I am not so sure how this post will flow. I'm a bit concerned to be honest, because I have so many thoughts swirling in my head.
First, today is my oldest son's birthday...James Davis Taylor is 8 years old today. As I look at the clock, it was about this time 8 years ago that I went into labor. Everyone who knows him calls him "JD". I also call him "Mr. Taylor" because I have so much respect for him. For a good portion of his toddler years he was known as "Big Man" because until Jeff and I married, I considered him the man of the house. JD is a beautiful soul, he has been a pleasure to have in my life. The boy does not cause me a minute's trouble and he has so many awesome character qualities that I wish more people had, including myself.
JD is a very humble person. There are many times that he has done exceptional things, things that people would not expect of such a young man. I've heard about these things days or weeks later from others because he just isn't the type of kid to come home and brag on himself. I remember one specific occasion when I got a call from his Kindergarten teacher telling me that one of JD's classmates had been bullied in the bathroom by some much older boys. Instead of participating in the bullying or ignoring what was happening and running away, JD stayed to protect his friend. His teacher was so impressed with his courage and his judgement to so quickly make the right decision.
Just simple things like watching him participate in sports reaffirms to me what an exceptional kid he is. For one, he is quite the little gentleman, he really struggles with guarding little girls in basketball or soccer. After a game where he has been paired up against a girl he articulates in the best way he knows how, that he doesn't like to be rough or take the ball away from a girl. I watch him shyly drop his head after he scores a goal in soccer, as if hoping that not too many people noticed it was him. He never does a victory dance or proudly accepts praise and cheers with a swelling chest or head. He just has this look on his face that I recognize...as if he's saying, "Let's just move on."
JD has this really gentle way of dealing with Sydney. When she's scolded, he is the first person she cries for and I know it's just because he is so sweet to her. In his shadow, I suppose she feels protected and loved...and she truly is. JD is a brilliant mind, from a very early age he could do impressive things. His fine motor skills were way ahead of age appropriateness. He has this way of figuring things out that I can't believe a kid his age is capable of doing. He loves anything with a million pieces that needs to be put together. He loves to tinker with building and constructing, he's a whiz on the computer! I know that God has something really amazing in mind for JD and I am so excited to watch and see the type of man he will become.
But there is also another James I have been thinking about today...Jesus' brother. My pastor started a new serious today on the book of James. The sermon was about James' encouragement in dealing with trials and tribulations in our lives. In regards to the meat of the lesson, I understand that we should "consider it pure joy" to know that in our troubles, we have the opportunity to put our faith in the Lord and know that he will mature us and teach us the lessons that can be learned from such hardship.
But the one comment that Pastor Grant said that really threw me for a loop was that James did not believe his brother was the Christ until after he witnessed Jesus' resurrection. Wow! Let me just share with you my thoughts about that...
James grew up in a household of at least 4 brothers and at least 2 sisters. Jesus was the oldest of them all. As a child, I am sure that James witnessed his older brother doing some really exceptional things and because Jesus never sinned, I would assume he was a wonderful big brother. I feel certain that Jesus shared his toys and was patient with his younger siblings. I'm sure that he didn't say hurtful things or bully and tease his little brothers...I mean I would assume that Jesus would have been the best older brother that a kid could have....right?
Not to mention that James' mother and father, Mary and Joseph, had personally experienced the miracle of a virgin birth, and the prophesy of that birth from an angel who appeared to both of them individually. Then appeared to them at least once more (that the bible speaks of) when they were told to flee Bethlehem and go to Nazareth. I feel sure that Mary and Joseph were people who undoubtedly believed their son was the Messiah and surely shared that testimony with all of their children. Yet, it wasn't the miraculous testimony of his mom and dad or the witnessing of Jesus' exceptional life that won James over. It wasn't the knowledge that the Old Testament prophesies were being fulfilled by his older brother right before his eyes. It wasn't the multitude of people who flocked to Jesus or even the very public miracles he was performing. How about James' cousin, John the Baptist, who was nothing less than a Jesus-Freak and passionately shared the salvation message with everyone he came in contact with. Not to mention the personal testimony of Jesus himself who out-right admitted that He was God's son. It wasn't his unjust arrest, trial, beating, or the murder of his brother that made James realize that Jesus was God in flesh and had fulfilled all of the prophesies.
See, James did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah until he saw Jesus with his own eyes after the resurrection. I'm sure there is all kinds of details and scripture and biblical theology that I am not educated on, but it intrigues me that even our Christ could not win over his own family during His ministry before His death.
This is where I struggle to tie all of this together...
And this is where it becomes very personal...
There are people who I love more than myself, some of which I share the same DNA with, people who I would lay down my life for, I would do anything...anything for these people...family. Who I know have the awareness that Jesus is God's son, and who I know have the knowledge of what it takes to receive salvation. People who profess to know that Jesus is Lord. Good...no, great...no, WONDERFUL people...family. Yet, I have this unsettled feeling in my heart because I know that being a wonderful person will not save us from the pits of hell! Which brings me to this question...Why is it so hard to witness to the people we love the most?
Maybe it feels like I'm saying to you that your life isn't good enough. Maybe it feels like I'm placing judgement or condemning you, and that would cause hard feelings between us. Maybe because when you say "no" to me, it feels personal and I don't like feeling rejected by my loved ones. So in order to keep the conversation light and our feelings for each other warm and fuzzy, I resolve not to ask the hard questions. But what I really want to say to you is this, "What is the state of your soul? Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and even more important, on Judgement Day will he know you? Or will you be one of the ones that he looks at with confusion and sorrow and says, 'I don't know who you are.' Do you know that you are running out of time?"
When I get to heaven, I hope to look around and see all of the faces of the people that I love. I hope not a one of them is absent, but that's not a choice I can make for them. I hope that if anyone reads this and feels convicted by it, you should know that God does not convict you to condemn you. He convicts you because he longs for a closer relationship with you. And a personal relationship with Christ and the acceptance of Him as your personal Lord and Savior is the only thing that will grant you eternity in Heaven.
If it was difficult for Jesus to reach *His* family, I suppose I shouldn't expect it to be easy for me.
Please watch this video...