Look outside (provided you’re not looking straight at a brick wall) and marvel at the scenery. Stare up at the sky and watch the clouds move. How can people say there’s no God? How can people believe that a Creator hasn’t sculptured the beauty around us?
Yet we forget that often, don’t we? We get so caught up in what’s going on in our lives that we fail to watch a sunset or a bird flying in the air, light and carefree.
My sister Sonja and I were at that point because we were so caught up in dealing with mother. We were filled with grief in that she had just never really seemed happy – even before she got sick with cancer (Guilt Starts Banging). Often Sonja and I would talk about mother and wonder if she really understood what real love was. How could she fail to not notice the many blessings that God gives us each day?
The way that mother thought she was showing love to us was by giving us stuff – but it never meant a whole lot because she just refused to accept us for who we were. She had this preconceived idea of what Christianity was about, but to her it was a list of do’s and don’ts – her way, of course!
My sister and I figured that probably her concept of rights and wrongs came from what she’d been taught by her Lutheran father who had been a minister (What’s Being Taught In Our Churches?). She hadn’t been taught that Jesus was a real living Being, and that His greatest desire was for us to come to know Him personally. To her Jesus was just a fictional character.
She had told us previously that years ago after arriving in the United States from Norway she had attended a Billy Graham crusade, and that she had gone up front “like everyone else” when he gave the invitation. But, she informed us, she never felt any different after taking those steps.
So Sonja and I had been praying and praying for her, especially since we knew that her time on this earth was rapidly coming to a close.
One evening Sonja and I were visiting with her, and again were trying to steer the conversation to Jesus. We started talking about Billy Graham (whom she absolutely adored), and how wonderful it was that his son Franklin was now taking over the reins of the ministry.
Well, with mother you just never knew what was going to set her off, and this particular evening it was by bringing up Franklin Graham…
Mother stated that she’d been watching one of Franklin’s telecasts the previous evening, but she finally had to turn it off because he had with him on this particular program a woman who looked like a “whore,” and she just couldn’t believe that Franklin had allowed her up on the platform with him.
I was getting ready to slam mother with a cutting comment about her insensitivity, but thankfully Sonja beat me to the punch by stating that she needed to remember that God does not look at the things we look at, but He looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
Suffice it to say this didn’t matter at all to mother, who again stated that any “religious” person should know better than to have a “whore” onstage with them. And, basically she just pretty much hated people who went to church anyway (we knew these words were indirectly aimed at us – arrows to pierce our hearts).
But then she repeated one of her favorite statements that she had managed to say over and over to us: I’m a better Christian than anyone else.
Oh, Lord, what vanity… Sonja and I left our time with her that day grieved to the core. What bitterness she had all bottled up inside. How could she be so cruel?
When I got home that evening I relayed our conversations to Gary, stating how she had again hurt Sonja and I so much with her words. Gary reminded me that there was heavy spiritual warfare going on, and we needed to remember that God was in control.
Yes, we definitely needed the strength and endurance that only God could provide for us, and He did, indeed, remain faithful during the days that loomed ahead…