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A Good Goodbye  

When you're two, being with Grandma and Grandpa is cool.

When you're ten—not so much.

Tim was at that awkward stage but never failed to hug his grandparents every visit. Wishing to reinforce good behavior, I once told him, "You know, I love the way you give such great hugs to Grandma and Grandpa. That's very nice of you! And I know they love, it too."

Timmy's reply: "Well, they won't be around forever. Someday they're going to die" (umm…a bit blunt, I thought). But what he said next, I have never forgotten: "That's why I always give a good goodbye."

Ironically, the elusive nature of life seems to elude most of us "sophisticated" adults. Proverbs 27:1 advises, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." And James 4:14 reminds, "You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." Meaning—you and I had better learn what it means to give a "good goodbye."

On a hot September night, I heard the echo of that ten-year-old boy's commitment to a "good goodbye" above the beeps and blips of medical equipment in an intensive care room. His wisdom prompted me to grab my mom's hand and stroke her arm. I told her I loved her. I quoted Psalms 91 and prayed with her. And then I kissed her goodbye.

My last.

But at least it was a good goodbye.

Let me ask you a question. When someone you love leaves, do you give them a good goodbye? Really? Is it the kind of goodbye you would be okay with if you never had another shot at it? If that phone call came in the middle of the night bearing the most shocking news, would you be okay with your last goodbye of a week or two ago? Standing there at the casket, would your previous goodbye comfort you, or would it haunt you?

If not, there's still time. Today. Now! So pick up the phone. Make that call. Send them a card or email or text!

Give everyone you love the gift of a good goodbye. And give it again every time as if each visit is the last. Because someday, it will be.

 

 

Lots more wisdom from kids to be found in the book, Kids Sayt the Wisest Things.  Get it half-off this Friday!

 

 

 
Amigo  

Before traveling to Vicente Guerrero in Mexico, I had never even heard of, let alone met, a Oaxacan. They are among the poorest of the poor.

Partly because of their “lowly” heritage and partly because they are indigenous, they are looked down upon by many, so they typically get the crummiest of the crummy jobs. If it’s dangerous or back-breaking or low paying, a Oaxacan is usually doing the task.  My daughter and I were there to learn about them and minister to them, under the care of a beautiful Mexican ministry.

Our host, David, told me that their team regularly delivered a tank of milk to give the kids in one neighborhood some much-needed nutrition. Would we want to drive out with their team, assist them, and help pour the milk? Of course!

The next day, the back of our van rattled, and we could hear the warmish milk sloshing the sides of the metal tub. An unkind gravel path demanded too much of tires, shocks, struts—and passengers. But finally, we arrived.

We were expected because the kids came crashing out of cardboard houses, tents, and other makeshift homes. Clutched in every child's hand was a plastic cup, many of them filthy.

Having been handed a pitcher, I squatted down, one knee in the dirt so that I could reach the kids and their cups. One little fellow cried out, “Mas! Mas!” Even I knew that meant he wanted more. So we gladly refilled his cup. Gulping the milk, he melted into the crowd behind me.

I was so busy filling cup after cup that at first I didn’t feel it. A small hand patted my shoulder. With the kind gesture came the sound of a little boy’s gentle voice: “Amigo!” He couldn’t have been more than four or five. I do not know his name. But he presumed to give me a name I felt I did not deserve—amigo.

My initial thought was, How could I possibly be your amigo? Wouldn’t I do much more with this Mexican ministry instead of showing up for a few days if I was really your amigo? The thought haunted me for years.

But as I now think about that hot morning when we poured warm milk into the cups of those poorest of the poor, Christ’s words come to mind: “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones . . . truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matt. 10:42).

The fact that we wish we should or could have done more does nothing to erase the smallest gesture of kindness we did perform. The least acts of charity matter—not just now, but for eternity! In the amazing economy of Jesus, even giving a cup of milk to a poor Oaxacan boy is noted and somehow marked for future reward!

I think that's a lesson Christ might have been trying to teach me through the voice of a little boy who, in the middle of a hot, dry Mexican morning, downed his second cup of milk, patted me gently on the shoulder, and gave me that kindest of names, “Amigo.” Maybe that’s a message you need to hear, too.

 

You’ll enjoy a generous collection of stories like this in Kids Say the Wisest Things.  Why not get your copy on Amazon!  And do me the kindness of leaving a review, would you?  Many thanks!

 
Do You Wonder?  

“We all wonder.”

