The man across the street appeared familiar. Even from where Lydia stood she could see his soft, kind eyes twinkle as he watched people walking by. No one seemed to notice him standing there. He was dressed very simply in clean, blue jeans, a wool sweater anda canvas jacket. Lydia had only watched him for a brief moment after she had parked her car. She opened the squeaky door of herVolkswagen, grabbed her purse from the passenger seat, and heading towards the bank took one last glance at the man. He waved slightly as though he had been waiting for her to notice him. Quickly she cast her eyes to the ground and entered the building marked Grand Central Bank.
Why had the man waved to her? Did she know him? He did look familiar. Probably Ive seen him around town before, she reasoned. Brushing her thoughts aside, she completed her business and exited the bank. She strode to her car and noted that the man was no longer in sight. Phew! she thought to herself.
Lydias day was filled and soon she had completely forgotten the strange event that had happened that morning.
The following day Lydia bustled about the house all morning doing various odds and ends. It was mid-afternoon before she got around to doing her errands around town. She ran in to the post office to pick up the mail, her last errand. It was almost rush hour and Lydia was in a hurry to get home and finish preparing dinner. Fiddling in her purse for her keys, she sharply rounded a corner and ran smack into someone. Stunned she started to apologize but gasped when she looked up. It was the man who had waved to her yesterday. She stammered, Uh, sir... I'm sorry, and backed away to walk around him. He said nothing. Just looked at her with his kind eyes. He had taken no offense to her behavior, just smiled ever so slightly, nodded curtly and continued on his way.
Lydia did not recover quite so quickly however. She was more confused than she had been yesterday, but the man had done nothing inappropriate, nor had he advanced toward Lydia. Perhaps he was just being friendly and polite with his wave and smile. He does have a very kind smile. Oh how familiar he seems? Where have I seen him before? No, where have I MET him? I swear I have met him somewhere sometime. Now, what is his name again? She continued to wonder as she gathered her mail. It was nippy out. It often was during this time of the year so she wrapped her coat tightly about her and hurried home.
Early the next morning she went to retreive the daily newspaper from the front steps, just as she did every morning. She had dressed warmly in black slacks, a cream colored turtle neck and warm purple wool sweater. Her hair was gathered up in a loose bun, little wispies falling about her oval face. Lydia bent low to gather the newspaper and gazed out to observe the day. Her mouth dropped. There was that man again, standing across the road from her house. He simply stood there quietly staring at her. He held a small package in his hands this time, though. His eyes were pleading, begging almost. Lydia leaned forward as if asking him what it was he wanted, but then turned and marched back into the house being sure to lock the door behind her. She rushed to the nearby window to look out. He was gone. Disappeared. A sad feeling crept over Lydia. She shrugged her shoulders and shook herself a little. This was getting far too weird for her liking. He was like no man she had ever met. She had determined that they had indeed met before. Where, she still could not remember. School? Church? It didnt seem that important.
Sighing deeply she hurriedly ate breakfast and then prepared to leave. She had some things to take care of this morning. Her first stop: the church. She needed to pick up a table cloth. She quickly parked her little car and stepped out. There on the stairs of the little white building sat the man. He still had the small package in his hands. Lydias first reaction was to turn and run. But she decided to approach the man. As she drew near he lifted his head. His eyes were a soft hazel color and his hair was brown and wind blown. He kept a light beard neatly trimmed and cleaned.
Excuse me, sir? Do I know you? Lydia asked tentaively.
His words were soft and gentle, Lydia, I have been waiting for you. No sooner had he spoken those words than Lydias eyes light with recognition. Then her eyes clouded with tears. It was his voice that gave him away. Only one voice ever spoke so kind and true. It was the voice of her Lord.
Jesus? Oh sweet Jesus! I have missed you so. Tears freely fell now, trickling down her cheeks and splashing upon the cold hard ground. He patted the step next to him inviting her to sit. Lydia crumpled to the seat.
I have missed you too. Where have you been my child? Why have you not come to see me? His words were full of love. There was no harsh bitterness in His voice. Only love...and desire. Lydias heart melted like wax to a flame. It was true. His words were so true. She had not spent time with her Lord for many days now. She felt terrible. Guilty...broken.
Oh, Lydia. How I do love you. There is no place I would rather be than with you. Don't you see? I have done everything...just to be with you. Do you want to be with Me?
His words cut to her heart. Oh yes, she wanted to be with Him. Then why did she so easily fall away. How easily she got distracted. But still He loved her. How could He still love her so when she so often brought Him pain? She had hurt Him and this was not the first time, she knew.
Jesus, please forgive me? I fall short so many times. I do love You. Though so so many times...I know it seems that I do not. I want to love You more. More than I do today...more than I did yesterday. Lydia found it hard to put her feelings into words. But the Lord seemed to understand. Lydia had by now found it hard to gaze into His eyes and was clutching his sleeve, her wet cheek resting upon his arm. With a tenderness like Lydia had never known He took her hand and placed it upon his cheek. With his other hand He reached out and touched her face. He lifted her head and peered deep into her heart.
Yes, I know that that is your desire, Lydia. That is why I shall never leave you nor forsake you, but I shall always pursue you. With a reckless, ruthless love I shall come after you. Just as I have done these past couple of days. But you must always respond and come to Me also. Just as you did today. And then our love shall grow.
It felt as if a warm blanket had been wrapped around her heart. She brushed away her tears and smiled. He smiled back,
Here. I have a gift for you. I have many gifts I wish to give to you. Open it.
With gratitude she received the gift and untied the pink ribbon that decorated the package. She knew that whatever it was she did not deserve it. Jesus was like that, though. Always giving what she did not deserve. Inside was a gem stone. It was a beautiful blue sapphire. It glistened and glittered as she rested it in the palm of her hand. She turned to Jesus.
He replied to her questioning eyes, When the time is right you shall wear your crown that is set with many precious stones. Each stone represents a certain truth you have come to learn and embrace. Hold these truths in your heart for safe keeping. Do not forget my words here. Guard them. Love them. Live them. And remember, I am always waiting, always ready to be with you.
Quickly He rose and walked away. Lydia wanted to call out, to ask Him to stay with her, to never leave. But after He was out of sight she heard His familiar voice. Many times He spoke to her even when she could not see Him.
Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.
Her heart comforted, she gathered herself up and, placing the precious stone carefully in her pocket, made her way back to her car. The table cloth could wait. She had more important things to do now.
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 1 Peter 5:4
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life,which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day;and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8
You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,And a royal diadem in the hand of your God. Isaiah 62:3
I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one take your crown. Revelation 3:11
Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. James 1:17