, I ask myself.
Because God won’t leave me alone about it.
I tried to distance myself,
But He struck me with an unexpected, intense, compassion for
Zina and her family.
At first I did not understand why.
Now, I’m certain that it was to demonstrate
His own intense, compassionate love
For me, through her,
And to somehow relate that to others.

So here I go again, honoring the life of
One-So-Young
Who seemingly passed away too soon
Suddenly, tragically,
In a hiking accident, no less –
Something which could easily happen to me.

The Community of Humanity mourns your loss, Zina.

I want them to know you –

Know at least a part of who they lost.

I want to be instrumental in their knowing
And in the memory of her.
Because of compassion for her family
Who have endured too much.
Two daughters,
Gone.
But never forgotten.
Losses and trials too many.

I read everything I could find about her online,
And there is quite a lot.
I watched her You Tube videos.
Impressive, informative, inspiring.
She was genuine and real.
No pretenses necessary.
Please go there (to You Tube) too, dear reader.

These are quotes from her blog,

normallyoddzina.wordpress.com  :

“If God is Love, and God goes beyond measurable definition,
then I want to live in a Love that transcends what my love can offer this world . . .”

“I want my interactions with this world, all the beautiful pieces it contains, what is beyond it… what is created, what is explored, and what is loved…and the Creator of it all, to reach out and touch my soul… and make me suddenly very aware I have one.”

“the body, keeping us living in this world, [is] yet the biggest obstacle within it. It’s a sort of frustration, a growing pain, that can drive us to become inspired and into imaginative creativity.”

Her character saturates her brief blog. The way she holds forth her thoughts about heart-wrenching things like losing her best friend and her beloved older sister, is special. The way she expressed how she loved the life of her newborn nephew, and her very own life, which she saw as renewed daily, is uniquely her.

 I have a kinship with Zina –
Manifested in
A love of Jesus.
A zest for life.
A passion for writing, art, music, dance, and movement.
A love of creating,
And Creation itself,
of nature,
of science,
of expression,
of invention,
of adventure,
of learning,
(in the mundane, the exciting, and all between)
In being odd,
Different,
Unique,
Never bored.
(I am who I was made to be – He can use that)

She was most interesting,
She, reportedly, could take a car engine apart and reassemble it,
Yet she never drove a car!

She was inspiring in many ways
Such as in her perseverance, determination, and will-power
To stick to her principles
.
She was celibate,
Never had a drop of alcohol,
Didn’t do recreational drugs.
Her sense of child-like wonder was completely natural
And authentic.
She knew her Lord,
Knew her calling.
Was passionate and compassionate.
Gentle,
Kind,
Patient,
Full of grace,
And full of LOVE.

Here’s the thing that really got to me
About Zina and her love;
When her life’s work was just taking off
In her west coast Mecca,
Zina turned down what must have been her dream job,
The start of an amazing career,
Showcase of her awe-inspiring talents,
To return home to care for the grandmother she loved
Who had been diagnosed with cancer.
It is rare these days,
That sacrificial love.

She was a maker.
I am a maker.
She didn’t mind that folks thought her odd (eccentric)
Nor do I.
She was a thinker and a doer.
Me too.
She was kind, gentle, and caring.
I am working on it . . .
In my view, she was somewhat Christlike (not perfect).
The thing is, Jesus was all the above good things,
Only perfectly so.

Like Zina, I’m out-of-the-ordinary (who wants to be ordinary)
I’m an unapologetic nonconformist who learned how to play the “game”.
I’m an adult, outwardly, but inside I’m a child who never quite grew up.
A Peter Pan figure in disguise?
Who learned how to act in public, for the most part,
For short periods.
And that is okay.
One of the best feelings in life is the one that happens
When I realize that someone loves me just for who I am at the core
– just like God does.
It seems to me that most adults have become jaded in their relationships,
And to the wonders of creation – the large and small,
The distant and close; the mysteries all around;
The beauty that makes one catch their breath moment to moment.

Unlike Zina’s, the goggles on their eyes become thick with age,
And clouded.

So, I’m grateful, dear Lord,  for Zina’s life and
Her special goggles that let us SEE
If we but dare look through them.

