A friend from church wanted to show me his favorite Christmas card he received this year. Full disclosure: I like Christmas cards but not so much that I want to see ones sent from strangers. I’m not itching to see families I don’t know modeling their ugly Christmas sweaters.
This card featured an original watercolor of a snow scene. The artist and author of the card is 90-year-old, retired minister. A picture of this pastor and his wife is on the back and, I must say, they look at least twenty-years younger and they weren’t wearing ugly Christmas sweaters. This past September, they celebrated their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. As I held the card and heard about this couple, they impressed me more and more.
They spend a part of their winters in Canada, where the husband snow-shoes into the woods and paints. Keep in mind, this man is 90. Last March, as the winter started fading and the hint of spring could be felt in the air, the pastor quickly sketched a stream with snow on the banks and on the trees standing by the waters. In his Christmas card, the pastor preached a little as he wrote of his painting:
You might call this scene, ‘Preparation for Spring.’ The snow was continuing the wonderful purpose for which God sent the snow. One of the few references to snow in God’s Word, Isaiah 55:10, echoes what we see in this snow painting. God, through the changing seasons, sends the snow with purpose. As the snow comes down from heaven and does not return without watering the earth . . . so shall my word be. It shall not return . . . without accomplishing what I desire, and without accomplishing that for which I sent it.” In every season of your life, God has a purpose. He wants to accomplish that for which he called you through his gifts to you. Even as the snow carries out God’s purpose in changing ways, so God is working in and through your life and ours in changing ways . . . Look for the ways he is seeking to accomplish his purpose through your life.
Preachers . . . can’t stop preaching—even at 90!
On Tuesday I attended the funeral of Mary Miller, the mother of one of my closest friends, Jonathan Miller. Mary produced, not one, but two pastors—her other son, Jim, is also a Presbyterian minister. Mary also gave birth to two amazing daughters, one a nurse and the other a journalist. All four children spoke beautifully at Mary’s service. Her son, Jim, the other pastor, spoke of a blessing that happened at the end of his mother’s life.
Mary had been suffering from dementia for a number of years. In recent years, she did not know the names of her children. Mary was ready to go home, and her family was ready to release her. But Mary didn’t go home; she lingered and lingered for weeks.
Jim is the Pastor of a large church in Tulsa and he made the trip east, in the middle of Advent just to sit with his Mom. He wondered why the delay. As Jim sat in Mary’s room, usually with one or both of his sisters and often with his brother, he realized that God was accomplishing his purpose in the last weeks of Mary’s life. Jim said, “It was a blessing to sit in a room and look at someone you love so much. And that blessing was extended as in those long hours, I had deep and wonderful conversations with those I love—conversations that likely would not have happened.” Jim learned that while Jesus sometimes seems late, He is always on time when it comes to accomplishing God’s purpose in our lives.