It’s OK to be Yellow Goo (The Death of Signarama part 5)

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“What in the world do we do now?”

When one season ends before you expect it to, and nothing turned out the way you thought it would…transition is inevitable.

What will our future look like?

Who are we supposed to be?

What do we do now?

It can feel very sad and scary to face transition.  Yet, transition is just what is needed to form a butterfly from a caterpillar.  When all our plans fail, it could be that God’s plans are better, but we just can’t see that yet.

Signarama had died.  Chris was no longer a business owner, but rather a loader at UPS.  We weren’t able to buy that house we were hoping for or take that family vacation we had dreamed of or even budget how we would pay our bills from week to week.

Driving to Little Buffalo for a family fun day, we were trying to stay hopeful for the future.  I put in a CD of Lance Wallnau, and once again God orchestrated the perfect encouraging word for us.  Lance was talking about transition!  He pointed out the fact that when a caterpillar is in the cocoon, it dissolves into a mass of cells…essentially a glob of yellow goo.

It is not a caterpillar.

It is not a butterfly.

It may not even know what it will become, yet the imaginal cells are floating around trying to locate matching imaginal cells.  When one future antenna cell meets another future antenna cell they begin to form…

You guessed it…an antenna.  Slowly it becomes the very specific butterfly that God had imprinted into its cells from the beginning.  Yet in the yellow goo stage it looks nothing like that butterfly at all.

AND THAT IS OK!

It is ok to have absolutely no answers or clarity during the yellow goo stage.  Trust is more important than clarity.  We can trust that God knew what our butterfly would look like when he created us.

“I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust.  So I will pray that you will trust God.” – Mother Teresa

It is a funny thing to be 40 and not yet know what you want to be when you grow up!  Then again…the possibilities are endless, and rather exciting to consider.

The next time I was snuggling with Annalise and having a quiet time, I asked God a question just for fun. I knew that He didn’t have to answer me; that clarity wasn’t important, but I was curious about what was on His mind.  So I asked it.

“Can you give me clarity on the next step?”

“The Lord had done great things for me, and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes oh Lord.

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.

He who goes out weeping, carrying seeds to sow,

 Will return with songs of joy carrying sheaves with him.” Ps 126

What a wonderful picture!  Even though we had sown in tears and could see no harvest, WE WILL REAP WITH JOY!  When God speaks a word like that to your spirit, faith and the atmosphere of the future surrounds you in the present.  You feel certain that it will happen right away.

Tomorrow!

Or maybe next week!

Undoubtedly the breakthrough is right around the corner!

The very next day, God prepared me for the possibility that it may not happen right away. I was reading the book, The Cross and the Switchblade.  I had never read this famous book before, and I was loving it!  Right around 1960, David Wilkerson was a small town pastor who had made one little change in his life.  He decided to turn off the TV in the evenings and spend that time praying instead.  One night during his prayer time, he glanced at a Time magazine he had in his office.  On the front cover were the boys in New York City who were going on trial for murder.  They were part of a gang and had murdered another boy.

“Go to New York City and help those boys,” he heard God say.  He knew nothing about the city or about gangs, but he felt compelled to be obedient.

His church sent him on his mission.  As he drove to the city with a friend, they asked God for a verse.  The verse they received was the very verse that God had just given me!  How exciting!  Surely God was going to do amazing things to show these boys His love!

David ended up being able to be in the courtroom for the trial.  At the end of the day, afraid that this window of opportunity would close forever, he called out to the judge with a request to speak to the boys.  The judge had no patience for David’s outburst, yet David persisted.  He ended up being dragged out of the courtroom by security.  He left the city and went back to his friends and family in shame and disgrace.  What was worse, the media had snapped a picture of him being manhandled by the police and put it in the newspaper.  Now everyone could see his colossal mistake.  This did not appear to be “reaping with songs of joy.”

David could not stay away from New York City, however.  The young people living in the violence and drugs of the gangs were in his heart, and he had to minister to them.  He encountered these teens, but he had no way to connect with them, no way to establish rapport and cause them to trust him.  When one of the teens recognized him as the man in the paper who had a run in with the police, they suddenly let him in.  His ministry had finally begun!  The very thing that had plagued his mind as a stupid decision was the very thing that gave him a breakthrough!

He was able to bring many of them to Jesus; getting them off of drugs, discipling them, and training them to disciple others.  This ministry has grown into Teen Challenge which has helped thousands of drug addicts find Jesus and freedom!  That is certainly “reaping with songs of joy” an abundant harvest!  I am sure it has grown into much more than David had ever imagined, but it didn’t happen immediately.

