This is a post from a couple of years ago.
I saw someone the other day that was carrying a man bag. I don’t mean something that I could see a writer carrying that would contain a notebook, journal or other writing material. I’m talking about a genuine man bag. It was basically a purse for a man. The thought that went through my mind was, “I wonder what he’s carrying in there.”
Often I will carry a gym bag to work if I’m going to work out. I will have my gym clothes in it. I have my mp3 player and my iPod. I will stick my lunch bag in there. I may have a few other items in as well, like my latest Netflix movie that I’m returning or a book I’m reading. If I’m not working out, I will often shift to my backpack and carry many of the same items. Judging by the quantity of backpacks that I see carried into work, I am not alone.
My wife, daughter and just about every other woman who I have known all of my life carry a purse. I am mystified by what is carried in a purse. I was not allowed to go near my mother’s purse as a child. While I will venture into my wife’s occasionally, I still do not like it.
Physically, we carry a lot of baggage around. Spiritually and emotionally we do as well. Good stuff. Bad stuff. All of it baggage that we carry around. Think about how we carry things around with us for years. If you read my blog last week, you saw that things from my childhood affect how I view things now. An incident that happened over a decade that I don’t really think about often came out. My experience with my youth group at the church I grew up in affect how I view things today. Relationships in the past color the view I have of relationships today. Churches in the past affect how I see the church I have been a member of for almost sixteen years now. Pastors from the past affect how I view pastors now. Some of this stuff is good. Some of this stuff is bad. All of this stuff is baggage.
Here is the interesting thing. You don’t know about my baggage. I don’t know about yours. We carry this stuff around. My baggage bangs into yours. Your baggage bangs into mine. And one of the things about writing a blog is that your baggage will come out. For good or bad, it will be seen.
How about you? What kind of baggage are you carrying around that is good? What kind of baggage are you carrying around that is bad?
Bryan Allain wrote a tweet on Election Day. This should surprise no one as he is apt to write tweets quite often. I remember reading it and chuckling. It was a good tweet. It was funny. I even quoted it to my family. Then I forgot it. That is I forgot until the next day when the news about it.
It seems that this little innocent tweet about Ohio having 75% vowels had gone viral. It received recognition from Time magazine as one of the better tweets of the day. In other words, this tweet hit the big time.
I write a lot of tweets. Many of them are just throw aways. I have my fair share of retweets. Here’s the thing though. I write some that I am proud of. I thing that they really pack a punch. They say a lot.
Guess what happens?
Those usually fall flat.
Then I am mystified when some are retweeted and make the rounds. I don’t understand what it is about them that makes people want to retweet.
That’s the point. Some things resonate with some people and not with others. A tweet hits at just the right time for someone. A blog post is just what someone needs.
The key is being there. A tweet hits someone’s funny bone. A post is emotionally what someone requires one day. Either way, you are there.
Being there builds communities. Being there builds relationships. Being there buys you credibility.
Being there resonates with all of your peeps.
It’s the same thing in our families. Our relationships. Our churches.
We have to be there. If we aren’t there, then no matter what we say, we aren’t going to resonate with anyone. We won’t have the impact on people that we want to. We won’t be able to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as He would have us to do.
Are you being there?
What do you regret?
Perhaps it’s some behavior from when you were young.
Maybe it’s a relationship that has gone sour.
It could be something you did yesterday when you lost your cool.
No matter what, our regrets usually have to do with something that we wish that we could do over or change. It often has to do with something that we would like to have a do-over on. We made a mistake. We wish we had done something different.
What about God?
Did you know that God had regrets?
I’ve seen it before, but I noticed it again today as I was reading. Saul was the king God chose for Israel. Saul disobeyed God. What was God’s reaction? In 1 Samuel 15:35, it says that “the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I like to think that God is perfect. That He doesn’t make bad decisions like I do. That He doesn’t need a do-over. How can He regret something when He doesn’t make bad decisions?
I think this is because we look at God’s regret as we look at ours. We transfer how we look at regret and assume that God does the same.
How about if we looked at it this way?
If we look at this incident as this being God’s plan, could God’s regret in this matter be that He regrets that this is how it had to be? Might He regret that His plan had to include Saul as king. Might He regret with compassion when He looked at the effect His plan had on people?
We might approach this kind of regret. We might regret having to discipline our children, while knowing that we have to. Could God’s regret be that type of regret?
Or it could be like my daughter and her relationship with her boyfriend. Yesterday was their 16 month anniversary. Or as I like to call it, one day closer to them breaking up. I only say that jokingly, but chances are they will break up at some point. I will regret it when it does. Not that it happened, but the pain that she had to go through the pain of the breakup.
