Saturday, August 18, 2007

A little help from above

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Ezekiel 17, 18, 19; Psalm 116

Psalm 116:1-2 (NIV)

1 I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.

Ezekiel 18:20 (NIV)

20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

Good morning!

One of my all-time favorite movies is the 1996 Oscar-nominated film entitled The Preacher’s Wife. This 1996 Penny Marshall remake of The Bishop’s Wife, is a love story, told at many levels. Reverend Henry Biggs loves the Lord with all his heart, as he lovingly cares for the people God has placed in his urban congregation. In a dying neighborhood where crime rages and monetary wealth is scarce, Pastor Biggs begins to wonder whether he is making any positive difference in the lives of those around him. The burden he carries begins to weigh heavily upon his family. Sitting in a cold automobile on a snowy December day, Pastor Biggs prays for a miracle, asking the Lord for just a little help from above. God hears the Pastor’s prayer, and sends Dudley, an angel, to bring hope and healing to a hurting community and a clergy family who desperately needs the touch of His healing hand. We see the Gospel message unfolding through the eyes of a little child, Jeremiah, the preacher’s kid. I love preacher’s kids. I have three of them. Every Christmas, I sit on the sofa with a box of Kleenex and a bowl of popcorn, enjoying the movie and singing along with the Preacher’s wife, Julia Biggs.

Whitney Houston plays the role of Julia Biggs. Her mother, Cissy Houston, is in Julia’s choir. I love their interaction in this film. Their personalities come alive on the big screen. Houston wrote many of the lyrics on The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack. My favorite song on the soundtrack was paraphrased from the 116thI Love The Lord. Psalm, entitled,

I love the Lord. He heard my cry and pitied every groan;

Long as I live and troubles rise, I’ll hasten to His throne.

We can empathize with Pastor Biggs.
If we take a closer look at our personal circumstances, the legacy of our parents and grandparents, we assume we are simply caught up in something much larger than we can overcome on our own. Pastor Bigg’s father-in-law was the senior minister of the church he is serving. Years ago, the church was a thriving, vibrant beacon in the community where they live. At that time, the congregation had plenty of money to fix broken boilers, repair cracked ceilings, and have money to spare for a city-wide youth center. Now, the church seems to be drying up with no resources to help the neediest of families. Pastor Biggs felt that he had failed his father-in-law, his own family, and even worse, he had irreparably failed God.

Ironically, it was this pastor’s love for his congregation that made all the difference, and it was God’s love for the pastor, that changed his heart song from despair to hope. Many pastors leave their own dinner table to sit by the bedside of someone in their congregation who is sick and suffering. When my mother had cancer surgery, I pulled a pastor away from his dinner table to be with my family in a moment of despair. They just get up and go, with no thought other than to provide some hope in the midst of hurt and pain. Pastors are special people. They emulate the love of God. Would you drop everything you were doing to help someone else in need? Do you have any idea what that phone call or visit might mean in the life of another?

This is what the prophet Ezekiel was trying to convey to a people who thought they could never receive God’s grace ever again. Ezekiel said that God would look at the heart of each individual, not comparing them to a parent or grandparent, or even a spouse or child. Every person would be judged individually. No longer could the Israelites hide behind the coat tails of their ancestors. It was time to step up and assume personal responsibility for their actions and faith, or lack thereof. It was only when Pastor Biggs stopped comparing himself to his larger-than-life father-in-law, that God was able to work a miracle in the humble heart of this loving, faithful servant of the Lord.

When we need mercy, there is a God who hears us, forgives us, and loves us, even when we have become very unlovable. He can take our weaknesses and turn it to strength, by the touch of His healing hand. If you are feeling a little discouraged today, come and worship the Lord with me. Ask Him to send you a little help from above. He will give you the hope you need to turn your discouragement into a blessing.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: forgiveness and grace to move past the things that have separated you from God. Let go of the pedestals and pitfalls of your family. You can break free from the things that bind you today. Ask Jesus Christ to heal your heart, and give you another chance. He is faithful and true. You can begin again right now. Will you pray with me?


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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