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Archive for June 19th, 2014

Do You Love Me?

There are stories in the Bible I love and have read, and studied over and over. One is the interaction between Simon Peter and Jesus.

“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time,“Do you love me?”

He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

John 21 15-19

For me Jesus question, “do you love me?” could equally be asked, “do you love me, MOST?”

There have been many times when I have been challenged to love Jesus more than anything, more than anyone, in my life. But, there was one night (a few years ago), when, I believe, the challenge came from God. And I believe I even heard His voice … maybe not with my ears, but certainly with my heart.

It was to be a great evening! I was taking my daughter and her friends to a concert, and I got to go to a movie, of MY choosing, all alone! Oh, the bliss! There would be no princess, no space creatures, no war story. No, I was going to go to a chick flick, eat far too much popcorn (with butter), and NOT have to take a single person to ‘pee’ just when the story was getting good.

I went to the theater, just down the street from the concert venue. I ate immense amounts of buttery popcorn. I laughed. I cried. And I sighed. I left feeling girlie-good! So I rolled into my van (feeling the effects of immense amounts of buttery popcorn), and steered away from the theater, towards the concert venue.

Hum, I wondered, should I go shopping? No, the stores were about to close. Maybe a coffee shop? No, there was no place in my body for any more ingesting. Maybe ‘hang out’ at the grocery store? Seriously, you know you are old and lead a boring life when you actually, seriously, consider spending your Friday night ‘hanging out’ at a grocery store. Can we say, LAME?! (And all of this self-questioning happened in mere moments).

As I approached the concert venue I was amazingly, inwardly compelled to drive into the venue parking lot, by ‘something’ that seemed to be communicating to me, ‘you need to be there’. And, so, I went.

Then I parked and thought, now what? I knew it would be over an hour until the concert would be over. Heck, I thought, the headlining group was probably just starting. Hum, thought my conniving mind, I bet I could just walk in to the concert, and enjoy the headlining group … for FREE (Scottish heritage … oh, ya, baby!). And once ‘free’ was part of this idea there would be no backing down.

So, I walked into the venue, the church, where the concert was happening. I was able to walk right up to where the concert was in full gear. The place was packed! I stood just inside the doorway, watching and listening. A modern hymn of praise was being sung, being shouted, to Hosanna in the highest.

I stood there, thanking God that people use their gifts from Him to honor the Giver of those gifts. And that God would use those people, those gifts to open up this generation’s eyes to the things unseen. It was a ‘solo in a crowd’ praise party for me.

Then the second song began. It was rockier, and the crowd in there were having a blast!

And then …

Something up front fell … ‘I hope it didn’t hit anyone (my daughter)’

The music stopped … ‘It must have hurt someone (my daughter?)’

Noises of chaos, and people moving, climbing, back over pews … ‘God, don’t let it be my daughter’

DO YOU LOVE ME … ?

‘Huh? Of course I love you. But where is my daughter?’

A fire alarm was sounding … ‘This isn’t good. Where is my daughter?’

People were exiting the building, from all exits … orderly, quietly … ‘What is going on? Where is my daughter?’

I started to move forward, into the sanctuary … it didn’t feel like sanctuary. I turned around, and walked out.

I noticed people, running down a stairway. I walked towards the stairs, and (so hesitantly) down the stairs, not knowing where they would lead me. I saw people rushing into a room, a hall. I saw people lying on the floor, and others attending to them. They were HURT! … ‘is my daughter in there?’

DO YOU LOVE ME … MORE?

‘What? You are asking that NOW? … Oh, what are you asking me? What are you asking of me? Please … please don’t take my daughter … But … yes … yes I do love you more …’

I started to move forward, into the room … there didn’t seem to be … room, for me. I turned around, and walked out.

I walked back up the stairs.

‘Please, please help me find my daughter. Wherever she is, please help me find her.’

YOUR CELL PHONE

(I do not remember that line from John’s gospel!) I pulled my cell phone from my bag, confused as to how it could lead me to my daughter. Then I remembered! My daughter had used my cell phone to call one of her friends who had not showed up, just before the others went into the church, for the concert. Maybe, that number would be on my phone, and, maybe if I called it, I could find my daughter.

I searched the recent calls … it was there! … ‘thank-you’

I dialed, and the call was answered by her friend … ‘thank-you’

Then, reality. What if the answers she had for me were not what I wanted? Could I hear that?

DO YOU LOVE ME … MOST?

Do I love you … most? Oh, but, you asked me that of my first child. And that child never took it’s first breath. But, you did hear my cry, and gave again. But, she is only 15, was she only ‘on loan’? Oh, right, they are all only on loan. They … she is your child before she is my daughter. YOU love HER most …

Yes, my Lord … I do love you … most … and, her life … I leave it in your hands …

I took a deep breath. There were three of the seven together just outside (I was still in the building, still just outside the sanctuary … so far from sanctuary). And, my daughter? No, she was not with them.

I rushed to those three, who I barely knew, and hugged them. And I felt the strength return to my wobbly legs, as I realized that, I could hold them, support them, and comfort them, as their moms would, if they were there.

Another girl arrived shortly after … hugs, tears, questions … answers? The floor … fell?

One of the girl’s sister had been there … where the floor … was.

And my daughter? The newest of the group saw her at the other side of the church … ‘thank-you, thank-you, thank-you’

I walked … right? I rushed, with the concerned sister, to where we were told my daughter was.

As we moved forward, with sounds of sirens, road closures, emergency personal absolutely everywhere, It felt surreal, like I was walking, living through, a dream. A very bad dream.

Then, right in front of me … ‘thank-you, thank-you, thank-you’

And I held my daughter … with an understanding of thanksgiving that I had not felt, since the day she was born.

‘thank-you’

Another girl was with her … hugs, tears, questions …

Soon after with found the missing sister.

I drove them all home.

Reunions … hugs, tears, questions …

But, that night, the questions  for me were  …

DO YOU LOVE ME?

DO YOU LOVE ME … MORE?

DO YOU LOVE ME … MOST?

And my ultimate answer?

Yes, I love you … the most, and I will follow you, to the corners of the earth.

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