(The following is a corrected version of the column that appeared in Friday's Neighbors section. We apologize for the errors published on Friday. - Editor)
I had the privilege this past week of reading the spiritual journal of May Key, an 80-year-old woman in our church, who died this past Saturday. May raised six children and sought to live her life for Jesus. With the permission of her daughter, Carol Bartlett, I share with you a few of her journal entries. The selected excerpts were written by May the last two months of her life after she was diagnosed with lung cancer. May they encourage your faith journey and be a tribute to May's life and love for Jesus.
"We recognize and admire some of our fellow mortals who are considered to be great thinkers, great scientists, great inventors, great achievers in every field or endeavor. In many ways they tower above all of us ordinary people, but they still have the same needs we do. They experience aches and pains. They have troubled minds and hungry hearts. They cannot stave off death nor guarantee life beyond the grave. Only God is truly great, great enough to meet all our needs, great enough to forgive all our sins, and great enough to carry us through the dark valley of death into eternity, to be with Him forever. So we declare with the psalmist "you are great You also are God" (Ps. 86:10). In a world of empty superlatives, God is the greatest. Heavenly Father, thank you for providing my every need. You know me so well, you know my needs before I do. Yes Father, you are the Greatest!
"Behind our business-as-usual appearance is a lack of enthusiasm for righteous living and serving God. We need Paul's admonition, 'It's high time to awake out of sleep' (Rom. 13:11). We must remain intense in our desire to please the Lord. Centuries ago the Psalmist prayed that he wouldn't settle for a casual religious experience (Ps. 119:1-8). He longed for a total commitment to love what God loves and hate what He hates. He sensed that he would have to give his whole heart, mind, and strength to the task. We will accomplish much for the Lord if we set our will against the current of the world and the pull of our sinful flesh. Let's not fall asleep on the job. Living for Jesus is not a part-time job.
"When Paul prayed for the believers in Colosse, he asked God to fill them with the knowledge of His will (Col. 1:9). He asked that they would know God's will in every aspect of their experience - what they thought and what they did - so that they would live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way. Our relationship with Christ must affect all areas of life. There is no way we can live a life that is pleasing to God if we keep our faith limited to the religious section. Walking with Christ is a total life experience. Invite Jesus into your life today. Is there a part of your life that you're keeping under your own control? Finance, recreation, work, home, goals, habits, relationships? Yield it to Christ's control. Give Christ the key to every room in your life.
"Christ followers need the group experience of fellowship with other believers to help them remain loyal to the Lord. Our own personal relationship to God, vital as that is, is not sufficient to produce spiritual maturity and endurance. Relationships within the unified, Spirit-filled body of believers are essential for growth and for maintaining our individual faithfulness to the Savior. (Hebrews 10:23-25). Sometime we would rather not be involved in church life, thinking it's easier just to go it alone. But Christians who do that miss out on all the benefits. Let's remember that God in His wisdom has grouped us for strength. Believers stand strong when they do not stand alone.
"Scripture has much to say about endings, especially the end of history. Jesus Christ promised to return and bring an end to the present order of things (Matt. 24). Important as it is to study what the Bible reveals about the end times, it is even more important for us to pray as David did 'Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am' (Ps. 39:4). We are to ask God to give us an understanding of the vapor like brevity of life. This can motivate us to seek God's will and to put His interest first (Matt. 6:33). Teach us Lord to know your will that we may choose your way. It's never too soon to invest in Eternity."
The Rev. Steve Olmstead is pastor of Chapel by the Lake.