By Lori Beard
On Friday night I had the great pleasure and privilege of attending a play at LHCC. I was able to see the Crone kids and Julia Griffin shine on stage in amazing ways and I loved every minute of it…I was as proud as a peacock of them all. :))) The play was about the Velveteen Rabbit and his desire to be real…what was the only thing that could work to make him real….sacrificially loving his owner. At the end of the play, I heard a beautiful voice flowing over the audience from the back singing, “Love, Love, Love,”. I could not believe that voice was coming from Miss Julia Griffin…i wanted to stand up and say, “That is my niece.” I was so proud of her. She continued to stage where she finished her song and explained to the rabbit that he was real because he had truly loved another. She then waved her wand and the rabbit grew legs and feet and was real…all because of love. During Pastor Keith’s sermon this past Sunday, I found myself thinking of her little song (which she wrote herself) and wondering if we really understand love the way Jesus lived it and taught it and expects us too. I wondered that about myself and have been in prayer since I left service Sunday. I heard Pastor Keith say that we need to smash our own self Kingdoms and care about others’ lives during the week. This caused me to see things about myself that I was sad about. I started with thinking about how I love my family…so many times when I could be with my husband…I find myself on my cell phone or my computer. Many times even if sitting with him, i am a thousand miles away in my thoughts and not loving him at all. I thought about my girls and my new son. How many times have I wished and cried for “me time” and allowed the wonder of being a momma go far away from me. How many times have i had opportunity to serve my girls and griped from the inside out because my life was so boring and mundane. And then I thought of my church family…do I smash my little kingdoms each week and reach outside of myself to serve them? Can I honestly say that I do that with joy and expectation of blessing? Do I hurt when they hurt and laugh when they laugh? Do I even know when they hurt? Are the only sorrows and tribulations and hardships that I know of connected to my little kingdom—my life, my family, my bills?? Do I rush at the opportunity to clean bathrooms for those who are in need or is there more important ministry for a person like me? Do I care if the shut-ins ever get visited or do I expect those lesser than me to do that duty? And then I thought of the world outside of that? How many times a week do I offer Jesus to a world that is dying or do I just think somebody else can deal with that mess? Do I look for hungry people with intent to help or accuse them or misspending food stamp money and consider them less than worthy of help? Do I care that single mommas are exhausted and tired and need help or do I just figure they made their bed and they can sleep in it? You can imagine that these questions have caused me some pain in myself. I am wrestling with them and wrestling with some of the answers. I have found that in many areas, I have no conviction. I can answer resounding yeses to them…in other areas, I am sadly, brokenly lacking. But Romans 8 offers me hope;; “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” He saved me and his grace changes me. This message has caused me to think about my love for others…it has caused me sorrow and pain but it has worked to sanctify me and to say to me that it IS love that makes me real. It is love that marks me as a Christian…it is love that says to the world I am a disciple of Jesus. It is love that moves outside of me and my little kingdoms and reaches to a sad, broken, lonely world around me. I am praying for God to change me and to create in me his heart for people…his heart for others…to MAKE ME REAL IN THE AREA OF LOVE TO OTHERS. Praise God for change that is driven by grace and love from a very real, very personal Savior. Dear Jesus, I yearn to be real.