It was a beautiful spring morning in 1961 when I almost lost my life. I was five years old. It was Sunday and we were getting ready for Church. Mama picked out a frilly dress for me but I decided I was not wearing it! I was a true tomboy and hated dresses. I would much rather wear jeans, like my brother. In my attempt to escape I ran out the front door, still in pajamas.
Jerry was two years older and as much as I adored him, he seemed to despise me. I was ’the pest’ who tried to tag along with him everywhere.
As the door slammed behind me I heard Mama exclaim “Jerry, go catch her!” And the game was on!
Squealing with delight I ran as fast as my little legs could carry me across the dew-kissed lawn. I laughingly turned to see how close he was - not realizing I was quickly approaching the street. Jerry was gaining on me somewhat, but had a strange look on his face.
“Stop!” He screamed. Suddenly, I heard the screeching of brakes as my feet left the grass and hit the pavement. Time stood still. I froze when I turned and saw the car coming straight for me. The driver couldn’t stop and I couldn’t move. Somehow my brother grabbed me, pulling me back to safety. He was just in time, only by the grace of God.
That was 47 years ago. Today, Jerry and I are close but haven’t always been. For many years we were caught up in our own families and didn’t stay in touch often. We’re both grandparents now. Mama is sick and old. We’ve finally realized life is short and family is so precious.
We share the same blood. We felt the same brokenness when our parents divorced in 1967. Jerry was the one who comforted me during that devastating time. Then in December 1973 our Dad had a massive heart attack at age 45. Jerry was the one who pried my hands from Daddy’s casket as my body wracked with sobs. He held me so tightly I couldn’t move, whispering “Stop, it‘s gonna be ok” while holding his own pain intact. He was always the strong one, like a rock. And still is - on the outside.
Inside, I think he’s still broken. Sometimes, I see such emptiness in his eyes.
As children we both professed salvation in Christ but in 1973 a lot of things changed. Life happened as it always does and we became disillusioned with God. Daddy was our spiritual lifeline. With him gone, we were lost….or so it seemed.
I’ve now returned to the Lord. I desperately want Jerry to share in the goodness of God’s perfect love with me….to experience the love that sets the captives free! I’m afraid he continues harboring anger at God for disappointments in the past. I know that feeling. I was angry for such a long time. God’s amazing love restored the years the locusts ate for me. I pray He will for my brother too.
Maybe he sees Christianity as a weakness - for people who can’t cope. He’s always been the ‘tough guy,’ strong and so cool…. He sings and plays guitar in a country band on weekends. His deep, velvety voice is awe-inspiring. It’s a talent given to him by his Creator. My heart yearns to hear his voice lifted in praise to Jesus. But his lifestyle now includes a honky-tonk, a six pack every night and a pack Marlboros in his shirt pocket.
Today is his birthday. He’s 54. I woke this morning thinking about him. Again, I prayed for him. I called to wish him happy birthday and tell him how much I love him. Then I told him how much Jesus loves him. He seemed pleased to hear from me until that part of the conversation. Then he was uncomfortable again. He doesn’t like to talk of such things. Again, he said “Sis…..stop.” But I can’t stop on this……
Am I my brother’s keeper? You better believe it! He once saved my life. By showing him the gentle love of Christ, I hope to save his. He’s my only brother…..we share the same blood…..we know the same heartaches. I want to share in the glory of heaven with him someday. As long as I’ve breath I’ll be the keeper of my brother’s soul in prayer to the One with whom his soul ultimately belongs.
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