Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Today my sweet boy turns 7.
And yesterday I wondered for a few moments if he'd see the age of 7.
We were at a touristy store on the side of the highway in New Mexico, stretching our legs and using the bathrooms. My little man was in the bathroom by himself. I hovered nearby as the rest of the family looked at merchandise on the other side of the store.
I turned at a strange sound - it sounded like chains rattling. Sure enough it was! A convict in an orange jumpsuit, hands and feet bound by chains, followed by an armed guard was headed toward the men's room. Because the guard was a woman, she simply waited outside the bathroom door as this man headed into the bathroom where he would be alone with my son.
My heart did a few flips. In a brief moment, I considered several options. Run the length of the store and get Josh so he could join the two in the bathroom and protect his son? Tell the guard to get in there and make sure my little man was okay? Storm the restroom and forcibly remove my son? What to do?
Ultimately, I did nothing. I continued my quiet wait by the store shelves, trusting the only One who could actually protect my son from harm - God. A couple of minutes later, my son emerged unscathed from the restroom and I calmly ushered him to a quiet part of the store. When I asked if he had noticed the man in orange, he replied that he had. Thankfully he is so innocent that he had no idea of the reason for the man's chains and consequently no fear. He simply said, "I thought I heard chains, Mom. That's how I knew it wasn't Zack coming to get me."
A short time later, we returned to the van and continued on down the road. As I reflected on the scene inside the store, I felt the Holy Spirit gently nudge my heart.
Sin is sin. Really, in God's eyes, I was no better than that man. I could have been paraded around in an orange jumpsuit and chains, needing an armed guard to protect the public from my heinous acts. The only thing that has changed me from that person is the grace of God freely offered through Jesus Christ.
I began to quietly pray, thanking God for his saving work in my life.
And then it hit me. Who has prayed for this man?
Perhaps no one has ever cared enough to pray for his life. Perhaps no one has pleaded to God to do a remarkable and supernatural saving work in this man. THAT was something I could take action on! As the mile markers flew by on the side of the road, I spent the miles pleading for a man who only minutes ago had caused my heart to skip in fear.
And fear turned to peace and joy. Begging for my son's physical safety changed to pleading for a stranger's eternal life.
Looking past the physical chains to see the spiritual bondage was the only way for me to remember my own chains and the freedom I enjoy in Christ.
So today as I celebrate the life of my son, I will also continue to beg for the life of this man. For his life is as precious as my son's, and his crime is no different than mine.
Friday, February 8, 2013
We arrived home this afternoon from a wonderful week away. And while the vacation part was great, the odd schedule resulted in some whiny children. Our car ride home was quite an ordeal with a fussy baby who refused to nap or eat and who spent the latter part of the trip unhappily filling his diaper.
As soon as we got home I rushed him into the house and upstairs to change him. As he shivered and cried I talked gently to him trying to help him realize that we were HOME. I grabbed a blanket from his crib (we always turn the heat down when leaving for extended trips) and rocked him gently in our favorite chair. Almost immediately he calmed. He wrapped his chubby arms around me and laid his head on my shoulder. The whimpers and shivers ceased and his body relaxed.
We sat in the chair, rocking and cuddling, and I thought of what a difference the comfort of home can make. A specific chair, familiar sights, the safety of Mom's arms.
It brought to mind these verses from Psalm 27:4-5. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.
Doesn't this just give such a picture of comfort and joy? David's one desire was to be at home in the Lord's house. For him it provided shelter, safety, and encouragement. It was his familiar place.
Just as the familiarity of a favorite rocking chair and the four walls of our bedroom calmed my young son, time in the presence of the Lord ought to do the same for us. After a long, hard day moments spent in the Word will refresh and renew us. Quiet times of prayer will center our focus on the One who can calm our hearts and provide perspective. Placing ourselves in the lap of the Father wraps us in comfort and reminds us that we do not have to carry all the cares of this world. Someone else has offered to do that for us.
Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
Friend, lay down your burden. Give it up to the One who has offered to carry it. Rest, and take joy in His presence.