Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Secret Whispered to my Children

I sat upstairs contemplating the day gone by as I heard Kellie remind the kids that she had asked them to turn of the tv and make their way toward bed at 10:00. 

Her words were met with silence.

I listened and envisioned her stepping closer or even perhaps she stood between them and their show as she rephrased her request with added enthusiasm…

…and then I heard the word added that punctuated the request, turning it into a demand, "now."

The immediate silence of the turned off sitcom was interrupted by two sets of dragging feet and the huffle-puff of their breaths as they displayed their displeasure in a non-overt style of protest.

As they rounded the landing of the stairs they looked up to meet my eyes as I waited for them to make their exaggerated ascent.

After a brief discussion along the lines of "do you love your mother more than you love your show on tv" and "do you think your reaction to her direction showed her your love for her" I went on to ask a more specific question.

Do you know what is the greatest commandment?

At first they struggled a bit with the answer, saying that it was to love your neighbor, and to love your parents. It was Aleksandra who spoke the correct answer, "to love God."

Yes. It is that we love the lord our God with all our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength. 

Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment and he answered that this was the first and greatest and the second was like it. And so, I asked them then what is the second?

They said, "it is that you love your neighbor as yourself."

A friend of Caleb & Aleksandra witnessed his father die suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday. I mentioned this young boy to my kids and I asked them, "how can we show him that we love him?"

They answered, "pray for him." But I said, "how would he know that you're praying for him? How does this show him that you love him?" They answered that they would tell him that they were praying for him.

"But what if he is not a Christ follower? Is there a way to demonstrate your love?" They said that they could hug him. I said that might work, but he may not accept a hug. 

Sometimes when our world is shattered… we aren't yet ready for positive words or a caring touch. I explained to them that words and promises of prayer can seem empty and cruel when we find ourselves broken. Pain can consume us.

The family that suffered the loss lives next to my parents. I told the kids that they should watch what my father does to see what it means to love someone.  

I paused as my mind jumped to think of that young boy who is missing his father tonight. I know my own father sees his pain. I have no doubt that it is no chance that my dad lives next door to him. 

Our family leaves for our calling in Guatemala in 38 days. While my parents are incredibly supportive… I know that my dad will miss me deeply. It is painful to know that I will cause my parents to grieve. And yet…it may be that my father can provide some comfort to a young boy who must feel that the world just ended.

My father isn't a man that prays loudly in public, or the type that carries his Bible around in a leather cover. But he is the sort of man that stops to help a man at the side of the road… his daily actions imitate the nature of Christ as he showed his love to his disciples by washing their feet.

I told Caleb and Aleksandra about how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and showed them his great love for them by the actions he lived. I told them how I bet my father will show compassion not in words spoken, but in a lawn mowed, or a driveway shoveled, a battery jumped, or a tree that needs cut.

Our religion doesn't always need to be shouted with prayer and scripture. Sometimes we simply need to do two things:

Love our God with all that we are and all that we have.

And show evidence of His love in us by how we treat those around us…what we do for people when they hurt. 

Yesterday I saw another example of this with my mother as she trimmed the nails and cared for my grandmother's feet. As the power of that moment began to saturate my mind as I prayed over my Mammaw, I was overwhelmed with emotion.

The actions we live give meaning to the words we speak.

And so now I told Caleb and Aleksandra… how you treat your mother is an indication of how well you understand these two greatest commandments.

If you love God with all that is within you, then that love will overflow onto those around you. Your response to a person isn't only about that moment… it is an indication of how well we understand these two greatest secrets to a meaningful life.

Do we accept the love of God and allow it to consume all that we are?

Do we share this love with those around us through what we do for them?

We all see the hurt in the world. But I am afraid that far too few of us tell this story of love by meeting their needs.

I promised my kids that I will work on: reacting to them in ways that show my love for them, and by living a life worthy of the love of my God.

These secrets whispered in the shadows above the staircase… first spoken softly by a man who was God in sandals… may our lives forever carry their echoes.

On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. ~Matthew 22:40

And now the house is silent and all are asleep in their beds as I contemplate these days of my life as measured by these punctuated commands of God. 

He stands at the top of the staircase, waiting for me to meet His eyes.

He waits for us all.

He waits for you.

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