“OK God, messaged received!  I can’t imagine the wonderful things you have prepared for us, and I might not even get a glimpse of them for a while.  I will trust you,” I prayed.

It was frustrating to stay in the confinement of our cocoon of transition.  It felt like a prison, and we knew we weren’t really free after years of striving after that freedom.  We weren’t financially free nor had Chris found his dream job.  I thought about Joseph when he was in prison.  The Bible says that Joseph had God’s presence, His unfailing love, and His favor while he was in prison.  Prison wasn’t evidence that God had left him or was displeased with him.

Our prison was serving an important role in our lives.  It was keeping us safe while God put our butterflies together.  Just imagine if that “caterpillar-turned-yellow-goo creature” was freed of its cocoon too early.  It would never become the stunning aerial masterpiece it was meant to be.  It would simply be a puddle of yellow slime, formless on the ground.

Some weeks later my mom brought over a bunch of clothes she had purchased for Ashlyn.  We sat together on the sofa and “ooooed” and “ahhhhed” over the pretty clothes.  After the fourth or fifth shirt embellished with butterflies, I blurted out, “This is the year of the butterfly!”

It was just a trivia comment, but my own words hit me in the chest like a prophecy.

Maybe this would be the year of MY butterfly!

For my birthday a friend gave me a very thoughtful gift, and on the packaging was a butterfly.  Another friend created a piece of art with names and favorite scriptures of many friends.  Next to my name was a butterfly.

So as I dream of the butterfly that will emerge this year or next year or in 10 years, I will embrace the yellow goo of today…

And trust that God knows exactly what He is doing.

 

Nobody Knows in Advance Which Day Will Be the Day of Their Death

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For my Grammy, that day was February 4, 2011.  Sometimes you get an inkling that this life is drawing to a close.  With Grammy, I was completely shocked.  I was thinking that she could live another ten years, being from a family of long livers.  She was even improving and starting to eat and walk again.  I had no idea that February 4th was her day.  I simply thought it was my last day with her for a time, since I was flying back to Pennsylvania on February 5th.  I am so thankful for that last day with her.

Grammy was cozy in her new room at Harbor House, a memory care facility.  She was confused about a lot of things, but she kept on insisting that she was going to move back to her apartment at Primrose.  She had spent the Christmas holiday in rehab after a stroke.  She was unable to get any of her mail.  So she and I spent a long time on her favorite love seat, reading every single Christmas card she had received.  I was amazed by how many people still sent her cards and how detailed their letters were.  She remembered every single person and told me nice things about each one.

Then I read to her the scripture God had given me when I was praying for her before this trip, Isaiah 43:1-4.  I saw Jesus carrying her through this strange new trial like a lamb on his shoulders and he was saying, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.  You are precious and honored in my sight and I LOVE YOU!”

Grammy paused from her talking for a moment.  I wondered what was going through her mind, and I hoped that she felt God’s love.  Then she started right back into discussing moving back to Primrose.

Soon she became very tired, and we tucked her into bed for an afternoon nap.  She looked comfortable and peaceful.  I kissed her on the cheek and said goodbye.

Chris and I spent the evening with relatives.   What a wonderful evening we had!  We returned our rental car since a shuttle would be taking us to the airport in the morning.  Our relatives drove us back to our rented room at Primrose.  Chris and I were so worn out from our busy week.  We wanted to just flop into bed and sleep as much as we could before our early morning flight.  However, we still had to pack our bags.  As we were getting everything ready to return home, we received a phone call.  A young nurse from Harbor House informed us with a shaky voice that Grammy had passed away!  She had slept away the afternoon.  One of the nurses had tried to rouse her for dinner, but Grammy said she was too tired and just wanted to keep on sleeping.  When they checked on her again, she had no pulse.

My heart started to beat fast. Was this supposed to be happening?  Grammy dead, this soon?   I had left too early in the day!  I should have stayed at her side all evening.   I had missed the moment when she left this earth.  I immediately felt sad and guilty.  Chris quickly pushed those thoughts aside.

“There was no way that you could have known.  You did just what you were supposed to do this week.”

I began to feel a peace fill me.  All I could do was what I had done.  Grammy lived a long life and died peacefully in her sleep.  She didn’t have to suffer.  May we all have a death so sweet!

