Friday, July 25, 2014

Praying a Lie

For some reason, though I thought I had published this a couple of years ago, I couldn't find it. So here it is again. It's still just as true, although the pregnant friend's little boy is about three now.

Recently I heard a lie in a prayer, and it's something that our culture, including the church, almost universally accepts.

First off, let me say that the person praying this prayer is a wonderful Christian woman, a friend, and a prayer warrior. She meant no harm by what she said, and only repeated something that we have often heard and bought into. I hesitated to post this, and tried to write it without mentioning the prayer, but I thought I needed to point out how pervasive this is in the Church. I trust that if the lady in question recognizes herself, she will forgive me for bringing this up again.

We were praying for another lady who was pregnant and about to deliver her second son. The lady praying asked for God's protection for her baby boy, and her other baby boy, and her other baby boy, meaning her husband. There were quite a few chuckles in our group, and she continued on with her prayer.

But a hand grabbed my heart and squeezed. I know the husband in question. He's a young man compared to me (lots of men in that category), but he is unquestionably a man, a Christian man, and a man who is doing a good job of being the spiritual leader of his household.

Yet we called him not only a boy, but a baby boy, and most of us laughed.

This is a lie straight from the pit of hell.

Satan has done a great job with this one. You hear this all the time. Men are called little boys by their wives, by other women, and by other men. We all have heard, probably all have said, "He's just the tallest kid in the family." We laugh, and shake our heads, and we give credence to something that emasculates men, strips them of respect, and serves Satan's purposes perfectly.

Let's take a closer look at the idea that men are really just bigger boys. According to the Bible, Christ is the head of the church, and the husband is the spiritual leader of his household. (And if you don't buy into the Bible, it makes no difference. Everyone in that room where we were praying does buy into it.) Does it make sense, in light of that, to equate the leader of the household with a child? Does a woman who believes that really want a child as the leader of her household?

This idea comes from a variety of sources. For one thing, there are way too many men who act as if they're still boys. The Peter Pan syndrome is well known. There are reasons for that failing of men, and we'll likely discuss that at another time. Why, though, do we act as if all men are in that category? Even good, godly men who are doing their dead-level best to lead their families?

In part it is because we have decided that many of the things men like are childish. Most men are devotees of sports. Sports are games. Games are for kids. Therefore men are kids. It is faulty logic based on faulty premises, but how many of you really think it's true?

Men love sports because there are goals, solid outcomes, action, sacrifice, effort, talent, discipline, excellence, and teamwork involved. Men love all these things. And they are the things that help men in other arenas of life. Men want to be part of something larger than themselves. We live for that. And that translates over to business, to government, to family, and to faith. This is not to say that some men don't overdo the sports thing. Far from it. But we don't say that women are little girls because they like romance, and many women overdo the whole romance thing. Capiche?

Another reason we place men in the same category as children has to do with the differences in the way men and women think.

I can remember a class at church once where we were discussing marriage. When we asked what women got out of marriage, we heard such things as companionship, stability, relationship. When we asked what men got out of marriage, the answer was overwhelmingly, "Sex."

Now, Think about that for a moment. All men want out of marriage is sex? We don't have any desire for companionship, stability and relationship? Folks, that's complete nonsense. If all men wanted was sex, they could find it quite easily without marriage. And less expensively, I might add. Yes, I said that. It's true. Live with it.

It's true that men generally desire sex more than women do. So what? Does that mean men are inferior to women? Let's turn that around. Women generally desire sex less than men do. Does that make them inferior to men?

Neither question makes any sense. Both genders are made the way they are because God made them that way. Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." God created all of us as either men or women. We're different. Different does not mean either superior or inferior.

God also created sex and blessed it within marriage. But we have decided that the desire for sex within marriage is somehow inferior to the desire to be close without it. Sorry. Thanks for playing. Better luck next time. You won't find that idea in the Bible. Men typically express intimacy through sex. Men are more action oriented than women, and women are more verbally oriented than men. They're just different. Again, that says nothing about the superiority of one or the other.

Sure, you can have intimacy without sex. But can you have it at the level that a husband and wife are supposed to? Do you know many people who do? Anyone?

I don't either.

A third reason we place men in the same category as children is the real root of the problem. Just as women were once considered vastly inferior in all matters outside the home, men are now considered vastly inferior in all matters within the home. This is the diabolical part. Think of who is happiest about ridiculing men because they are men, and about ridiculing women because they are women. Do you think God is happy with that? No! Satan is happy with that. It makes him chortle with glee. Satan will do anything he can to drive a wedge into a family, anything he can to destroy the image that God has placed in us.

