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Friday, June 12, 2015

Our greatest inheritance

I didn't receive much when my father's mother passed away.  A beautifully embroidered set of white cotton pillowcases and her set of sterling silverware. They are still put away carefully, not used to this day.  Although they are beautiful in their appearance, they have never been a practical thing for my use. I don't like the starching and ironing of the old fashioned cotton and I am pretty much a "eat and run" kind of gal, so fine cutlery just doesn't look quite the same with my Corning dishes as it would with a set of china!  The beauty of both is in the memory of the woman behind the gifts.  She died when I was quite young (about five or so), and I never knew my grandfather.  I do have one gift which she gave me which shows a lot of wear and tear, but is still with me to this day - my Chatty Cathy doll complete with all the beautiful handmade dresses, coats, and hats she fashioned for my doll from remnants of materials she had used to make either dresses for me or clothes for herself.  As I was growing up, I played endless hours with this little "friend" of mine.  I always imagined she would maybe go to my daughter one day, but I just never did bring it out when she was growing up because I didn't think she'd appreciate the doll as much as I did.  One thing is for sure - she is a beautiful doll, despite the fact I saw fit to cut a wee bit off her hair and she has been carted here and there through the years.  While I was young, mom supervised my "play" with her, since I might have well left her sitting in a pile of mud when a neighbor called me to play or something distracted me from my "mothering" duties.  As I grew a little older, mom didn't have to watch that I took care of her in the same way, because she knew I had come to treat her as a special gift from someone who loved me very much.  God's blessings and gifts of grace in our lives are sometimes just like my little doll - not fully appreciated at first, but later on there is great and lasting significance in each.

When young children inherit all that their father owned, they are still no different from his slaves. It doesn’t matter that they own everything.  While they are children, they must obey those who are chosen to care for them. But when they reach the age the father set, they are free.  It is the same for us. We were once like children, slaves to the useless rules of this world.  But when the right time came, God sent his Son, who was born from a woman and lived under the law.  God did this so that he could buy the freedom of those who were under the law. God’s purpose was to make us his children. Since you are now God’s children, he has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts. The Spirit cries out, “ Abba, Father.”  Now you are not slaves like before. You are God’s children, and you will receive everything he promised his children.(Galatians 4:1-7 ERV)

The silver, pillowcases, and doll all have a significance - things of beauty, reminding me of a woman who left this earth too early for me to really get to know her all that well.  I am so glad for the gifts God has bestowed upon his children - especially me!  I am delighted to be free to appreciate and luxuriate in those blessings.  One thing I enjoy more than anything else is the ability to call him my Father.  If we come to acknowledge him as Lord and Savior, it isn't long before we come to appreciate him as Father and Protector.  It isn't all about what he gives, but rather who he is in our lives that really is simply manifest in the "good stuff" we enjoy in our daily walk.  I am blessed to have enjoyed a great relationship with a very special "earthly" father.  Dad was a special guy and a loving father. As I sat last night with mom, I put on some old show tunes of the era with which she and dad would have glided effortlessly across the dance floor in synchronized movement.  We listened for about an hour to songs by Doris Day, Teresa Brewer, Elvis Presley, and countless others.  She'd make a request, I'd call it up on the tablet, and she'd close her eyes trying to remember the words.  It was as though I could see her drifting back to fond memories of a time gone by.  In my mind, I saw dad coming in from a shower after a hard day's work in the yard, catching her from behind while she prepared supper, then drifting into a few moments of effortless dance across the kitchen floor and out into the living room.  In just those few moments, I'd see such love pass between the two of them - complete with giggles from mom, a tender pat from dad, and a look that said it all.

I guess I am blessed by having had him in my life much more than I may have known while he was here with us.  He left our lives when I was just barely in my thirties.  As a quarter of a century has passed, I have often looked back at what he left in my life - the memories, the advice I didn't know would be so valuable now that I am getting on in years myself, and the care he always showed for those he called his own.  He was a great example of an "earthly" father who also showed me what it is like to enjoy a special relationship with a "heavenly" father.  Nope, he didn't indulge my every want, but I knew beyond a doubt that I was loved and cared for.  He didn't take me on lavish trips, but those moments by the lakeside watching him fish and listening to his stories gave me hours of connection with him which made us grow closer and closer together.  I kind of think my heavenly father is just like this - not indulging me with my every whim or fancy, but caring for my every need - even when I don't know I need it.  He is the one who takes me to quiet places and teaches me the enjoyment of just relaxing in his presence.  If you haven't come to know him in this way yet, the opportunity awaits you, as well.

Yes, we have "inherited" all that is his, but it isn't the inheritance which matters. It is the relationship with the one who blesses with all manner of goodness and grace.  I inherited some things from my paternal grandmother, but it is the relationship I longed for more than the gifts.  If we come to recognize the good "things" God prepares for us are an outflow of his tremendous love for us, we begin to long not for the "things", but for the giver instead.  This is what God has in mind for each of us - not that we come to him as the "great one in the sky with blessings galore", but as "Abba" - dad, father, the one who desires relationship with us.  Dad didn't take me fishing because he wanted me to learn to survive in the wilderness.  He took me for those weekend trips because he liked hanging out with me and I liked hanging out with him!  Whether we worked in the shop cutting wood and crafting things for the yard and house, or enjoyed the resplendent sunset over the still waters of some mountain lake, it was all about us just being together.  Whether our heavenly father takes us to mountain tops, valleys below, or places in between, it isn't about the destination as much as it is about just being together in it all.  This is our greatest "inheritance" - being with him!  Just sayin!