How much do we really know about heaven. There are many accounts of those who say they have been or have had contact with those that have already gone before us. There are thousands of near death experiences of those who left this world for a short time say they went to heaven but had to return because it wasn’t their time for one reason or another. During their brief stay they have tried to put into words what they experienced.
Then there are those who have had dreams about heaven not to mention the multitude of psychics who proclaim their gifts of being able to contact those that have left this world.
There are many movies on heaven with the help of creative minds that has probably given me the most food for thought when it comes to life after death.
Then of course there is the bible. Heaven is mentioned close to six hundred times giving pastors, preachers and teachers of the Good Book thousands of sermons or classes on the subject over time.
I am not a theologian, a psychic nor have I had a near death experience. I have not had any dreams or visions about heaven nor do I see myself understanding completely what the bible teaches about God’s heavenly kingdom.
My thoughts on heaven have come from all the above and I must say I have not drawn any satisfying conclusion to what I believe heaven will be like at least from an earthly physical standpoint.
I have been thinking about heaven on a more consistent basis the last few years for a variety of reasons, one being that I am beginning to feel the finish line is not that far away. It’s probably the only thing we can count on in this life, is that we will die and that something has to happen to us after we die.
Paul stated himself, “if in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable” I Cor 15:19 In other words if we live only for this world and in our service to God only for the benefits that this world has to offer then it will be a un-fulfilling adventure in itself.
When Jesus taught his disciples how we should pray in that infamous sermon on the mount in the book of Matthew, the words, “thy (God’s) will be done in earth as it is in heaven”, a prayer I had read hundreds of times and must have said a thousand times without understanding its relevance.
Maybe heaven is not that far away. Aside from the miraculous spiritual aspect of God giving us a new life physically and a new life born again spiritually then maybe he also wants us to understand the connection between the two.
I have come to believe that in each one of our lives, young or old we are having experiences that gives us a glimpse into what heaven is like. I started thinking of some of the memorable experiences that I have had that could very well be a link between both worlds.
Experiencing the birth of my children has to be way up there.
Holding that child for the first time, sitting on the bed next to my wife with that baby in my arms, his/her eyes still closed but the warmth of our bodies connecting the feeling is actually indescribable. Handing the baby back to its mother and realizing that we have done something special in bringing a new life into the world watching the baby take its first suck of the breast had to be one of the most rewarding times in my life. In retrospect it was far greater than that. God was giving me a glimpse of his will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
When I blurted out, ‘look at what we created’, I now know my wife was gracious in her allowing me to accept some of the credit. My part in that creation was rather small, literally and metaphorically speaking. I can almost see God at each birth looking down on me with a wry smile and his arms folded across his chest, a big sigh and a shake of his head. But he let me think I was king of the mountain even if for only a moment knowing that the baby’s first night home will change my tune.
That is only one little experience in my 67 years on this earth. When I first started writing this post over a week ago I couldn’t get any traction. I finally got the point, this is not about me. This not about how many experiences I have had that could connect heaven and earth. This is about all of us having these earthly experiences that connect us or act as a conduit between heaven and earth that allows God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I saw a movie recently that the police or security agencies had this software that could take hundreds of partial images from various cameras placed around a city or country. These images were then put up on a large screen in no specific order. Together they looked like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle all jumbled up. None of the pieces were clear enough or gave enough information to give a clear picture of who they were looking for. When they put all these pieces into the program, wallah, they were all pieced together to form one solitary picture of their suspect.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do the same. Take our seemingly insignificant mortal experiences that relate to our connection to heaven and program it to show us a fuller picture.
Individually our experiences along these lines are like a drop in the ocean but together we could probably come up with a fairly good overall picture of what heaven is like through our early experiences. But until then we may need to be sufficiently satisfied with the few that we have individually.
I believe I have had enough of these links to satisfy my curiosity that God will is being done on earth as it is in heaven.
Now I am starting to see my life on earth in a different perspective. Heaven comes to earth everyday. We just need to keep our eyes and ears open to see and experience it.
Have you had a glimpse of heaven?
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, “the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) I am sure he was talking from experience. Peace in our hearts and in our minds at the same time is like taking a vacation in Heaven.
In the early years after the death of my son, peace of mind went missing and my heart was a constant raging sea. Months could pass before experiencing peace that I am sure I had taken for granted my whole life.
Watching my 36-year-old son suffer with bipolar I have failed to understand his pain. When he writes from time to time on his Facebook page that he had a great day and was enjoying peace I started to realize what was important to him.
