Sunday, June 03, 2018

Chained To The Past

Back in the spring of 1996, when I was teaching and coaching at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon, Tennessee, I participated in the first baptism that was not my own. A young lady named Leigh Leftwich, who was in my seventh grade Bible class, asked if I would immerse her into Jesus Christ. I did the following Sunday in one of the local congregations. We were both excited as Leigh, who would become my high school basketball manager, was now my sister in Christ! Since I was part of her big day, Leigh presented me with a gift; it was a pewter cross with the words Jesus Christ Is Lord on the front and the same message on the back in Braille. Although I'd never worn jewelry, with the exception of my high school ring which I lost, I made the decision to put the cross on a silver chain. I also made the promise to Leigh I would never take it off my whole life. Well, I should have added intentionally. The cross fell off several times and it disappeared for good in 2009, probably when I was swimming. With the help of Karen, my amazing sister in law, I procured another cross, although this one bears no words/initials. The chain has had its own issues. On a number of occasions, the clasp has broken, needed repair, and had to be removed from my person. That brings me to three days ago. 

Sometime after Christmas, the clasp again ceased to function and the chain/cross became unwearable. It wasn't until this past Thursday that I was able to take it  to a little watch shop where I've gone before. (For you in Houston, it's right at the spot where Bellaire crosses Bissonet.) They weren't really busy and the nice lady had it ready to go in five minutes for only $15, which I think is a pretty good deal. As I was showing the lady the problem, she asked, "Would you like me to clean the chain?" You have to realize there were several dynamics at work. One was I was in a semi-hurry and I didn't know how long the process would take. The second factor was that she didn't mention any cost to the step. I didn't want to pay extra and I would look cheap if I asked so I replied, "No, thank you, ma'am!" It was one more thing to cross off (bad pun) my summer to-do list, # 48 to be exact, with quite a few numbers still to go.

But there was something else I considered in that split second when I was given the option in the jewelry store. While I knew the chain was no longer bright and shiny, there was part of me that appreciated what made it appear to be twenty-two years old. It's brand new appearance had been replaced with twenty-two years of experience. That chain was with me snorkeling at Roatan when I saw the stunning beauty of the nature the Lord gave us. It was around my neck counting pennies and when I moved to Houston. It was under my tie at my mom's and dad's funerals and at the dozen-plus weddings I have preached. It accompanied me on twenty, soon to be twenty-one, missions to Honduras, Haiti, China, and Vietnam. It walked the sideline with me through twenty-two high school and middle school basketball seasons. And it's stood with me as I taught the Bible to, I think, several thousand students. So, part of me doesn't want to wash all that grime/residue away- it gives the chain character, at least to me. There is historical precedent. Many were unhappy with the restoration of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, making Michelangelo's masterpiece much brighter than intended. I can't claim to be on his level but with that train of thought, I decided to leave it as is. Jesus told us to carry our crosses and I know He didn't mean around our necks. Too many wear religious pieces without the adherence to the teachings of the Son of God. My prayer is that I never do. I confess I've sinned wearing this cross and chain but it's also a reminder to me of whose I am. I'm chained to His love through His blood. That's a bond which cannot be broken. 

Applicable quote of the day:
A strange thing is memory, and hope; one looks backward, and the other forward; one is of today, the other of tomorrow. Memory is history recorded in our brain, memory is a painter, it paints pictures of the past and of the day.
Grandma Moses

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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