the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations…

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The angel showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal. The river flows from the throne of God and the Lamb. It flows down the middle of the street of the city. The tree of life is on each side of the river, and it produces fruit every month, twelve times a year. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations. – Revelation 22:1-2

IMG_9540I understand that growth is a natural process, and that part of the definition of life necessarily involves change, but sometimes I’m blown away by how dramatic biology is when it runs rampant in the garden and beyond.

We’ve had good rains over the past couple of weeks, plus sunshine in between. The result has been green, and lots of it, leaves bursting forth, and Wake Forest turning pretty much into Wake Jungle overnight.

It’s hard to witness this kind of vitality and not think about how we measure up as Christians compared to the constituent markers of real life. In case we’ve forgotten, here are a few:

Life is revealed by change, by growth, by an active metabolism, and by replication. If an organism is alive, then we see evidence of all these processes.

The same question is telling when it comes to the Body of Christ, the church. We are often afraid of, and resistant to, the very processes that turn out to be signs of life.

  • IMG_9538-001Change is often considered an enemy;
  • Growth can threaten our sense of identity and control;
  • An active metabolism (the processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life) requires a steady diet of exercise, fresh air, sunlight, and nourishment;
  • Replication can make us nervous because it demands an active interface with the world around us.

Many faith communities die because change is evidence of the breath of the Spirit of God, and that’s not something that fits tidily into our club rules. We say “no thank you” to living water because it’s not something we can control. We hide ourselves from the light because we have become too used to the dark. And we neglect to feast on the bread of life because – as Jesus said – “My food is to do the Father’s will,” and we’d rather starve than follow Jesus outside the safety of our church fortress and take his kind of life into the world of pain and need.

Consequently we don’t breath, we won’t drink, we can’t bear the light, and we take a pass on real food. Churches like that fail to exhibit signs of life because they’re hardly breathing. They die because we won’t change, don’t grow, fail to metabolize, and refuse to replicate.

The very things Christian communities often resist are the exact things that will ensure we do more than simply survive, they will help us to thrive!

When we insist on remaining rooted to our own dogma to the extent that we shut out the Spirit of God, then we have failed the “vital signs” test of life. We can protect the status quo if we want to, but in the final analysis the status quo is always ours, not God’s.

Lightly Christianized religiosity will no more earn us a berth in God’s kingdom than any other religion, or any other anything that’s not animated by living water, the bread of life, and the breath of the Spirit – and marked by the evidence of life (change, growth, an active metabolism, replication).

“The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations….”

 

 

living a great story…

living a great story…

 

Well, whatever you do, whether it’s eating or drinking or anything else, do it all so as to bring glory to God! – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Party Party Party!!!

DSC_0332I have already written about this past weekend’s deeply meaningful wedding – “What a Good Wedding can Teach about the Kingdom of God” and “More of the Good Stuff” – But the photos I shared were all from my cell-phone. Yesterday – finally – I got to take a look at what I had on my Nikon D3100, and several of the images are too good not to share.

In fact, because family members will doubtless be interested, I’ll share all the good ones in a slide show at the end of this post. I’m pretty confident that – even if you’re one of my many readers who doesn’t know the bride or the groom – the pictures are worth scrolling through all the way to the end.

What I like to do sometimes at weddings is to shoot candid photographs (unposed and unrequested) – grabbing stuff the professionals are less likely to include. So I played the role of paparazzi at the rehearsal, took a handful of pictures at the church before the wedding started (focusing on guests from WFPC), photographed the opening of the ceremony, then carried my camera around at the reception.

DSC_0478The location of the reception was beyond spectacular. The mansion – a mega-lavish American version of the classic Tuscan villa – commands a wonderful view of a large lake with open vistas to the west, the south, and the north. Expansive terraces easily accommodate more than 100 guests, and lush lawns lead down to the water.

The evening was perfect. Generous hospitality; cool weather; an amazing sunset; good food; great people; dancing; and an abundant overflow of genuine joy.

