She Deserved To Die

Tiny. Gentle. Powerful. These are the only ways I can describe Anna Mae. She was my wife’s grandma, and we affectionately called her “grandma” (I know…we were not original). She probably weighed 95 lbs. if she were holding a medicine ball after just eating a large meal. Don’t let her size fool you though, because if you were in trouble with her, you knew it, and you never committed that offense again. I promise you.

I was her favorite. At least that is what she told me until my brother in law, or father in law were in the room. Then, when she was alone with them, she would adjust her loyalties to make them think they were her favorite. I knew the truth, though. It was me.

Grandma loved Jesus more than you could imagine. She sang hymns out loud whenever she felt the urge, and her prayers were powerful and made things happen. On one of her last days on earth, she woke up in the middle of the night singing “Don’t Fence Me In” randomly and when we were told this, we all laughed and gave her a hard time about it.

She loved to joke and laugh. When she smiled with her thin, wrinkly, beautiful lips there was pure joy that filled the room. She took laughter seriously, and even her death was a joyful time.

When we moved back to Indiana, we lived with my in-laws for about 9 months until we could find a home elsewhere. This was in 2007, and during this same time period, was when Grandma lived with us. We knew that the end of her life was coming, and that she would soon finally get to see Jesus. Up until the last few weeks, she would still walk around after long naps to socialize with us. The bedroom was on the first floor, and for some reason she believed she was going “down stairs” when she would venture into the living room. There were no stairs between the rooms. I think she knew, but she just wanted to make us laugh.

The day she died was a sad, beautiful, happy, and celebratory day. The moment was full of joy and laughter. She slipped away from us, while we were surrounding her, straight into the arms of Jesus, who she loved more than any human.

Her most intense desire was to be with the God she loved and to hold her son, who she lost when he was a young adult. I can picture the elation she had as she walked up to the gates of Heaven and received her reward. At that moment, all the pain and suffering would have been forgotten. Life finally made sense.

Grandma deserved to receive that reward. She deserved to die and embrace the God she loved more than life itself.  Anna Mae Esary died September 17, 2007.

She had the last laugh. I miss her.

I’m still her favorite.

-Landon DeCrastos

Back to the Garden

treeThe serpent nestled comfortably in the  elbow of a thick branch on the beautiful tree at the center of the garden. He rested as he waited for the inevitable confrontation between he and the woman (as it was called). The serpent had an agenda and wanted to give the appointed stewards of the garden a taste of what rebellion is really like.

These humans, as they were called, seemed to be cherished by the tyrant (as he saw it) above any other being. He wanted to change that. There was something invigorating about saying no to a system that seemed to be so controlling and provided no immediate reward for obedience.

On the other side of the large garden, the Creator Father spent time enjoying His creation…these new earth stewards; humans. Adam and Eve were such great companions and each day they spent time with the Father they felt more energetic and fulfilled. The time together was filled with laughter, rough housing, and pure joy…as if this Father was not only an authority but a friend. Neither one wanted the times together to end.

Adam and Eve wandered to the center of the garden one day, and found the serpent resting in the tree. The sinister creature was taking a nap, but awoke when the woman approached. As he spoke, he made the forbidden fruit seem so appealing, and even though the Father told them they should never eat it, they took a bite. It seemed so harmless, and the chemical make up of the food probably was safe, but this was a life lesson they needed to embrace. So…fast forward…the humans were thrown out of the garden and the relationship between them and the Father was damaged. Trust was lost and their times together were forever defined by shame.

When we read the Bible we see story after story that describes a deep desire God has for us. He wants to repair the relationship He has with humanity to revert it back to the joy once found in the garden. He created us to be the beings that interacted with Him in this way. We operate best at this level. Whether it be stories of God’s wrath or compassionate mercy…we see God wooing His creation back to himself. He went to great lengths to execute a plan to get them back…because He is driven by love.

Why do we fight this? I can tell you why…because we have tasted rebellion and it is temporarily pleasant. We think we were created to find happiness at any cost, and abandon truth when our reward is not immediately visible. Some generation needs to stand up and walk away from the serpent’s influence. Could it be us? Let’s try.

-Landon DeCrastos

Isaac Reflects

Walking up the mountainside with my father that day felt very natural. We were traveling there to make a sacrifice to the god that my father called Yahweh. This was the only god that my father worshiped and he seemed to act as if he really spoke to this god. They actually had an intimate relationship…like they were best friends that had been through so much together. Father seemed a little upset and even nervous while we were heading to the altar site that day. He would not look me in the eye and he would answer my questions with short replies. He was talking to Yahweh the whole way. At first the conversation with Yahweh was friendly but then the mumblings sounded more frustrated. Nevertheless, my father seemed determined to give God honor.

After a long walk we finally made it to the site and set up the altar. I soon realized that dad forgot the offering. Obviously we were going to have to go back and get it. This happened one other time before and it was a long day. We had never been to this site before and I was looking at the two servants that were with us and they didn’t seem to notice. I should have said something before we left but I wasn’t paying attention. When I was about to mention the lack of a sacrificial animal my father turned to me and I noticed something alarming. His eyes were puffy, and his beard was soaked with tears. I could tell he had been crying for a long time. My memory went back to the night before when I was awakened by the sound of violent sobbing. Father was upset about something, and he was even pounding the walls…So, EVERYONE was awake.

I then mentioned the fact that we did not have a sacrifice and he looked as if he was angry that I mentioned it. Rather rudely he snapped back at me “God will provide a sacrifice”.  Ok then, remind me never to mention something like that again….he was obviously in a bad mood that day. He picked me up and put me on the altar. I wasn’t sure why but I imagined it was to test the sturdiness and how much weight it could hold. Then he raised the knife with his hand shaking. Wait……what was happening? Was I about to be the sacrifice?

 

Just then we heard a rustling sound. After that, a wimper… It was a beautiful and majestic ram caught in a bush. I then heard a booming voice and I could tell that it was God but I couldn’t understand the words. Dad did though… My father jumped higher than I have ever seen him jump and started laughing as if he were crazy. He kissed me and tossed me to the side like we were wrestling around at home. God provided a ram for us to sacrifice.

Later I found out more than I ever wanted to know about that day. I was the one that God asked my father to sacrifice. His beloved son. I can’t imagine the pain that my father was feeling after God asked him to take this step.  Looking down from my current perspective, and knowing what I do now I have made one main observation about this current generation. I have noticed that sometimes God asks us to do things we don’t understand. If we are obedient, blessings always follow. It’s rather simple really…but applicable to all generations.

-Isaac