Friday, April 22, 2011

You were on his mind....

In the corner of this drawing of Jesus on the cross, Duane shows the empty tomb and the resurrected Christ.  This brings to mind Hebrews 12:2, which says:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The reason that Jesus was able to endure the excruciating pain of the lashes that ripped skin and muscle from his back, the thorns jammed down over his head into his skull, the nails through his hands and feet was because he could look ahead and see the joy that was coming - the joy not only of sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God, but the joy of seeing us reconciled.  Because of what he was doing, he saw us restored to relationship with his Father, no longer bound by sin and guilt and shame.  He knew that he was providing the way for every man, woman and child to be forgiven and restored, back to the way the Father intended for them to be when He created them, no longer ashamed and no longer hiding.

When he said, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do," he was thinking not only of those who put him on that cross, but of us.  He knew that people were under the influence of the evil one and did not know the Father's love.  He was making a way for them to be forgiven, and he was making a way for us to be forgiven.  He paid the price for them, and he paid the price for us.

When he said, "It is finished," he was thinking of much more than his earthly life and the pain he was enduring. He was thinking of how man had relinquished his relationship with his Father back in the Garden of Eden when he had listened to the lying voice of the serpent.  Adam and Eve lost their  relationship with the Father, they gave up their dominion, and because of their act, the devil had become the ruler of the world.  But Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil.  He became the "second Adam" and lived a sinless life, in perfect obedience to God, and through His death, burial and resurrection, he was taking dominion back.  The work was finished.  The restoration would be complete.  Man would once again be able to walk in fellowship and communion with God, through Jesus' substitution for us.  The way back to the Father and everlasting life has been provided for us.  All we have to do is believe.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son,
his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be
destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and
lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son
merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was.
He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts
in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since
been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why?
Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind
Son of God when introduced to him.

John 3:16-18, The Message

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Random thoughts on Palm Sunday

My last post was about the events of Palm Sunday, 2003, the day of the accident.  Today is Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011.  In 2003, April 17 fell on a Thursday.  It was the day of the funeral.

Brandon sat by me on the front row.  I wanted it that way.  Brandon called me from the hospital after they told him about Duane.  He was crying, sobbing.  I cried with him.  I assured him that I didn't want him to blame himself.  It wasn't his fault.  It was an accident.

In case there is still anyone who has any doubts, I want it known that I never blamed Brandon.  It was an accident, pure and simple.  They were not speeding.  The speed limit where it happened is 35 mph and they were going about 28 mph, according to the State Police report.  They had not been drinking or taking drugs.  If they did anything wrong, it was being out too late with too little sleep.  They had been working long hours. That night, they had been bowling and then playing hacky sack at a friend's house.  19- and 20-year-olds, hanging out and playing hacky sack.  They must have headed home at about 2:00 a.m., because the accident happened at 2:30.  A deer ran out in front of them.  Brandon meant to hit the brake; he hit the gas.  The vehicle hit a tree.  Duane wasn't wearing a seat belt.

I heard that the rumor the very next day in Hancock was that we were going to sue.  It never occurred to me.  They did nothing wrong.  My main concern, after my own family, was for Brandon - that his life not be ruined.  I didn't want him to live with guilt and regret for the rest of his life, and I was determined to do anything and everything I could to help him.  My family helped, too.  Chris and Darren went to visit Brandon in the hospital.  That was not easy for them, but Brandon and Duane had been friends since they were little boys.  I found out about two years after the accident, that every single day, he wished he could have crawled down that long driveway faster so that he could have gotten help faster.  He lived with guilt every day.  I told him that God didn't want him living like that, and I didn't either.

