Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.

Alice attended the weddings of two of her nephews in September and October. She had always shown great interest in her nieces and nephews—every year giving a Christmas present to each (until they graduated from high school). Now she attended the weddings of the first two of her nephews to be married. That required, of course, travel from Illinois to Grand Rapids. For the first wedding she herself drove; for the second one, she rode with cousins. She could still drive a car, but already it was becoming increasingly difficult to walk. And to stand for any length of time required some sort of support as leaning against a wall. Eagerly she attended those weddings, but it demanded a great effort on Alice’s part.

Good Morning, Alice:

I’m late this morning! The second load is in the washer, the kids are coloring at the table, and I better get going and get this in the mailbox or you won’t get it tomorrow.

After all my “heavy” thinking about myself because of Cal. 3:11-15, I’ve chosen

Ps. 103:19-22

to get my thoughts on God.

I find myself centering on myself way too often. Even in my prayers—too much of the time is spent on myself I guess it’s because you know yourself and there is so much you have to bring to God. But I have learned that the praise of our God must come first. I guess that’s why I found

Psalm 103:19-22

for us today; to get off myself and just bless my God. He hath prepared His Kingdom and He rules. You can’t even look out of your window without seeing proof that God ruleth over all.

I have to get busy, but I’m going to try to keep that in my mind today—and you can too, Alice. “Bless the Lord, O my soul!”

With love, Your friend.

Please read

Lamentations 3:21-23

A special treat was in store after that first wedding in September. Alice was taken on a boat trip with some family members through several of the northern Michigan lakes. It was a time for relaxation, even joking—yet wondering how one can still laugh while knowing that death is so near at hand.

Good Morning, Alice:

I chose this card this morning because while I was doing dishes, I saw five beautiful cardinals flitting around our little tree in the back yard.

Lamentations 3:21-23

is one of those passages that can speak to any child of God in almost any circumstance. It has comforted me in different ways at different times.

I have hope because I remember this promise. My trial cannot consume me because out of my Jehovah’s unbelievable mercy, His compassion for me never fails. But because of His great faithfulness, He has new compassions for me every morning.

And, Alice, I am experiencing those compassions more and more since I’ve been looking up Scripture to share with you. It is my hope that every morning you experience His new compassions.

With love, Your friend.

Please read

Prov. 3:5-6

It was the hope that perhaps, just perhaps, the diagnosis of Alice’s illness was wrong, or at least to see if there were some new ways of providing help, that led to an appointment at Mayo Clinic at Rochester, Minn. With three of the family, Alice went for a three-day series of tests—including again the “needles” with their electrical charges to determine muscle response. At first she refused to take this last test—but then relented. Yet she insisted that this was at least as bad as the first test she had taken.

Good Afternoon, Alice:

After a busy Saturday morning, I have a little quiet time to read and write and think; and, thanks to you, I’m filling it with Scripture instead of something else.

“Lean not unto thine own understanding.” What a difficult thing! And in all my ways acknowledge Him?

I guess I often think: I can do this, or I can handle that, while vs. 5 tells me this isn’t so, but that I have to trust in the Lord.

But more—in all my ways acknowledge Him? Do I acknowledge God when things don’t go right with the kids, or do I take them into my own hands? Do I acknowledge God when I do not submit (willingly) to my husband?

I almost think we could carry on with this text for a week in order to examine ourselves. Maybe both you and I can try more to acknowledge Him in all our ways, Alice, and realize that means in everything—in our sorrows, our trials, and our frustrations. Then we will experience the promise more fully too. He shall direct our paths and we will be more content in His way for us.

Love, Your friend

Please read

Rom. 12:12

The diagnosis at Mayo was the same. What else could be expected? It was grasping at straws. But one doctor, Dr. Mulder, was especially helpful and encouraging. There was no known treatment or cure, he said, but there were means of helping the patient to make use of limited muscle strength. And aids were available, such as a foot brace and a cane to assist her in walking with the one lame leg. This doctor referred Alice also to the University of Chicago (where an ALS clinic was recently established) and to Dr. Antell who headed this clinic. Alice was encouraged to use a wheelchair whenever practical to conserve her strength. Of course, the return home was a somber affair. There was now no doubt—the original diagnosis was correct.

Good Morning, Alice:

It’s Monday morning already, and do you know we’ve shared 13 passages together already? Do you have a favorite? I think mine is either

Isaiah 12


Lamentations 3:21-23.

The verse I found this time is really just a tiny part of a whole list of things a child of God must strive for. One could really spend a lot of time examining himself on each verse.

Verse 12 of

Romans 12

is maybe both the easiest and at the same time the most difficult. What could come easier than rejoicing in hope, which to the child of God means that expected certainty of life everlasting with our heavenly Father, seeing and knowing Him through our Savior Jesus Christ.

Add then (God adds) next: “patient in tribulation”; how difficult—to be patient—with a quiet soul enduring that difficulty God has placed on His child to refine him for everlasting life.

But God so wisely adds, “continuing instant in prayer,” and thus gives us the means of enduring that tribulation—that we may experience the joy of that hope. As much as we remain close to God in prayer, we will experience that joy which enables us to be patient.

Yes, God is good to us. He not only explains in His Word how we must live, but He also gives us the desire and ability to remain close to Him.

God bless you today, Alice, in your steadfastness in prayer, your patience in your trial, and your rejoicing in your hope.

In Him for Whom we wait, Your friend.

Please read

Matt. 14:25-31

On the way back from Mayo, Alice took a month’s sick leave from work. But she was resolved to return at the end of the month. She had worked at Stauffer Chemical for many years—and had continued to work until now in spite of growing physical limitations. Alice wanted, above all, to be able to take care of herself both physically and financially. Though she could hardly now use her left hand and leg, and had fallen several times recently, she was sure she could resume her work at the end of the month. But all was not well at the office. Alice was well-liked, and had a sense of humor that all enjoyed. But often during the past weeks Alice would begin to cry while trying to do her work. Often she needed to take off several hours from her work in order to rest. And the whole office, sympathizing with her, would be upset. There was a measure of relief at the office, therefore, when Alice asked for this leave of absence. Her family was sure that Alice would not return again to her work. Good Morning, Alice:

I think all young children who know Bible stories are always interested in Peter walking on the water. But, of course, as with all scripture, there is a real depth of meaning for the child of God.

Rev. J. Kortering in his summary of Matthew in the Standard Bearer labeled this section, “power flows from Jesus to Peter as he walks on the water.”

God gives us power to live a life of faith as long as we keep our eyes on Him. But when we worry about things in our life, and let earthly, physical things dwell in our minds, we push our realization of the power of God away and the troubled waters easily rush about us. But notice in verse 31, Jesus immediately stretches forth His hand. God is always near to lift us up.

The more we learn to keep our eyes on God, the more we realize His power and the power He gives us.

I know that troubled waters surround you, Alice, and though they are a different kind, a busy “‘easy” life has its own undertow of waters always pulling me away too.

Let us both pray for each other and strive to keep our eyes on God and realize and use the power He gives us to love and serve Him.

With love, Your friend.

Please read Hosea 2:19-20