|My first rocking chair and a baby book similar to the one that documents my progress through toddlerhood|
When I was a small child my parents kept a baby book that documented many of the firsts in my young life: first tooth, first steps, first foods, and things of a similar nature. If you ask my mom a question about one of my early accomplishments she might pull the book out of her cabinet to find the answer.
My parents kept track of milestones because they love me.
Later there were firsts that didn’t make get recorded in a baby book. Perhaps you can recall some of the same firsts in your life.
Do you remember your first day of school? Or the first time you rode a bicycle without training wheels? How about your first pair of high heels (if you are a woman) or the first time you asked a young woman for her phone number (if you are a man)? Do you remember your first day of high school? How about college?
I remember the first time I saw the young man who would be my husband. He was standing at a podium making announcements during my college freshman orientation. The first time he saw me was a few days later when I was the first student to walk in a door at the same college on the first morning of classes. He was working in the foyer and was the first person I encountered. I'm not sure it was love at first sight for either of us, but Pastor Dad likes to tell me that he loved me before I loved him. I’m not sure if that’s true either, but perhaps it is.
Those are good firsts, but every person experiences bad ones also. Just how bad depends on whether they are merely distressful or truly devastating. Sometimes it takes time to know the difference.
Do you remember the first time someone humiliated you and you wanted to crawl into a hole and die? Or do you remember the first time you embarrassed yourself so badly that you thought you would never be able to laugh about the incident? I remember those firsts, too, and they don’t seem as bad now as they did when they happened.
I also remember the first time my hair fell out in such large patches that they could not be covered by styling. It was not the first time this autoimmune system disorder had caused me to lose some hair in the 6 years since it first attacked, but this was the first time that it had been this severe.
This first occurred in the shower on a busy Sunday morning when we had a guest speaker scheduled. When I called Pastor Dad he told me to stay home. As much as I wanted to do so, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I already owned the red felt hat that I still wear in season; in those years I wore it paired with a certain winter suit. It was cool enough that day for the ensemble's seasonal debut.
|The hat many years later. Perhaps it should be bronzed like my baby shoes were as another token of growth.|
Once that first shock passed I had to run an emotional gauntlet when dealing with people. I found that some possess refreshing wellsprings of kindness I never knew existed. Unfortunately, I also discovered that the reverse is true. Honestly, I was angry with individuals who said or did the wrong thing. Those incidents are best forgotten. Whether they were deliberate is not something I can assess. However, I am acutely aware of my own faltering thoughts, words, and deeds when dealing with others experiencing grief and that is enough to help me forgive.
My parents are not the only persons who ever noted my actions in a book. The Bible says that God keeps records, too. I wonder sometimes what is in that book and what it will be like when He brings it out for review. When my parents took note of my early deeds I was not even aware that these were noteworthy, those routine accomplishments that a growing child achieves, because I was immature and without understanding.
I might be surprised at the things God records too, being too spiritually immature to realize the consequences of some of my actions. There might be incidents there that I do not want recorded. Honestly, I was sometimes angry with God in those early days because I knew He had the ability to keep this trial out of my life but chose to allow it anyway. I am ashamed of the times when bitter waters spouted from my heart instead of the sweet waters of praise to my God. These are best forgotten because scripture tells me that through the words and deeds of Jesus Christ I have been forgiven.
I am reminded that the book my mother kept contains positive milestones in my life. Nowhere in that book is my first temper tantrum or the first time I disobey my parents recorded. As my heavenly parent, does God's journal show my spiritual growth?
Although I cannot say with any certainty what is in that book I know that God loves me, too. Actually, He loved me first and of all the people who love me He loves me best. I have no reason to fear what He has recorded.
The Beloved Apostle says in I John 4:18, 19
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He tht feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.
Before my children, Pastor Dad, or even my parents - all of whom have helped me to realize that what was at first a devastating experience is now merely a distressing one - loved me, God loved me. Because of this truth, I love Him and do not fear what the record says but am determined that the record be one that shows spiritual growth and progress.
(Beautiful words! Beautiful voice! Beautiful hair! )