Right Hand Man

June 20, 2021

Vacation season is upon us!

My Facebook memories have been FLOODED the past few weeks with vacation pictures, honeymoon pictures, etc. I love these pictures of Joe and Jackie Beth, because they seem to exemplify my own personal philosophy that if you can just get your toes in the sand, it’s all peace and happiness. I also love these pictures because Joe and Jackie Beth are both just plain purty in them.

But let me tell you about the “knock down drag out” Joe and I had before we left for the beach that year.

How do I remember? Because we ALWAYS went nose to nose trying to get ourselves packed up and ready for a trip! 🙂 Bless his heart, I know that Joe was stressed out trying to get loose ends tied up at work, getting the boat ready (he always had an improvement project for the boat and he always waited until the last minute to get started on it), etc. And it is possible that I have the tendency to overpack just a teensy bit, so there was the stress of exactly how to get all the stuff down to the coast without a U-Haul. And then…there was the fact that Joe had a particular way of organizing all the things. Unfortunately, the glass on my crystal ball gets a little cloudy, and I could not read his mind on how to position each suitcase to ensure maximum efficiency, so we (me and one/all of the children) did it incorrectly. He would try not to fuss, but his tired, stressed, short tempered little self would inevitably blow a fuse. Then my tired, stressed, short tempered little self would FLOUNCE, and we’d have us a minor world war right there in the driveway. Sometimes I am glad we live way back in the woods! 🙂

So, we’d load up and huff and puff and pout all the way to the end of the path. However, before we pulled out onto the highway, Joe would put the truck in park, {begrudgingly} take my hand, and say a prayer for safe travels, a good trip and a safe return home.

It’s mighty hard to stay mad with a man who talks to Jesus like that, so I would only pout a few more minutes before I allowed Joe to enjoy the sunshine of my personality again. 🙂

There’s also something mighty comforting about knowing Jesus is your right hand man as you barrell down toward the coast in an overstuffed pickup truck pulling a boat still wet with paint, sealer, glue, etc!

This week Joe’s lesson is about the grace of Jesus, who is by our side in every circumstance.

He wrote:

Right Hand Man

Luke 22: 31-32: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

If we were to make a thank you list to Jesus for all of the things He did in His lifetime, I believe this display of grace He showed to Simon Peter would be at the top. Jesus knows that He is about to be persecuted,arrested, abandoned and executed, and what does He do? He prays for Simon Peter’s faith, and assures him that, even though things are about to get bad—He will pass through. He will not be overwhelmed.

One of the things I am in awe of as a Christian is knowing that Jesus cares for me, just as He cared for Simon Peter. He is sitting at the right hand of His Father, and He is praying for you and me.

Jesus is on our side.  He is with us, guiding our way through every trial and obstacle.  I know there may be times when it doesn’t feel that way, but it is true even then. Our faith may falter or change depending on the circumstance of where we are in life, but we can rest in the knowledge that God is always there, strengthening us.

So, when you are faced with bad news or a difficult situation, or when things just aren’t going the way you thought they would or should go, remember this—You are not alone. You will pass through. 

Jesus loves us enough to stand by our side and pray for us—all of us—even you and me.

Lord, we thank You for being there to strengthen us. You are the same now and forever, and because of that we know we are never truly alone.

-JMP

I’m not sure when I started it, but I have a tradition of sneaking a moment alone to look at the water just before we leave at the end of each vacation. I try to soak up the memories in my mind because I realize things will be different the next time we gather together for a week. The children will be older. We might have an extra person on the next trip. Or, someone might be missing. So, I say a prayer of thanks for the blessings of that particular season and I pray for the season ahead. A lot can happen in a year.

Joe’s lesson this week sent me to my Bible commentary right off the bat. I learned that in Luke 22, Jesus issued a warning to the disciples (specifically Simon Peter) that Satan would use the terrible events about to occur to “sift them like wheat“. During the sifting process, wheat is shaken violently to separate it from the chaff. Peter would be tested similarly by the devil to see if his faith could be shaken off or separated from him during these trials.

Well, friends, let me just say that in the past year, I have been SIFTED.

Our vacation last year found us still reeling from Covid 19 restrictions. Joe’s mama took a nasty fall in early summer, and spent that week(and several more) recovering from an extensive surgery to repair a badly broken ankle. Joe’s boat finally kicked the bucket AND he had a case of the gout. It was a time.

School resumed in August and I entered what would be my most challenging school year ever (and I’ve got nearly 25 of them under my belt!). Joe passed away in December, and within the next month we would also mourn the loss of his aunt and my grandmother. I nearly crumbled under the pressure of teaching full time, working a part time job, trying to juggle the responsibilities of Joe’s business/estate, raising my children, and the fact that my heart was broken in two. Sifted is a pretty good way to describe it.

I would be lying if I said my faith wasn’t tested. And ya’ll, I like to think I have a lot of faith. Still…my knees nearly buckled underneath me, but I did not fall. That was absolutely not because of my own strength. I can tell you I didn’t have much of that left in me.

What did I have? I had…no I HAVE…the same thing you do. It is the power of a man named Jesus who loves me so much that He prays for me at the right hand of His Father. Sometimes I forget that part. Y’all he PRAYS for us. Even as we endure our sifting seasons. Even now.

The last part of that verse is important. Jesus tells Simon Peter “when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus knew the end of the story! He didn’t say “if” you get to the other side of all this, he said “when“. Jesus called him to use his experience to help others find strength.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while you’ve heard me say “some good simply has to come of this”. So maybe Jesus wasn’t just talking to Simon Peter. Maybe He was talking to me, too.

Sweet friend, if you are in your sifting season, if you feel like your knees are about to give way, believe with all of your heart that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU WILL PASS THROUGH. YOU WILL NOT BE OVERCOME. How do I know? Because Jesus has given me the strength to walk through the past 197 days. He has been my right hand man, holding me up as I took every single step.

I can’t tell you that you will wake up one day and understand why this had to happen. I can tell you that one day someone will look at you and know that because Jesus saw you through it, He will see them through as well. Something good will come.

As you read this, I am on vacation. I’ve already found myself on the beach with my eyes closed, dreaming of a distant Shore. I know if I can just get my toes in the sand, there will be Peace and Happiness forever…with my Joe and my Jesus.

Just before I head home, I will take one more moment to gaze out onto the water. I will soak up the memories of this trip with my boys and I will thank the Lord for the blessings of this season. I will thank Him for the blessings of the season to come. Because even though things look different…even though someone is missing, I know I am never alone.

Before I pull onto the highway, I will offer up Joe’s traveling prayer. There’s something mighty comforting about knowing Jesus is your right hand man as you barrell down the road toward Home.

-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe

3 thoughts on “Right Hand Man

  1. Thank you Lord for these two SPECIAL people you chose to Love each other and to carry on your words of Love Mercy and Grace. They Bless me every week. Happy Father’s Day in Heaven Joe!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your words of faith. Love reading your message and sharing Joe’s faith and teachings. May God continue to bless you and may we count our blessings every day.

    Liked by 1 person

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