Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday's Letters

Photo Credit: Jesse Phillips

This Friday's Letters will be a little different for me. I am so joyful that it is finally Friday, but at the same time my heart is heavy. Mr. Randy (pictured center) is someone who made my college years one of major spiritual growth. He currently is battling stage 4 cancer and as of yesterday has lost almost all ability to communicate. My Friday's Letters is dedicated to him and his sweet family.
Mr. Randy,
I'm not going to lie when I first met you I was intimidated. You are someone who naturally draws people to you. I didn't quite understand what it was at first and after spending just one Sunday with your family at church and then at lunch, I understood. It's Jesus. You are literally oozing with Jesus, grace, love, compassion and forgiveness. You are gentle and kind. Someone who can be a spiritual leader to so many while gently guiding them towards The Gospel and applying it in every day life. I have many great memories from college and most of my favorite ones include you and your family. 

The ENTIRE Phillips Family

Mr. Randy,
We, the students of Mississippi State, could never thank you or your family enough. You opened up your home to us on countless Friday nights for a time of fellowship and growth. I cherish those memories and a part of me aches for them every Friday night. I learned what it means to serve through the simple actions of your wife and children. I learned what it means to give grace when it more than likely won't be returned. I learned what it means to live with grace. Most importantly, I learned what it means to live your life for The Lord each and every moment. We all fall short and we will all stumble. I still struggle with my daily Quiet Time. I was humbled to learn that you still sometimes struggle in that department too. Listening to you talk about that struggle caused me to learn what it means to live a disciplined life. We may not always want to do what is best for us or for others, but you can over come that urge to fall backwards with some discipline and a lot of prayer and guidance from The One who truly wants what is best for us. I began to understand a little more that The Lord's way is not the same as ours. There will be times of pain and struggle, but those times are being used to bring us closer to The Lord. Those times are also used as a time of disciplinary action. We do tend to forget that we are still children most of the time. It is always a moment of awe once you remember that you are truly the child of a King. The most marvelous King that will ever exist.

There is one night that has always stuck out to me more than the others, Mr. Randy. I will never forget the moment when you said, "Sometimes I don't love my wife." You could have heard a pin drop in that room at that exact moment. The feeling in the room at that exact moment was pure shock. The love that you and Mrs. Maureen have for each other is a love that most people just dream of. We couldn't understand what you meant by that. Your explanation is one that I take with me in my day-to-day life. You told us in moments of anger you are not loving any one. In the moments of when you are angry with anyone you are not in the act of loving them. The best way to dumb that down even more is to take the passage from 1 Corinthians 13 that so many people know- 

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

When I apply this truth to my life I like to take out the word "Love" and replace it with my name. In anger am I being patient and kind? Am I not being arrogant or rude or irritable or resentful? The answer to all those questions is no. I had never understood that before. I know I still have a long way to go. I probably always will. I am naturally an extremely stubborn person that has a temper that can flare up. I try to remind myself of that moment in your living room surrounded by so many brothers and sisters in Christ. That was the moment when I began to understand what love truly is, and I grasped a deeper understanding of the love that Christ has for all of us. 

I praise God that I was able to spend just some of my time in college with you and your family. I praise God that he put you in my life at a time where I was growing spiritually but was still a little lost. I praise God for the light that shines so brightly from each and every one of your children. I praise God for their friendships, their grace, their forgiveness, their patience, and their servant-like hearts. I praise God for the moment that you were led to Him. I praise God that he molded you into a clay jar and used you as a vessel to so many. I praise God that even through one of the most difficult battles in your life that you are still at peace. I praise God that through the simple Facebook postings of your sons and daughters-in-law that the light of Jesus is shining so brightly and spreading to so many. 

I am praying for your continued peace. I pray that you are comfortable. I pray for the strength of Mrs. Maureen and your children. I pray that I will see you again one day. 

The words "Thank you" will never seem to be enough. Through Christ you have given me some of the most important lessons that I will ever learn. I pray that as I grow older I will remember them and continue to strive to be more Christ-like.

Thank you, Mr. Randy.

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