We called our relatives and asked them if they could drive us back to Harbor House.  We wanted to say our final goodbyes.  I had never experienced death so closely before.  When I entered Grammy’s room, she looked just the same as I had left her, peaceful and snuggled under her blankets.  I expected her to open her eyes and see me standing there, yet she was still.  I felt that I was standing on holy ground.  Jesus himself had just been there to gather Grammy into his loving arms and carry her home.  His presence still lingered, and it was so sweet.

I really couldn’t know Grammy’s personal relationship with Jesus, what transpired in the depths of her heart and spirit before she died.  But the presence of Jesus in the room gave me the peace that I would see her again in heaven.  None of us can make it to heaven on our own.  It is the same as trying to get to the moon by jumping our very highest.  It doesn’t matter how hard we try or how well we train, we just can’t reach the moon.  Jesus lived and died in order to carry us there.  He is alive right now, constantly loving us and praying for us that we will trust him to do it.  So let’s do less jumping and more trusting. There is nothing to fear and EVERYTHING  to look forward to. For those who trust in Him, death is a reward and it is holy.

Happy Heavenly Birthday Dad!

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My Father, George Redman Beyer, passed away last year on July 31.  In honor of him, I would like to post here the words I spoke at his memorial service.

 

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All you who knew George, whether it was for 5 minutes or fifty years, knew that he was very kind, calm, patient, slow, methodical, and very intelligent.

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He loved history and could remember facts and figures with an almost photographic memory.  Most of those official blue and yellow signs you see around the state of PA were written by my Dad.  When I was little I couldn’t remember the name of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, so I just told people that my Dad was a Historical Marker Maker.  They gave me funny looks.

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I got even stranger reactions when I told them that we were Quakers and went to Meeting instead of Church.  Dad was always a man of peace.  I almost never heard him criticize other people and I almost never saw him get angry.

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In recent years, he had to bear with my five wild boys running around the house with nerf guns, squirt guns, and cap guns.  Still he was very patient with them.  He spent hour after hour after hour reading to all the grandchildren, snuggling on the sofa.

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He answered question after question, read book after book.  He rejoiced at the birth of every new grandchild and enjoyed them immensely.

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This was an intense week for our family.  Dad was sent to the emergency room on Monday with blood clots in his lungs.  He stopped breathing and received CPR three times.  When I saw him that evening, he was unconscious and the hospital was still trying to stabilize him.  That night I prayed those deep, desperate prayers.  I love it how God draws so near to me in times like these.  I felt like He said to me, “This will end in death, but it is OK.”  Then I saw a picture in my mind.  I saw my dad as a young boy, running in the summer twilight.

scan23He had perfect shalom, “perfect peace, nothing broken, and nothing missing.”  He was running into the arms of God the Father.  They both had such joy and excitement about being together.

On Tuesday the hospital thought they might be able to stabilize Dad and wake him up.  Then we received a call that he had taken a turn for the worse, and we better get in there as soon as we could.  Again I began praying in the car, and I was desperate with God.  I said, “You can’t let him die if he’s not ready, if it is not his time.  I haven’t done enough. I haven’t told him enough about you.  I haven’t shown him enough love.”  Again the sweet presence of God surrounded me and said, “It is already done.  I have already done it all.  All that is left is to trust me.

So as we sat in Dad’s room watching him peacefully pass away, I again thought of him running into the arms of his Father.  I heard the Father God say to him, “George, it doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do in your lifetime.  I want you! You are my reward; You are my pearl of great price.”

Mom told me in hospital that Dad had recently attended a conference at Life Center and loved the Song, “Abba” which means Daddy. (Click here to listen to the wonderful song.) We sang that song in Worship tonight.  This confirmed to me that he had a longing in his heart to know God as his Daddy, and now his heart’s desire is fulfilled.  He feels for the first time the full strength of the unconditional, all consuming love of the Father.  Dad had loving parents and a loving family.  Loving relationships are the joy of this life.  But they are just the first morning rays of sunlight peaking over the horizon.  Now he is standing in the brightness of noonday, and I am so happy for him!

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I love how God gives us signs to explain what is happening in the unseen realm.  He gave me a sign.  My mom had transplanted lot of flowers from her yard to into my yard.  The irises and hyacinths have been blooming for many years now, but I have never seen the resurrection lily.  I just thought it had died, and I had forgotten about it.  But the day after my Dad died, I looked out my window and I saw it blooming!

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I love you Dad!