No More Tears

After many years, the scene remains a great source of encouragement to me. I don’t remember what I was praying about or studying at the time, nor do I remember my own emotional state. I recall only that suddenly before me I saw God the Father seated upon His throne. I was in Heaven.

On His right side shelves adorned with ornate carvings at each corner stood as tall and magnificent as would be seen in any palace. Their end exceeded my line of sight. And on those shelves were bottles – yes, bottles – more than I could count.

They were beautiful, elaborately designed in every deep, rich color imaginable. The finest hand crafted stained glass windows in the world would appear faded and drab in comparison. Some of them had jewels attached, some were adorned with gold chains wrapped around their rounded bottoms or at the base of their long, cylindrical necks. And they were of every size – some very small, some very large, and some of every size in between.

“How odd,” I remember thinking, “God has a room He decorates with bottles, of all things.” I wondered if these bottles were somehow designed or crafted by His children. If He displays our handiwork like we do that of our own to assure them they did a good job and we are proud.

I wasn’t exactly right, but I was close.

Close to the throne on the left side, I would estimate only six to eight feet away, was a pool with a softly flowing current. My first thought was the relaxing lazy river rides at so many water parks. It was like a stream or slow flowing river, but in the floor of the throne room. The water was crystal clear. And like the shelves, this pool appeared endless. I imagined it must extend throughout all of Heaven itself.

Then I noticed the people. An extraordinarily long line of people. People young and people old. People fat and people thin. People from all around the world talking one with another as they waited their turn with Father. And you don’t want to miss what happened next.

I watched those folks one by one step up to the throne. Very close they came, looking God right in the eye. What did He do? God actually reached out and hugged every single one of them. He pulled each one close and held them as though He had waited for them a very long time.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15

They would weep – tears of relief, joy, and gratitude no doubt. As the embrace ended and they stood looking at Him once again, the most incredible thing took place.

The angel approached with a bottle in his hands and stood next to Father. I somehow knew the angel didn’t just randomly choose a bottle, but the one he brought forward was the one that belonged to the person now standing before God. I watched God reach out with both His hands and touch each person’s eyes. He then took the bottle from the angel, removed the ornate top, turned it upside down and poured its contents on the feet of that person.

The watery contents splashed over and around their feet and creating a puddle. In comparison to the bottles it was poured from, some were small, but some so large it appeared the very throne of God would certainly sink into the lake forming at its base. That wet patch then developed into a crystal clear water-filled path that led to the main pool. The person waded barefoot along the path to where the water ran gently around their feet and down a few steps into the lazy river. They travelled down the moving water to wherever this endless flow took them far beyond my scope of vision.

I saw so many people in that pool. Some standing to laugh and talk with passers-by, others jumping and dancing and rejoicing; still others just laying atop the water floating peacefully downstream.

As if noticing me for the first time, the angel looked at me as he headed to the throne with yet another bottle in his hands. Obviously aware of my wonder, he said simply, “Tear bottles.” Then it was gone. I was home again. Or awake. Or alert. Or whatever.

You have kept record of my days of wandering. You have stored my tears in your bottle and counted each of them. Psalm 56:8 CEV

They were not tears shed of anger or greed or not having our own way. They are tears shed because of legitimate sorrow and heartbreak, and tears shed on behalf of others. This is why the bottles were different sizes. Some of us suffer more than others. Some of us carry more of a burden for the lost and for the kingdom of God than do others. But all were rewarded and healed of the wounds.

And all were reminded there will be no more tears, ever.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:17

To make that promise sure, God reached over with His own hands and removed their tear ducts (okay, I’m taking some liberty here – but we won’t need tear ducts in heaven), thereby drying all their tears. Then He poured those tears out to be remembered no more, bringing to pass this promise:

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5

I wish many times and again that I could describe it as I still see it. To explain the sheer magnitude of the love when God reached forward to hug each person. One by one, He took time for them, not rushing them along so He could hurry and get to the end of line. On the contrary. It was though He held each one until every iota of their pain was obliterated. Then, the happiness on each face as they joined the others in the pool. I can scarcely maintain composure even now just to write about it. I am so happy for everyone there. And knowing I’ll be there, too – indescribable joy.

Sometimes we deal with intense grief and sorrow. Most every day we deal with some level of disappointment about something. But soon that is all going to be put behind us never to be thought about again. How God will accomplish this only He knows. All we need to know is that He is going to.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

Hopefully I’ll see you there. We’ll enjoy a dip in the pool together.

