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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Talking about "what-ifs"

DISCLAIMER: Over the last several months, I have been encouraged to write regularly about the accident from 2004. I am working my way through writing a book about the incident. So, every Tuesday, I've taken the opportunity to write, remember and share snapshots of that tragic event.

A part of our story that many people don't know is the months leading up to our accident in April. I had lived a fairly charmed life until November of 2003. The only deaths I had experienced in my life had been older grandparents who I was very close to but also knew that they were approaching the end of their life. In high school, I had a close friend die from a horrendous car accident. This death shook me because of the senseless nature of it but by the time I reached that November, it had become a carefully placed memory in the back of my mind.

November changed that. We got word one day that Sarah's niece, an eleven year old who lived outside of Birmingham, had gotten severely ill. She was in the hospital and not doing well. Sarah and I placed our kids with family and raced the five hours to Birmingham to see her. Within a few hours of our arrival, Taylor would be gone, dead from a perforated appendix that doctors were unable to diagnose in time. The trip home was long and hard that week. As we rode, Sarah and I talked about death and funerals and God's will for our lives. It was a great talk but slightly uncomfortable. All the way home I kept thinking that I was preparing my wife for the "what-ifs." It was a conversation that I hoped would never have to come up again.

It did...just three months later. My 74 year old father passed away in February of 2004 after a long bout with complications from strokes, diabetes and congestive heart problems. We had been at his bedside most of the morning. My sisters and I decided to leave for a few minutes to take my mom home and let her rest and clean up. Sarah was standing by his bed when he died. The ride home the night of his funeral was equally long, equally unnerving. I remember talking with Sarah about insurance, funeral services, getting married again--all the important things that no one likes to talk about but are so necessary. While I thought I was preparing her for my death, God was preparing me for what would happen just eight weeks later.

The interesting thing, as I look back, is how much those talks prepared me for the "big things" but not for day-to-day life. I knew what Sarah's wishes were for her funeral. I didn't know where she kept the sugar. I knew what she desired for her kids. I didn't know how to put a bow in Abby's hair or how to get the stains out of Harrison's blue jeans. We managed. God and friends and family pulled us through. But the transition would have been better if I had known what the kids liked in their lunch or how I was supposed to be involved in their classes at school.

I don't know why I felt the need to write this today other than to say...talk. Talk with your spouse about these things. Talk with your family about the possibilities, the big dreams, the big things that make moving on easier and the little things that make the day-to-day possible. It's not a conversation that anyone looks forward to but I have thanked God many times that He forced us to have them...before my world was shattered.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Generations

In the summer of 1994, when Sarah first announced to me that we were expecting a child, I was through the roof with excitement. We were not planning to get pregnant at that point and she was a little apprehensive about telling me, not sure how I would respond. I came in from the office and found a shoe box wrapped in gift paper. She watched anxiously as I unwrapped the "gift" and found a baby doll inside the box. I was confused, at first, not sure what to make of it. Then, I lifted my face to see her eyes and I instantly knew. Wow! What a feeling it was...and was again...and again with each new child.

But that first child was something unique, especially when we discovered it would be a boy. There was, for me, a certain pride in carrying on the family name and being blessed with this child. I could not wait.

There was one thing I had to ponder as I waited. His name. You see, I am Ridley Barron III (actually the fourth in my family with the name but that's a story for another day). I had pretty much decided that I wasn't going to name my son the IV. That is, until the day my dad experienced his first stroke. As I stood by his bedside and realized that my "superman" of a dad was as human as anyone else, I was struck by the "expectation" of many generations--that I would carry on the name and heritage of our family. So, Harrison (our middle name) was born and became the IV.

This all came to mind again as I read the first chapter of Matthew yesterday. I am reading back through the Christmas story in anticipation of the holidays, praying that God will help me to capture it anew.

Can you imagine the story from Joseph's perspective? After the initial shock of being told he would have a child but he wouldn't be the father, Joseph must have thought back to the expectations of many generations. Why else would Matthew feel it necessary to list the family tree as he begins Jesus' story? Thousands of years of anticipation, generations of heritage and prophecy leading to this one child...his child. Think about the pressure he felt those nine months, waiting for the day he would be able to unwrap his gift. But not just his. A gift meant for the whole world...yet given to him and Mary. It's a huge responsibility. A task that no man could handle alone without the presence of God's Spirit. But, he did. And unto us a Savior was born. Joseph named him Jesus. And he would become the answer to generations of expectations--both before and after his birth.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Knowing

DISCLAIMER: Over the last several months, I have been encouraged to write regularly about the accident from 2004. I am working my way through writing a book about the incident. So, every Tuesday, I've taken the opportunity to write, remember and share snapshots of that tragic event.