When my good blogging friend, from Missing Peace struggles to find meaning to life the title of her blog tells it all.
Through my own experience I have learned that peace of mind and heart are as important to the soul as is water, food and sleep to the body. Without them we will not be at our best.
All Paul pointed out, the peace that God gives passes all our understanding. Like turning on a light switch. Most of us don’t understand electricity and how it works but we know we can see when the light is turned on. Peace is a similar necessity of life.
Peace comes more regularly these days although the visits are usually fairly short but I have learned to appreciate and be grateful for when it does come.
So, if you want to ask God for peace of mind for yourself or for someone you know who really needs it just claim Philippines 4:7 when you pray, “Lord bless my loved one with the peace of God which passes all our understanding knowing that our hearts and minds will be protected by Jesus himself”
Peace of mind? Oh what a feeling.
Last week I received an unexpected call from a dear friend. I hadn’t heard from her in almost six years. Our families had been friends years ago and as it happens when we moved cities we lost contact with each other. We chatted away for a few minutes going through all the politically correct conversation when two people haven’t talked or seen each other for some time.
I finally had to say, “Janice (not her real name), I know you didn’t call out of the blue to talk about the weather, what’s on your mind”. She laughed as she knows me too well. Get straight to the point is my middle name.
“You’re right” she said, and went on to tell me about a self-help program that she had been using for about a year and how much it had helped her and her family and even friends that I also knew well. She was adamant it could be a blessing to me also. She reassured me that she still believed in God and Jesus but this program helped her so much she just had to share it with others and thought of me.
If you know me you would know that I should have chosen to be a detective or prosecuting attorney as a career path. I opened up my investigation by asking, “what’s in it for you Janice?”. She told me nothing. She just wanted to share some good will. The next ten minutes she must have felt like she was before a grand jury or worse under the spotlight being coerced into a confession to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I know Janice and her husband and I know the type of people they are. Honest, of good character and I know she would never offer me something if she didn’t think it would be good for me and Rhonda (my wife).
I have had my own experiences with self-help programs, one I was fully into for a year. AT the time I felt this particular program could help me in certain areas I was having difficulty in so I made the decision to commit to the program lock stock and barrel for one full year. This I did and I threw myself into reading, learning, researching, listening and watching everything I could get my hands on and it wasn’t cheap.
When I completed my year, precisely to the day I had a good look at my progress, where I was at in my life compared to a year ago and I had to admit this particular program had been a blessing and had helped me in areas that I had been quite weak in. It hadn’t changed my life radically but I got enough out of it to feel satisfied that the year was well spent.
Weighing up the pro’s and con’s on deciding if I should continue the program was a blessing in disguise. It made me look at what I had in my life that brought me to where I was before committing to this self-help program and where I could go if I continued.
The scales seemed to be evenly balanced but I eventually decided to let the program go and not continue. What tipped the scales for me was this; I had realized that this program was so much like a religion in itself. Everything outwardly was working some good in my life but I was becoming dependent on this programs doctrine. I knew it was starting to become like a religion to me and I had no room in my life for two religions. My beliefs and commitment to the Lord over the past forty years of my life were in jeopardy as I could see that this program albeit very good outwardly was eroding some of the basic fundamentals of my relationship with the Lord that I had painstakingly built up over the years since I was a young man.
I had to think about why I felt I had to commit to this self-help program in the first place. I wasn’t happy with my life, too many ‘bad things’ were happening to me, my personal struggles seemed like they would never go away and I felt God was not working for me any longer. God seemed distant and unapproachable. I was starting to doubt God’s place in my life and my place in the world. I was looking for another way to find truth and purpose.
It was a wakeup call, I decide against continuing the pursuit of happiness with this new way of thinking. In plain english, there was no room in my life for two religions, two beliefs, two God’s. The one who had worked well enough throughout my life, He could just as well work well for me the rest of my life. I just needed to get back to basics.
I did look at the material Janice gave me via the programs web site but I already knew my answer. I communicated with Janice that this particular program was not for me. She understood and we promised to keep in touch. We said our goodbyes and I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to reaffirm my faith and love in a God who although sometimes seems distant and unavailable is always there either right next to me, walking in front leading the way, a step behind to make sure I don’t stumble and fall and then there are times when He even has to carry me because I am to weak to make it on my own two feet.
Trusting God has a lot of merit, its been tried and proven over countless years by millions of men and women of God. It’s the old fashion way and it suits me just fine.
