When my Dad was just old enough to walk to the store by himself, he was strolling along and happened to swipe his finger in the shiny metal coin return of a pay phone. To his delight, he found a coin had been left behind. He proudly showed this treasure to his dad, who was waiting at home. In a stern voice intent on teaching a valuable lesson, his dad insisted he return the coin to the shop owner. The lesson was clear, if you didn't lose it, you can't find it. And if it isn't yours, you can't keep it. With, I'm certain, a heavy heart, my little dad walked back to the store and returned the coin.
My Mom remembers the neighbor lady walking down to her house so that my grandma could write out her bills for the month. The neighbor wasn't literate, but my Grandma was and so she helped her do anything that required reading and writing. I remember the first time my Mom told me that story, and I remember wondering how that lady knew she could trust my Grandma. I remember thinking about how lucky that lady was that my Grandma really was so honest. Any and all of the neighbors knew they could trust my grandparents, there wouldn't be any trickery or any taking advantage of anybody because they were honest, upright, and willing to extend a hand to their neighbors.
I'm so thankful my parents shared the precious gift of salvation with me. It has been life to me. Instead of saying, "This is God, and these are His unattainable standards", they said to me, "Here are some seemingly unattainable standards for you and for our family. And this is Jesus, who is our Hope that we will, in fact, attain them. You will mess up. It's ok. When you do, tell Him you're sorry and He'll help you the next time." They showed me what the peace of God felt like. And encouraged me to live to feel it. That's what keeps me. Not a heavy yoke, but a light and easy burden. This faith has only ever been Hope for me. Call it a crutch, I don't care. It is the best part of me. The only good you'll find.
"Only let us live up to what we have already attained."
I hope I leave my kids filled with such Hope. I don't have all the answers, but I know The Answer. And I'm happy to whisper to their hearts these secrets to life. To sing to them this sweet song. It is the very least I can do. It's the very best I can give. If they remember nothing else I say, may they remember "Jesus loves me, this I know." If everything else fades away, let that Truth remain.
And what if a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them wonders away? What of these lost sheep who keep me tossing and turning on sleepless nights?
Well, they're His; He can find them.
They are His, and He can keep them.
Mom and Dad, thank you. I treasure our time together. Jillian asked me when you left, "why did we let them go?" I told her other folks needed you, too. You've spent my life sharing this Resurrection story, helping find lost sheep. Spurring one another on. So I don't mind sharing you at all.
But, y'all come back now, ya hear?!