Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Sunday, July 22, 2007

We're home!

It is good to be back! It was great to return to the pulpit this morning. It was also great to see everyone! All the travel and activity we have seen over the last two months is over and we are looking forward to settling down for a while.

I was caught off guard this morning when my voice started to give out about half way through the first service. I was pretty fired up and, at times, my enthusiasm gets the better of my voice. I guess it works when I'm speaking weekly but I haven't preached in 3 weeks and I think the throat wasn't anticipating a work out so suddenly. I was in Warrenton, my vocal chords were still sitting on the beach in North Carolina!

Ken Hunsberger came to my rescue between services and made some nice hot tea. Nikki Stamps, always ready to serve, ran up to me with some throat lozenges, which helped as well. These are small things but they mean a lot. I was reminded of how thoughtful and considerate the folks at WBF can be.

After numerous requests (most of them coming from my wife) I want to share a picture of Ruth and Todd in all their prenatal splendor. As many of you know, Kelly is a gifted photographer. She somehow manages to reach into her subjects and pull out amazing, emotional and beautiful pieces of art. She took a series of photos while we were down at the beach and this is one of them. Ruth and Todd are so good together. He is so excited about the baby and she is much like a mother! It's a whole different sensation seeing your little girl become such a beautiful young woman. Kelly caught it all. She is currently working on turning the pictures into a DVD with a musical background. If you've never seen one of these, they are amazing and always get me choked up.

Kelly did senior pictures for Kelsey Inson, Lauren Turner and Christina Pauley, as well. All the DVD's were a beautiful reminder of how the Lord is raising up godly young women in our midst.

As I was thinking about all this; watching the kids we saw in Sunday school grow up to be adults, seeing my own kids become adults, I was reminded of my Mom's words, finger wagging at me, "You won't know how I feel until you have kids of your own." She was right! I don't think I will ever be able to look at Ruth or Jason without, somehow seeing a little 9 year old girl who wanted to "be pretty like those girls on the magazine covers" and a 3 year old boy who has an amazingly loving heart and just wanted to share that love with other people. Funny, 15 years on and they both got their wish.

I see them as adults and relish the opportunity to relate to them as a brother in Christ but they'll always be my kids. I can't get away from it. I'm proud of both of them. For who they are and for who God is making them into. But, you know something? Even if I weren't proud of them, I would still love them as much as I do now. I can't really explain my love for my children but I am fully aware that it exists and continues to grow even as they continue to grow

That must be how God loves us. Unconditionally and totally. Even though we have all done things that must have disappointed Him, He still loves us. His love is unending and independent of anything else other than Him. We'll always be His kids and He will always be our Father. No matter what we have done, no matter what we do, His love will sustain us. I find tremendous comfort in that. It's an eternal promise, neither limited nor bound by this world nor the things of this world.

Now, I can see that God has placed in my heart, a deep and abiding love for my children so that I can begin to get a sense of how God loves me, of how He loves you. This is all very humbling. At the same time, it makes me want to be a better son to Him, to be a better reflection of His love, to be able to bask in the fullness of that love and allow it to carry me closer to Him.
John 15:9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. "

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