March 22, 2010

March 22: He humbled himself

author_portrait

By Jeff Hochstetler, admission counselor
THIS WEEK’S THEME: He humbled himself

DEVOTIONAL:
This past December, 13 months after being diagnosed with cancer, my mother passed away. Growing up, I often took for granted the times with my mother. While my mother was sick, I often anticipated and hoped for the day when she would get better. Future memories of weddings, graduations and grandchildren seemed to hang in the balance. I became frustrated projecting my own hopes of a future on the reality which was happening. Many people from church, coworkers, friends and family prayed for her healing. However, as time went on and her disease progressed, it became clear that my time with her was indeed limited.

As we enter this week looking toward Palm Sunday, we are given a glimpse of a different Jesus than what many of his followers anticipated. The Scriptures this week, particularly in Isaiah and Philippians, point to a Jesus who, upon entering Jerusalem, acts strangely out of sync with people’s hopes for a Messiah. Rather than taking the throne room, Jesus “humbled himself, and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” I can imagine people’s frustrations with Jesus, as he is joyously greeted upon arrival, but then fails to meet the crowd’s expectations.

Too often we are plagued by our own visions of the future. But Jesus invites us into a different way. This way means that equality with God is not something to be grasped, because God’s thoughts are completely different than ours and often far beyond anything we could imagine. For me, this means holding on to a Jesus who is made perfect in his brokenness.

In her final weeks, time spent with my mother became even more meaningful. The final hours of my mother’s life were a special time for my family and close friends. As we gathered around her bedside saying our goodbyes, someone suggested we start to sing. Our voices, strained with emotion, grew clearer and louder as we continued singing. Singing for over two hours, we finished with Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus, ending on a crescendo in which each of us poured out ourselves.

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Comments (45)

  1. Thank you for this beautiful and personal meditation.

    Ann Hostetler March 22, 2010 |
  2. Thank you so much for this.

    Olugbemisola March 22, 2010 |
  3. Thanks for your sharing. it brought back memories to me of when I was in college (more than 30 years ago). My father died suddenly in my junior year of heart attack and then my mother died from Leukemia 2 years later at age of 46. Was hard. I may have struggled through similar issues/challenges but I remained firm in my faith.

    Larry Johnson March 22, 2010 |
  4. Thanks for your devotional, Jeff. We continue to miss your mom, too, but rejoice with you in the amazing send-off you gave her.

    Miriam Zehr March 22, 2010 |
  5. This was a very meaningful and powerful devotional. Not only because I was one to be blessed with giving care for her at a clinic, but how it is a bit of Christ’s death. Thanks for sharing.

    Rita Miller March 22, 2010 |
  6. Thanks Jeff for reflecting from your experience with your mother as we experience God in this Lenten season!

    Vicky March 22, 2010 |
  7. Thanks Jeff. I’m sure it was a difficult time (I lost a brother to cancer just 2 years ago, he was only 52). I was moved by your families response and it reminded me that the death of a believer is only a temporary goodbye. take care

    Murray March 22, 2010 |
  8. Would have loved to join your in the sing-off for your mom. Thanks for sharing your hope.

    Jane Beyeler March 22, 2010 |
  9. Thank you, Jeff, Thank you very much. Being made perfect in brokenness is a powerful mantra for anyone experiencing loss, along with remembering that equality with God is not something to be grasped. Thank you again for your personal illumination of these insights.

