Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Joy of Love Assured

The lights were dimmed for this closing conversation of another day with my granddaughter. The acrid smell of a girl at play had been replaced by the sweet fragrance of body wash and strawberry conditioner. Nightgown knit caressed her tender skin, a welcome exchange from the no-nonsense fabric of uniform khaki.

Just after the bedtime rituals and right before the final tuck-in, she asked me what it was like to be old. I wasn’t offended. To a child of seven, everyone over the age of twelve seems old. 

I began to share my own musings on the passing of many years. “Being old is wonderful. You have seen so many places and have so many memories. Getting old is wonderful because of…”

Before I could finish, she interrupted, “Grandchildren. You have to be old before you can have grandchildren.”

“Yes! Yes,” I said. “That is absolutely the best part of being old.”

I was, of course, delighted by my newfound knowledge that my hugs, kisses, hand-written notes and special treats had conveyed the accurate message of love. Even more, I was touched by her obvious sense of security in knowing she was treasured.

Here was a child who knew her very existence brought me pleasure. She had no doubt that I delighted in her, her sister and her cousins. Relaxing into this verbal reminder of my unquestionable love for her, she let go of the final reins of day as night carried her toward peaceful rest.

Our little conversation took me to my own familiar place. In her confident declarations, I relived my own relationship with a heavenly Father who cherishes me. I recalled his constant tenderness to me, even when I was slow to call it love. I remembered learning to rest safely in the arms of the One who loves me with an everlasting love.

The exchange gave me insight into my Father’s heart as well. If my granddaughter’s knowledge of my love brought me such joy, how much more is the One who delights in me pleased when I am confident in his love.

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears.
 He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

Monday, September 8, 2014

In Need of a Doppelganger

I was up to my elbows in chopped onions, celery, garlic and carrots, the foundations of a spaghetti sauce for twenty-five people’s Sunday dinner. With each trip to the refrigerator, I had to reach around bowls of leftover ice cream toppings, a visual reminder I had spent all of the previous day preparing food for an even larger party the night before.

I cooked frantically. We were leaving shortly to walk the two miles to the first home game of the football season. The tickets waited impatiently on the table next to the gift for a bridal shower I would attend Sunday afternoon—after the spaghetti lunch.

This was a four-event weekend, and I seriously needed my doppelganger to show up and assume half of the responsibility. I would have preferred it to be the one with shiny, just-straightened hair. But in the state in which I found myself, the one with ‘fresh from the shower, no-time-to-dry’ hair would have been the more accurate representation.

With so much going on, you would have thought my emotions would have had the courtesy not to write their own story. But there they were, swinging petulantly between proud and pitiful. My already full hands alternately patted my back, in congratulation for my selfless service, and held my head to keep it from spinning.

Neither extreme reflected my heart nor my motivation for this marathon weekend. Three of the events were to honor young people I love. Each has had a special place in my life. Individually they have assisted me in ministry, shared their talent and partnered in mission. I have watched as God called them to use their unique gifts to serve him.

I thought of their faces. I remembered the experiences we had shared. I knew I had been honored by the opportunity to watch these men and women mature. I was glad I could support these friends who now are serving God with their whole lives.

Somewhere between chopping and sautéing, I gained a new perspective.

Yes, every tiring task was worth it. The shopping, cooking, transporting, cleaning—I would do them all again. I was doing it for them!

A quiet voice whispered into my euphoria, “You have set your sights too low.” Then in the gentle words of Jesus, I was reminded of who I really served.

Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25: 40)

My doppelganger was a no-show, but if she had made an appearance, I would have been happy to share with her the joy that comes from serving the One who gave his all for me.