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(Subscript Note:  The purposes I hope to have fulfilled here are:
First, to bring glory to God,
Then, to honor Zina’s memory,
To speak up for her and tell my version of some of her testimony,
And, last, to tell something of my own journey through Creation.)

Zina, will you kindly make me a trinket as only you can
From a crystal and some sunbeams,
That I can hold in my hand?
I will gratefully receive it
Soon, when I am blessed to see you,
At the end of my dreams.


See you soon, sister Zina.

Love,
Me

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http://www.outsideonline.com/1921491/brief-wondrous-life-zina-lahr
was valuable in writing this tribute. Thank you, Outside Online!
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Seeking Grief Relief . . .

A Stream of Consciousness Outpouring . . .

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Today, I have a heavy heart.
I have an aching heart.
I have a broken heart.

It is so heavy that it has sunk toward the bottom –

away from where it should be and down where it should never be.
Its usual buoyancy has succumbed to the weight of the world.

Another young friend has suddenly and unexpectedly gone to be with God.

On one hand, I realize that the passing of a believer,
no matter how young, should, in a sense, be cause for sweet rejoicing,
but, on the other hand, at this moment it only tastes of bitter loss.
My mind is grappling with my heart.
My heart and mind are at war with each other.
I realize that no-one is guaranteed even one more heartbeat,

but distress is becoming dismay,
off and on, I’ve shed tears all day.

Empathy can be a painful and sore.
Compassion for close ones hurts to the core.

First Rachel . . . and now James . . .

Another who was “bigger than life”,
who had a unique zest for life.
Who was well-loved, and who was full of love himself.

A close friend of my son,
He was only twenty one,

A large portion of our community is reeling.
I can’t help but think that this would be exponentially harder
If that were my own son . . .
The one thing that’s worse than being reminded of one’s own mortality
is being reminded of that of one’s children.

And now I’m conflicted.
My head rejoices for his soul, for him – he knew the Lord.
He is communing with Father God and Jesus,
but my heart grieves for all the reasons it does,
and all the reasons it should,
when a young adult has lost his chance to have a full life;
A life in the world, for that’s where I am!

I have to write these feelings out of me,
but I seem to be stuck.
Frustrated.
Annoyed.
Wounded.
Drifting.
How do I organize a piece such as this?
I don’t.
Won’t.
I refuse.
It has to be spontaneous.

A small part of me wants to rail at God,

but I have this thing called faith in Him.
It’s not His fault; He loves James.
I imagine James talking with Jesus at this moment.
I envision Father God taking a picture of Jesus sitting on His throne.
James is popping up behind Him and getting in the photo by surprise,
with his big smile,
with a wink,
and a “thumbs up”.
I believe that is called “photobombing”, or something like that.
Delightfully classic James . . .
I picture Father and Jesus getting a big, warm, hearty
laugh with James. I’m most certain they are very fond of him.

But here’s the thing:
I don’t understand.
(why do I always have to understand?)
Why does the Bible say we can pray and, essentially,
get the desires of our hearts?
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of prayers went up for James
when we heard that he had been severely injured in an auto accident.
Our request was for healing, restoration, and life,
none of which was granted. (as far as we know)
My head says he got his promised eternal life,
for James was a believer and follower of Christ from a young age.
Eternal life in Heaven is the ultimate answer to our prayers,
but we also prayed for the miracle of physical
restoration and that did not happen.
“Your will be done”, we say.
So why bother to pray? (another rhetorical question)
Because He told us to!
Praying must have some affect that we don’t entirely understand –
something great for the prayed-for,
for God, or possibly Jesus, or for the pray-er.
I’m rambling, I know . . .

Jesus said we would be able to do what The Father
enabled Him to do, and even more, including healing, casting out demons,
and even restoring life,
but I don’t seem to be able to do those things

and I would like to know why. (Why do I always question?)
I think He wants me to ask questions, though, for that’s the way I learn.
I do want to learn all I can know about Him.
Moreover, I want to know Him.

I do want to know things;
things most likely beyond my understanding,
and which are perhaps none of my business,
but I pray to know anyway.

However, even in my grief over James, over his family’s heartache,
and over my son’s dismay at the loss of a great friend,
I remain steadfast in my faith.

I would like to know if you, dear reader, have ever felt these things.
If so, I’m comforted to know I’m not by myself in this.
I’m also comforted to know that, by reading this, perhaps
you don’t feel so alone yourself.

