Love – Invest for Eternity

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Today would have been my parents’ 68th wedding anniversary.

They had over 67 years together and this is the first anniversary that mother is alone.

Yet, she would tell you she is not alone.

She has Jesus.

I was with her two weeks ago and we were going through the many cards, letters, notes and messages that Mother has received since the passing of my father at 91 years old on February 10th. It was a very sweet time of remembering people who had been blessed by my father and mother, and who had in turn blessed them. Among the notes was one in my father’s handwriting. It was on a small piece of note paper and must have been placed in a small gift box on their anniversary 4 years ago. She had placed it with the new notes to put in a memory book I was making for her.

Tears came to my eyes as I read the following:

Dear Esther,

I could fill this box with many material things and they would end up being just things. But I am filling this box with two intangibles that will be valued by you for the rest of your life.

So – this box is filled to its fullest with God’s love that can not be fully described but keenly felt, and with my love that has been yours for over 64 years and will continue on till we have to part, but then will become the indescribable love of being with Jesus.

love, Bark

This is what authentic love invested in another individual looks like – an investment for eternity.

I Corinthians 13 describes REAL love. Verse 7 summarizes love that is the antithesis of the love our culture practices.

Love never gives up,never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT)

Verse 13 ends this treatise on authentic love –

Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love.

I am so thankful for parents who loved one another with God’s love. It was loved that lasted as long as they both lived, and now is “that indescribable love of being with Jesus” as my father wrote to mother.

I pray that our marriages will be just such a demonstration of God’s love to our children and grandchildren.

Invest in love for eternity.

 

 

 

 

Brokenhearted

 Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times

How do I respond to the horrific, senseless violence that is sweeping the world?

Is it getting worse, or do I just hear about it more frequently because of the 24/7 media coverage that sends an unending stream of information and images from throughout the world?

How do I help my children and grandchildren process these events without causing them to live crippled by fear?

  • the killing of police officers in Dallas
  • the shooting of unarmed black youth in several US cities
  • the massacre of 41 innocent civilians in Turkey
  • the gunning down of 49 people in a night club in Orlando
  • 14 are shot dead in San Bernardino, California

and yet more personal …

  • the senseless murder of a dear young mother’s husband in Atlanta

This lovely young woman, a long time friend of our family, has been working tirelessly to eradicate human trafficking as an Assistant to the Attorney General of Georgia. She is now faced with raising her precious little girl without the loving support of a father.

I must respond with genuine concern and compassion to all those involved.

Jesus did that.

Right before he was crucified, on the Mount of Olives, Roman soldiers (the despised oppressors of the Jews in Jerusalem) approached Jesus to arrest him. Peter responded with violence – cutting off the ear of the High Priest’s servant.

Mark 22:51 – But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

NO MORE OF THIS!

Our response to the violence and suffering around us must be an example to our children and grandchildren.

No more of this. We are brokenhearted.

If we  – for one moment – we think “maybe they deserved this” we are WRONG!

We MUST respond with compassion. If we do not feel compassion for the those shot and their suffering loved ones, regardless of the situation, we must repent.

Psalm 34:18-19 (NLT)

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.

Our children and grandchildren will form their understanding of suffering from the way they hear and see us respond.

  • if we express fear – they will fear
  • if we express hatred – they will learn to hate
  • if we seek revenge – they will seek revenge
  • if we express compassion – they will learn compassion
  • if we trust God for justice – they will learn to trust God

I heard an inspiring message Sunday from Rev. Reggie Screen of Atlanta. This Godly black man challenged us to have compassionate hearts in light of the violence all around us. He challenged us to be like Jesus. Reggie encouraged us that as things are darkest – the light of Jesus shines brightest.

We must be brokenhearted like Jesus.

We must have compassion.

We must love others and demonstrate that love at every opportunity.

We must seek justice and love mercy.

Oh, God, heal our land….

 

 

 

A Legacy of Lasting Love

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This week, my father passed on to his eternal reward. We have received so many kind, thoughtful, and meaningful messages from family and friends around the world. You realize at a time like this just how many lives are touched by one individual.

Even though it is my dad who died, every message references “Bark and Esther” or “Mr. and Mrs. Barker” or “your Dad and Mom”.

Together.

Husband and wife.

67 years of marriage.

It is like butter on hot cornbread – you can’t separate them.

Our son-in-law Tim wrote the following – “Bark was always interested in me and Salem and what we were up to. He and Esther have been great examples of what a Godly marriage looks like.”

A lasting legacy of love.

So much is written about love around Valentine’s Day. Some of it is meaningful and sincere. Some is self-serving and shallow. You can tell after being around a couple for a certain period of time whether their love is genuine or fake.

My friend Joyce told me today on the phone – ” I loved watching your parents together. You could see how much they loved each other.”

They did not practice “public displays of affection.” Their love was expressed through deference to the needs and feelings of each other.

Two days before Dad died he was retaining fluid and having difficulty breathing. I was sitting with him and he opened his eyes, looked at me, and said, “Gayle, where is Mother?”

“She went to take a nap, Dad. Is there something you need?”

“Oh, good.” Dad replied. “She needs to rest.”  Dad was struggling at the end of his life here on earth, yet his thoughts were of his wife’s health and comfort.

I will always remember Jay Fesperman telling young couples what the most important skill for effective parenting was for the parents to –

Love each other.

That creates an atmosphere of security, trust, and peace in the home. It is also the perfect environment for children to thrive.

I was blessed to grow up in a home where my parents truly loved each other.

Our home was not perfect – but my brothers and I never doubted that my parents genuinely loved each other. Our home was a secure place to live.

I Corinthians 13: 4-7  expresses real love this way –

4 Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, 5 never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. 6 It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. 7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.

I am so very grateful for the legacy of love my parents have left behind.

It is worth far more than any material inheritance – it is of eternal value.

My father will be greatly missed. I pray that Phil and I and our children and grandchildren will carry on that legacy of lasting love.