Monday, April 5, 2010

Jackson and the Red Pen - Part 1

Frances loves playing with our grandchildren Jackson (3), and Emma (2). During a visit to our house last week, Jackson was fascinated by one of Frances's pens, a red ball point that costs about fifteen cents when bought in bulk.

To fully appreciate this story, you must understand that pens also fascinate Frances. She owns multitudes of them, from the inexpensive variety that that intrigued Jackson, to various others that cost more and fulfill various functions in her career as a nurse, her calling as a writer, and her artistic gifting. Her most cherished model is an old fountain pen given to her by our dear friend, the writer Jay Grelen. It is reserved for the most special literary and artistic occasions, and is precious to her for both personal and functional reasons.

Here's the story. Frances allowed Jackson to explore her workbag, and he found a blue marker. "You can't have that, Jackson" said Frances. Jackson put the marker back and pulled out the red pen. His grandmother indicated that he could he have this one.

"I can have it?" he asked.

"Yes, Jackson, you can have it."

"You mean I can keep it?"

"Yes, you can keep it."

"I can take it home?"

"You can take it home."

"I can keep it forever?"

"Yes, Jackson, you can keep it forever."

"Forever and ever?"

"Forever and ever. The pen is yours."

Jackson was amazed. His grandmother was giving him a treasure that must certainly be one of her most prized possessions. He thought for a moment, and then declared that the story must be told, the moment shared, and the gift communicated to others.

"I've got to tell Granny, PawPaw, and Erin about this! (meaning his maternal grandparents and their daughter). While he didn't say it in so many words, Jackson's view of the matter was clear: "This is big, and the story has to be told!"


About a million spiritual implications shine forth from this wonderful moment in Jackson and Frances's relationship. I hardly know where to begin, so this week I am going to pick one each day and share it with you.

I suppose the most obvious is our starting point. If we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, not only has He saved us, but He has also privileged us with the wonderful blessing of telling others about it. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so" declared the Psalmist. This is not primarily a matter of responsibility, but of grace and mercy beyond comprehension. Indeed, how can God entrust to us the sharing of His goodness with others? Certainly, the light of the stars, the waves of the ocean, or the voices of angels would provide a more adequate sounding and resounding of the song of salvation. Certainly our feeble voices could never be the instruments upon which the anthem is played, and surely our words must fall to the ground almost as soon as they leave our mouths when we attempt to express the grace of so glorious a God (Psalm 107:2).

Not so. Our words of testimony are God's chosen way of spreading His Word from shore to shore. As led and enabled by the Holy Spirit, believers are powerfully equipped to bear witness to the saving grace of the Christ who spiritually inhabits our words and uses them to personally present Himself to our hearers. "Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel!" declared the Apostle Paul. Our brother of old did not mean this so much in terms of failed responsibility as he did the fact that his redeemed heart had to find release for the glory that resided within. "The love of Christ constraineth me" declared Paul, and it constrains us also to tell "the old, old Story of Jesus and His love." Our witness is and must be the overflow of our living experience of the Lord Jesus, and the voices of stars, oceans, and even angels could not so effectually present Him to our peers (I Corinthians 9:16; II Corinthians 5:14).

"I've got to tell!" I know how Jackson feels. I am privileged with the opportunity of preaching, teaching, and singing in almost 300 meetings a year. Very often when I am traveling to a service, the overwhelming thought occurs to me that I am going to tell people precious to God that He has given a gift beyond compare or description. It matters not whether the audience is believer or unbeliever. The truth is the same. At the cost of Himself, the Lord Jesus made possible living relationship with God, and He offers it as the freest gift ever given. For the unbeliever, the gift must be received through repentance and faith. For the believer, the gift must be acknowledged as dynamically present and active. The thought is thrilling, and the opportunity to tell people of so wondrous a bestowal of love sometimes impacts me so deeply that I nearly have to pull my car over to the side of the road.

"I've got to tell!" Yes we do. Believers are God's chosen lamps of His light. Thanks so much, Jackson, for the example. And thanks to the Lord Jesus for not only the gift of His saving grace, but also the privilege of our being called and enabled to bear witness of the freest and most precious gift ever given.

"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh."
(Matthew 12:34)

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