Psalm 139 has been one of my favorite passages in Scripture since I was in high school. I've always taken comfort and gained strength from the knowledge that God knows all about me, that He truly understands every thought I have and every action I take. And, as if I needed to be reminded of His greatness, it says that He knows all this before it ever happens.

That added a different perspective to my conversations with God in the months after the wreck. I believe God knew that this wreck would happen. I believe He knew that my wife's life would be cut short at 33 and that I would lose my precious son to a medical error. I also believe He could have stopped it.

But what I have had to wrestle with over and over again is this. With His foreknowledge of the accident and how life would go afterwards, what did He see that would make Him allow the event to take place? Is it some life that was changed because of the event (because many lives have been altered)? Was it some door that was opened to bring Him glory (because that has happened too)? Am I thinking too deeply and not trusting Him enough, believing that somehow knowing those answers would make this journey go differently?

Again, I go back to the comfort of knowing that He knows...that's got to be enough. For me to know any more would rattle my mind. For me to know any less, would cause me to doubt. So, in all areas of my life, I must hold unswervingly to the promise that the One who knows is also the One who leads. If you're having doubts today, I encourage you to pick up a Bible and re-read Psalm 139. For now, find comfort in this:

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!...When I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:16-18NIV

Monday, November 22, 2010

On being rich

I guess I was in college the first time I was confronted with the "richness" of my lifestyle. I grew up in a middle income family that struggled to make ends meet, particularly in my high school years as my dad was in the midst of looking for new work at an older age. In fact, I would dare say that my family looked much like many of yours. Nice home, working cars, food on the table.

So, when my professor required us to read a book about how rich Christians in American were and how little we were doing with that wealth, I politely agreed and suggested someone do something to encourage those "rich" Christians to do more. It wasn't till later on in the book and our class discussion that I realized the rich Christians he referred to included me. I was astounded. He doesn't understand. There's no way I could be called rich. Yes, I had more than some but I also had far less than most.

That lesson on wealth has banged around inside my nearly hollow head for many years. From time-to-time, it would pop up, I would "acknowledge it" and then it would go away. I, in the mean time, would go back to my happy lifestyle.

Today, more than ever, I have been challenged by the reality that I am very blessed...and am not doing enough to make sure others are. I have been very blessed with many of the same things I had growing up--a nice house, running cars, healthy kids, a good job and plenty of food. The difference is that, today, I understand God did not bless me so that I could store it; He blessed me so that I could bless others.

As we roll into another Thanksgiving, I don't want it to be just "another" Thanksgiving. I am working hard to be more grateful than ever before. At the same time, I am praying that God would simplify my life so that my blessings may be used to bless others. Whether it's a single mom and her kids who live down the street from me or a family of eight in a one room hut around the other side of the world, I want to be able to make a difference. I'm praying God would open my eyes...and those of my kids...my wife...my friends...and my church family so that we may see all of those opportunities that God gives to us. I want to make a difference.

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward. Matthew 10:42 NIV

Thursday, November 18, 2010

School lunch

When I think back to my childhood, I am overcome with great feelings. They center around two parents who loved me, two sisters who spoiled me and a pretty normal childhood. Baseball games in the back yard, the tree fort down the street, school friends coming over to play and going to church with my family. I remember holidays, vacations, Saturdays at the ball field and being tucked in at night. I think the one consistent that flowed through all of those memories was that warm, secure feeling that came from knowing I was loved.

The reason I believe that is because of one horrible night I remember when my mom and dad had one of those moments that sneak into all marriages. It was an awful argument; most of it centered around the financial struggles that my family was facing. I remember some yelling and heavy discussion. I even remember my dad saying to my mom, "That's it! I want a divorce." My world sank. I was standing in the kitchen crying my eyes out as I watched my entire world come crumbling down. I was destroyed....but only briefly. The love that flowed through my mom and dad won out. It always did. When my dad died in 2004, he had been with my mom for almost 50 years. That secure feeling I had from watching them had grown every year they spent together.

