Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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      Once again, we offer you a warm welcome to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft. And before we announce our winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to these Christian authors who offered a sample of their writing to our faithful readers:J.M. Downey who offered her Political Suspense Privileged. Ann Allen who offered her Non-fiction Out of the Darknes […]
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      Congratulations to Susan Page Davis and her novelRiver Restfor taking home this month's Clash crown!PURCHASE AmazonAbout the book:Unable to depend on her father to heal the crumbling family, Judith is afraid to trust the mysterious neighbor, Ben, who lives with his own grief. In rural Maine in 1918, Judith Chadbourne gives up her teaching job after her […]
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      2016LAUREL AWARD WINNER!This year, At First Sight took home Clash of the Titles's sixth annual Laurel Award. Over the course of six weeks, the novel's first chapters were read and judged by avid readers of Christian fiction who determined At First Sight to be the worthiest to receive the 2016 Laurel Award.Clash of the Titles extends a heartfelt con […]
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    • Something New
      So, Simple Thoughts on Philippians is now available in Kindle and Print formats. It's free for all Kindle Unlimited subscribers and only $2.99 for Kindle purchase and $6.99 for print. I get about the same royalty for either type of purchase so I'd recommend the Kindle version. It's cheaper. Please remember to post a review once you've rea […]
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      So, in my life there is good news and bad news. The good news is that Simple Thoughts on Philippians is available on Amazon in Kindle and print format. I will be formatting for large print very soon.The Kindle version is $2.99 or if you have Kindle Unlimited it is free to read. The print version is $6.99. As of today, 02/21, it's only available at the C […]
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      The Scarlet CordBy Carlene Havel and Sharon FaucheuxPrism Book Group, September 2014Biblical FictionISBN 978-1940099699Print $13.99Ebook $3.99Buy on Amazon About the Book:Rahab, a resourceful beauty, struggles to survive in the pagan culture of ancient Jericho. As years of harsh labor begin to lift her and her family from poverty, a foreign army threatens th […]
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    • The Color of the Season by Julianne MacLean
      NOTE:  Due to a serious need to cut back on my workload, this will be my last official book review on this blog.It doesn’t seem possible that the evening can get any worse for police officer Josh Wallace after he is dumped by the girlfriend he planned to propose to, but it does.  Josh and his partner are shot while chasing a carjacking suspect. While on the […]
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      Ruthy MacNeil is rescued by Luke Stone after she nearly drowns fording a flooded river with a wagon train. Her step family doesn’t survive and she is finally free of their mistreatment. Luke surived the horrific ordeal as a prisoner of war in notorious Anderson prison during the civil war, only to learn that his father has been killed and the family ranch st […]
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      When Pat Taylor wed Tom Allanson he had no way of knowing it would destroy his life in just a matter of weeksIn fact, Pat destroyed a lot of people’s lives. The attractive Southern belle was spoiled by her mother and she expected to live a lavish lifestyle at any cost. Nobody crosses Pat who was fascinated with Scarlett O’Hara. Pat could pour on the charm, b […]

    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
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Posts Tagged ‘devotional’

Light For The Pilgrimage

Posted by elainemcooper on February 3, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

We recently visited the Pacific Northwest and, while on an outing with my son and his wife, discovered a lighthouse.

I never cease to be amazed at not only the beauty of these buildings but at the reason for their existence: protecting nearby ships from crashing onto the shore.

The very presence of lighthouses signifies safety where there is potential for harm. Without that light, someone’s life could be in danger.

Our lives are dangerous journeys at times with the potential for harm. But God provides His light to guide the way on our path.

When reading Psalm 84:5 last week, a word jumped out at me as often happens. A new appreciation for a scripture that I may have read dozens of times before. The word that grabbed my attention was “pilgrimage.”

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” (NIV)

Whenever I see that word, I think of the John Bunyon allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress. While I confess I have never made my way through the entire Old English text, I understand the significance of the character called “Christian”—a man on a journey meeting up with numerous challenges as he makes his way through life. Some paths are fraught with danger, some with temptation, some roads lead to greater revelation of God’s grace.

It’s a journey that we all take, some longer than others, some more hazardous than others. But all with the same Light of God’s love present, to keep us away from the rocks of destruction.

