Friday, November 29, 2013

29,999 hits +1

There was a time, back in the days I was writing more, I used to check my blog's statistics often. I'd write a post and then check to see how many people read it and even where they came from. No, I can't tell exactly WHO reads it, just the general geographic area. Remember, I'm SBC, not NSA. My goal was to try to help people see the love of God reaching out to them in the everyday. So I'd check to see if it was reaching anyone at all.

Last week's sermon, though I suspect everyone else has forgotten it, is still pinging around in my brain. I guess you could say it reached - me. I've having trouble getting past the idea that we have no idea, really, of just how much God loves us. The trigger for that was pretty simple, really. Thinking about all the ways God has shown His love to me, I focused on the beauty of nature around me. My Mother invested in me a love of flowers in general and I've always loved wildflowers for their simple beauty. So as I thought - prayed, really - prayers of thanks to God for His gifts, it came to me.

God created gazillions of wildflowers, most of which few humans will never see. And yet, there they are and as the Bible says "Solomon in all his glory

I'm writing this on Black Friday, where this year's reports rolling in indicate that people are many times willing to suspend the love for neighbor in favor of fighting to get that just right gift for themselves or someone they love. They'll punch, craw, snatch, and grab just so they can prove their love.

In sharp contrast, God IS love.

Everything He does comes directly from His deep, deep love for humanity. 

I wish I could help everyone to see that. This week has been full of moments when His love was so real. Like this one. 

So dear reader, thank you. I'll try to do better at this writing thing which sits in the middle of a crazy busy life.

Monday, November 04, 2013

God never quits reminding us

It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them. It may be that God has the eternal appetite of infancy.
G.K. Chesterton 

One of the things I fight about growing older is the tendency to fail to remember everyday the miracle of life. Every day we take about 20,000 breaths and every single one is a gift. Our eyes, one of the most intricately designed parts of our body, do the amazing work of recognizing, translating, and communicating what's in front of us. Our ears discriminate music from the background noise. Our nose picks up the molecular traces that we call smells. We're able to grip a baseball bat and hold a newborn.

We live in a miracle, AS a miracle. 

So on the way to work, God placed several patches of daisies to remind me. They appear in late September and continue their work until late November, when other flowers take over. Every year I look for them and every year God rewards my search. They are simply beautiful. They drive me to thank God every time I see them for being so good.

You know as tired as we get with it all, I am convinced that God never does. For all the fuss about our needing to get in touch with our inner child, God simply never forgot what it means to love something for what it is. Not for what it does for Him, or what it could be if He changed it - like we so often love - but for God, a daisy brings joy because it simply is.

Newsflash - He loves you the same way. 

I am dead serious here.

There is nothing you can do to earn His love.  Nothing you could do to make Him love you more. Sure there are things you and I both do that don't please God - some which may even make Him angry at the sheer foolishness of our rebellious ways.

But friend, He'd do it all again.

And He does.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

When It's All Said and Done

Bunny and I spent a few minutes today looking at pictures of the most fascinating person in the world - Aiden Brann Wilson - our grandson. Perhaps I'm getting a bit easy to move emotionally as I age, but looking at those pictures, I remembered those days when I held Aiden's father in my arms, and many of those moments that mark a life forever. I remember how my heart would swell with joy as he slept on my shoulder and I felt his heart beat and heard those little coos as he breathed.

Meeting the woman of my dreams, our first kiss, beginning life together - it's all still there. Bunny being pregnant with Adam, enjoying him immeasurably, and then being blessed with Sean to boot. Then came so many years of joy as we raised two incredible boys, surrounded by our families in the community we grew up in. Our church families at Bethesda and Mt Zion Baptist both provided us with strong support and deep understanding of what it means to be a church family. The conversations we had and the times we shared still warm my heart decades after the fact.

And here I am tonight finishing a sermon as I have done so many times... I'm wondering.

Have I done what God wanted me to with my life?

When I accepted God's call - when I said "yes" to God, it also meant I was saying "no" to a lot of what made our life so rich for so long. I left a great job with a future, a great church with awesome friends, left family and familiar surroundings for the great unknown - at least unknown to us. Just as I've always told people who are getting married that no one can really explain what it's like, serving God as a pastor comes with precious little in the way of a road map. There have been others who entered the ministry after me who have left it already, good men who I respect for their faith and character but who ended their service in leadership to return to a normal life. It always causes me to wonder what happened. Was the pressure too great? Were the strains of "herding cats" while keeping a church's focus on Christ instead of preferences too telling? Did the toll on their family prove so much they just decided "enough - I've done enough."

There have certainly been some detours and road closed signs during the time I have served at New Hope. Many times discouragement and doubt have caused me to want to hang it up or leave. Yet the Lord has always given me the grace to make it another day. These last three years, as I've worked as a teacher along with trying my best to care for the people God gave me to love have been a roller coaster ride of feeling great about our impact one day and not so great the next. Still, grace has always been enough.

So tonight as I'm preparing to preach in Acts Chapter 20 tomorrow, where Paul is following God's call into an uncertain future, I get a chance to hear a clear message directly from his heart to mine. From one man who left it all behind to follow Jesus to another.

And you know what?

When it's all said and done - His grace is enough.

I can look back and see God's guiding hand again and again. I can feel His presence even now as I write this, letting me know He is with me and that no matter how feeble and unworthy I might feel at times, His Spirit will supply what I need to fulfill His purpose for me until the day He calls me home. I'll try to be faithful everyday, and rely on Him to live out this verse.

David did God’s will during his lifetime.  Acts 13:36 (NCV)