I never felt loved by my Great Grandfather. It seemed like I was just a nuisance as a child. I really wanted his love but never sensed I was on the receiving end. I felt like the boy named ‘Sue’ in the Johnny Cash song.
Surely I must be a loser. My mom was ‘poor’. We bought our sneakers in the Supermarket. Then they buried him in the ground and thirty something years went by. Up until a couple of months ago I still couldn’t imagine him caring about me, let alone loving me. I still remember feeling like a total loser because he never had kind words to share that I remember. I half-hoped he would put out one of his cigarettes on my arm just to acknowledge my presence.
Today I’m reflecting. It’s a random day in my past. It was Summer or early Spring on The Farm. Not just any farm. My mom’s parents owned it and my grandfather’s parents owned it before that.
This particular day I was sitting on the well with my Great Grandfather. It must’ve been near noon. I don’t remember what we talked about, but we sat on edge of the warm tin covering a square section of boards.
Looking back now it was a congregational place. There was a cut off phone pole about six feet high that we used to shimmy up and sit on top of. It was a real good way to get splinters in your forearms. Maybe I went there that particular day because my Great Grandfather did. We called him Je-Je. Like the words jet jet with no t’s.
When I was younger I thought perhaps there was something wrong with him. He never said much. Maybe he’d fallen down and hit his head. Or been in a farming accident, quite possibly kicked in the head by a mule. I don’t know. But in hindsight he taught me something valuable.
I didn’t realize it until this afternoon. It’s Friday and I’m sitting on my back porch looking at the rain drenched yard and listening to the birds sing. Cars are whizzing down the highway out across the river.
Sometimes it’s pleasant to just be.
Satchel page said it this way, “Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits.” We’re really good at sitting and thinking, but not many of us are good at just sitting.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God”. We can sit the Psalmist David writes, because we can trust our Heavenly Father to take care of us.
I’ve never been good at just sitting. Sure, I can sit and think but many people are good at that. So here are some thoughts I’ve developed after waking up at 5:30 a.m every day during the month of March 2017.
Life is good. The steeple of the church where I pastor is falling down. Last week I got the call and we spent 24 hours putting a plan into action. We had to arrange for our old building to be inspected and set up a new place to meet. Finally, we had our initial plan in place. When it was all said and done, I never lost a moments peace about the whole situation. In fact, it allowed me to re-focus. Yes, there were 1,000 different things to do. But I learned to focus on the priorities. Family. Common wisdom said it was time to get into a frenzy. The Holy Spirit taught me otherwise. It’s brought my family closer together as well as the church I pastor. They are an amazing team, working together as God does great things in our midst. How could I? Because of the things I’m while using the nearly 157 extra hours of work- time by getting up 4 or 5 hours earlier each day! That adds up to almost 4 extra 40 hour work weeks each month! Now, despite doing more than ever, I am experiencing and enjoying a life that is rich and fulfilling. Life is good!
I became a morning person! Actually an all day person! My energy is much higher, sustainable, and ever-ready, due to the new routine. I can rest now at the drop of a hat, but rather enjoy this new boon in the form of greater presence and influence. In the words of Bob Weir, “Even a blind man knows when the Sun is shining”. Say it how you like, ‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’ or ‘the early bird gets the worm’. Carve out times of sufficient rest and every day is like Christmas morning. People will notice and congregate around you.
You can have a poor start and still have a great ending! Don’t believe it for a minute when people tell you you’ll never amount to anything. This weekend I’m preaching about how God is still in the human raising business. He healed a cripple near the temple and Peter compared the cripple to Christ who went to a bloody cross, was stuffed in a hole in the wall, yet rose again triumphantly. You can be risen with Him! It’s the season of resurrection and renewal. The Tulips have pressed through the soil after a long winter, the grass is flourescent green again and the birds are warbling. Get in on what God wants to do in your life. Don’t wait to do something amazing for your mind, body and spirit. Rest in God. Perhaps He’s looking to gain some glory by using your life to show the world how powerful He really is. He can transform you from the inside out! Trust Him. Lean on Him. Rejoice in Him.
I learned to enjoy ever part of every day. The good and the bad. That’s not being super-spiritual, trust me. It’s the truth. Our lives aren’t just a vapor in the sense that they are short. Sometimes they are really long and the only thing you can do is breath in and breath out. The quality of your life right now is determined by your ability to inhale. No inhalation and you’re done. Ever choked on a Chicken bone? My buddy did out on a river in the early morning hours beneath a starlit sky….all alone, no one to help. Then he dislodged the bone from his throat and was able to inhale again. It’s so easy to wish your life away. It’s so easy to look forward to the day you won’t work anymore. It’s so easy to look forward to the vacation at Disney Land. Then the date comes and goes and you look for something else to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be that way. Wherever you are, you can be all there. Paul said he had learned to be content where ever he is. Godliness with contentment is great gain. Kind of like Heaven on earth if you get my gist. I can’t be killed, spiritually, because I died 25 years ago on a Spring day in Quaker Springs, N.Y when I gave my life to Jesus. Everything since then has been a bonus! Since then I’ve been alive in a whole new way and when I lay down this earthly body, I’ll be more alive than ever!
Of course we could go on and on and riff off this set of chords we’ve laid down. But we won’t.
All I know is that it doesn’t hurt as much anymore. Sure it’s very painful at times. Sure we all have bad days, weeks and years. But we don’t have to. Life really is too short to eat our ice cream cones in the pouring rain and cry about it. Why not laugh?
Getting back to the story. Someone I really loved had died. It was Summertime and we were all gathered around the well on the farm (didn’t I tell you it was a place where people congregated?). Anyway we had just come out of the house and we were eating our plates of Cold-cuts and salads (It’s true, 45 minutes after your funeral service, everyone will be eating Potato Salad). Anyway, one of the attendee’s was eating her plate standing-up and she slipped on a Banana peel someone had carelessly tossed on the ground by the well (wasn’t me….o.k, maybe, but it was an accident) we had sat by some many years before. The ‘Slipper’ let out a screech and fell on the ground. Her plate landed all over her, gobs of food were in her hair and I can’t record her words for the sake of privacy and other issues. Then she laughed out loud.
And then something happened. For one moment all of our eyes were fixed on her and while just an hour before they were fixed on the lifeless body of a loved one, they were now all locked on something electric and comical. There was a pause. Like a flashbulb popping and for just a moment we were all froze in time, together, in the very same place my Great Grandfather had taught me that sometimes the perfect solution is to just rest and enjoy each other’s company!