By LIBBO CROSSWHITE
Seeing God in a daughter’s milestone birthday
“Lord, what are you teaching me?” It’s the question that’s echoed in my mind most lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve realized over and over that there are so many questions I don’t have answers to, and it’s my way of coping.
Even without the chaos and confusion of our current world, I’ve always looked to this year as a big milestone in my life since the first time I held my daughter, Mary Thomas. Mary Thomas will turn 7 this month — the same age I was when my dad died — and I have thought ahead to what she would be like at this age, and felt that I would feel the final gravity of what it means to lose a father at such a young age when watching my daughter turn 7.
Mary and I are simultaneously identical and exact opposites. We challenge each other, and we both love fiercely. Oddly enough, it looks like she might be decent at basketball, and I wasn’t allowed to shoot or dribble my senior year, so that’s a nice turn of events. I’ve made a career out of doing life with teenagers, yet I know I’ll need God’s hand more than ever when she’s a teenager. My dad would be so proud of the girl that Mary Thomas is becoming, and laugh at my inability to know exactly how to handle her most days.
I hesitated to write about this topic this month because it seems that my story bleeds into this space quite often lately. But I’m reminded that part of the reason God gives us our stories is so we’ll share them and point others to Him. My story is simple: I have been redeemed and given the freedom to live in joy despite earthly pain and brokenness, because Jesus Christ died to give me life. Sometimes I still find myself in awe that God has given me the opportunity to use this space to share how He’s transformed me, how He continues to transform my motherhood, and how much He longs to transform each of us.
I was recently reminded in my pastor’s sermon that Jesus sees our potential more than our brokenness. Jesus noticed Levi the tax collector and called Levi to follow Him. We see in Luke that Levi’s transformation meant a name change and calling to write (you might remember his critically acclaimed gospel, Matthew). It also meant an eternity of hope and the chance to see people he loved transformed by the grace of Jesus. He got to both write for Jesus and throw a party for Him — if that’s not living the dream, I don’t know what is.
Read Luke 5:27–32. It’s the crucial passage that reminds us why Jesus came to earth, in His own words:
“It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
Maybe the most relevant verse of 2020. We need Jesus to heal our sickness and sin. We need Jesus to be the One writing our story despite the pain we may endure this side of heaven.
In one of many discussions we’ve had about her birthday celebration since mid-March, Mary Thomas connected the dots that I was 7 when my dad died, and that was the same age she was turning.
“Must be kinda sad for you, huh, Mom?” she asked as we were driving down the road. In timing that only God could provide, we were passing the cemetery where my dad was buried as she asked this question. With a tear in the corner of my eye, I said, “You know, it is sad, but I am learning that sometimes God teaches us the most through our sadness.”
Luke 5:27 gives us an important word for each of our stories with Jesus:
“After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’”
Jesus noticed Levi. The word “notice” by definition is to observe or to pay attention. Jesus notices each of us and is calling us to do the same.
Lately, God is teaching me to:
● Notice people. Not just see people, but notice them for who they are and who they could become if they knew the life-giving power of Jesus. Who needs to hear your God story?
● Notice what God is teaching me through my experiences, both good and bad.
● Notice God’s almighty power reigning in every moment, big and small.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Madison and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 6 years old, and a son, Russell, who is 4 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison- Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at email@example.com.