John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
Psalm 71:17 – O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. (KJV)
Upon entering a little bead shop in Maui, a most beautiful song coming over the sound system seemed to soar right through to my soul. I asked the clerk to tell me who was singing. As she handed me the cassette, she said, "They call him 'IZ'. Indicating that he had died recently, she went on to say, "It's such a shame. This is my own copy. I don't know where you can find one."
After several attempts, I finally did find one. The songs of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole in both English and Hawaiian are beautiful messages of love of family, friends and homeland, and he prefaces some of them with his love of God and appreciation of all that He gives us. He speaks of "screwing up", and of finding forgiveness and love through his relationship with Jesus Christ. He speaks of "progress" and of our homelands and families, and emphasizes that we must "never take home for granted". His picture shows him to have been a young man when he died. His messages through the gifts of his music, however, have been left for others to hear and share.
I am reminded of another gifted young man who graced this earth, and of the home he has promised each of us; a man who was born and died that when our life on earth has ended, believing in Him, we may not perish but find everlasting life. Our belief in Christ encompasses living our lives through His word as he has left it for us to hear and share.
However, it is not enough for one to sit back and simply say one believes. Continuing to keep our faith can take hard work. We face challenges, temptations, and sorrows. We experience let-downs, put-downs and self-doubt. Yet through all of these, we are given the choice to see love, beauty, friendships, kindnesses, joys and self-worth.
We must look after all that we are given, "and never take home for granted."
Prayer: Grant that we may stay mindful of all that you lay before us — especially in those times when it is hardest to see. May the challenges we are given serve to strengthen our faith, and lead us to look at life with lovingkindness and understanding. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.