I grew up in a home with four siblings including myself. I have an older brother and both an older and a younger sister. There was a small plaque hanging by the door of my parents home that I remember was always there from my earliest recollection. It is tiny and measures only four inches by three inches. It is made of the most humble of materials: a very early form of particle board, now crumbling slightly, with a sign face laminated to it somehow. It is very faded and old looking, some might even say shabby, but it has always meant a lot to me. The message it contains is I am sure familiar to Christians and Jewish folks alike worldwide. It is:
My siblings and myself always saw that verse as we headed out the door of our house on south ninth street in Waco. Any friends that visited also saw it when they departed as well. When my mother passed away in 1997 unexpectedly as the result of a automobile accident, we were devastated by her loss. But in the week following that terrible tragedy the four of us worked together as never before to try and help our father through his and our own grief and also in responding to all the many kindnesses shown to our family in the wake of this awful event. Together the four of us and our spouses wrote countless thank you letters and cards to everyone who provided food and beautiful floral and other memorial gifts to help us turn our grief into a celebration of her life. I can’t help but think my mother was pleased with the unity and strength of our efforts. It is obvious to me now after seventeen years have passed that it wasn’t our strength at all, it was God’s strength helping us and showing the way forward.
On the back of the plaque my father has faintly scratched his initials and our family name. It is a very personal remembrance and legacy I treasure from him now that he is no longer here either. That plaque came down to me now and hangs in a place of honor by my front door today. It is my fervent prayer that it will be held close to the hearts of our children after I am gone from this place as well. It is of course important to turn to God everyday for strength not just in times of trouble or need, but isn’t it a wonderful reminder of God’s goodness to his children.