Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Living with Eyes Wide Open

When's the last time you sat down and listened to a man come to terms with the fragility of life?

So often for me, those conversations are with a older man who has lived his life and is taking the time to reflect and celebrate with some regret tossed in. Such a time is used to share some deep insights, as well as to challenge you to not miss those divine and precious moments with your family and friends. He encourages you to not get lost in your work and miss the work of God being done in you.

I had one of those conversations the other night, but it wasn't with some senior saint. My time was spent with Troy who is battling cancer at a very young age. As we were talking his oldest son Gavin was playing with the toy lawnmower and finding a few treasures in the rocks around the pool. I was holding Gavin, his youngest son who has rolls and rolls of baby fat. He's one BIG kid who has added a lot of joy and laughs to the scene. Alicia sat across from us, listening as Troy candidly and boldly talked about the gift of cancer and what it has opened his eyes and life to.

So here I am, caught in another moment when I get to drink in the wisdom that is coming with experience. When I get to have one of those very private pastoral conversations when someone exposes their feelings and thoughts in a way that embeds itself deep into my heart and mind. In many ways those moments become powerful times of transformation for me as well.

Troy and I talked about how precious life is. He opened up scripture and spoke about the insights that have become so clear over these months to him. He told me how cancer has become this great gift that has served to open his eyes to deeper truths in God's Word as well as to the things that truly matter in life. Moments that we take for granted, but have now become treasured times that are held so dear.

We celebrated the growth of his Journey Group as he and Alicia have witnessed each couple grow in their faith as they have walked with the Floors through this journey as well. We talked about dying and the emotions we both - as men, dads and husbands wrestle with.

We spent a few moments reflecting on the greatness of our God out of Isaiah 40, and the reality that our God who is Sovereign, in charge, a strong and powerful Ruler who also holds His lambs close to His chest with tenderness and compassion. We both came to the conclusion that if God is capable of holding this world in his hands then He can certainly can take care of the details of life without us.

We spent time dwelling a bit on how precious each day is, and how we need to walk into each morning with a determination to live and embrace the day with anticipation. Life is a gift, so treat it that way. Value the packages of family and friends, tender moments that become treasures we can hold dear.

James 1:12 says, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

I have no doubt that Troy Floor has a crown awaiting him some day. He has persevered under the trial. He has cultivated deep character and holds onto the hope of living long, but also living well. Troy is fighting the good fight. He is walking into today and future days with great anticipation and a determination to capture the fullness that each day holds, planning and fighting for many days and years ahead. More than anything, he is living with his eyes wide open capturing so many more moments that I end up taking for granted.

I left our conversation a little more transformed and mindful of the fact that life is precious. I walked into my home that night with my eyes wide open and grateful for a new look and perspective on all I have been given.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Study Break Begins

Life is rather ironic. I am suppose to be starting a summer study break which will allow me time to focus on reading, writing and preparing my schedule for next year. I have been anticipating this time now for several weeks and looking forward to stepping back from ministry and engaging deeper with family.

Ministry has a way of delivering one some big surprises that can at times derail the best of intentions. This week, instead of working on some future series planning I am spending my time with a hurting family walking towards a much dreaded funeral. What's strange is that I don't mind. I feel no regret. If anything there is a tinge of anticipation about the opportunity to walk alongside of a family I love and sharing the good news with a captive audience.

To make the most of every opportunity means that one must look for those moments whereby the Lord can work in and through you. When you begin to live with an "opportunity mindset" you become keenly aware how interruptions become divine appointments handed down through times of tragedy to point others to the one who truly triumphs.

This week may not entail a planned study break, but it does include rich opportunities to bring hope and an eternal perspective to many.