i wonder if i can love enough

When I met and married Jill, I was in professional ministry: stuff we can now do for free.  As a seminary trained minister, I allowed me to think I was, what?  More spiritual?  A little better?  I am not sure.

It evidenced often.  Here’s a way.  Jill loved horses and Colorado.  Loves.  And I wondered subconsciously if maybe she loved them more than Jesus, or God.

When we married, I knew for a while that I loved Jill more than anything, but I “corrected” that by relearning to love Jesus first.  Again, I got paid to believe like that.

I spent another thirty years with Jill.  I resigned from church work, and I now play at being honest.  I say “play” because honesty without love or grace is an all-consuming monster.  Brave souls have faced it and been ground to dust.  Many write novels to journal it.

In my honesty I found nothing affects me like a horse or mountains move Jill.  Okay, I weep at some books or movies, but it’s different: not as structural, as fundamental as is Jill’s love for horses like Firefrost or Dartagnan; or the Princeton Valley, Chalk Cliffs, and skiing the Rockies.

I ride bikes.  Clear land.  Work in wood.  Ski.  Write.  Travel some, and nothing grabs me like being on a horse on a snowy day grabs, sustains, heightens, infuses Jill’s day with light and hope.

Which caused me to go back and hear John, whom I translated from Greek: [1 John 4:20] “For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

Jill loves her brothers and sisters, and we see them more than mine.  Jill loves our grand-kids, and goes to lengths to babysit them more than me.  Jill also walks our land and draws strength up out of the ground through her boots — when I see all that needs to be done.  Jill also loves Lewis and MacDonald as if they were fiances she lost in the war.

And John shattered my thinking.  Jill has been passionately crazy about people and things God has crafted for her and handed her — far more than anyone I know.

So God, by way of John, is using Jill, not my measuring stick, to show me: Loving who and what has been evidenced to me by God, is the first step in really learning to love the One who created them as evidence of His love to — me.

This may be a great year to learn to love more.

 

I am doing Mike’s funeral

When Keith, one of the pastors at LifeChurch, called to tell me that Sharon had asked for me to help at Mike’s  funeral on Tuesday, I did not hesitate.

I said yes.  Without having to think about it. Mike and I never went hunting, fishing, movies or bowling together.  He loved all of those and did them often.  He cooked on a local TV show, and he cooked for me once, on a retreat for 60  university students.  He didn’t drop by the house or my office at the university.  He never intruded where he wasn’t asked.  He came to our open houses, and was funny.  He possessed that sarcastic-tinged, pithy humor I treasure in others.

I said yes because it will be an honor.  And I owed him.  When I first became a pastor, I had some men running sound in the service who loved that church, loved the worship, and might miss a switch or two in the service.  Feedback or silence when you are speaking or preaching is SO distracting.  I wanted to add visuals in the worship, and that made the job more dicey.

Mike told me that he “noticed” that problem.  Now, in church work, many people notice everything that goes wrong or goes against their grain according to color, sound, whatever.  Some smile.  Some not so much, and then they walk away having served notice that I could do something about that, now that I had been enlightened.

When Mike “noticed” the sound challenges, he was saying something radically different.

He was saying, “I noticed your sound challenges.  You need something more consistent, and — I can do something about that.”  And he did.  For years.  When we added a second service and needed sound there as well.

When some products became available and the church needed to buy them, or they might just show up in the sound booth.

Equally important, Mike served notice when he was taking his boys hunting and fishing.  Hunting/fishing/sons was one term, and mike prioritized for them.  As a father, I took notes.

He never volunteered to teach or do a host of other jobs, but what he “noticed” he followed up to make it work. That also showed up in his wife and daughter.  They are amazing and accomplished in what they set their hands to do.  That showed up in his sons, they do very different jobs, but they approach those jobs with excellence — with consistency.  What they notice, they do well.

And all of them, like Mike, think that living out the gospel, living out your faith, serving when you “notice” something needs to be done, IS being a Christian.

So, when someone helped me “notice” that someone else might speak at Mike’s funeral, I smiled to myself, told the pastor “Absolutely” and swung by the house to see the family, because I can do something about that.