A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Thursday, September 17, 2020
"God's Providential Care"
Note: Today's message is different than most but we feel it may be of blessing to many of our readers.
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“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9). "Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
In last Friday's message we shared about a tragic accident that took the life of a nearly three year old boy named Tylan on Sept 8. He was the grandson of our neighbors and long-time friends, Leon and Jane.
His mother, Jalisa, was only about 12 when we moved up the road from them nearly 20 years ago, so we had the pleasure of watching her grow up in this godly family along with her five siblings. She married a young man from their church and the Lord blessed them with five children. Tylan was second to the youngest and would have turned three on the day of his funeral.
Brooksyne attended the funeral service Monday afternoon and was moved by the presence of the Holy Spirit as God spoke through those who led. She shares her reflections today as a means of encouragement and teaching. It was an interesting experience both spiritually and culturally.
The service was held at Martin's Mennonite Church, located on a country road in Lebanon County with the water pump in our lead photo in front. Though Stephen and I have attended church services and a wedding at an old order Mennonite church we’ve never attended a funeral.
When I arrived the parking lot was filled with hundreds of people; women, girls and babies grouped together, the men and boys grouped together. My car being the only one not black stood out as did my attire. (I was dressed in a white blouse and long black skirt.) Distinctive with this conference, all members drive black vehicles and are colloquially referred to as “black bumper” Mennonites (since before bumpers were painted a matching color they painted their bumpers black). The women and most of the girls were dressed all in black from their neck to ankles, clearly their funeral attire along with the usual head coverings. The men dressed in white shirts and black dress slacks, many wearing their fedora hats.
The church building sat empty while the congregation waited outside for the family members and relatives to arrive in the "funeral wagon" with Tylan’s little body. After their arrival, the men, women and children still in separate lines walked one by one past little Tylan’s small coffin and saw him for the last time, the family being the last to view their precious son. During the viewing there was an absolute hush, a reverent and solemn setting greater than any I’ve ever been in, and I’ve been in plenty. Mothers were quick to quiet their babies or take them aside.
In customs we are familiar with the graveside burial follows the typical funeral service, but after the family spent their last minutes with Tylan, the pallbearers (four older children, perhaps cousins) carried Tylan’s casket to the cemetery where he was to be buried, and we followed. A very comforting committal sermon was presented and we sang “Jesus Loves Me” before the family members took turns lifting the four spades to fill Tylan’s tiny grave plot with fresh soil.
Afterward we entered the church with seating on all four sides, the preacher standing near the middle along with several others ministers sitting at a table. Men and boys sat on one side, ladies and girls on the other.
I felt very privileged to witness the love and support, the solemn and compassionate response of the congregation who were there to love, encourage, and feel with this young grieving family their monumental loss, along with the grandparents and many other relatives.
The pastor spoke directly to the parents and children comforting words, reassuring them that God would walk them through this grief process. He cautioned them not to see Tylan’s death as an accident but as an appointment with God. He quoted “A little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6) and in this instance their child would lead them to heaven since he would be the first of their family to live there.
He shared and commented on Scripture verses that the family gave him, ones that had been consoling to them since Tylan’s death. Remarkably, they were all passages I have memorized over the years, but now they took on fresh and applicable meaning as he read them in this setting. (Psalm 23:1,4; Philippians 4:7; Psalm 34:1; Isaiah 26:3; 43:2; Revelation 4:11; Job 1:21; Hebrews 13:2).
Though my Christian background differs greatly when it comes to traditions, attire, hair style, color of vehicle, and numerous other differences I felt so connected with the teaching and application of Scripture. My spirit was fed and my emotions warmed by the visible compassion and empathy shown to the family. Clearly, no one understood why a young, innocent child would be taken so early, but we all accepted that it was in the providence of God, and we stand upon God’s words that declare, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, before we are born You know the days allotted for us on this side of eternity. Our time may be brief or we may live to be aged, but how we choose to live is of greatest importance. Help us to recognize Your sovereign plan in our lives so that we can trust You in all matters and proclaim with the Psalmist, "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth." Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Safe In the Arms of Jesus" Video sung by George Beverly Shea This song was written by Fanny Crosby in 1868. Fanny, the blind hymnist married in 1858 and one year later the couple suffered a tragedy that shook the very heart of Fanny and her husband, Alexander. The loss of her child was devastating but she never spoke about it (it's unclear whether it was a boy or girl) except in her oral biography, "God gave us a tender babe," and "soon the angels came down and took our infant up to God and His throne." Some feel that she wrote this hymn with her baby in mind:
"Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast;
There by His love o'ershaded, sweetly my soul shall rest."
Additional thoughts from Brooksyne: There are two groups of people when it comes to viewing a cemetery; those who like to walk slowly and read the headstones and those who quickly walk away from the cemetery. I fall into the first group scanning as many headstones as I can, looking for familiar last names, the age of the deceased, coincidence of dates like “Were they born the same year as I or a family member?”, “How many years were they married?” I especially look for any wording or Scripture that might indicate the deceased is a believer.
Often I walk through our cemetery just up the street from our house. I know several who are buried there, both young and old, since we’ve now been living in Mount Joy almost 20 years. Early on I came across a child's tombstone with the Scripture, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven" Luke 19:14. When I saw the child's date of birth, March 10, 1989, it took my breath away. Ester was born March 9, 1989.
Ester was born with a complex heart disease requiring multiple heart operations and will continue to require cardiovascular intervention all her life. But in the framed photo attached to young Michael's tombstone, he appears to be a very healthy boy holding a baseball bat preparing to hit an approaching ball. In the providence of God Ester is now 31, a supernatural and medical miracle, but this healthy looking boy lived only seven years and two months. The mystery of it all! There are quite a few babies buried in our neighborhood cemetery, going back to the early 1800’s and every time I see one I consider the deep pain the parents and family members felt, many to their dying day.
Jalisa expressed her love to Tylan in three separate poems and we share one of those poems today:
That Little Boy of Mine
A tiny, turned up nose,
Two cheeks just like a rose.
So sweet from head to toes,
That little boy of mine.
Two arms that held me tight,
A forehead I kissed goodnight.
Two eyes that shined so bright,
That little boy of mine.
No one will ever know
Just what his coming has meant.
Because we loved him so,
He’s something God has sent.
His face is now beaming,
In heaven we know, sublime.
He has gone to be with Jesus,
That little boy of mine.
By Jalisa Brubaker
-Sept. 9, 2020
Coming up for those who may be interested: We are joining a group from our area going down to Washington DC on Saturday, September 26 for a prayer march called, "The Return, National and Global Day of Prayer and Repentance". See here for info. America is in deep trouble so let’s call on God’s power and a movement of the Holy Spirit to bring Repentance and Revival to our land! You can do this wherever you live.
Stephen made several trips on the tractor trail to the brush pile with Ester and our two dogs joining them for one trip.
They hauled several stalks of leftover corn in the field to be used for fall decorations.
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