Friday, April 22, 2011

Frustrations of House-Searching

My wife and I walked through five houses today, searching for the one that best would meet our needs as a family. Only one was an easy rejection; it just did not have the right configuration for our furniture. A second fell by the wayside because we found it difficult to exit the neighborhood because of traffic patterns. We still ponder the strengths and weaknesses of the final three. Among the variables that guide our thinking: Distance to a church where we would worship, Distance to work, Adequate room and configuration for furniture, noise in the neighborhood, security, and access to running trails or pool. What factors would you consider if you were searching? What nightmares have you experienced as you searched for a house? As we searched, and admittedly worried, a Bible verse I had cited recently when teaching a class popped into my head, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Romans 16:20). The verse, which seems to allude to God's promise of hope to Adam and Eve after their sin in Genesis chapter 3, suggests that pursuing a life of faith in God will produce peace. It's no guarantee of conflict-free existence, but a reminder that God provides, and will supply the means to overcome. Seek first his kingdom, Jesus told his disciples (Matthew 6:33). That is hard to do when it seems that obstacles pop out of every corner. Pray for us. We'll pray for you as well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why do they sacrifice?

Over thirty years ago, we toured together as singers in a college choir. Now reunited, we talked of a new common passion, distance running. Each of us had run a marathon; he's faster than I am. We both have learned that age and injuries may slow us, but we will reach the finish line if we maintain focus on the goal. He's nearly ready for another 26.2 mile adventure; I'm still a few months away. Self-discipline and a clearly defined objective will see us through.
However, we had not come together to discuss recreational running. He and his wife had come to my post to visit a memorial to their son-in-law, who died serving our country. We met his brother at the site. The tree that honors their loved one does not stand alone. Many other such trees line three long sidewalks. Many men and women, most (but not all) quite young, perished while trying to bring hope to another part of the world. They gave up other goals, and ultimately, their lives. I knew several of them personally. You may not approve of the military profession, nor of the wars in which they died, but I ask you to honor their willingness to sacrifice themselves for others. Achieving that mindset required a change of worldview for some of them; others came from a lineage of soldiers or public servants. Societies and nations survive because of people like them who will leave safe homes to protect others. As with running, the military lifestyle requires self-discipline and hard work to "get it right." They did that.
What would (or does) motivate you to sacrifice? If you don't know, ponder why runners run 26.2 miles and then want to do it again, why soldiers with comfortable homes and beloved families will leave them to go to very dangerous places and then do it again, why parents will stay up for a child to come home. If this is not your experience, and if perhaps you do not understand it, pick up a Bible and turn to the New Testament book of Hebrews. Read the twelfth chapter all the way through. Perhaps then you will find your goal.