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Monday, June 18, 2012
Yesterday we drove along the Susquehanna River and passed this view near Turkey Hill point.
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"A Father's Love"
"Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with Him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying" (Luke 8:41,42a).
The love of a parent or grandparent is but a glimpse of the infinite unconditional love that God has for those He made in His image. Their devotion and sacrifice go far beyond the call of duty. The other day Lee, a friend of ours, told us the following story that speaks of the loving and generous sacrifice a grandparent will make for their grandchild.
After being at the shore for several days with his wife and grandchildren it was time to head home so they all cleaned up and packed their bags to return home. Lee picked up a black plastic garbage bag he saw in the kitchen and tossed it out in the dumpster prior to their three hour trip back to Lancaster County.
When they got home his granddaughter asked for her toys. Lee didn't know where they were so he asked his wife. It turns out she had stuffed them into a black plastic garbage bag, the very one Lee had walked to the dumpster back at the shore. The little girl cried inconsolably, so what did he do?
Lee drove all the way back to Bethany Beach and did some dumpster diving. (Now Lee is my age so you have to get the picture here!) He reported that the dumpster didn't have much more in it than when he left so he was able to easily retrieve the bag with the toys much to his granddaughter's delight. And the lack of added garbage to sort through was much to Lee's delight! (Maybe clear garbage bags are the way to go since I also recall a woman in our former congregation who accidentally threw away her very best dresses she had set aside for the dry cleaners.)
Lee went to a great deal of time and effort to please his grandchild. What a tremendous blessing it is to experience the love of a (grand)parent. Yesterday was "Father's Day", a day set aside here in America (along with Mother's Day in May) to honor our parents. My father died in 1998 but recollections of his love abound in my memories as do recollections for Brooksyne concerning her dad.
Many reading this have an assurance of their earthly father's love but certainly not all do. In fact we meet more than a few who share sad stories. This last week as I greeted people within the companies we serve as chaplains I made inquiries about their fathers. One man told me he had not seen or heard from his father for many years and had no idea where he was.
Yet each of us, even when disappointed with our earthly father, can have a deep assurance of our Heavenly Father's love!
Jairus is one of my favorite dads mentioned in the Bible. Although he had a leadership position in the synagogue his role as a father took prominence in the brief story written about him. Jairus demonstrates three qualities needed today by godly fathers:
1) Love. We aren't told whether Jairus had any sons, but Scripture indicates that he had only one daughter, twelve years old, and tragically, she was dying. We've seen the anguish of loving parents whose child is critically ill or whose debilitating disease is beyond the skill of the medical profession. We had our own share of agonizing distress when Ester, as an infant and child, experienced complications during her heart surgeries or endured long, grueling recoveries.
My mother was one of seven children who lived into adulthood; in fact, they all lived well into their senior years. But her parents lost an infant son and young daughter. I recall how to his dying day the loss of these two children was a painful memory for my grandpa, especially Evelyn, the daughter who died around 1930 when she was twelve years old. Recalling this memory nearly forty years after my grandpa's death indicates that it had a profound effect on his life and my own.
2) Desperation. Help was desperately needed and Jairus, likely overcoming pride, prejudice, and panic, (especially as a synagogue ruler) very publicly approached Jesus for help. He went to the right Person. He came to the Master and "fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with Him to come to his house."
The same desperation observed in Jairus pleading with Jesus, on behalf of his daughter, needs to be demonstrated by caring fathers today. His daughter was dying physically and Jairus needed Christ to intervene. Today our children face a spiritual onslaught from the one whom Jesus warns, "comes only to steal and kill and destroy." We desperately need Christ to intercede for the hearts of our children. Our world is sick and dying. Sin and wickedness know no bounds. Our children are at the edge of a slippery precipice. They're flooded with appeals to "Jump!"
3) Faith. It took faith to approach Jesus and faith to hold on. They were delayed when the woman who had bled for twelve years touched the hem of the Master's garment. It was at this point that Jairus received word that his daughter had died and was told, "Don't bother the teacher anymore" (v.49). But Jesus said, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed" (v. 50). They indeed went to Jairus's home, a great miracle was performed, and the account ends with her parents being astonished at the miracle of their healed child.
