Today my first born is 18 and her shirt is correct. I cannot tell a lie. She is a criminal!!! From the first time she spoke the most important name I would be given (this side of heaven), the name of Daddy, she stole my heart. Samantha is also a criminal in the sight of the world in which she lives; for loving Jesus with all her heart, and desiring to follow hard after Him, no matter the risk. Sammie’s favorite books to read, aside from God’s word, deal with those who are persecuted for Jesus sake. In her own life, while in in school and at work she has learned well the passage of scripture from II Timothy 3:12…
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution”
In answer to her parents sincere and at times desperate prayers, God has blessed her with a hunger and thirst for Him, that turns her on to the narrow road time and again. At times this desire has exposed her to the mocking world around her and she has had to endure some difficulty, yet the Lord has trained her by it. Her mother and I have been so blessed to see her grow up physically and spiritually. Yet on this special day, I am reminded that we were not the only ones who are seeing growth or failure. Let me explain.
Around the time Sammie would have been turning two, we moved her into her big girl bed. I can still see the room as I placed her under the covers. The room’s overhead light was lighting the room enough, to make the pastel yellow walls with pastel pink and blue feather dusting highlights, glow like clouds at sunset. Her sheets matched her baby “Loonie Tunes” border. On the particular night I am remembering , I was once again beside myself with depression. Many know that coming into the faith, did not diminish the intensity of bouts of depression and anxiety I went through. Though they were less frequent (Christ has since healed me), praise Jesus, they seemed to come with a greater ferocity when they would come. This can surely be attributed to the enemy coming to steal and kill and destroy my joy and faith. Into this depressive state, from being rejected for my faith with co-workers and family, stepped a tiny life preserver named Samantha.
Following some very weak, lifeless and standard prayers from me, I looked into Samantha’s big blue eyes and asked a question of my two year old (yeah I know I sound pathetic)… “Sammie, when you see Daddy, what do you see?”
I don’t know if I was expecting her to say “I see a loser” or “Your a pathetic bum” or “I can’t believe your such a failure”, which would have been quite an accomplishment for a two year old, and akin to how I felt. Instead she gave a one word answer that made me weep and would serve as kick in the pants (over the years) more times than I care to admit. In response to my question “When you see Daddy, what do you see?” she said simply “JESUS”.
Hearing any of my children say JESUS name, has always been a wonderful blessing, but this one time in particular would imprint on my soul. In hours following her announcement I was hit with a few realities.
- How I feel may matter, but it must not direct my thoughts actions or dispositions
- Failure in living the Christian life, does not mean we are failures. So long as we confess our sin, He not only forgives and cleanses, but loves us. In fact, even before we confess, He loves us.
- Our identity is not directed by feelings, perfect Christian living, or the characterizations of those around us. Our identity is in the perfection of Christ, as we are children of God, through His blood. Our identity is in the One who abides with and lives within us.
- Who we are in Christ can be seen, in how we consistently live and grow to be more like Jesus.
- REMEMBER… Someone is ALWAYS watching you.
My foray of remembrance on Samantha’s 18th birthday, is not for the purpose of declaring my greatness as a follower of Jesus, for any greatness is few and far between. In fact any good thing coming from any of us is only attributable to Him (II Corinthians 3:5-6). The purpose is to challenge you to be aware that daily someone will observe your walk with Christ. What would your children, your parents, your co-workers, fellow students, neighbors, spouses and even your enemies declare if asked “When you see me, what do you see?”
Interestingly, Samantha’s declaration continues to pound and uplift me. Over the years, her one word answer in that two year old cutesy voice, has hit me over the head like a hammer, when I want to be carnal (unfaithful, selfish, proud, bitter, unduly angry or pick your poison). Her reply has also at times served as a healing balm and uplifting encouragement, when God brings it to my remembrance. Thinking on her response brings squarely into view the a dispositional truth often neglected by many followers of Jesus.
2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NKJV) You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
Letters are meant to be read. My desire is at the end of my life, my family, and those I have ministered too and had fellowship with will say, “Mike’s letter shouted JESUS!” My desire is that of my neighbors and friends and yes even my enemies (whether said in mockery or disgust) will declare my letter shouted Jesus. If that is the case, I trust Jesus words to me will be “Well done, My good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord”. Those words will be the sweetest ever spoken to me.
May those be what guide your life. May Christ so fill your heart, that those you meet see Jesus in you. And thank the Lord for Samantha. When I see you , my dear daughter, I see… JESUS!!!