A neighbor several blocks from my home has been posting poetry on her gate for sometime now. Snug in a nifty weather tight box secured to her fence, these one page offerings range from Shakespeare to Garrison Keillor. At least once a week I walk past her house just to see what she’s posted.
I’m not sure why she does it. Some of the offerings she posts are inspiring, others are charming or even funny. Whatever the intent, she asks nothing. The words are simply there for the passerby to embrace or ignore.
At the opposite end of the same block is a quiet house that sits back off the street, partly shaded by an immense and ancient Magnolia tree. My friend, Sandra, lives there. She is also dying there. Her family has been gathering to comfort both her and each other as cancer has taken a new and ferocious hold on her small and failing body.
Sandra doesn’t have poetry posted to her gate; her front yard does not include a fence. But Sandra’s heart has been actively posting for years: that God loves the world he has created and cares about our journey—hers, yours and mine. Perhaps it was these words of her favorite song that were posted in large print on her heart years ago which my friend and I saw reflected in Sandra’s lovely face when we were together for the last time:
"Let not your heart be troubled,"
His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness,
I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth
But one step I may see:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
I have wondered if I had a gate with a nifty weather tight box secured to it, what words I would post for others to read. There are countless worthy of a good trumpeting.
But as I think of Sandra this week, her week of slipping away, I’m reminded that hers will be my fate—probably sooner than I would choose—and it occurs to me that all the inspiring and charming words written since man made his first jot will not matter very much then. What will matter is not what words I know but Whose words I know.
His whose eye is on the sparrow
His who loved the world so much that He gave his one and only Son, and
His, the Son, who loved the world so much that he said “yes” so that anyone who believes in him will not perish but have a meaningful and never-ending life.
That would be the offering of my post. And as with the words read on my neighbor’s gate, one is free to embrace or ignore the offering. But unlike my neighbor who appropriately asks nothing of her passersby, I cannot. I must stand at my gate and implore: think, consider carefully for His words are life.
Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14