March 3, 2016
I don’t want to make assumptions here but I am going to make some generalities. Do you know what I mean when I say that occasionally we go through ups and downs in our lives? I suspect you do. Sometimes all is well. We are feeling great, the future is bright, we’re singing in the shower, we love the unlovable, etc. And then there are those “other” times. All is not well, we are not feeling great, we don’t want to think about the future, singing is not an option and we could care less about the whole “love” thing. I’m not talking about this in a pathological sense, but most of us “get” or understand this cycle of life.
Under the guise of being a bit vulnerable I admit I have been in the second category for a while now. I’m allowing myself to be emotionally exposed because I doubt anyone reading this has not been there themselves. Anyway, if you know what I’m talking about you also know that it can be difficult to climb out of an emotional hole. And it is so hard not to be constantly focusing on “self.” That in itself is a reason for all of this “other” stuff!
ANYWAY… I had a meeting at the church this past Wednesday evening that Ellen was a part of. When we got into the car to come home she gently laid her hand on my leg and softly said “I need to tell you something.” Occasionally in those situations I am inclined to make jest. You know something like, “What, you’re pregnant?” But that felt like a moment where I needed to just listen. She went on to say that she had received a Facebook message before we left for our meeting (she didn’t want to tell me before lest it be a distraction) that our longtime friend Steve _______ had died. He was 59 years old and had a heart attack in his car on the way HOME from the Doctor’s office. Actually some folks in the church met him a year and a half ago as he was visiting and he came to the church golf banquet. Anyway…
I had known Steve since High School. He was two years behind me. After school and after the Navy I went to college. He ended up at the same college and lived in the basement of the house that Ellen and I rented off campus. As is typical Steve and I spent a lot of time playing basketball, ping-pong, hanging out and generally not studying much. Steve was very bright. He didn’t need to study… unlike yours truly. We also did some ministry together in our younger days… mostly youth ministry. After College our paths crossed numerous times. Mostly in the oddest or most unlikely places. Three years ago I was sitting in my office at the church getting ready to leave for an appointment. I left my office and locked the door. The hallway was a little dark, but I could see a figure coming toward me. It was Steve. I hadn’t seen him in years. I regretted that I couldn’t change my appointment and I had to leave so we only spent about 10 minutes together but we promised to see one another again. I saw him 18 months later as mentioned above. I am deeply saddened for his wife and his 5 young adult children.
One might think that already being in the “other” place this might “push me over the edge” whatever that means. Surprisingly not. At least not yet anyway. In the midst of this grief over Steve and the sadness for his family, I am reminded of how blessed I am and of how trivial and small my issues are. And how “self” centered I have been regarding them. And frankly of how much I allow things to bother me that God needs to be in charge of. The biggest problem with the “self-centeredness?” It prevents me from being “Jesus/God centered.” That’s a problem… a BIG problem. We can’t both be central in my life. When I’m central, it’s always a mistake. When God is central, I find peace and freedom from the troubles of this world. I can’t very easily take a poll here but I’m going to guess that many of us struggle to keep God central. We allow ourselves to worry over finances, our kids, our future and any number of other things. And honestly when I am in a non-God centered place I find little comfort in Matthew 6.
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Here’s to keeping God central! Allow yourself to be immersed in His love, peace and care.
I lost another friend from my childhood several years ago and I still think of him regularly. I suspect the same will be true with Steve. Even though we did not see one another much in recent years we actually stayed in touch through this blog. He was one of the few who read it and responded regularly. Steve, I will miss you my friend and I look forward to seeing you once again in Glory.