"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4: 16-17 NIV
This week I met a woman with a very heavy crown. We were at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat. These amazing events allow the families of children with disabilities of all sorts to enjoy a week of summer fun together. Volunteers help minister to the children's special needs, so parents, siblings, and entire families can enjoy a time of rest and relaxation.
The quiet, calm woman told me about the nine medically-fragile children she and her husband have adopted, and that they have fostered 44 children with medical issues through the years. As we talked, her youngest foster daughter wandered by. This adorable two-year old was in perpetual motion, while her J and F helper busily attended to her. Clambering up on the tall sofa, the tiny girl laid her head on her foster mom's arm and stroked her arm, pausing for a moment to lock her big brown eyes with mom's. She was off a moment later, motoring through the resort lobby at a quick pace.
"That's what we do three or four times a night when she has night terrors," her dear foster mom explained. "Things happened to that little girl that should never happen to any child, so when she wakes up, I sit close to her. I hug her and she strokes my arm, and I remind her she is ok." The toddler's tumbling brown curls were caught up in an elaborate brace that rested between the top of her head and her little shoulders.
When I asked about the brace, her foster mom explained that the tendons and muscles in the little girl's neck had been severed. A pediatrician clarified the injuries to her--someone had choked the little girl so severely that they had snapped. Her foster mom mentioned that she will probably go back with one of her parents, the one the authorities do not think was involved in the injuries. She said it quietly and calmly, but I could see the tears in her eyes.
At that moment, I felt like Moses standing on holy ground. As I talked with this woman, I realized the weight of her eternal glory is heavy. There are already many jewels in her heavenly crown, sparkling through the lives of so many children her love has touched. This type of sacrifice and love given in Jesus' name exemplifies Paul's words. This saint, touched by brokenness on so many levels, does not lose heart. She relies on her Savior for the strength she needs to love and serve His children despite hard, heart-wrenching circumstances. Through the years, there have been many of them.
Soon our sofa was surrounded by wheelchairs, little people, and a wide range of voices--"Mom, guess what I just did?" and "Mom, look at what I made!" In the midst of the beautiful din, I bid her goodbye. The beauty of the scene reminded me that I will meet this sister again, in heaven. I look forward to checking out her crown. I know it will be dazzling.
Maintaining our focus on Christ keeps us from losing heart. How do you keep that focus tightly fixed?
How can you renew yourself day by day?
What does your crown look like?