Acceptance Of Others
I was told a wonderful story about Coach Tom Landry that illustrates the level of his Christian love and acceptance of others. Years ago, the late Ohio State coach, Woody Hayes, was fired for striking an opposing player on the sidelines during a football game. The press had a field day with the firing and really tarred and feathered the former Buckeye coach. Few people in America could have felt lower than he at that time; he not only lost control in a game and did a foolish thing, but he also lost his job and much of the respect others had for him.
At the end of that season, a large, prestigious banquet was held for professional athletes. Tom Landry, of course was invited. Guess who he took with him as his guest? Woody Hayes, the man everyone was being encouraged to hate and criticize.
The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart
Charles R. Swindoll, Word, p. 4.
LOVE Alvin Straight, age seventy-three, lived in Laurens, Iowa. His brother, age eighty, lived several hundred miles away in Blue River, Wisconsin. According to the Associated Press, Alvin's brother had suffered a stroke, and Alvin wanted to see him, but he had a transportation problem. He didn't have a driver's license because his eyesight was bad and he apparently had an aversion to taking a plane, train, or bus.
But Alvin didn't let that stop him. In 1994 he climbed aboard his 1966 John Deere tractor lawn mower and drove it all the way to Blue River, Wisconsin.
Love and devotion finds a way.
Brotherly love, Commitment, Persistence, Sacrifice
Rom. 12:10; 2 Tim. 1:16-18
Contemporary Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers
Editor Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, p. 47.
When Abraham Lincoln was campaigning for the presidency, one of his archenemies was Edwin McMasters Stanton. Stanton hated Lincoln, and used every ounce of his energy to degrade Lincoln in the eyes of the public, often using the bitterest diatribes in an attempt to embarrass him.
In the process of choosing his cabinet after his election, Lincoln selected various members and then faced a decision about the important post of Secretary of War. He chose Stanton! The president's inner circle erupted in an uproar when they heard his choice. Numerous advisors came to Lincoln saying, "Mr. President, you are making a mistake. Are you familiar with all the ugly things he has said about you? He is your enemy. He will sabotage your programs."
Lincoln replied, "Yes, I know Mr. Stanton. But ... I find he is the best man for the job."
As Secretary of War Stanton gave invaluable service to his nation and his president. After Lincoln was assassinated, many laudable statements were made about Abraham Lincoln, but the words of Stanton remain among the greatest. Standing near Lincoln's coffin, Stanton called Lincoln one of the greatest men who ever lived and said, "He now belongs to the ages."
Jesus tells us to "love our enemies" (Mt. 5:44).
God's Little Devotional Book
Honor Books, p. 47.
For One Another
Tony Campolo tells a true story of a Jewish boy who suffered under the Nazis in World War II. He was living in a small Polish village when he and all the other Jews of the vicinity were rounded up by Nazi SS troops and sentenced to death. This boy joined his neighbors in digging a shallow ditch for their graves, then faced the firing squad with his parents. Sprayed with machine-gun fire, bodies fell into the ditch and the Nazis covered the crumpled bodies with dirt. But none of the bullets hit the little boy. He was splattered with the blood of his parents and when they fell into the ditch, he pretended to be dead and fell on top of them. The grave was so shallow that the thin covering of dirt did not prevent air from getting through to him so that he could breathe.
Several hours later, when darkness fell, he clawed his way out of the grave. With blood and dirt caked to his little body, he made his way to the nearest house and begged for help. Recognizing him as one of the Jewish boys marked for death, he was turned away at house after house as people feared getting into trouble with the SS troops. Then something inside seemed to guide him to say something that was very strange for a Jewish boy to say. When the next family responded to his timid knocking in the still of the night, they heard him cry, "Don't you recognize me? I am the Jesus you say you love." After a poignant pause, the woman who stood in the doorway swept him into her arms and kissed him. From that day on, the members of that family loved and cared for that boy as though he was one of their own.
Jesus was once asked, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you…" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Mt. 25:37-40).
When we help people, we are in essence helping Jesus!
The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart
Charles R. Swindoll, Word, pp. 6-7.
Saying I Love You
I (Doris Sanford) was deep in thought at my office, preparing a lecture to be given that evening at a college across town, when the phone rang. A woman I had never met introduced herself and said that she was the mother of a seven-year-old and that she was dying. She said that her therapist had advised her that discussing her pending death with her son would be too traumatic for him, but somehow that didn't feel right to her.
Knowing that I worked with grieving children, she asked my advice. I told her that our heart is often smarter than our brain and that I thought she knew what would be best for her son. I also invited her to attend the lecture that night since I was speaking about how children cope with death. She said she would be there.
I wondered later if I would recognize her at the lecture, but my question was answered when I saw a frail woman being half carried into the room by two adults. I talked about the fact that children usually sense the truth long before they are told and that they often wait until they feel adults are ready to talk about it before sharing their concerns and questions. I said that children usually can handle truth better than denial, even though the denial is intended to protect them from pain. I said that respecting children meant including them in the family sadness, not shutting them out.
She had heard enough. At the break, she hobbled to the podium and through her tears she said, "I knew it in my heart. I just knew I should tell him." She said that she would tell him that night.
The next morning I received another phone call from her. She could hardly talk but I managed to hear the story through her choked voice. She awakened him when they got home the night before and quietly said, "Derek, I have something to tell you." He quickly interrupted her saying, "Oh, Mommy, is it now that you are going to tell me that you are dying?" She held him close and they both sobbed while she said, "Yes."
After a few minutes the little boy wanted down. He said that he had something for her that he had been saving. In the back of one of his drawers was a dirty pencil box. Inside the box was a letter written in simple scrawl. It said, "Good-bye, Mom. I will always love you."
How long he had been waiting to hear the truth, I don't know. I do know that two days later Mom died. In her casket was placed a dirty pencil box with the letter inside.
More Stories For The Heart
Alice Gray, Multnomah, p. 121.
Saying I Love You
Carol's husband was killed in an accident last year. Jim, only 52, was driving home from work. The other driver was a teenager with a very high blood-alcohol level. Jim died instantly. The teenager was in the emergency room for less than two hours.
There were other ironic twists: It was Carol's fiftieth birthday, and Jim had two plane tickets to Hawaii in his pocket. He was going to surprise her. Instead, he was killed by a drunk driver.
"How have you survived this?" I finally asked Carol, a year later.
Her eyes welled up with tears. I thought I had said the wrong thing, but she gently took my hand and said, "It's all right, I want to tell you. The day I married Jim, I promised I would never let him leave the house in the morning without telling him I loved him. He made the same promise. It got to be a joke between us, and as babies came along it got to be a hard promise to keep. I remember running down the driveway, saying 'I love you' through teeth clenched when I was mad, or driving to the office to put a note in his car. It was a funny challenge.
"We made a lot of memories trying to say 'I love' before noon every day of our married life."
The morning Jim died, he left a birthday card in the kitchen and slipped out to the car. I heard the engine starting. Oh, no, you don't buster, I thought. I raced out and banged on the car window until he rolled it down. "Here on my fiftieth birthday, Mr. James E. Garret, I, Carol Garret, want to go on record as saying I love you."
"That's how I've survived. Knowing that the last words I said to Jim were, 'I love you!'"
More Stories For The Heart
Alice Gray, Multnomah, pp. 155-156.