Time for Peace…

time for peace

Chaos is quick; peace takes time.

I create chaos when I hurry.  I pack too much in my day.  This results in clothes not put away, a desk left a wreck, and meals grabbed on the run.  The house is chaos, my health is chaos, and I’m exhausted.

Peace requires time.  To live a centered life means carving time to put myself before God and listen, not just talk (ever thought about how chaotic our prayers are?).  Peace is found when I let the arms of God embrace me.   That means I have to sit still long enough to be in His presence.

It also takes time to think through my day.  The key to changing any human behavior is preparation.  If I want to lose weight, I need to prepare to eat well.  If I want to exercise, I have to prepare my schedule so I will have time.

Peace in relationships takes time.  It takes time to understand instead of blame.  Most of the anger in relationship is driven by urgency to fix this now!  What if I slowed down my urgency?  What if I trusted a different reality than the power of the nagging voice in my head that pushes me to solve an issue today?

It would mean I would have to clear out unimportant things, like pretending to have it all together; like trying to impress others; and like mindless time that is not restful.  Then I would have time to put things where they belong.  Then I would have time to listen.  Then I would have time to understand.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t do this well.  But when I do, life is better in the peace groove.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14).”

The world gives you a peace that is the temporary numbing of the deepest longing of your heart.  Jesus offers you a peace that centers on him.  His peace calms your heart.  His peace drives out fear.  His peace is peace for the deepest part of your heart.

If you want true peace, make time for Jesus.

Chaos takes time too.  John Wooden, the greatest basketball coach ever, said, “If you do not have time to it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

If you don’t have time to do a relationship right, when will you have time to do it over?  If you don’t have time to organize your life, when will you have time to do it over?  If you don’t have time for Jesus, when will you have time for a do-over with him?

The Last Sleepover…

sleepover

Sleepovers were a way of life in my house for years.  When it was the boys, there would be all-night video game binges.  With the girls, there was giggling, dancing, and movies.  I lost count of the mornings I tiptoed over children sprawled out on the living room carpet, in the deep contented sleep of children exhausted by fun.

The sleepovers ended for the boys in high school, but the girls continued.  When Sarah left for college, I thought we’d seen the last of the sleepovers.

Sarah, my youngest, and two of her life-long friends – Heather and Noelle, reconnected earlier this summer.  They went out to eat and came back to our house.  When I got home, there were unfamiliar pillows and backpacks littering the hall.   Three grown young women were giggling on the couch.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“We’re having a sleepover!” came the reply.

“What are you watching?”

“The Hannah Montana Movie!”

A time warp engulfed me.  Had these young women slipped back to 5th grade?  All the signs were there: an open bag of chips, five plates and cups for each girl, and blankets covering everything but faces.

Just like in the old days, their desire to stay up was greater than my ability to stay awake.  I bade them “Good-night” and went off to bed.  As I faded into sleep, giggles continued.

It was the next morning when I realized things had changed.  They were all up at 7:30 (that never happened before, I assure you).  One had to go to work; another had to get ready for a trip; and another one had stuff to get done.  I offered to go get them doughnuts or Chik-Fil-A biscuits.  “No,” came the groans.  “We just want coffee.”

As they pulled out of my driveway, I thought of these remarkable young women.  I saw them grow up under my roof.  They’ve gone from playing with “World Traveler Barbie” to being World Travelers themselves.

In the crush of parenting, it’s easy to forget to be in the moment.  Older, wiser folks told me to enjoy the moments; they would pass too fast.  They were right.  Loving anyone means to be present with them.  Loving your children means enjoying the years that come by only once.

Our Father in Heaven is the perfect parent.  He teaches us how to “be there.”  One of Jesus’s names is “Emmanuel” – God with us.  God provides moments of joy and then celebrates them with us.

I admit I didn’t celebrate the moments as I should have.   But now, I miss the days of being the hero who brought the girls doughnuts (after sampling one or two for quality control).  I miss the days of them sleeping all over the floor.  I miss the days of dancing all-night long to “Dance, Dance Revolution.”

But for one wonderful night, there was giggling again.  There was one last sleepover.

Bad Decisions I Have Made…

bad decisions

I’ve made some bad decisions in my time.

I decided to kiss the Methodist preacher’s daughter in high school.  I was so thrilled, on the way home I wrecked my parent’s car.  Later, she dumped me at the prom.  In hindsight, the kiss wasn’t worth wrecking the car.

