Locusts, Jefferson, and Me—Living with a Promise
One of the favorite places Beth and I used to sit and share in each other’s lives was the swing on our front porch. Handcrafted by Amish Dutch in western Pennsylvania years ago, it was brought to our home by Mom Flick when she came to live with us in Mississippi following her diagnosis of terminal liver cancer in 1998. But since this past summer, that porch swing which has been a silent observer of so much of our family’s history is now—for the most part—unoccupied, no longer witness to our hopes, dreams, and disappointments. While the patterns of life have enormously changed over the last three months, there is one thing that has not changed; I am still living with a promise! Living with a Promise
The Promise of GodLiving with a Promise
Not long after our accident that claimed the life of my precious wife, Beth, I selected a screen saver on my computer that allowed me to insert a portion of Scripture. The text I selected was taken from Joel 2:25a, which reads,
“And I will restore to you the years that the locusts hath eaten…”
For years, this brief passage cradled my wife’s convictions concerning our lives and the future she believed the Lord was extending to us. Like so many other couples, she remembered the pain we had experienced in life’s journey, and one of the means she used to offer me comfort and hope was to quote Joel 2:25a. As a loving godly spouse, she directly or indirectly evoked this promise from time to time, comforting me with the fact that the Lord’s intent toward us was for good and not for evil, and that in God’s timing faithfulness would receive its reward.
When seeking to understand God’s promises, Christians must not look primarily to the historical unfolding of those promises. Rather, the believer must look steadily upon the character of the One who has made the pledge. Because God works “together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28), the true believer rests his hope upon the fact that no matter how much the locusts may devour, the Lord continues to labor for the good of His children. Given the character of our God, Christians may rest assured that when life’s most treasured possessions are devoured by the locusts, our Lord—whether in this life or the life to come—will restore the years the locusts have devoured! And, those seeking to retain God’s richest blessings prefer that God’s promises be most fully realized in the life to come, where moth and rust do not destroy, nor do thieves break in and steal (Matt. 6:19-20).
Thomas Jefferson and His Wife
From early September, I have been involved in a local Grief Share group at a nearby church. Here I have learned much about what the Bible has to say about grief—something which even diligent students of Scripture may often neglect. One of the lessons I have learned is the importance of dealing honestly with grief. Many fail to understand what God has to say about this important subject, and as a result, are adversely affected throughout the rest of their lives.
One individual who appears to have allowed grief to adversely affect his life was one of America’s most important founding fathers—Thomas Jefferson. Most Americans remember that Thomas Jefferson was the principle penman of America’s Declaration of Independence, which Congress ratified on July 4, 1776. What most Americans are not aware of is the fact that Mr. Jefferson affirmed Christian orthodox teaching in October of that same year in a brief document remembered as his “Notes on Religion.”
Only a few years passed before Jefferson’s faith began to waver. Personal tragedy appears to have been a cause in turning Jefferson away from the biblical Christian orthodoxy with which he composed the Declaration of Independence. In 1782, he lost both his wife and their new-born. In 1784, Mr. Jefferson traveled to France where he was separated from his spiritual roots and subjected to the rampant irreligion of France and those influences that gave rise to the bloodletting of the French Revolution. Two years later he attended a Unitarian Church in London with John Adams. From all indication, Jefferson’s unorthodox beliefs arose out of an era of intense grief in which he began to doubt and deny central truths of Scripture.
My Faith Still Holds
Between Thomas Jefferson and me are many differences, not the least of which is each of our responses to the deaths of our wives. The historical record appears to indicate that Mr. Jefferson left the Solid Rock upon which true biblical convictions must be erected. But, the horrific tragedy of the death of my precious wife has not loosened my grip upon the truths taught in God’s Word, but only strengthened it.
There is another significant difference between us. Mr. Jefferson, upon diverging from the teaching of the Bible, did not wish that his religious convictions be widely known to fellow Americans. In the three months since our accident, both the question and answer of the Apostle Peter which he presented to Jesus in John 6:68 have repeatedly affirmed my faith: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
An empty swing is a painful reminder of what I no longer enjoy. Beth no longer greets me in the morning or bids me goodnight; she is not there to encourage and support me when life is unkind; despite this and a myriad of other pains inflicted by her absence, I resolutely affirm with the songwriter, “My faith still holds on to the Christ of Cavalry!”
I am still living with Beth’s scriptural promise that the Lord will—in either time or eternity—restore what “the locusts hath eaten…”
For Further Consideration
On a chilly Tuesday morning, December 11, 2018 with frost covering the ground, many of Beth’s coworkers along with friends and Dr. Steve, gathered in the yard of ORAU (Oak Ridge Associated Universities) to dedicate a tree that had been planted to honor the memory of Beth Flick. Also joining us by way of Zoom video stream, were several of Beth’s family members. We all watched as Dr. Steve was presented a plaque that will be placed at theRead more...
A number of months ago while using a book that had been gifted to me from my Grandma Flick's personal library, I found a small handwritten note: "When my husband passed away, I sought the Lord and through my family and friends, He helped me." Soon after my discovery I gave it to my dad, knowing he would appreciate this sentimental find. I had forgotten about that little note until just a few days ago, when my dad pulled the same note out of his BRead more...
Article Notes and Sources
 Stephen A. Flick, America’s Founding Fathers and the Bible: A Select Study of America’s Christian Origin (Clinton, Tennessee: Christian Heritage Press, 2018), 72-73.
 Mark A. Beliles and Jerry Newcombe, Doubting Thomas? The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jeffersoni> (New York: MJ, 2015), 34.
 Beliles and Newcombe, Doubting Thomas?i>, 36.
 Thomas Jefferson et al., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson,i> 20 vols. (Washington, DC: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association of the United States, 1903-1907), 13:352.