Happy New Year

A belated Happy New Year to all my friends and family.

It’s been pretty easy as of late to be reflective and look forward to the new year. There’s a lot of snow on the ground and pretty cold temperatures — cold for even this area. I’ve had a lot of time to be home and enjoy all the wonders that being homebound entails.

It’s been great fun.

And so it is that, as in many years past, I begin to make plans for the coming year. Some of the plans are quite simple – enjoy the new house tax credit, fix the car, buy clothes that fit, invest in a snowblower, etc. See, you must have priorities in order. I’ve learned that of all the joys of home ownership, shoveling huge snowdrifts is not amongst them. I can say with tremendous accuracy that watching all the neighbors hum along and finish their driveways in half an hour is an experience that should only be endured for one winter. It is not good for the soul to willingly be so tormented by such envy and scorn for their fellow man. It’s not like they watched me shovel for four hours and then told me later that they were glad their shoveling days were over.

– But I digress. I’ve learned that with so much time to reflect, it is easy get lost in so many fond memories.

This evening marked the first men’s midweek at church this year. Our minister went to Moscow, Vladivostok and many points in-between at the end of last year. He shared stories and slides with us from his travels, teaching, and trials. It was good to see so many helped by he and Charlie as they traveled to build up several small congregations.

Some of the things he shared put Mainstream America’s materialism into proper perspective. Other tales encouraged us not so much to give more money, but to give to our own community. I hope that all of us, regardless of religious orientation, can do more to give to our communities in 2010.

After service, I talked to several friends about various things. I talked about playing Gloom, doing some dramatic work in worship, and many other topics both large and small. At the end of the night, our minister spoke to me about a small group that might best serve my family and two other couples. I appreciated the encouragement – it would help all of us with small children, especially as we live so close together.

As we turned to leave, I shared a struggle that I have lived with for most my life. I struggle to finish things. I have lots of ideas and great enthusiasm at the start only to burn out at the end. Despite years of learning how to plan, measure, seek council, etc, it is still a common thread in many areas of my life. A part of this comes from an ability to do just about anything I want to do. It feels like there are so many choices and so little time. Whereas Jesus did everything well (which I take to mean that he was good at many things, but not necessarily the ultimate in skill at many things) I do many things poorly. My son is hard of hearing and I don’t even sign all that well.

I would like to do one or two things well. I want to make a meaningful contribution to the people around me (even the ones with snowblowers) and to God. At middle age, I am wrestling with the big question I’ve wrestled with since I was a teenager – God, what exactly do you want me to do?

I don’t think God is particularly upset or angry or anxious. This isn’t coming from a place of shame or guilt. I just want to do something.

As I said earlier, I shared this with the minister. I believe that I will take his advice to heart. He told me that I should focus on teaching and some dramatic work. This wasn’t just for the church where I worship, though people enjoy my classes. It was a focus on talents that will serve people in many situations.

One thing to be clear about: this doesn’t mean that this site will be a way for me to do the impact-the-world-for-Jesus-thing. I don’t believe that I have cornered the market on any amount of wisdom enough to say that I want to have a teaching website. This will remain a place to share about my life. A large part of my life is my relationship with God. As many of my friends know, this relationship spans the gamut of emotions and circumstances.

What is does mean, is that I will have more confidence to teach at the congregation where my family worships together. It also means that I feel a need to finish some writing about the Bible, faith, and other areas of religious experience. Most importantly, it means a deliberate plan of teaching for my family – my biggest fans of all. The children are curious about God. They pray at night and ask about all the pure-hearted things a child ponders. I want them to know God, regardless of their choices later in life.

It’s hard to resist the temptation to make concrete goals and talk about posting schedules. Instead, I will simply say, that I hope this year will be a thoughtful and somewhat wordy year for pinakidion.* Let’s just see where this Jacob’s Ladder/rabbit hole will go.