I didn’t go to the party, because leading the Christmas caroling would have been all about me and my rock star dreams.
There is surely the tease of a good story stuffed into that opening line! I hope you’re intrigued, and will stop scrolling to hear me out. I’m going to connect this unattended holiday event to King Arthur, the 75th anniversary of America’s “invitation” to WWII, and, as usual, push my agenda of “just read The Bible for yourself and your life will change – for the better.”
(It’s really not as difficult as it sounds, since I’m writing this on December 7.)
But let’s not skip the interesting bits.
There are two background things to know for this tale. First, I’ve been learning at church about Christian Caregiving (called Stephen Ministry) in a formal class setting, and it was this ministry’s get together last night. Since I’m new to this program of serving, it would have been a chance to meet the volunteers already “on the job”. (Arg, I have guilt.)
Second, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I undergo hemodialysis because my kidneys have failed and don’t remove fluid or clean impurities from my blood. It’s a physically draining process involving needles – big needles – and a love/hate relationship with what we patients know as our “dry weight”. The important point is that we need recovery time after each treatment. Since the “weekend” – Sunday and Monday – has to be dealt with on Tuesday, this is the most difficult day.
I’ve come to keep My Tuesdays Inviolate – untouchable, with the only exceptions being an infrequent appointment with my counselor and time with my ten-month-old grandson. (I’d crawl from my death-bed for time with him!) (I should say here that I’m also with my wife every day. I don’t want to leave her out!)
I’m an eight-year-old Christian. Christ found me lost in addiction to pornography, alcohol, and time-killing. Since 2008, He has led me through recovery, sobriety, and opportunities to serve, and these prepared me for the physical healing from a triple-whammy of health calamities – the aforementioned failed kidneys, open-heart surgery, and having part of my colon removed – all of which happened within the space of 15 months in 2014-2015. This year, 2016, has been one of slow and steady mending.
Part of my service has been as a volunteer on various worship teams on Sundays and at Celebrate Recovery meetings. My worldly dream was – still is – to be a rock star. Maybe, someday, God has a bigger taste of this in store for me, but I’m sure it’s not right for me – not right now. I’m happy – and qualified – as an amateur musician. (Coming to accept my limitations in this area is a big part of my spiritual journey, but that story will have to wait.)
Meanwhile, professionally, these past eight years have seen me transition from one type of entrepreneurship – a home-based business – to another – writer. (Ok, blogger.) Any way you put it, it is what I am passionate about. The question is sometimes asked, “What would you do if money were no object?” You’re reading my answer. I’ve found my bliss! It is Sharing God’s Story in my life – any and every way possible.
They won the victory over him because of the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony. They didn’t love their life so much that they refused to give it up.
Revelation 12:11 (GW)
I’m happy to be able to say I’ve been consistent in this endeavor for a whole year! The blog has 50 followers! I’ve been journaling for all eight years of my Christian life. I am encouraged to continue, all out! Full steam ahead!
But I realize I am still relatively new at this. I’ve also learned the value of patience. It’s one of the most important teachings Christ has had for me. Instant gratification started with my generation. I used to want everything to happen right now, asap. But now I live “slow and steady”, reinforced literally by first-hand experience.
Let me get back to the party. The invitation included the inferred incentive to lead some worship. When my instructor mentioned this, I instantly got visions of grandeur – the old rock star dream popped right into my mind’s eye. I would be the hit! Do you see why I couldn’t go?
Does it matter or not if I think I’m ready or not? If opportunity knocks and I don’t want to answer? Physically can’t answer? Does God command or expect us to seize every day? To its fullest? I think not.
I believe God never runs out of F.U.M.E.S (Forgiveness, Understanding, Mercy, Encouragement, Strength) for us. He will never stop offering us opportunities, right up until the last moment of our time here. (By the way, God’s Not Dead the movie, which my wife and I watched last night instead of going to the party, emphasizes this beautifully.) He always knows exactly where we are and meets us right there, because He knows us intimately, deeply. Because He is with us all the time.
The issue is the time it takes to get to know someone – or something. I think we all know how to stereotype, to generalize. But when we actually meet one of “them” and find out who they really are? Having a relationship with God is the same. He takes the time to know us. We should make the time to know Him. And the best, easiest way to do this is a daily, dedicated moment of prayer, reading a verse or two, and simply thinking upon how it fits with what is happening in our lives. That’s how God speaks to us.
Now for the big leap: December 7.
It follows that, if we don’t take the time to get to know someone, and we don’t stay in an ongoing relationship with them, we forget. In the same way, we also forget important parts of history. I submit the following lines from the movie Excalibur, in which Merlin speaks to the Knights of the Round Table on their biggest victory over invaders:
“Stand back! Be silent! Be still! … That’s it … and look upon this moment. Savor it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then… this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say. “I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!”
75 years ago this very day, America was attacked viciously and without provocation, part of a larger assault on a way of life that is founded on individual free will and strength in unity. These concepts are – not coincidentally – also the basis for faith in a creator God. In this world, they will always be under attack.
I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have troubles, but be brave! I have defeated the world!
Now, what should we learn about everything that is written in this book?
The most important thing a person can do is to respect God and obey His commands, because He knows about everything people do – even the secret things. He knows about all the good and all the bad, and He will judge people for everything they do.