(Footnote: I want to make it clear that self-help programs can help in areas of our lives that need work on. Medication can help, it takes away the pain, even if for only a short time to give us rest and peace of mind. A good movie helps keep our mind off our troubles if only for a few hours. Helping those in greater need than us is also rewarding. Laughing is a great way to feel good. Talking to someone who understands is encouraging. Reading a good book takes us out of our world for a short time. The list goes on but most of these things do not cure or heal the greater need. Trusting God does.)
My relationship with God is the most important factor in my life and my growth as a Christian and as a human being. I’m not sure God had a lot to work with when I came out kicking and screaming. I was determined from the git go to ‘do it my way’. So God had His work cut out for Him. Fortunately for me God got ahold of me early enough (twenty two yrs old) to try to make something out of nothing. The next forty-four years was always going to be a work in progress.
As in the physical realm it takes time, experience and lots of failures and hard knocks to form the type of person we are going to be. Fortunately most bad habits and defects in our physical makeup can be overcome as we try to better ourselves, especially when we get to an age of maturity when we realize that unless we make certain adjustments we could find ourselves in a place where it is very difficult to change.
It’s not easy to make these adjustments especially when bad habits become imbedded in our life, even addictions which as you may already know are very difficult to overcome.
There seems to be a million ways on the market to help us in our growth areas. Good diets, exercise programs,, coaching for success or being a better person. Therapy in all forms, even medication to help with our mental defects, pills to make us feel better, think clearly, to lose weight, to slow us down, to speed us up, to help us sleep.
Then there is God, a spanner in the works. Those of us who at some time in our lives, whether it be as a young child, an adolescent, teenager, middle age or senior citizen, something unexplainable overcame us. At the best of times is difficult to put into words for those who haven’t experienced it. Being born again is a term used and best describes what I consider a phenomenon.
An overpowering spiritual experience for some, for others a growth and learning process and even for others like the apostle Paul a good slap across the face.
At what ever age this occurs we must then learn how to live a spiritual life in a physical body and somehow try to keep both happy and walking hand in hand. Not an easy task.
I heard it said we are spiritual beings in a human body. That may be so but we need to give due respect to both sides and keep a good balance between the two.
Easier said than done when all you can think about is how you are going to pay the bills, find a girl or boy who likes you for who you are, staying up all hours of the night for a newborn who is intent on being number one in your life. At the same time trying to give due respect and attention to God.
This new relationship with God in a spiritual realm is not always by choice, its something that grows in you whether you like it or not.
So how do we obtain this spiritual maturity and how does it differ from the natural maturity we find from our normal human life.
To use king David in the bible as an example. Here was a man who was chosen as a young boy to be the king of Israel. He was given the power to take down a giant to save Israel from defeat in war. He led the armies of Saul so the people praised him as the greater warrior than the king himself. He pissed off Saul who was suffering from his own mental distresses and David had to run and flee for his life living in caves in the wilderness and mountains. He had to look non stop over his shoulder for those who would bring him harm and had to deal with his own personal demons. He constantly prayed to God for deliverance not only from his physical enemies but also from fear that overcame him to the point of near defeat and giving up. God helped him out of all this but in my opinion these trying times is not what made David a great leader or spiritually mature.
We all know the story of David and Bathsheba, what David did to get his hands on the most beautiful women he ever saw. He had one of his most faithful soldiers and servants, the husband of Bathsheba sent purposely to the front lines to put his life in danger and hopefully killed so David could claim rights to the women he wanted for his own.
His plan worked, he got his woman, they married to live happily ever after and had a son.
Now it was God’s turn to help David grow in a way that he couldn’t possibly do on his own. God sent word to the prophet Nathan that David needed to be paid a visit and be confronted with the truth. God was not happy with his anointed king. Nathan confronted David, told him a story about a man in his kingdom that did a very bad thing. David was furious and demanded to know his identity so he could bring this man to justice. When Nathan revealed that it was David himself who had done this wrong the king crumbled. Now facing his own demise David repented and God forgave him BUT, God wasn’t finished, he wanted to make sure David got the point. He wanted to make sure that David would not ever do it again but help him grow into spiritual maturity.
He took something very valuable from David (and Bathsheba), their only son.
It sent David over the edge and when he came out of his depressed state he became the man and king that God knew he could be from the beginning. He grew into spiritual maturity through broken-ness. Now God was ready to bless David, not as a the great warrior king but a man who now knew what it was like to lose something so valuable that for a time did not want to live on. This was the beginning of spiritual maturity on David’s part and from there it’s all history.