Then, as Rebekah and I left, we walked by a vintage Rolls-Royce waiting outside to whisk the newlyweds away.

DSC_0365 (1)So enjoy these photos. They tell a little of the story, and I know they will make you smile. I certainly know that Rebekah and I are smiling.

You see, it’s not only true to say that, as Jesus pointed out, “People are going to know you are my disciples by taking notice of the way that you love one another….” (John 13:35) But it’s also an important principle of living our discipleship to realize that… People the world over are going to understand something critically important about what it means to be people of faith when they observe the quality, the durability, and the depth of our joy.

At least that has been – and continues to be – my experience – DEREK

a sweeping victory!

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breakfast with the grands!

So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. God has done what was impossible for the Law, since it was weak because of selfishness. God condemned sin in the body by sending his own Son to deal with sin in the same body as humans, who are controlled by sin. Romans 8:1-3

One response to yesterday’s post –  Bagpipes, Dancing Girls, a Ladies’ Tea, and Frozen – asked, essentially, “so where was all the spiritual stuff?”

That’s always a good question, and it’s something we talked about more than once at the preacher retreat I helped lead a week ago. The “spiritual stuff” is – at its best – an underlying disposition that runs underneath everything else that’s going on in our day to day lives.

I have found it helpful to think of our spiritual life as the operating system that runs in the background, and the other stuff (relationships, church, politics, family, work, being an American, driving, how we use our resources, the meeting we have scheduled later today, lunch with a friend…) as Apps that sit on top of that operating system.

If the system goes down, then nothing else works properly. Also, certain protocols built into the underlying operating system govern how the other programs work. Christ’s Great Commandment, for example, must have precedence over absolutely everything else, and must inform even the smallest decision we approach.

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Providence in Richmond

So Monday morning, waking up in Richmond for breakfast with our grandchildren, then driving over to play golf in the Union Seminary fundraiser tournament, I approached the day as a disciple of Jesus. There is no “this is my life… and then this is my spiritual life.” No, there is simply my life, and it is either built on and directed by my response to the grace, mercy, and love of Jesus, or it is not.

It was the most beautiful of mornings. The tournament started in the high forties and finished up at around sixty-three degrees. Our team, despite leaving a lot of makable birdie and eagle putts unconverted, still managed a respectable 59 to share the win. It was great fun; good people, good company, and no pressure.

That’s how life should be. Teamwork; engaging the challenges and the opportunities together; mutual encouragement; building one another up; always moving forward toward the goal, enjoying the journey; being strong where another is weak; making the best out of any situation…

Fact is, we are already winners simply by being here, waking up to celebrate another new day!

IMG_9513I believe it’s all about the underlying aspect of gratitude, of owning the fact that we are God’s children, and of being willing to receive the grace that underlines this truth. Paul puts it like this, a little later in the same chapter: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Or, “In all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us!” (CEB)

That’s how I plan on engaging today; a sweeping victory. It’s my prayer that each one of us will consider doing the same.

– DEREK

what a good wedding can teach about the kingdom of God…

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And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” – Revelation 19:9

This weekend Rebekah and I are over in the small North Carolina town of Stokesdale for the wedding of one of our young adults; Friday evening was the rehearsal, followed by dinner. The bride, Kaitlyn, is one of the purest voices in our praise team; her mom – Kim – is WFPC’s music ministries director; and her dad – Eddie – is in my Wednesday evening men’s group.

IMG_9422Both Kaitlyn and her soon-to-be husband, Jacob, have family roots around Stokesdale, so the weekend is like a big southern family homecoming.

The reason this is making it into my blog is twofold. One – it’s what I’m doing for the next two days, and I always write about what I learn (in terms of life and faith) from what’s going on. Two – and more importantly – this is a very happy wedding, and happy weddings turn out to be a great opportunity to tell the good story of God’s extravagant love and grace.

Love this generation!

As you can see from the first photograph, Kaitlyn and Jacob have tons of attendants. You can also see how Rebekah is helping them thoroughly enjoy themselves while going over the details. This is a group of young people who genuinely love one another and who value commitment.

