It's good to be back. The funny thing about being away is the hint of perspective that's somewhat inevitable. You've seen those Febreze commercials where the teenager thinks his room smells fine, but we see all the things everyone else smells: old food, nasty gym socks, etc. Hopefully the smells are better, but that's one of the first things I notice when coming back home after being gone for days--that distinct smell of home.
Well it's not just that way with smell.
I returned to New Kirk Presbyterian this week and walked into a world of goings-on. This is week two of about six weeks of "A" Game Sports camp, so each day is filled with the sounds of kids laughing and playing all day. Also, this is our VBS week, so every evening is full of fellowship with volunteers and interaction with participants--who enjoy recreation, bible study, music, and a family-style dinner each night. And to end this week, we will have a Holy Smokes night tomorrow (Friday) filled with fellowship, food, and live music. Every year you'll even catch some folks shagging to the beach music.
New Kirk Presbyterian has life. She seeks to be faithful in her worship, and she holds to the mission of creating opportunities to love and help others. We cannot help, however, to remain mindful of the precariousness of tough times. In the face of tough times, the temptation is to "should" all over ourselves: "We should've done this"; "We should've done that"; "He/she should not have done that." Here we must consider the ancient wisdom of various cultures and, in the spirit of all the rain we've had lately, consider the nature of water. In the East, they say, "The reason why the River and the Sea are able to be king of the hundred valleys is that they excell in taking the lower position"; and elsewhere in that tradition they say, "In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it. This is because there is nothing that can take its place." In our Western tradition, we say that one who meditates on God's law "shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper," or, more succinctly, "Be still and know that I am God."
It is wise to seek faithfulness above success. Success always wants to fill up and be full. But faithfulness might ask, as does the Eastern thinkers, "Who can be muddy and yet, settling, slowly become limpid? Who can be at rest and yet, stirring, slowly come to life? He who holds fast to this way desires not to be full. It is because he is not full that he can be worn and yet newly made." I bet you've heard this idea put differently: "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."