Reformed Grits


From Sunday
June 3, 2008, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This past Sunday, our pastor shared a great sermon on James 3– the tongue.  It was SO timely for our family and me personally.  I just LOVE James which he has been going through on Sundays, and as Jeff (our pastor) said, it's probably considered one of the most practical books in the Bible in terms of Christian life. 
However, he did something rare that I thought was great– he shared a "secular" quote that was so very applicable that I emailed him and asked if he'd share it with me so I could keep it.  If you don't mind, I'd like to keep it here.  I hope you will think about this as you ponder your life.  I know I will. 

"It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man
stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs
to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat
and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who
knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy
cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and
who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his
place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or
defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt

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Just say no…
June 3, 2008, 11:35 am
Filed under: Faith, Family, I plead ignorance, Life, Soccer IS life!, What's she up to now?

It's hard to say no. 

Well, I mean, to some things. 

When I was in the Bahamas a few years ago at the straw market and was naively "ooing" and "ahhing" over the cute hand-carved pipes with funny faces, it wasn't hard to say "no" to the Bahamian fellow who noticed my pleasure and wanted to know if I would like some "good weed." 

But it's hard to say "no" to good things.  My dear friend Meg brought this to my attention not long ago and it has resonated within me that there are seasons in life where you have to say no to "good things."  This next week I have actually for the first time ever, had to say "no" to working in VBS.  Ever since the spring and summer became so challenging with work, I have habitually said "yes" to working VBS even though it's my busy season for work and it completely drains and overwhelms me and makes me want to sit in the back of my closet with my blankey, sucking my thumb.  VBS is a "good thing."  But Mr. Grits has assured me that I physically and emotionally can't do both.  He decided for me, laying down the law (which he NEVER does except in situations like this where I can't be relied upon to make a wise decision and I know it) that last year was my last time to work VBS as long as I'm doing this job.  He's right, but it's hard to say no to good things. 

Something that wouldn't surprise most folks but they may not know is that Mr. Grits is a gifted soccer coach.  He has great knowledge of the inner workings of the game, strategy, skills, and what it takes to be a great player.  Not just physically, but he knows when a player is a liability to their team with their attitude and temper and is able to coach this as well.  He coached Jojo's teams for years until Jojo got on a traveling competitive team and then we decided that it would be a "good thing" for him to learn what others had to teach.  Two years ago, it looked as if his team would need a coach so Mr. Grits stepped up and coached him again in the competitive "2nd" team.  By the end of the season, the team found itself playing the club's "first team" in a tournament.  With his leadership and having been under his coaching for 2 seasons, our team dominated the game and almost won– a last minute corner kick score did us in.  It was a great experience… except for the fact that Mr. Grits is called to full-time ministry and seminary.  That year of coaching, a new baby, and seminary classes almost stressed us to breaking.   I wish we looked back on that year as "good times" but whenever we look back we groan and say, "We will NEVER do that again." 

This summer, Mr. Grits and I have been plotting strategy for him to finish school inside the next 2 years.  We've talked about getting "gazelle intense" with his schooling.  Meanwhile, it looks as though an opportunity would come about to coach again this next year.  This prospect, like the proverbial carrot hanging just out of grasp of the horse's mouth, tempts like a siren.  He's a good coach.  A GREAT coach.  He enjoys it.  He could make a difference.  This opportunity is a good thing.  But it's a good thing we have to say no to. 

I've tried to think about a Biblical basis for this.  Why should I say no to something that's good?  The thing I keep coming back to is how Paul often mentions he had to turn away from trips or opportunities to go visit those he loved to continue on with difficult and challenging ministry opportunities.  In 1 Corinthians 16 he says "…I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.  But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me."  He is delaying the gratification of the "seeing you now" in order to be obedient to what the Lord has actually called him to, with the hope as well that he'll have a longer visit later. 

So basically, it's about obedience.  Our primary call is to get through school and for me to do my job.  (Obviously secondary to The Primary Call of parenting our children and raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.)  Coaching soccer, working VBS, volunteering in the kids' classrooms, working in the library, having the kids in music lessons or even playing soccer (yes, there I said it) truly are good things.  We just have to pick and choose which things help us in our call and which ones distract us from it.  Sometimes we don't know.  Sometimes we have to make bad decisions and learn from them.  And sometimes we just have to do the hard thing by saying "no" to "good things."

Nothing worth doing is easy. .