Choices

Well, I didn’t plan my Monday very well and had too much on my plate thus my blog is a day late.  I found out last week that this growth on my arm is a malignant melanoma and Monday I met with the surgeon to set a date for the removal of the rest of the melanoma and perhaps a lymph node.  This Thursday I will have surgery.  I pray that the lymph node is clear and no further metastasis has taken place.  Sheesh, what a way to spend Fall Break!  I had some great plans to get fall flowers planted and prune some trees…nope.  I’ve hit some potholes on life’s road the last couple of months.  Every time I wonder “What next Lord?”  My father has almost been swallowed by some potholes.  Parkinson’s disease killed my mother.  That was a really long deep hole.  Yet Mom kept smiling because she gave everything into God’s hands for Him to control.  Easier said than done, don’t you know?  Mom trusted me enough to share her deepest emotions, regrets, loves, losses and questions.  I was looking forward to a time with Mom where we could travel the world together.  Instead we shopped Albuquerque together on Mom and Cat day.  Sometimes we just drove around the neighborhood so she could get out of the house.  We talked about everything and nothing.  Mom and I could sit in the same room, reading different books, never saying a word to each other and be perfectly content in each other’s presence.  I used to watch Mom cook and be her helper as a child.  Years later she watched while I cooked.  She couldn’t help.  Several times Mom would break into tears out of frustration and depression saying “I’m just so useless!”  Most of the time, I simply held her and let her cry.  Being helpless/useless is the most horrid place to be.  It is one of my fears of the future, being useless and/or helpless.

                Can I be like Jesus?  Will I be able to give everything into God’s control and keep smiling?  What will I do if I become useless and helpless by human definition?  Dad and I would tell Mom to pray.  Keep praying.  There is great power in prayer.  Will I have the faith that if the only thing I can do is pray then will I pray?  That is a sad sentence isn’t it…to say if the only thing I can do is pray?  Prayer is talking to God, the most powerful Being.  We should be visiting with God more but we are a people of action, movement always going.  We are the ones who judge usefulness by what we do, not the way we live.  We need to change our perspective to how well we live rather than what we do.  Our standard for living well should be Jesus. 

Today I choose to be like Jesus and I will talk to God, no, I will visit with God about everything.  I will be in His presence and be content.  I choose.  I choose Yahweh.

Who do you choose?

What’s Your Hurry?

I watched him in my side view mirror. He walked toward me, his motorcycle’s lights still flashing blue and red. I rolled down my car window and waited.

“What’s your hurry?” he asked.

The strange thing was—I wasn’t even in a hurry.

And the stranger thing?  I’m 57 years old and I’ve never been pulled over and given a ticket.

But, on this morning, I didn’t just get caught speeding, I got caught speeding in a school zone.

I can give you all kinds of excuses. I was driving on a street I never travel. This particular street runs along the back of the school which sits down low with a chain link fence that separates the school yard from the street. There was no cross walk. There were no flashing yellow lights. And the school zone sign was small and partially covered by the branches of a big oak tree. (I have pictures to prove this).

Nevertheless . . . Despite all of my excuses, there was still a speed limit and a school zone sign, and I was going way too fast for both.

My wife couldn’t believe it when I told her I got a ticket. And she really couldn’t believe it when I told her my speed.

I’ve thought about this a lot. In fact, that first night, I didn’t sleep. The second night I worried about going to jail. (I can be a bit dramatic sometimes).

It wasn’t so much my speed that concerned me. It was the fact that I had missed the warning signs along the side of the road. I was so distracted—so preoccupied.

As I mentioned last week, I live my life with a sense of urgency. I want to make the moments of my life count. But, there have to be times I slow down, despite all the distractions life throws my way.  And this creates tension.

But slowing down isn’t just an ideal to strive for—it’s something God wants for us. When the psalmist tells us in Psalm 46:8 to “come, behold the works of the Lord,” the question arises, how do we do that? The answer is in verse 10—“Cease striving and know that I am God.” How do we come to see the works of the Lord? How do we know that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (46:1)? We cease striving. We become still.  We have to slow down.

I think the curse of our age is busyness. We’re too busy to notice the people around us. Too busy to stop and talk. Too busy to invest in their lives. We’ve got things to do and places to go.

And the clock never stops ticking—its hands never stop moving.  And each day marches relentlessly into the next.

Urgency.

Without a doubt, God wants me to bear fruit—to work hard. But He also desires that I take time to be still—to consider His truth and His will and His majesty. I teach to reveal God’s truth. But how will I convey God’s truth unless I reach deep into scripture and allow God to speak to me?

Here’s what I’m learning.  I can live with a sense of urgency, without blowing by the warning signs.  I can live with a sense of urgency that drives me deep into relationships and not right past them.

Here’s a sobering thought—

Only two things will last forever—people and the Word of God.

So, it would make sense that I invest my time wisely getting to know both.

I walk this fine line—living with a sense of urgency and living with a clear sense of purpose.

Jesus is a good model.  His calendar was full—He was a man on the move.  But no matter what He was doing or where He was going, He always had time for people.  And He always made time for prayer.

I am amazed by this—the Son of God carved out time to pray—to be still.

So when a student drops by my office unannounced or stops me on campus while I’m trying to outrun the hands on my watch, I pray that I drop what I’m doing, stop where I’m going, and make an investment in their life.

After all, what’s my hurry?