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Category Archives: faith

“The tragedy of life is what dies in the hearts and souls of people while they live.”  Albert Einstein

Isn’t that the truth? First of all, think about when you were a child. You had a sense of wonder about everything, because everything was new to you. Children believe in things that adults often don’t, because no one (yet) told them not to. As a child, we are trusting. We will smile at someone that adults would turn away from. We have not yet learned prejudice, judgement, or fear. Children are accepting. They will be a friend to those that the world scorns.

As a child, we are always learning, always asking questions, and always wanting to know more. There is simply not enough time to understand all we want to grasp.

Children have an innocence–a purity that is like freshly fallen snow.  And in that innocence there is such a freedom, to be who they are. The world quickly tries to steal that.

And think about the magic of dreams. As a teenager, we think we can do anything, be anything. The whole world lies before us, and it’s a time when we refuse to face our own mortality, because we feel completely immortal, and invincible. While it may not always be the wisest thing, perhaps it is necessary to see ourselves this way, in order to propel us forward into all that the future holds.

As a young adult, we do not fear extreme sickness or death. That only happens to old people, and we are vital and strong, full of hope and anticipation–ready to conquer the world.

Love is an ethereal thing, a feeling of pure ecstasy and passion. We think it will last forever, and throw all caution to the wind. We are not measured with our feelings, or careful with our show of affection. We simply blurt out “I Love You” every chance we get, and blow kisses on the wind.

So when did all this change? When did we become jaded about life? When did we cease to believe in childhood fantasies? When did we stop smiling at the outcasts of society, and start turning and running away? When did we stop trusting? When did we lose our sense of wonder and amazement about life? Who took our innocence? When did we begin to fear, and start to focus on our limitations?  When did words of love become fewer and fewer? When was passion replaced with indifference? (Which by the way, is truly worse than hatred.) When did we become cautious and guarded? When did we lose our dreams?

There is a time to grow up and mature–a time to put away childish things, but there is never a time to discard our childlikeness. We cannot even enter the Kingdom of Heaven (according to Jesus) unless we become like a little child.  He said “Of such is the Kingdom of God.”

I challenge you today– don’t let these things die, while you still live. Let a sense of awe remain in your heart all the days of your life. Be innocent and pure, without prejudice or arrogance. Don’t lose your childhood sense of freedom.  Be accepting of those that the world rejects. Crave Godly knowledge, for there is always something new to learn right up until your last breath (and even beyond.) Don’t be afraid to express your love, and do it today, because you are not promised tomorrow.

Believe in your inner strength. You can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens you. He tells us that as our days are, so shall our strength be. Always sufficient strength and grace for each new day–whatever we may face. Do not fear, but walk in faith.

Keep dreaming, keep trusting, keep believing! Keep searching for the Truth with all your heart and soul. Refuse to let these things die.  And while the way may be rough at times (as surely it will be) it will never be said that your life was tragic, because you truly lived each day, and knew what it was to be free…

Never have I been so glad to see an old year end, and a new one begin. Never have I felt such sadness over the past, and such joy over the future. Never have I been so hurt, or felt so happy.

Is it possible for all these feelings to coexist? Certainly.

How wonderful that we can start fresh every year, and that hope springs eternal.  For if it did not, what would be the point of going on? Hope is what propels us into the future, leaving the past behind as an ever fading memory. (Sometimes it doesn’t fade fast enough, does it?) Other times, it flys like a shooting star, when we would wish to linger.

Hope is an anchor and the foundation of faith. Faith believes that something good will happen, that somehow things will be better, and that we will understand the things that have eluded us thus far.

With every year, no matter how painful or joyful, we are different. We are changed by our experiences. Perhaps at times we wish for our youth once again, but given the chance, most of us would not really want to go back. For we have the rich experiences of our life, that have made us who we are. And good or bad, they have brought us to this time and place.

And as yesterday’s song said, “The river’s gonna keep on rollin’ on.” And we’re gonna keep on rollin’ with it, for the alternative is to die, or to become stagnant, like a river with no outlet.

