I spent last week in California. I’ve never been to California before. I didn’t think that I’d ever go there. It’s not that I didn’t want to visit the land of movie stars and swimming pools, it’s more that as we get older our priorities change. I still have an adventuresome spirit, but my adventures come in different packages.
Sometimes those adventures include listening to a friend’s dreams or disappointments or fears or laughter. Sometimes it comes in the form of talking to a stranger in a long line somewhere and by the time we get to the front, we’re friends. Sometimes it’s taking a small step of faith, with a little trepidation, and then discovering that once again the Lord is there to bless my socks off.
That’s what California will always be to me. The socks-blessed-off place. I traveled with my dear friend, Melvin. He was asked to speak at a church there. I was his traveling companion. A couple (Ken and Joan) that he and his late wife, Janice, had prayed for many years ago invited him.
You see, Melvin and Janice had a healing ministry. Ken and Joan had been married for about seven or eight years and didn’t have any children. Just a couple weeks after they were prayed for they found out they were pregnant. Last week they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with their five children, their grandchildren, family and friends.
I was an eye witness to what it means in Psalm 103:17: “But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children.”
Ken and Joan are just about the most gracious and loving people I’ve ever met. They live out their faith every day in all that they do. They truly have the gifts of faith, kindness, hospitality, and love. And what’s even more amazing is that they’ve passed on their gifts to their children and their grandchildren. Whenever I was around any of them I felt at home. I felt like I belonged. It didn’t matter whether I was with Ken and Joan themselves. Their family. Their friends. Their church family. I was at peace. It was to me a little foretaste of what Heaven must be like.
The Lord’s favor rests on them and has blessed them from generation to generation and continues to bless them. They are amazed themselves. They are thankful each and every day.
I had my eyes closed for a while on the flight home. I thought I’d take a nap, but instead I prayed. I asked the Lord why some families like Ken and Joan’s are so blessed and why others are not, even though they’re also believers. Here’s the answer I heard.
“Because they don’t invest the time. I’ve given them the Master Plan. I’ve given them Jesus as their cornerstone, but they build quickly with cheap materials. They don’t invest their most precious commodity, their time. Their time is their first love. Not me. Not their families.”
Wow, that’s a sobering message. And yet, I think it’s true. How do we spend our time? With whom do we spend our time? What are our priorities? Do we consciously think about instilling faith into our children? Or is going to church twice a year good enough? Do we live out our faith, or do we hang it up during the week and take it out only on special occasions? Do we read the Bible and truly try to live by its precepts?
As a young married couple, Ken and Joan held a Bible study at their home for young people. Several of those couples from all those years ago also came to California to celebrate the anniversary. But what they were really celebrating was the faith that Ken and Joan helped them to nourish and grow. You see, even before they had children of their own, the Lord gave Ken and Joan young people to help grow in the faith. Well done, good and faithful servants. And I know you’re not done. I met some others who are looking to you for guidance in faith and love.
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).
Oh, and my dear friend, Melvin? It turns out that we’re more than just friends. We’re getting married this fall. So another adventure begins as even more socks are blessed off.