Monday, July 27, 2015

Testimony to What I've Seen

In his conversation with Nicodemus as recorded in the third chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen..."

The picture is old and a bit blurry, but this man is Charlie Reed... my Papa.  The picture may be blurred a bit, but my memory of him is crystal clear.  Aside from my relationship with my own father, my mother's daddy gave me a solid vision of fatherly love.  I can speak of what I know about it and have seen exhibited in Papa's life.  He passed when I was in college - way too soon.  But the recollection I shared in my book, FAITH BREEZES,  gives a glimpse of his spirit.  I'm sharing that excerpt here.  I hope you enjoy it, and perhaps remember those in your own life who showed you God's love.

                                           ON THE ARM OF HIS CHAIR

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.   James 4:8

Every ounce of my being was riveted on the video of The Truth Project.  From the depths of his heart, Dr. Dell Tackett shared about our need simply to spend time in the presence of God. 

Imagine, he said, what it would be like if we could actually see God - and see how he longs to spend time with us.  Picture him with his arms outstretched, beckoning each of us to "Come here... come and sit awhile and talk with me.". If we could really get that picture in our minds and hearts, Dr. Tackett said, we would never want to leave that sweet presence of the Lord God.

The image of the outstretched arms of a loving father struck a chord with me.  My own father was a loving man with a big lap that was always ready to welcome little ones.  But the memory that gives me the best image of this fatherly communion is the time I spent on the arm of the big rocking chair with my maternal grandfather, who we called Papa.

Papa was a peaceful man who loved a rocking chair.  He and Mema Jessie always had oversized porch rockers right there in their living room.  Everybody knew which chair was which.  Those rockers had wide arms, just the right size for a child's bottom.  Being pulled up into the curl of Papa's arm, perching on the arm of the chair and sometimes leaning my head on his shoulder, took me to a place of peaceful rest and total safety like I've rarely known since then.

"Get us an apple, hon," he would often say.  I would run to the bowl in the kitchen, bring back the fruit and reclaim my spot on his chair.  In my absence he would have taken his small knife from his pocket.  Carefully, diligently, he would proceed to peel the apple.  Starting with the stem end, he would peel around and around until the apple was naked and the peel was a perfect unbroken string.  He sliced small pieces of apple meat, one for me and one for him, until our treat was finished.  But the ritual didn't stop there.  The remains were dropped neatly into the nearby wastebasket.  Finally, Papa's knife was wiped clean and returned to his pocket.  God was never mentioned while I sat with him, at least not that I remember.  Yet his presence was everywhere around us. 

We form our ideas about God from the experiences we have on earth - not just the dramatic events but also the mundane moments.  The many hours I spent on the arm of Papa's chair did for me exactly what Dr. Tackett spoke about: gave me a palpable, personal sense of God's presence and its sweet safety, peacefulness, and ease.

"Draw near to God," says to my heart, "Come here and sit on the arm of my chair.  We'll talk if we want, we'll share an apple, we'll just enjoy being here together."

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