Today, Dads, Moms, and Grandparents too, let's follow the example of Jairus. Critical problems demand a serious response. Let's boldly stand up, persevere, and fight for our children and grandchildren as they battle the evil one. We can make a difference as we faithfully pray, lead by example, and instruct our young in the ways of the Lord!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we are given a tremendous trust when You permit us to raise a child. What begins as a privilege and blessing can also turn into a challenge or desperate situation. No circumstance is too difficult for You. Your arm is not too weak to save, nor Your ear too deaf to hear our heart's cry. We pray for our children as they seek to overcome life's difficulties and battle the enemy's schemes. Help us to properly provide for their physical and spiritual needs as they journey into adulthood. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
A Christian Baptism
Yesterday we attended Connie Hess' baptism at her invitation. She is one of the women we see in the course of our chaplain ministry. It was held following a church service in a swimming pool surrounded by the beautiful southern Lancaster County countryside. The pastor reminded us in this very public baptism of what baptism meant. He also pointed out the potential deadly consequences for those who take this stand for Christ in those countries where Christians are persecuted.
Several were baptized and I recall a particularly touching moment. Holly, one of the women baptized, had apparently had some serious overcoming. With tears she expressed the joy of finding a place where she was accepted. Spontaneous responses rose up from the folks who had gathered round the pool as one by one they told her, "We love you Holly".
Connie read her testimony and gave us permission to share it with our readers (Connie's sister in the background lending support and her pastor in the foreground).
Connie Hess Testimony
June 17, 2012
My introduction to Jesus began as a little girl when my mother took my siblings and me to Sunday School. I learned that God saw everything I did so I thought of Him as someone to be afraid of. He couldn’t be very happy with me since I was bad at times. Forgiveness through Jesus Christ was never explained to me. Also, my childhood was not always happy, as I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father who often lost his temper.
Then in Junior High School I began going to Sunday School and church with my best friend, Wendy. She grew up in a Christian home with wonderful loving parents. It was at their church that salvation was explained to me and in 9th grade I gave my heart to the Lord.
At home, however, things continued to decline and my father’s drinking worsened. Even though I continued to go to church and got involved in the youth group, I experienced little spiritual growth. I still had my childhood Bible but no one encouraged me to read it. I did pray but most of the time it was just a list of requests.
I was a shy, unpopular girl and around the age of sixteen I met my first real boyfriend. He wasn’t a Christian and came from a troubled home. This relationship put a strain on my friendship with Wendy so I stopped going to church and started hanging out with my boyfriend and his friends. They weren’t a good influence and it became easier to ignore God than face Him in repentance. At a young 19 years of age I entered into a troubled marriage only to divorce two years later. I continued to push the Lord away convinced that I was so far beyond His grace.
Living at home again with my parents, I started going out with friends to parties and bars. I was so unhappy, feeling guilty and ashamed. I felt that God was surely disgusted with me. I chose to avoid Him rather than face my sin problem.
I met my future husband, Glen, during this time. He was a good guy; faithful, honest, a nondrinker who also didn’t do drugs. We were engaged not long after we started dating. Glen wasn’t raised in a Christian home yet his mother wanted us to get married in a church so we started attending a church where we could marry. However, we stopped going about six months after the wedding.
At the invitation of a friend I started back to church about a year later. Eventually I got tired of going without Glen and dropped out until three years later when our son was born. I was not at a good place spiritually but I wanted more for my child.
Glen began attending church with me. It became important to us that our children know the Lord. As we grew spiritually we began to recognize that the sermons we were hearing were not in accordance to the Bible so we began looking for a Bible based church.
We found a solid biblical church and I was able to stay home with our son and daughter at this time. It gave me opportunity to attend Bible Studies where I grew and matured in my faith. I repented and asked God to forgive me for the years I’d wasted.
I am truly the happiest I have ever been. During times of hardship and struggles God has been my anchor. It amazes me that anyone would go through life without Him. I am so blessed to have a wonderful husband, loving children, godly friends who encourage me, a supportive sister and a new church family that has made us feel very welcome. I am excited to see what He has planned for me. To God be the glory!
After the baptism we conducted a service at Longwood Manor, a personal care center where we serve as chaplains. We honored the fathers and I am pretty sure Clarence would have been the oldest. He and Alverta recently celebrated their 70th anniversary and have a 69 year old daughter.
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