Brandon was badly hurt - his wrist was smashed and he had broken bones in his leg.  I forget how long he was in the hospital, but he had to get permission from the doctor to come to the funeral.  The doctor didn't want him to come, but he told him he was leaving.  He sat by me and I gave him all the emails to read - all the encouragements, all the things shared by friends.  He sat with our family and listened to all the friends share what Duane meant to them, and to the pastor's message.  I don't remember the details, and I didn't have a video made, but I know everyone learned how to be sure of eternal life.  The place was filled to capacity.  Over the days of visitation and the funeral, Duane and the family had about 400 visitors.  He had many, many friends.  "He was pure love, that kid," said one of them, just last week.

Today, April 17, is also the birthday of a very dear friend of Duane and I.  She was Duane's friend before she was mine.  We only became close a couple of years ago.  We are both convinced that Duane was behind the circumstances of our becoming friends.  That is a very long story, indeed!  She and Duane used to have spirited discussions about spiritual things.  They would argue back and forth and he would be so happy when he would finally prove himself right.  I have always felt rather bad that the funeral fell on her birthday, but she has always been thankful for the good times that she had with him and the things that he taught her.  She thinks it's just not quite right that now he knows for sure the answers to a lot of questions that they used to discuss!

Palm Sunday.  The day that we remember Jesus' triumphant ride into Jerusalem on a donkey.  According to Wikipedia, "The symbolism of the donkey may refer to the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of war. Therefore, a king came riding upon a horse when he was bent on war and rode upon a donkey when he wanted to point out that he was coming in peace. Therefore Jesus' entry to Jerusalem symbolized his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war waging king."

Have you ever seen art work by Akiane, child prodigy?  Here is her painting called "Prince of Peace":

I honestly think this is what Jesus looks like.  You can see this painting and her other amazing work at

I have learned that it is possible, though not always easy, to maintain inner peace, no matter what the outward circumstances are.  In fact, I fight very hard to not let anything steal my peace.  It is written that

The God of peace will soon crush satan under your feet.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
Romans 16:20 NLT

That means to me that the way that I win the battles in my life is by staying in peace.  And the way that I found peace is through the peace that only Jesus gives.  These are His words: 

I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace
I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid.
John 14:27 NLT

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The 4:30 a.m. phone call, and radical faith

The things that I will write about today may leave some of my readers thinking that I was two eggs short of a dozen, out of my mind, off my rocker, a bit deluded, or at the very least, not accepting reality. However, I share them because I have never talked about that day in any detail with even my immediate family.  Not that I expect to go anytime soon (I have always told my kids that I expect to live to be a healthy 120 years old!), but I don't want to leave this world without my family and friends really knowing me, whenever that happens.  What better time to write about it than now?  I'm not sure why, but I also want Duane's friends to know about these things.  If you have not read my last post, written yesterday, please read that first.  It will help you understand my worldview, not only that day, but for most of my life.

The phone rang at 4:30 a.m.  It was Palm Sunday, April 13, 2003.  The phone was right next to the bed and I was immediately upright saying, "Hello?"  Brandon's voice said, "We've had an accident."  My immediate thought was, "This is a test."  After all, I had just returned home from three days of learning about the supernatural power of God, and I knew that we have an enemy who wants to immediately rob us of what has been planted in us.

Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away
the word that was sown in them.
Mark 4:15 NIV

They were just down the road from me, a small fraction of a mile.  Brandon had been driving.  A deer had run in front of his car, he attempted to hit his brake, he hit the gas instead and the car hit a tree.  I immediately woke Mike up and we drove down there.  The first faces that I saw were those of my sister and brother-in-law.  She had a grave look on her face.  There were quite a few other people already there, and they wouldn't let me go to the car.  I didn't understand why.  Duane was still in it.  Brandon had crawled the long distance of the neighbor's driveway to get to the phone.  He was in the house.  So I paced up and down the road, praying and singing to God.  I knew that no matter what had happened, nothing was too difficult for God.  When the helicopter arrived, I thought it was there to take Duane.  Brandon was injured, but had made it to the house, and so surely an ambulance would take him and the helicopter must be for Duane.  I continued walking and praying.  The helicopter left, but it hadn't come to get Duane.  When at last the state trooper approached Mike and I and said something like, "I'm sorry, your son didn't make it," the only thing that was in my mind, in my whole being, was "I have to get to him to pray for him."  Jesus raised people from the dead, He was doing it today in other nations.  Why not here, why not now?  I was not frantic, I was not panicked, I was not delusional, I was not grief stricken.  I was determined.  I knew that with God, nothing is impossible.