The reality is that there is a seed of truth within this idea of the inferiority of men in the home. Women are naturally more nurturing than are men. Tell Dad you're sick and he'll give you medicine. Mom will rock you and hold you. (Some dads will, too, but we're talking about the overall trend here.)

But that seed of truth has grown into a lie in full flower. The qualities of a man—sacrifice, assertiveness, devotion to duty, risk-taking, even a level of aggressiveness—are just as important to a family. Just look at what happens to those who don't have fathers, or whose fathers are distant or uninvolved. It's a disaster.

Satan is most effective when he can base his lie on a bit of truth. That's how he works. And he has done a tremendous job with this lie.

So, if you want men to act like men, quit calling them children. And if I hear it, expect me to call you out. Gently, I hope.

Postscript: I heard this again recently from a man. This is a man I know works hard to support his family, leads them spiritually, and is a good friend. If that's not a man, what is? You know who you are. Stop believing lies, brother.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Special Honor

I got a special honor last week. My son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Lindsey, brought The Amazing Cooper over for us to watch while they went to a movie, did some shopping, and ran some errands. Of course, we were more than ready to provide this service for them. In reality, I’ve been looking forward to it for several days, as have my wife and daughter. They arrived around 10:00 and dropped off Cooper, who was sound asleep, but beautiful nonetheless.

Did I mention that we also have a foster baby with us right now? She’s just 9 days younger than Cooper is, although she’s much smaller because she was about a month premature. She’s healthy and beautiful, but tiny compared to Cooper. We call her Harper, mainly because that’s what the nurses in NICU called her.

So we had a baby filled day, and all three of us got lots of time with the little ones. Cooper slept the entire day, but that didn’t stop us from holding him and talking to him, changing him and feeding him. Yes, he eats in his sleep, apparently. I feel we may owe Brian and Lindsey an apology, because we were unable to keep Cooper awake, which will likely result in a sleepless night for them. Brian has already written about this here.

However, my special honor came in the afternoon. Shan had to go work with one of her home-bound students, and Rachel had to go to her job, leaving me with two beautiful, newborn babies. The fact that so many obviously bright people trust me with two infants at one time is astounding to me, and fills me with great joy. The fact that one of those infants is my first grandchild fills me with great pride. He’s such a perfect little guy, and I have such great dreams for him.

I’d like to say it was a bit of a trial and I came through with flying colors in spite of the difficulty, but that would be lying. They both slept through most of the time, and I never had both of them awake at the same time. Harper did manage to projectile vomit on me, but that’s nothing for an old baby wrangler like me. No, most of the time I just spent looking at them, talking to them, singing to them.

But God had something for me, as he often does when I take the time to listen. I was sitting there looking at Harper, and I marveled at how much love I felt for her. Now I’m absolutely overwhelmed with love for Cooper. I mean, he’s my first grandchild. He’s perfect in every way. I haven’t been able to wipe this silly grin off my face since he was born three weeks ago. But when I looked at Harper, I realized I love her just as much.

There’s no doubt that Cooper occupies a special place in my heart, and that place will continue to grow. He’s blood of my blood. But even after fostering 17 children, I still love every one of them, and that love is no less than my love for Cooper.
I have known for a long time that I could love all of my children with an equal love. And I know I have always loved all of our foster babies. But to realize that it was the same love that I had for Cooper floored me. It says something about love to me that I’ve heard, but hadn’t really felt, if you know what I mean. Love is not diminished by love for others. It is not something that corresponds to an equation, or a physical law. Love is infinite. It gave me just a bit more insight into God’s love for us. He loves each of us just as he loves his firstborn. In fact, he has adopted us as sons and daughters,  brothers and sisters of Jesus. He doesn’t love us as some conglomeration of people, as a race, as humanity. He loves us as individuals with the same love, just as I love Harper and Cooper, but on a much grander, glorious, unselfish scale.

He loves each of us with a special honor.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Welcome, Cooper

                                                                                                                                                                                April 26, 2013

Dear Cooper,

Welcome to the world, little guy. We’re all so happy you’re here: your mother and father, me, your Nana, your other grandparents, your uncles and aunts, and many, many friends. We’ve been waiting for you for the last nine months. And now you’re here and you’re surrounded by people who love you just because of who you are.

