Lovers of Self
This is a glorious week of celebrating my granddaughter and her many accomplishments. She, like hundreds of thousands of others, will graduate from high school this weekend. She is beautiful and incredibly talented. Winner of many awards and scholarships, a 4.3 GPA student, the star of the high school musical, and an absolutely amazing jazz drummer, there is a definite tendency for me to make an "idol" of this grandchild!
But it was her mother (my own daughter) who convicted me - and hopefully a room-full of high school seniors and their parents - about that temptation.
My daughter is a choir teacher and P.E. instructor at the small high school where her kids go. She has brought the music program there to such a high standard that this past year her show choir (including two of my grandchildren) performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and at Denver University, both by invitation. I am proud of her for that, but that's not what makes me MOST proud of this child of mine.
She was asked to give the keynote address at the Baccalaureate ceremony for the graduating seniors last night. The local pastor who introduced her said, "Mrs. C. has been asked to speak to you tonight and there is a reason we invited her. She is a teacher who wears her faith in Jesus Christ on her sleeve. There is never any doubt where she stands."
Tears caught in my throat as the full import of what he just said - in a public school - hit my mind and my heart. "There is never any doubt where she stands." I thought about all her talents, and my grandchildren's talents, and how little all that will matter when they DO stand before the Righteous Judge of all the earth! He probably won't mention my daughter's tremendous skill on the piano or my granddaughter's thrilling drum performances. But He WILL mention the unwavering faith and public testimony that they shared, drawing people to know HIM.
My daughter's message had shock value for the students. I watched her engage them eye-to-eye and tell them, "You are graduating this week and everybody is celebrating YOU, but I'm telling you that IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU! Social media and Facebook make it all about you. You take selfies and share them and post all about yourself every day. You become self-absorbed. But it's NOT ALL ABOUT YOU! It's about the One who gave you these gifts and blessings."
What a powerful word for this generation - and even for us parents and grandparents who get caught in the social media mentality! I came home after hearing this message from my own daughter and watched the news with my husband. There were more videos - as there are night after night - of people in violent brawls with each other. People are bloodying one another's faces and bodies over airline seats and last night, over the seats at a graduation ceremony! As I watched this horrific sight, I thought of the Scripture that tells us, "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves... boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, ... (2 Timothy 3:3)
There it is! The warning my daughter was trying to get across to her students was prophesied over 2000 years ago. We are in that day of the LOVERS OF SELF. I was convicted by her message and my heart was awake much of this past night, praying that the young generation who heard her words was also convicted. They have worked hard in their studies and they've developed talents and skills for which we laud them. And yet - what will they be rewarded for in the end? Only a faith so strong in the One who created and blessed and loved them, that THERE WAS NO DOUBT WHERE THEY STOOD.
Then They Recognized Him
Deeply pondering the Scriptures in Luke 24:13-32 this morning, I felt a sudden new revelation about this story. Two men are walking along the road to Amma'us, talking about the events of Yeshua's death and crucifixion. As they are walking and talking together, Yeshua Himself appears to them. He asks why they seem so downcast, and they tell Him all about his own death and then how the women at the tomb had reported seeing a vision of angels who proclaimed His resurrection. They have no idea it is the Lord they are talking to, even though He begins teaching them many things from the Scriptures, showing them how the "Old Testament" prophecies about Him have been fulfilled.
It begins to grow dark and they ask Him to stay with them, so He goes in with them for some food. They are reclining at a table together and verse 30 says,
"...He took the bread, made the blessing, broke it and handed it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him."
Then they recognized Him - when He broke the bread and handed it to them. Why then? Why did they not recognize His walk? Why was His voice not familiar to them, the way He taught the Scriptures? Why was it the broken bread?
I am transported back to days in the Church when I was very young and I watched my father linger over the little piece of bread in his hand, his eyes closed, his heart deeply connected to something or someone I didn't yet understand. I am also remembering my now-grown son, who has not yet returned to the faith, tell me, "The only time I ever felt like I knew Jesus was when we took Communion."
Aren't these true and modern examples of what the two men experienced? He took the bread, made the blessing, broke it, and handed it to them....and then their eyes were opened." All through my life this has been true for me. I have met my Lord so intimately in the breaking of the bread, knowing it was an intimate and holy moment in which my eyes were opened and I could recognize Him and commune with Him.
In his wonderful "Book of Mysteries" Jonathan Cahn writes, "The altar of Messiah's sacrifice (the cross) gives you access to go where you never could go before, to open doors you never before could open, to enter into that which you never could enter, and to walk a path you never before could walk. This cosmic altar gives you the power to enter the realm of the holy and, in the Spirit, to stand in the heavenly places, in the holy of holies, in the actual dwelling place of God. Bring your life totally inside the cross. It is a doorway."
A doorway! That really spoke to me, as it mirrors my experiences. Several years ago I wrote a song that must have sprung from this revelation. The words of the song:
All the love of God in a tiny piece of bread
All the love you need to be fed
Those two men on the road to Amma'us walked with the Lord and talked with Him, but did not know Him. Yet He had told His disciples that whenever they broke the bread and drank from the cup, they should remember Him. As Cahn illustrates, the remembering of His shed blood and the gratitude that fills our hearts for His gift of atonement allows us to stand in the heavenly places with our Messiah and truly know Him!
He is all the love of God in a tiny piece of bread.
Kelly Ferrari Mills