I seriously fail to understand how and why so many people of my generation feel the need to criticize today’s twenty-something to thirty-something crowd. Personally, I see a lot more wisdom, altruism, willingness to serve, and maturity in these young people than I remember when many older Americans were this age. As a group, this crop of young Americans tends to come across as less materialistic and more public spirited; I have a lot of confidence in how they are going to respond to the challenge to lead over the next few decades.

The Kingdom of God:

IMG_9418The marriage feast is a lot like the kingdom of God. There is generosity, lavish celebration, wide open arms, welcome, faithfulness, commitment, renewal of hope, and promise for the future – all brought together in the context of extravagant love.

How much more like church can you get? How much more like God’s kingdom can we imagine?

Every day that I get to live, and love, and shine my light for God is a celebration of this magnitude. Now if only we could do a more consistent job when it comes to communicating this good news to those who need to hear it, with authenticity, and with the right amount of joy and enthusiasm?

Blessed and grateful – DEREK

Postscript to a Beautiful and Courageous Life

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Sandee Hagen

A short while ago, and after an escalating illness, one of the brightest lights in the constellation of our friends faltered, flickered, and then passed into eternity.

The news tore a hole in our hearts. It’s a huge blow for those of us who love her, and a sad loss for our world. But Sandee was one hundred percent confident that this life is just the beginning of the journey, and so am I, so in that sense she’s been freed up to shine more than ever before.

Sandee Hagen was one of the most courageous people I have ever known. We became friends back in the early 1980’s, when Rebekah and I launched a ministry for young families at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Pensacola. Sandee, her husband (Bruce), and their son (Nicholas), were a key part of the beginnings of what became an epic crowd of great friends.

Then, in an unimaginable tragedy, both Bruce – forty-one, and Nicholas – a vivacious six-year-old, died in a terrible car accident. Something like that leaves a wound that will always remain open, but Sandee made the choice – every day – to live. Not just to live but to live graciously, and creatively, and generously, and lovingly, and faithfully.

That’s what I mean when I say Sandee lived courageously; it takes not only great faith, but great courage, and honesty, and persistence, to continue to shine in the way that she did; and this world is a brighter place today because of her constant, insistent, faith-charged, luminosity.

That’s what I mean when I say Sandee lived courageously; it takes not only great faith, but great courage, and honesty, and persistence, to continue to shine in the way that she did; and this world is a brighter place today because of her constant, insistent, faith-charged, luminosity.

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Naomi, Rebekah, Sandee

Where many people would have built a wall to protect themselves from the danger of more pain, Sandee allowed us to love her, and she loved us back; she became a very real part of our family. She loved our children, and she allowed them to love her; she served countless others through her counseling practice; she became a Stephen Ministry leader at our church; she cared for people with a sensitivity and a depth born out of her own pain.

Sure she was hurt, and sometimes angry, and confused at such outrageous and impossible loss – but she trusted her Creator enough to work through the hard times without letting go of God’s hand.

  • Sandee convinced me of the truth of Psalm 23“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
  • And she demonstrated the reliability of those first few Beatitudes in Matthew 5“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.”
  • And she illustrated the authenticity of Paul’s words to his friends in Philippians 1: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

In many ways, Sandee’s work (here) is complete, and those of us who love her feel privileged and grateful to have been witness to her eloquent testimony to grace, and faithfulness, and God’s unfailing love. But God’s work through the rest of us remains ongoing – an invitation, really.

Each one of us is a work-in-progress in our own way (me especially), and it is my prayer that we will be encouraged and inspired to live this gospel truth out loud, to the very end of our own days here on this Good Earth.

So I’ll wrap up these thoughts by continuing in Philippians 2:14-16

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”

Our imperative is to shine – and then shine some more – as we hold firmly to the word of life.

Thanks, Sandee, for everything. In Love, and because of love – DEREK

Children are hungry for life! Do you want some?

