You know how people always say that was one of the best moments of life? I'm sure they really don't mean the best, but close up there behind surrendering to Jesus, getting married to the woman or man you love for a lifetime, watching the birth of your children, and the really important ones. But you know, the kind of moments that we remember 20 years later.
Last night was one of those nights for me. Several months ago, I finished "The Book of Dreams" and noticed a website in the back for the author, Davis Bunn. I had read most of his works and really enjoy his style of fiction with a distinctive Christian flavor. So I just took a few minutes to write an encouraging email. I was astonished when a personal response came back to my inbox. Several exchanged emails led to an invitation for Davis to speak at one of our weekly BCM meetings. We worked out the dates and he graciously agreed to drive to Gainesville for the evening.
Yesterday was the day. We had a lovely meal at my favorite BBQ joint, Adam's Ribs after he dissed my 95 mustang as the vehicle of choice. I have to admit, his car was much nicer! Then we returned to the BCM to get ready for the evening. We had the chance to spend an hour or so talking about ministry, writing, sports, cars, family, etc. I have several of his books on my shelves in the office and that is when the moment happened.
He got down my copy of "Gold of Kings" and said there is a particular passage that I feel is some of my best writing. After we talked about how he researched his stories and the locations which he spends great time detailing in his writings, he found the particular passage. And then he read it out loud. I don't find myself spell bound by much, and especially not by another man reading, but this was one of those rare special moments. I found myself remembering how I had read those words and pictured them in my mind and in a flash compared my way with the way he was bringing the characters and setting to life before me. I pictured him working to craft those words the first time and watched as his face beamed with the release of those memories expressed through the intonations of his voice. I might not ever get the chance to hear another award winning author do the same, but for that one moment, I had the chance to see firsthand what makes a great author. Passionate desire to tell the story within them. It came out again as he read the words from the page just as it had flowed from his mind onto those same pages years before.
A wise man once told me, "You will be the same person you are today five years from now with the exception of the places you go, the books you read, and the people you meet." Thanks to Gary Crawford for that wonderful piece of advice. I have found it to be true in my life. Davis Bunn had already contributed greatly to my life through the printed word over the years. Last night, I was invited to attend a graduate level course in the art of being a gentleman and a scholar. I am thankful for the opportunity and know that I am a better man for spending those moments with him. I hope and pray I have many more of those moments, but this one will always be a special memory for me.
Monday, January 7, 2013
As I begin the new year of 2013 I have a serious question to ponder for this year. One that I don’t know the answer to yet and may never know the complete answer to for years to come. Why is it that the older I get, the more I have to fight from becoming more cynical about everything in life?
As the end of 2012 came and went, I had some downtime and that topic keep creeping through my mind. I don’t want to end up as a crusty old cynic, heck, I don’t even like crusty old cynics for that matter. Yet, if I let my guard down, I find myself slipping more to the cynical side of life and away from the joyful, celebratory, and optimistic side.
Maybe there is something to this on the being on the downside of life after hitting 50 this year. But I don’t think that is all there is to it. I think it has more to do with a realization that I have worked hard to do what the Lord wants me to do and there is still so much to do that you just realize there is a good chance you will never get to finish all you have in your heart to do for the kingdom. It’s like you stop and take a look backward and realize that the dreams you had when you were 20 may not ever come to fruition and that can leave the best of us just a little cynical.
Plus you have the tragedy of Newtown thrown in there and time to watch the nightly news and you just stop and throw your hands in the air and say “Lord, come soon, cause we are just messing this up more and more!” It seems that with the gospel being taken to new places and with new technology faster than ever, you want to think that the end of violence, slavery, sin, and disease could become a reality in your lifetime. And then you take a good look around and say, nope don’t think it is the way we are going now.
That realization that we are not better off than we were a hundred years ago in spite of our modern way of life can make one a little cynical. We just are more aware of the hurt and pain of people we will never meet and never know. We have more creature comforts but are our lives any richer than our grandparents and great-grandparents in ways that really matter. Are our relationships better? Are our families better? Are we kinder to strangers? Do we take better care of the widows and orphans among us? Are our churches better?
When I start thinking like that there is one thought that halts me on my fast track to old cynic status. Jesus said there would always be trouble in the world but take heart because He has overcome the world. He said there would always be wars, rumors of wars, persecution, and poverty until He comes back. I think of what it must have been like to be Jesus and leave this earth knowing that so much more had to be done to deliver the message of redemption and reconciliation to the people and how it must have pained him to have to leave the disciples. But he knew the Holy Spirit would come to finish the work through those he left behind. And that is where I find great joy these days in knowing that the Lord will use those who come behind me that I have influenced to finish the work that I cannot finish.
That’s why I always want to lean toward the joyful, celebratory, and optimistic side of life. I know the end of the story and it has a happy ending. I want to play out the rest of my life investing in those who will carry on till Jesus comes after I am gone. There is no time to be a cynic, when so much work needs to be done to point people to a Savior!