I had been working every day, leaving before the kids woke up and getting home after they were asleep, for weeks. My son who was 4 or 5 at the time was really missing me, which is probably why the sound of the door opening woke him up. He ran to me and said, “Can you play with me, daddy?” I tried to explain how busy work was, but he kept asking. This moment has burned itself into my memory because of his sagging shoulders, his face looking to the ground, his hushed voice and his words, “Ok, see you tomorrow morning.”
Once the New Year’s Eve service had ended I began tidying, locking doors, and turning off lights as quickly as I could. Michelle (pre-wife Michelle… actually, pre-fiancee Michelle) chose to spend the night with a group of her friends while I helped to lead the church service. I don’t remember that service, but I do remember how focused I was on seeing her later (another attempt to get her to notice that I existed). I didn’t have a car, so I walked for about 2 hours (note: it was all uphill, against the wind, in snow higher than my head, in complete darkness, while fighting off polar bears… you get the point) fighting the storm, and yet barely flinching because my heart was set on the prize before me.
Last spring, as the weather began to turn warmer I followed my kids’ leading to the garage where our pool and our tent trailer was stored over winter. Looking back, it was an awesome Saturday as we set up our backyard for summer fun and set up the tent trailer to start dreaming about our travel plans. As I look out my window right now and see the snow lingering on the ground I’m really missing warmer days. However, a day like that always reveals more work than anticipated. As I stood looking into what was left in my garage I began asking myself, “What is worth keeping and what is worth throwing away?” I guess that’s a typical Spring cleaning question – a question I’m looking forward to asking myself again in a few months. And, it’s a great question to ask ourselves often in order to move toward a cleaner spirituality.
It was a really cold, winter day. Icicles hung from the bottoms of the cars driving up to our bay doors for an oil change. I wore thin overalls with the company’s logo (nice and big for all to see), absolutely not allowed to wear a coat (because it would hide the logo). So, there I was, freezing as the wind easily blew through my work clothes, moving from car to car filling out work orders before they enter the small shop. While I’m standing there, teeth chattering, fingers barely able to hold the pencil that I’m using while I hold a metal clipboard, I spot my boss sitting in his car, engine running, across the parking lot keeping an eye on me ensuring I’m doing my job well (and not wearing a coat, which he expressively forbade).
Waking up, I turn to the table beside my bed to grab my iPad. I open my email app, then check on my website, and then check on FaceBook. Looks like a normal start to a Canadian morning, and I haven’t gotten out of bed yet. Honestly, allowing the pressures of the day (or the drama of the social internet) to set my mood is a horrible way for me to start my day. There is something that I must give attention to, it must be the first voice I hear, and it must hold my absolute respect, or I can lose absolutely everything. I absolutely need to engage the Bible first, and so do you.
I walked out of my grade 10 math exam with a big smile on my face because I felt that had just aced a midterm without studying at all. A week later, after I had received my mark, I walked out of class very slowly and dejected because I had discovered that my confidence was sorely misplaced. My grade 10 math test required more than what I was putting into it. I’ve made the same mistake with my Christianity from time to time. God is eternally gracious and never stops calling us, but I’m finite and I reap the consequences of my choices. Christianity begins with God’s expensive gift of mercy, and it is embraced with our expensive gift of personal engagement. So, what does that look like? How Hard Is It To Be A Christian?
It’s hard to read many of the stories in the Old Testament. One moment I read about awesome miracles like the plagues and the parting of the sea, then the next moment I read about people denying God’s existence. Those stories are not just historical, and about other people, they’re about today and they’re about me (and you). God is awesome, but we tend not to treat Him as awesome. God wants personal engagement, but we tend to give Him something less than personal. That’s a big deal because it leads toward disconnecting from God, and disconnecting from His benefits.
With four kids and a Honey-Do List the one thing that gets most of my attention is my lack of focus. There are so many things that I’d really love to get done. They’re good things, too, not frivolous or self-gratifying. But, I find that I am torn in so many directions, and they all seem to be really important. Distraction is the focus. So, what is there to do about it?
In my fifth year of high school (anyone remember the OAC year?), since I knew I was headed to Tyndale, I had planned to do a co-op at my church. Unfortunately, my friend went a semester before I was to start. The pastor often found him sleeping in a Sunday school room or storage closet. The church’s experience was so negative that they cancelled my co-op. The job required more work than my friend was willing to put into it. Heads up, Christianity requires a lot of work, too. Since only Jesus can connect us to God we better be sure that we’re doing all we can to stay connected to Jesus, because it’s more than a cancelled co-op that’s at risk.
I have no idea why I let my friends talk me into going to the States for a shopping trip. I hate shopping trips. But, they were my friends and I was about 19 with time to kill. After we crossed the boarder we stopped referring to the map because we got caught up in actually being in the States for the first time on our own. I didn’t realize how quickly a small thing like drifting off course could become so virulent until I stopped for gas and found myself in the middle of a shoot out. As bullets were flying and gunshots were coming from multiple directions I immediately understood – drifting can be deadly. That’s precisely why we need to give the Gospel Priority.