I refuse to let these frustrations, these questions, lead me away from
Love and into doubt – or worse even into apostasy.

It was uplifting that one of the Facebook quotes I had written about James
was used by the pastor in the service.
It is a joy that God uses me to help others.

Writing is cathartic, therapeutic, and even healing for me.
Writing is escape, refuge, and security.
Reading is no less.
If you have persevered and gotten this far, please pardon me, dear reader,
for using this forum for my own outpouring, my vent, my relief.

I must remember my “ministry of groaning” in a time like this.
The wordless groaning, (a sort of low, quiet wailing from my soul)
which comes out of the depths of my spirit and manifests itself
even through my voice. (if there is loud music in the background for cover,
the sound of it is all the louder)
When I have run out of tears and words to utter, it seems to help.
God actually put that principle into my spirit one day
when I was desperately praying for another grieving friend.
I told Him I had run out of tears and out of words to say.
“Groan for him, He said quite clearly.
This “gift” is so personal it is difficult to write about here . . .

Grief is spilling out of my heart, trying to drag the resident joy out with it,
but I must not let it succeed, Lord, don’t let it succeed,
for the joy of knowing You is my only salvation in times of crisis like these . . .

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It has been two weeks, to the day, since I wrote the above.
In that time, I have written much, but not trusted myself to post.
I did not want my own self-centered disillusionment to
take away from the glory of my Lord.

Finally, two mornings ago, the long awaited,
long suppressed,
authentic,
spontaneous, groan came to me.
For myself,
and for others through me.
It can’t “work well” if it is forced.
It has to come with The Lord’s help,

and with His timing.
Without notice, it began in my toes ,
worked its way up through the marrow of my legs,
spread through my core, ever upward,
filling me,
and out through my throat,
expressing wordlessly the pent ache.
Sometimes the groan only comes forth from my heart.
This time, through my voice.
Crying to The Most High Lord more eloquently
than my words could have done.
Groaning for the bereaved family, for the city, for my son,
and for myself.
Sweet sympathy,
concentrated compassion,
the messy turmoil of groaning
bringing order at last.
At last.

All that is left is to somehow turn this piece so that it points
to the  great glory of God.
To give God greater glory should always be my primary concern
when I write. His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.

I think it is best, at this point, to use His own words instead of mine:

Psalm 34:18
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

2Thessalonians 2:16-17
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”

AMEN

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Joy-Flower

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As he entered the dimly lit room, Yao Lin-On carried the capsule he had made like it was a knife . “This will end my daughter’s suffering,” was his only thought as he approached her bed. He had witnessed the terminal suffering of one of his nieces from the same slowly-disabling, flesh-wasting illness, several years in the past. Those horribly painful images had never left his memory, and he was determined not to let his precious Le-Lan walk the same agonizing path. He wept once again as he looked at her small, sleeping form. “At least she seems to have no pain when she is in deep sleep, but when she wakes, the medication is terribly insufficient . . . How can I let this continue, God? I, the one she has trusted, the one who brought her to this new country, to these new beliefs, to this new Father God and Jesus. I, who daily shared Biblical teachings with her, and worked to make sure that she understood Your Word. I, the one who cared for her after the loss of her mother. I, who love her dearly. I, the only one left to do what, it seems, You, God, won’t do. Yes, I have pleaded in my prayers, I have begged, I have asked politely, I have screamed, I have enjoined and bargained. All to no benefit for Le-Lan. Where is her healing? Where are the promises? Where, at the least, is merciful death? It must be that, now, at the end of my sanity, it is left to me to condemn myself to hell for her sake. Is that what You want? I retain my faith in You! Why are You leaving the task to me, Lord?”

He sat in the hard wooden chair next to the unconscious girl’s bed, laid the large, white capsule on the nightstand next to her teacup, and took her hand gently, as not to wake her. Her fingertips were black. He moaned aloud as he looked at her once-beautiful head of hair, now in ragged patches, at her missing teeth, where her room-brightening smile had been. “I cannot let her suffering be. I can’t let my little Joy-Flower wither away in pain. In a moment, little one, in just a few more moments, My Joy, I will wake you and give you your tea. So hard, this seat, so heavy my arms, so achingly tired.”

