A few Sundays back, my pastor asked us to consider what Jesus might say if He were to write a letter to each of us. He then shared what he thought Jesus might say to him in a letter. It was so real and so humble that I asked for permission to share with all of you.
First, let me tell you I love you. I think you know that in your head. In fact, you talk about it regularly. And with a deep belief that I love you. But I see deep inside, where you question at times whether I really LIKE you. As if I love you because it’s my job, my obligation, my role because that’s what the Son is supposed to do. Did you read that statement the leper made in Mark 1:40, and then how Mark describes my response. I was “moved with compassion.” It comes from the gut. I can’t help it. It’s a deeply emotional response from Me. I feel compassion. Deeply feel. Not because I have to or am supposed to. It’s in my makeup. I can’t help it.
So what’s your hang-up? Is it that dirt in you that you know I don’t like? Is it that if you were in My place you wouldn’t love yourself? Is it that you think I’m just waiting for a reason to be disappointed in you? Or is it that deep, deep down in you, you’ve lost the emotion and power of the story of My death…FOR YOU.
Do I wish you were more set apart for Me? Yes. Do I wish you desired more to be pleasing to Me, and your actions and thoughts followed suit? Yes. Do I wish you would hunger more for righteousness? Yes. Do I wish you would do more relationally with those that don’t know Me, so they could experience what you already have? Yes. You could type this letter from now until tomorrow thinking of things you’ve done or not done to disappoint. You could build an ironclad case for why I should just move on and leave you behind. But if you did, would it help you to believe the gospel you talk about regularly? Would you love Me more…or just hate yourself more?
If there were just one thing I would ask you to do over the next weeks, it would be to carve out time (hurts me to say it like that), and let’s just talk. Tell me what bothers you. Tell Me how you feel about My Father. Tell Me what you wish you could be if I would grant you the power. Pray. It’s that simple. If you need to carve out the time…then carve it out. Try going to bed with Scripture on your mind. Spend some time on behalf of your family. Learn to listen. I know…you’re wired in a way that makes that difficult. And you’ve certainly not cultivated that ability. But listen. Ask yourself what I want for each day. Talk to Me about your needs. I know what you worry about. Do you trust me?
If there were just one thing right now I would do for you, it’s this. I’d let you experience in a way you’ve never experienced, the fullness of joy that comes from the deepest of relationships. You know Me. You’ve tasted, and still do taste, my goodness. But you know there are things in you that have become barriers, ugly walls, wretched offenses, that by their very nature repel Me away. And I know you don’t want that. Will you trust Me to remove them, to give you discipline, to reshape and enlarge your heart? My biggest concern with you right now is not that I equip you or empower you to be the pastor of CCC. My biggest desire right now is that you be the son of My Father I’ve created you to be. I’ll take care of CCC. I will give you everything you need for that. Pursue Me, whether that’s by chasing hard, by walking consistently, or by resting and having your Sabbath in Me.
I hope you get the picture…I love you. Not because I have to, but because I get great joy from our relationship. You do to. There are just some things that need to be left behind.
As the holiday season is upon us, it’s hard to believe my family will soon be facing them with extreme loss in our hearts. Last month, I lost my grandfather to many years of battling with cancer and sickness. My grandfather played such a vital role in my life, and in the life of every other member of my family.
I want this letter to remind all grandparents just how valuable and appreciated your time and presence is in your grandchildren’s lives. Life is so sweet, but so short, and little did I know I would be preparing a speech for my grandfather’s funeral a few weeks ago.
While I will be facing the holidays without my grandfather, his legacy lives on in my heart and I want to leave with you today some of the words that I shared at his funeral.
In middle school, my writing teacher assigned a paper to my class and the topic was to write about someone who is our biggest inspiration. I immediately knew that I would write about my Papa. The title of my paper was, “The Person Who Changed My Life”.
And that title still holds true today.
In summary, my paper talked about the many challenges that Papa had faced over the years in battling cancer, doctor’s visits, reconstructive surgeries, and even heart surgery. I spoke of how, in spite of all of it, he never gave up. My Papa was a fighter and had the strongest love for family through it all. The last line in my paper states, “My Papa taught me how to appreciate life and every minute that passed me by. He will always be my inspiration.”
