Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ms. Elle Steals The Show

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winning The Game That Matters

Can I tell you something? I stink at writing lately. I've been "going back into time" on this little web site and reading some of the stuff that God gave me to say a few years ago. I've enjoyed reliving some of those experiences. And then I read what I write today and ... phew. Stink-o. Maybe it's a dry spell. Maybe I've just run out of words. I dunno. I'm struggling. We'll have to see what the future holds. But this little post just has to be written. It isn't very eloquent. It's clumsy and sounds full of braggadocio. I don't mean it that way. I'm sorry about that. Really I am. The words just are not flowing. But it has to be written ...

I've only played in one really BIG ball game in my life. I was on the church softball team back around 1980 and we were playing for the championship of the southern baptist churches in the Chicago area. Last game. Last inning. We were up 7 - 4 over an inner city team. Looked like the suburbs were finally going to rule.

And then our one and only pitcher totally blew apart. The poor guy only had one thumb and it wasn't on his pitching hand. When he started walking people we knew we had to do something but honestly, he's the only guy we had who had thrown a strike all season. We lost the game 8 - 4. That was nearly 30 years ago and it still hurts. It's bad enough to lose a ball game. But to lose "The Mother of All Ball Games" is far worse. We had not lost a game until the championship finals. Then we crashed and burned in a way very reminiscent of most Chicago baseball.

Oh well.

That isn't what I really want to write about anyway. Not even close. You see, that game actually wasn't that big of a deal. Not in the eternal scheme of things. And it's only the eternal things that really counts.

I was on the treadmill at the gym this week when I got a text message from my youngest son. I wasn't setting any record pace so when my cell phone lit up indicating I was being looked for I didn't hesitate to pick it up and read it. It simply read he was leaving his current job and has been hired for a ministry position at his church.

That probably means a whole lot more to me than it does to you. Even those of you who know Christopher well. I mean, I raised him from a pup. And when I got this text I realized that in an extraordinary fashion God has worked a wonder in our family that I not only never dreamed he would work ... but that never even occurred to me that He might want to work. It seems that all three of our kids are now serving in a "career fashion" in ministry. I lost my balance and nearly fell off the tread mill. It isn't pride. It has nothing to do with that. It's ... shock. Brokenness. A deep sense of humble thankfulness. How did this happen? How did God reach in to our little home and move through all of the mistakes that were made by the parents and work this incredible work in the lives of our kids? I mean, all three of them were great infants/preschoolers/kids/teenagers/young adults. But ... all we did was give Him our home and try to stay out of His way. Yes, we prayed for them every day. Usually multiple times each day. We did our best to point them to Jesus and to show them integrity and faithfulness in our spiritual walk. But we just did not do that good a job.

And then the light kicked on in my brain. We really had nothing to do with it. It's God. My parents were good parents but they did not go to great lengths to make certain my brother and I were in church or taking it all too seriously. And yet we both grew up to be youth pastors and then pastors. My mom and dad would be the first to tell you that it was just "a God thing." And now I understand that. It's a God thing.

And yet it brings tears of gratefulness to my eyes. Serving God has been the greatest experience and joy of my life. I am humbled to be able to say that a lot of young men and women that walked through the youth groups God allowed me to lead are in ministry around the country these days. And that means more to me than I can possibly say.

But this. This is just off the charts. This just takes my breath away. I can't over state it. In the "ball games of life" this was the seventh game of the World Series. This was the Super Bowl. And because of God's decision, God's faithfulness, God's kindness .... we won. It's quite odd but I think that I can say if I screw up the rest of life (which I have no intention of doing) I'll be able to live with myself because ... we won our kids. They "get it." Life is about serving. Serving God by serving others. It is about loving your neighbor as you love yourself. It is about loving God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Honestly, all I can do is kneel before my Maker and say, "Thank you." Because we truly did nothing worthy of causing this. But we'll take the win. This was the game that matters