Regardless of our sorrow, life is rich–full of revelations, insight, and lessons. Some of those lessons we would not have chosen to learn, but even those have increased our understanding, and hopefully our compassion for others.  The more we endure, the more we know that there are not always black and white answers to every problem, or solutions to every puzzle. Sometimes the pieces just don’t fit, no matter how we try to arrange them. Sometimes life comes out gray, as the light and darkness merge.

But sometimes it is a kaleidoscope of rainbow colors, and for a moment we smile through the tears, and laugh through the pain. And then life is very good.

But even when it is not always good, life is always precious. Every day that we breathe is a chance to learn something new, to love someone more, and to know God more intimately. For by partaking in His sufferings, we grow closer to Him, and we understand a little more.

Even though at times we would like to run away and hide, no man is an island, and we need each other to find our way. Sometimes we just need someone to listen, and how much more wonderful if they can say, “I understand.”  We long to be understood.  Deep calls unto deep.

The older I get, the more I cherish each individual day, for truly we are promised no more than that. We have this moment, and it is to be cherished. It’s not about tomorrow, or yesterday–it’s about now.  No more saving things for a rainy day–material things should be used and enjoyed now. No more waiting to let someone know how much I love them. It’s important to tell them now, for I may never get another chance. No more grieving as one who has no hope, but grieving as one who knows tomorrow will be brighter, though today may be sorrowful.

I want to see the sun rise,  and I want to see it set.  I want to look at the stars and the moon, and the night sky in all its vastness. I want to feel the wind, the rain, and the warmth of the sun. I want to breathe deeper, laugh louder, cry harder, pray longer. I want to live more than I have ever wanted to live before.

It is not too late for me, and it is not too late for you. We are not here to just exist–we are hear to live life in its fullness. With God’s help and direction, we can find happiness, and more than that– joy, which remains when happiness seems transient. Joy abides deep within. The life force is strong. Can you feel it?  No matter how you have suffered, tomorow is a new day. You will always have a second chance, as long as the sun comes up, and you do not give up.

I wish I could impart my faith to you, and my hope of what each new day can bring. For just as surely as there will be sorrows beyond what we have ever known, there will also be joy beyond our understanding. Life awaits us, and there is much to learn, to experience, and to ponder.

I wish for you a “new” New Year, full of expectation and wonder. Most of all, I hope you grow, and your understanding is increased, and that some of your questions are answered. But may many be left unanswered, so that you will forever be moving in the direction of Truth.

May you feel the presence of God as never before, and may you be thankful for each moment…

As Christians, there are many times when our faith is tested. I believe that God is a Healer, and that He loves us always. But even the giants of the Bible had times when their faith wavered. Most of us will have a faith crisis at some point in our Christian lives. Some of us will have to walk through many.

I had a faith crisis about 3 years ago, when my father was not healed, after hospital acquired infections, following a triple bypass.  This left my very sick mom a widow, (and me to primarily care for her.) I thought that I had to keep her alive, and that all the responsibility for her health and well-being was now on me. It was a very heavy burden to bear. Finally, I realized that I am not God. I cannot keep my mother alive. I can only do my best to be a good caregiver, and advocate for her. The rest is in God’s hands-far more capable than mine.

I do have questions, and I do believe that someday they will be answered, when we no longer see through a glass darkly-but then face to face. And yet, even if I don’t get the answers, I will cling tightly to my God, who is my strength and my peace. It is easy to say we have faith when everything is going well, but what about when life becomes a living hell? Will we still trust Him?

As most of you know, my mom broke her right foot, and her left leg recently. We just had a care plan meeting with the social worker and therapists at the nursing home last Friday. She was likely to go home on Friday or Saturday of this week, depending on the doctor’s report on July 24th. At the latest, she probably would have been in the nursing home for one more week. It was a good report. She had finally settled down, and decided to stay in rehab, and do the necessary work to get better.

Then I received a phone call this Sunday night-(early Monday morning at 4:30 a.m.) They said she had slipped and fell trying to get to the bathroom, and was being rushed to the ER. I threw on some clothes, and rushed to be with her. As I drove there, I felt peace. How could I feel peace when the circumstances were so awful? Only because I felt His presence, and this time I did not ask “Why?”- though He would have certainly understood if I did. I just knew that without Him, I could not face one more crisis, and just as surely as I was going to have to deal with another one, I felt His strength.

