What Brings Me to Tears

There are certain events and experiences that bring me to tears.  Events that make me proud.  Actions that show respect to power and authority.  Experiences that are personal and meaningful.

I think of a bride.  Walking down the aisle on her father’s arm.  See the white dress.  The bouquet.  The veil.  The vows.  The kiss.  The anticipation of a life together.   The respect of the sanctity of marriage.  My eyes well up with tears.

I hear the national anthem.  The Star Spangled Banner.  I see the flag rise above the crowd.  People stand.  Right hand over their heart.  Pride in our country.  Thankful for freedom.  Respect for the courage of battles fought.   My eyes well up with tears.

I have served on jury duty.  I have been a juror.  People in the court room stand each time the jurors enter and exit the court room.  All conversations and activities cease.  All eyes are on the jury.  The group of twelve who will decide someone’s fate.   They know the power of this group.  They respect the sacrifice the jury is making to perform their civic duty.  The weight of the decision is in their hands.  My eyes well up with tears.

I have driven in a funeral procession.  Loss of a loved one.  Near and dear to my heart. People standing along the street.  They stop and pay respect.  Remove their hats.  Stop mowing their lawn.  Stand still for someone they’ve never met.  Traffic stops and lets the stream of cars interrupt their busy day.  They respect the loss of a loved one.  My eyes well up with tears.

I think of the man who died on the cross.  For me.  For you.  I think of his sacrifice.  He died willingly.  To save every sin everyone born on this earth has ever committed.  So we can enter heaven’s gates. So we can see Him face to face.  His mercy is new every day.  His love and compassion are never ending.  His sacrifice is our eternity.  My eyes well up with tears.

In Christ Alone.

Soldiers of Christ

I see them differently now.  I didn’t realize I was holding them to my standard.  Expecting them to be the same as me.  I was struggling with the realization that we’re all not the same.

I’ve been a Christian for many years.  I was taught the Bible from my earliest days.  I’ve always had the desire to be good.  I’ve always known of God and his power.  I’ve always known his love.

Some of them haven’t.

We all come from different walks of life.  Different family issues.  Different hurts.  Different life experiences.  Different regrets.  Different brokenness.  We each come from a different place in life.  Alike but different.

We sit together studying the Bible.  Wanting to learn.  Wanting to have a closer relationship with the God who created us.  With the one who loves us.  With the one who gave His Son’s life for us.  We want to be like Jesus.  That’s why we’re there.

We share our thoughts.  Our struggles.  Our learnings.  We laugh together.  We cry together.  We love together.  We pray together.  We realize God has brought us together when we most needed each other.  We are thankful.

We are sometimes silly together.  We eat pizza together.  We play games.   We learn fun things about each other.  We laugh.  We relax.  We’re friends.

Sometimes we learn sad things about each other.  Sometimes it’s hard things we learn.  Life hasn’t always been easy for us.   We all carry burdens.  We carry each other’s burdens.

We are all soldiers of Christ.  Fighting our battles in our daily lives.  Learning to be brave warriors of the cross.   We wear scars and battle wounds.  Some are seen.  Some are unseen.  Sometimes we struggle to keep the unseen scars hidden.  It feels safer that way.  No one knows.  No one sees.

But when a wound is exposed is when the healing begins.  It’s then that the soothing ointment of love and acceptance is spread over that seeping wound.  The hurts are shared.  The disappointments are relived.  The pain is rediscovered.  It is then that healing begins.  Scarred but healed.

It is a safe place.  A place where everyone cares.  And listens.  No one judges.  We don’t all agree on everything.  We don’t have to.  Our common bond is our need for a Savior.  Our strength is our faith in God.   Our joy is sharing the journey together.


Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.   And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.   ~Hebrews 10:23-25


We’re all walking the path to heaven.  Each view.  Each bend in the road looks different.  Each of us is at a different mile marker.  But we’re headed in the same direction.  Some will get to the destination sooner.  Others will take much longer.

My prayer is that no one gets off the path.  My hope is that each one continues to learn and grow as we study God’s word.  Heaven is real.  Eternity is forever.  I want to be with each of these women in heaven.  Sharing the rewards God has given to each of us for our faithfulness and commitment to him on this earth.

You see.  Our life on earth is our test.  For heaven.  It’s pass/fail only.  Sixty years.  Eighty years.  Maybe forty-five.  The number of years on this earth seems important now.  But really.  These years are just a blip on the big screen of eternity.  Because eternity is forever.  Forever.   Never ending.

When my time comes, I want to share heaven with these women.

Legacy

I grew up in a Christian home.  I am one of 7 kids.  We grew up on a farm.  My parents were God-fearing, God-loving, God-serving people.  We lived a simple life. It was a good life.  Structure, authority, hard work, laughter, security, trust, faith, values. Those are words that describe our family.  We weren’t perfect, but we were loved.

This is the story of the life and love lived in front of me every single day as I was growing up.  This is the legacy handed down from my parents.

My parents took us to church.  Sunday School.  Sunday morning worship.  Sunday night services.  Wednesday night prayer meeting.  Revival meetings.  Youth revival meetings.  Missionary meetings.  Zone rally meetings.  Vacation Bible School.  Teen talent contests.  Bible quizzing.  Summer camp.  We were in church every time the doors were open.  We were there.

