I’ve been thinking a lot about them lately.
This past Wednesday two women I greatly admired entered God’s presence within hours – perhaps moments – of each other. Trudie was “Oma” to our son-in-law Ben and great-grandma to our precious Libby and her baby brother Everett. I have slept under the quilt Trudie made that covers the bed in my daughter’s guestroom. I sat side by side with her at dinner not three weeks ago. Trudie’s fingerprints of love were all over the life of her family. Her funeral is tomorrow.
As we were processing the news of Trudie’s loss, we were stunned to learn of the death that same morning of a very close friend on the staff of our church. As my husband shudders through his grief at Shirley’s sudden passing, he is also preparing to co-officiate the family memorial service next week for his beloved eldest sister, Jeannine. We have been grieving Jeannine’s premature death since March. The extended Rowe family and our friends gather in West Virginia to remember her on Monday.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Ephesians 3:16-17
Each of these women had a physical home unique to her season in life. A place to host family and friends, offer hospitality, rest and recharge. Each woman left her home without warning – no time to cross the t’s or dot the final i’s of life. Each woman exchanged an earthly address for a heavenly one.
“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” Isaiah 32:18
So is it any wonder that I’ve turned again and again in these difficult days to a compact devotional I’ve been carrying with me? Its’ title:
“My dwelling place will be with them, I will be their God, and they will be My people.” Ezekiel 37:27
You know how it is. When times are tough and grief saws at your soul-edges, you don’t need a commentary. Couldn’t take it in anyway. But a one-word-a-day companion that strengthens you to dwell in God’s peace, his presence?
Yes, please. Gratefully, yes.
In her new release Dwelling Places (Abingdon Press, 2016), New England author Lucinda Secrest McDowell unpacks single words – mercy, beauty, gratitude, grace – through readings rich in robust theology and beautiful in their brevity. The mind prone to wander, distracted by grief, can rest here, sit a moment. Reflect. Remember. Recalibrate.
Divided into four sections with words to live in every season, Dwelling Places led me into Summer tonight where I breathed in this prayer (p. 233):
“My child, each person’s days on earth are numbered. And that’s why I want you to live every one to the fullest. Remembering my promise – that I am always right beside you. The more you practice my presence the easier it will be for you to turn to Me at every moment. Don’t worry about the end. Just live today in complete confidence and care. And courage. I’m with you.
My friend down the street who is unemployed and may lose her home? I gave her Dwelling Places. The mom and teens without a home at present who have been sheltering with us for a spell? I’m getting them Dwelling Places.
As for Jeannine, Trudie, and Shirley? They don’t need to read about God any longer. They have met him face to face.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1
If you’d like to win a copy of Dwelling Places, Abingdon Press is sponsoring a Refreshing Summer Giveaway with lots of great prizes including a copy of Dwelling Places. Click here and enter your email for a chance to win.