A comfort, indeed, to know that our Lighthouse is always there.

“I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:101-105 NIV)

Posted in Encouragment, Inspiration | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord…”

Posted by elainemcooper on January 20, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

She was almost there, but she started to panic.

Cutie Pie was just learning how to get down from chairs, but her feet couldn’t quite reach the floor. Instead of going just one more inch, she started to cry for help.

“You’re almost there.” My encouraging words did not reassure her.

As she continued to fuss for help, my grandmotherly instincts kicked in and I went to assist, pulling her down all of one inch.

“See—you were almost there.” With each rescue, she seemed surprised that the distance was so close. Then she’d happily bound away. Maybe she just wanted Grammie’s help.😉

Cutie Pie did this repeatedly on a recent visit and as I watched her get distressed every time, I wondered if this was how God saw me—panicking when I couldn’t feel the ground under me. When I didn’t know that the answer was within reach. When I’d begin to doubt myself. Am I really doing what the Lord wants me to do?

Do I ignore that still small comfort in my heart that prompts me with words of encouragement?

You’re almost there, the voice prods. The answer is within reach. You will be fine.

Instead, I panic.

God, are you really there? Will I fall this time? Will you be there to pick me up if I do?

All the time doubting and afraid to move forward. Despite that still small voice of His Holy Spirit. That voice that wants me to trust.

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this.” Psalms 37:3-5 (NIV)

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’” Psalms 91:1-2 (NIV)

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” Jeremiah 17:7

Commit my way to God. Dwell with Him in His word and in prayer. Trust Him.

Just as Cutie Pie could trust her Grammie who loves her, how much more does my Father in heaven love me and want me to trust Him?

Posted in Encouragment | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

When I Am Weak…

Posted by elainemcooper on January 6, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

It’s January—my most dreaded time of year.

I have never looked forward to this longest winter month that follows the fun of the holidays and then seems to plod its cold footsteps so slowly I want to scream for it to end. But it never seems to pass quickly enough. It just overshadows each day with too much darkness and a chill that works its way to my innermost being. And despite trying to keep up with exercise and healthy eating, a weariness seems to blanket my soul. I feel sapped and weak.

But my God is not weak. He is my strength even when my body feels physically overwhelmed and my spirit is sagging. And I know that my feeling of exhaustion is not unique. I know this because of the myriad of verses in God’s Word that shows our human frailty contrasted with God’s power.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.” Psalm 28:7a (NIV)

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

The Apostle Paul felt weak. He had that “thorn in his flesh” that he begged God to heal. But God had another plan for Paul. He wanted him to trust the Savior for his strength:

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

When I feel frail, God can use me even more because I am relying on HIS power, and not my own.

Hopefully, that will make January a victorious month as I lean on Him.

May the Lord bless you as you begin your New Year, secure in the strong arms of Jesus.

Posted in Encouragment | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »


Posted by elainemcooper on December 9, 2011

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

Staring at the three play jackets for my triplet grandchildren, I sighed. It’s one thing to be practical; it’s another thing to be pretty. One of these needs to be more girlie.

Grammie had some decorating to do.

I wanted Cutie Pie to stand out as the one girl in the bunch so I visited a professional embroiderer to put letters on each jacket. The boys’ initials were basic block design: Cutie Pie’s was a feminine scroll font. But it still needed something more, so I found a few sew-on flowers at the craft store and went to work. Soon, Cutie Pie’s jacket stood out in the bunch. No one would mistake her for a boy, I thought, satisfied that my granddaughter’s femininity was now appropriately enhanced. She would be warm—but frilly. I just hoped her brothers wouldn’t try to pull off the flowers!

Looking at the finished product, I was pleased. It wasn’t perfect, but it was more feminine.

But my thoughts soon wandered to another kind of adornment. Not the physical clothing that I wear, but in my attitudes that I put forth. What does my outer persona say about me? Does my adornment display the fruits of the spirit that express who I am in Christ?

Can others tell I am a Christian by the love, joy, peace, and patience that the world sees in my words and actions? Does my outer demeanor practically shout out, “I am different because I am a Christ-follower?”

