Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Cross and Apple Blossoms

I traveled to the bottom of the state of Illinois today to the town of Anna. I met with a group of pastors and we dialogued about evangelism. I decided to take a scenic route home. I drove on west about 5 miles and then headed north on IL Route 127. The next 25 miles is one of the most scenic in our state, especially this time of year when the apple trees are in full bloom. As my truck groaned up the hills I marveled at the freshness and newness of life.  I smiled at the potential of fruitfulness that danced upon the landscape. I glanced to the west and saw the large white cross perched atop a hill known as Bald Knob near Alto Pass, IL. I exited the highway and drove a winding road five miles through the timber and then walked to the foot of the cross. The wind was brisk so I did not stay long. But I tarried long enough to reflect upon how a cross, a cruel instrument of death, became God’s tool to bring life and salvation to the world. Since that time, while the cross may remind of us death, it has become a symbol of life and hope.

I have been weepy all day. In fact, I have been weepy for a week or so. I needed to see the apple blossoms. I needed to see the cross. I am not sure why I have been weepy as of late but I think it is because I have been feeling, or at least trying to feel, some of the pain that exist in the hearts of my brother Bryan, my sister in-law Renee, and my nephew Andrew. April 16, 2014 marks the 7th anniversary of my niece Austin Cloyd’s death. She was killed along with 31 others at the shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech University in 2007. Though I make a feeble attempt to feel their pain I cannot imagine the depth of their hurt. But through my weepiness I found hope today. The apple blossoms prove that winter has been overtaken by spring and summers warmth will bring a harvest. Life can be good even though it has been bad. And that cross on top of Bald Knob shouts to my soul. Death may have its sting, but Christ has the victory.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Faithful Servant

I just sneezed. Immediately my 28 year old autistic son Brock  got up from his chair and soon he was standing beside my desk with a box of Kleenex. It is the same pattern every time Brock hears my sneeze. The pattern got started I guess a couple of years ago when I sneezed and then asked Brock to get me a Kleenex. He graciously performed the task. Every since that time whenever I sneeze he will stop whatever he is doing, go to the bathroom and come back with the box of Kleenex. Sometimes I try to stop him by telling him that he does not need to do or that I do not need a Kleenex. But there is no stopping him. If he hears me sneeze he is off to the races to perform this service for me. He has been known to interrupt his meal or get out of bed at night to attend to my need. Service has become a habit for him. He appears to do it not just as a duty but with love and joy. The scriptures teach us that the greatest among us are those who serve others. I sure do have a great son.

But I am left to wonder this morning how difficult it seems for most of us to develop a pattern of being a servant. And when we do develop that pattern it often becomes a duty and drudgery rather than an exercise of love and joy. How easy it is to become weary in well doing. Being a servant is not the normal pattern of the general populous. Being a faithful servant is unusual. Yet we have been called to develop this attitude and to perform service to others. It is this rarity of becoming a servant that makes us great.

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