Memories I hide in my heart
I love trips, don’t you? I remember going on many trips with my parents up north when I was small. We did this pilgrimage year after year; always going to the same City of Mackinaw; touring the same 3 cities near by.Every year we stayed at the same bed and breakfast. It seems we had standing reservations at the Bauer residence. We vacationed there from the time I was 7 to 14 years of age. I have two memories of those years.
The Bauer’s were Christians and I was Jewish. The bedroom I slept in for those 2 weeks for 7 years had a picture of a smiling Jesus opposite my pillow. I stared at Him and He smiled at me each night as I fell asleep.
The Bauer’s house was along the shore of the Straits of Mackinaw. Sunday mornings I was awakened early by the sound of Church Bells mixed with the sound of ships passing each other sounding their foghorns. Being there was so comforting and peaceful with the cool breeze coming off the lake through my bedroom window.
Then there are the people who went with me on this pilgrimage, this journey each summer. Uncle Henry. He left Czechoslovakia early in life to come to America. He missed out on the concentration camps; but he served 4 years in the United State Army. He was awarded the Purple Heart for Valor. His sweetheart was going to wait for his return, but married someone else. He was distraught and never let another woman into his heart.
Other than our family he had no one. He lived in a room 10 ft x 12 ft, upstairs in the home of an elderly couple, much like the bed and breakfast at the Bauer’s. He was lonely, bitter and cried easily all the day’s I knew him. He died while at lunch in a Sander’s restaurant. Just had a heart attack…he was gone.
Then there was my Uncle Alex a very proud man. Alex along with his wife Madge and my father and mother stayed too long in Czechoslovakia. They knew in their hearts that the evil of Hitler’s Germany would pass. So they stayed and were taken along with millions of Jews into the camps. Neither you nor I can ever imagine the horrors that met them there for four years.
After the war Uncle Alex and Aunt Madge immigrated to the U.S. Alex always felt the world owed him a living. At the end of his life I went in to visit him in the hospital. He had cancer. I came to him and sat on the bed next to him. He looked at me and broke down and cried like a baby…uncontrollably. He told me how afraid he was to die, that he knew there was nothing out there. No God. That he would no longer exist. He was terrified. I had no words to comfort him. I did not know the Lord at the time, so all I could do was cry with him….it wasn’t enough for him or for me. He died a few months later.
Aunt Madge has continued her life to the time of this writing. She is bordering on 90. She has been a bitter widow for almost 25 years now. God took her husband and she never forgave HIM. She was the one responsible for throwing me out of the family when I came to know Christ and let them all know about my faith.
I would not have believed that a 4’ 10” woman would have so much power. That event was almost 23 years ago. Time has healed much between us. Fifteen years ago I was invited back into the family. I visited with Aunt Madge who hugged me with open arms. I told her it was ok and that I understood why she gave me so much grief. But she was old and didn’t even remember what I was talking about. I tried witnessing to her, but she could not understand what I was saying. Her ability to reason is now gone. She lives in the past in a world were the dead still live in her mind.
My Dad. What can I say? He could have left with his first wife and two kids, but he chose to stay in Czechoslovakia. That choice cost the lives of his wife (my mothers sister) and their two kids (9yr.old Teddy and 11 yr. old Lillian). He lived with that burden the rest of his life. He was an Orthodox Jew who turned too God rather than away from God after the death camps. I am sure he prayed for God to give him strength for each day to go through his personal living hell.
My last memory of him was visiting the hospital the day before he died. He too cried uncontrollably. I asked him what was wrong. He said he felt he was going to leave me soon and that I would be all alone and that broke his heart. He was right. When He died, I have never felt so alone in my life. I spent my whole life trying to live up to the memory of two dead children that had a special place in his heart. I had no idea that there was a special place for me in his heart as well until it was too late.
My Mother, a sweet and loving gentle soul whose entire life after the camps focused on me. She mentioned God a lot to me. She always prayed for me that God would keep me. My father always read his Bible daily. But my mother always praised God out loud before me.
The greatest regret I have carried all these years is when my Dad was in the hospital just having had a heart attack and my mother was near death at the same time in a nursing home. The doctors asked me if I wanted to put a feeding tube into her to keep her alive. I couldn’t ask my Dad, this was my decision alone. I selfishly said yes. She lived another 6 months as one of the living / dead. She could not speak nor move. But her eyes came alive and followed my every move in her room. Her eyes still haunt me to this day.
People, we are all just people with stories to tell. Uncle Henry, Uncle Alex, Aunt Madge, My Father, and My Mother all tried to continue life in their own way as best they could. Each had deep emotional baggage to carry their entire lives. The problem is that they tried to carry their burdens alone without knowing the true God.
Where are they today? I know they are alive because there is life after death. I know where they are as well and that the chasm between us is infinity. We will never be reunited, I will never see them again…its very sad. I think of them often with a broken heart.
How different it would have been for each of them had they rested in the assurance of the Salvation offered by their Messiah who died for their sins on the Cross at Calvary. I have thought often about why God saved me at the age of 38 after the deaths of those dearest to me. To be honest I am not happy about it.
Being older now and understanding their lives, although I did not live their lives, I cannot help but wish I could have introduced them to their Savior. Then I could have offered peace to their trembling hearts as they were near death.Do you have people that you love that need to hear about your Savior? Do you really love them enough to risk everything in your relationship to tell them about Jesus?
A Believers life is a journey to life. A Non Believers life is a journey to eternal death. If you read and understand Gods word and the times we live in and the fact that you only have today, not tomorrow. Then how can you not have compassion for those you know who are lost and the fate they have chosen that awaits them?
There are many regrets in my life represented by words and actions that I would take back if I could go back in time but I cannot.Living with emotional burdens is more than any of us fragile human beings can bear. As they rise up before us, they tend to cripple us. I have learned to give them to the one who came along side me to help me carry them.
But the burden within my soul to share the Gospel is the greatest of all. This burden is the one that I will carry with me all the way to the appointed time in the future when I stand alone before HIM. As He reviews each time He opened a door for me to witness that I did not go through I will shed uncontrollable tears.
Tears that His hands will wipe away, so that final burden will be released. I will enter His Kingdom leaving behind the memories of all those people I loved that never knew Him. For now I am here, and I am constantly reminded that Today is the Day of Salvation. I cannot do anything for those I love that have died without knowing their Savior.
But today is mine….And today is yours…And today belongs to those you love…My prayer is that we use the day for HIM…
As a child of 7 I would impatiently ask my earthly Father during that 6 hour car ride to Mackinaw…”Are we there yet, are we there yet….”
The same is now true of me as an impatient Believer, as I see pre-written history unfold before my eyes exactly as predicted. I watch the road signs fly by faster and faster during my journey home. Each sign announces His Second and Final coming with anticipation to those that know HIM.
The last Words…Gods Words…spoken of in this monumental epic story from the Book of Genesis (the Book of Beginnings) through to the last Book of Revelation (the Book of New Beginnings) are all true; from the first Words “In the beginning GOD” to the last Word “AMEN”.
“He (Jesus) who testifies to these things (the end times revelation of the sequences of prophetic events) says…Surely (there is no doubt) I AM coming quickly”. AMEN (let it be so)
Even so (just as you described), Come (Quickly), Lord (My Sovereign KING) Jesus (HIS name means SALVATION).
Have you been SAVED?