He felt her hand stir, her patchy breathing quickening. “Papa? I’m glad. . . , I’m glad you are here,” she whispered in English, the difficult language that, together, they had worked so hard to learn.
“Yes, I’m always here for you, sweet child. Be still, everything is, what is the word? . . . Okay.”
“Papa, lean closer . . . . please listen even if this is hard to understand. I’ve been talking to Jesus. He has been with me all through my illness. When it hurts so bad, Papa, He puts His cool hand on my head. He holds my hand while you hold the other. Papa, He sings to me while you cry. He tells me that you might lose your faith in Him because of me. Oh, Papa! I don’t want that! You must trust Him. Remember all the amazing things we learned about Him? They are all true, Papa!”
“I know they are, sweetheart, shhhh, don’t tire yourself.” He looked away and thought, “Maybe they are true, but He still has some things to answer for . . .”

“Papa . . . . . . . . .” she paused, “I know what you want to do tonight . . . “
Yao Lin-On’s body jumped, startled, rattling the hard chair.
“There is nothing I can do to stop you, but I want you to change your mind. Poppy please, don’t do it. If you love me, don’t.”
He stared at her face. “How could she know?” He was angry. “You know nothing of it,” he wanted to say.
“Poppy, listen,” she whispered faintly, but urgently, “If you do this thing that you think will help me, you will tear us apart forever. You will condemn yourself. If you do it, we will be apart forever. Poppy, it would break my heart if Mama and I were without you. We love you so much, and so do Jesus and the Father.” Please don’t, Poppy, please.”
“Poppy” was her most loving name for him. Mountain brooks of tears ran down his face.

“We do love you, Yao Lin-On, father of our delightful Le-Lan. We share your concern for her. We are also very concerned for you. We hear your prayers for healing and for a miracle. What you don’t realize is that what you keep praying for, We have already done. Le-Lan’s body lingers in your world, but her LIFE has been with Us since the moment she believed in her Savior. She hangs on because her story is not finished, mostly where you are concerned, but also with others who are watching her. Have you not noticed that through all her trials, she never once lost faith? Haven’t you seen that she always proclaims Our kingdom with her body and her spirit, no matter how hard her path? Through your own diligence, she had teachers who understood that in order to awaken to a new life, a person has to die in the old one. Le-Lan knew that she had to die to her self, in order to live in Christ Jesus on earth, and she knows that soon she must sleep the last sleep, which you call death, in order to live in Heaven with Us. She will follow her own path into that sleep, her last thought on earth will be of Us, and she will awaken fully alive in Our arms. Your part is to wait and watch over her sleep. Only wait and keep faith until your own last thought, in your own last sleep. We hope that last thought is only of Us, and that you will follow beautiful Le-Lan into Our waiting arms.

Yao Lin-On looked at the sleeping Le-Lan as he came back to himself. “Was it a dream? A miracle? An inner conversation with himself?” He thought and thought as he stared at the euthanasia capsule for a long while, shuddered, took it away, and flushed it down the toilet. Returning to Le-Lan, he found that she was breathing steadily and beginning to awaken. With emotions boiling over, he took her frail body into his arms.
“I brought you some tea, Joy-Flower, can you drink some? Do you feel a little better, this morning?”
“No, Papa, I . . . feel  . . . worse . . . today. My . . . stomach hurts . . . so bad.”
He bit his own lip hard to drive back the tears.
“But . . . I sure do love you, Poppy,” she whispered slowly and softly into his ear.
“I love you right back, my Joy-Flower.”
He had a sense of calm peace, then, and, for far too many days, he knew that those were the last words he would hear on earth from Le-Lan. She, at last, slept her final sleep. Yet, he was confident in proclaiming that those were the first words he would hear from her in Heaven. It shouldn’t have surprised him, but it did, how many others were amazed, and changed, after watching the pain, and the faith, of the man of God, Yao Lin-On, and his beautiful daughter of God, Yao Le-Lan, Joy-Flower.

