May 30, 2021
That was the name Joe picked out as he waited for his new baby sister to arrive. He was excited about having a sibling–a playmate–a partner in crime. Cinderella (we call her Sarah 😀) arrived, and friends visited with food and gifts. One sweet, thoughtful neighbor, Mrs. Marjorie Shivar, brought a gift for baby AND one for Joe. It was a book. She brought him none other than Cinderella.
But bless Joe’s heart, on the day Sarah came home, he thought his fairy tale had ended. She didn’t pop out as the instant companion he’d imagined, so the little fella did what he had to do. He ran away from home.
Little Joseph Morgan packed a bag full of books(I feel sure Cinderella made the cut), a teddy bear, and maybe a pair of drawers and hit the path to stay with Grandma Mary. 😂
As quickly as he decided to leave, one day Joe decided to return home. He threw his bag over his shoulder, hit the path again and trudged home. He grew up tormenting his sister in that special way that only big brothers can.
But that is not the end of the story.
Joe and Sarah grew up to be more than siblings. They were fiercely loyal companions and maybe even occasional partners in crime. Most of all, they were friends.
Sarah grew up to be a beautiful blonde princess (crown and errythang…she was Miss Goldsboro), so I guess he got his Cinderella after all!
This week Joe’s lesson is about how we, as Christians, should live our lives to ensure our own HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
How Will You Be Remembered?
This morning I am going to tell you the story of Eric Liddell. Do you remember Chariots of Fire? He was one of the two runners in that story.
Eric Liddell was a Scottish Olympian. He turned down what many believed to be his best chance at a gold medal in the 1924 Olympics because the trials were held on Sunday. He did, however, enter the 400-meter trials, where he qualified and set a world record while winning a gold medal in that year’s Olympic games.
But that is not the end of his story. After 1924, Eric gave up running and dedicated himself to something he felt was more important—one year after his Olympic victory, he went to China as a missionary.
During some of the worst days of World War II, Eric chose to stay in Japanese-controlled China to serve the people and share the good news of Jesus Christ. In 1943, he was imprisoned in an internment camp.
During the war, Britain made a prisoner exchange deal that included Eric Liddell. Although he had a wife and children at home, he gave up his spot to a pregnant woman—a fact that was not known to his family until more than 60 years later. The people whose lives were impacted by Liddell say they don’t remember him as a record setting runner, but rather as a man who did what God called him to do.
Eric Liddell realized as a young man that this world has nothing on the world that is promised to us by Jesus. We can reach fame, we can make lots of money, but none of that compares to the rewards of an eternal life with Jesus. Our redemption through Christ makes earthly accomplishments no more than dust.
It was written that the entire internment camp was stunned in the days after Liddell’s death, because of the presence and impact he had while he lived. On his death bed, a young student asked him how he had given his life to God. Liddell’s response, the last words he spoke here on earth were this: “In complete surrender”.
This morning, I leave you with a few words from Matthew 25: “His master replied, ‘Well done, thy good and faithful servant! Come and share in your master’s happiness!’” This week, let’s try to live in complete surrender so that we will one day we might be remembered for what we did for the Lord.
On this Memorial Day weekend, I hope that you have taken some time to honor those who gave their lives in service to our country. Commemorating this day, along with Veteran’s Day was important to Joe. He truly had a servant’s heart, and had so much heartfelt admiration and appreciation for those who serve or served in our military.
Perhaps it is the fact that Memorial Day is upon that has caused me to ponder the term “memorial” this week. That term hits me differently this year. It’s what you do when you want to honor someone who now lives in your memory…because he or she is gone.
Earlier this week, I received a precious message from someone who became my family when I married Joe. This person and I share a similar sense of humor and a love of books. And we’ve both struggled in the days since Joe went to be with Jesus. The gist of the message was this: “I’m glad we’re friends…Joe brought us together as family…[Without Joe], I wouldn’t be close to your parents… or I wouldn’t have known your boys…and now I love them both. ..And all of that is not because Joe is gone, but because he was here.”
But because he was here. Oh, friends….do you know how important those words right there are??? Those words are EVERYTHING.
Every soldier mentioned on Memorial Day is gone (and gone too soon, I’m sure). But our lives are better because he or she was here.
Eric Liddell gave up fame, fortune and the security of home. He was mourned across the world when he was gone. But how many lives were bettered because he was here?
My heart is broken because Joe is gone.
But, oh my goodness my life is sweeter because he lived.
But let’s get back to Cinderella.
Sure, she was the fancy dress and the handsome prince and the fairy godmother. But today I see her differently.
At the beginning of the story, her world has been turned upside down by grief. She loses her mother and then she loses her dad. She is trying to navigate a world that looks nothing like what she thought it would. I get that.
She thinks she is getting the fairy tale treatment when she gets all dolled up to go to the ball. And, oh! It is a magical time. She even gets to meet the Prince…but it’s short. The clock strikes midnight and it takes her by surprise. She got caught up in the moment and maybe she thought it would last forever. I get that, too.
In the blink of an eye, it’s all gone. The carriage is a pumpkin, the prince is nowhere to be found, and she finds herself face down on the floor in tears. Oh….I get that most of all.
BUT THAT IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY.
At least not for me. It was in that face down, tear stained, my life is over moment that the magic truly happened. It wasn’t a fairy god mother. It was God.
Maybe you know that moment, too? You don’t have to lose someone to death to know grief, my friend. You can mourn the loss of people, of circumstances, of relationships…a broken heart is a broken heart.
Well, here’s the thing. Life was pretty poopy for Cinderella more than once. You reckon she thought, “ It is NOT supposed to be this way! I am Cinderella, for Heaven’s sake!” But when she was face down, mourning the loss of all she loved, someone was working on her behalf, searching for her because he had a shoe and only her foot would fit. Someone was working on my behalf, too, and He is working on yours…right this very minute.
Loss made her stronger. Loss made her more compassionate (remember how she saved the mice who became her dearest friends?). Loss made her trust in someone larger than her human mind could truly comprehend. And it didn’t always make sense. My goodness…a GLASS SHOE? A carriage made from a pumpkin?? Who does that?? But every step she took in faith led her closer to her happy ending.
And every step you take and every step I take is leading us to our happy ending, too.
Eric Liddell gave up the life he thought he wanted for the life God called him to take. He called it complete surrender. Surrender is a scary place. But God doesn’t call you there to die. He calls you there to LIVE.
“But bless Joe’s heart, on the day Sarah came home, he thought his fairy tale had ended.” Bless my heart, too, because the day Joe went Home, I thought my fairy tale had ended as well. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
What I am learning in this journey I am on is that living a life of surrender to God is the fairy tale. It’s the blind-faith, learn to trust, pixie dust belief that serving the Lord daily is all you need to make the real magic happen. I’ve learned that the story isn’t over yet, for you or for me, because we haven’t reached the end– our happily ever after. The happily ever after doesn’t exist on this side of Heaven. It’s waiting for us on The Other Side.
Once upon a time, Joe lived. On the Other Side, Joe LIVES….Jesus does, too.
And life is worth the living just because HE LIVES.
-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe