Okay, so maybe I’m jealous. Daughter #2 is studying abroad this semester. She left on Saturday for China, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. Not a bad life.
So on Friday, we made the trip to Oklahoma City. The university was having a big send-off dinner for the twenty students who were going to Europe (staying in Austria in a castle — no kidding) and for the twenty-nine who were going on the PAC-Rim trip. On this final night in the States, parents joined these students at this dinner. We saw wonderful pictures of the places where they would be going. We heard from administrators who told us what a wonderful trip this would be. We saw the excitement on our children’s faces.
We then returned to the hotel room. For the next several hours, all of the luggage would be opened. There was more to be packed. Finally, it was midnight and time for bed. They left at 4:00 AM.
Now I am supposed to be an adult. I am supposed to be somewhat mature (at least in theory). But I’m just a little jealous of this trip.
I think that if I were to go on such a once-in-a-lifetime trip that I would not want to miss anything. I would not want to waste a moment. I would want to drink in everything that each location offered.
Yet, I do think that many of us miss what God is doing in our lives. Many of us miss what the creator and sustainer of life is doing within us. Perhaps we are so full of our thoughts, concerns, and agendas that we fail to see what God is doing in our lives.
I like these lines by Frederick Buechner from his book Telling Secrets:
Sad to say, the people who seem to lose touch with themselves and God most conspicuously are of all things ministers…. Ministers give preeminence to of all books, the Bible, whose absolutely central and unifying thesis is that God makes himself known in historical experience. In other words, a major part of their ministry is to remind us that there is nothing more important than to pay attention to what is happening to us, yet again and again they show little sign of doing so themselves. There is precious little in most of their preaching to suggest that they have rejoiced and suffered with the rest of mankind … what it is like to love Christ, say, or to feel spiritually bankrupt…. Ministers run the awful risk … of ceasing to be witnesses to the Presence in their own lives…. Their sermons often sound as bland as they sound bloodless. (Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets, pp. 36-38)
Does this sound familiar? What are the liabilities to not paying attention to ourselves or to what God is doing in us? Why do ministers often seem to lose touch with themselves and God?
(I originally discovered this quote in a fine article by Leighton Ford entitled "The Evangelist as Storyteller" and published in the Journal For Preachers, Vol. XXIX, No. 4, 2006.)