Thursday, June 13, 2013

Putting for lots of dough or putting others first? (Sorry, couldn't resist)

Just in time for Father’s Day, I read a great story about Phil Mickelson, the golfer, leaving his practice rounds at the U.S. Open in order to fly back to San Diego for his daughter’s eighth grade graduation. She’s speaking at the ceremony, and he didn’t want to miss it even though being there put him at great risk for missing his opening tee time this morning. After yesterday evening’s ceremony, he flew overnight to the tournament arriving at 4:30am this morning, less than three hours before is 7:11am tee time!

This isn’t the first time Phil has been willing to alter his golf plans for his family. In 1999, he was in contention at the U.S. Open, but was ready to leave at a moment’s notice if the news came that his wife was in labor with their first child (this same daughter!). His beeper never went off during that tournament, and he lost in a playoff to the late Payne Stewart, but Phil experienced an unforgettable moment, nonetheless. Upon winning, Stewart, who would die in a plane crash just a few months later, grabbed Phil, looked him in the eyes, and said, “You’re going to be father. There’s nothing as special as that!” Phil, who has won several majors since (but not the Open), apparently agrees.

It is one thing to say that people matter more than things, more than work. It is another thing altogether to put it into practice. The trouble is, most of us don’t face these monumental kinds of decisions each day. Instead, we encounter a thousand smaller decisions – family or work; a neighbor’s need or my own comfort; a stranger’s problem or keeping my schedule on track. One decision at a time they don’t seem like such a big deal, but put all together they determine what kind of person we actually are. Do we really put people first? Especially those closest to us, like children or spouses or parents for sometimes it's easy to presume upon those we love and assume love us? Or do we only give lip service to the fact that the people in our lives matter more than jobs, schedules, or possessions?

At the end of the day, it’s our actions and not our words or even our feelings that tell the truth about who we are.

So what can you do today to help another human being know, you matter to me?

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” - John 13:35.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wherever you are, be all there

Summertime. We’re just a few days into the summer and I’m remembering all the reasons why I love this time of year. While my schedule looks much the same, my family’s schedule has relaxed immensely. As a result our evenings together are more leisurely. Because the kids are now out of school on my day off (Fridays), our weekends feel extra-long. At least for now, I mean that in a good way. Soon enough, I might mean that in a different way! It’s funny how quickly what we long for can be something we long to be done with!

It reminds me once again that lives tend to occur in seasons. Some seasons of life, it’s all you can do to simply keep up. During other seasons you find yourself wishing for more to do. Whatever season of life we happen to find ourselves in, we have a tendency to quickly wish that we were somewhere else. One of the greatest lessons of life is to learn to be present wherever you happen to be.

The missionary Jim Elliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” I like that, even if I struggle to live it. One thing that has helped me learn to live it a little better is to ask myself at the end of each day, “Where did I most sense God’s presence today?” And also, “Where did I struggle to be aware of God’s presence today?” The difference often has to do with whether or not I am living in the present season or attempting to fast forward (or rewind!) to some other place.

Is your life hectic? Learn to find God in the chaos. Is your life a bore? Learn to find God in the slowness. Wherever we are, God is there, too. We can find him if we look. To see him, though, we have stop gazing at the place we wish we were and start looking carefully at where we are.   

Psalm 139:7-12

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.