If I love, why am I thus? Why this dull and lifeless frame? Hardly, sure, can they be worse, who have never heard His Name.
Could my heart so hard remain, prayer a task and burden prove; every trifle gives me pain, if I knew the Savior’s love?
When I turn my eyes within, all is dark, and vain, and wild; filled with unbelief and sin. . .Can I deem myself His child?
If I pray or hear or read, sin is mixed with all I do. You that love the Lord indeed, tell me. . .is it thus with you?
Could I joy, His saints to meet and choose the ways I once abhorred. Find, at times the promise sweet. . .if I did not Love the Lord?
Lord, decide this doubtful case! Thou who are thy people’s Sun. Shine upon Thy work of Grace. . .if it be indeed begun.
Let me love thee more and more, if I love at all, I pray. If I have not loved before. . .Help me to begin today.” John Newton
It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m still dressed in my mourning clothes. I’ve had them on for a while now. They are hand-me-downs. My closet is full of them. Apparel from the past, worn in the present and kept for the future. They are pretty worn and shabby, but I can still read the labels. . .shame, guilt, self-condemnation, fear, anxiety, despair, regret and without strength. Right now I have my winter clothes on. Life is hidden below the ground and there are only memories of the Fruit on the Tree and the Flowers in the field. The only birds I see are the mourning dove and the lonely sparrow on the rooftop. The Eagle has disappeared and I can’t find Him. I need a Hand.
“Then I said, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of people of unclean lips…” Isaiah 6:5
I am undone in the moment. It is an Old Testament word and the Hebrew meaning is, “to be done or silent; to fail or perish; to be cut down; destroyed in the moment.” The season when the heart is cold and numb in feeling . . .and it is clothed in an old and worn-out robe that was handed down to me. The only words that my lips can speak are hand-me-downs, engraved on my frozen heart. Winter words. Yet my True Heart knows, that mourning the winter is but the Pledge of the coming of Spring. . .and there is Hope.
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom and there shall be no fruit on the vines, and the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat. . .and the flock shall be cut off from the fold, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will feel the Joy of Spring in the God of my Salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17
Hand-me-downs: “Owned or used by someone else before; ready made and passed along for further use by another.” I’ve spent my whole life wearing them. . .and spent the last thirty years in the office looking at others display them.
Yesterday I was at my daughter Rachel’s house to baby sit my granddaughter Shelby. Rachel asked how the ride went, knowing that the car I drive is a 1994 Buick Park Avenue and in the past has been somewhat suspect as to its dependability. I told her the car is a dream-boat and running great now. It is a hand-me-down from friends of mine. . .Handed down to me from my Father, Who clothes the lilies of the field in beautiful apparel; feeds the sparrows every day without fail and gives His children wings to soar like the eagle. Will He not take care of me?
“Every good and Perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of Lights, with Whom is no variableness (fickleness) neither shadow of turning (no variation in His Love), it is always the same. . . yesterday, today and forever.” James 1:17
My heart has a little smile now as more thoughts arrive. The shirt I wore to the office yesterday was from my friend John. The stylin coat that kept me warm was from my son-in-law Mark. We keep the clothes in the family. My bedroom is filled with family furniture. The bed was my brother Jay’s. The desk and shelf is from my daughter Jessica. Many of the decorative items are from my daughter Rachel and my Shelby. They are gifts from the ones I love and keep me close to them.
Sometimes hand-me-downs grieve my heart. My thoughtless, selfish, unkind ways, handed down to the people around me. . . make me sick to my stomach. And yet, an email filled with Love and Mercy was just handed down to me from someone whom I have hurt.
“I was walking our dog early this morning and thinking about a verse in Isaiah 65:1 that talks about our God revealing Himself to those who didn’t seek Him and then it hit me. That verse was meant for me. I was so far from God when you walked into my life and I had no truth in me or as my friend Mike Cooney would say, “when Your words came, I ate them”. Well, I had no words to eat. I was thinking about you and how people are sometimes placed in our lives for a season. . .it hurts but through you God has given me my Faith and a Love for His word that once was dead. Thank you Mike. I wish you Love and Peace this Christmas season.”
Love from a friend that is undeserved, unconditional and Handed down from the Father of Lights, Who forgives and is full of Mercy. Who spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all. The Son providing a Robe. A Robe of Righteousness. . .a Hand-me-down from Heaven to sinners like me. . like all of us. A Robe that covers our sins, makes us Beautiful in the eyes of God and enables us to obey Him. The Robe provided by the Father for all of his little flock. His prodigal sons and daughters. A Hand-me-down from His Son. Always hanging in the closet of the children’s Heart.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. My soul shall be joyful in my God. For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation. He has covered me with the Robe of Righteousness. . .the Lord will cause Righteousness to come forth in the Spring. . .” Isaiah 61:10-11
I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m Free. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me. With His hand wide open to give Love, Joy, Faith, Peace, Patience, Wisdom, Forgiveness, Power, a Sound Mind. Hand-me-downs from Heaven.
Freely Given. Freely Received. Free, My Loves.