I’m not an overly emotional guy. I’m really not.
How can you NOT love those little smiles?
As horrible a daddy as this makes me, I didn’t cry when my kids were born. Don’t get me wrong; I was absolutely overjoyed, but I didn’t cry. I’ve had male friends who cried at their own weddings. I cannot count myself among them. I mean, I love my wife, and I was overwhelmed with boundless joy when we were married. But I didn’t cry.
That’s just not me.
(To be fair, I DO cry at funerals of loved ones. Pretty sure anyone who doesn’t is a hollow shell of a person.)
My wife is exactly the opposite. She cries at Jell-O commercials—even when she’s not pregnant. If there’s a heart-string a marketing agency is trying to pull, chances are my wife has it.
We make a pretty good team, you know. She’s the highly emotional sentimental, and I’m the stoic.
Funny people, stoics. It’s not that we don’t have feelings, per se. It’s just that we like to “stuff ’em.” (At this point, Seinfeld fans can utter the line, “You can stuff your sorries in a sack, mister.”)
But every once in a while, the cracks can form in the stoic’s stony emotional exterior.
The church in Cuernavaca, Panama.
I went to Panama in 2009 and 2010. The first year, we went to the Darien Jungle near the border with Colombia to a little village called Yaviza. While the village had a few amenities of a modern city, for the most part it was quite primitive.
However, nothing could quite prepare me for the summer of 2010, when we ventured into the mountainous region that was home to the Ngobe people. When I say these people had almost nothing, it’s not an exaggeration. These people have almost N-O-T-H-I-N-G. And yet, they live their lives, relatively content. And when they get together to worship Jesus, there’s nothing like it.
On the first full day we were there, we were beginning to set up for a week of ministry. My wife was getting some things ready for the women of the village, and in walked a short woman—well, I say woman, but she was more like a girl of 14 or 15 years of age—with her baby. She told us that she was from a neighboring village and that she’d heard we were coming. She hiked the hour or so with her infant child in tow just to spend some time with us.
There have been a handful of times at CrossRidge Church when someone has come forward during the invitation with such a strong urge for salvation that they pray to receive Christ with one of our ministers, and then want to make it public by immediately being baptized. One Sunday in particularly, we had nearly a dozen impromptu baptisms in one service as the Spirit moved in tremendous power.
My daughter, Eleanor, was baptized about six months ago after her profession of faith at Vacation Bible School. Pastor Marc Farnell baptized her as her mother and I watched with great elation.
You see, in spite of the fact that I had struggled with doubt and a horribly disconnected feeling from Christ, whom I professed as my Savior, and in spite of the fact that I was quite adept at putting on a pretty steely facade, moments did present themselves where I felt small cracks in the stone wall that guarded my hardened heart.
It was those times that I would feel a tremendous conviction that something was fundamentally amiss. But in every one of those cases—and many others—I was able to apply a bit of existential spackle and move on with my life.
And the deception would continue, until…
Eventually, masks get old and crack…
…I cried in the car last Wednesday (don’t worry, I’ve already mailed back my man-card to the Texas Bureau of Masculine Affairs for that admission). My wife and I were driving back from an appointment. My physical body was oppressed by the sleep I was losing over the heaviness in my spirit—the cause of which was the increasingly apparent realization that my relationship with Jesus Christ was at best fouled up and lying in complete shambles, and at worst, completely non-existent.
During a conversation on our drive back home, I felt I could hold it no longer. Tears collected at the corners of my eyes, and when I was able to gain enough composure, I just blurted it out.
To say that my wife was shocked would perhaps be one of the great understatements of all time. And yet, hidden in her countenance was something I wasn’t quite able to put my finger on. Then she said it:
“I’ve been praying for something like this for so long.”
Apparently, with her tremendous gift for discernment, she had sensed a deep heaviness in my soul, and had been praying for God to help me get it worked out.
Crrrrrrrack. Crrrrrumble. If my heart had been ancient Jericho at that moment, then my wife’s words were Joshua and the nation of Israel marching with their trumpets blaring.
My wife would be the first to tell you that prayer is a worthwhile pursuit. I’m not sure she can remember exactly how long she has been praying for me, but it’s been quite some time. And her patience and perseverance in her petition to the Lord finally paid off.
So, the take-home point is this: if you are praying for someone’s salvation, don’t ever ever ever EVER give up. You never know when the result of those prayers will begin to form a crack in the walls of stubbornness, pride, and indifference in the lives of those you pray for.
“Pray without ceasing.” —1 Thess 5:17 (NASB)