My earthly father died young.
With a small baby in arms, I stood by a graveside in rural Quebec. Rain fell on dark umbrellas and dampened soil glistened with rivulets running down walls of an earthy tomb waiting for the trumpet call of resurrection to defy the hold of lids now closed in death. A lone piper wailing ‘Amazing Grace’ stood tall against dark clouds, chanter and bag mingling with the heavy sounds of silent Scots working hard to hold back years of memories spilling down and dropping to the ground as heads hung low.
With another small baby in arms, the first is now grown and a mother of her own having named this child for the grandfather she never knew. A graveyard of moments lost between two so integral a part of my life now holds further hope of sharing treasures not imagined on that dismal day. Stories told recounting epic escapades and fond recollections of being fathered by this gentle godly man shape us still and will affect the life of this wee lad although a world apart in many ways.
Who we are and what we do with the life we are given has far reaching effects often unimaginable this side of heaven, but every so often we are given glimpses and are challenged once again to make the most of every day.
In authentic servants of Jesus, we see the love of the Father made visible by the Spirit standing with us in our joys and tears. Those who journey with him are invited to become reference points of consoling grace and kindness from generation to generation deeply rooted in underground springs of self giving whether or not the immediate effects are known.
So many people who live from servant hearts never know the true impact they have had on others because often, it isn’t until some time later that the wisdom of their words and attitudes sink in, or the warmth of their encouragement makes us think again about what really matters … and they are gone.
Perhaps a light was never shone on the importance of the day they stood and prayed with another, stayed with them through an assault on their soul, held at bay the words of accusation from without or within so they could hear the word of the Father speaking to build them up again.
Those who seek to serve as Jesus served, not looking for something in return, pour themselves out to be the balm of Christ to scraped knees of need when others fall down. They offer his calm embrace when stern brows have looked down and kept a distance, shunning, stunning with cold disregard. They exude a spirit which says, ‘Let the little children come to me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven’ when others would repress the gifts they are as each one made in God’s image to brighten the whole.
Such shepherding souls desire to demonstrate the love of a parent for a child irrespective of what may or may not be reciprocated; proliferate the very love of God whose love for us is unconditional irrespective of the cost to themselves to friend and foe alike.
But sometimes it is nice to know … sometimes we need to know.
Dear servant leader wondering today if you are making a difference, may I remind you that you are filtering his sunshine through the tears which hang in heavy hearts; that your example of authenticity in the weeping of your own willowing examples of pain lighten loads of feeling all alone in trying times; that your welcome to those brushed aside or denied a hearing of justice become garlands of gratitude which grace a lifetime with lasting impressions of gospel impact on the suffering of humanity; that your reminders of God’s greatness and generous love still shining brightly brings hope.
Is it not possible that your faithfulness today will be used years down the road to reveal the faithfulness of the Father in the concrete terms of your personal life or public ministry as filtered through the Spirit’s witness perhaps to a generation not yet born?
“I will extol you, my God and King and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145: 1-3)
Amazing grace, that Love buried, arose … and leads us into lives which lead to love beyond the veil, beyond the frailty of our days, beyond the obvious and immediate trail of impact into realms of hidden acts of heart and mind unknowingly influencing others by a steady pressing on when we think no one sees.
Through often aching hearts, through fits and starts of wondering if we are making headway, we can shine his love with weeping thanksgiving for what once was, or is, or will be to dangle in the light of his redemptive glory together, a witness to the generations of a Father’s care who blows his Spirit through the tangled branches of our days as blessings of release from ego trappings into Christ-like living without reservation, swaying in his arms of grace to wait the time when we all grow into maturity in him.
Will we let him bend us low to faithfully weep the tears of the world?
‘Father God, shine your life through us to the neighbour we can name and to the generations who are yet to come. May we bend as willows bend to be the hands and feet of Christ to those who are weighed down.
And for the one who wonders … please take their weeping tears of suffering love for those they’re called to serve and show them sprouts of new life in Christ which will rise up because they have watered lives with your love in faithfulness. Amen.’