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About the making of Joy-Flower

One of my writer friends commented:
“Absolutely beautiful. How did you come up with this storyline?”
My reply was this:
 “It’s difficult to explain God’s involvement, participation, and presence in the creation of this story, but I’ll try. One morning I awoke (or did I?) and it was in my heart to write about the subject of a man being angry at God for what he perceived were broken promises and unanswered prayers. Then I “heard” Him say the name of the protagonist. I was a little surprised, and had the audacity to question, “Why the Asian name? What do I know of this?” I soon began to lay out the story and He filled in my blanks. It even took an unexpected turn into another unexpected, complex subject. It was all done in one “take”. I’m confident that Joy-Flower has a purpose far beyond what I can imagine, and that one day He will tell me the whole story behind it; the rest of the story of  its future. Thank you so much for reading it, J.! Your question made me think about it, which stretched my pen further than I thought it could go. I needed that!”

So, if I were pressed to describe writing, from my perspective it seems to be the expression of the inexpressible, using combinations of words that have not been combined before, with the nearly incomprehensible involvement of our nearly unfathomable God.
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Joy-Flower
Copyright by Gloryteller, Len Snider, 11-4-2014
All rights reserved
The names of the two main human characters are fictitious.

 

 

 

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Joy-Flower

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As he entered the dimly lit room, Yao Lin-On carried the capsule he had made like it was a knife . “This will end my daughter’s suffering,” was his only thought as he approached her bed. He had witnessed the terminal suffering of one of his nieces from the same slowly-disabling, flesh-wasting illness, several years in the past. Those horribly painful images had never left his memory, and he was determined not to let his precious Le-Lan walk the same agonizing path. He wept once again as he looked at her small, sleeping form. “At least she seems to have no pain when she is in deep sleep, but when she wakes, the medication is terribly insufficient . . . How can I let this continue, God? I, the one she has trusted, the one who brought her to this new country, to these new beliefs, to this new Father God and Jesus. I, who daily shared Biblical teachings with her, and worked to make sure that she understood Your Word. I, the one who cared for her after the loss of her mother. I, who love her dearly. I, the only one left to do what, it seems, You, God, won’t do. Yes, I have pleaded in my prayers, I have begged, I have asked politely, I have screamed, I have enjoined and bargained. All to no benefit for Le-Lan. Where is her healing? Where are the promises? Where, at the least, is merciful death? It must be that, now, at the end of my sanity, it is left to me to condemn myself to hell for her sake. Is that what You want? I retain my faith in You! Why are You leaving the task to me, Lord?”

He sat in the hard wooden chair next to the unconscious girl’s bed, laid the large, white capsule on the nightstand next to her teacup, and took her hand gently, as not to wake her. Her fingertips were black. He moaned aloud as he looked at her once-beautiful head of hair, now in ragged patches, at her missing teeth, where her room-brightening smile had been. “I cannot let her suffering be. I can’t let my little Joy-Flower wither away in pain. In a moment, little one, in just a few more moments, My Joy, I will wake you and give you your tea. So hard, this seat, so heavy my arms, so achingly tired.”

He felt her hand stir, her patchy breathing quickening. “Papa? I’m glad. . . , I’m glad you are here,” she whispered in English, the difficult language that, together, they had worked so hard to learn.
“Yes, I’m always here for you, sweet child. Be still, everything is, what is the word? . . . Okay.”
“Papa, lean closer . . . . please listen even if this is hard to understand. I’ve been talking to Jesus. He has been with me all through my illness. When it hurts so bad, Papa, He puts His cool hand on my head. He holds my hand while you hold the other. Papa, He sings to me while you cry. He tells me that you might lose your faith in Him because of me. Oh, Papa! I don’t want that! You must trust Him. Remember all the amazing things we learned about Him? They are all true, Papa!”
“I know they are, sweetheart, shhhh, don’t tire yourself.” He looked away and thought, “Maybe they are true, but He still has some things to answer for . . .”

“Papa . . . . . . . . .” she paused, “I know what you want to do tonight . . . “
Yao Lin-On’s body jumped, startled, rattling the hard chair.
“There is nothing I can do to stop you, but I want you to change your mind. Poppy please, don’t do it. If you love me, don’t.”
He stared at her face. “How could she know?” He was angry. “You know nothing of it,” he wanted to say.
“Poppy, listen,” she whispered faintly, but urgently, “If you do this thing that you think will help me, you will tear us apart forever. You will condemn yourself. If you do it, we will be apart forever. Poppy, it would break my heart if Mama and I were without you. We love you so much, and so do Jesus and the Father.” Please don’t, Poppy, please.”
“Poppy” was her most loving name for him. Mountain brooks of tears ran down his face.