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Then he called a little child over to sit among the disciples, and said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:2-3

Even just a few hours with our grandchildren can be a real boost. Fact is, I don’t know of a single person who couldn’t use the hugs and smiles, most especially in this fractious era. David and Beks barreled into Maul-Hall Friday evening, jumped all over Rebekah from the get go, and were off and gone before the sun had even considered pulling the covers back and hitting “start” on the coffee machine.

Of course, like all children, our grands can be a handful. It’s called, “no time to sit around and veg, there’s too much to learn and do!” It’s all part of the growing and learning process. There’s a huge element of trial and error in the preschool world, and there wouldn’t be any progress without mistakes, instruction, falling down, trying again, lots of directive love, and hiccups along the way.

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nice work, David!

That’s why I try not to look for flawless performances at any age. We’re all learning – or we should be. The idea that any one of us would ever be done with discovery, or live error free suggests that “maturity” means the end of learning. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

To my way of thinking, maturity means knowing enough about ourselves to realize just how little we do know, to recognize how far away we are from mastery in any field, and to understand how limitless is our potential once we ask God to be our guide along the pathway.

This past year I turned sixty years of age, and in terms of learning I’d like to think I’m still going strong. What I’m working on right now is my masters in applied spiritual living, my specialists degree in listening, and a lifelong effort certificate in communication. Hopefully in a few years I’ll begin to close in on a couple of PhD’s, because I’d love to contribute something new to the field of knowledge.

So I understand what Jesus is getting at when he says things such as, I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:3-5).

img_7598Jesus understood how completely immersed in learning children are, and how wide open their spirits tend to be; he describes kids as humble because they’re too excited about engaging the world around them to be caught up in the kind of arrogance that defines a closed mind. It’s not just curiosity that marks children, but hunger! Children are hungry for life, and if maturity means the end of that then I don’t want any of it.

So I guess I just love being around hungry children – because they remind me how bountiful and how exciting the spiritual life is for the one who is willing to come to the banquet.

Rebekah once said that children approach life with hands wide open, whereas too many adults come with clenched fist, not only grasping what they have too tightly, but unable to receive anything more… or new… or challenging… or satisfying.

My body may be aging in some regards, but I want my spirit to be that of a child. Hungry; hungry for life; hungry for Jesus; hungry for this Great Adventure….

– DEREK

 

 

 

Life is a Great Adventure!

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

cropped-dsc_0204-002.jpgToday is Thursday, January 5, and it’s officially the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas. That makes this as good a time as any to talk about the new title for my blog: “Tales from the Great Adventure!”

I’ve used several titles over the five-year life of this space: First, The Life-Charged Life; then, Life, Gratitude, Faith, & Passion; and – most recently – Faith and Thinkology. The move to rename the blog now, at the beginning of another New Year, fits with my intention to approach all of 2017 – writing and living – through the consistency of this particular prism.

Approaching life as an adventure – a Great Adventure – is not a new theme for me. Fact is, Rebekah and I have always engaged our life together as an ongoing story, and the word “Adventure” has fit beautifully much of the time. Sometimes the life story is a drama; often it can be comedy; on rare occasions the best descriptor has been tragedy; then there has also been a lot of poetry, much inspiration, some mystery, barely any science-fiction, and absolutely no true crime! But always, as a consistent undercurrent, this life is a Great Adventure.

You see we all live in some kind of a story, even if we’ve never thought of life that way, and the constant invitation of Jesus is to live a better story. And here’s the kicker – I believe we can chose the kind of story we want to live, or at least chose how we think about it, how we frame the conversation.

I like the way that God instructed Joshua when he was looking forward into an uncertain future.

“Be very brave and strong as you carefully obey all of the Instruction that Moses my servant commanded you. Don’t deviate even a bit from it, either to the right or left. Then you will have success wherever you go. Never stop speaking about this Instruction scroll. Recite it day and night so you can carefully obey everything written in it. Then you will accomplish your objectives and you will succeed. I’ve commanded you to be brave and strong, haven’t I? Don’t be alarmed or terrified, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:7-9

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hiking in the mountains

These verses from Joshua are good words for today: encouraging, inspiring, challenging, elevating, sometimes a little unnerving. But that’s God for you, especially in the context of active discipleship; the adventure is on!