In the first thirty odd years of my spiritual walk with God I was blessed. Full of life, faith and trust in Him. Together we were a great team, but God knew that I needed to grow in a way that I was not willing or able to understand without the proper nudge.
I am just starting to understand the importance of spiritual maturity myself. Over the past years I have suffered some devastating losses. It broke me in so many pieces I thought there was no hope in every putting me back together again. But God did and He knew what He was doing with me and my life and used these times to help me mature in ways I never thought possible.
Spiritual maturity helps to redefine what is important in life, it helps to put priorities its proper place but most of all it keeps a more natural balance between the physical world we have to live in and the spiritual world that awaits us.
Proverbs 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (KJV) I have learned that being broken is not a weakness but a stepping stone for what is most important in life.
We live in a do it now generation and christians have fallen into that trap wanting God’s blessing now, get me to the mission field now, make me a leader now, wanting the trials to stop now, heal the hurt now. I have learned that there is no fast tracking spiritual maturity but when it does start to manifest itself in one’s life it brings “a peace of God that passes all understanding.” (the Bible)
The Word can be used as prayer as in the example below.
“Lord, I will do anything for you because I would rather be a doorkeeper in your house than live with the wicked. In other words Lord I don’t care what kind of ministry, mission or place in your kingdom that you have for me as long as it’s in your perfect will. (Psalm 84:10)
So when God answers your prayer and gives you a place that on the outside is less than desirable than what you had in mind when you claimed God’s Word just remember, sometimes you just may get what you asked for.
My prison ministry involves one 31 year old man, Ben. Over a month ago I visited Ben for the second time and he opened up and told me his story of how God changed his life.
Over eighteen months ago he was dramatically arrested for parole violations. His original sentence was drug related and with other charges he wound up with a two year sentence. He has been in and out of jail for the last three years and has been incarcerated for twenty consecutive months. The end of his sentence just five months away.
Ben told me with a wry smile that he was one angry man when he was last arrested and sent back to prison. He started fights with anyone around who looked at him the wrong way and caused trouble where there was none. The penalty for fighting and other serious offenses was at least a weeks isolation. Each time coming out angrier than when he went in.
Reminiscing to himself as he related how he got into such a mess, he said, “I had it all not too many years ago. I had a great partner a beautiful daughter and my own business. We had big plans, buying a house, expanding my business and working toward a successful life together.”
He admitted that drug use since he was a young teenager had taken its toll and for many years he was able to keep it under control. But as pressure built up in his life from raising a child, his relationship with his partner starting to sour and losing the passion for his business drugs became his best friend.
Ultimately his partner took their daughter and left for the refuge of family and friends over 2000 miles away. “This sent me over the edge. My daughter was my best friend and although my relationship with Sharon (not her real name) was beyond repair we were able to keep our differences at bay for the sake of Tina (not her real name.)
“About months into my jail term something happened. I had been having bad dreams for quite some time but when in isolation on this occasion I actually saw the demons above my cell looking down at me. They looked liked monsters and they were milling around in constant movement trying to figure a way to get at me. It freaked me out. It scared the crap out of me.”
He then confessed that up until that time he had professed to be an atheist. So much so that he refused to allow anyone to teach his daughter about God.
“As the demons seemed to be getting closer to finding a way at getting to me I prayed. I asked God to help me. I can’t remember exactly what I prayed but I know that God became real to me that night. That night the demons left and I had peace for the first time in many years.”
Not long after Ben got a hold of a Bible and made a promise to God.
“I told God that I would read the bible everyday. I started from Genesis and read every word to the end of Revelations. I started to pray every night without fail.”
Ben now smiling from ear to ear related how things started changing. Prior to this time Sharon would not answer any of his letters. He was cut off from his daughter not knowing if she had gotten any of the letters he sent her.
“Miraculously Sharon started to write me and we have been in constant communication ever since. I renewed my relationship with Tina and I talk to her every week. Sharon and I are now committed to put aside our differences and she has invited me to live with them when I get released from jail so I can be a part of Tina’s life.”
His life in prison has dramatically changed. He started drawing and sketching again sending most of his work to his daughter. He believes he has become a positive influence on other prisoners and has been moved to a section of the prison for those who earned the right to live less supervised in dormitory type quarters. He now has a job within his unit that keeps him busy and earns him some extra money to call his daughter.
“I work out every day, I keep myself in shape as I want to be a personal trainer when I get out” he tell me. “I even eat only healthy foods now”, he says with a chuckle.
