This Side of Heaven

It’s easy not to like people.  Waaaaay too easy.  Sometimes people just plain old rub us the wrong way.  Not all people are nice, not all people are easy to get along with.  It’s frustrating really to spend time with them in the here and now.  But what about spending eternity with them?

I remember years ago knowing that my biological dad was nearing the end of his life.  I knew I had a responsibility to fly across the country to see him and share the truth of God’s love for him before it was too late.  I knew it was a long shot.  He was an odd guy really.   He’d been married six times.  I’d only seen him once between the ages of three and 29 and he signed my birthday card,…”your devoted dad.”  I sometimes wanted to toss a few cookies when I heard those things.  And I struggled with a horrible feeling about that trip.  Even though I knew it was my responsibility to share the truth with him, I really didn’t want to share heaven with him.

I know that sounds horrible!  And I’m not going to lie that I didn’t ask God to at least put us on opposite sides of heaven if that time came.   If I wasn’t totally comfortable with him here on earth, why would I want to share the most holy, most worshipful place in the universe with him!?  Why would I want to share the intimacy of worship with a person who made me so uncomfortable.

I’ve always had an urgency in my heart for the lost.  Even more so lately!  But those are people I don’t even know yet, right?  Those are people who really don’t know anything about a Savior….THE Savior.  They aren’t people who’ve hurt me or crossed me or make me uncomfortable.  They aren’t people I’m supposed to love…but can’t seem to.

The thought has been on my mind and so I facebooked it the other day just as it came: “It’s the person that we would least like to share heaven with that is the person we need to pray for the most…followed by ourselves.  They may need a changed heart, but we need a changed attitude.”  Lord, sometimes my attitude stinks.

I went out that spring and met my dad.  I explained very clearly what he already knew about a God who loves him so much he sent his son to die for him.  Heck, he’d been a Sunday School class president at one time.  And with every uncomfortable hug, I knew I was just doing my duty as a Christian.  Some time later, when he died, I really don’t know where his heart was on that day.  There was no last minute flight to be by his side, there was no notice that he was dying quickly.  It just happened.  I’ll never know if he ever opened himself up to the King before that day.

But I do know that it’s possible I might see him in eternity. And again, I might not.  But if I do, I wonder how I”ll feel?  And if he’s not there, I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d have genuinly prayed for him first.   I know this though for sure, I’d feel way better about it if I had a change of my own attitude.  I really believe that’s part of laying down your life for another…setting your feelings aside long enough to pray for the unloveable, uncomfortable, frustrating person in your life, and then setting your pride aside long enough to pray for yourself and your attitude.

You never know…you might even get to enjoy that person in your own lifetime!  Can you imagine, if your own prayer softened them, and your own heart softened toward them…they might just not be the frustrating person in your life anymore!

The Ring

It’s one of those days…the kind where you really have things you need to get done…but you just keep getting sidetracked.  Not by others, not by crisis, but one of those dreamy slow days where you sidetrack yourself and head off on a tangent until you shake your person out of it and get back to work.  Those are the kind of days I do not do well.  I do so much better when I’m running 400 miles per hour at full speed, super focused and with a little good French Roast to boot!  Because I’m a thinker, lulled time is often a detriment, not a benefit to me.  Thinking leaves me questioning, wondering and in general examining everything I do and everything everyone around me does.

At this very moment, I should be working on finding a way to get a larger video file to a venue for a possible upcoming speaking event, and instead I’m writing a blog and browsing for a new wedding ring for my husband.  Neither of us have had favor on our side when it comes to our wedding rings.  I originally loved my ring beyond measure.  A dear friend who is a supplier for many large jewelry chains had opportunity to purchase, at cost, a few precious gemstones per year.  He asked us approximately what size and what clarity and then he bought it for us.  He gave us his supplier books to choose a setting from and without knowing cost, I immediately chose as the favorite, the most expensive one in that book.  He was able to get it for us at a third of the cost.  I was so excited and so blessed by the kindness of this man!  So with the money we saved on that, we bought my husband’s wedding band and a very nice engagement ring for him as well.  He wore his wedding band on his left ring finger and the other on his right ring finger, but mostly for nicer occasions.  Eventually, he outgrew his wedding band.  So he moved the other ring to his left hand.  Then…over time, that one got tight as well.  And now, he is unable to wear either.  The band  has unique patterns in it such as you really couldn’t size it bigger..

And mine…well, we originally decided to have them soldered together.  But, when the local jeweler did, they managed to thin one side and now a little spot shows through where a channel-set diamond sits, leaving it flawed.  Then one day, I noticed the perfect center stone missing.  A prong had broke.  By God’s grace we found the stone under the edge of a patio door molding, and had the prongs replaced.  But then the prongs were bigger and sturdier, and my once grand looking diamond, looked smaller and more obscure.  Many years had gone by, and one of the prongs broke off at the top.  I don’t wear it anymore for fear of losing that beautiful diamond in the center.

Years after we bought another, not as pretty and not as worthy, and recently, at a talent show in a large auditorium, the center stone of that fell out…never to be found again.    So now I rotate between a hand-me-down ring from my mom and rings that match whatever I’m wearing.  So between us, half the time with no rings on our fingers, or none to wear that have the original meaning, and no luck whatsoever with jewelry in general,  I feel like people wonder how an unmarried woman could have so many kids running around behind her.  There’s nothing to proclaim I belong to someone.  There’s nothing to proclaim my husband belongs to me.

“What symbol as a reflection of your love and commitment do you bring today?” I can hear the pastor ask 28 years ago.  The ring itself didn’t mean I was married, the ring proclaimed  I was married!  The ring doesn’t mean I’m a good wife; but it proclaims that I belong to a man and am happy to show it.  “What do you have today that is a reflection of your love and commitment to me?” I hear the Lord ask.  (The thinking again!)  Ugh!  Not even a ring can proclaim that.  A sign can’t proclaim it.  A good old fashioned Baptist lapel pin can’t proclaim it.  “How do they know you are mine?”  This verse has been my theme for the week and now I know why!  “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, self-control….”  The evidence, the proclamation that I am His!  They have to see it, they have to know we belong to someone beyond anything or anyone this world has to offer…and they will…they will know we are Christian’s by our love as evidenced by the fruit.

The opposite is also true…if you are not exuding love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, self-control….well then……  “How do they know you are mine?”