Never Forgotten

Remembering

When I was younger I never gave thought to my legacy and how I would be remembered after death. Now that I am beyond mid-life I think of it quite often and am reminded that each day I live is a day that might be shared in my eulogy.

We want to remember the lives of those we love and we do many things so that they might not be forgotten. This week I will transplant Jacob’s memorial tree from our old house to our new home.

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Jacob’s tree

Last week I had a memorial tattoo put on my right arm of a sticky note that Jake secretly placed in my bible. People have memorial events, establish memorial scholarships and give donations to charities in the name of the ones they love. All of this is good and comforting to do because we never want to forget nor do any of us want to be forgotten.

I visit the graveyard where my son and other loved ones lay in rest for the great day of Christ’s return (John 14:1-6). I remember their lives, I walk around and I see the names of many unknown and forgotten people. There are people who have been resting there for over a hundred fifty years and I ponder who they were and does anybody remember their life? Unless you made a huge dent in human history it is likely that people will forget all about us after about 3 or 4 generations. My life is a vapor, I am here today and gone tomorrow (James 4:14). The most I can hope for is that I leave something behind for this generation and the next that was meaningful and eternally significant.

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Rewarding

 I expect to be forgotten and I am just fine with riding into the sunset and disappearing like a morning mist. Perhaps in a hundred fifty years somebody will look at my headstone and wonder, “Who was this Mike Fekete and what was his life like?” I am OK with that but what I am not OK with is to be eternally forgotten by my eternal God. Thankfully, with God, there is a legacy believers are currently living in this life that will never be forgotten and better yet will be rewarded by him. “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” (Hebrews 6:10) Let us not forget that when we love and serve our Christian brothers we love and serve our Lord. Let us work, let us labor in love, let us persevere to the end for the name of Jesus. FullSizeRender-9

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

In ancient temples the wealthy memorialized people by purchasing a marble pillar in the name of the deceased. Jesus knew this and said to the church, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” (Revelation 3:12) Those who overcome are never forgotten and always rewarded by Jesus. When we honor him on earth he promises to honor us in paradise.

 

 

Trouble in River City

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Every day is memorial day for me and my family. I wrote the following the day before Jacob died and thought I would re-post it. We texted back and forth that day about the words to a song he sang in his lead role in the Music Man. It has been a tough stretch of life for our family in the last 3 years. Every day we remember, we keep swimming against the current, leaning on the grace of God.

The Steelhead spawning run has begun in the Betsie River. The trout begin their difficult journey by leaving the solace of the great lake Michigan to enter the difficult river current, swimming ahead through many dangers toils and snares (and hooks!) to reach their goal.

I have a reminder on the wall in my office that reads, “Any dead fish can go with the flow, it takes a live fish to swim against the stream.” In our study of pastoral patterns I was reminded of this quip and how Paul was no dead fish, flip flopping with every wind of doctrine but was a man on a mission, passing through many difficulties on his journey to win the prize of the upward call of Jesus Christ his Lord.

The journey of Paul was prophesied by Jesus Himself as a ministry that would bring him much suffering because of the name he proclaimed (Acts 9:16) Suffering will come on any faithful servant who desires to live godly in an ungodly world. If Christians want to follow in the wake of Paul’s example we can expect difficulty in this life, just as Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Knowing the hostility that is to come we need the grace and patience in our lives to love our enemies and to pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us. (Matt. 5:44)

Saul began as a church terrorist; he was a blasphemer a persecutor and a harsh proud man. But the mercy and grace of God touched the chief of sinners and saved him, demonstrating to us that the worst of men are not out of the reach of the grace God. God could have chosen to destroy him for his unbelief but instead he chose him and used him to bring glory to Himself, and make him an example of patience for us.

Life without faith is full of trouble, lets face it, if we live out our faith as the patterns outlined for us, we will be in need of much grace and patience because of the added trouble it brings to our lives. Paul is our pattern for patience in life’s many troubles. “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen!” (1 Tim. 1:15-17)

There is a chorus line in the musical, Music Man, that sings, “Yes we got trouble, right here in River City with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “P” and that stands for pool! Yes we surely got trouble, right here in River City, gotta figure a way to keep the young ones moral after school!” We as Christians have entered River City, and there is certainly trouble with a capital T that flows our way on a daily basis. We need grace and patience, especially when it comes to suffering for what is right and good.

How do you react when you are mocked for your faith in Christ? Are you suffering for your good conduct in Christ? If we flow with the stream like a dead fish we can expect that we will never give glory to God by suffering for His name. This is our calling, it is a privilege to suffer shame for his name and it actually provides joy for us when we suffer it. (Acts 5:41)
Peter and John left a beating rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. Why would they suffer shame for Jesus? Because Jesus suffered for them, providing atonement for their sin and in loving response they would most gladly suffer for the one who suffered for them. Peter commenting on suffering for doing that which is good said this is commendable behavior to God. ” For to this we were called, because Christ also suffered for us (past tense, Christ suffered only once for sins-(Hebrews 9:26-28) leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth.” Who when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness- by whose stripes we are healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter2:21-25)
Jesus is our divine example of patient suffering; Paul is our earthly example of patient suffering.

