Sunday, April 19, 2015

Daddy's Love

Daddy loved sweet iced tea, lemonade and root beer. He loved Mom’s from-scratch cornbread and her semi-homemade cherry pie. He loved to travel and to tell us of all his adventures when he came home. He loved serving the Lord and His church. And he loved me.

Daddy never hung up the phone without telling me he loved me and even after I was a “grown woman,” he still answered my calls with either “Hi, Princess” or  “How’s my Baby Girl?” But he didn’t love me with words only. He showed his love time and time again through his thoughtful and kind actions. I remember the Christmas I was eight and Santa brought me a huge, swanky Barbie Dreamhouse filled with furniture; the only thing missing was a dining room hutch.

A couple of months later, Daddy came home from a business trip to Pennsylvania and nonchalantly presented me with the missing blue plastic cabinet. Even then I knew I had a special dad; he was a man who, while more than 700 miles from home, would search toy stores in a strange city until he found just what his daughter wanted, for the sole purpose of seeing the joy on her face when he gave it to her.

That wasn’t the first or last time Daddy did something like that. There was the Christmas he and mom surprised me with a second-hand French racing bike they had refurbished themselves. At my 16th birthday party, Daddy played photographer, making sure he snapped photos of the boy I had a crush on. For physics class, he helped me create a replica of one of his company’s machines and thanks to his guidance and hands-on help, I earned a perfect grade on the project. Besides all these things, when my sister and I were teenagers, Dad spent countless hours with Mom shopping for our clothes and never lost his patience. He repainted my bedroom furniture when I wanted a new look, took me to softball try-outs, and moved me back and forth to college several times each year.

Daddy was kind and patient and showed me his love in countless ways. I never had to doubt the depth of his love for me. Even after two years, I still miss Daddy tremendously. But I will never forget the lessons of love and faith he imparted to me through his actions, his words, and his example.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Christ is risen indeed!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you . . .” (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Two days ago, before the Easter worship service began, I texted my friends this message: “He is risen.” After church I could hardly wait to see how many had replied, “He is risen, indeed!” The message ritual has been going on long before texting was invented, but technology allowed me to share a moment of worship and fellowship with friends in other parts of the city, other cities, and other states. The addition of the adverb “indeed” which means “without any doubt, truly, undeniably,” underscores each person’s individual affirmation of the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. And the Resurrection embodies the hope of the Christian life. In his song “Because He Lives,” Matt Maher sums up the idea in these two sentences: “I’m alive! I’m alive because He lives.”

Because Christ paid the penalty for our sins and defeated sin and death through His death and resurrection, we have the hope of everlasting life. But we also have hope for this life: hope for healing. Hope for reconciliation. Hope for mercy and forgiveness. Despite that hope, the bleakness of our circumstances or of those we love often tempts us to despair. In one of my favorite scenes from the miniseries Anne of Green Gables, Anne Shirley tells Marilla Cuthbert she is in the “depths of despair” and then asks Marilla if she has ever been there. In her clipped Canadian accent, Marilla offers a one-word reply, “No.” Anne presses her, asking, “Can’t you imagine you were in the depths of despair?” With a grim expression and tart tone, Marilla answers, “No, I cannot. To despair is to turn your back on God.” I pray when we become discouraged, and maybe even despondent, that we remember to return to the everlasting joy of Easter where we find all our hope in a cross, an empty tomb, and a resurrected Savior.