I thought about that today as I visited the local school where I spend time mentoring each week. Sitting at the table, my heart was broken as I watched six young kids who were longing for attention, looking for that security that I had felt so strongly growing up. One young lady talked about her mom's new boyfriend, another revealed the lack of attention from her parents by the food pouring from her mouth as she stuffed bite after bite. Another young lady caught my attention as she pulled up next to me, hit me on the arm and said, "I've missed you." It's only the third time I've seen the girl. Apparently, she's adopted me. Or, maybe it's more appropriate to say, she's adopted the feeling that comes with knowing somebody cares for her.

You know, I don't really do anything special when I go to the school. I sit at the table with them and hang out and talk and act a little goofy. It doesn't take a lot of training nor does it require a ton of time. But I like to believe that those few stolen moments with those kids may someday make a difference in who they grow up to be.

Now, here's the reason I share this. You can make a difference too. In fact, the reason that God blesses you is so that you can be a blessing. You may be reading this a thousand miles from where I am...but you are only a few miles away from some kid who needs you, some life that needs to be touched. It will cost you a few minutes. But I'd rather lose a few minutes to save someone's life than to have someone I could have loved go without that touch. Consider what you have to offer...then offer it freely to God.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hope

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, "The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!" Lamentations 3:23-24 NLT

I've kind of used this definition of hope in recent years:

Hope--the belief that tomorrow will be worth waking up for.

The verse above was written by the prophet Jeremiah during a very desperate time. Jerusalem was destroyed. The people of Babylon had taken most of its citizens into captivity. Others they had tortured or killed. And Jeremiah had been a witness to it all. In the midst of all this, Jeremiah's tears came easily and often. These were not tears from his own selfish desires. Rather, it was grief over the heart ache and destruction that lay all around Jeremiah. So, he wept and grieved for his people.

Then...he remembered this ray of hope. He remembered the presence of a God who never leaves. He remembered the comfort of a God who loves very deeply. Without God's mercy, Jeremiah understood that things would have been much worse and there would have been no hope for change.

In those desperate moments that roar into our lives, we must remember what Jeremiah recalled. Only God can deliver or heal or bring the change we seek. Without Him, there is no comfort, no peace or no hope for the future. And because of Christ's appearance almost 600 years later, you and I have a hope that is even more personal than Jeremiah's.

I don't know what has you frustrated or discouraged today. I don't know what serves as the source for your tears. But there is hope--real hope--that is found in this relationship with God. Don't let your circumstances keep you from seeing what God has for you. His mercies do, indeed, begin anew every day. Place your hope in that.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Foundations

DISCLAIMER: Over the last several months, I have been encouraged to write regularly about the accident from 2004. I am working my way through writing a book about the incident. So, every Tuesday, I've taken the opportunity to write, remember and share snapshots of that tragic event.

One of the things that I wasn't really sure about after Sarah died was how I would be able to handle our surviving children (Harrison and Abby). Sarah had been a fabulous mom. We had been so blessed that she could stay at home with the kids while they were younger and greet them at the door once they began those school years. She was wonderful with balancing their schedules and meeting their needs. Now, with her death, I was faced with the task of carrying on my work as a pastor while continuing her great work of raising the kids, all while I was recovering from the accident myself.

I have to tell you that I was completely intimidated by it all. Even before I was freed from the crushed wreckage of our van, I was arguing with God--telling Him how incapable I was of doing this all alone. I never dreamed that I would be in that situation so I wasn't prepared at all to fill the role of mom and dad. Looking back, I am still amazed at the people who came alongside of me to help. My mom stayed with the three of us for four months while we began to heal. My sisters and their families were constant sources of support as they walked this journey with me (one of them even moved their entire family back to Middle Tennessee with us just to continue to support us). There were neighbors, friends, teachers and church members who helped with car pool, child care, housekeeping, meals--the list goes on and on.

But I think the greatest factor that has helped through all of this was the solid foundation of faith and community that we had raised our children with. From the day the three of us began our recovery, I have communicated to our kids over and over that God allowed questions, that He understood their pain and fear and doubts and anger. I allowed them to see me as I struggled with my own questions and they heard me say more than once, "I don't know." All along the journey, I told the two of them, "We may not know and we may not understand but that won't ever change who God is." I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that many thousands of prayers were prayed on their behalf...and mine as I tried to parent them.

I have to close with one of my favorite stories about my kids during those rough first months. Just a few weeks after the accident, I crawled into bed next to Abby to say prayers and tuck her in. She had a very serious look on her face. The conversation went like this:

"Daddy, are you going to find us a new mommy?"