Most of all Ben is growing in his faith learning to trust God for everything in his life. He has no regrets about his past and looks forward to his future with mixed feelings knowing it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
As I write this I am reminded of a letter he wrote not long after he allowed God back into his life. He mentioned that all the faith and love that his parents raised him with had come back to him and how thankful he was for all they had taught him about God growing up.
Now I have a wry smile on my face. You see, Ben is my son.
I have afflicted myself with many self-assessments over the years in just about every facet of my life. I think I have eared the right to do so, I mean who knows me better than me. And this is a true statement in a sense because there are three ways to see yourself. Through God’s eyes, through your own eyes and through the eyes of others.
As I am approaching the 7th anniversary of my son’s suicide I was curious how much his death changed me, good or bad. So I did something that was out of character. I asked someone else, my wife. With over 30 years of being together no one knows me better because there is the public me and the private me. She knows both of me’s.
So I went about plotting the perfect time and place to ask her and chose our short ride when I drive her to work everyday. It’s perfect because I have her undivided attention and more importantly the drive is long enough for a good assessment but not too long as to allow any ‘hubby’ bashing. Not that she would do that but I wasn’t taking any chances.
“Honey, can I ask you something? And I am looking for an honest assessment if myself.”
“Have I changed since Aaron’s death? And if so how?”
Now since she wasn’t expecting this question I was sure she would take some time to think about it.
“You’re less judgemental.” She said without any hesitation.
There you have it. I opened the floodgates. The message became clear as she honestly spoke of before and after. I was a mini dictator, not so much with outsiders and friends but within my own kingdom, my wife and children. It was an eye opener, not that I didn’t know these things but in my own self assessments I was able to sweep some of these things under the carpet. But she was so open and honest with me. I had not been an easy person to live with. I was unapproachable. My eyes were open to things to truths about me that I would have been defensive about but before I could defend myself she told me the good that has come out of our tragedy.
Losing Aaron was the most difficult thing in my life I had to face and although it took some time it made you a better person, she assured me. I became less judgemental, sweeter, more understanding of others sufferings and shortcomings and someone who is easier to be around from our families perspective.
Whew, the ride into town seemed longer than usual but when my dear wife got out of the car she kissed me on the forehead and said, we have both changed and most of it is for good. I love you.
This morning before writing this I read a few verses from Psalms that spoke to me.
” Before I was afflicted I went astray but now have I kept thy word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statutes (God’s ways). Psalm 119:67 & 71.
God wants to bring out the best in us and He will use everything at his disposal to make that happen. I had got that honest assessment from someone who apparently knows me better than me.
Seven years ago this month our 28-year-old son, Aaron, took his life by walking in front of a truck on a busy highway. He was killed instantly.
For six and a half years I was in no man’s land trying to make sense of what seemed to me a selfish act. We were blindsided and I was faced with emotions, anger, guilt and grief I never knew existed.
Then one day, about six months ago, I decided enough was enough. I had to do something to make sense of what had been the most difficult time in my life. There had to be an end to the suffering or was there. Was it simply something I would have to contend with for the rest of my life. Either way I knew I had to start putting the past behind me and find a way to move forward.
I decided to tell my story, hence Surviving My Son’s Suicide was born.
I invite you to visit ‘My Other Blog’.
It’s a story I wish I didn’t have to tell but God’s ways are not necessarily our ways.
“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so whom He hath redeemed out of the hand of the enemy…then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.” Psalm 107:2-7
Whenever I find myself struggling to find God’s purpose and plan for my life I am tempted to think that somehow God in his infinite wisdom and his excellent organizational ability somehow either forgets about me or has placed me in the to do (later) file.
I have been struggling for many years, not being content in the state I find myself. Some how I have made myself believe that God has not listened to my insistent nagging that some may call prayers. I know God’s not deaf, I know he has promised to answer our prayers. What I don’t sometimes understand is why it takes so long to answer and why there is no obvious manifestation of these prayers.
I’m not talking about the every day “give us this day our daily bread”, that a given. The Lord has continued to bless us, keep us safe, healthy and relatively happy. I’m talking about the life changing stuff. My big picture purpose, mission in life, the big calling. The stuff real saints are made of.
Over the years I’ve sometimes felt like I’ve made my big splash. That the Lord has been dragging me (kicking and screaming mind you) out to pasture where I can live my days in relative ease and security.
I think many of us christians are faced with this continual battle. “Lord I need to do more for you, point me in the right direction, give me one last shot at the basket before the buzzer goes off, one last chance to prove myself so I can show you what a great believer I am.