Won’t it be wonderful there? Having no burdens to bear.
Joyously singing with heart bells all ringing. O, won’t it be wonderful there?
James Rowe and Homer F. Morris, 1930

Till next time,

Teeth Marks

A week or so ago I stopped by to see my friend, Honey.  It wasn’t out of my way, seeing as how Honey lives in a large cage in our family room.  She just so happens to belong haired guinea pig that belongs – so I’m told – to my grandson.

I don’t really speak Honey’s language.  It sounds to me like little more than a squeak-squeak here and a squeak-squeak there.  When I talk to her I try to speak a little softer than normal, afraid my voice might roar like thunder in her tiny ears.  Nonetheless, we look at other each eye-to-eye and share.  We understand each other.

I compliment her on her hair and ask if the boys have been taking good care of her.  Her cheerful demeanor and the lack of any offensive odors rising from her home answer that question for the most part.  Her round, bulging brown eyes add that she gets lonely sometimes, but for the most part life is good.  She thanks me for stopping by to get her out of the house for a bit.

We laugh together at the way she plays hard to get.  Knowing she can’t wait for my grandson to pick her up and play a while, when he first reaches into her cage she runs as fast as she can around and around.  She ducks behind her igloo for a second then darts back out again, screeching, “Catch me if you can!”

Finally she lets him grab hold and lift her gently out. She knows when she’s pushing him too far, and dares not let his frustration send him away.

Yep, Honey and I have become good friends. We visit most often when no one else is home.  It’s our quiet time.  My stop-over on that day was no different.

There we were, having a nice conversation as she rested in my hand, her little body stretched out on my arm.  I brought along some leaf lettuce, one of her favorite treats, so I was doing most of the talking that day.  She gave me her undivided attention though. She watched me intently as I spoke and gave me a high pitched response now and then as she reached out for her next bite and chewed like there was no tomorrow.

Once the lettuce was gone, she talked a little more as I smoothed her white hair down her back and scratched the brown patches behind her ears.  It was a nice visit, to say the least; two friends having a marvelously relaxing time together.

Then it happened.  Honey bit me!  She bit my finger and she bit down hard, as though driving her tiny teeth through a strip of rawhide.  She was likely well aware of how needle sharp her teeth are, but until that moment I had no idea.

I snatched my hand away in shock.  “Honey, what was that for?” I shouted at her as I quickly put – or should I say dropped – her back in her cage.  “That really hurt! What on earth possessed you?”

“What in the world?” I could not believe it when I looked at my finger.  Just behind the knuckle of my forefinger I saw blood.

Well, that may not mean much to you, but I just don’t bleed.  Every time I have to have blood drawn the technicians cringe, and on more than one occasion have called for help. Drawing my blood is like trying to siphon gas from a car with a straw.  My veins are tiny and hard to find, and the flow has been known to stop before the syringes are full.  Yet, there was blood forming a tiny puddle on my finger.  I thought for a minute I might actually need a Band-Aid.

I washed the blood away with a little water, dabbed the spot with a tissue, and then saw two tiny perfectly round holes in my flesh barely a quarter inch apart.  Looked like I had been attacked by a vampire action figure.  And in that minuscule spot between the two holes, my finger had that quickly swollen. A little mound had formed and colored itself red from the inside out.

“It’s okay, Honey,” feeling remorse for my reaction, “I don’t understand why you did it, but I know you didn’t mean to hurt me.

Didn’t understand was an understatement.  I was actually wondering what in that bee-bee sized brain of hers made her think it was necessary or even okay to bite my finger.  She had accidentally nipped us in the past when reaching for a bite of carrot or other treat in our hands, but she had never, ever just bit down hard or when no food was near.  She had certainly never drawn blood.  What was she thinking?

As I pondered my own question, I realized she would never intentionally hurt me. Yet, that one little bite did hurt.  It hurt a lot.  How could it cause so much pain?

You realize, I’m sure, this story is not just to warn you about the perils of raising a guinea pig.  It’s not really even about being careful who you befriend, although that is a good thing to do.  It’s about those who are our friends. Our good friends. Our true friends that we laugh with, cry with, share our dreams with and confide in.   It’s about those friends we push to succeed while feeling their hand on the small of our back doing the same for us.