"I don't know, baby. That really depends on God right now. But I think we'll probably have another one some day. "

"When are you going to start?" Nothing like a child to cut right to the heart of the matter.

"I don't know, baby. It's really not going to be that easy so it might be a while. You have to understand that guys like daddy aren't in high demand."

"Why?" She wouldn't let it go.

"Because daddy is 36 years old, a pastor and I have two kids already. There aren't very many ladies out there looking for that in a husband." Silence. But I could tell she was deep in thought.

Then finally, "I'd marry you, daddy. I think you're pretty."

"Thanks, baby. I love you." I had to rush out of the room because I was caught between tears from this sweet moment and laughter at her simple understanding of love and relationships. Perhaps she had more faith than me. I don't know. But her prayers were answered when I met Lisa. I like to believe the faith of a six year old moved the heart of God so I wouldn't have to parent all alone.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Forgetting Scripture

Yesterday, I preached from the most familiar passage in all of Scripture--John 3:16. It was a message I felt strongly compelled to share. I am so thankful for the two people who made decisions at the end of the service as well as the multiple conversations I've had since then.

In preparing for that message, I faced one of those challenges that many pastors face...many people who have been Christ followers for a long time face the same thing. It's the problem that comes with confronting Scripture that has become too familiar.

Have you ever just wished that you could forget everything you've learned about Scripture to this point so you could pick it up for the "first time" and read it? Can you imagine how blown away you might be at reading these words for the very first time with no prior knowledge...for God so love the world He gave...

As I shared yesterday, God had been waiting since the creation of mankind to utter those words to us. He had longed so desperately to reveal His plan and to rescue this relationship that was broken by our mistakes. Can you imagine how the words had rolled around inside of Jesus till that night when Nicodemus came and questioned Him?

"What does it take for a man to get to heaven?"

The answer comes from God...literally. But we've become too familiar with its words--this Grand Plan--too familiar with what it teaches us about God and Jesus and salvation. I wish we all could just forget what we "know" and hear for the very first time the great depths that God will go to to have us for Himself. Here it is in a less familiar translation of the passage. Read it again...for the first time... and thank God for all that He gave.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Contentment

You hear a lot of preachers talk about contentment. I wonder if we really get what that means. When we hear the word our first thoughts turn to money and material things, as it rightfully should. But this morning, as I was reading Paul's passage on the subject, other thoughts popped into my head.

Do you realize how different marriages in our country would look if we learned to be content with the blessing we already had? Or how about this thought...don't you imagine that our economy would be stronger if people learned to be content with what they had and didn't run up credit card/mortgage debt to pursue things? I imagine the word "commitment" would carry a different meaning as well.

I think contentment begins with the understanding that the world wasn't built for us...it's just ours to use. When it becomes less about me and more about God, I start to see even the smallest things in my life as a blessing.

Another key is the recognition that everything we have comes from the hand of a benevolent God. That new job you just got? You didn't get it; God provided it for you. The things you've earned from the hard work of your hands are more accurately God's blessings because he loves you. Your health...His work. Your wisdom...from Him. Your friends...an added blessing.

This change in perspective enables even the smallest things to become great sources of contentment. And, as Scripture promises, "godliness with contentment leads to great gain." (1 Timothy 6:6)

This would be a great lesson to learn as the holiday season begins. The best formula to stay away from post-shopping regret is to celebrate Thanksgiving with all your heart and let Christmas be a time of reflection on His great love.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

In a moment...

DISCLAIMER: Over the last several months, I have been encouraged to write regularly about the accident from 2004. I am working my way through writing a book about the incident. So, every Tuesday, I've taken the opportunity to write, remember and share snapshots of that tragic event.

When I was a kid in Columbus, I had this favorite shirt. You know the kind where you take it off and throw it in the wash right away so it will be ready to wear the next day. The shirt was a simple design. It was white with a picture of two high-top sneakers on it. Out of the sneakers were coming little puffs of smoke. Under the sneakers was written, "...in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." The shirt was a reference to 1 Corinthians 15:52 where Paul writes about that last day when all of this earth will come to an end and we'll make our transition to the new heaven and new earth.

I remember the first time I saw that shirt. I remember the thoughts it stirred in my imagination as I read the verse listed under those sneakers. In that moment. In that split second when everything is changed and everything that has burdened us here exists no more. That point where every tie to this planet is severed with a finality that relieves us of every thought but where we are headed.