DEREK 

 

time is comprised of a series of moments…

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“Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

Thursday afternoon I found myself sitting at the intersection of Durant and Capital, waiting the requisite six to eight minutes for the light to change (maybe a slight exaggeration!). I looked up and noticed the pack of cars gathered on the opposite side, waiting for their opportunity to move on up the highway. I wondered about them, about the people driving, about the passengers. I wondered where they were going.

It seems to me that we spend a lot of time going, and very little time actually being.

Both traveling and arriving are worthwhile. My faith tells me that life is all about the journey. It’s nice to be confident regarding where I’ll end up, but in the meanwhile it’s the journey that sustains me and keeps me interested.

BEING over GOING:

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength. – Psalm 23

Then I wonder sometimes if we get so caught up in getting somewhere quickly, efficiently, that we forget to actually enjoy the process itself. That means that even the journey necessarily involves being rather than going. Like at the light at Durant and Capital for nine to eleven minutes (I may well be exaggerating).

I read a great thought once by author Paul Knitter. I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find it, but the essence goes like this: “The western mindset says, ‘don’t just sit there, do something!’ But the Buddhist would say, ‘don’t just do something, sit there!'”

Point being we can be so consumed by frenetic doing that, too often, we miss the beauty of the journey itself. And sometimes the best parts of the journey involve just sitting there.

Well I’m not so sure that the best part of my journey Thursday afternoon was just sitting there at Durant and Capital for the best part of twelve to fifteen minutes (I may well be exaggerating); but I did just sit there for a good hour and a half over lunch with my friend Grady. And that’s unusual because even our relationships tend to become leveraged into our irrational compulsion to be at the next thing, or on our way there, right now.

And the just sitting there was good. It may be true that in aging we literally see time moving more speedily before our very eyes… but if we are wise we also learn that time is comprised of a collection of moments, and it is in the moments that we actually live.

Hmm, I like that: Time is comprised of a collection of moments, and it is in the moments that we actually live.

Even if it’s stuck at the light at the intersection of Durant and Capital for a good fifteen to twenty minutes (of course, I may be exaggerating just a little).

Peace. And deep breaths. And more moments – DEREK

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some alternative thoughts from all the bizarreitude…

In all the work you are given, do the best you can. Work as though you are working for the Lord, not any earthly master. – Colossians 3:23

Social Media Network

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troublesome computer….

This morning, while the entire social media network seems intent on jumping into some controversy or other, I think I’ll take a pass. Yes, it’s the Republican National Convention this week; and, yes, there’s enough bizarreitude (my made up word) in Cleveland to go around; but, no thank you, at least for today I’m going to do my best to help us all refocus.

Here in Wake Forest this week I’ve been caught up in the kind of details that often get in the way of creative work. Car repair; messed up computers; uncooperative printers; other messed up computers! However, and as is usually the case, the real life that gets in the way of writing turns out to be something that makes me think, effectively keeping my work more grounded than had I spent the day locked up in my ivory tower.

Out Cold

Rebekah’s laptop – for example – decided to go completely cold and lifeless. No hint of a flicker of light anywhere. Unresponsive. Its eyes rolled into the back of its head and that was that.

She – we – tried all the usual interventions, including taking out and putting back the battery (something that had worked several other times), pleading, begging, various incantations, threats, trying different outlets, and more.

But, this time, there was nothing other than nothing.

Yes, we both agree it’s probably time for a new computer, but Rebekah had been working on a dozen or so extremely important documents that had yet to be backed up in another location. This information simply had to be retrieved.

So – thinking back to the “battery out, battery back in” successes we’d had the previous episodes – I got on line and ordered a spanking new battery. Paid extra for one-day delivery. The battery was delivered just as I arrived home from spending over $1,000 on car maintenance! I was quickly disappointed. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zippo. Nought. Diddly.

