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  • Shawn Thornton

A Life That Points to Jesus

Monday - April 20th

Today's Scripture to Read: Matthew 5:14-16


Who has been the most influential person in your spiritual life? A friend? A co-worker? A pastor? A neighbor? A relative? Who is it that, when you think of them, you think of an example of someone who walks with the Lord, and the more they do, the more you see Jesus in them?


During His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear that as His followers, we are to be a light in this world of darkness. Our light is to shine in such a way that our good works and godly example point others to God. Jesus lived out in His life on earth, the very essence of God in human flesh. As God works in our lives, He conforms us to the image of His Son. The more we live and love like Jesus, the more others see Jesus in and through us. They see the light of God. Our Christ-like actions and attitudes point others to Jesus!


My mom pointed me to Jesus from the time I was born. It was with my mom that I accepted Christ as my Savior. As I grew, I saw my mom reading her Bible, praying, studying to teach children in Sunday School, and heard her share kind words of encouragement and love with those others often ignored. 


At each step of my personal and spiritual growth, my mom would be my greatest cheerleader. She celebrated my achievements and downplayed my failures. As I got into pastoral ministry, she listened to tapes of my sermons and kept copies of my notes she had hand written while listening to me preach. My mom was one of the most significant influences on my life. She lived as an example of Jesus.


If you know my childhood story as told in my memoir, All But Normal: Life on Victory Road, you are probably confused. You might be saying to yourself, "Wait, I thought your mom had severe emotional and mental problems due to a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I thought she had emotional and angry outbursts that disrupted your childhood home and everyday life." Maybe you want to ask, "How can a woman who swore at you and threw things at you in emotional tirades be an example of Jesus and be one of the greatest spiritual influences in your life?" 


For many, the idea that someone could have deep issues and uncontrollable outbursts cannot fit with walking with Christ and ever being an example of the Savior. Yes, my mom had a lot of struggles. Every day for her was a battle to survive. Yes, her struggles impacted my emotional development and made home life for my dad, my brother Troy, and me incredibly unstable. But, it did not deter my mom from trying to lean into the Lord and serve Him, however she could.


Most who knew my mom knew her to be a woman of faith. They knew her by her love for even the most marginalized people. Her example of struggling with real problems and yet seeking to know Christ more deeply and serve Him more faithfully blessed many. In all of her brokenness, Beverly Thornton pointed many more people to Jesus than away from Him. Even with some of the baggage I carry from being raised by a mom with a severe, undiagnosed Traumatic Brain Injury, she remains one of the most significant spiritual influences in my life.


I miss her. Twenty years ago yesterday, my mother stepped into the presence of her Lord. She died at the young age of 52. My kids and nephew and niece have very little memory of her. My brother, Troy, and I would love to talk to Mom about what it is like to serve together on the same pastoral team. I would love her to know that my memoir with such a focus on her struggles has impacted lives all around the world. 


There are many things that I miss in not being able to share with her my family, ministry, and life. But, because of her love for Jesus and heart to love people others overlook, she remains a huge part of my ministry and life. God used her, her deep struggles, and her heart for Him to shape a pastor's heart. To shape two pastors' hearts. Her light still shines through us. Her life still points others to Jesus because of her lasting impact on Troy and me.


I miss her, but I also know that twenty years ago, as she left us, she stepped into the presence of the Savior she loved so much. Twenty years ago, she was freed from the shackles of a debilitating Traumatic Brain Injury. One day, I will get to share with her just how much the light of her life pointed me to Jesus. I will let her know how many others found Jesus because of the light of her life shining through her sons.


How about your life? Even with the struggles and burdens you might face today, do others see God in your good works? Is your life pointing people to Jesus?


"In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." -Jesus in Matthew 5:16

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