I know. Those of you who know the three Higle kids can look at this picture and agree that the picture portrays us perfectly. My sister, the trendy one, with the feathered hair, heels, and lady-like stance. If I were to bet she is thinking about all the cute boys she is about to meet at our new church.
My brother, with the freshly trimmed hair that I am sure my mom had just cut the night before. I mean doesn’t he just look like he is planning something adventurous in his mind, and I wonder if that morning there had been World War 3 to get him to tuck in his shirt and wear socks to church.
And then there is the precious one in the middle wearing the adorable hand sewn Easter dress made by the hands of my beloved grandmother, Ma-Ma. Take a closer look. Look beyond the cuteness of my foam roller curled hair accessorized with ribbons. Is the discomfort as obvious to you as it is to me? Look at that expression. Look at that stance. I am certain that in my mind I am thinking, I cannot wait to get off these uncomfortable tights and this dress and win the egg hunt this afternoon.
This picture is much more than an ordinary family Easter picture. It is like a monument to me.
Thirty years ago this Easter, my parents followed the Lord’s direction to uproot their young family of five and move to a small, rural central Oklahoma town, Marietta. This picture was taken on that monumental Sunday. When I saw it this week for the first time in years, I think I likely had the same emotions that the children of Abraham would have had if they had seen pictures of themselves taken along their family’s journey from Ur to the land God promised them in Canaan.
At the time of this picture, my parents were in their thirties and had been married and ministering together for 13 years in small town churches.
Someday I want to put the story of their lives in writing. I have asked my dad several times if he would let me write his biography. The humble author who has self-published and sold over a million books to churches all over the world, always replies, “No one would want to read that book.”
Believe me; he has a story that would encourage any believer who feels that they are too ‘ordinary’ for God to use them to reach the world for His kingdom.
A few months back I really wanted to plan a special service to celebrate the 30 years of ministry of my parents in Marietta. I just know in my heart that if I got the word out to all those who have ever lived in that tiny community of just over 2000 people who have been impacted by the ministry of Tommy and Virginia Higle that the town could not hold all who would want to be there to honor them.
And if we included all the people around the world who have been encouraged by the writing and work they do through the Journey Series ….well the only venue within driving distance that could possibly come close to holding all the people would be the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
However, if you know my dad….a special service like that would really not be his thing.
Instead, I know the greatest gift I can give my parents this very special 30th anniversary Easter weekend, is my absence.
I know they would both love to see their beautiful grandchildren’s faces in the crowd this Sunday in Marietta as my mom sings in the choir and my dad preaches. I am sure it would thrill them to have my family of four sitting around the big table to enjoy the weekly home cooked Sunday lunch my mom always prepares.
But…we won’t be there. Though I know that mom and dad will miss us, I know that they are proud of what Joe and I and the kids will be doing this Easter Sunday and that they are more than willing to sacrifice in order for us to follow God’s call on our lives.
Six weeks ago, my church asked me if I would consider being a part of the staff of their first satellite campus. Though it was a huge honor, I spent many days praying, fasting, and seeking the wisdom of trusted mentors and friends.
The first phone call was to my Dad. I honestly knew what he would say before we talked. But with every one of my major life’s decisions, I call my Daddy to get the reassurance that I am making the right choice and hearing the voice of the Lord correctly. “Holly, it is an incredible ministry opportunity. I think you should do it. You will be great at it. I am so proud of you.”
After another week or so of searching the Bible for wisdom and praying with Joe, I concluded that indeed my Dad was once again directing me in my life to take a huge faith step for the sake of the Kingdom.
I am writing this through tears. The tears are partly because my heart longs to be home this weekend. …home being Marietta’s First Baptist Church where they will be celebrating 30 years of my Dad being their pastor. Some of the tears are because I am humbled that God chose me to have parents who though they made many mistakes and got discouraged along the way, chose to “press on for the prize” that is promised to those who remain faithful.
Because of their example, I have claimed Philippians 3:11-14 as my life’s passage.
10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
And if I am honest, some of the tears are because I am exhausted and am battling the thought, “how will I ever get done all that I need to do before people walk through the doors of our new church this Easter Sunday morning.”
But then I look at the picture above. I am sure the week before that first Sunday at Marietta, my dad did not sleep a wink as his first sermon notes raced through his head. I am sure that my mom’s heart longed to be with her mom and the rest of her family in Caddo, Oklahoma where she grew up.
This Sunday, I pray that I will remember the camera as I race out the door to put the finishing touches on the pipe and drape classrooms we will set up today for all the children of the families that come to worship with us this Sunday at The Church at Midtown.
Thirty years from now, I pray that if my kids are not able to come home to worship with Joe and I on Easter Sunday that it will be because they have followed the precious voice of their Lord to do something huge for the sake of His kingdom that will bring salvation to the lost souls of the world.
I hope they will look at a picture from Easter Sunday 2012 and be reminded to press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.