When I was serving on staff at a church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, one of the other folks on staff burst into my office one day to tell me that John Stott was speaking at a local retirement village. “Would you like to go hear him?” Would I like to go hear him? Are you kidding me? A legend. A hero. A godly, godly witness. When we got to the retirement village, we stepped into an elevator to go up a few floors to the place where he was speaking, and lo and behold, standing in the corner was Stott himself. The guy with me nudged me and mouthed, “That’s John Stott.” “I know,” I mouthed back. “Say something,” he said. And yet I had nothing to say. I just stood there for the short ride upwards, stealing a few glances when I could, as if he wasn’t real. But he was very real. He was right there by my side: small, frail in his older age, unassuming, and smiling this ever-present smile that made his cheeks blush and his eyes narrow and shine. His sermon that day was a solid look at the global/missions heart of God, but it’s the smile I remember more than anything else—a smile that broadcast a deep, unwavering joy from within. Most of us reserve grins such as this for our wedding day, for when we hold a child for the first time. But he seemed pretty generous with flashing it. He probably couldn’t help it on the other end of years spent communing with God in a most intimate fashion. News of his death yesterday made me think of his smile, his joy. He will be missed in the wider church world, but I’d say his smile has since grown.
A fascinating, piercing little article on Out of Ur: Worship Through a Child’s Eyes.
Eden will turn two in a matter of days. She loves Dora the Explorer—though she seems to think we have it all wrong and the real star of each episode is Dora’s backpack. Well, Dora’s backpack and Swiper. She loves it when that sneaky fox shows up. Whenever he does, I gasp and turn to her, saying, “Oh no!” She does the same in return to me, which always makes the highlight reel for my day. And here’s the highlight of July: Last week I arrived home from work, and when I called out to her, she came tearing around the corner in nothing but a diaper, eyes ablaze and running so fast that she was flirting with a disastrous fall, and gave me the fiercest, deepest hug I think I’ve ever received.
The launch team that God has been bringing together for Reunion is something special. I love these people so much already. So much. It’s an honor to serve alongside them. An absolute honor and privilege.
On Monday, Sarah and I hooked our flip camera up to the TV and watched some videos we’ve shot over the last two years. We did so for two reasons: (1) we were curious to see how Eden would react to seeing herself as a baby, and (2) there is one particular video from Christmas of 2009 that will never fail to make us laugh. What I was not anticipating was running face-first into a six-minute video of Dad holding Eden just a handful of weeks after we’d brought her home and just a handful of weeks after he’d received news of his cancer. I’ve not been able to bring myself to replay it again on the TV, but I’ve been replaying it in my mind again and again. It’s such a snapshot of Dad in all that he was—his heart, his humor, his resolve. It’s been three months since Dad died, and goodness, I miss him terribly. Grief really does come in waves, some of which are tall and mighty. That video was a tall and mighty one, and I swallowed quite a bit of water, making it a bit hard to swim on Tuesday. But to borrow what I wrote about Stott a moment ago, I’d say Dad’s smile has grown wider each day, and that holds you together, even as it makes you long for reunion even more.

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One Response to Tidbits

  1. Jesse Stoner says:

    Excellent thoughts, my friend. Stott was one of my favorite authors, I felt like I knew him and can’t wait to meet him.

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