Follow their examples Christian, swim against the current with all grace and patience to the glory of God our Savior! But may the God of all grace, who called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, (1) perfect, (2) establish,(3) strengthen, and(4) settle you. To Him be glory and dominion forever. Amen!” (1 Peter 5:10-11) Patient suffering yields a fourfold fruit- can you see this fruit in your life? We shall as we abide in the vine of Jesus. Finally, beware of those who, “desire to make a good show in the flesh, these try to compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. (Gal. 6:12) Beware of the fishes who go with the flow!

Precious memories: Grief and comfort during the holidays


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remembering Jacob- a blessing in a box

Last evening I sat down and went through a shoebox of old family pictures. Not a big deal to most people but for myself it was a step towards healing my grieving heart this holiday season. It was an impetuous decision I made with guarded apprehension knowing the pain I was exposing myself to.

Memories. I suppose most people would assume that parents of deceaced children reminice continually about their child. I don’t know about other grieving parents but I have yet to allow my thoughts to plunge too deep. Don’t misunderstand me, I think of Jacob often every day but the thoughts are only flashes of his life. Small things like his laugh, his love and kindness, his smile, his likes and dislikes in this life. Just small things, small events and quick stops I have made into wealth of my memories that are stored away.

For 417 days I have found it rare to actually think intently through an experience I had with my son. People say, “Oh, you have the memories to cherish.”Yes, but till this day I have pushed down the memories knowing the pain it stirs up within me.

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remembering family Christmas- a shoebox photo

Sifting through a shoebox of photos was a big deal, it is a big step because every captured image speaks a thousand words. There was a time that the images would speak a thousand words of joy and love. But in the infancy of grief the images speak a thousand words of joy and a love that can never be again; the images hurt. This is slowly changing now. This time the words they spoke to me were not so sharp and they didn’t bruise my heart as much; they brought me comfort.

By this I recognize that God is healing my soul and comforting my broken heart.

I don’t believe for a minute that time heals all wounds. I never heard of a parent who got over the death of their child. It is a rediculous notion. Does time  heal the wounds of a soldier whose legs were lost from an IED? He survives, he is scarred for life, he has phantom pains and nightmares the rest of his life. The same is true for us who have had limbs cut off from our souls.

Time for me  is nothing more than a soft cushion between the day of the tragedy and today, December 1st 2015. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but timeless eternity will.

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remembering grandma’s and her girls

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3-4 ESV

I have had 417 days of grief since March 26, 2014. With each passing day the cushion expands and I learn to live without my son. Time passes and grief remains but the cushion makes grief more bearable. I am grateful for the passing time, the healing, and the precious memories of those I love.

I attempted to look through the shoebox about a year ago, I remember that night very well. My wife and I had gone Christmas shopping and I became overwhelmed with grief inside a store. This was our first Christmas without Jacob and grandma. We came home and I went through the same shoebox I opened last night and found myself falling into depression for a couple of weeks.

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remembering shared moments

This year was different, I was able to look with a few tears and a few smiles as the photos jogged my memory. I finished the box and was reaching for another and I stopped myself. “No, that is enough.”I thought.

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remembering a brothers love

I was brought back in time to enough places for one day. I viewed perhaps a hundred photos that communicated a hundred thousand words to my heart- it was enough. I found the memories to be sweet, enjoying and reminiscing of love filled days of my past.

I had my fill, I didn’t get depressed, I am healing and that for that I give thanks to God who promises to mend the broken hearted.

Memories. For me memories are controlled by bridle and bit and I have the reigns in hand. Yesterday I loosened the reigns and galloped for a short refreshing ride to another place and time. When it was enough I pulled in the reigns and came to a full stop and tied the straps to a hitching post.

I will get back on the horse again soon and a little less fearful of the beast I ride. Each time I expect to be a bit more relaxed and willing to loosen my grip on the memories that I have restrained. In time I expect remembering will be a sweet and welcome friend.

Memories. There are many more photo boxes and albums waiting to speak to my heart. Not to mention the countless videos of family gatherings, sporting events, school plays and vacations. Memories are what remain and the memories have brought me pain. Memories are becoming precious to me.  Last Chrismas I ran to the shoebox and was deeply distressed. This Christmas I cautiously opened the same box to find the precious gift of comfort.

 

Precious memories how they linger, how they ever flood my soul. Alan Jackson does the old hymn as good as anyone, have a listen, you will be glad you did.

 

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