As we drove through town, just the two of us, me and my third son, a junior, we talked – about new friends and old friends. The early morning coolness blew though the windows, my hair tickling my cheeks. Sans little brothers, the quiet was perfect soil to grow meaningful words. Those words grew without coaxing – one of those true moments.
“They called me Jesus,” he said, this son who has a joy-of-the-Lord spirit, talking about his friends from where we lived the last 2 years. “‘Cause I always wore sandals.”
And because he believed when they didn’t.
My older boys love sandals – even in the cold months. Chacos are their favorite, usually hand-me-down Chacos from the oldest son, Old Navy flip-flops will do in a pinch.
“Most of them were atheists. One was a Jew. I still pray for them. I pray they’ll be saved.”
Despite their unbelief – He told them about that belief anyway, in words and actions, in their presence and in prayer.
We talked a little more, our talk winding around. I’m not sure where these next words came out of in that conversation, where I was listening more than talking.
“Yeah. I fell away for a time,” and as that sunk into my heart, he said, “But I came back.”
He saw I wanted to say something, and he interrupted, “I came back, mom. We don’t need to talk about it.”
Both he and his brother fell away for a time, after Papaw died. After our minister stood Hospice Compassion Care room and prayed for a miracle, a miracle for this man who was dying with cancer, who had played tennis just 2 months ago, this man adored by 12 grandsons.
I just wanted to reach over, grab his neck and hug the stuffing out of my son. If I tried, he’d just say, “10 and 2, Mom. 10 and 2,” reminders to keep my hands on the steering wheel. He’s always reminding me ’cause I’m either talking with my hands or trying to tickle a rib in the passenger seat.
That falling away – I remember fearing when I was little falling away. How can you be 8 or 10 or 16 or 25 – and think, “Is there enough good stuff in me to be faithful to God for a life-time?” Remember how forever it took just to get to Christmas each year?
At 19, I battled faithfulness. I had prayed for someone since I was a little girl, that God would lift her out of her struggles. I had a tantrum and ignored God for awhile. But He kept whispering to me, gently calling me – and one day I heard, “I placed the opportunities. It was up to her to use them.” I saw the truth, and turned back, wondering if I could be as faithful to God as He was to me. If I could live a lifetime of faithfulness.
“The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Let me be long-lived, Oh Lord, like the palm tree and the cedar in Lebanon. And like the Cedar, let me grow to my full potential, and like a cedar chest, let me keep away things that would eat at what is within me, keeping me whole and full, full of things of You.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
Let my faith roots be deeply buried in your house, Oh Lord. Let me bear hardships in faith, brave challenges without letting go, believe in the evidence of things not seen. Let me not just endure but thrive, grow, riotously blossom, reseed, and grow in your courts.
They still bear fruit in old age
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;
Let me show my children how to grow old, loving you Lord. Let my faith stories declare your faithfulness, your enduring love, your mighty strength. Let your Holy Spirit pull up into me, like water pulls up in a tree, replenishing the sap of my faith – and, at the right time, the healthy time, let it spill from inside out, these stories telling of your faithfullness, your love.
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him” (Psalm 92:12-15).
You are my rock, my fortress, my deliverer. You are not a God who abuses, not a power-hungry God who wants us to dance for your amusement like a marionette on a string, but a noble, worthy God who loves unconditionally, who is better than I can imagine, who wants us to love you because we want to. I might shake. I might fall in a heap at your feet. But you do not. And when all the pieces of me crumble on You my rock, you breathe life back into me like you did to the dry bones in the valley(Ezekial 37) – and I will stand again, strong, tall, enduring, like the Cedars of Lebanon.
If the LORD had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul” (Psalm 94:17-19)
Thank you, Father. You knew I would struggle. You knew it would take me a long time to understand that your kind of Faith is indeed a lifetime faith, an enduring faith. Thank you for not only catching me when I fall, but thank you for catching my sons when they fall. Thank you for being more enduring, more faithful, more understanding than we are. Thank you for replenishing my spirit, my faith, me with YOU. Thank you for moments in the car with my son when I see an enduring faith growing in him, a heart to call your children who don’t know they can be your children to you, who knew you enough to walk back to you when his heart hurt and he didn’t understand. The more I walk this life with you Father, the more I understand love and the more I love you real, Father. Thank you for giving me time to grow your kind of love inside me!