Our granddaughters could not contain their excitement when they called. One proclaimed, “Grandma! I made four goals in my soccer game. Four goals, Grandma!” Daddy offered the details and then added that his older daughter had scored two goals in her game. After I countered with appropriate excitement, Daddy reported his youngest had also played soccer that morning. When asked if she scored a goal, the little one ignored the query and responded, “I had fun!” As I hung up the phone, I wondered how my son and his wife managed three soccer games on a single Saturday morning. I will find out a few Saturdays from now when Grandpa and I watch the girls. How they do so with smiles, I hope I will discover as well. As I write, it occurs to me that we did the same for our sons way back when…
My husband and I spent sixteen consecutive years on the periphery of the baseball fields adjacent to our local American Legion Hall. Our sons enjoy sports of every sort. Their love affairs with things athletic began early on and came to fruition at age seven when each of them began their baseball careers with T-ball. At the time, neither their dad nor I was particularly enthralled with sports. No, my husband has not always been a “cool” sports fan. However, we wanted the boys to enjoy the outdoors, team play and everything else wholesome which little kids did at the time. So, driven by the boys’ affection for the Cubs and our affection for the boys, off to T-ball we went.
These memories are but a few of the treasures that grace us these days. Our sons had the good sense to fall in love with our amazing daughters-in-law. Our soccer-playing granddaughters give us far more than their athletic ability to be grateful for. Our Wedding Anniversary celebration reminded us of our many good years together and the precious family and friends with whom we have shared them. Our trip to Alaska provided inspiring encounters with new friends who shared their stories with us and with numerous natural wonders which we had only previously read about. Of course, all of this brings to mind our own parents and the other family members and loved ones who touched us deeply before moving on to eternal life. These amazing people made many choices on our behalf which found their basis in love. We hope that we have done the same at one time or another for each one. Sometimes, we and our loved ones made choices in an effort to act in a loving manner, even when we knew in our hearts that the love simply was not there. At those times, I am certain that God filled in the blanks because things usually ended well.
In Luke’s gospel (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus offers a parable about Dives and Lazarus which illustrates the devastation that occurs when even the smallest opportunities to love are ignored. Dives, a rich man, indulges himself without restraint. Lazarus is a beggar who has fallen upon very hard times. Lazarus lies at Dives’ door, weak from hunger and ill, his body covered with sores. Only the dogs wandering the street attend to Lazarus by licking his wounds when they pass by. Dives overlooks Lazarus and is completely oblivious to Lazarus’ eventual death.
Later, when Dives dies, he finds himself tormented in the netherworld. Looking up, Dives notices Lazarus as he rests in the arms of Abraham. Finally, Dives acknowledges Lazarus because Lazarus may be able to help him. Dives begs Abraham to allow Lazarus to bring him a few drops of water to sooth his parched tongue. Indeed, Dives’ request is minimal, as minimal as the effort needed to provide Lazarus with the few scraps of food and clean bandages which would have saved his life. In the end, Abraham tells Dives that his failure to do the minimum has made all of the difference in the netherworld for both men. There, Dives became the needy one and Lazarus rested in splendor.
You know, most of what we do for one another, our families and those who cross our paths isn’t particularly extraordinary. What is extraordinary is the transformation our meager efforts bring about in one another’s lives. God asks only that we take advantage of the lifetime of opportunities we are given.
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