Its been a tough week for my Dad, family and sister. Karen, who is the next youngest in age in our family, has done such a wonderful job of sorting out moving all the items of clothing from Mother's closet respecting her passing three months ago. Like many families who go through the mourning process, we who have been party to these kinds of activities know the pain in sorting out private and public items, considering who might need them, going to goodwill when appropriate and beyond. Many treasures have been uncovered in the process.
For every person who has been a caregiver to a parent, it means not only caring for them when they are alive, but also carrying out some of the remedial tasks where nobody gives them credit after they are gone. Karen would absolutely be upset to take credit for anything, but in reality she works behind the scenes to care for my father and be that loyal daughter to my mother in this fashion. Almost in a real humility and respect she silently is, by bearing the fruit of Christ with her life, being a servant I admire so much.
In the meantime, the family has been talking a lot about my mother's passing lately. Dad and I went to lunch this week again and he said, "Kevin I have found something in your mother's items which she stored in her closet in a private collection which I believe is a treasure. In fact, I have brought it with me and I know your mother would have wanted you to have it.". He handed me a tiny little book across the table where we were eating and smiled.
Dad's new found "treasure" he was giving me had the name, SOUL WINNERS NEW TESTAMENT on the front. This was a Bible I had long forgotten with a special inscription inside the front cover. In the hand writing of a fourth grader, I had written my name, the date of February 27, 1967 and the name of Reverend Jack Thompson who was being credited for my baptism day. Inside the Bible were underlined passages from J. Harold Smith when he preached his famous message God's Three Deadlines. There were passages where Jimmy Hoffman had preached and underlines, passages where my first pastors had ministered to me as a boy. Dad found my tiny treasure and tears were in his eyes.
My mother all these years kept this "treasure" for me and it was like I was supernaturally with Mom again, could see her smiling face as she surprised me with a family heirloom of Christian heritage I had long forgotten. She wanted to remind me of my own salvation and day of my baptism of how I accepted all of God's Word in my life and how I had followed Jesus Christ in scriptural baptism as a boy. What an amazing feeling this was to relive.
These were days long forgotten, but not for my mother who had prayed I would come to know Christ as my Savior and Lord and wanted to ensure I had a physical memory of this moment. It was like she took a picture to remind me and it was in the form of this tiny treasure. This was even more a treasure to her, far more important than the clothes, the stuff and the material possessions we often cling on to so tightly, was a SOUL WINNERS NEW TESTAMENT. Dad finding this item and sharing it with me almost stunned me with the reality of my own faith at an early age.
When you get away from God during the times of rebellion in your life, sometimes its hard to remember how precious He is. When you find something which takes you back to days gone by, and you begin to remember the sweetness of your faith, there is a newfound love you have for God, for the things of God and more. What a beautiful memory which has stirred in my heart since this treasure hunt began after mother left this earth.
In having lunch with a dear young seventy two year old friend, I asked some questions. Why is that as we get older, we still have pride of life, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and how come we don't grow past these basic sins which cover ALL our sins? Why is that when we love our Lord, we still fight this side of us which always wants to rebel? I really believe it would be so nice if we could just transition into holiness. These were my perplexing issues after remembering the sweet sweet song of salvation played in my heart as a boy.
In being reminded what things are right, what things are true, why this little New Testament is so important, an epiphany came over me once again my friend reminded me of what I knew in my heart. God's word is the answer to why we fall and keep falling, even when we don't want to fall. Beginning new, starting life over is a daily process called sanctification and this is being "honed" and going through the very "fire" of life's small and greatest storms". No longer do you have to pretend to be perfect, no longer do you have to act like you are holy, you just begin to read the very little book and like my friend said, "That little book is the answer to all those questions".
What I love about the Bible, is that no other book ever written equals its power. No book ever conceived comes any where close to the truths contained. No other writer has captured a way to live, more appropriate and more clear than this book. It's not the book of the month, a club's proposal for a best seller, this IS the book of the AGES! The Bible is for all time, for all people, for every language.
This week a man decided he would have a law suit against the Bible because he didn't like what it said about the way he chose to live. Wow, the next thing you will know is that those in prison will start filling lawsuits because they went to jail based on what scripture might have said about their actions and they were receiving the consequences to their sentencing. Surely this would be the best way to discredit any authority at all.
So here is my bottom line of how I feel to God every single day.... "Dear Lord. Jail me today again because I am chieftain among sinners. I agree with the Apostle Paul and acknowledge I have not arrived and am forever under construction. Thank you for loving me PAST all my wrong doings and helping me to not devalue myself, beat myself up or feel rejected. I am so amazed I can transfer all the times I missed the mark and lay them at your feet and be cleaned by your love. You make me feel loved in ways I never dreamed possible. This is your grace Father and in your son's name, I am humbled and thank you."
Our treasure IS the word of God, the same love found in this tiny little book. My hope is in a scripture which I believe to be all true. My love of the red letters where Jesus spoke are a guiding light in my heart are the constant red reminders of purity. (These red letters in old Bibles were the red letters found in the tiny book book which reminded me of the words of Jesus.
When I see Jesus talking about loving all people, even those who are opposed to His word, I once again realize how far I need to personally go, to follow Him more. How its not my place to judge that man who is suing the Bible, but to love him and pray for him that one day, maybe he will see just because you call something sin, doesn't mean you are not loved. My own sin pales in comparison to the perfect walk of God's son who loved all, so much He was willing to come and die a cruel death and more powerfully be raised from the dead in a supernatural resurrection.
Who would have thought a little pocket New Testament would mean so much? I believe God's Word will always humble me, take me to my knees, cause me to remember my need for Him in my life and inspire me to keep walking even when I get tired.
Whenever I leave this world to a new life in heaven, I am praying the fruit of my spiritual journey will only illuminate truth of a Christian heritage found in tiny treasures. Thank you Mother for keeping this treasure for me and when I see you again, I will forever remember the words found in this tiny book of my childhood. I promise to try and memorize as much as I can, because I understand it's the ONLY thing I will take with me to see you.
If you don't have a tiny treasure, please write me and i will send you a Bible. If you have a phone mobile app, our church created the YOU VERSION BIBLE and you can download it free. There are plans you can select which will help you learn how to study, learn and apply these truths to your life too.
This coming Sunday at our church online, you can join us in our annual series AT THE MOVIES. As a filmmaker, I am always tickled to be a member of a church which uses the visual language of film in modern motion pictures to tell stories of truth. Creatively, like Paul who said, "I have become all things to all people that I might save some", we use stories which illuminate Biblical truths from the most modern family and action movies made.
If you are interested in watching AT THE MOVIES anytime Saturday or Sunday over the upcoming weeks in July, you can go online at www.lifechurch.tv and watch online some of the most fun ways to learn about God and the tiny treasure I shared about today.
Remember, God loves you and so do I!
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.