What Reputation Precedes You?

Wearing a navy blue cap and gown, my son strutted across the stage to receive his high school diploma last week. All I could see through misty eyes was a bundle of joy wrapped in a blue blanket that lay in my arms eighteen years earlier.

Memory is a marvelous thing.

And yet, there are things I wish I could forget. The pain I’ve caused others, grievances I’ve harbored against someone who hurt me or mine.

Memories… good and bad…appeared in my mind’s eye when other graduate names were announced that evening. Their reputation, some tarnished by previous poor choices, accompanied them. And because I fail to forget….my impression of some students has remained skewed.

“Character is what you are. Reputation is what people think you are,” said Henry H. Aunderson.

Even if it’s not true, excellent, or worthy of praise.

“Give a man a reputation as an early riser and he can sleep ’til noon.” ~~Mark Twain.

Who do people think I am, if they think of me at all? What is the reputation that precedes me? I cower to think my flaws and my past define me.   

Praise God for His tender mercies that are new every morning.

Praise God, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us….” Psalm 103:10-12

By God’s grace, may I learn to see people through my Benevolent Heavenly Father’s eyes so I can Forgive and FORGET.

The Last Time

School is over. My son, my youngest child, graduates from high school next week.

As I spread mayonnaise onto a piece of bread, I realize this is the last sandwich I’ll make for my son to eat at school.  No more brown-bag lunches filled with sandwiches, chips, and sliced apple.

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Only the Lord knows how many hundreds of school lunches I’ve prepared when I multiply them by three children. My son offered to make his lunch, but years of habit evolved into my morning ritual.

Last evening, I attended our last High School choir concert. While my eyes were fixed on my son’s clean-shaven face, I remembered another concert years ago. The elementary-aged children held battery-operated candles as they sang. Well, most children held them. My third-grade son used his candle to sword fight with the boy next to him.

Today my son’s strong body towers over me. His deep voice is reminiscent of a Bass Cello. I love to hear him sing. So when the choir sang the last note in the last song of his last concert, tears clouded my vision.

My son isn’t obsessed with last moments. He’s ready to raise anchor and leave shore, bound for new horizons. I’m excited for him, but this melancholy mom cradles last moments.   

What emotions swept over Jesus when he ate the last Passover Meal with his disciples?

Jesus knew it was their Last Supper. “The time has come for me, the Son of Man, to enter into my glory….Dear children, how brief are these moments before I must go away and leave you!” (John 13:31-33)

Although Jesus had warned his disciples this day would come, they panicked:

“Lord, where are you going?”

“Why can’t I come now, Lord?”

“We haven’t any idea where you are going…”

It may have been their Last Supper, but it wasn’t the end of their relationship with Jesus.

 “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3)

For three days, the disciples were derailed by their circumstances…the trial and death of Jesus. They ran and hid. Peter denied knowing Christ. They might have lost all hope for tomorrow if not for Jesus’ words.  “You have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” (John 16:22)  

True to His word, Christ was resurrected and appeared to them before he left them and was taken up to heaven. And his disciples were “filled with great joy.”

Likewise, our sorrowful moments…even the last ones…can become joyful when we trust Jesus and keep our eyes on Him.