    Jim Miller March 22, 2010 |
  10. Dear Jeff-
    Thank you for sharing such a personal and poignant story about your experience with your mother’s death. I too lost my father to cancer when I was 22, about the age you are. I know the struggle to find God in that experience. Blessings to you and your family as you move forward in your life without your mother.
    Peace,
    Heiki-Lara Nyce

    Heiki-Lara Nyce March 22, 2010 |
  11. Dear Jeff, I will pray for you as you continue to miss your dear mother. The Lord IS with you holding your hand and your mother is healthy and happy in heaven. Know that others care and share your grief. Blessings, Flora

    flora March 22, 2010 |
  12. Sorry for your loss but grateful for your sharing. God is so good in that He teaches of of His love even during our most trying times. Perhaps because we are most open to His teaching then.
    God Bless…

    Debbie March 22, 2010 |
  13. Thank you, Jeff, for your touching life story. Im sure your dear mother is caring for you from heaven.
    Yes, there comes a time in each one’s life when after years of doing for and giving to others we have to be resigned to be passive and receive from them. So it happened to Jesus. It was in his passivity and self-dispossession that the glory of God became manifest.

    Mervyn Carapiet March 22, 2010 |
  14. Jeff: that was Holy Ground. Use it for grieving and use it for joy. Time will scar the memory and time will smooth the scar. Relationship with our Creator will make sense of that which makes no sense at all. Blessings as you journey. Randy

    Randy Springer March 22, 2010 |
  15. Thanks for your words, Jeff!

    Scott Hochstetler March 22, 2010 |
  16. Yes, Eric, we are all thinking of your mom today on what would have been a day of teasing and laughter. We miss her but rejoice in the wonderful memories of a great woman. We’re holding you boys up in prayer today.

    Linda March 22, 2010 |
  17. Jeff, thank you for sharing a poignant and touching devotion today. Having lost a mother to cancer as well, your words were especially meaningful. Blessings to you this Easter season where the promise of reunion in heaven is made more than just a hope.

    DeeDee Barnes Bruns March 22, 2010 |
  18. This devotion beautifully expresses our human desire to have expectations of the future. To stay in the present reality of death with the dying can be a blessing!

    Barbara A. Clark March 22, 2010 |
  19. Thank you for sharing from your hurt, Jeff, that we may see more clearly the meanings of Lent.

    Barry March 22, 2010 |
  20. I often look forward to your e-mails. I know this is not a ministry of Goshen’s English composition class, but please, please, in future pass some of these by an instructor.

    It is not possible to have future memories. And you guys are writing testimonies about your faith, not press releases for an insurance company. Clear, vivid English will get your point across and reflect the Glory of God.

    Steven John Bosch March 22, 2010 |
  21. I read your devotional as a message from the heart and not as individual words and phrases. Your message seems to have come with much reflection. It was meaningful and thought provoking to me. Thank you.

    Dennis March 22, 2010 |
  22. How precious and thank you for sharing.

    Nancy March 22, 2010 |
  23. How precious and thank you for sharing your personal story.

    Nancy March 22, 2010 |
  24. Thank you for such a powerful, thought provoking meditation–one that will live with me all week in preparation for Holy Week. Jeff, you are a wise and wonderful young man who is blessing many others.

    Ann Whitaker March 22, 2010 |
  25. Beautiful devotional, Jeff. You and your family are in my thoughts, may you experience peace today.

    Jean Boen March 22, 2010 |
  26. Thanks, Jeff, for sharing those special memories
    with us. It’s true that sometimes our desires for the
    future are different from what God’s plans are. I would
    have liked my sister, who died of a brain tumour at age
    44, to live longer. Ultimately, we need to trust God and
    leave the why’s in His hands.

    Loretta March 22, 2010 |
  27. Jeff, Thanks for your vulnerability in writing this; I really appreciated reading your story. Your thought-process with your mother, related to the thoughts of Jesus’ followers, including our own, meshed beautifully in this powerful devotion on humbling experiences, and humbled people. Blessings to you this day, and throughout the year.

    Meghan Hoover March 22, 2010 |
  28. Thanks for that heartfelt devotion. Thanks for reminding us that even in difficult times, God is faithful.

    Erin Baker March 22, 2010 |
  29. Thank you so much for sharing. My sympathies in the passing of your mother.

    Pamela Yoder March 22, 2010 |
  30. What a blessing to your mother to have her family send her to Heaven with the songs she loved. I sadly know the deep sorrow death can bring but pray that you find peace in the midst of your pain.

