As I was shoveling out my driveway this afternoon I was reminded a piece I had written in 2014. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.
I'm a people watcher. I'd much rather go to the mall to sit and watch people than fight my way through store sales racks. Today, during lunch I decided to swing through the drive through and find a spot where I could sit in my car, enjoy my lunch and just watch people.
While wrapping up my chicken sandwich and preparing to tackle my chili with hot sauce, I noticed these huge piles of snow that were deposited all across the parking lot. With all of the snow that we've had in the area, snow plows have no where to go with the snow other than to mound it up in huge piles all across the parking lots. It's like someone deposited little white mountains all over the city.
What's interesting to me about these piles of snow is that they seem to last forever. Even with the slow onset of warmer weather, these piles of snow seem to be unaffected. They take absolutely forever to melt largely because they keep themselves cold. There is so much snow piled on top of other snow that the inner core of that pile remains below freezing long after the surrounding temperature has risen.
Those piles of snow reminded me of the risk that you and I run. We have a way of surrounding ourselves with people that keep us "below freezing" for as long as possible.
If we tend to be pessimistic, we surround ourselves with others who are also pessimistic.
If we tend to be a gossip, we surround ourselves with other gossips.
If we are negative and whiny people, then that's who we gravitate towards.
The Bible gives us some pretty clear instruction on this idea in Proverbs 13:20 when it says, "Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble." and 1 Corinthians 15:33 where it says, "Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”
What if, in an effort to really honor God with our lives we "unpiled" ourselves from those that were keeping us wrapped up in sin. If we find ourselves in a pile of negativity, gossip or whatever, let's choose to spread ourselves out and let the Son melt us down.
Today marks 5 years since the passing of my father. My family and I gathered at his graveside this afternoon to leave some flowers and to reflect for a few minutes on our time with him. Our family has continued to change and grow and I'm thankful for each of those new faces but for a few short moments today we had the original 5 back together, mom, dad and the three boys. I voiced a prayer and thanked God for the time He granted us to spend with such a man. I prayed that his legacy would continue to live on through each of us and I prayed for strength and courage to continue on without him by our sides. I am thankful for my father's life and I find myself becoming more thankful for how he lives on in those who knew him. As I have every January 6th since his passing, I'll share the words that I shared at his funeral in hopes that you too would pick up his legacy and run with it. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.
"As I reflected on the words that I would say in this moment, my mind was filled with the memories of a father who left me no shortage of stories to tell and examples to recall and to pattern my life after. I suppose I could tell some of those stories to you this afternoon and you would walk away with a better picture of who my dad was, but ultimately, the best way to understand who someone really is, is to observe the impact that he or she made on the lives of those around them and my dad impacted the people around him.
My dad was a big believer in discipline. Growing up in my house there were no timeouts or counting to three or questions like, “Was that a wise choice?”. You knew instantly when you did something wrong because you got whipped. And if the offense occurred while dad was at work mom simply said the words, “You just wait until your father gets home”. The day before dad passed away I saw one of those little cartoon blurbs on Facebook that said, “My parents spanked me as a child and I now suffer from a psychological condition known as ‘Respect for Others”. That summed up my dad’s philosophy on parenting. But respect for others wasn’t just something that he told us about, it was something he modeled for us. Dad treated everyone with respect and love.
Although my dad was a man of few words he modeled for his sons what a husband and a father looked like. He modeled for me a life of servanthood as he pampered and catered to my mom. He demonstrated what it meant to be a patient husband. Mom seldom did the dishes, she never shoveled or scraped snow from the sidewalks or car windshields. He always volunteered to clean the bathroom, take out the trash, sweep the carpet, dust the furniture, etc. My dad took care of my mom in every way possible. It’s that example that my wife will attest that I’m still working on but I believe that if I could treat my wife with even a fraction of the respect and love that my dad treated my mom with, I would be an amazing husband.
My dad modeled for me how to be a father. The attention that he paid to us as his sons, the countless school projects that he helped us squeeze out at the last minute, the time he spent showing us how to fix everything from A to Z. He modeled what it meant to not only pay attention to his kids but really focus on them and to pass along his knowledge to us.
The way that my dad treated his mother-in-law, my grandmother, was one of extreme patience. He demonstrated not only patience, but love and respect and dignity to the mother of his wife. Over the last week since dad’s passing, grandma has said on more than one occasion, “I loved him, he loved me and we loved each other.” That certainly summed up their relationship.
I want you to understand this afternoon that my father’s legacy will live on, it will live on in my life and in the lives of my brothers and our sons and daughters. But you also have an opportunity to carry on his legacy because ultimately my dad was patterning his life after the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.
His love and patience and faithfulness that have been highlighted here today are straight out of God’s Word, Paul says in Galatians,“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” That is my father’s legacy.
During the last few moments of my dad’s earthly life as mom, my brothers and I and are wives were gathered around his bedside he modeled one final act of faithfulness for us. He demonstrated for us how we’re to finish the race. He had been motionless for an hour or so and just moments before he took his last breath he simply raised his left hand straight into the air towards Heaven, lowered it back down and then fell asleep.
Church I believe with all my heart that at that moment he was beginning to see the face of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was at that moment that he heard the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
It's the first day of the New Year, you're probably busy starting a bunch of new goals so I'll be brief. Allow me to remind you of a few things as you kick off the first day of the year.
1. Regardless of your practice of setting New Year’s resolutions, as Christ followers we should be progressing in our commitment to and development towards all that God maps out for us in His Word.
2. God's action in our lives isn't dependent on our attributes. God doesn't need you and your attributes to accomplish what He wants to accomplish. He uses you and I in spite of ourselves. Let go of your past, look to His future and set goals that are only possible with His intervention.
3. What God creates, God completes. It's true of creation (see Genesis 2:1) and it's true of you and I as well (see Psalm 139:13 and Philippians 1:6) God doesn’t start something and not finish it. He doesn’t walk away from a job. He doesn’t throw in the towel on our development.
4. There is no part of your life that God is incapable of using for His glory and your development. Because of the omnipotence of God, He can use the goals you haven’t achieved as well as He can use the goals you have achieved. Stop allowing your past to control you.
5. God's not looking for "Goals completed", He's looking for obedience.
6. What God plants, He harvests...in His time and in His way. Be patient. (see Habakkuk 2:3).
My hope and prayer for you that 2019 is a watershed moment for your faith. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.