Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20 ESV
With a name like Caligiuri, you can imagine what it was like for me in school when the teachers took attendance the first day of each year. Usually, after a while they would get it right but sometimes, I just gave up and simply smiled and nodded at their mangled attempts. The great thing about Jesus is that He not only knows our name, but He also knows how to pronounce it as well as every other detail of our lives! In this time as we are passing through storms of violence, division and confusion, it is a great comfort to know that if we have given our life to Jesus and repented of our sins then God has our names written in Heaven. There, no one will ever erase it, forget it or replace it. We have an eternal place with Jesus and there is no greater joy than being His! Today’s song – When the Roll is Called Up Yonder reminds us of this time of celebration, in a toe-tapping and upbeat way that has made it one of our favorites at the nursing home. I wish I could show you more of the faces of my friends there, but with usually this is not permitted. But one day we will have the chance to all meet on the other side and the good news is that we will all be younger and better looking there!!
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10 KJV
Years ago, I used to visit an elderly couple from our church, who because of age and its attending aches and pains no longer were able to come to Sunday services. In the corner of their little apartment, they kept a cage with two parakeets that tweeted happily off and on during our time, especially when we began to sing some of the hymns. Sometimes when the cage door was left open, they got especially enthusiastic and during the music they would swoop out with their wingtips brushing by my head and then perch up on top of the kitchen cabinets. In their balcony seat they seemed quite at home and didn’t miss a note in their singing. Now both of those birds as well as my dear friends have flown off to the presence of Jesus. Sometimes I imagine them looking down from their advantage point still singing and waiting for me and my guitar to come join them. Today I was delighted to sing I’ll Fly Away with the people I love to sing it with the most at our nursing home. I pray that you will be blessed by our simple rendition and that you will draw comfort and joy knowing that no matter what you are going through, if you have given your heart to Jesus, He promises that one day we will fly to meet Him in the air!
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2:4 KJV
As some of you know, due to complications from a wisdom tooth extraction I became nearly incapable of singing for the last few weeks. Not being able to get notes out past the vocal chords, suddenly looked like Mount Everest had plopped right in the middle of my path. With nursing home meetings scheduled for Thursday through Sunday, I sent out an emergency plea for help and learned a lesson from friends who jumped in to help. The story of these last seven days is best summed up in three words – Immediately, unexpectedly and miraculously.
Immediately John and Barbara volunteered for the first meeting. John officiates once a month for our meetings at a retirement village and he and Barbara looked excited as they walked in with me to the memory care wing at Sunshine Christian Home. Like the Good Samaritan, they didn’t say they would pray about it, think about it or wait until they could work it into their schedule. They simply came both Thursday and Friday at another facility, sang their best and everyone loved them!
Saturday’s meeting was in the recreation building at John and Barb’s retirement village, but with John leading the meeting and Barbara helping out at an early Thanksgiving meal served to the community, I needed help with singing, but had no one lined up. After the opening scriptures reading and prayer, I came to the front. Then, unexpectedly just as I put the microphone in place, my friend Paula, walked to the front, opened the song book and with a smile began to help lead the singing. Paula didn’t wait to be asked, she simply saw the need and unexpectedly came to help.
Sunday morning as I stood next to my wife in church, lip-synching the songs, I wondered what to do about the service scheduled for 2 PM at an assisted living facility. Normally I would have worried through the message instead of listening, but after seeing God work over the last few days, I figured that God had something in mind, and I didn’t need to know about it! Church ended, we returned home, had lunch and played cards while we enjoyed tea and cookies. When it came time to leave, I wasn’t sure I could sing all the way through a single hymn, but God gave me peace that everything was okay. As I arrived, I got my temperature checked, got coded in and stepped through the doorway to see the nurse with a few of my friends waiting to sing. I began with a big smile telling everyone how glad I was to see them and started strumming a few chords, but no one was more amazed than me, that as I opened my lips to sing, that, miraculously, notes came out of my mouth! Looking back, I must say that God has been both faithful and patient to teach me again this week the lesson that how I needed to Louisa Stead taught us in her hymn
Jesus - Jesus how I trust Him
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus – Jesus precious Jesus
O for grace to trust Him more!
This Thanksgiving I have so much to be thankful to not only be able to sing again but that God has given me family and friends who have prayed with me, encouraged me and come along side to help. What lessons has God been teaching you this week? Why not share a note or two or you own?