For 6 hours, my mom screamed in agony with no relief (even from morphine.) And my own heart was pierced with every cry. Then I had to watch them almost kill her, as they added Valium directly into her morphine line. I watched her jaw drop, and her breathing stop. Her eyes were fixed with no movement at all. I have never seen a person look more dead. Just as they were going to code her for respiratory arrest, she started to breathe, and move. I know that I saw the face of death, but at that moment, death did not win. I kept asking, “Is she okay?” The nurse tried to make me believe that she was, but I knew she wasn’t. She later admitted that she had almost coded. It was easy to see that she was almost gone.

She was finally diagnosed with a broken hip, and at last count, that makes a broken right foot, a broken left leg, and now a broken right hip. This would certainly be a good time for a faith crisis.

But I am so thankful that I already went there (as I am sure I could again) but not this time. I don’t know the answers. I’m not even sure of the questions anymore, but I am determined to trust my Savior, my God, my Friend. His ways are higher than mine, as are His thoughts. He is a good God, even when we don’t understand. Even when we are not faithful, He is faithful.

And so we all journey on, wondering how much a heart can break, how many tears can fall, and how many sleepless nights we can endure. But without Him, what hope is there? I pray that I will forever trust Him…

Lonnette Harrell

I was listening to a song tonight that said “there are two kinds of trouble in this world–living and dying.” Somehow it struck me to the core.

Dying seems like a horrible option. I don’t care how long we’ve lived, or how much we’ve suffered, the struggle to let go of this life cannot be an easy one. The life force is so strong, that we will go through many things, in hopes of staying alive.

I remember reading Tuesdays With Morrie, and thinking how much Morrie fought to remain on this earth, when almost every pleasure had been taken from him, and he was able to do nothing more than lie in bed. Yet he lived every moment of his slow death. Having once been a professor, he continued to teach a favorite past student. But the lessons weren’t the textbook variety. They were life lessons. Lessons about how to live, and how to die.

Many of us don’t learn these lessons until we are actually dying. But then it’s too late to go back and redo the story. It is what it is.

Here’s a novel concept–what if you were to live like you were dying? How would your life be different?

Most of us have been there momentarily, when we’ve gotten bad news. Not long ago, I was told that I could have kidney cancer. Many days passed before the test.  And then there was the actual day of the kidney x-ray, with the contrast material. Then once again, many days passed waiting for an answer. Waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the results. In a way, life came to a standstill while I waited. But I was doing a lot of thinking.

Maybe you’ve been through something similar. Suddenly all the things that seemed so important–aren’t, and all the things that didn’t–are. Petty arguments are of no consequence, and money and material possessions don’t mean a thing.

What really matters is faith, family, and friends. You don’t have time to guess about whether you’re right with God anymore. You have to know. You have to be sure. And those people that you thought you’d always be with (for many years in the future) become closer to your heart with every passing moment, and leaving them seems painfully impossible. Good friends become the support you need with reassurance, comfort and prayers. (And it’s then that you really learn who your friends are.)

Somewhere along the way, it crosses your mind that your life could really be over, and you wonder what you’ve accomplished. Did you live for the Lord, and to love and help others? Did you make a difference in anyone’s life? Was there a reason that you were here?

Some people never think on these things until they are dying, or someone close to them dies.

Funerals are sad events, but people are probably never more open to receiving the Lord, as they become in those moments, because they are forced to decide if they believe in an afterlife, heaven, hell, Jesus, eternal life, salvation, seeing loved ones again, etc. In this busy world, minus a tragedy, many people aren’t going to stop and focus on the purpose of their life–because they are so busy living it. It was John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans.”

I have had a loved one taken from me unexpectedly. (Several in fact.) At that moment, you are shaken to the depths. You would give anything to have one more day, and most of the time, so would they. But the final chapter on earth ends, and it’s over. (Ready or not.)

It turns out that I did not have kidney cancer, and I can tell you that the sky looked bluer, and the sun shone brighter the day that I received the good news. But I began to think of all the people that don’t get good news–the ones who had been waiting, just like I was. (But they were not as fortunate in their diagnosis.) It happens every day.

So what’s my point? I think you know by now. It comes down to this–how would life be different, if we would all live like we were dying?…

Please read other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html