My recent ponderings are best captured in the thoughts I shared with the 375 folks present for our Annual Celebration this past Monday evening. The opening paragraphs are printed below as a way of encouraging you to view my presentation on our website. Please take a moment to view Bishop Lawrence's address as well. (click here to view both messages)
Last November I read Bob Buford's great book for men Halftime. Buford's premise, succinctly put, is that in the first half of the game of life, men inevitably strive for success. But when halftime arrives, the serious players, those truly intent on winning the game, realize the need to make a critical adjustment, refocusing from success to significance and from self to others. This shift is difficult for most men. Buford makes his point in numerous ways, one involves a scene from the movie City Slickers starring Jack Palance and Billy Crystal. Palance plays a wizened old cowpoke. Crystal is a tenderfoot from Los Angeles dreading mid-life who has paid for a two-week vacation on a dude ranch - and as you might expect, he gets a lot more than he bargained for, and in the process learns something important about himself. In this scene, Palance and Crystal are riding slowly across the range discussing life. (Click here)
Now here's the question. Have you figured it out? What is the one thing for you? Until last week I had it narrowed down to a few things centered on faith, family and friends. But then my wife Becky inadvertently nailed it for me. Let me explain. Becky is a great cook; she is also a great believer in vitamins. I take a basket full of vitamins every morning and have for years... I do it to please her but down deep I think it's one of the reasons I'm still so good looking... but that's another story! Well anyway, last week Becky added yet another vitamin to my regimen - one might say that now "my basket runneth over." When I questioned the need for it, she simply said, "I want you to be able to press on!"
I've been thinking about Becky's words since. My son and son-in-law are in their mid-forties; unlike them I'm past the halftime of my life. In fact, to use Buford's analogy, at seventy-two I'm way into the last quarter of the game. But you know what? I'm probably about the age St. Paul was when he wrote these words:
I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12b-14
That was Paul's "one thing"... forgetting the past, he pressed on toward the finish line with all of his strength; and my brothers and sisters, I've adopted that as my "one thing" as well. You see, I believe I have not yet done all that God created me to do for Him; and I pray that you believe the same about yourself.
This is my twentieth annual celebration with members of The Church of the Cross and each year we've acknowledged God's ever-increasing blessings on our ministries together. At this stage in my life, it would be easy for me to do what many older clergy do: slip into retirement and spend my remaining days reveling in past accomplishments and dwelling in a world of wonderful memories. Now that time may well come for me, but it hasn't yet... my fourth quarter is not over - true, the clock's winding down but it hasn't run out - and we've got a lot of ground left to cover! What are the major goals we should set our sights on and what strategy would serve us best? Those are the questions before us tonight. (read more...)
In His Power and for His Glory,