You don’t know me yet, but you will. I’m the one who will take you on walks, read Go, Dogs, Go! to you, pretend with you, build castles with you, tell you stories, pray with you, sing songs for you, and so much more. I’m your grandfather. Your dad thinks you’ll call me Pops, and that’s fine by me. I really don’t care what you call me as long as I get to spend time with you and watch you grow, and change, and learn.

There is so much to learn, and I’m going to be right there with you, teaching you as much as I can. I’ll teach you to cast a lure, fire a gun (safely), tell a dove from a meadowlark, hammer a nail, and measure a board. Together with your mother and father, I’ll teach you who Jesus is, how to read a story, what to watch out for, and what laughter is all about. And you’ll teach me. You’ll teach me what it is to have a grandson, what you like, what your own talents are, and how to see the world through a child’s eyes. I’m so looking forward to that.

I’m also looking forward to seeing your eyes light up, and hearing your screams of joy. I look forward to the delight on your face when you first learn to read, and ride a bike, and throw a ball, and . . . you name it. There are many firsts ahead of you, and I’ll be here to share them with you.

I’ll tell you right now: I’m the backup team. You are your parents’ child, not mine. So what they say goes. But I know them. I know they’ll teach you well, and I know they’ll want me to spend as much time with you as possible, because they know already how much I love you. 

And I’ll be there for you. At ball games and music recitals, at graduations and birthday parties, at church and at home and at my home and wherever you are. I’ll be there. Because you’re my grandson and that’s what grandfathers do. We’ve had lots of years to learn how to do it well.

Cooper, I’ve been praying for you since well before you were born. I’ve prayed that God will keep you safe and healthy, but more importantly, I’ve prayed that God will make you strong, and determined, and dangerous. You see, boys and men are supposed to be dangerous. Dangerous to  the devil. Dangerous to those who want to hurt others. Dangerous to those who steal and destroy. I want you to be physically strong, but it’s even more important to be spiritually strong. In that you’ll need to depend on God and lean on the Spirit. I have no doubt that you will. And determination? That will see you through all the problems that life will throw at you. Life will do that. None of us gets through life without problems. But problems are made to be solved. Problems are obstacles, and climbing obstacles makes us stronger.

But don’t worry about that now. In fact, don’t worry about that ever. Just let us love you, and hold you, and feed you, and love you some more. Because that’s what we were made to do, and what you were made for. Just by being here you fill us with joy. And you will for your whole life.

All the love in the world,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So, Bloom Already!

I don't know how it is for you, but for me the lessons I learn are often repeated or confirmed several ways in a short period of time. I'll read something in my Bible, or hear it from a trusted friend, or feel the Spirit is telling me something, and then I'll hear or see something similar soon thereafter.

A week or so ago I was in a class taught by a man I admire for his wisdom and his gentleness. He related some advice he and his wife got from a doctor when they were going through some hard times and were trying to decide whether to leave the church and the fellowship where they were, or to stay and work things out from within. This doctor told them, "Bloom where you are planted." It sounds so simple. In fact, it sounds like a cliché. But remember that a cliché starts as a truth. It only becomes cliché when it is overused. And even then there are times when it is true.

Those simple words meant the world to this man and his wife. That phrase guided them through that part of their lives, and obviously still have an effect on them over 30 years later. And when he spoke those words, they seemed to have special impact for me. Recently some things have popped up which have made me question how I was serving God, my church, and my community. It has been a stressful and somewhat disheartening time for me and for my wife. We've run into some situations that gave us doubts about people we had trusted for a long time. Things were done that should not have been. Other things that should have been done were left undone. It has been a struggle for us to know how to react, what to do, what to say. We even began to consider leaving the church where we have worshipped and served for over 30 years.

So the simple phrase, "Bloom where you are planted" meant a lot to me.

The day after that class, I was talking to a friend who told me he was planning to hire someone to do what I do. In the current job market, I was naturally intrigued by that. This friend's company is booming while many other companies are fading. I feel sure I could get that job and do well in it. Almost immediately after hearing this, though, I also heard a quiet voice inside say, "Bloom where you are planted."

Then came the dream. Now I am not one to attribute great meaning to my dreams. In general, dreams are just random thoughts caused by your brain re-booting. In fact, I am one of those people who seldom remember my dreams. I'm sure that I have dreamed something each night, but I almost never have even the vaguest glimmer of what the dream was about. If I do remember anything it is usually something like, "Let's see. There was a puppy, a big noise, and the smell of cucumbers."