You may think that was a lot of church.  And it was.  But it taught me to respect the Sabbath.  It taught me the importance of meeting with other Christians to worship God.

My dad was the Sunday School superintendent.  He was the church treasurer.  He was a Sunday School teacher. He was a board member. My mom took care of babies in the nursery.  She helped in Vacation Bible School.  She served meals in our home for visiting preachers.  She served at funeral dinners.  She babysat for our pastor’s children. My parents were involved in the church.

My parents the year they were married.

M&D 1954

This is what I know.

I know what it’s like to have my parents take me to church every Sunday.

I know what it’s like to see my dad write out his tithe check.

I know what it’s like to hear my mom pray for her children by name.

I know what it’s like for our family to have devotions together every night before bed.

I know what it’s like at age 8 to go to the altar with my dad and ask Jesus into my heart.

I know what it’s like for my mom to tell me at age 12 that it was time for me to start having daily devotions.

I know what it’s like to see my mother go to the altar to totally surrender her life to God, when she realized she needed a deeper relationship with Him.

I know what it’s like for my parents to help pastors of neighboring churches by filling their freezer with food.

I know what it’s like to see my mom deliver a Sunday dinner to the lonely old man living in a shack down the road from us.

I know what it’s like to see my dad kiss my mom on the cheek after Sunday dinner to thank her for the wonderful meal.

My parents’ relationship was solid.  My parents’ relationship with their God was solid.  They were humble servants of a God bigger than them, and they faithfully served Him.

I am so thankful for the foundation of faith that was lived out in front of me.  I’m thankful for the prayers and discipline that was part of our home.  I’m fortunate for this legacy.  I have been able to avoid many poor decisions and life experiences because of the rich heritage that was passed down to me.

I realize many people won’t be able to relate to my story.  They may be jealous.  They may ridicule me.  I remember thinking as a child that I was thankful to be in a family where God’s love was taught. I realized some of my friends didn’t have that.  They didn’t have parents who prayed with them or for them.  They didn’t own a Bible.  They didn’t know God’s love.

I’ve always been aware of God and his love for me.  I owe that to my parents.  I’ve known from an early age that I needed Jesus to forgive my sins.  I knew I wanted to go to heaven.  I wanted to obey God.  And I made the decision to serve the God of my parents.  They taught me well.  And I’m thankful.

The office where my dad would study his Sunday School lessons and my mom would kneel and pray for her children.

Office

It’s Never Too Late

He turned and caught my eye.  He wasn’t sure if he should look.  But he did.  I wasn’t sure if I should return the look.  But I did.

He was pushing his bike in the intersection when the left arrow turned green.  It was my turn to go.  But he was in the way.  I had to wait.

Maybe he didn’t mean to catch my eye.  Maybe he was just checking to make sure I wasn’t going to charge into him.  Or maybe he was checking to see if I was going to make some obscene gesture.  Or mouth some bad words.  I didn’t do any of that.  I just looked at him.  I waited.

I continued to look.  I saw sadness about him.  Uncertainty.  Unhappiness.  Desperation.  I wondered why he wasn’t riding the bike.  I wondered why he wasn’t driving a car.

I wondered what got him to this point in his life.  Had he made some wrong decisions?  Did he have some habits he couldn’t break?  I didn’t mean to judge.  But I did.

I remember someone else I see regularly standing on that same street corner.  She holds a sign.  Need money.  No job.  Please help.  The thing is.  I’ve seen her there for over a year now.  Once a week.  I sometimes see her walking up to that corner.  I always wonder where she came from.  She pulls out her sign and unfolds it.  Like it’s her job.  I wonder if it is her job.   To stand on that street corner and ask for money.  Perhaps she’s standing on a different street corner every day.

I wonder why she hasn’t gotten a job yet.  I wonder if she’s scamming people for money.  And that’s her job.  I wonder if she really is homeless.  She doesn’t look homeless.

I don’t look her in the eye.  I look away instead.  I’ve been known to put on my sunglasses so I can look at her without looking her in the eye.  I don’t trust her motives.  I don’t mean to judge.  But I do.

Then I remember a man who was judged.  He was hung on a cross and left to die.  Three days later he shocked the world and left the tomb where he had been buried.  He could have saved himself.  But he didn’t.  He could have been the judge and jury of those accusing him of things he didn’t do.  Of things he didn’t say.  But he didn’t.

Instead, he showed love.  As he hung on that middle cross, dying.  One rebel hanging with him cursed him.  The other rebel defended him and asked to be remembered.  Jesus looked over to the man and offered salvation.  Later that day, the man was in heaven.  Meeting up with God.  Because one man, Jesus Christ, cared enough to look him in the eye.  To offer hope and salvation and eternal life.  Instead of judging him.  In the last minutes of that rebel’s life, he was forgiven.  He was given eternal life in heaven.

It’s never too late to receive Jesus’ love and forgiveness.  All you have to do is ask.  

It’s never too late to stop judging others.  It’s never too late to share God’s love.  It’s never too late to offer the hope of heaven.

Maybe I need to start looking more people in the eye.