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By Helen Luhrs
When my mom died this winter, I realized the generation of my parents was gone. What I learned from them about faith and life was now mine to practice and pass on. To help me remember what I learned and treasure what nuggets of truth I want to share, these Summer Sundays are dedicated to Henry and Edith Blankespoor, my parents.
“Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God.” 1 Peter 5:2 (The Message)
Christmas was a highlight of the year for our family. We decorated, we baked, we wrapped and unwrapped.
So when Dad left on a trip the day before Christmas, I wanted to know what was going on. Mom explained what she could to a ten-year old, but it wasn’t until years later that I understood just where Dad was sent and why. A family in our church was in crisis. The previous summer a scandalous affair rocked the church. My Sunday-School teacher completed her end-of-the-year records, left them on her dining room table, and ran off with the hired man, taking her young children with her and leaving a devastated husband.
Now six months later, the names of her children had appeared on a class roster in Texas and our Iowa church found out about it. With no pastor at the time, the Elders met and decided they should go to Texas and talk this mom into coming back, returning her children, and reviving her marriage. Dad and another Elder left for Texas and we put Christmas on hold.
That story did not have a happy ending, but I have never forgotten the mixture of disappointment and pride that I felt. I wasn’t quite sure it would really be Christmas if it wasn’t celebrated on Christmas Day. However, I also knew that Dad believed he was doing the right thing, what God expected of him as an Elder. Making that kind of sacrifice may not be right for everyone, but for Dad, it was what he had to do. Now that I am older, I know he probably was disappointed to be on the road on Christmas Day too, but he still believed he had to do what God called him to do.
Can I do the same hard stuff now? I’m not sure. I put family events and quiet weekends on a holy pedestal. It is easy to rationalize about what I deserve or the quiet I have earned. I am often reluctant to do for others on a Friday night after teaching all week, much less on Christmas Day. I want a bigger heart and a belief in the bigger picture.
Dear God, reduce my selfish view of the time you give me. Open my heart to sharing my time and my heart with others even when I have to give up something I desire. Amen.
An Iowa woman to the core, Helen Luhrs is a high school teacher who lives out in the country near Knoxville, Iowa. Helen and Lee have four married daughters, five grandchildren, a graceful prairie, and a square foot garden.