Friday, December 4, 2009

The Things that Last

The last few weeks have been very difficult. October was filled with the flu (yes, the swine flu visited our house) and November was filled with getting back on our feet and tracking down a diagnosis for a child's ongoing medical problems. Nothing occupies your mind and time quite like the illness of a child. So I haven't blogged, or done much else other than what had to be done, in a long while. But a trip home for Thanksgiving has brought me back.

I hadn't been home in seven years and felt a strong need to go home again, so I arranged to take a week of vacation for the Thanksgiving holiday. One of the things that I wanted to do on this trip was to go back and revisit some of the places I had lived during my childhood. My rationalization for this was the opportunity to show my children those places that they had heard their dad talk about. But there was a greater desire, a desire to remind myself where I had come from, to reorient myself once again with my roots. I needed to see whether I'd gone beyond the obstacles that populated my past. Had I made anything of myself?

One of the most shocking things about the trip was my discovery that many of my childhood homes (I showed my kids eight of them) had been torn down. The most disturbing absence was the one house that I lived in for two consecutive summers. I realize that houses are torn down all the time, but in our minds there is something permanent about the houses we grow up in and the schools we attend. To see those houses no longer there shook me, reminding me of the transient nature of the life I have lived and the unsettled nature of all of our lives. I believe that it is a sad truth that we all lack a basic sense of security in our lives.

On Sunday of our visit with my parents we attended church with them. This is the church that I grew up in, attending from the time I was nine or ten until I left to go to college. The buildings were the same, but I only knew (not counting my parents) two other people who attended that morning. That only seemed appropriate considering all the lost houses I had seen.

Then one simple statement reminded me of the things that truly last. That morning my mother introduced me as her "son." That may not mean much to you, I mean, mothers introduce their sons all the time. But let me explain...My mother is not my birth mother...she and her family took me in when I was sixteen and had been abandoned by my biological parents. Since that day she has never ceased to introduce me as her son and to tell everyone that my children are her grandchildren.

Those simple words reveal a truth that our culture has forsaken. Real worth and value is not found in houses or blood, but in the sacrifice that love willingly gives. My mom and dad willingly gave of themselves to take me in and give me a home. There was nothing that I could have done that would have made me worthy of such love and sacrifice. God exemplifies that love and sacrifice....For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son....I don't care to debate the theological implications of those words, but we cannot escape their plain meaning: God loved the world (that's you and I) that He sacrificed his Son for us! We didn't earn it, don't deserve it, and cannot change those facts.

I can never thank AJ & Shirley Munnerlyn for the love and sacrifice they extended to me....and I see in their acts a true reflection of the love and sacrifice of God for us all. That's the only thing that makes life worthwhile and the source of all things to give thanks for.

Thanks Mom and Dad.

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