I’m sure the Lord is pleasantly amused at our (me and you?) zeal and desire to make a big splash he doesn’t necessarily see things that way.
About a year ago my thirty-six year old son was diagnosed with bipolar. This explained his strange behaviour over the years that we couldn’t quite figure out what was up in his life and had come to conclusions that were not necessarily in line with this illness. With the proper help and medication he is able to feel and act normal in-between the severe up and down mood swings that goes with the territory.
I spent much of my reading time researching the illness and trying to understand what he goes through and why.
I recently read a book by an ex-preacher who told his story of living with bipolar. This man became aware at the age of 15 that he had something peculiar about him, it took another fifteen years to be diagnosed with this bipolar disorder. Many more years battling the mood swings and depression it brings on resulting in many visits to the mental wards plus loss of his ministry and even family. He has in time learned had to neutralize his illness which has helped to normalize his life somewhat.
I had believed in the beginning that my boy would be able to overcome this illness like you could cancer or any other similar disease that cure and remission is possible.
A statement this author made in his book helped me understand the severity of this illness. He said that bipolar is something that lives with your forever. You just have to learn how to live with it.
With this thought in mind I had to be prepared to accept that my son would have to deal with this illness for the rest of his life and at the same time continue to work toward a happy, peaceful and relatively normal life, not only for his own benefit but for those he holds close to him.
This mini revelation shined the light on my life and my constant struggle to find God’s highest will and place in my life. Something that I have allowed to eat at me for too many years and even possibly has been the major cause of holding me back from not only enjoying the life that God has given me but to also be the blessing to those who I hold close to me.
I too am learning to accept that the high calling I hold so close to my heart, the one last mission that seems so important to me to show God I still got the stuff, the desire to know that God can still use me that would give me more purpose in what I have considered a mundane life these past years always seemingly just out of reach.
I am starting to accept that it just might not be God’s highest for me to attain this higher calling that I continue to reach towards. In fact I am sure that my desire for these unseen blessings are keeping me from understanding God’s true purpose in my life. To continually live each day like it was my last where I am, with the people I am with the talents and love that God has already given me.
With this in mind I know that Jesus words stands out when he says, “peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto, let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid.”
All the missions in life, our high calling or the thrill of purpose God gives us is nothing without peace in our hearts. I know my son would prefer to have peace of mind heart and soul as he battles his illness more than any success the world has to offer.
As I continue to struggle forward God is helping me to re-evaluate my priorities in life.
From time to time my wife will bring home some clothing given to her by some of her clients. Most of the time they don’t fit, the style and color doesn’t match my personality or I just don’t like it. But on this occasion we struck oil. A polo shirt that was a good color for me, a style I would be comfortable with but most importantly it fit over my every growing midsection.
I was pleased with the find and as my wife straightened the collar and smoothed out the wrinkles she told me how good it looked on me.
As we looked in the mirror together I couldn’t help myself. I said, “ugh it makes me look fat”.
My wife replied, “I don’t care”, and so the deal was done. I got myself a new shirt.
As I was taking some time this morning to reflect on my day for some reason I was reminded of the polo shirt and replayed the mirror scene over and over in my mind. So what was the big deal, what was I not seeing or why was I being reminded of a seemingly ordinary encounter between my wife and me.
Then it dawned on me, it was what she said when I told her I looked fat in the shirt. She could have lied and said, “no honey, you don’t look fat, it’s a perfect fit and I love that 8 pack you’re working on”. She didn’t say this and I know she wasn’t even thinking it.
But she did say, “I don’t care”. In other words, sure you’ve gained some weight over the years and its difficult to find shirts that hide the obvious but who cares, I don’t. I love you just the way you are.
I couldn’t help but think it’s exactly how the Lord looks at us when we come to him, head down, repentant over some glitch in our character or personality. He tells us, ‘I don’t care, I love you just the way you are, after all I made you and I am quite pleased with how you are turning out.’
We Christians love to carry our own cat-o-nine tails around with us to give ourselves a good flogging when we need it, but really. As my wife looked at me in the mirror and said, “I don’t care”, I knew she loved me in spite of me. She sees me differently than the way I see myself.
And so does God, he looks past our physical imperfections and looks at our soul. He is more interested in how we are progressing and growing spiritually.
Jesus encourages us ‘to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and to love those we come in contact with in the same way we would love ourselves’.
This is difficult to do when we are always picking on ourselves and seeing the physical imperfections in others.
Like my dear wife, we need to learn to say, ‘I don’t care’ and mean it.