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When All the Boxes Are Gone

Thursday, November 5, 2015 @ 12:39 PM
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Jim Shempert One Million Dads MORE

Most husbands don’t get along very well with their in-laws.  Often there is conflict revolving around the parents and the daughter/spouse.  I must say that I am very lucky as I get along great with my in-laws.  They have always treated me as a member of their family and in accordance with their faith. 

This weekend, was a particularly hard weekend for them.  After building a house 30 years ago they decided to downsize.  They have packrat tendencies and therefore acquired a whole house full of stuff. Consequently, an estate sale was required to clear out what they no longer needed.  At the estate sale, a great testimony emerged concerning them.  My in-laws ran a pharmacy for 30 years.  Both are devout Christians and have made Christ the center of their home, family, and work to this day. 

A man walking through basement asked, “Didn’t you used to run a pharmacy?”  My mother-in-law responded “Yes, on the east side of town.”  With all the chaos going on, it almost seemed as everything else was muted for his response.  “I thought so.  I used to come in there all the time.  I could tell you were Christians.  I always felt like the presence of God was about you and your business.”  My mother-in-law, who is tough as nails, broke down.  Through the tears, she said, “That’s who we were.”

Through their lives, through kindness and gentleness, they have spread the Gospel in their own way.  The pulpit was not their avenue, their daily lives were.  Working with the public always gave them an opportunity to reach the lost and hurting.  I know from multiple testimonies that they pulled people aside who were going through hard times to pray for them.  They paid bills for people without them ever knowing it.  They delivered medicine themselves to homebound customers.  They had no need to tell me this, nor would they, because many have told me their story. They took to heart Matthew 20:26-28,

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

As a father, I realize every day what a finite amount of time that I have in my daughter’s life.  Each day, she gets a little smarter and starts to need me less.  One of her favorite phrases right now is “I do it.” I am the bar by which she will measure all the men in her life.  The example that I set for her now will be what she selects a husband by.  How she sees her mother and I respond to each other, is how she will respond to her spouse.  Good and bad, the job I do as a father will be how she raises her child. 

My memory will carry on far longer than these bones are walking upright.  In a world that is fast sinking into darkness, Christians have a duty, one that some would say the Church has abandoned, of raising the ones after us to turn to God:  “…that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2nd Corinthians 5:19-20)”

The random stranger that came to my in-laws estate sale recited without prompting the Christian nature of their business.  Not because of one act, but because of the atmosphere of Christianity that he encountered whenever he visited their shop.  They didn’t stand on a soapbox on the corner preaching.  The lived, breathed, and were the hands and feet of Christ to their customers. 

I don’t have any plans of passing anytime soon.  Then again, I’m not in control of that, so my plans are meaningless.  Preachers always try to get a feel for the deceased before they preach a sermon.  Sometimes, they have to be a bit vague, because they either didn’t know the person or the person lived a hard life. Should I go on to glory anytime soon, (and I assure you I don’t need a mansion, a tent in the corner will do) the best thing that I can imagine someone telling me is that they saw Jesus in me. 

They saw me love my wife like Ephesians 5 talks about.  They saw me treasure my child like Proverbs 17 speaks to.  They saw me help someone, without looking for praise like Luke 10. 

They saw me preach without ever speaking.  That is a victorious life. 


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