This isn’t the usual type of post I write, but for the last few days, as I’ve considered Sarah’s story while I’ve been going through the editing process, I felt compelled to share what I intend to become the “CONCLUSION” of my book.  As a matter of fact, the Holy Spirit has been prodding me unmercifully about this for several days.  So, I figured I better listen and do what He’s telling me to do, just as I did when He gave me paintings to paint and a book to write.  Here is what will be my last chapter.  it may change a little as the editing process gets to it, but the basics will not.

“Several things happened on Easter eve 2013 that weighed heavily on my heart.  I feel compelled to share these things and my associated thoughts.

My Man Jim went to the grocery store to pick up some items I needed for an Easter cake I was preparing.  As he left the store to come home, he got caught in heavy traffic being rerouted from the main highway around an accident scene.  He asked a bystander what had happened, and was told that a child had darted out from between parked cars and had been struck by an oncoming vehicle.  The ambulance had already left, and no one knew the child’s condition.  Jim came home with a heavy heart and wondering about the outcome.

After I got my cake in the oven, I sat down at my computer to check my Facebook news feed, where I saw more disturbing news.  A friend was receiving post reports from family members on the other side of the country.  One of their little ones had gone on a hike in a national forest with a group of his friends and his daddy.  A dead tree collapsed, falling on one of the children, killing him.

Still later, a post appeared from the local Fire & Rescue, warning motorists to avoid the accident scene here in town because the investigation was still ongoing, and that the child who had been hit had been pronounced dead.

Coincidentally, at the very same time I saw that post, I saw this meme from someone who knew nothing about what I had been seeing:  “As you waste your breath complaining about life, someone out there is breathing their last.  (Italics mine)  Appreciate what you have.  Be thankful and stop complaining.  Live more, complain less.  Have more smiles, less stress.”

Now, that hit me hard!  I didn’t know any of the people involved in either of those tragedies, but I do know that on that Easter morning, the day we as Christians celebrate Resurrection Sunday, two families on opposite sides of the country woke up (if indeed they were even able to have slept at all that night before) to the fact that one of their most precious had breathed their last.  As I’d taken these events in, I’d had a great deal of trouble myself getting to sleep Saturday night.

Think with me for a moment.  Do you know complainers?  I mean the chronic type, those who constantly rob your joy by their negativity about everything?  If you compliment them for anything, they will tell you why you are wrong. If you have a plan, they’ll tell you why it won’t work.  If you have a new idea or a suggestion for solving a problem, they’ll do their best to convince you why it’s not such a good idea.  They’ll say they are just being truthful with you, as friends should be, when in fact, their negativity is really all about them.  Misery loves company, right?  They complain about people who wronged them.  Circumstances which ruined them.  Jobs they hate.  The reasons why nothing ever works out for them.  Yet, they practice the definition of insanity every day:  doing or thinking the same things over and over, always expecting different outcomes.  If you let them, they will suffocate you.  So, here I am, complaining about the complainers.  Please bear with me.  There is a purpose for it.

On Easter eve, Friday had passed, Jesus had breathed His last, but Sunday was coming.  This is a good part of what John 10:10 is all about.  Jesus willingly gave up His last breath so that we, as believers, could have life, and have it more abundantly.  Sometimes, I think we forget about that last part.  The “abundant” part.

Two days later, I saw another Facebook meme:  “Getting knocked down in life is a given.  Getting up and moving forward is a choice.”  Why do we knock ourselves and those around us down when we have such a beautiful option to rejoice in the good fortune of what we do have going for us?  The thief is here to destroy, and take away our joy, and to kill, but it’s up to us to decide if we will let him do that.  We not only have eternal life, we can have ABUNDANT life, right here, right now!  Jesus gave His last breath so that we don’t have to waste ours with complaining, negativity, misery, and putting off what He’s given us to do because we happen to believe it won’t work, it’s a bad idea, or whatever..  There are those who no longer have the opportunity to even grow up enough to be able to make that choice.

These events made me do some serious thinking.  I hope I can practice John 10:10 better.  I pray for those families who have suffered such great loss.  I have learned something at their expense.  I decided right then and there to ditch the negativity and stay away as much as possible from those who won’t.  I can no longer let them rob my joy.  After all, isn’t negativity really a lack of faith?  Essentially, it is saying, “I don’t believe God will take care of me.  He really doesn’t love me.  He’s not there personally for me.”  Imagine what the outcomes of the women in my book would have been if they had harbored such thoughts!  When I think about that as applied to my own life, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my life would be miserable indeed.  Had I not listened one night to that little voice in my head telling me I’d have rest when my world was upside down, I wouldn’t have had that joy in my heart in the morning, which remains with me to this day.  That is what changed my life.  That is what gives me peace beyond all understanding!

I don’t want my breath to be wasted breath!  After all, I don’t know how many breaths I may have left!  I’ve discovered that when I’m not working on what God has given me to do, I’m not happy.  Instead, I’m restless, dissatisfied, impatient and at loose ends wondering what to do next.  Negativity creeps in.  But when I’m pursuing the goals He’s given me to accomplish, I’m living life to the fullest.  The joy and the passion I experience when I am working on what God has given me to do knows no bounds.  It fills me, and surpasses all understanding!  It extends into everything else I may have to do that day.  That is abundant living!  I want every day to be like that!

So does God.  God wants His children to live life abundantly.  It’s His air we breathe.  We shouldn’t waste it, but instead fill it with joy, peace, praise, song, hope, and love!  Fill your lungs with His air!  Don’t put off doing what He has called you to do, thinking you have plenty of time to start it tomorrow, or next week, or next month…  You may not have tomorrow, next week, or next month.  Don’t waste Jesus’ last breaths.  Remember what He sacrificed for you!  Because He lived and died, you can face and overcome any difficulties in your tomorrows!  You can have eternal life with Him in heaven, but you can also have, not just life, but abundant life, here on earth!  Reach for it!  Rejoice in it!  Be redeemed by it!  Find your peace out of life’s turmoil.  You won’t have wasted your breath!”

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John 10:10 – “The thief does not come except to steal and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”