Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Word Picture Captured

It was three o'clock on a torpid July afternoon.  I stood respectfully in line as the pall-bearers, all eight of them, four to each side lined up to carry the coffin to the graveside.

Eight men.  All grandsons or spouses of granddaughters.  No eight men could have been more different in every way.  They stood representing blue collar, white collar, military, student, self and government employed.  Short, tall, skinny, broad, blond, brunette, and everything in between.  No eight men could have been more different in every way.

Yet they all bravely united.  Four to each side of a great man's coffin.  A great man.  From the Great Generation.  He survived five amphibious beach landings.  He fought for our country in an era when the enemy was tangible and poured red blood on the ground.  He stood his ground.  He did his duty once then volunteered to go the next time a threat came.  He secured our freedom and survived to come home and rebuild and make sure the freedom of his family stayed secure.

His men now flanked his side, and the family stood in line to watch them carry him.  And those boy-men mustered every ounce of dignity, and they grasped the handles to the coffin, and they carried the legacy.

They carried the legacy.  And they shuffled and sweated and under deep breaths groaned silently and prayed to God no one dropped the weight of the legacy they carried.  And they stood together, and with dignity and honor--together--they carried the legacy.

It wasn't easy.  In fact, when they were being honest, in confided moments, you could almost hear the tint of fear in their voices.  The thought that had flashed through all their minds--what if we had dropped him???  Those who had watched their careful steps could almost see the question across their faces--will we make it???

They all made it.  With great pride and dignity in tact.  Every one earned respect that day.  Every one.

And that visual, that picture of them is lasered into my brain.  The younger generation, the Generation X, the Generation Y, carrying the Great Generation to his resting place.  

Something inside of me almost cracked.  Something inside of me almost started to cheer.  These were my men--all of them a part of my family.  I wanted to cheer from the sidelines, "YOU CAN DO THIS!"  Keep going!  You're doing a great job!  Don't stop.  Don't give up.  Work together, and hold on.  You WILL make it!!!!"

You see I saw in them the picture of the generation of men we are raising who are beginning to take their place in society.  Who are taking on the mantle, the mission, the legacy of the Great Generation passing on.  They are men who haven't been cheered.  They are unsure in so many ways, and it's our fault.

Our culture, our women, our media beat them down and tell them they are too sensitive or not sensitive enough, they are unmotivated or motivated by the wrong things, they are to be powerful while being stripped of power, they are expected to be respectable all the while being disrespected.  Yet they are men.  People can you see them?

Can you see them try?  They are good men.

And they have a great legacy to carry and shoulders that even I have been guilty of narrowing by my tinged words, small-mindedness, and critical attitudes.  As a woman, our society tells us to roar when really, really we want our men to pursue, to provide, to roar, and if that's what we really want, then we need stand back and watch, and CHEER THEM ON.

Because my grandfather fought a physical enemy in World War II and the Korean Way, but our men today fight a much more dangerous enemy.  They fight the powers of satan and his principalities in this world.  They fight a system designed to demean them and make them small simply because it's the opposite of the system God set in place for them.

Our men are fighting on a very real battleground in the spiritual world, and the load is heavy.  It's hard. They groan under the weight of the legacy they want so desperately to carry with dignity and honor and respect.

Can we find ways to show them this?  Can we turn a deaf ear to the rights the media and culture and maybe even our friends say we have?  Not to our own detriment for the profit of evil men who mean us harm, but for the profit of the good men standing around us looking for someone to cheer them on, to believe in them, to come along side them and help them shoulder the burden.

They will falter, and they will misstep.  Remember, no body's perfect.  But it is their duty.  It is their God-ordained, call of duty, act of valor to shoulder the legacy.  To bear the burden.  Not because they're better than us, for no other reason than that's how God designed it to be.  It was His design, His choice.  It's the role God gave them in life.  It's their job, their life's work.

My role in life is another blog=)  But it's equally as important, and as a woman, I am uniquely equipped to succeed at the job God designed for me, just as my husband is equally and uniquely equipped to succeed at the job God designed for him.  It's time we all start seeing each other as just that--equally, uniquely equipped for the separate yet equally important roles we play as men and women in this lifetime.

Take time today to show dignity, honor, and respect to the good men in your life whomever they may be.  Affirm them.  Help them fight the fears and lies that flit behind their mind's eye.  Remind them they won't fail, they can do this, keep going.

