I heard a story once about a father who walked in on his little boy as he said his bedtime prayers.
“Dear God,” the little fellow prayed. “Please take care of my daddy and my mommy and my sister and my brother and my doggy and me. Oh, and please take care of Yourself, God. If anything happens to You, we’re gonna be in a big mess!”
I’m not sure of the theological correctness of that prayer, but I do understand the concept. All that we have, all that we are, and all that we will ever be depends on God. If anything ever happened to God, we would be in a big mess.
The truth is, though, that nothing happensto God. In fact, He “happens” to everything else. No matter what the evening news may tell us, or how often the skeptics scoff at the mention of His name, He is still in charge. He has not descended from His throne in the heavens, and He has not left His place in the center of our hearts. He’s still in control, and we’re not in a big mess, even if sometimes it may seem that way.
The reason for that assurance is that God is faithful to us, and faithful to the promises He has made us. Times may change, and people may disappoint us, but God doesn’t, and won’t. He is always there, always dependable, always keeping us out of the big messes we deserve.
One of my favorite Scriptures speaks of that very idea. 2 Timothy 2:13 says, even “if we are faithfless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” That is, by His very nature, He cannot not be faithful.Even if we are.
So there’s one thing you can count on as you say your bed-time prayers tonight, and that is that God will take care of Himself, and He’ll take care of you as well. He is faithful.
I’m praying for you, my church family, as I hope you are for me. I’ll see you Sunday.
You may think I’m a little crazy. You won’t be the first. You may think I’m being a overly dramatic. That’s a definite possibility, too. Someone said I was morbid. Someone else said it was a little “sick” or “twisted.” Perhaps so. But at least let me explain.
I came across a photo somewhere on an Internet search several months back, was intrigued by it, and saved it to my hard drive. When I was searching through some files recently looking for a document I came across the photo, and decided to use it as desktop background of my office computer.
It’s a picture of a headstone, with the name “Letson” carved in it. Nothing else–no first names, no birth or death dates, no catchy epitaphs. Just my last name, etched into a big granite rock, sets against the backdrop of a serene cemetery setting. And every time I come into my office and boot up my computer, there it is, staring me in the face, a reminder that one day, my name will be carved into a headstone too.
I don’t know when that day will come, and I’m glad I don’t. But I do know that, according to Hebrews 9:27, “it is appointed for a man to die once, and after that judgment.” In other words, like everyone else I have an appointment with physical death, which means my days here on earth are numbered. I only have a limited time to live, to love, to give, to serve, to make a difference, so it’s best I not waste my days on frivolous pursuits, when eternity stares me in the face very day.
The Psalmist wrote: “Teach us to number our days so we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) We count our days, so we can make our days count. Whatever it takes, we all need to be reminded sometimes in the ebb and flow of life to “be careful how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16).
Is the image on my computer a little over the top? Maybe so. But for me, it’s a nice daily reminder not to take my life for granted and to live out my purpose for His kingdom sake. I need to do what I can, while I can, to influence this world for the gospel and to love others with the love of Jesus.
By the way, I’m glad that I don’t have anything to fear about dying, since Jesus has conquered death and the grave on our behalf, and I have the blessed assurance that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” O death where is your sting? It’s gone. Thanks be to God, it’s long gone.
In the meantime, I’m sure glad the Lord has allowed us to spend this little bit of time we have here on earth together, serving Him through such a wonderful church like Shelby Crossings. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
Interestingly, the only Biblical account we have of the life of Jesus between His early childhood and adulthood was when He was twelve years old and His parents accidentally left Him behind in Jerusalem. You probably remember the story, recorded in the last part of Luke 2.
Joseph and Mary had gone up to Jerusalem with their family to celebrate Passover, which they did every year. On their long walk back home to Galilee–after a full day’s journey–they realized that the boy was not with them. I can imagine the conversation.
Mary: “Where’s Jesus?”
Joseph: “I thought He was with you.”
Mary: “No, I thought He was with you!”
Joseph: “No, remember, I said I would pack the donkey, and you were responsible for getting Jesus.”
Mary: “Uh oh.”
After three days–one coming, another going back, and one day searching–they found Jesus, where they had left Him, in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, “in His Father’s house.” There are several spiritual lessons here: don’t forget Jesus; when you go looking for Him, He’s right where you left Him; and He’s always about His Father’s business. But that’s not why I share this story.
It is because in that context, I don’t feel as bad admitting that one time, I left one of my children at a fast food restaurant. It wasn’t on purpose, though that’s something I considered more than once when they weren’t acting so nice. But it was more than a little embarrassing, to say the least, to have to go back to Hardee’s and face the manager who was trying to call me to tell me I had left my daughter behind.
I felt like a horrible parent, until I remembered I was in pretty good company–that Jesus’ parents did the same thing with Him. And He turned out all right.
There wasn’t much excuse in my situation. My wife was sick in bed when I came home from work. The kids needed dinner, and I was inept in the kitchen. So, I loaded them all up in the van to go grab something quick. The dinner itself was as uneventful as you would expect with a dad and six little kids. On the way out, I saw someone I knew. We talked, while the kids loaded into the van.
The conversation went long (as often happens with me) and one of the children realized she needed to go to the bathroom, and wandered back inside. Meanwhile, my conversation ended, I got in and started the engine, and drove off. We were gone about five minutes when the older sisters did a head count in the back of the van and reluctantly told me, “Dad, I think we forgot Rachel.”
Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll have one of the greatest privileges a father can have, in giving my daughter away in marriage. I’m proud to say that she turned out all right, too, in spite of my less-than-stellar parenting, on that night and on many other occasions. By His grace, God has a way of overcoming our “uh-oh’s” and blessing us in spite of our failures. And now it’s time for Rachel to move on, and to be about her Father’s business with her new husband Blake.
In light of the difficulties she has faced in the past month or so, it will be pretty special to walk her down that aisle. I’m thankful for all your prayers for Rachel, leading to this special day, and I hope each of you can join us for the wedding, Saturday at 2:30 at the Rosser Farm in Columbiana. All of the Shelby Crossings family is invited to the celebration.
And remember, never leave Jesus behind. Or, your kids either.
I’m grateful to be a part of such a wonderful church family, and I look forward to seeing each of you on Sunday, if not before.