I finished my run this morning, and had time, according to our normal daily routine, to catch a solid half hour of reading before the rest of the house would awaken. Standing at the refrigerator, drawing cold water from the dispenser in the door, I was suddenly aware of a person staring at me. I had heard NOTHING.
Thankfully, it was Eliza, our nearly 3 year old daughter. She recently graduated to a ”big girl bed.” She had not, prior to this morning, gotten up and out of bed on her own. Today, though, she got out of bed and came downstairs in near darkness. Apparently, the intent was to scare the _____ out of me.
I maintained a game face, and fairly quickly and smoothly moved into being proud of Eliza for growing up so much to get herself up and come downstairs.
Then I realized that, perhaps, the days of going and getting her out of bed have passed. I looked forward to that!
Children grow up. Sometimes it happens in small steps, sometimes in bigger steps. The goal for parents, at its most basic, is to get them grown up and on their own.
I began to wonder this morning what it means to be “on one’s own.” Is this what we mean by the word “independent”? If so, how independent do I hope she is someday? And when?
Does independent mean I never hear from her again?
I read somewhere recently that if we really did not like change, no one would ever have children. I suppose there is some truth to that. I remain convinced that the change we (usually) have the most difficulty with is the change that comes without warning and not from our own decisions.
He: I was stupid.
She: we’ve all been there.
The discussion was this simple, this straightforward, this honest. He was looking for someplace to get some community service hours for a pending legal issue. She represented one of those potential “someplaces;” in this case, a church.
I have been serving in churches for nearly a quarter century now. I have lost several colleagues to sexual impropriety. Some of these colleagues have also been good friends.
(About none of them do I know the whole story. In general, it is none of my business. In reality, a “community” that covers up and sanitizes its challenges is no community at all.)
I do not like losing good friends, ministry colleagues! I do not feel at all good about people going from being in ministry one day to persona non grata the next. As often as not, such persons are perceived to be doing effective ministry, right up to the fall.
Here’s where I take us back to the little dialogue that opened this post.
We have all been there.
Ok; maybe you have not been across the line that divides legal from illegal, moral from immoral. At least not to the extent that you are required to do community service, or prison time, or even, overnight becoming unwelcome in a place you once lead.
But you have been close enough to see that line, haven’t you?
I know I have. Sometimes that I have gotten close to that line I was “scared straight.’ The times that most concern me, though, are the times that I felt so good, cocky, and full of myself that I just knew I could toe the line, perhaps even cross it, and it would make no difference.
I have been there, and you have too. If you tell me, or yourself that you haven’t, that you couldn’t, you might just be closer to that line right now than you ought to be.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray,one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
-Luke 18:9-14 (Common English Bible)
So said someone just walking into the meeting room in our office building. ”Mission Control” takes me back to childhood and watching the moon landings.
I was told recently that today’s typical low-cost digital wristwatch contains more computing power than all of the computers that took the Apollo vessels (successfully) to the moon and back.
The ‘Mission Control’ in our meeting room is a collection of our Food Pantry volunteers learning the new computerized system that Tarrant Area Food Bank has brought on board.
Most of our Food Pantry volunteers have not spent most of their years in the computer age. I think it is fair to say that some of them have very little familiarity with computers beyond email.
Instead of lamenting some other generation’s resistance to technology, I want to applaud the willingness of these volunteers to step out of their comfort zones. For some of them, this is WAY out of their comfort zones.
I enjoy technology. I realize I am not on the cutting edge, but I am closer to being an early adopter than a laggard. Today I am challenged to be aware of other areas of life that I may be less flexible.
As I identify them, I hope I can learn something from the flexibility of our Food Pantry volunteers. Thank you for teaching me something today!
There are many words that are used broadly within concern for shared meaning, and I think wisdom is one of them. So I decided to ask what “wisdom” was.
I don’t remember the definitions given, but everyone was on the same page, or at least adjacent pages. Until, that is, I asked how one acquires or attains (I think I actually used the word “gets”) wisdom.
Everyone in the conversation except me expressed some version of this: wisdom comes with age.
Full disclosure: I fully believe that I am wiser now than I was when I was younger. But I am observant enough also to claim that not everyone my age (or older) is necessarily wise. Let’s face it, adults: we are not wise just because we have lived to the age we now are. We still react out of selfishness, pride, greed, insecurity, etc. from time to time.
The real point I hoped to make with those young people, though, was NOT that older people are not wise by virtue of being older. No; the real point I wanted them to grasp (at least a little) was that they, as young people, had access to wisdom as much as anyone.
Christian Youth love to cite 1 Timothy 4:12 which says “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example….”
In that conversation, it was the Christian youth who were looking down on themselves.
Young people: we need the wisdom that you have to offer.
We are, I believe, all in this together.
One of the clear, specific memories I have from seminary was this bit of wisdom: If you don’t know what to say, please don’t force words. I wanted to place quotes around that, but I am afraid I haven’t captured the exact words with which Dr. Don Joy shared that wisdom.
The point being, of course, that sometimes, in the presence of great pain and suffering, forcing words fails to support or encourage. Forcing words may indeed have the opposite affect; we have no business telling someone that “it will make sense some day,” or that “God meant for this to happen to you,” or any of the numerous other trite phrases that spew out of our mouths when we force ourselves to put words where there are none.
Sometimes silence and presence is the best message we can offer another.
This is a week that we all want to offer words. The Boston Marathon bombing. The explosion in West. Events that have shaken, for many literally, the peace that we want to associate with day-to-day life.
Many, many people are on the ground offering help in both these places. Many more are on high alert to be called upon at a moments notice. Still many more are praying.
I should have expected this as West, Texas is not far from me, and even closer to Waco, where I spent the last 15 years before moving here in June. When I checked my newsfeed on Facebook, almost all of the posts offered words of hope, reassurance, or promises of prayers for West. Most of the same people have posted similarly about Boston.
The temptation for me was to get into the fray and offer the same, or very similar words. Would anyone infer from my NOT having so posted that I am apathetic towards either of these recent tragedies?
Don’t read this as opposition to social media; I would not be so obviously hypocritical. I am, however, left wondering if the proliferation of social media these days leaves less space in which saying nothing can be received as support and encouragement.
1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory.” (CEB)
Would it help you stay focused on what you do if you thought of it all as bringing God glory?
We had this discussion last night in a youth gathering. We are reading through Do Hard Things by Alex Harris and Brett Harris. One of the questions in the study guide brought up 1 Cor 10:31 and asked if keeping this verse in mind would help accomplish difficult things.
The answer, of course, is supposed to be “yes.” Glorifying God ought to be motivation that keeps us focused and on task, right?
But is it?
I wonder – and wondered aloud during our discussion last night – if glorifying oneself offers more or less, better or worse motivation than glorifying God.
It is not nearly so simple as this. I know I often have mixed motivations; I assume you do, too. For instance, most of us preachers reason that if we could only preach to more people, more people would then be brought into relationship with God. We may take this to some length of self-glorification, though we can clearly (and loudly) articulate that our motivation is to reach more people for Jesus.
Who’s glory am I after? My own, or God’s? How about you?
Perhaps we could all learn a bit here from John the Baptist, who famously said of his cousin Jesus that “he must increase, and I must decrease.”
Yet we have ways to pervert even that! I remember once when I was in college I was trying to decrease so that Jesus might increase: someone had paid me a genuine compliment. I immediately deflected the comment, insisting that God get the glory.
I was strongly though gently encouraged to accept the compliment, and reminded that God wouldn’t be offended – that God had made me and gifted me and was indeed pleased with my exercise of such gifts.