We need to stop standing idly by, watching the men we've raised carry the legacy, silently hoping they don't drop it, anxiously wondering if they will make it.  Instead, don't we already know they will make it?  Don't we already believe they CAN carry the legacy?  Then TELL THEM.  Show them.  Honor and respect them.  I think we will all be surprised what happens when they know for sure that we know for sure, they can do this.  By God's power, they can do this.

To the eight pall-bearers that day, I salute you.  You WILL carry the legacy with success.  You will not fail.  I could see it in each of your eyes.  You will not fail.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In Remembrance

As many of you know, I process life through my writing.  I know I've been silent for a while.  There's good reason for that, but I had several requests for the "eulogy" of sorts I read at my Granddaddy's recent funeral.  I wrote this for me--it helped me cope, process, but when I gave it to my Dot-Dot, she asked me to read it at the funeral, so here it is for those who asked.  Thank you all for your prayers and support....

There are people who have been born into this world who accomplish great things.  They become great leaders of nations, inventors of devices to impact all space and time, philosophers whose ideas move generations to great change, artists whose work touches the souls of many long after them, evangelists who love God with a passion that brings generations to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  These are the people we look to as “great” people.  People who impact change.  People who are remembered.  People with a legacy.

Yet, in comparison to the whole population of the world, these people are few and far between.  Drops in the bucket of souls.  Single planets in a universe of stars.  They are not the only ones who matter.  The far greater worth lies in the weaving of the masses.  The parents who raised these leaders.  The men and women who impacted their lives in seemingly meaningless ways at the time.  Without the hundreds and thousands of other people in the world to each impart a seemingly meaningless chapter, sentence, or word to the lives of these great people, these great people would cease to exist.  

We have a grand Creator and Author of all Life who weaves a story through time with every strand of fabric available.  Although He may choose to emphasize one color over another, in the grand scheme of the weaving, it is the entire composition, not just that one strand of color that causes others to take notice.

Are you content to be just another strand in the Weaver's grand design?  Have you realized the importance of the legacy you live in this lifetime?  Do you know you have a legacy to impart?  Something to leave behind?  Something to impart to the next generation?

The word “legacy” by definition is simply “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” When you dig a little deeper, you find that in the late 14th century, the word legacy was used to refer to “a body of persons sent on a mission.”  It also originates from the word legatus meaning “ambassador or envoy.”

These words—mission, ambassador, envoy—are strong and powerful.  Legacy is not just a bunch of hand-me-down things, possessions; earthly treasures that moths and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal.  The legacy a person leaves behind is found in the lives of the people they impacted.  Their legacy, albeit good or bad, is left behind in the people who knew them, who loved or hated them, whose lives were/are never the same because of them.

Jesus Christ left His legacy ingrained in the lives of twelve men, twelve disciples.  He touched both physically and spiritually the lives of thousands, but it was the twelve who believed, who had the faith to live His message, these twelve literally took the message of Christ and physically changed the modern world as we knew it all because of the legacy of Christ—the time He spent pouring into their lives, the honest relationships He formed, nurtured, and cared about—this legacy left such an impression that when Christ’s Spirit filled these men for the first time after His ascension, they couldn’t contain their joy, their hope, their love for Him.  Legacy matters.  The legacy of Christ matters to people.  It changes their lives.  And His legacy continues to be passed down from generation to generation even today through the believing lives and words and actions of His followers, His children, His chosen, His beloved.

Granddaddy Frank was one of those children.  He was a child of God.  He wasn’t perfect—no one is.  But he did the best he could with what he had, with what he was given.  He raised his boys to honor their parents—I’ve seen that first hand in the hard light of day over the past twelve days.  And when they honor their parents, God is honored and God is pleased, so I know Granddaddy Frank is a proud parent in the presence of his heavenly Father today.  You see, in the daily life of honor Granddaddy lived serving his country, serving his family, serving others—he left behind a legacy of honor for us to carry, to share, to pass down.

Granddaddy Frank was a man of too many words in some ways, and not enough words in other ways.  Though I never heard him share his faith openly, I still believe he was a God-fearing man, and his heritage, his legacy, is one of hard work and high standards.  He has always been a man who has worked hard to provide security for his family, putting them first and foremost in his priorities.  Even in his death, he has left his beloved wife well cared for in every way, not just financially, but with a family, specifically his three boys, who love her with a love as endearing as the love he had for her for 66 years.  66 years!!!  Wow, that in itself is a legacy!  A mission to take on.  A message for us to carry—his ambassadors, his envoy, his legacy.

