My family is immense & I love it very much (I thank God that Mike’s family is big too & welcomed me into the mix). Everyone is different to say the least. And we all know of that one common trait that makes us a family—yes, the “Mexican stand-off” is where the term originated from—our family (Mike’s real reason for his love for me—he calls it Latina fire). Yet, with all of our unique qualities and shared traits, we can become so easily hurt by one another, only to leave and hide from those we love. Before long, time has passed and we’ve missed making so many memories. It reminds me of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. It was one of my grandpa’s favorites because he knew how God the Father restored his life after living the way he did as a young man. My grandpa knew everyday he did not merit grace. But after the Lord saved him, he was determined to live for Christ. He brought home strangers for a meal, visited inmates at the county jail, went to Juarez orphanages. Through it all, he knew he was not a saint but he did it because the Lord loved him first.
A few days ago, we heard the sad news of my cousin’s two sons who were shot in a small town north of Houston. The older of the two succumbed to his wounds, while the younger son was airlifted and is in stable condition. I had met the older son, Jonathan, when he was just one. As the years went by, we lost touch with the boys. Until a couple of years ago, when Jonathan was about 17, he sent a friend request. He was eager to know about his El Paso family. He was fascinated at the number of cousins, aunts, and uncles that he had. I sent him a picture of my uncle/his grandfather who played football as did Jonathan. He was excited to hear about his family and where they all lived. He wanted very much to visit each one & get to know the city they lived in. He amazed me at how much he loved us without ever seeing us or knowing about our lives. The greatest part about him was how much he loved the Lord. He was not afraid to speak of his faith. He loved everyone around him. As I have read countless stories of how he helped family and friends, his reputation was that he was always there when they needed someone. He definitely inherited his great-grandfather’s love for people.
In his short life on earth, Jonathan reminded me that we all have histories, good and bad. It’s how we love one another despite our shortcomings. Above all else, it’s in the grace we offer to those we love, to those we know, and to those we have yet to meet that mercy abounds. We can say that Jonathan was the picture of the father in Luke 15:20, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” This is my memory of a young cousin who I never truly knew, but impacted me to extend love to anyone as it is part of redemption.
May we not live as prodigals, but redeem the time that we are given sharing the Gospel, praying for friends and loved ones, and offering forgiveness when it is not merited. This is a reflection of the one who gave love to us first. May we never keep our love hidden from those who are desperately seeking its blessing. AMEN!