Nicholas entered the foyer of our church building, thirsty and tired. He carried with him a sign, like so many we meet at the intersections of our community. He was looking for people to donate to his cause, and so printed on the front of his cardboard sign were these words,
"Found the right girl.
Need to put a ring on her finger.
I could remember feeling that same sentiment over 30 years ago, but didn't think to market my need in such a fashion. Nicholas deserved points for creativity I thought. My wife met the young man in the foyer and sat him down to sort through his situation with him. He had a story to tell. (Don't we all?) Honestly, a lot of what he was currently dealing with in life seemed more pressing than what was printed on the front of his sign, but then again, I am not walking in his shoes.
To the point....The whole story had many edges to it, but for my purposes here, the most interesting part of it was this: Although it had been some time ago, maybe 20 years or so, Nicholas had been a child in the classroom of a church school that once met in our facility. That school had long ago moved off our campus to another location, but he had come through those front doors with a burden and believed that this could be a safe place for him to share it, based on past experiences that were surrounded with warm memory.
The second half of my learning came from a radio piece I listened to in the car a week or so earlier...
A man from the UK was diagnosed with a disease that would eventually take his sight. It was a process that would move from seeing images that began to blur, to only seeing shapes, to just distinguishing light from dark and finally, to total darkness. The main story line was about his journey. However, there was a side story about a conversation that his wife had with some of her friends. Another lady had commented to her, "One of the possible good things about this my dear, is that your husband will never see you grow older. His image of you will forever be framed in the present. In his mind, you will always be his young bride."
These two ideas were brought together for me a week later like separate cars on a train being backed into each other; linked from this point forward for the next stage of the journey.
I have no idea what Nicholas was like as little boy coming to school at the location where our church now meets. The young man in his late twenties that wandered into the foyer, was a bit rough, both in appearance and language. Emotionally, and spiritually he had been worn down. Still, a voice inside of him, one that he recognized, was calling him back to a place that he knew. So, cardboard sign in hand, he rushed through the front doors.
Doesn't The Father do that with all of us? No matter if it has been years or only days, His Spirit is faithful to call us home. And the kicker is this...When He calls us to come home, the thought that we need to couple with our decision on whether or not to return is: In his eyes we are that young boy with a bright and shining future. Or, we are the young bride without blemish or wrinkle. Because of the work of Christ on the cross, we are not seen as the one layered with the pitiful garments of bad choices or age. He sees us through the forever hopeful eyes of a creator. For him, we will always be shining potential, dressed in all the attributes He imagined when we were first conceived.
Grace and peace,