The bold white letters against the black background make a big statement.  Maybe you’ve seen the billboards or web banners for the Explore God website.  The ministry addresses the fundamental questions most of us have about God, the Bible, and the Christian life. 

The other day, while boarding the train heading home from Chicago, I bumped into one of those very ads as I hiked up the steps into the passenger car.  Except, just underneath the message, “We all wonder,” someone had scratched in the rebuttal, “No we don’t.” 

And there it was—the argument of the ages.  

The smugness of that reply made me a bit queasy. Such an arrogance—”No we don’t (wonder).”

Actually, that graffiti artist probably speaks for a lot of people in our culture.  Though God has left us plenty of evidence—what theologians call general revelation—many do not wonder.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 proclaims God “has planted eternity in the human heart.”  And Psalms 19:11 trumpets the reality that “The heavens declare the glory of God.  The skies proclaim the work of His hands.”  Then there’s Romans 1:19 which declares, “That which is known about God is evident.”

Those who choose not to wonder about God do nothing to subtract from the insurmountable evidence that He exists.  And the path they are on leads to horrific disaster.

Do YOU wonder?

The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’

—Psalms 14:1

 
To the Michigans  

It's a big week for four-year-old Lucy.

At her church’s Vacation Bible School, she was challenged to receive Christ as her Savior—and she did!  One might not expect to see much dramatic life transformation in a four-year-old (not exactly a "life of sin" from which to turn away).  But one would be wrong.

Lucy is suddenly a fearless (if not fiery) preacher.  Her mother calls her an evangelist.   She regularly gets into the face of her two-year-old sister and proclaims, “Sadie, you need to make a decision!”  But Lucy’s gospel witness is more than lip service.

At the VBS, students hear daily talks from missionaries who serve in Papua New Guinea.  Lucy now bubbles over with tidbits about life in Papua New Guinea, and the vast needs they have there.

So taken is Lucy with the spiritual condition of Papua New Guinea and the enterprising work of the missionaries, she boldly announced to her mother that she wanted to give her money to “the Michigans.” 

With due respect to our Michigan readers, Lucy’s spiritual journey is worth noting.  She wants her money (not somebody else’s) to get to “the Michigans.”

Lucy is living proof:

When Jesus touches your heart, He also touches your wallet.

And maybe that’s the reason so many of us give so little—we’ve only let Him touch our hearts a little.  But if He’s touched us—really touched us—then we can’t help but give.

To the church.

To the homeless.

To “the Michigans."

 
Dangling from a Rope  

A splash in the eye is what got my attention.

Huffing in the heat of the late morning, I gingerly hopped over several lines of train track coming out of Chicago’s Union train station.  Having cleared the last of the rails, something wet plopped on my head. 

The only place it could have come from was the high-rise off to my right, known as “The Residences at Riverbend.”  Currently, you can buy a one-bedroom condo for 404,900.  Need a little more elbow room?  A two-bedroom unit will set you back between $539,000 and $825,000.  But if you really want to spread out (and if you have just shy of a million bucks on hand), grab a three-bedroom unit.

I looked up and around and saw nothing that might have caused the splash on my face. Then I looked higher—and found the source.  Two squeegee-wielding window washers slathered suds on windows so high, I could barely make them out.

The Riverbend condo building is 37 stories tall.  Short by Chicago standards—but plenty high enough when you’re standing next to it.  Or washing windows outside of it!

Several hundred feet up, two men dangled from ropes whose knotted ends danced lazily on the sidewalk in front of me. The workers might as well have been ants on a distant limb. I paused.  Pondered.  Took pictures.   And zoomed in on these daredevils with my iPad camera.

Who in the world would do this?  Who would willingly suspend themselves several hundred feet above the pavement with nothing but a couple of ropes to guarantee their safety?  No doubt those ropes are reasonably reliable—but the hefty insurance premiums these workers pay bear testimony to the inherent danger.

A more sobering question then followed.  When it comes to eternal life, who in the world would be so foolish as to suspend themselves over the flimsy hope that God might let them into heaven if their good deeds outweigh their bad? 

Nowhere in Scripture do we find such a hope, but the idea is rampant in our culture.  Nothing less than receiving the forgiveness of Jesus and His rule over your life will grant you eternal life. 

Precisely what do you depend on to get you into heaven?

The Bible says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of Jesus Christ so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.”

Are you dangling from a risky rope…or certain of eternal life?

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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Jon Gauger Media 2016