This time I not only knew the basic outline of the dream, but I could remember great numbers of details. In the dream, I went to a specific city (Chicago, for reasons that aren't clear to me) and went through a days-long interview and testing process for a job. At the end of that time, the hiring team came to me and offered me the job for substantially more than I make now (or probably will ever make). In addition, they told me that none of the others were ever really under consideration. They were just there for form. And I turned the job down, not because there was anything bad about it (okay, I really don't have any desire to live in Chicago), but because I wanted to stay where I was. Again, "Bloom where you are planted."

Okay, God. I get the message. But then come the questions. Is this really where I was planted? What does that mean? What part of my life is it about?

I can't tell you that I know the answers to those questions. I can tell you some of the ways I plan to listen for the answers.

I'll read. Both in scripture and in other books by authors whose work I trust. It may not happen to you, but I'm pretty sure God keeps sneaking stuff into my Bible. I'll read a passage for years, and then one day something will jump out at me that I've never noticed before. A similar thing often happens when reading other books, frequently books that aren't on spiritual subjects. Sometimes it's a work of fiction. But some dialogue, some scene, some phrase will hit me with a force that far outweighs simple words. I've learned to listen in those times.

I'll listen to God. I don't expect a big, booming voice speaking to me from the sky, nor do I expect to see a disembodied hand writing on the wall (although that happened once). I'll pray some more, and when I pray I'll try to be open. Just last night I was praying, asking for wisdom to give to some brothers of mine, when I heard, "Let them give to you." That was exactly what I needed at the time.

Which brings up another thing I'll do. I'll listen to Godly brothers and sisters. God puts us into community for a reason. I can't tell you how many times a person I respect and love has shown me something that was clear to them, but not to me. And I've done the same thing for them.

And I'll listen to my heart. I know, I know. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" That's Jeremiah 17:9. You know what Jeremiah 17:10 says? "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve." We've misused that first verse to tell people that they can never trust their hearts. Yet God told us, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26) God gives us desires and puts them into our hearts. Could Mother Theresa have ministered to the poor in India all those years if her heart wasn't in it? Could Paul have endured shipwreck, beatings, hunger, hardship, and pain without his heart? No. Remember that the Pharisees were experts in the law, very good at outward righteousness. But Jesus condemned them because of their hearts.

I don't have all the answers yet. But whatever they are, I'm going to bloom in the best way I know how. I might be a blooming idiot, but that has never stopped me before.

Are you blooming?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Stand by Your . . . Stand

I hunt deer. To some of you that is akin to confessing that I drink the blood of babies under a full moon. To others, it's more of a "so what" kind of thing. Others think, "Cool. When can I get some venison?"

All of you can keep reading. No deer (or babies) were harmed in the making of this story. It isn't a hunting story. It's more of a pre-hunting preparation story.

As part of my preparation this year, I bought a hunting stand. It's a tripod stand, three long legs leading to a platform with a seat. The legs are braced to each other and one has ladder rungs on it so you can climb to the platform. The whole idea is to get up higher so you can see over brush, short mesquite trees, and folds in the land. The place where I hunt is small, and most of it is covered with heavy oak forest. But there is one place where I can see for 150 yards in a couple of directions, if I can get a little height. Hence the stand. I love it when a plan comes together.

My first check came after I picked the thing up at the local Bass Pro Shop and got it home. It was a heavy, tightly packed box, and when I opened it, it looked like a giant green erector set. Okay. I liked erector sets when I was a kid. I can do this.

Since it was 107 degrees outside that day, and since my mother didn't raise any fools (except maybe my brother), I brought the first parts of the stand inside to assemble them on the living room tile. Of course, I first had to find the parts I wanted, which always seemed to be under the ones I would need later. And naturally, the bolts supplied were of four different sizes, in one bag, most of them only identifiable with a ruler or by comparing them with each other. Did I mention there were about a hundred bolts?

I laid out the first three pieces, the platform out on the floor, and began to attach them to each other. Immediately I ran into trouble. One of the sections was welded badly. Oh, it's strong enough, but there was no way the supplied bolts were going to stretch from there to there. Well, that's no problem for a handy guy like me. I just happened to have a couple of longer bolts in the garage. Back on track.

After several trips back to the truck where I had the rest of the pieces, I managed to get the platform, the seat, and the safety rail assembled. I knew I wouldn't be able to attach the legs, or even assemble them completely, because the whole thing had to be transported in my pickup to the ranch. After I got the legs partly assembled (short enough to fit in the pickup), I was done for the moment. When my son got home I got him to help me carry the assembled platform outside.