“We do love you, Yao Lin-On, father of our delightful Le-Lan. We share your concern for her. We are also very concerned for you. We hear your prayers for healing and for a miracle. What you don’t realize is that what you keep praying for, We have already done. Le-Lan’s body lingers in your world, but her LIFE has been with Us since the moment she believed in her Savior. She hangs on because her story is not finished, mostly where you are concerned, but also with others who are watching her. Have you not noticed that through all her trials, she never once lost faith? Haven’t you seen that she always proclaims Our kingdom with her body and her spirit, no matter how hard her path? Through your own diligence, she had teachers who understood that in order to awaken to a new life, a person has to die in the old one. Le-Lan knew that she had to die to her self, in order to live in Christ Jesus on earth, and she knows that soon she must sleep the last sleep, which you call death, in order to live in Heaven with Us. She will follow her own path into that sleep, her last thought on earth will be of Us, and she will awaken fully alive in Our arms. Your part is to wait and watch over her sleep. Only wait and keep faith until your own last thought, in your own last sleep. We hope that last thought is only of Us, and that you will follow beautiful Le-Lan into Our waiting arms.

Yao Lin-On looked at the sleeping Le-Lan as he came back to himself. “Was it a dream? A miracle? An inner conversation with himself?” He thought and thought as he stared at the euthanasia capsule for a long while, shuddered, took it away, and flushed it down the toilet. Returning to Le-Lan, he found that she was breathing steadily and beginning to awaken. With emotions boiling over, he took her frail body into his arms.
“I brought you some tea, Joy-Flower, can you drink some? Do you feel a little better, this morning?”
“No, Papa, I . . . feel  . . . worse . . . today. My . . . stomach hurts . . . so bad.”
He bit his own lip hard to drive back the tears.
“But . . . I sure do love you, Poppy,” she whispered slowly and softly into his ear.
“I love you right back, my Joy-Flower.”
He had a sense of calm peace, then, and, for far too many days, he knew that those were the last words he would hear on earth from Le-Lan. She, at last, slept her final sleep. Yet, he was confident in proclaiming that those were the first words he would hear from her in Heaven. It shouldn’t have surprised him, but it did, how many others were amazed, and changed, after watching the pain, and the faith, of the man of God, Yao Lin-On, and his beautiful daughter of God, Yao Le-Lan, Joy-Flower.

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Copyright by Gloryteller, Len Snider, 11-4-2014
All rights reserved
The names of the two main human characters are fictitious.

 

 

 

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Tears Are For The Living

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I have few tears for the dead,
for their souls have flown away,
each to its eternal land,
to the god, or God they chose,
or Who always held them in His hands;
Only gone from here,

as I, one day, will be,
they’re gone,
in the main,
to their self-determined fates.

But here survive the living
in their mourning, loss, and grief;
aching whether in their faith,
or in their unbelief,

still sad.
It’s only for all of those
that my sighing heartstring breaks.

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About The Music Links Below

I don't own, and have no claim on, these music videos. The following are simply links inside my website pointing back to the original locations of the videos. The names of the creators of these videos are cited wherever possible, and only "embedding-enabled" selections are used.

The Basic Christian Library

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. This is fundamentally what Christianity is all about.

"The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Another converted atheist presents His compelling case for believing in Jesus.

"Left To Tell" by Imaculee Ilibagiza. This profound work is her own extraordinary story of endurance, discovery of the Holy Spirit, grace, healing, and an astonishingly compelling account of the necessity for forgiveness.

Compelling Christian Fiction Reads

"The Circle" 4-book series by Ted Dekker.
A man is the bridge between two very different worlds. Sound familiar? Can he save both? This T.D. work is brilliant in my book.

"This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness" by Frank E. Peretti. Tales of spiritual warfare from a unique perspective. Stirred a small controversy, but sold millions. What are we Christians afraid of? Hey, it's fiction!

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"I AM NOT MY OWN" is the piece that inspired the building of this site. It is the story that this site, as well as my life, is centered around. This letter to you is the one i would most like for you to read out of all the ones you will find here, because it describes how profoundly the works of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit can change one human life.

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