I can only imagine what that moment must be like. I can tell you that I look forward to it. With an ever growing sense of expectancy, I long for that moment when I'll see Jesus face-to-face. I know with all my heart that there will be such peace, such joy.

I guess that's why I have told people for the last 6 years that I really don't mourn so much for Sarah and Josh. Do I miss them? Of course! Incredibly. Josh's birthday was just two weeks ago. He would have been 8 years old. If he were here, I would be well on my way to coaching yet another baseball team (selfish dreaming I know. Indulge me.) But I don't mourn the fact that Josh and Sarah have experienced what I long for. I mourn for me, for days that I don't want to get out of bed. I mourn for bills and politics and broken relationships and constant bad news on the TV. Is it any wonder that the longer we live here, the more I desire to be home?

I've said numerous times that I envy them both. Josh never had to wear braces, eat his spinach, take out the trash or ask a girl on a date. Sarah's wardrobe never gets dirty so there's no need for a wash day. Instead, they are understanding the eternal joy that comes from living in perfect relationship with God. And that, my friend, is never bad.

I don't recall ever having done what I'm about to do in this blog. I'm sorry I never really have. But I feel a need to do it now. I have lots of readers who check in on this blog from all over the country. You come from all walks of life. Some of you are family. Others come from the health care industry where I travel and speak. Many are new friends from churches where I have spoken. Still others are old friends from churches where I have served.

If you don't know about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, I'd love to share more with you about that. There's far more to this life than what you experience every day. In fact, this life, however long it may be, is just preparation for what's to come. The question is not is there life after death, the question is where will you spend it? And the answer is not found in what you know but Who you know. Email me. Respond to this blog. I'd love to talk with you more, answer your questions and lead you to find some of those answers you may be seeking. There truly is more to this life than just living and dying.

I often get asked about the peace I found after Sarah and Josh died. I didn't find it then. It was a peace I have known since I started my relationship with Jesus at age 8. It simply was the peace that carried me through one of the worst times I've ever had to endure. And I thank God daily that I had that peace when life came crashing in. You can have it too. I hope you'll reach out to find it.


Monday, November 08, 2010

Secret Church

Last Friday night, Ridgeview hosted its first "Secret Church" event. Twenty of us gathered in a barn in subfreezing temperatures to pray for the persecuted church around the world, worship and fellowship together and enjoy six hours of intense Bible study. Let me assure you it won't be the last time we do this. It was amazing!

As we huddled in the close quarters of that barn and shared stories of persecuted Christians all over the world, I was humbled at the opportunity I have been given to meet when and where I choose in the name of Christ. I am humbled that I have the freedom to study the Bible as I choose without fear of prison or death or injury.

At the same time, I am ashamed that I have to be reminded that others do not share that luxury. I am embarrassed that I take such freedoms for granted. The Bible is the most precious book. It's words have power to change my life, to give me hope and promise. It has been preserved for me so that I may have direction for life and wisdom for the choices I have to make. How can I allow such a treasure to ever lay unopened on my desk? How can I presume to think I ever know enough of what God has given me in this book? Yes, it was a powerful night as we dug into the Word. I hope you'll join us next time as we gather.

The night wasn't without it's fun either. The pastor fell into a drainage ditch walking in the dark. No injuries and no one was there to laugh. Then, about halfway through the evening, we were joined by several of God's smaller creatures. Mice began to run back and forth on the beams behind where I was teaching. It was pretty comical to watch the eyes of the ladies as the mouse would poke his head out, see us still there and retreat for cover.

For those of you who joined us and braved the temps, more power to you. I hope to see you and a friend at our next event.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Laughter

It seems like the whole world is filled with rage these days. Maybe that's an exaggeration but it sure feels that way. Watching the elections was a showcase in rage. The evening news is awash with story after story where someone has taken their rage out on someone else. It shows up as you're driving down the road. I even watched several parents get into a shouting match yesterday at my twelve year old daughter's soccer game. Whatever the cause, it is all around us.

Maybe that's one of the reasons why I miss my dad so much. My dad was a very warm, very funny man. He had a great sense of humor and a delightful personality. He had the ability to make anyone, even perfect strangers feel at ease with his humor. His laughter was infectious as were his silly songs he sang frequently around our household.