Oh, Sovereign LORD!  You made the heavens and the earth by your
strong hand and powerful arm.  Nothing is too hard for you!
Jer. 32:17, NLT

For nothing is impossible with God.  Luke 1:37

They let me go into the ambulance, where I laid my hands on Duane and prayed a short prayer for him to return to life.  Then my sister and her husband drove Mike and I to Chris' house to tell him and Katie.  Or maybe Mike drove and they followed.  I'll never forget Chris' face as he grabbed the sink to steady himself.  I told him I had to go to the hospital to pray for Duane to come back.  He said, "Mom, he's dead."  I asked my sister if they would take me to the hospital where they were taking Duane, and asked Mike and Chris to go to Darren and Gina.  I came home and called my pastor and told him that Duane was in an accident, that he didn't make it, and I asked for him and anyone who would pray for resurrection to meet me at the hospital.

When we arrived at the hospital, my pastor and I think his wife (not all details are clear in my mind about who was there), and about eight other people from my church had already arrived.  We all believed in miracles.  To put it mildly, the hospital staff probably thought we were strange, but they allowed us to gather around Duane and pray.  They asked me how long it would take us, I said I didn't know. 

We ended up staying at the hospital until about 2:00 in the afternoon.  More and more people came from Palm Sunday service at church and joined us.  The hospital staff let us move from the hallway into the chapel.  When other people wanted to use the chapel to pray, they moved us to a room with a sign on it that said "Classroom."  I thought that was appropriate.  God was teaching us how to believe for resurrection.  Later I read in the hospital notes that we performed some sort of "ritual."  Those words stung.  We weren't a cult.  None of us had ever done anything like that before, but to every single one of us, it seemed completely right, that day.  But in fairness to the person who wrote that, I can understand.  They probably never saw anyone do that, either before or since.

I remember at some point, someone (I think it was my pastor) asked me, "What if Duane doesn't want to come back?"  I wasn't ready to consider that yet, but at 2:00 we all went home.  There were people waiting for me there.  Someone had called Mike from the hospital to ask him how long his wife was going to continue with what she was doing.  He told them "as long as it takes."  I so appreciated when I learned that, that he had supported me, even though he surely didn't understand.

The rest of the next four days are pretty much a blur.  There were people to call, arrangements to make.  I think I was on auto pilot.  But I didn't stop praying for resurrection.  Nothing is too difficult for God.  I called friends who believe in miracles.  When I told my cousin how I was praying, she said that she never knew anyone who did that before, but if there was anyone who would, it would be me, and if there was anyone who would want to try to come back, it would be Duane.  He had radical faith, too.  More than once, he had tried to walk on water.  With his shoes on.  After all, if he had taken his shoes off, he wouldn't have been in faith, would he??  Duane's friend and wife came from North Carolina to pray for resurrection.  They went to the funeral home a half hour before each viewing to pray and believe.  Duane had intended to go to NC with them the following week, and he and Duane had made an agreement with each other, that if either of them died, they would pray for each other's resurrection.  We prayed for a miracle right through the day of the funeral, which was held on Thursday.  We even believed God was giving us signs that we were on the right track.  It was Easter week - what better time for a resurrection?

Obviously, our prayers weren't answered the way we wanted them to be.  But you will be surprised at what I learned a couple weeks later.  Things were happening in the unseen realm, and God gave someone a peek.