    Faye Nyce March 22, 2010 |
  31. Thank-you, Jeff, for this poignant and inspiring devotional.

    Becky Horst March 22, 2010 |
  32. Dear Jeff,
    Thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability. You have been on a difficult journey but it is so obvious that God has used it to draw each of you closer to Him and to each other. When we come face to face with death, we realize even more how precious “life” is and how important it is to make the most of every minute. Thank you for the reminders of Christ’s humility and willingness to submit to the plan of the Father. What a powerful example and amazing sacrifice.

    Patty Schmucker March 22, 2010 |
  33. Jeff~
    What a blessing your words were to me today.
    Peace be with you.
    Trish

    trish March 22, 2010 |
  34. I agree with you, Jeff, In her final weeks, time spent with your mother became even more meaningful. What a concrete image to carry with me this and next week as we spend time with Jesus, remembering his final week on earth. May this too be meaningful time spent.

    Norma March 22, 2010 |
  35. Thank you for sharing Jeff!!! She was such a special mother and friend. I think, pray and remember you and your family EVERY day. I can almost hear her singing and laughing in Heaven, what an Angel…..what a devotional. God bless each of you.

    Janet Kamm March 22, 2010 |
  36. Thanks Jeff for sharing your touching story. Your mother no doubt is proud!

    Terry Shue March 22, 2010 |
  37. Jeff,
    Thank you for this wonderful reminder that God is always with us even (especially) during the times we don’t understand how God is at work. Thank you for your beautiful story.

    Betty Schrag March 22, 2010 |
  38. I miss her every day…her sons are her legacy, and she would be so proud!!

    Beth Gerber March 22, 2010 |
  39. A few minutes before my Mother drew her last breath she used her lyrical voice to sing, “Rock of Ages.” It would have been a special blessing for her if we children would have joined her in singing. What a beautiful way for you to begin “Letting Go,” of your mother and blessing her as she began her journey. You will always have the memories of those last days you spent with your special “MOM”. Thanks for sharing.

    Mary K. Mishler March 22, 2010 |
  40. Jeff, thank you for your thoughts and feelings on this special day. I see so many families reacting to the tragedy of cancer. Families and relationships break under that burden or become stronger and overcome the pain and loss. I’m glad you all found the strength and faith to overcome it and to celebrate your mothers life.

    Tobias March 22, 2010 |
  41. Your meditation touched my heart. My sister died at age 55 of a brain tumor and my husband at age 73 of lymphoma. Judging by the many responses, many of us are identifying with your experience. What a great memory to be singing together. Blessings to you as you continue the grief journey.

    Marjorie Neufeld March 22, 2010 |
  42. Jeff, thanks for sharing your thoughts on how the Lenten scriptures have touched our family in a personal way.

    Dad March 23, 2010 |
  43. Thanks Jeff for these special words and thoughts. We were blessed reading them and appreciate your personal reflection that graces the devotional powerfully.

    Sherry March 24, 2010 |
  44. I appreciated your devotional reflection very much. My father died on the same day (2007)–a day long celebrated as the feast of St. Lucy. You might be interested in my reflection on (among other things) caring for him during the last six years of his life: http://www.valpo.edu/cresset (“The Year without Persimmons” in the Easter 2009 issue).
    Much peace and holy joy to you in Christ!
    Joel R. Kurz

    Joel Kurz March 25, 2010 |
  45. What a wonder for her to have such a gathering, and be part of such a Family – how many approach their last day(s) in such a way? I’ve just lost my father: a family of non-believers, such a thing was not possible (though I thank God for the small mercies we were able to see and to be a part of carrying out.) As I imagined your situation, that time of praise caused me to pour out my own response, in tongues, from my deep heart. It seems you all had a much needed blessing: quite literally out of the ordinary – and into His presence.

    Ilona Kent March 25, 2010 |