So, instead of transferring our normal idea of regret onto God, what if we looked at what we regret the way God would? What if we looked at everything that happens as part of what makes us who we are? What if we looked at everything, even our mistakes, as part of what God uses to make us who He wants us to be?
God gave Israel what it wanted. They wanted a king like all of the other nations. Israel suffered under Saul’s reign. God showed them what it was like to have a king like everyone else. Then He gave them a king who led to the King of Kings. Even what God regretted led to His perfect plan. What a God we have.
What regret do you have that has made you into who God wants you to be?
Here in the area I live in we have an event called Boomsday. It takes place on the Sunday before Labor Day and consists of a huge fireworks show. This year’s Boomsday had some added excitement. The bridge which the fireworks were being shot of caught on fire. Literally, the bridge was burning.
Usually when we think of burning bridges, we think of it in a negative context. Many times it is in reference to a relationship. We burn our bridges with someone and it usually destroys the relationship we had with them. I was thinking about this in terms of following Christ and realized that we should be both bridge burners and bridge builders.
We should build bridges when it comes to relationships with people. It’s easy to tear relationships apart. It’s hard to build true relationships. Some find it easier than others, but it still takes hard work to have a good relationship. Me? It’s harder for me than most. I have to work at it harder. It has to be intentional for me. Otherwise, I will decide to chuck the whole thing and move on. I think that is part of what Paul was talking about when he said that we have been given a ministry of reconciliation. Sure, that is primarily for people to reconcile with God through Christ. However, the means for us to do that is through relationship building or bridge building.
However, we also need to be bridge burners. Where did this term come from? It was a military term. After troops would pass over a bridge, the leaders would burn the bridge so that they would not return that way to their ships or homes. It left them no choice but to move forward. We need to do that. When we follow Paul’s encouragement to flee sin, we should set fire to the bridges as we go so that we do not return to that sin. As we press forward, not looking back, we need to burn our bridges and keep our eyes focused on Christ. We don’t need to return to where we came from. We need to move forward on our way to the home He is preparing for us with His Father.
What about your bridges? Are you building the ones you need to build and burning those you need to burn?
Do you ever wonder who would be your pall bearers if you died? I don’t have a huge number of people to do the job. I imagine that some people from my church would take care of the job if called upon. However, I also wonder another question. Who would give my eulogy if I passed away? I’m not talking about my pastor or a family member. I’m talking about someone outside of these who know me well enough to stand up and give an accurate telling of what my life was like. My choices, if left up to me, would be quite narrow.
I can think of possibly three people who could do the job. One is my dearest friend from before marriage, Chris Triplett. The problem with this is that I have really let our friendship lapse. I know that Chris would do anything for me if I asked. Last year he drove out and took a picture of a big chicken at a convenience store in Newport, Tennessee for me. However, I haven’t seen him now in 14 or 15 years. For a guy who I used to run around with for about 45 of 52 Saturday nights in a year, I haven’t done a good job of maintaining our friendship.
Another possibility would my friend, Matt Cannon. Check out his Seeking Pastor blog. I used to be Matt’s supervisor and we were friends for several years at our employer. I do better keeping up with Matt through Facebook, Twitter and his blog. However, I haven’t personally seen him now since he left our employer, unless you count, of course, a video he posted of himself. Again, I haven’t done the best job of maintaining our friendship.
My third choice would be my friend, David Anderson. David doesn’t have a blog, but we go on break together everyday. At this point in my life, David probably knows me better than anyone outside of my family. He knows all of the warts in my life. He knows what kind of jerk I can be. He puts up with all kinds of my “junk”. At this juncture of my life, he would probably be the best candidate to give my eulogy. Hopefully, there will be no need for his services anytime soon.
What is missing among this group? Someone from my community or church. Here is why that is so. I don’t spend any time with anyone to develop that kind of relationship. I don’t invest in relationships with anyone at my church or in my community. Here is how it goes down with the folks in my area. I see them for a brief time on Sunday. I might run into someone at the store. I might see them out running or walking on the bike trail. I might see them at a ballgame or a school function. But do I invest in anyone in what I now call my hometown so that they would know me well enough to give my eulogy. No, not really. It’s a failing of mine. I go to work. I come home. I do my thing. I do it all again. And again. And again. But except for what are really brief encounters, I don’t invest the time needed to develop the relationships needed for anyone to give my eulogy.
What about you? Have you invested in someone enough that they would be able to give your eulogy? I hope that you’ve done a better job than me.