Maybe it's why I love watching my kids laugh. Driving home from the soccer game yesterday, I listened as Abby and her friend got downright silly. They got tickled because Abby used a big fancy word incorrectly. It went downhill (or should I say uphill) from there. They were laughing at animal noises, at stupid things they had said, even funny friends they liked on their soccer team. Most Wednesday nights, we have a van load of neighborhood kids coming home from church. It's hilarious to listen to them as they try to come up with the best Chuck Norris joke (or some other absolutely stupid...but delightful...joke).

Maybe that's why I love laughing on days off with Lisa. It doesn't really matter what it is, I just like to laugh with her. Maybe it's trying some new, healthy food at the grocery store. Or it might be watching an episode of some funny show we enjoy. More often than not, it starts with just a silly comment.

I don't know. Maybe I don't take life seriously enough. But it appears to me that the rest of the world is doing plenty of that in my place. I'd rather laugh. I'd rather think about those special moments and those special memories that have been created by laughter. I'll think about Landon's funny giggle or some goofy moment shared with Harrison and it reminds me, in the course of eternity, most of what I worry about won't really make a difference. Thirty years from now, I'll still have those moments of laughter that fill my head--just like with my dad.

Don't let life fill you with rage. Laughter is the greatest cure for that. One website gave these suggestions to get you started. Learn to smile. Count your blessings. When you hear laughter, move toward it. Find funny friends and spend time with them. Whatever you do, learn to laugh.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength. Proverbs 17:22 NLT

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Enslaved no more

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. It changed the scope of America by granting freedom to slaves and ending the institution of slavery in America. But a closer look at history reveals that, while the proclamation had been made, slavery did not end for many slaves. In fact, some accounts tell that slaves in parts of Texas didn't find out the news until over two years later. For two years, while they had been given the power to walk away free, they lived as slaves--all because they didn't know.

Sounds much like many people I know. The good news of history is that a proclamation was issued for us over two thousand years ago. God said He loved the whole world so much that He Himself would send the sacrifice that would make them free. The Cross would be the exclamation point that made this dream a reality.

But two thousand years later, most of the world still lives in slavery because they just don't know they can be free. They are enslaved by an enemy who wants them dead. They are enslaved by dirty pasts, bondage to sin and the fear of death that looms all around. But the Cross ended that for all who would believe. It ended our enslavement. This is why it is so imperative that we take seriously our call to go to all the world with the message of hope.

We exist for two reasons: to experience the good news for ourselves (enjoying God's grace) and to enlighten a world about this news that there is freedom (extending God's glory). Today, you are either enslaved or not. And, if you are free, you have an obligation to share this news with others so their bondage can end and God may be glorified.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of his world ...But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ... Ephesians 2:1-2, 4 NIV

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Investments

I'm taking a break from the normal Tuesday thing, mainly because I've been re-telling our story all weekend long in Nebraska and Virginia. I'll pick it back up next week after I've gotten back into my routine and let the dust settle. I had a great time with the people of the Nebraska Hospital Association on Friday of last week and with my friends over at NAFA in Virginia yesterday. I am so thankful for the opportunities to share and to talk with the people at these different venues.

I can't tell you how good it is to be home. Being back in Thompson's Station, running my kids all over town, getting back to the office--all of those things kind of get me back into my routine. I also can't tell you how much I appreciate the staff of guys (and one incredible ministry assistant) that I work with. Knowing that I can be gone on a Sunday and that Ridgeview doesn't miss a beat is a wonderful thing. I don't often do it. I can't stand being away. But when I am, I know that RCC is in good hands with this team.

As I was walking out of the ballroom where I spoke Monday morning, a young lady handed me a piece of paper with this quote on it. I don't know who said it (it was on the paper but I'm working from a tired memory bank here). But it was a pretty powerful statement. Here it goes. Hope I remember it correctly:

"I'd rather lose one minute to save a life than to lose a life in just one minute."

The implications for people in health care are obvious. The time that is spent in doing things right, in offering your very best to care for your patients, pays off in more ways than you can imagine. It's quality of care and it's the difference between life and death.

But think about the implications for those of you who call yourself a Christ follower. Discipling is about investing and investing is about time. Lives--spiritually and physically--can be won or lost in a matter of minutes. What matters is...everything! Every choice you make about how you live and how you invest your time. Every single half second could carry a ripple half way around the world to places you don't know and people you've never met. But it comes back down to how you spend this next minute. Will you invest it in someone else, in something that truly matters and could make a difference? Or, do you still naively believe that this world is all about you? I'm afraid too many of us--in health care and in the church--choose option two.