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Our Last Spiritual Will and Testament

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The Bible says that “you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.”[1] None of us are guaranteed another day on earth. Therefore, your mother and I thought it wise to write down what we hold dear, in hopes of passing it on to you before the Lord takes us home. Our possessions will one day be distributed with a legal instrument, but this matters much more. This is the treasure that was passed down to us, which we now pass to down to you.

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We give you grace and kindness.

Your great-grandfather Clark never turned down a chance to be hospitable to strangers.[2] When he had a dinner at his home, he invited the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.[3] Your great-grandfather Dan was a kind, gentle and tender-hearted man.[4] He gave to everyone who asked of him, and if anyone took something from him, he did not demand it back.[5] I never once heard him complain about personal hardships. Ever. You have seen how your Papa would put everything else aside to help us with household repairs, because he counts others more significant than himself.[6] And your Nannie has often had occasion to discipline you with harsh words, which you deserved, but has instead offered you the teaching of kindness,[7] grace upon grace.[8]

Your great-grandfather Clark would always ask, whenever someone told him about a new church, “Do they preach grace there?” Every other religion or philosophy teaches what we can do, but grace is not about that. It is a gift from God,[9] purchased by the precious blood of Christ.[10] And if we draw near to the throne of grace, God gives it in our time of need.[11] He has an inexhaustible supply.

Grow in grace, boys. Be kind to retail workers. At a restaurant, ask the server how you can pray for them before you eat. Listen patiently to lonely people on airplanes who tell you their sorrows. Give a word of encouragement to our friends on the street, and then give liberally from your wallet as the Lord allows. Be gracious to sojourners, to ugly people, to those living with disabilities, to orphans, and to the lost. For so we were, until the Lord offered us the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness.[12]

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We give you the Book.

Like our ancestors, we are People of the Book. Oh, certainly there are plenty of books laying around our homes. How often have you seen your Pops reading Lonesome Dove or a Jack Higgins novel? Or Marmie reading The Giver or To Kill a Mockingbird, again. Or Nannie and your mother with their detective novels. Or me with a C.S. Lewis book! It’s been our greatest privilege to share our love of books with you. We have treasured reading Narnia and Harry Potter and Llama Llama and Elephant and Piggie with you. We were reading books to you when you were still in momma’s belly and in your tiny cribs. Someday we hope you’ll return the favor and read to us while we lay in our deathbeds, ending our days as we began yours.

Some books mean one thing to us when we are a certain age, and something different as we grow older. The Horse and His Boy, for instance, meant one thing to me as a child running up the hills behind the cabin, leaving New Mexico behind for Narnia, and another thing to me as a father reading about Shasta’s encounter on the road with Aslan, realizing that the One Lion had always been at my side, praying He would always be at yours.

But there is one Book that is different from all others. It is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, equipping us for every good work.[13] It is alive! Nothing else cuts like this book.[14] It revives our souls and makes wise the simple.[15] Only this book can illuminate your path[16] and encourage you with the hope that never fades.[17] I don’t know if we’ll be reading The Horse and His Boy or Lonesome Dove for the rest of eternity, but we will be meditating on this book forever and ever, for it is from the very mouth of our Lord.[18]

Begin and end your days by meditating on it.[19] Begin and end your decisions by consulting it. Sow it deep into your heart and take every thought captive to it. Speak it to your spouses, children, colleagues, and strangers. Discover the delights God has stored up for you in studying it. And then obey it. We have never regretted obeying God’s Word.

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We give you joy.

Every Thanksgiving we watch a movie called Plains, Trains, and Automobiles. In one scene, Del tells Neal, who’s been having a rough trip home, “Go with the flow, like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream.” Del laughs as he says it. We find out later that Del is homeless and a widower. But with a twinkle in his eye, he says, “Go with the flow.”

Your Marmie and Pops have taught us to do just that. When life hands the Morelands hardships, we shake our heads, laugh, and say, as Pappas Foreman did, “Mercy.” We earnestly seek joy in sorrow. Sometimes it takes a while to locate, but we know it’s buried in there somewhere. We are confident that He who began a good work in us will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.[20] We believe that God knows what we want better than we do. We believe, as our friend Cory says, that God paints on a bigger canvas than we can imagine. That doesn’t mean we sit by when others are suffering or that our actions don’t matter. You both have a marrow-deep hatred of injustice, as you should.

No, we’re talking about the kind of steadfast courage that allowed Dr. King to hew out of mountains of despair stones of hope. The kind of unshakeable peace that allowed Paul, chained to the wall in a freezing Roman prison awaiting execution, to say to Timothy, with a twinkle in his eye, “Suffer hardship with me.”[21] The abiding presence that says, “Trust Me one more time, child.” The kind of ceaseless devotion to our family, to our calling, and above all to our Lord, that allows us to rejoice, for the Lord is near![22]

Go with the flow, boys, like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream. I know you still have questions about why Will has Down syndrome, or what careers and places you two will settle into. We don’t know the answers to those questions either. We are acquainted with sorrow. But when those times come – when it comes down to the mortgage or the tithe, when you’re at the ER in the middle of the night, when William spits in your face or when Samuel ignores your request to jump on the trampoline, when you’re losing at cards or at life – shake your head, laugh, and say with a twinkle in your eye, “Mercy.” For “a cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our Great Captain inside.”[23] And so, we rejoice, evermore!

***

Boys, before you were born, He formed your inward parts. He wove you in your mother’s womb. We give thanks to Him, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made. His works are wonderful, and we know this very well.[24] We pray that where we go, you will go also, just as our Lord prayed for us.[25] May the Lord stand with you and strengthen you. May he fully accomplish His will in you. May he rescue you from every evil deed, so that all might hear of His works and glorify Him. And may he bring you safely home to His heavenly kingdom.[26]

Grace, kindness, illumination, and joy be with you always.

 

In the love of our Lord,

Mom and Dad

 

[1] James 4:14

[2] Hebrews 13:2

[3] Luke 14:13

[4] Ephesians 4:32

[5] Luke 6:30

[6] Philippians 2:3

[7] Proverbs 31:27

[8] John 1:16

[9] Ephesians 2:8

[10] Acts 20:28

[11] Hebrews 4:16

[12] Ephesians 2:7

[13] 2 Timothy 3:16

[14] Hebrews 4:12

[15] Psalm 19:7

[16] Psalm 119:105

[17] Romans 15:4

[18] Isaiah 55:11

[19] Joshua 1:8

[20] Philippians 1:6

[21] 2 Timothy 2:3

[22] Philippians 4:5

[23] C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” p. 9.

[24] Psalm 139:13-14

[25] John 17:24

[26] 2 Timothy 4:17-18

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