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Faithful Living

"Spiritual memories can come out at amazing times.It is a phrase I learned - because I was required to learn it - during a confirmation class my parents insisted I take. The year was 1972 and I was a 13-year-old seventh grader who attended Balboa Junior High School. I was not enthusiastic about taking the class or attending church in general because we had to drive across town to attend the functions. I thought it was a waste of time to drive all that way. I could not see how learning church history and being able to explain basic church tenants would help my personal life in any way.My Sunday school classmates, the kids in the youth choir, and my fellow acolytes did not include my usual set of friends. They were nice enough but attended the rival junior high school. I did not feel strongly connected to them, which you will recall is the highest of priorities at that stage in life.I am quite sure my mother enjoyed every moment she hauled me to that confirmation class. I know she enjoyed waiting in the car or running errands because driving back home, only to turn around and drive back through town an hour later to pick me up, would have been wasteful and expensive. It was energy crisis time, as I recall. Long lines at the gas station. Great worries about global oil production. It was the first time I learned about Middle East oil barons and how their decisions directly touched my family's lifestyle.In spite of their choice to increase the price of a barrel of oil, my mother snubbed the Saudis and drove me to that confirmation class every week, without fail. I had to familiarize myself with such weighty topics as the Reformation Movement and the Trinity. I was even forced to provide, on command, an explanation for the Chief End of Man - man's ultimate purpose in life (referring, of course, to men and women, the rich and the poor, the sick and the healthy, people of all colors, those living yesterday, today and tomorrow, as well as those living here or across the world). I will never forget the instructor. He would raise his Bible high and we would respond: I am to love God and enjoy Him forever!The funny thing about memorizing spiritual information is the way it creeps into your heart and soul. It may lay unused in the deep recesses of your mind for quite some time, but it is in there. Eventually it will come darting out at the most amazing times.The Chief End of Man came darting out this week when I looked at my friend's new baby girl. Although she has been abandoned by her birth mother and sorely under served by an crisis-laden foster care system, she has been welcomed into my friend's home with passion and tenderness and intensity. As I rubbed her tiny back and watched her kick and reach for toys, I privately considered the spiritual side of her life. I wondered how it is that after months of praying for just the right baby girl for my friend and her family God would bring this most wondrous little bundle, with the alert blue eyes and the subtle smile, into their lives and mine. As I contemplated what God has in mind for her life that old phrase came back like a song: She is to love and enjoy God forever.It is an easier said than done kind of proposition. In fact, it is easy to banter such a phrase about or shoot it back when tough times and tough questions come our way. But God does not want us to idly give voice to such phrases. He wants us to live passionately and with energy. He wants us to actively love Him not only when we feel like we are on top of the world but also when we feel broken and hopeless and insignificant.We love God first out of obedience and our love for Him can begin by loving those with whom we live and work. This is the perfect time of year to give wings to our love. There is an endless list of childrens' names who can be served so mightily with toys and clothing. There are the elderly among us with stories to tell and hands to hold.The more you look, the more opportunities you will see for serving Him. And in serving, we learn the lessons of love. Those old phrases, once given only to memory, will come to life. "

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