So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze
on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:18, NLT

Believing for miracles

Eight years ago today, April 12, I was at the last day of a conference called "2003 Unity & Prayer Gathering" at New Life Worship Center in Smithfield, RI.  The speakers were Mike Shea, Dutch Sheets and Bill Johnson.  I went to that conference mainly because I had just heard Bill Johnson for the first time at a "Catch the Fire" conference in Virginia Beach in February.  Duane went with me to that one.  Bill Johnson's church, Bethel Church, is in Redding, CA.  They expect the miraculous there, and they see it.  Their young ministry students go to shopping malls looking for sick people to pray for, and the people they pray for are healed much of the time.  In fact, a close friend of mine that I had known since I was a teenager was healed of prostate cancer when Bill Johnson prayed for him.  Listening to and learning from Bill was such a faith-building experience that I couldn't wait for more, and when I learned he was going to be in Rhode Island in April, I decided to go.  Duane enjoyed the Virginia Beach conference as much as I did, but for a reason that I don't remember any more, he couldn't go with me to Rhode Island.

John and Carol Arnott from Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship were the hosts of the "Catch the Fire" conference in February.  TACF is where a sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit began in 1994 and revival exploded into meetings that lasted for many years.  Catch the Fire Toronto came to be known as a place where God was meeting with His people.  Duane and I experienced some of that first-hand when we went to the Catch the Fire Conference in Virginia Beach.  It was awesome.  You could feel the presence of  God the minute you walked into the room.  I'll never forget that.

I always had something in me that caused me to believe literally the things that I read in the Bible.  It was and is in my spiritual DNA to believe that way.  If I saw it in the Bible, then I believed I could have it.  If God did it for people back then, He would do it now.  If Jesus healed when He walked this earth, then He would still heal today.  And if He raised people from the dead then, He would still do that now.  And to reinforce that belief in me even more, at about the same time in 2003, I had learned of a man in Nigeria who was resurrected from the dead at a meeting with Reinhard Bonnke.  His wife simply would not give up believing for him to be resurrected because she felt that God had given her the promise that "women received their loved ones back again from death" as written in Hebrews 11:35.  Signs, wonders and miracles are much more common in other parts of the world then they are here in our nation. I think that's because their mindset is much different than ours.  They are more likely than those with Western minds to believe in the supernatural.  Or maybe it's because they don't have money or doctors available like we do, so God is their first and often only source.  They have to believe God for miracles.

Since about 1998, I had been going to conferences and meetings like these two I've mentioned, and to places like Calvary Pentecostal Campground in Ashland, VA.  That was another place where I could feel God's presence, even as soon as I drove onto the property.  Testimonies of people who had experienced God's miracle power and presence were common.  I saw miracles, and so did Duane.  In fact, Ashland, VA is where God touched him and revealed Himself to him in a personal way.  He had had a hard time believing the things that I told him I saw there, and so I challenged him to go see for himself, and he did.  I always had an insatiable desire to see more, learn more, experience more of God.  The things I saw and heard at these conferences were like what I read about in the Bible.  I was convinced that that was how life was supposed to be lived - as a supernatural experience, because God is a supernatural God.

So, after three days of worship, experiencing the presence of God and hearing teaching about God and faith in action today, I came home on April 12, 2003 filled with faith and expectancy, and anticipating sharing what I had experienced with friends at church the next day, Palm Sunday.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Eternity in our hearts....

This week is the anniversary of Duane’s Homegoing. I never say “death,” because although his earthly body died, the real Duane did not die. I never say that we “lost” him, because we didn’t lose him. We know where he is. I say “Homegoing” because we were all created for eternity and Heaven is our real home. I think that even those people who say they don’t believe in an afterlife have to struggle against something deep within themselves to say that. We were created with eternity in our hearts.