Well, almost. You see, no matter which way we turned the thing, there was no way it would fit through the door. From assembly to disassembly in four, or five, or maybe fifteen easy steps. Eventually we got the parts out into the back yard, where my dog was sure to mark them. What the heck, it has to stand up to the weather for years anyway.

The plan was to take the parts to the ranch and put it all up the next weekend. It was even supposed to be a cool day. That, of course, didn't work out because of some family emergency. So it was a not-so-cool Saturday morning when I headed out early to the ranch. Early because it's cooler then. Not cool enough, but every bit helps.

Once at the site it was clear that my original location wouldn't work. It was not level enough in front of the trees to put up the stand, unless I wanted to dig deep holes for two of the three legs. Did I mention that our ranch is mostly rock covered by a thin dusting of soil? That was out.

Still, I found a relatively level spot and began to put the legs together and attach them. It was then that I realized they had not given me even one extra nut or bolt in the package. Did you ever try to find a black 5/16 inch lock nut in high grass?

The instructions also forgot to mention that you really need two grown men and a bull elephant to put the whole thing together. And it's certain that in the process both of the men and perhaps the elephant will be reduced to tears. But maybe elephants are tougher than that. My experience with them is limited.

I'd pick up a leg, balancing it in the middle, and attempt to slide it into a socket that was just a bit larger than the leg itself. Ever try to guide a 15-foot steel leg from seven-and-a-half feet away? Eventually, I would get it inserted, then go to see that the holes didn't quite line up. Okay. Pick up the end of the leg and ever so gently, slide it forward. Set it down and check. Too far. Go back and tug on it. Set it down and check. Too far. Try again. And again.

Then it comes time to insert the braces. Hmmm . . . gravity seems to be working against me. This is where the elephant would have been handy. Brace against the upper leg, strain, groan, guide the brace into place . . . don't let it buckle! Do it again to insert the bolts. Okay, one down, five to go. And of course, they get harder as you go.

Dripping sweat, hands numb, back throbbing, I finally got it all together. Surprisingly, setting it upright wasn't that hard. Take that, elephants! Drive the hold down stakes which, in a brilliant display of poor engineering, are blunt, hollow tubes. Two go in with only mild battering. The third is apparently dead center on a large rock about three inches below the ground. You know what, two are probably enough.

There it is. Sturdy. High. Positioned so I can see a long way. Unfortunately, it's kind of exposed. In the military, they tell you not to silhouette yourself against a skyline. That's exactly what I've done. And my camouflage isn't going to do much against the sky.

I think I'm going to dress like a cloud.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Foretaste of Fall

We've been dealing with 100+ degree days here in North Texas. We had 17 in a row, then one day when it was only 99 degrees, then another run of 100+ Toward the latter part of that we've been running at 106 – 108. Just brutal. You step outside and you're instantly soaked with sweat, and don't even think about getting into a closed car without letting it air out a bit. And my motorcycle riding has been even more curtailed. When I did ride, the mornings were only uncomfortable. The afternoon ride home was a trial that left me feeling like a half-chewed piece of jerky.

And then came the change. A cold front came through, with the promise of highs in the lower 90s, and morning lows that actually seemed like morning. We even had an overcast day with occasional light sprinkles of rain and a high that didn't get out of the lower 80s.

That afternoon, as I rode through a wooded suburban neighborhood, the smell of fall rolled over me, the smell of cool air on damp leaves. I breathed it in deeply, smiling, and thanking God for the change.

Fall! I love it. It is by far my favorite season. Some in the northern lands may long for spring, may pine for the end of the snow and the first sight of a crocus. But after a long Texas summer of 100+ degree days, 85 degree nights, air conditioners struggling to keep up and all that, I long for fall. Just to have the temps stay below 90 for a few days is a wonderfully luxury, and that smell of damp leaves really brings it home.

Of course, the leaves are not even close to changing color yet. More likely some of the trees were experiencing heat stress. Still, that will come, and if we don't have spectacular New England autumns here, at least we do get to see some color change and smell that blessed fragrance.

I grew up in Wichita, Kansas. While that's not a town known for its vast forests, still we had lots of leaves falling in autumn, and as kids we piled them up and dove into them with abandon. And of course our autumn was much earlier there than it is here in Cowtown.