This paper sat in my box of sentimental collections for years and I knew that one day I wanted to share it with him before it was too late. Thankfully, almost a year ago, I decided it was time to type a fresh copy and share it with him and I added this piece at the end:
I wrote this paper in my first writing class in middle school. A lot has changed since then. And praise the Lord, one of those things has been my writing skills. I want to direct the rest of this paper at you, Papa. You will truly never know how much an inspiration you are to me. You have continued to go through so much over the past few years. But you have never stopped being the Papa that I will always look up to and love more than you know. In my childhood, the little things meant the most: the vacations, the treats, and other small things. These days, your knowledge, your motivation, your love and guidance, and most importantly, your time means the most. Papa, believe me when I tell you, you are the most incredible grandfather that I could have ever been blessed with, and you have done more than enough for my family and me. This paper can never describe my love for you. You and Gammie have been the best grandparents and supporters that any grandchild could dream of. I will never forget the day you took me for ice cream before I left for my first year at college and presented me with your mother’s beautiful necklace. That will forever be one of those moments in my life that I will cherish in my heart. You have no clue the emotions I felt. That showed me just how much you care for me. Papa, you are the biggest persevering hero I have ever met, and I will forever be grateful for your leadership. Thank you so much for believing in me when it feels as though no one else does. I think of you and Gammie and everyone else in our family when my days get hard at school. Thank you for walking all around my campus my freshman year; it may have felt like nothing but sore feet and blisters to you, but it meant the world to me. The two of you joked that the next trip you made to Winthrop would be my graduation four years later, and I knew that you weren’t kidding. Believe it or not, you and Gammie’s time is up, and its time to make another trip soon, because in May of 2016, I will be graduating and accomplishing one of my biggest dreams… all because of you. So thank you. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for being the true image of what a husband, a brother, a father, a friend, and a grandfather should be. I love you more than life itself. Don’t you ever forget it.
I love you,
Though very weak, my Grandfather was involved in every aspect of my life up until his passing. He was there to see me receive my degree from Winthrop University just five short months before his passing. He never missed a significant event in my family’s lives, and he was always there to listen, share his jokes, magic tricks, stories, and most importantly his love.
I’m not quite sure what the holidays will feel like without him, but I know that a large piece of my life is now missing. So I want to challenge those of you today who fill the role as a grandparent in any form or fashion: be present in your grandchildren’s lives and never take one moment for granted.
You will never truly know how appreciative your grandchildren are of the small and great sacrifices that you make every single day. This holiday season is the perfect time to be the best grandparent you can be, and not only that, but raise your families up in Christ and center every action around Him. You are more appreciated and respected than you know, and as grandkids, we cannot thank you enough for believing in us, and setting the foundation for a relationship with Christ.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” – Proverbs 22:6
Thought Y'all might be encouraged by Ernie Johnson's response to the the election. Only takes a couple of minutes to watch, but it is so worth it. He has a great persepective.
I am cross-eyed this morning as I begin to write this letter to all of you because I stayed up through the entire coverage of the 2016 election results. I wanted to go to bed, but I couldn’t tear myself away. I will probably pay for it today. Pray for your brother still living at home!
This has been such a heart wrenching process full of anger, hostility, and fear. I am aware more than ever of the tremendous division in our country and it is truly heart breaking. As I watched the election process unfold, as I watched the response of the media, and as I watched the wide range of responses from the American people, I felt a mixture of emotions that I don’t think I have ever experienced before in the aftermath of any presidential election.
As your mom, my heart wants so much for all of you. I want an America that is once again great and stable and safe. I am so keenly aware this morning that Donald Trump will not be able to provide that for you in the next four years; neither would have Hillary Clinton or any other candidate that ran for office been able to. It is a task too great for fallen man.
But, there is a God in heaven.
I want to share with you what I do believe to be true about my God - your God. He is sovereign above all things. He will accomplish what He intends to accomplish, with or without the cooperation of man. Because I believe Him to be sovereign, I believe that He has chosen the next president. You have just witnessed something that many are saying, “defies human logic”, and is “a miraculous event”. What I want to make sure you recognize is that you have just witnessed first hand God actively steering the course of history. Daniel 2:20-22 says this:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are His.
He changes times and seasons;
He deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
He knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with Him.
Don’t miss this, guys. He is still in control. While some are saying that this will be a time of great revival in our country, others fear that this will bring about our destruction. But don’t you ever waver in believing that He is who He says He is. He can do what He says He can do. He has His eyes on you, always. You are precious to Him, the apple of His eye. He alone holds your future in His hands and He is a good, faithful Father to all generations who love Him and obey His words.
One last thing, if we truly believe Him to be sovereign, then we are to act on that belief. If our choice for president did not win, we are not to grieve or be fearful because we know He is in control. If our candidate did win, we are not to gloat or act disrespectfully, but compassionately and lovingly. Instead, we are to continue to pray fervently for our country. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, loving people where they are and proclaiming the truth of God’s word.
We need to pray for unity in this country so fractured by hate and indifference. But we have to put feet to our prayers. We have to be the instruments though which God heals this land. We have failed miserably. He is giving us another chance. Let’s get it right.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment was, “To love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” But then He added, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 36-40) Sadly, Christians are not known for their love. Jesus also told us that other’s would know we were His by the way we loved one another.
Let’s take very seriously our responsibilities as His disciples. Let’s not let Him down.
I love you all,
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