He also held the standard for their lives staggeringly high, some might say, but he was a man who lived his life by trying to always do the right thing.   Inevitably, that belief did not get him to heaven, but I believe he now stands in the presence of the Lord of all Right Things, and in his own solemn way, Granddaddy honored Jesus Christ as Lord during his days here with us.  We may have never heard him confess Christ with his mouth, although my dad, Stan, assures me he had that conversation with him once, but the actions of his life confessed Jesus as Lord—the way he provided, the way he gave, the way he never took the wide path, but always chose the narrow—these are proofs of Christ in him.

Granddaddy Frank’s heritage is honorable, one of honor and worth remembering and regarding when the easy way out looks so tempting.  That’s his legacy.   These are all the “things” we as his children, his grandchildren, his family, and friends—these are the “things” we are responsible to pass on to others in our lives.  It’s these godly morals—the pictures of Christ found in his daily life that are worth remembering and engraving into our lives. 

No man is perfect.  No man leaves this world without leaving behind words left unsaid, feelings that need mended, old wounds in need of healing.  Granddaddy Frank was no exception.  But it’s important to remember also that no man can offer those words or that healing.  Only God offers the healing grace and forgiveness and salvation we all need from these things.  Only a daily relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is a salve strong enough to soothe the hurt this life can bring, and it’s because of the saving faith Granddaddy Frank had in our Lord Jesus Christ that he stands before Him this day, in His holy presence with clean hands and a clean heart because the blood of Christ covers us all if we only believe in Him, in His sacrifice, in the legacy He died to impart.

Because of Granddaddy’s faith in Christ, all the good he lived outweighed anything bad.  Because his life was lived for Christ in the best way he knew how, the legacy he leaves for us—honor, commitment, hard work, love and loyalty for and to family, perseverance, determination, setting high standards—this is the legacy he has left to us his ambassadors and envoys, the ones who have now inherited his mission. 

Some of Granddaddy’s last words to me when I was talking to him in the hospital were to “Move on.  Move on.  Move on.”  He was telling me to stop stressing and questioning over some recent health issues.  It was wasted emotional energy.  His advice was to move on.  And so as one of his ambassadors of his legacy, as one of his envoys carrying a message of hope and perseverance, and as his granddaughter passing down his legacy to his great-grandchildren, I will do just that.  I will commit to carry all the good and right and pleasing and excellent and praiseworthy things he left behind to me with me on this mission of life.

Because all the good and excellent and right and praise-worthy things about his life are all reflections of our shared heavenly Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In Him, we live and move and have our being—Granddaddy just gets to do it in the Lord’s own presence on a daily basis while we still have to struggle in this sinful flesh.  One day, one day, all of us who have confessed with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believed in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead—one day all of us will join Granddaddy in the sweet eternal freedom he is experiencing.  Even at the early age of 32, my heart aches for that day.  To be able to love my Savior untainted and unimpeded—no barriers.  Just Christ.  Christ alone.

I love you Granddaddy.  We all love you.  So I will leave each of you with this question…from this day forward, in what manner will you carry the legacy that Granddaddy Frank leaves? 

Some may need to commit yourself to an entire lifetime of marriage to the same person from this day forward, working hard to make it work, never giving up, choosing to stay committed no matter what. 

Others may need to resolve to embrace his legacy of hard work and perseverance, never taking the easy path just because it’s easy. 

Some may need to learn to honor the authorities in their life with more respect and loyalty, remembering it is God who ordains all our authorities in our lives including our parents for His purposes. 

For others, you may need to start raising the standards you set for yourself a little higher, stop resting in empty excuses for everything. 

Still others may simply need to nail it down and come to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

My only challenge is that you embrace something, engrave at least one piece of his legacy into your life.  Don’t leave here today simply burying a good man.  Leave today deciding to emulate a piece if not the whole legacy of this godly man because one day we will all be at this stage of life, and we will be hoping that our legacy matters to those we leave behind, that we’ve made a difference in the lives of our ambassadors in this lifetime.  In the words of Granddaddy, “Move on!” from here today not saddened by the loss, but encouraged by the gift we’ve all inherited, challenged by the mission for which we’ve been commissioned, to not just pass down Granddaddy’s legacy, but to live it, to be it—to be the Jesus that this generation sees.  This will make Granddaddy proud.  Do this, and I can still see him smiling down on us from heaven, little corner of his mouth raised, and eyes shining. 

2 Corinthians 5:20 implores: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal (to others—to the world) through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Go.  Be the legacy.

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