I will remember so many special days when I am old and grey…days like my day of salvation…March 6, 1988. My wedding…June 19, 1999. But there is something really special about the days my sons surrendered their lives to Jesus. Today IS that day for our youngest. I’m so thankful for the way Ashley not only taught Luke to read during these strange months of COVID, but led him in so many ways to trust his Heavenly Father. God is so good. Ashley and I had the privilege of sitting outside this afternoon at our picnic table and sharing the Good News of Jesus with Luke and watching him pray to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.
This first day of summer vacation seemed like a good opportunity to go back to a book I once read over twenty years ago. What better book to read as my first summer reading, than Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. With over 15 million copies in print and listed as one of the most influential books of all time, it seemed like a great place to start a summer book list. Though our world would appear to be falling apart in front of our eyes, these words from concentration camp survivor, Fankl reminds me that despite the worst circumstances, there is hope.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from today’s reading of this great book:
“…there are two races of men in this world, but only these two – the ‘race’ of the decent man and the ‘race’ of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No groups consist entirely of decent or indecent people.” (pg 86)
“…man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life. That is why man is even ready to suffer, on the condition, to be sure, that his suffering has a meaning.” (pg 113)
“Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth…freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” (pg 132)
“Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions…after all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Schema Yisrael on his lips.” (pg 134)
During the four years that Victor Frankl suffered unimaginable cruelty and persecution in four different Nazi concentration camps, he learned what it meant to suffer well and live life on purpose despite his circumstances. There is much that we as Christ followers can learn from the experiences of Frankl.
What are you living for? What is your purpose? Is it in the things of this world that are temporary – or do we have a greater purpose for our lives? Are we living for Christ and loving others well? During these days of pandemic, division and unrest – there is much to learn in this book from one who has experienced far more suffering than I probably ever will. May we learn from those who have gone before us so we don’t repeat the mistakes of our past.
Today, didn’t happen “the way it’s always been,” but in some way it was more special than ever. Today was Graduate Recognition for the Class of 2020 students at Ebenezer Baptist Church. This was our 19th year celebrating graduates at the churches where Ashley and I serve. Never have I been unable to shake a hand or give a hug to a graduating senior before today. This COVID-19 has changed much in this season for us all.
Though we were unable to shake the hands of our graduates or host a graduation luncheon, there were many new things that helped make this graduation memorable. Thank you to our church volunteers for making and delivering yard signs last week. Thank you to our volunteers for making personalized face masks for all of our graduates. Thank you to everyone who joined us in person or online to watch our graduates be recognized. Though this was the most different recognition I’ve experienced in 19 years, it will now be the one I will never forget. Sometimes change is a really good thing. My prayer is that these students never forget this day and the weird things they had to do (like wearing face masks). Maybe when they look back in ten or twenty years, they will remember it being a moment that made a huge impact in their faith. Maybe they will look back and remember – that was the day that churches across America struggled to gather publicly. …But my Ebenezer Church family did their best to gather – in person – in a building – in a face mask …all to let me know I am loved by JESUS. Congratulation Class of 2020! We love you and your Savior loves you more than you’ll ever fully comprehend.