I decided the creek couldn’t be that deep.  Four-wheel drive would get me through, right?  Four-wheel drive is amazing, but it doesn’t help when the truck floats.   Do you know what happens when a truck engine sits in water overnight?  I don’t really know either, but it cost me a two hour lecture when the bill came in.

I decided to turn a paper in after a deadline in grad school, figuring it wouldn’t be a big deal.  Turns out, it was a big deal.  A very big deal.  A humiliating big deal.  Being on probation in grad school is not a good thing.

I decided once to tell my fiance’ (now my wife) I knew more than she did.  Turns out, I was wrong.  She knew all kinds of things I didn’t know, including some precise observations about my character and lack of good judgment.

I decided once to tell off the deacons of the church I pastored.  I did it in a sermon.  I preached with power and passion.  It felt good to step down after that message.  It didn’t feel good a couple weeks later, looking for a new job.

Bad as these decisions were, they aren’t even close to my worst decisions.

Too many times I have decided I know more than God.  Ever sign, ever message from Him told me to run the other way.  I decided I could handle the temptation and went my own way.  I gave in, every single time.  Every single time.  Bad decision not to run.

I’ve known God wanted me to love my enemies, but I was convinced God didn’t understand how much I had been hurt.  I held grudges, carried bitterness, and with great hypocrisy, pretended everything was all right.  Grudges, bitterness and pretense are heavy loads to carry.  I’ve worn myself out holding onto past hurts.  Bad decision not to forgive.

I’ve judged people because of their poor choices.  I’ve smugly looked at their life wreckage and thought “I’m too smart to let that happen to me.”  I’ve wound up pretending like nothing is ever wrong in my own life.  I’ve put forth a face that says, “I’m a pastor and I have it all together.”  The truth is, I’ve got plenty of my own wreckage.  It’s exhausting to live like you have it all together all the time; no one does.  Bad decision not to be real.

I’ve been quick to speak and slow to listen.  Sometimes, before people finish their sentences, I’ve already thought of a good reply.  I rush to speak because deep down, I hunger for people to say, “What a wise man he is.”  In my anxiety, I miss the person and their reality.  Bad decision to not be “slow to speak and quick to listen.”

Looking at all my bad decisions (and there are plenty more), I can get discouraged.  Then I remember the best decision I ever made.

Long ago, in a moment of humility, I admitted to God I was failure (sinner was the word we used).  I asked God to forgive me.  I told him I wanted Him to be in charge of my life.

That day, God adopted me as His child.  Whenever I make a bad decision, God forgives me.  He teaches me.  And, amazingly, He takes my bad decisions and brings good out of them.  He straightens out the wreckage of my life and gives me hope.

That one decision takes care of every bad decision I ever made.

Now, I need to make a decision about a piece of chocolate cake…

Sitting in the Pilot’s Seat…

f-16 cockpit

 

We filmed a segment for At the Movies today at Shaw Air Force Base.  Through the gracious provision of Dan Tindall, one of our members, we were able to use the training mockup cockpit of an F-16.

I had to take a moment out of filming to sit in the cockpit.  Even though it wasn’t a real plane, it felt real.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  There are so many buttons, so many things to look at.  The control handle to fly the plane was off to the right.  I gripped the “stick” and just for a moment imagined flying an F-16.  It was a cool daydream, a wonderful moment of fantasy.

Then my reality gear took hold:  What if I was really flying an F-16?

A little background:  I got my pilot’s license in college.  For a few years, I few small Cessnas and Pipers.  Then I got married, had kids, and realized I wasn’t a good enough pilot to keep flying (I wasn’t wealthy enough either).

Going from a Cessna 172 to an F-16 (even a mockup) is like going from a tricycle to a Porsche.  The principles are the same, but the power is different – exponentially.

It’s easy to sit in the pilot’s seat of your life and think you’ve got it all under control.  You seen others pilot their own lives; how hard can it be?

Maybe you can be in control of your life when you are living straight and steady, but what about when you have to land?  Or make a decision?  Or face an attack? Or try to make a quick change?

There is more power in your life than you know.  You have the power to hurt yourself with poor decisions.  You have the power to hurt others.  You have the power to get out of control.  You can get overwhelmed.  Your power can get out from under you.

It’s a nice fantasy to believe you can get good enough one day to handle life on your own.  I’m not sure any human being ever gets that good.

The one sure-fire solution?  Put Jesus in the pilot’s seat.  He can see what you can’t.  He knows exactly how life operates.  He can respond to an attack faster than you can.

How do you put Jesus in the pilot’s seat?  Simple.  Pray, “Lord, not what I will, but your will be done.”

Then get out of the seat.  Let Jesus pilot your life.