I’ve been thinking a lot these days about my grandfather, Norman. This is nothing new, but the memory of him always seems to be that much stronger as the fall approaches. It was nine years ago this month when he passed from this world into Heaven’s kingdom, and though this time of year strengthens my recollection, it is not the primary reason why he’s come to the front of my mind.
There is one memory of him that seems to transcend all others and is practically woven as if with a golden thread through nearly every long-term encounter I ever had with this extraordinary man. As I look back on the times when I had the privilege to be alone with him, either driving in a car or on one of our family’s weekly Sunday afternoon visits, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before I would be asked “the question.” At a certain point during our conversation he would inevitably pause and then re-direct the subject to gently ask, “So how are you doing with Jesus?”
This was not an intrusive inquisition of my faith, but was instead a gracious and loving invitation to reflect upon and discuss the state of my daily walk and relationship with my Savior. I think back to those moments often, and vividly recall those times as a teenager and young man when I wasn’t especially proud of the answer I had to give.
Over the past couple of weeks our family has found itself in a season of uncertainty. We recently received word that the Rwandan government has temporarily halted all adoptions while it takes steps to update its process to meet certain international standards. The news is a disappointing pause in what is already a very long journey. Additionally, though the work has continued on in our fundraising efforts for the Anslay Church of God CSP (more on this very soon!!) there are admittedly times when it seems that progress is slow, and we feel as though we are running in place.
We know that both of these endeavors belong to God, but during these times it has been eye opening to learn just how much I have assumed a sense of ownership over each one. Work and duty has been the defining priority as we knock down each task and tirelessly pursue every goal. As worthy as these efforts might be, the relative stillness of the moment has been the cause for reflection, and the question once asked by my grandfather, returns as if it is spoken softly by the one he now walks with in a place that is just a breath away from here. “So how are you doing with me?” I hear Jesus ask.
As I have searched for my response I have seen a person who is eager to work but is often too busy for fervent prayer, or the extra time it takes to truly study God’s word. How quickly can we allow our work to distract us from the person whose love drew us to it in the first place? It’s a humbling reminder to return to where we were called to live from the start, but if a season of uncertainty is what it takes to bring us back there, then it may be the best thing that could ever happen to you or me. As you read the passage below, I am compelled to lovingly ask the question, “So how are you doing with Jesus?”
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.