The doorbell rang this afternoon and the shivering mailman on the front step asked me to sign for the white envelope he clutched between fingerless mittens. I signed. He handed me the thin package with a flip of his wrist and a breath of white air. Caressing the envelope, I mumbled “Thank You!” and closed out the cold behind him.
It was supposed to be a surprise, this envelope—but some secrets are too precious to keep.
Three days ago Jon whispered into my hair, “I bought it!”
“It was for charity and I bid a little lower.”
“But was it really worth all that—?”
He smiled. “Yes. I could tell you really wanted it . . .”
He was right. I did. So I whispered back, “Thank you . . .”
IT was here now, smaller than I’d imagined, barely spanning the length of my two palms—should I open it now? But three boys stampeded into the room, shattering the stillness with questions, “What is it? What did you get? Can we open it?”
“It’s the picture.”
“The autographed one? The one of your Grandpa by that artist from the old days?” asked M.
“Yes. That one.”
“You mean Dad bought it? . . . For real? ” chorused all three.
Iza jumped up and down, up and down, almond eyes sparkling grey—
Jo-Jo plopped on the couch, brown eyes wonder-wide. “We own the autograph of someone with a world record.”
“We’re related to him!” burst M. “He’s our family.”
Family—a word pregnant with the meaning of who you are.
I pulled the protective sleeve out of the envelope, and beneath the plastic lay a pencil sketch of the be-speckled “Flying Parson”—my Grandfather, their Great-Grandfather—world record holder for the indoor mile back in “the old days.” The blue ink in the corner scrawled bold, “Gil Dodds, Phil. 4: 13, Long may we run for Him.”
“Wow. A real autograph.” Jo-Jo breathed.
“And we’re related to him,” sighed M.
“Did he love Jesus?” quipped Iza.
Three pairs of eyes bored into mine, longing to know this man they’d never met but belonged to.
“I don’t know. It’s hard to say. He went to seminary, talked about God a lot, signed autographs with a Bible verse. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?”
“Yeah!” Three blond heads hovered low over the slip of a sketch, savoring familial pride in a record and a name.
But records are made to be broken and your father’s name does not define who you are.
Your family is something—but not everything—because families are messy and legacies crumble and fade, swallowed up in the endless cycle of someones and everyones becoming no one at all.
Earthly Glory becomes our eternal shame if Hope is built on the accolades of our Fathers or the strength of our will.
The Only Glory that stands is Christ’s.
For human glory withers and fades like the flower of the field.
But the Beauty of our Lord stands forever.
And eternal Beauty—this is the Hope we speak to our sons and daughters—
For In Him we have an eternal inheritance—imperishable, undefiled, kept in heaven for us until, through death, we acquire possession of it
To the praise of HIS glory!
Project Pursued Questions
- For the average American—62% according to Barna—family defines the identity of a person. How do you find your identity in your family of origin? In what ways do you define yourself according to their (your!) glory or shame?
- How does your identity in Christ—adopted, chosen, beloved—change how you view yourself/your family?
- How do you communicate to your own family—husband, kids, wife, etc.—that Christ is who truly defines them?