I Peter 3:8-9
8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
We had a wonderfully exciting evening of open discussion at our mid-week bible study last night. With the seriousness of the socio-political events of this week, we took a moment to discuss these events that we, Christian or otherwise, must deal with as we move forward. We discussed the inevitability of prophecy. How we know we are moving towards end times events like a one world government, cashless monetary system, a one world religion and the likes. But while world-wide events are clearly outlined, the role of the US is not defined. Not having a definitive answer in scripture with how the United States will fair in eschatology, we choose to have one of two practical reactions:
- Since there is no way of knowing for sure what will happen in/to the US, we sit on our laurels and so nothing awaiting our doom.
- We can be encouraged! Using this time we have set before us to minister to the lost people of this country, knowing that there is yet still time to do His work.
The night went long, and our guests stayed longer than normal. After all had gone home for the evening, the we were relaxing on the couch enjoying a bit of a movie with the kids as 10:00 o'clock rolled up and it was time for bed. Slowly the children started to stir and head off to give us hugs and kisses before bed. It was then that Wyatt, our 13 (soon to be 14) year old son leaned back against my chest from my right side and said, "Maybe I'll just sleep here." Yes, I have been told I'm a big scary guy. I recently had a friend tell me I look like a caveman. Personally I feel like I look like a returning GI who has been living in the mountains of Afghanistan for the last 2 years now sporting a new beard and a bad attitude; but alas, I'm a softy.
I was personally touched by my son's comments and the serenity he seemed to be feeling as he lay on my chest. Peace had overcome him as he pulled the bill of his hat down over his face and offered a heavy sigh. Contentment sunk into him, and I was deeply experiencing the tenderness of a son resting in the protection of his father. I was immediately reminded of the scene of the Last Supper, where John leaned against the chest of Jesus (John 21:20). Up to this point in my life I have often wondered what it might be like to be John, so lovingly and contently leaning on Jesus, knowing how much Jesus loved him and cared for them (a fact that would be lived out in ways within the next 24 hours that, at that moment, John probably thought were never possible).
As my son leaned on me, I suddenly began to wonder what Jesus felt at that moment as well. I'm certain emotion boiled through his heart at that moment. John, a beloved disciple who loved Him dearly was spending his last meal with Him. Jesus was keenly aware, as his teachings that night would rightly declare that things were going to get very tough very fast for these men who had invested the last three years of their lives with Him. He knew that things were now in their hands. That now the test would come to see of the disciples would 'walk the talk' so to speak. He knew that much sorrow and broken heartedness was inevitable, and that again, the circumstances of the events that would in reality being about the opportunity for salvation for all of mankind, as important as that is, would initially being sorrow and real severe emotional pain for those He loved the most. And Jesus Himself was struggling to balance the reality of His being a man, with the duty of Him being God.
And then there's the Father. For the first time in all of eternity destined to be separated from the Son. He will be required to watch over His son have these last moments with the disciples, and yes, with John leaning on the chest of Jesus – enthralled, captivated by the love and respect he had for this man that, unknown to him, was about to die for him. The Father, knowing that the salvation of all His children rests on the finished work of the cross, cannot, will not, interfere - and therefore must watch with a broken heart Himself.
About 30 seconds later, and all this had run through my mind, my son gets up, and heads off to bed after a quick hug and a, "I love you too Dad". A split-second earlier I was elated to be considered a loving pillow for my son's head. With him gone, a coldness sets in on my chest as the heat of his affections have passed. A cool waterfall-like breeze of cool air drifts down over me as the window behind me had been slightly cracked open to 'air out' the house on what was an unexpectedly warm spring day. I'm left feeling like something is missing.
In our fellowship earlier we talked about a lot. We debated the merits of this and that, balanced it all against what we knew to be biblical truth and yet to be fulfilled prophecy. We looked at a lot of different subjects and angles of those subjects. As exciting as it can be to watch world events take place, the biggest thrill to that all is to be gathered together with God's people. To know you are in the company of people who think and feel and love like you do. Through all the conversations, and all the discussions and considerations, love was the central theme. Love, it was rightfully decided, is the centerpiece to all things Christian.
As Paul said at the beginning of I Corinthians 13, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." That moment of unknown tenderness shown by my son will have me fueled for weeks to come. That moment, were it not for the fact that he reads these devotionals as well, would have slipped his memory into the obscurity of life details lost to history as insignificant, is a moment I shall never forget.
By the way son, thanks for leaving that Airheads candy in my car. No you can't have it back, but yes, it was really good!