I went for a walk this morning. I found myself standing on a bridge, gazing at a spot filled with childhood memories. It was the big rock in the creek on what was my Grandma and Grandpa Lind’s property. As I was standing there, that phrase, “eternity in our hearts” popped into my head. I remember playing on that big rock when I was a child. I must have been just a teensy one, because I remember fishing with a stick, a string and a safety pin on the end of the string. I’m sure I must have taken our kids there to play, although I don’t have any specific memories of doing that. I know I have taken the grandkids there. It’s a wonderful spot for a picnic. Then I was thinking of my grandparents being there, and certainly my dad must have spent time there. I wonder if our great- and great-great grandchildren will play there too. I wonder if that little spot will still be there, on the restored and renewed Earth, in an even more beautiful condition, sometime in the distant future. I wonder what it was like at the very beginning, the beginning of time, at the Creation, before the fall and before all creation began to moan.

I wonder, I wonder, I wonder. Even as a young person, before I had come to real faith in God on my own, and when I was still believing because my parents did, I wondered about eternal things. It just didn’t make any sense to my young mind that all of this beauty could be here just by chance. I just had an instinctive “knowing” that there was something more, something much more grand, some eternal purpose, some Hand at work. I couldn’t see the whole picture, but I knew there was more. That’s what I mean by “eternity in our hearts.”

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.
He has planted eternity in the human heart,
but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work
from beginning to end.
Ecc. 3:11 - New Living Translation

I don’t know if I ever even asked my questions out loud. Maybe I just wondered. I wondered about eternity, I wondered about how to be sure of heaven, because I just knew that was real. I wondered about the things I was taught. I wondered about Jesus. I wondered how His death 2,000 years ago could have anything to do with me. But God knew my thoughts and my questions and He knew I had a sincere heart that just wanted to know truth. In time, He answered the important questions, even without my asking. That’s because He knew my thoughts. Important questions about the meaning of life, asked from a sincere heart will be answered by a loving Father.

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
Psalm 139:1-4 (NLT)

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.
Keep on seeking, and you will find.
Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives.
Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone
who knocks, the door will be opened.
You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread,
do you give them a stone instead?
Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!
So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father
give good gifts to those who ask him.
Matthew 7:7-11 (NLT)

Never stop wondering and seeking. Eternity is in your heart.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Duane's Love of Laughter

Like most modern mothers, I had to work outside the home while we were raising our family.  One of the people I relied on for child care for Duane was Mary Hazen.  Mary recently shared a funny story with me about Duane.  She thought she would use making the kids eat Brussels sprouts as a disciplinary measure.  I vaguely remembered the incident, but Mary filled in details for me, as follows:

Duane was one of "my children," and it was an exceptionally roudy day for them all, must be my sign, Scorpio... I don't get mad, I get even! I made Brussels sprouts with lunch. As the other children were crunching up their faces at the sight, they were waiting for Duane to handle this situation..... and handle he did.  To my dismay, Duane yelped, "Oh goody, but do you have any lemon juice to put on them?" and he commenced to wolf down and even share this new delight, flavored just right, with the rest of the boys, who loved the adventure of trying something new!  They would have done anything Duane did - he, their hero of mischief that day. I simply sat in my seat with my jaw hung low. 1 point = Duane, 0 point = Mary.

This looks like an appropriate photo for our "hero of mischief!"

My dear friend Brenda Lewis recently wrote these words about Duane's love of laughter:

Duane was gifted with art and also with the love of laughter. He was always laughing, which became contagious. He could even make us laugh when something really wasn't funny, like when our dog "went" on the floor. He laughed and laughed until we were all laughing. I suggested that he could clean it up but that made him laugh even harder. We couldn't help but laugh too! Duane really helped us to make light of the small stuff and enjoy life and the good things in life, like: live, love and laugh. It is after all a merry medicine that he gave us. We miss him and it gives us a peace knowing that he is in paradise and we will see him again someday and I'm sure when we meet again, he will be laughing!

Duane DuBois and Scott Lewis, causing laughter!

Bren, I do believe you are absolutely right about that.  I suspect he's laughing now, even more joyfully than ever before!

A merry heart does good, like medicine,
      But a broken spirit dries the bones.
Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)

or  "The Message" puts it this way:

A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
   gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.