Can I Help You?

July 19, 2022 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Richard Gammill –

It’s the afternoon of Good Friday and Noah and I are stuck in heavy traffic on I-35. I want to finish my errands so I can get to the early evening services. It’s looking more and more like I won’t make it.

I love these times in my pickup with six-year-old Noah. We talk about many things. I try not to waste these teaching opportunities. I ask, “Noah, do you know what is special about this weekend?”

“It’s going to be Easter, Grandpa,” he answers.

“Why do we celebrate Easter, Noah? What is it about?”

“Well, it’s about when a bad man got money for showing where Jesus was.”

“What was that man’s name?”

“I don’t know, but he did a very bad thing.”

“What happened then, Noah?”

“Well, they took Jesus and they put him on a cross and they pounded big nails in his hands and his feet.”

“What happened then?”

“He died, Grandpa. But then he came back!”

“Why did he suffer and die like that, Noah?”

“It’s because he loves us so much.”

“Now what does he want us to do?”

“He loves us very much. Now he wants us to love him.”

“And how do we show that we love Jesus?”

“We show it by loving people and helping people. Like when someone falls down, we don’t say, ‘What happened to you?’ We ask ‘Can I help you?’”

Our conversation moved to other things, and, as I feared, the slow-moving traffic prevented me from making it to the Good Friday service. But Noah took advantage of a teachable moment to remind me the meaning of Good Friday anyway.

The Ties That Bind

July 6, 2022 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Richard Gammill –

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:18).

Strong family connections create strong—and sometimes surprising—emotions.

“Grandpa!” shouted little Noah as he threw open the door and ran toward me arms opened wide. He jumped into my arms and squeezed my neck.

“Grandpa, let’s go see trains.” His Paul Newman-blue eyes held my attention.

How could I resist? We climbed the stairs—I climbed, Noah ran—to my study and turned on the computer. Noah loves trains. We spent the next hour on the Internet with him on my lap as we looked at videos and pictures of trains.

“Grandpa, we’re best buddies. Can we go swimming now?”

By the time I got to the bedroom, Noah had his clothes off and his swimsuit on. In the pool, he found the water cannon, pumped it full, aimed it at me, and began firing.

“Noah, you are a rascal,” I said, as I stood there dripping wet.

“Grandpa, when do I get to start playing soccer like my sisters?”

“Pretty soon, Noah. And you will probably play baseball and football like your uncles did. I can hardly wait to watch you play. Won’t that be fun?”

“Will you come to my games, Grandpa?”

“Noah, nothing could keep me away!”

That night while I was trying to get to sleep, my thoughts drifted from my day with Noah to my friend Harold and his grandson, Bart. A shadow crept over me and filled me with sadness.

By the time Bart graduated from high school, Harold and his wife, Elaine, had driven thousands of miles crisscrossing the state of Kansas attending every baseball game Bart played in. They traveled even more miles attending performances of his choral group and marching band.

Following his graduation, Bart was accepted into a chiropractic college and prepared to move that fall to Kansas City. Then his girlfriend left him, plunging Bart into a pit of despair. A few days later, his body was found next to his pickup on a lonely Kansas road.

He had taken his own life.

My day with Noah gave me fresh insight into Harold’s devastating loss. The pain of Harold’s daily visits to his grandson’s gravesite gripped me. What could be harder than losing a child or grandchild?

The next morning the news on my computer reported the tragedy met by a group of Ohio high school students during their mission trip to Costa Rica. Five students swimming in the Pacific Ocean at a dangerous beach were caught by a riptide and swept out to sea. Two were rescued, but three drowned. Their bodies were found later. I turned to the ABC news report and made an emotional connection with one of the young students, her family, and mine. Her father teaches at her private high school and her grandfather is a retired Nazarene minister like me. She had planned to attend a Nazarene college. My two oldest granddaughters are students at a sister Nazarene college.

That family’s tragic loss shook me. I experienced a moment of terror as I imagined my reaction if my granddaughter had met a similar fate during her trips to China and Uganda.

Close family ties establish our priorities and give meaning to our lives. The phrase, “Family, first, last, and always,” describes an affair of the heart. It is a heart affair that connects our Heavenly Father with his earthly children. The crucifixion of His “only begotten Son” unites us with God’s heart forever. When our heart responds in faith to His sacrifice it brings us into a family relationship with Him.

Heavenly Father, thank You for making me Your child and giving me the assurance of having a Friend who sticks with me closer than a brother.