And how we sometimes hurt each other. We don’t mean to.  But sometimes we do.  We allow stress, fatigue, poor health, heartbreak, fear, and other such emotions dominate us and before someone can toss us a Snickers Bar, we’re lashing out against the very ones we count on to stay close by.

The tiny, even accidental nicks from someone we love seem to cause far more pain than a deliberate slash from someone we don’t know or whom we care little about.  The best solution is to just not hurt one another at all.  To think before we speak and recognize the influence our emotions are having over us at the moment.  You know… the ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure thing.

But when we do, let’s be quick to forgive and help one another get back on track.

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34

Now, however, you should forgive him and encourage him, in order to keep him from becoming so sad as to give up completely.  2 Corinthians 2:7 (GNT)

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1, 2

Ten days ago and one of the holes is still there.  The bleeding stopped almost immediately, and the pain lasted but a few days.  Still, I can see and feel one scabbed-over bite mark and see a tiny scar from the other.  Wounds do take time to heal.  But it’s so very important that we let the healing come.

I didn’t stop my visits with Honey because of what she did.  I admit, I was a little cautious at first, but I know her.  I love her, she loves me.  Hurting one another is not part of the plan, but if it happens – forgiveness is.

June Yates-Boykin

When the Mountain Talks Back

We’ve all stared at a huge mountain wondering what we were going to do about it. As far as we could see the rocky tower had our way blocked, and it reached to the sky.

Maybe there is one standing in front of you now.

Sometimes we create those mountains through sin or unwise choices. Others appear at no fault of our own. Either way, they rise up and stand in our way.

We can’t do a thing about them in our own power, we’ve tried. But there is nothing too hard for God. He assured us, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? …thou shalt become a plain.” (Zechariah 4:6,7).

Jesus explained just how to get the mighty Spirit of God working on our behalf to bring about victory when our problem seems unbeatable.

The disciples were amazed that the fig tree Jesus cursed earlier now stood dead. Matthew 21:21 shares His response, “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”

We convince ourselves that if God spoke to the mountain and Jesus instructed us to speak to ours, that is exactly what we should do.

So we override how foolish it seems to be looking into thin air speaking to inanimate, invisible, foes. You know the kind I’m talking about – depression, addiction, sickness, marital and family problems, oppressive work situations – whatever our mountain may be – and we speak to it.

We may even wait until no one is watching to pick up our check book or point our finger at that stack of unpaid bills and tell poverty and lack to take a hike.

But we do it. We do it because Jesus told us to and He knows best.

By the power and authority given us in Jesus’ name we command that interfering, path-blocking, trouble-making mountain to crumble so we can walk sure footedly on level ground. We stand in confidence knowing our faith is in the all-powerful God, expecting the mountain to disintegrate before our eyes.

Then the unthinkable happens. The mountain opens its ugly mouth and spits back in our face, “And just who’s going to make me move? You? Who are you to be telling me what do to do?”

And instead of things getting better, they get worse. We cover our heads to avoid the blow of the rocks the mountain hurls in our direction.

Satan starts filling our mind with every reason for what appears to be failure on our part. We haven’t fasted enough. We’ve made too many mistakes. We brought this all on ourselves. God isn’t so loving and powerful as we believed him to be.

Lies. All lies.

Instead of running for cover, stand firm. Realize that the mountain (the spirit behind it, that is, which is what we’re really speaking to) is going to test you. Especially if you are new to exercising your God-given authority. Satan turns the heat up a notch and fires back, hoping to scare you off before you destroy his plan to destroy you.

The truth is, if you hadn’t been effective nothing would have changed at all. Things wouldn’t be getting better, but they also likely would not be getting worse. Why would the devil put more energy into a fight he’s already winning?

He is a lot like that child you had to tell not once, not twice, but three times to put their toys away and go to bed. Not until you gave them the “look” and your demand contained more oomph did they realize they pushed you too far. Obey or face the consequences.

Satan will try to intimidate you when in reality he’s the one who is scared. He knows he is defeated. He also knows if you grab ahold of the power of God within you and exercise the authority Jesus gave you, you are going to know it, too.

So he puts on his best poker face and plays all his cards to convince you otherwise.

Stand your ground and speak again. And again and again if necessary. Keep the faith. Every stone that mountain throws at you is one less it has in its stature. Rock by rock it is destroying itself.

The boulders may fall and the ground may shake, but God’s got you. He’ll hold you steady as the mountain crumbles into nothingness. Soon you will walk freely across a grass covered plain.

till next time,

June —