I met Cornelius in a chapel in the North Carolina mountains.
Cornelius is who I hope to be one day.
Let me tell you exactly how we crossed paths.
This year for our 15th anniversary WK and headed to the Blue Ridge Mountains. We had the “honeymoon” that we only could have dreamed of when we stayed in that condo in Hawaii.
We did all kinds of things and, after over a year of running off my feet, I relaxed.
For a whole week I enjoyed the days, the luxury, and the company. I inhaled deeply the grace and extravagance of God and my husband, and exhaled the feelings of unworthiness and idleness.
We hiked trails to see waterfalls. We toured our historical hotel. We drove in the rain for part of Blue Ridge parkway as the steam from the rain filled the valley. We drove with our (rented) top down through the tallest trees this Oklahoma girl has ever seen.
We explored the grounds of the Biltmore Estate thanks to a long time family friend’s generosity. We had several extra courses the night of our anniversary because another friend’s cousin owned a fabulous restaurant. We had cocktail hour (that I called “snackers” because I ain’t a cocktail girl) and spa time at our hotel each night.
I was in heaven.
But it was on the day that we went to the Billy Graham Conference Center that I met Cornelius.
The Cove in the Blue Ridge Mountains holds about 1200 acres used by Billy Graham as personal retreat and training for Christians across the nation.
We were touring the chapel there and met several volunteers along the way. They were all very knowledgable and helpful. As we went into the main chapel area that had a pulpit transplanted there that was hundreds of years old (complete with it’s original candelabra for evening sermons), Barbara and Cornelius met us to tell of the place.
They took their time telling us all about the influence Ruth Graham had on the design and construction of the chapel.
They were a sweet couple, but here’s what will always stick out to me.
Cornelius hobbled along with the aid of a walker. His body was extremely frail. He drooled a little when he talked.
Now… Why on earth would I want to be like that?
Because his eyes lit up when he talked (ok, yelled… he was pretty deaf too) about Jesus. His step seemed lighter as he quoted Ruth and Billy’s favorite verses respectively.
He reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:16 when Paul says, “Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
Longevity runs in my family. By the time my race is run, I may find myself watching my outer body waste away.
But here is what I pray. I pray that my unstable legs will still follow Jesus. I pray that my eyes still light up when they see his work. I pray that my drooling mouth keeps speaking his praise.
I refuse to ask God for less than more of him when then there is less off me.
One day soon Cornelius will see Jesus face to face. He will stand straighter than he did as a boy. He will run faster than he has in years. He will have a new body, but he will have the same Jesus.
Until then I pray that both Cornelius and I grow closer to the only One who gives drooling lips the ability to praise.