A MEMORY REMINDING ME I KNOW HIM
By Rev. Dr. Teresa Allissa Citro
Founder and President of Thread of Hope
“Thus says the Lord: 'Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.'” -Jeremiah 9:23-24
This past week, God brought a memory to my mind. It’s a wonderful memory of someone I loved dearly, my cousin Tony. I try hard not to think about him because I can’t without crying, but this memory was so powerful how God used it to show me something very important about our relationship to the Lord. I feel to share it with you.
Tony was a lot older than me. I looked up to him. He was like another dad to me. He being the eldest of all the cousins was honored and respected. He and I shared the same thoughts and same personality. However, if I stepped out of line, my Mom would threaten to tell "Tonino' as she called him. That was a huge warning to me, "First your cousin and next your father." Why my dad second and not first you might ask? Because Tony would talk me back into my senses. My dad would have slapped me back to my senses. This not our way here, but not in Italy! Parents from the older generations let their hands speak. This was a good threat that my Mom used.
Tony would then address me. Papare (Italian for little duckling) caraca (Italian for sweetheart) “what are you thinking?” He would ask. I would cry immediately out of embarrassment and he lovingly hugged me until I was all better. He and I shared a very close bond. So much so, he was the one in my room helping me get dressed on my wedding day. He buttoned 300 buttons on my wedding gown, and another 100 on my sleeves. I’ll not share how annoyed he was by all those buttons. He died in a terrible car accident when Justin was born. He never met my baby. He so wanted to meet him. He stood by me when I announced his birth and there were complications. He told me to trust God. I cried, and he showed strength and unwavering faith in God. I called him second to my parents. Justin was born one day before his birthday. “Tony, I have the best birthday for you. Come meet the newest family member.” Unfortunately, he died before he could get to the hospital. In his death, my life changed forever.
Tony knew every single thing about me. He knew when I was angry, happy, annoyed, sad, whatever. He knew me, and I knew him. We didn’t need to say one word. Our faces told the other everything. We could start laughing knowing what the other was thinking. In addition, we were free to tell each other exactly what we thought. For instance, like one girlfriend of his he was with that the time; my threat to him was, “If you marry that woman, I’ll not come to the wedding, and I will never speak to you again.” One day, I got mad at him during a phone conversation. I said a very terrible thing to him and hung up on him. Tony must have driven 100 miles per hour. The doorbell rang and he was standing in front of the door. In minutes! Boy, was I scared as he stood there Red faced from anger, loud voice, “Listen up crapa (Italian for goat, meaning your stubbornness ends here), I wiped your behind when you were a baby, and now I’ll kick it if you ever dare to hang up on me again. Capisci (Italian for understand). Then he quickly picked me up, big beautiful smile, swirled me around in the air, and told me how much he loved me, and there was nothing he wouldn’t do for me. Very powerful words. I knew he meant them. He always said that to me. So powerful that I called the funeral home and asked to see his body alone. I didn’t want to be with the rest of the family. I walked in the funeral home, approached the coffin, and screamed at him. “You promised me! You promised me that there wasn’t anything you wouldn’t do for me. You left me. You left me. How could you? Why didn’t you fight to live? I need you, please wake up.” I know, dramatic, but people in deep pain say strange things. All this to say how well we knew each other.
One Halloween, I knew he would be opening up the door to kids. I decided to play with him. I bought new clothes, new shoes, put on gloves, went to his door, put a sheet over my entire body, holding a sign, “I am a figment of your imagination,” rang the doorbell, and stood there. He burst out laughing. I stayed there perfectly still. He immediately, said, “Cuz, this is very creative of you, crapa!” I whipped that sheet off me, “Oh, come on! How did you know it was me? I don’t understand? Who told you?”
Tony looked at me with all seriousness, “Really, cuz? I know you inside out. I know everything about you.” He said it with such pride. “I’m mad. I put a lot of time thinking about surprising you. I don’t understand. I bought new everything, the sign is printed from a computer. It’s impossible. How did you know me? I’m covered from head to toe.” His answer was simple. “Yes, you’re completely covered for a change,(everyone is a comedian) but your toes are not covered. I recognized your toes.” I said, “Seriously? My toes? They’re just toes.” “No they’re not just toes. They’re your toes. I know your belli (beautiful) toes,” he replied. However, the point was that he knew me that well. He didn’t have to see my face; he didn’t need to figure my body type. I had stuffed a pillow underneath the sheet, changing my body shape, but my toes weren’t covered, and he knew it was me.
God reminded me that is how we need to know Him. He already knows us; that’s not an issue at all. However, do we know Him this intimately? Can we boast in the only one thing we can boast on? Can we brag and gloat proudly about how we know Him? Can we proudly show off in a very boastful manner that we know Him?
Do we know His great character which never fails, never gives up, and never leaves nor forsakes us? He loves unconditionally, when rebuking us and while building us up, reminding us that we can go on when horrible things happen, making sure that we don’t break under the strain of it all, fighting and settling all records straight on our behalf, protecting us from all harm and evil, preparing a way out when there seems there isn’t one, bringing about what we have been waiting for because He is the Promise Keeper and Way Maker. He is bringing about good and no harm, watching over us like a mother duck watches over her ducklings, covering us under the shadow of His wing. Our God is righteous, noble, and honorable.
He is a God of justice, integrity, honesty, and fairness. This is His character. We can count and stand on who He is.
Do you know what His practice is? Let me share some of them. He governs more than just good. He governs perfectly! He has a genius mindset. He puts in place exemplary, proper, moral, reliable, competent, and useful rules in place for us to observe and follow, all the while protecting us by His standards and rules. They are proper and well thought out practices. They are perfect, best, and excellent because He is the epitome of perfection and excellence.
You see, last week I asked God a question. Immediately, God gave me the answer. I have been mediating on all of this in the past seven days.
This morning, after prayer, He told me, “It’s time you write. I have a message. Pen it.” As I was writing this, He gently reminded me of the many things He is. There are not enough words in any language to describe Him fully.
His answer to me ended with this. “Your cousin knew well even just by your toes, but I knew you before you were created. I knew you in your mother’s womb. I knew who you would be, who you are, and who you will end up being. All your days are ordained by me. I have prepared you to accomplish great purposes and plans that are yes and amen. It is to bring you into a great future all preplanned by me. Therefore, all of them shall come to pass, not one shall fall by the way side. No hand can stop what I have preordained. And by the way, the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to me then anything.”
My wonderful friends, can you boast that you know God? Can you shout it out, loud and clear? I believe that this word that He gave me is applicable to all those who acknowledge Him to be the God of the Universe, yet still our own personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you don’t already know Him, get to know Him more and more. Let go of everything and anything and go hard after Him. He proves to be worthy and faithful. He is tried and true. I boast proudly, I know Him. I know Him, and I love Him.