During high school our family structure changed. My parents separated and eventually divorced. It was a difficult journey. In the midst of it all, I had a mentor in faith give me a wooden cross. The cross had a tiny hole where a piece of leather was threaded through it so that it could be worn as a necklace, hung from the rearview mirror or placed on a peg on the wall. I carried the cross with me; it was in my backpack or in my purse or hung on my car rearview mirror. It was a constant reminder that while the journey might be difficult, I was not alone.
I had someone in my corner.
I had someone who loved me.
I had someone cheering me on.
I had someone to call in the middle of the night that would just listen to my heart's cry.
I had a Jesus that loved me as far as the east is from the west.
I had a Jesus that was going to light the way for me in the darkness.
I had a Jesus that was going to put his arms around me and carry me when I didn't feel as though I could take another step.
The cross was a sense of presence. This simple symbol wrapped me in an assurance that I had friends walking with me here on earth and a redeemer that shrouded me in restoration. The gift of the cross had planted the seed of comfort and assurance for me.
Some years later I had the amazing privilege of working alongside the Youth Pastor at my home church as the summer youth ministry intern. That summer planted seeds far greater than I was aware. That summer we painted fences, attended mission trips, traveled to DC to be participants at DC/LA '94, did crazy dives at the endless pool parties, read scripture and talked about what was on our hearts and minds. The group held a crazy group of guys...guys that loved one another, who weren't afraid to play jokes on one another and who had each others back fiercely. I loved watching them, being part of their jokes and having the privilege to encourage them in their faith.
Just two years later as they were all headed off to college, life took a drastic turn for one of the guys. One of those fun loving guys wept at the side of his mother's bed as she passed from this world into God's enteral kingdom. I will never forget the phone call from this young adult who had just moved into his college dorm room to begin his new life. His life was shattered. I knew I needed to get home to Tennessee to merely be present with him during those hard days of planning the service and then celebrating the one whom he loved most.
I knew that I was meant to give my beloved cross away. I knew that it was something that was meant to be passed on. I knew that he needed to be comforted and to know that he would not be left alone in the darkness that he was facing. I freely and whole heartedly gave it this young man with the promise that I would always be present for him and that God would never leave his side.
Many years have passed.
Phone calls have been made randomly over the past 20 plus years.
Likes on Facebook have been exchanged.
Text have been sent.
Tomorrow I have the privilege of officiating his wedding to the love of his life. Today through the rehearsal and into the luncheon I noticed that he had a piece of leather that would randomly poke out of the collar of his shirt. At the rehearsal lunch I asked him what it was and in a blink of an eye he was pulling out the cross that I had given so long ago.
Tears swelled in my eyes.
I had no idea that I had planted the seeds of hope and love that had sustained him for so long. I had no idea that he had literally worn the cross to the point of it breaking and his friend reworking it so that he could still wear it. I had no idea that he had worn the cross as a reminder that he was loved beyond words and accepted for who he was and where he was on the journey.
I was blown away by the power of one simple gesture and the impact it had upon my friend. It reminded me that I have the power to plant each and every day. It made me think about what I'm planting in this world.
This cross, is a symbol of the power that each of us have. Every single one of us had the power to plant seeds into the lives of others. All of us have the power to plant the seeds of hope, goodness, acceptance, love and wholeness. What seeds are you planting?