Or is my Christianity hidden by doubt, fear, irritability, and discontent? Where is the evidence that I am a believer in Christ?

And in my writing, does my work truly honor the Lord? Or is it merely labeled “Inspirational” so it can take its place in a Christian bookstore while it barely alludes to an occasional acknowledgement of someone’s faith in God. Does it truly inspire someone to want Christ in their life?

Or is it just wearing flowers on the outside?

While the physical adornment of Cutie Pie’s clothing did not make her a girl, it was just the outside evidence of the reality of who she really is.

So how is my outer evidence of my inner faith? Can others tell I am a Christian by the flowers of love, joy, and peace? Or are these fruits of the spirit lacking from my outer demeanor, making me look like everyone else in the crowd?

Lord, may my outer adornment be so overflowing with your spirit that others will see You in me.

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:22-26 (NIV)

Fruit photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos; photo by Boaz Yiftach

Posted in Encouragment | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Rose In The Snow

Posted by elainemcooper on November 18, 2011

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

We received our first snowfall last week—much earlier than in most years. In fact, although it was just a few inches, it set a new record for the date.

Looking out my window that morning, I just sighed with resignation. I knew it was coming eventually. Might as well accept it.

Sometimes I feel that way about the holidays. I know they’re coming so I might as well accept it.

While I do not wish to dampen anyone’s excitement about Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any of the other delightful holidays, I think many of us feel our personal losses at such a time even more acutely than at any other time of year.

Empty chairs at our Thanksgiving table practically call out the names of those who used to inhabit them. Hearing the favorite Christmas songs of loved ones no longer with us can bring the tears flowing at the most inconvenient times and places. And opening a box of tissues in the checkout line—even before the Puffs have been purchased—can certainly cause added consternation!

But there is still joy to be had in the holidays, despite the sadness. There are many reasons to be thankful for the blessings the Lord continues to send our way with loved ones still at our table.

There is the realization that when our Savior came to this earth to be born in a dirty stable, things were less than perfect. Life always is. The perfect will exist only in eternity.

So this holiday season when I start to feel the chill of winter loneliness, I will remember this rose that still displayed its beauty in the midst of the snow. I will choose to bloom in His love even in a snowstorm, knowing that someday, we who believe in Him will all be together in His perfect garden.


Posted in Encouragment | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Rose In The Snow

Little Girl Lost

Posted by elainemcooper on October 21, 2011

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

The look on “Cutie Pie’s” face said it all: I’m lost.

In the midst of a fun morning at the park, her mom and I noticed her trying to figure out how to get back to where we were. Through the maze of numerous, age-designated play areas, 18-month-old Cutie Pie had managed to weave a few wrong steps that took her to a spot that looked impossible to escape from. All she could see was the fence that separated her from her mom. The youngster could not see just how close her parent really was.

The child’s worried scowl moved her mommy to manuever around the obstacles and rescue her. Cutie Pie melted with relief as her mother approached. The child knew she was safe once again, enveloped in her parent’s arms.

How often we find ourselves lost like Cutie Pie, wondering how we got in that place where all we can see is a fence—a barrier between our Father in heaven and ourselves? The worst part is, we can’t figure out how we got there. A few wrong decisions, a few bad choices, a few unforgiving thoughts, and we feel as distant from our heavenly parent as Cutie Pie felt from her mommy. We feel utterly lost, separated from fellowship with the God that loves us.

But just as the toddler’s mother was constantly observing her every move, God is always watching over us, even when we can’t see Him. He is ready to rescue us…even from our stubborn independence and our sin…and deliver us from the maze of wrong decisions that threaten to keep us from experiencing the fullness of His presence.

And just as Cutie Pie had to accept her mother’s arms lifting her up to experience that joy of reunion, we need to open our arms to embrace Him, the Savior of our souls, for that reunion of repentance between heavenly Father and child.

God waits patiently for His wayward children. We are loved—just like Cutie Pie.

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found;” Psalm 32: 5-6a (NIV)

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Psalm 91: 14-15 (NIV)

Posted in Encouragment | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Outward Appearances

Posted by elainemcooper on October 7, 2011

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

The scone looked as tired as I felt.

