Some thoughts while waiting at Newark Airport this morning:
This week, Sara and I have been in New York City with our oldest granddaughter. As she prepares to graduate eighth grade and start high school, we wanted to spend some time with her in a place she’s always longed to see. The three of us have had the best time exploring the city and taking her to Broadway since she loves drama and is quite good at it. Today we head separate directions—Sara goes home with our granddaughter, and I head to Pittsburgh and West Virginia for the weekend.
Last week, I posted on FB an acknowledgment of all the birthday greetings I received. In that post, I mentioned a bit about Sara as the one who really facilitates all I do in the world. “I wouldn’t be the man I am without that girl. I couldn’t do what Father has asked me to do in the word without that girl. We wouldn’t be on this journey without her courage to follow the Lord’s leading beyond the edges of the maps religion gave us. No one pays a bigger price for what we do than she does. I love it when so many of you acknowledge that in my travels. You realize that Sara pays a huge price in all of this, too. And I think it touches her when I tell her that you’re aware.”
After that posted I received an email from someone across the U.S. They suggested someplace we might visit while in NY because she thought Sara would enjoy it. Then she wrote this:
“I don’t know if she came to mind for any reason. Maybe you all will want to go there or maybe it is just evidence of how your love for Sara is contagious and you have placed her in our hearts, too. Hmmm… Is that what you are doing with Papa?”
That made me smile, on both counts. I love placing Sara in people’s hearts, though I’ve never thought of it in those terms. But I do so intentionally. Sara and I are one, and to know me is to know Sara, at least I hope so. Even when she can’t travel with me, I want people to know her and feel connected to her as well. Watching her journey up close and personal has been one of the most incredible joys of my life, and I enjoy the insights Father has given her along the way.
Wanting to place her on people’s hearts is also a deliberate act. When I first started traveling I had overtures from some women that made me uncomfortable, and some that were overtly inappropriate. But I also noticed that when I talked about Sara, those overtures didn’t happen. Once people knew how devoted I am to the love of my life, no one dared crossed those boundaries.
But I also love the second part of her comment, “Is that what you are doing with Papa?” I hope so. I’ve never thought of that in those terms either, but I hope my life does that. I hope I speak endearingly enough of Father and live authentically enough with him that others begin to catch glimpses of him in their own lives as well. And I don’t mean in that religiously manipulative way that turns people off to any mention of God. I want them to be as endeared to him as I am.
This all reminds me of an exchange I had over fifteen years ago. I’d spent an evening with someone who had been an elder of a large fellowship before he left it and the faith when he became disillusioned by seeing the private lives of the church staff and the guest speakers who had visited. We had a fun dinner together where we laughed and shared stories from our lives. At the end of it, I got an email from him. The subject line was, “Not Impressed.” My heart sank until I read his first paragraph.
He wrote, that for the first time in his life, he came away from dinner with an author/speaker type and was not impressed with him. “At the end of the evening, I came home hungry not to know Wayne better, but wanting to know Wayne’s Father.”
That’s one of my favorite emails ever. If our lives can do that, especially when we’re not trying to make it happen, how awesome would that be?