Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

Remember

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for April 1, 2022. Photo by Anne Nyg√•rd on Unsplash

“Remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

One day, I guess the conversation will go like this, “Hey, Jesus, remember me? We spent that whole day together. I was the nice criminal, the one who didn’t rail at you all morning. We talked about Paradise, remember? And here we are!”

So when you are suffering the consequences of your actions, are you going to be nasty towards Jesus or respectful? Do you challenge him or confess to him? Do you taunt him or pray to him?

Jesus met a lot of people in three-plus years of ministry. Crowds met him in every town he passed through. Do you think he remembered every encounter, every healing, every question, every face? I think he did.

He knew me before I were born. He knows where I am, what I’m thinking about, where I’m headed, and when I will get there (Psalm 119). He knows the number of hairs on my head (Luke 12:7). He knows about every sparrow that falls to the ground (Luke 12:6). He remembers. He remembers me.

I’m the one who has trouble remembering. I forget his promises and let worry and fear get a foothold in my mind. I forget his faithfulness in the past when I am concerned about the future. I forget to ask him for what I need. I forget to thank him for what I have.

I am impressed at this criminal’s faith. He knows Jesus is going places. Everyone else thinks Jesus is a poor excuse for a king. But this man knows Jesus has a kingdom. He knows he deserved his time on the cross. He knows Jesus is innocent. He knows Jesus is going to make it big one day. One day, he’ll see Jesus on the throne.

And maybe Jesus will have a few minutes for him. “Remember what it was like that day? Yeah, it was brutal. I don’t want to ever go through that again. And how about that darkness? That was creepy.” No one else could have this conversation with Jesus. Only these two experienced that day at The Skull. Only these two could sit and talk about that day over a glass of wonderful wine (Isaiah 25:6).

What unique experiences have you had with Jesus? Ponder that for a few moments. What moments, good or bad, have you two, and only you two, experienced? How about the birth of one of your children? A final moment with a loved one. Getting lost. While many experience similar moments, your life is unique to you. And he was there with you.

What memories have you created with Jesus?

I can’t wait to reminisce with you, Lord.

Posted in memories

First steps

I had the privilege of watching grandchild number 4 take his first steps a few weeks ago. He will never remember that moment, but we have it preserved in photos and videos. After a month of standing up holding onto tables, legs, chairs, dogs, walls and anything else in reach, he not only let go, but took his first steps forward. I could tell from his face that he was thrilled, excited, tentative and delighted all at the same time. So were we! After those first few steps, he fell back on his diaper-padded bottom, ready to get up and try again.

I doubt if any of us remember our first few steps. But there are other first “steps” we do remember, vivid and forward-moving moments in life. Here’s a few that I recall:

  • The first time I rode a bike. No training wheels here. Dad got me up and going for real on a local playground. I was thrilled, delighted, excited and terrified when I couldn’t remember how to apply the brake. No problem. A set of old-fashioned metal monkey bars brought me to a complete stop, ending my very first bike ride.
  • The first time I broke a bone. Actually the only time I’ve broken a bone. I was on the glider seat of a swing set in the neighbor’s yard, put my foot down to stop, but had it bend backwards a little too far. It swelled up and hurt, but I went to school the next day. After limping around too much, my mom took me to the doctor who x-rayed the fracture and wrapped it up in a plaster cast for the next four weeks.
  • The first time I bought a dog for myself. I was living in New Jersey, was sharing a house with a friend from church, and decided I could get a dog. After considering many breeds, I concluded I wanted a yellow Labrador Retriever. I wanted a large dog I could run and play with. I found an ad in the paper and headed for a house about an hour away in the pine barrens of south Jersey. When I arrived, I got to sit in in the middle of a litter of thirteen Labrador puppies, some yellow, some black. I picked out a yellow that didn’t seem too shy too aggressive. Since he was only six weeks old, the owner wrote a number on his tummy with an indelible marker, and I went back in two weeks to pick up my first dog, Gabriel.
  • The first sermon I preached at my current church, Shepherd of the Coast in Palm Coast, NJ. I don’t remember my other first sermons, but this one sticks in my mind. It was based on 1 Peter 3:15, being ready to give an answer for the hope you have. I had just driven from West Des Moines, IA with a chocolate Lab, Michael. We had to stop for the night at a motel. This was over twenty-years ago, when it was a little harder to find pet-friendly lodging. After I got a room on the second floor, I snuck him up the back steps. Then I snuck him out early in the morning. The whole time I thought, “I hope no one asks if I’ve got an animal in the room with me.” No one did! But it reminded me that though we are supposed to be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Christ, we secretly hope no one asks!
  • I remember buying my first car. It was a 1972 Ford Mustang 2. It was a actually a pretty crappy car, but it got me to and from my first real job at Bell Labs for a few years. White, stick shift, tan interior. It cost $2,000. I think my Dad fronted the money and I paid him $100 a month to pay him back.

I’m sure I’ve got a lot of other “firsts” that will come to mind. Maybe there will be a few sequels to this post. I do know that there are so many firsts I don’t recall at all: first day at school, first sermon ever preached, first consecration of holy communion elements, first baptism, first funeral, first wedding, etc. But I’ll have to give it some thought, search my mind, and see what I can come up with.

What “firsts” do you remember?