by Wayne Wiatt, Lead Pastor
I stood in line several Sundays ago with our children to get my backpack blessing! Yes, your pastor carries a backpack from time to time; and, yes, like everyone else, he wanted a “blessing!”
The scripture that Pastor Neal and Children’s Director Allison Corrigan handed out on Backpack Sunday was a powerful one…“Be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7).
I picked up several extra tags for my granddaughters, Coraline Mae and Mariam Lily. I wanted them to have a backpack blessing too!
It’s wonderful to have a person surround you with love and support. One of my favorite memories each summer while growing up was of the weeks I spent with my godmother, Ms. Rena. I would enjoy sitting on her kitchen counter, baking cookies, or spending time picking blackberries for a cobbler. It was fun to accompany her to the “office,” where she did her accounting, and I would help her add numbers on her machine for the Rural Electric Company in Madison County. These were all vivid memories for a small child growing up in rural North Florida.
Everything with Ms. Rena was interesting. Even swimming in the same lake I grew up on was different with Rena. We swam at the 4H Camp rather than my family’s waterfront. Summer days seemed special and different from my “normal days” with my own family. Every day with Rena was an adventure and an opportunity to help her share her gifts of love with the children in our neighborhood. I can’t explain it, but when I was with Rena, I felt like the luckiest kid in the world! Of course, there were others—Wade and Linda, just to name a few.
Summer became a time for all of us to make wonderful memories. Evenings were spent trying to learn how to play Canasta, though it was much more complicated than “Go Fish.” We loved to sit on the wooden swing that hung between two grand oak trees in the front yard. Our swinging helped conversations flow like a stream trickling downhill. Chores were something to look forward to, and what others might call work, with Rena, felt like fun and brought a smile to my face.
How is it that some people have a way of making you feel special? What is it about time well spent with others that binds us together
as nothing else really can? It’s often the quality of time spent with others rather than the quantity that counts. Look into the heart of a child who was made to feel as if they were the most important person in the world, and you will see the gift of love at work.
When I think of grace, I think of the many ways God has gifted us to share our lives with others. I think of time well spent—in beach chairs, on docks, and swinging from swings. I think of arms reaching out in relationship to each other that are embedded in our memories for a lifetime. Rena is a reminder of the many persons I have known who loved unconditionally, gave sacrificially, and taught continually what it means to love a child.
May we all live fully into the meaning of 2 Chronicles 15:7 as we persevere through this pandemic, stay strong, and never give up on the work God has called us to do.