Slightly dried, obviously not fresh, it still beckoned loudly to my heart: “Buy me,” it said.

My eyes roamed over toward the old-fashioned glazed donuts in the display case at the coffee shop.
Ah, now THAT’s what I really want! But guilt about ingesting those empty calories threw away any hopes for enjoying that sweet treat. I knew I would settle for the sad-looking scone because…well…it had cranberries in it and somehow seemed healthier. Besides, what better companion for the freshly brewed tea I was going to purchase to accompany the treat? Tea and scones—I could practically feel the British blood in me shout a resounding, “Here, here!”

So I reluctantly ordered the shriveled bakery treat, smiled with delight at the reddish-brown brew in my mug, and made my way to a table to relax in the midst of a hectic day. Opening the crinkly paper bag, I looked doubtfully at the scone and braced myself for the feel of stiff, dry dough about to land on my tongue. Instead, I was surprised and amazed at what I discovered: The sweetest, moistest, tastiest cranberry scone that I could ever remember eating! It was a delight and, obviously, unexpected.

It was anything but dry. It fairly fell apart in my hand as I broke off a few small bites with my fingers, observing with amazement the moist cake within. When I was able to pull my taste buds away for a moment, I reached for my cup of tea for a sip, only to be confronted with a completely different surprise: That perfect looking cup of black tea tasted like it had been made with a used tea bag!

Now, this was a perfectly reputable coffee shop and I’m certain the tea bag was not used. However, the moist climate likely exposed the bag to some humidity in the air where it was stored. My tea-loving tongue recognized this immediately. It gives a stale kid of flavor—somewhat rank. It is always cause for a new cup to be brewed in my kitchen.

But the amazing thing is, it had all the appearance of a delicious cup of tea. It was steaming hot, had a lovely aroma, and was the perfect color. It looked in every way like it should be the delicious flavor I was anticipating. But the condition of the tea leaves changed it all. It was suddenly a cup fit to be tossed.

I know I am not alone in the habit of judging by outward appearance. But in the bigger picture of life, when I am not careful about surface evaluations, I am perhaps missing out on opportunities or friendships that might turn out to be rich and sweet—just like the sad-looking scone. An unexpected delight that reminds me about the words that I just heard in a pastor’s sermon at church this morning.

“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” John 7: 24 (NIV)

If the prophet Samuel had not followed God’s wisdom, he might have missed the mark on an important decision: choosing the future king of Israel who was the youngest and least impressive in appearance. His name was David.

“But the Lord said to Samuel (concerning one of David’s brothers), ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height because I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

Posted in Encouragment | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Butterfly Lessons

Posted by elainemcooper on September 23, 2011

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

While strolling through my garden this week I saw one of my favorite sights: A monarch butterfly. To make the moment even sweeter, he was enjoying my newly planted butterfly bush that had bloomed from a skinny, hopeless-looking twig, to a leafy bush that was adorned with the most awesome lavender blossoms.

Fortunately, I was already in the garden snapping a few shots with my Nikon. As I gingerly walked toward the bush, I prayed silently that he (she?) would not fly away. I guess I need not have worried, because once he was securely clinging to that long, petal-full blossom, he seemed intent upon staying put.

I watched this feeding in amazement. What this photo does not show is that the wind was blowing rather strongly. I was certain he would be tossed off and lose his grip but he held on with determination, knowing that his very life hinged on getting the sustenance those blossoms would provide him. He would not be distracted by strong air currents, noises, or an annoying person taking pictures! He kept his focus on drawing in nourishment. He stayed single-minded.

Oh, to be as steadfast in feeding on spiritual food! How many moments have I spent trying to read God’s Word and pray, yet get distracted by the thoughts breezing through my head?

I need to get that list on my table done today. The laundry is building up. Don’t I have a blog to do? What time is Mom’s appointment?

The concerns could go on. But like that butterfly, if I don’t take the time to stay focused on my nourishment—my spiritual food—nothing else will begin to matter. And my attitude in general will diminish in much the same way as a person that has not eaten. I will weaken in my faith. I will feel starved for His Holy Spirit.

