Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sons and Fathers

"It's natural to swing harder when you're playing with Dad."

He was making excuses for my poor play on the golf course. I needed excuses. A week earlier, I was a self-proclaimed driving champion. Seven days later I had returned to form: a shanker. The game of golf is miserably captivating. I might write a devotional on it some day, if no one else takes up the challenge. (Too late.)

My parents had come to town to meet their new granddaughter; a perk of returning to the Midwest is more frequent grandparent/child interaction. More spoiling and babysitting, too. One afternoon the men of the house took a golf trip. I was determined to impress: sons are bred with the impulse. However, the only shining aspect of my game was my being teachable.

Widen your stance. Keep your head down. Follow through. Stir vigorously for 30 seconds.

I tried the same advice the following day from the pulpit. I'm sure my father noticed because he told me he was proud. Any son likes to hear this, regardless of play or performance. And not simply because we're desperate for approval, but because a father's pride says something about him. Being my father gives him joy.

I suspect God relates along similar dynamics (Mark 1:11).

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Squinting and the Promises of God

"God's promises are bright."

After talking to the man, I thought I should wear shades. He was a retired pastor, thirty years of ministry experience. We met in a bookstore; I make many acquaintances here. This one was Bob.

Bob recently moved to the area; Bob ordered a copy of Barna's Revolution; Bob drank his coffee black. We had a few things in common.

He asked me what I was did professionally. He'd overheard a conversation about coaching cross country, so he asked if I was a coach. "I'm a pastor," I replied.

"Where?"

"Leesburg."

"I'm new to the area and not sure where anything is."

"Three miles north of Wal-Mart," I said.

He nodded. Wal-Mart is the compass, the alpha and omega of small town traffic.

"Have you wanted to be a pastor for a long time?" he asked.

He was sixty-three, I'm twenty-eight: I wondered whose 'long time' we were referring to. Then I responded: "I heard you order Barna's book. When I finished Seminary, I wanted to try an alternative church style. I jumped on the house church train. After four years, a kid, and 60,000 miles, I decided I wanted to lead. House church teaches 'everyone leads,' which effectively means no one leads." I stated this dispassionately, an analysis rather than a criticism.

Bob looked at me affectionately. "Well, God's made some promises to you. To you and your family. You'll learn more about yourself in the next few years than you can imagine. Your future is bright. Let God lead."

Bob left, and I sat there squinting.