Fall has other pleasant memories for me. For most of my life it has been the season of hunting. We start with the doves, when it's really not fall yet, and progress on to waterfowl, quail, pheasant, and deer. Great times sitting around a fire talking about whatever, sitting still in the dawn as the world wakes up around me, watching squirrels chase one another, hearing coyotes yodeling in the near distance, seeing the clueless armadillos puttering along and digging for grubs. Wood ducks swooshing overhead with a sound like swooping jet planes, crows calling, dogs barking in the distance . . .

The sights, sounds, and smells of fall are my favorites. So come to us quickly, fall. We're waiting.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Saw Church

It has been five years since I wrote this, five years since the events that precipitated it. The anniversary brought it back to me, and I thought it was worth sharing.
Yesterday I saw church. Not a church. Certainly not what most people think of as a church, a building with a steeple. Not even the worship gathering that Christians commonly think of as “church”. No, I saw THE church. In action.

The location was unusual. It was in the lobby of a hospital. We tend in this nation to forget that the vast majority of our hospitals were built and funded by churches. But that fact made the location oddly appropriate. Jesus made it even more appropriate. In the book of Matthew, Jesus said he came to the sick, not the healthy. That’s why we were there – for the sick.

One was physically sick. Badly injured, unable to speak, move, or even breathe for himself, our brother, Daniel Roberts, lay in a bed in ICU, clinging to life. The rest of us were there because we were heart sick. We were heart sick for Daniel, for his parents, Ron and Mary, for his sisters, Domecia, Lydia, Lynae, and Victoria. We were heart sick for ourselves. We were heart sick for each other.

We were there because we are church.

Daniel was injured on Sunday afternoon. He suffered a massive head trauma and apparently had at least one stroke. On Sunday evening, we began to learn of his condition, and the church started to gather. At first it was just a few, a trickle. Then, as word spread, the trickle grew into a rivulet, a stream, a flood. Twice, as the response grew, the hospital staff moved the group to larger areas. And still it grew. It became much more than a gathering. It became a vigil.

It became church.

Some brought food. Some brought blankets and pillows and sleeping bags. Some brought gifts and books and games. All brought love, and prayers, and hope. Here is a group of pre-teen girls gathered around young Victoria Roberts, offering comfort as friends, peers, sisters. Here is a gathering of Daniel’s friends, sharing remembrances and stories from his life, from his recent mission trip to Valles, Mexico. There are some men and women with kids of their own Daniel’s age, praying together for healing, for life, for peace, for understanding. Everywhere are hugs, encouragement, reports of Daniel’s condition, comfort, tears, even laughter. For Daniel loves laughter, and generates it wherever he goes.

As the doctors work over Daniel, reports come in. There is hope! He is responding a little, and breathing on his own occasionally. Thanksgiving, joy, praise, all ring out in the lobby. Those passing by stare at the crowd. Some smile and nod. Some frown. Some are puzzled. People come in and receive all the latest updates. People leave to return to jobs and homes, to get a little rest or take care of a little business. But most return. The composition of the group changes, but still it grows. Lydia and Lynae Roberts arrive from Ruidoso, where they have been on their mission trip. They are welcomed with hugs and tears, and go to see their brother.

On Monday evening, Ron and Mary Roberts come downstairs and motion for everyone to gather around them. The news is grim. Tests say that Daniel is no longer getting blood flow to his brain. Another test will be done in a couple of hours to confirm.

His voice breaking, Ron says, “We couldn’t have done this without you. We’re going to donate Daniel’s organs. Daniel has a new body now.”

“We’re going to throw one great party,” says Mary. Then, “We would like you to go up in twos to say goodbye to our boy.”

Tears flowed anew as the church gathered around Ron and Mary. In truth they dealt out as much comfort as they received. The two young men who were with Daniel when he was injured cried out, sobbing. Mary Roberts went and spoke to each of them, offering her love, her comfort. All around the room were those comforting and receiving comfort.

Some felt the battle had not yet been lost and encouraged us to further prayer on Daniel’s behalf. Regardless of our feelings, we all clung together and prayed. We prayed for healing. For comfort. For peace. For God’s will. Soon voices began to lift quiet songs of praise. Song followed on song, scripture on scripture, prayer on prayer. People lined up to go upstairs and spend a few moments with Daniel. As they came back down, those waiting held them and loved them.

Monday night Daniel leapt into the arms of Jesus. He got a new body and a crown. He left behind many people who love him still. We miss his smile, his easy laugh, his quirky humor. The tears we cry are for ourselves, for each other, for his family. They’re real tears nonetheless. But Daniel cries no more. He looks down on us and smiles.

For he sees church.