White Knight to the Rescue!

lsMy next move was to call a local computer repair shop. “Best we can do is try for a 24-hour diagnostic turn around,” they said. “I’ll be there in ten minutes,” I replied, “and we’ll see what I can negotiate!”

The guy who came to the desk, Colton, was friendly, sympathetic, and encouraging. “I know everyone insists their computer is beyond important,” I said, “and everyone wants the problem fixed yesterday. But there’s one thing I didn’t mention on the phone,” I paused and tried not to look too panicked, “this is actually my wife’s computer and I kind of promised I’d fix it….”

Colton nodded knowingly, then looked around to see if anyone else was waiting. “Let’s take a quick look,” he said.

He tried several different connections, used some voltage finder thingy, but still couldn’t get a pulse. Then he asked me for the new battery I’d ordered. After that he must have pulled out his wizard’s hat and a magic wand, or maybe a set of defibrillators, because the thing started up like it had been injected with ten cc’s of adrenalin, right to the heart!

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Gandalf… Colton… whatever (image borrowed from the Internet)

“Can I hook up to your wireless network right now?” I asked. “I’m emailing out all the important stuff before we do another thing!”

Twenty minutes later I headed home with a fully functioning laptop, and a huge amount of respect for the good folk at Xpert Computer Service and Repair of Wake Forest.

Work Ethic

Now I don’t know where my friend at Xpert Computer stands in terms of faith – that will possibly be another conversation for another time – but his work ethic is obviously service driven and not rooted in the pay.

The bottom line here is that, in my day to day dealings with regular people – just like my visit to speak at White Memorial Presbyterian Church on Sunday – I am very much encouraged. It’s an important observation to note in a day where all we want to talk about on social media is controversy, and dysfunction, and general bizarreitude.

In everything that we do (the work we are given, and every opportunity that comes our way) do the best that we can. Work (and play and serve and worship and love) as though you are living for the Lord” (author paraphrase of Colossians 3:23). – DEREK

cbk

Monday and the constant imperative to live

God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. – Genesis 1:29-31

IMG_1491One of the best things about being so close to Naomi, Craig, and the grandchildren is the opportunity we have to mark time and to literally watch David and Beks grow up in front of our eyes. It’s a lot like springtime in the garden, the wonder of witnessing new leaves, shoots, and blossoms bursting out in real time.

Both children are growing by leaps and bounds.

“I’m walking up the stairs by myself because I’m a big girl now,” Beks tells me on the way to bed.

“So big you don’t need that crib anymore,” I reply, “gesturing to the crib mattress on the floor.

Her eyes just about jump out of her head.

IMG_1479“Are you kidding me?” she laughs, before making sure she still had Simba the lion, Bear, Mrs. Giraffe, and both her special blankets arranged in their proper places.

David is Mr. Politeness. “Thank you so much for driving us home,” David says when we pull into his Richmond neighborhood Sunday afternoon. Then, “It was so very nice of you to come and see us,” when it is time for me to leave.

THE LIFE IMPERATIVE! Sunday afternoon was essentially a drop them off and run situation, but I still had to get down onto the floor to see them demonstrate the vintage micro-machine garage that used to belong to Craig, and then watch David point out the finer features of his new Thomas the Tank Engine train bridge.

IMG_1481-001They’re not just growing all the time, they’re learning all the time. All the time. As parents and grandparents we don’t get to pick and choose the learning thing. When they are with us they are constantly soaking it all in. Our words, our actions, our priorities, our disposition, our faith, our faithfulness – or otherwise – toward God.

Simply put, these children are miracles. They are living, breathing, developing, compelling evidences of the impossible to avoid principle that creation is ongoing, that the future is right at our doorstep, and that we – that’s you, and that’s me – are key players in God’s plan, moving forward.

So my Monday morning question is this: Are we moving forward? Are we willing to participate in God’s plan? Or are we simply marking time? It doesn’t matter how young we are – or how old we are becoming, we are responsible to the constant imperative to live.

– DEREK