Lord, help me to shut out the distractions and concerns that interrupt my time with You. Help me to be fully yours as I feed on your words of truth and life. Help me to cling to You even when the wind blows strong and tries to make me lose my grip. You are my joy, and my strength.

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you.” Psalm 84:5 (NIV)

“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” Psalm 105:4 (NIV)

Posted in Encouragment | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Hearing Aides

Posted by elainemcooper on August 12, 2011

posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

"Can you say that again?"

I was so excited! Mom would finally be fitted for a new hearing aide.

So despite the humid, unrelenting heat, I gladly took my elderly Mom that August afternoon to the appointment that would, once again, open her ears to the world of hearing. Everything went smoothly with the fitting and the audiologist assured her this would be an improvement for her increasingly isolated state. When you can’t hear people around you, you automatically turn inward.

Everything seemed optimistic—until she called the next morning to tell me she wanted to cancel the order. My heart sank.
“Why don’t you want the hearing aide?” I was bordering on panic as I envisioned more months and years of raising our voices several decibels and her inability to participate at family get-togethers. Her hearing loss was moderate-to-severe and was seriously impacting her communication with everyone from her hairdresser to her grandchildren. We saw her becoming more and more detached in social situations.

“I think I’m getting too old. And besides, I think I can hear just fine.”

At this statement, my jaw completely dropped.

“You think that you can hear us?”

“Yes.” Her voice was as stubborn as mine can be. I guess I come by this strong-willed nature genetically.😉

I knew from past experience I was going to have to spin this argument into why this hearing aide was important to us, her family. She would not accept that it was for her benefit alone.

"Mom, can you hear me?"

So I began relating how difficult it was for us to communicate with her. How we had to raise our voices and make numerous attempts to get her to hear us. How at dinners, she completely missed entire conversations. She was shocked.

“Really?” An incredulous look filled her expressive face.

“Really, Mom.” After convincing her I was telling the truth and this would benefit all of her children and grandchildren, she finally relented. She agreed that she would let the audiologist order the little device—that would help us!

It was one more hurdle overcome in helping her through this world of aging.

But her shock at being told she could not hear us, made me think: How often am I deaf to what God is trying to tell me? Do I have my spiritual hearing aide turned on? Or am I casually ignoring God’s voice through His Word and through other Christians, even when the decibel level is turned up?
We can choose to not listen, as Paul spoke of when he preached in Rome:

“Go to this people and say, ‘You will be ever hearing, but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.’ For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Acts 28:26-27 (NIV)

Lord, may I never be so desensitized to your Holy Spirit that Your word ceases to be my lamp and guide on this path called life. Let me not be dulled in my walk with You, not recognizing your still small voice speaking to my heart.

Posted in Encouragment, Life Experiences | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

First Class

Posted by elainemcooper on July 29, 2011

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

I recently flew to the West Coast and, to my utter relief, was upgraded to First Class. While the luxury of wider seats, free meals, hot tea at my beck and call, and room to set up my laptop is enticing, I would never pay the extra cost on my own. But knowing that my elbows would not be digging into my side while writing a blog or chapter, I was feeling the joy of the seat promotion.
As I was called up to be one of the very first to board the aircraft, however, a pang of guilt crept into my thoughts, not to mention, a tinge of embarrassment.

These people probably think I paid for this luxury. Me, the ultimate sale shopper!

No one would realize that I had earned this upgrade because of all the miles I have accrued going to the west coast to help with triplet grandbabies. The airline has me in some sort of “Medallion” status, which I suppose is to make me feel like an Olympian of sorts. I am an Olympic traveler, that’s for sure, with more frequent flyer miles than many business travelers. But I didn’t pay for this luxury of First Class. A little red-faced, I hurried through the open walkway, one of the first to board.

But walking toward that ramp leading to the jetliner, it suddenly occurred to me: My passage into First Class was not unlike the free gift of salvation. I didn’t pay for it. Jesus did by dying on that cross. I didn’t have to pay for the upgrade to heaven—a far better location than a First Class cabin I might add! HE paid the ultimate price that will one day open the ramp for my soul to fly into heaven, surrounded by His love and grace. It will be the final—and most treasured—flight of all.

Posted in Encouragment, Writing | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »


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