The mail comes, and within the usual bills, offers for vinyl siding, and credit cards are three items from the corners of the world. A case for Bunny's new phone from China, a postcard from one of her friends who is in South Africa, and a new picture of "Mookie," our sponsored child from Compassion who lives in Rwanda. I'm just blown away how the world has shrunk within my lifetime.
Growing up, we wandered our "neighborhood" which was all those acres and acres that surrounded us. My brother and I went so far deep into the woods that I doubt as a grown adult I'd dare to do today without sufficient firepower and secure mobile phone access. We never felt scared - only the thrill of discovery.
Seems ironic that kids can't go out of sight today in their own neighborhoods, but we can connect with the world so easily.
Few years ago at New Hope, we were focused on "Doing Something" for people overseas. And we did! We helped drill wells, provide clean water, medicines, shoes, baby formula and whatever else we could think of.. We promoted the sponsorship of kids like Mookie and many of us responded.
It was all good. And we still do some of those things today. To know that people across the world are alive and well because of what you and your friends did together with God is an awesome feeling.
Then we focused more on where we live and tried to help kids with back to school items, participate in raising money for the Relay for Life, helping people with needs here, and cooking and delivering meals to people in need in our little town. We've given thousands of dollars away doing that and helped a lot of local people. And we've been blessed to see God at work.
It's a small world.
And it needs to get smaller. I need more and deeper connections with the people in my life, and I need to see the same come to fruition as part of what New Hope is and is to be. We're not "sticky" enough.
Now following this warning is an authentic flaw in my character. I know, some people believe that pastors should be above all that stuff - past it - so mature it doesn't affect them. Well, I have been working on this and praying for help with it since I have become a Christian. God hasn't seen fit to remove it from me. Maybe it's to keep me praying. Maybe it's my "thorn." All I know is that it's real, and I wish it wasn't. So you've been warned.
Here's a problem. I am a certified unsocial person. Every personality test any of the sales organizations I worked for gave me returned results like INTJ (Myers-Briggs) which is interpreted in part to mean that an individual like that:
INTJs spend a lot of time inside their own minds, and may have little interest in the other people's thoughts or feelings. Unless their Feeling side is developed, they may have problems giving other people the level of intimacy that is needed.
So God called me to be a pastor and before that I was in sales. Yep. What a sense of humor He has.
I've struggled trying to step out of that and can do pretty well at it some/most of the time. But there's always a tendency to "button up." And I do have trouble remembering to make connections and keep them alive - two things that my wife Bunny does as easily as breathing. I need her to remind me, and then I have to actually act. It's not natural for me, but it is something I know matters and I try to push past my reluctance and reach out. But it does hurt my effectiveness and there may be people I know or have known and loved for who they are that don't know that because of it.
Again, I am praying my way through it, working on it, and accepting the help of others with gratitude. (Except when I don't - ask Bunny about that)
Pray for me, that I would be, and help others to be "glue" to cement relationships and help individuals become friends and family. I do love the people God has surrounded me with. Lord help me to show it better. I have to believe that there are others out there like me - who want to be "salt, light, and sugar."