This part of Southern California seems to be the land of lifts. Billboards highlight help for veins and sagging parts. Pick a part and there’s a specialty doctor or clinic prepared to lift, tuck, snip and alter that part of your body, mostly for youthful appearance. Face need a lift? Routine. Lips pinched and thin? Plump with Botox. Eyebrows? Shape and lift but beware, you could look permanently startled!
Truth is, I came out here to get a lift and there’s nothing quite like a reunion with old friends to raise sagging spirits. A few days with past presidents and spouses from the Christian College Consortium delivered a love lift. No one escaped aging but all remain resilient and engaged. All grateful for the gift of memory, but none stuck on regrets or even the more fulfilling recollections of what was.
We love Jesus, each other, our families, this hurting world. We miss those who’ve died and ones who couldn’t join us this time. We’re grateful that tough times made our hearts tender. Confessed mistakes and forgiven sins fostered humility. Teachable spirits fed wisdom and a willingness to heed God’s daily call to be, then to do for as many laps of life remain for each of us.
Phil Eaton, former president of Seattle Pacific University, gave us much to consider in his devotional thoughts. He took us back to the story of Moses, once a part of Pharaoh’s court, now tending sheep for his father-in -law in Midian. Not an exact parallel Phil would say, but to some outsiders, once you’ve left the presidency, who are you? What’re you doing in the wilderness?
It was while Moses was tending sheep in the wilderness, doing what would have been unthinkable as part of Pharaoh’s household, that God showed up in a burning bush. Curious Moses headed over to check out the bush that didn’t burn up. Then, God spoke and Moses found himself barefoot on holy ground, listening to God’s call to shift from tending sheep to leading the Israelites out of Egypt.
What continues to speak to me is Phil’s simple statement, “after our holy ground experience, unlike Moses, at this stage in our lives, God’s call for us may be to something not much.” Then Phil went on to challenge us with words from Rabbi Abraham Heschel,” purpose comes out of worship. Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement.”
For a few days I’ve been privileged to share holy ground with a band of brothers and sisters who’ve been part of making a difference all over this world and who are willing, at this stage, to heed God’s call to “something which may not be much.” Paul and Kay Rader, former generals in the Salvation Army, reminded us God’s name is sometimes Surprise.
That’s a hopeful thought. So we parted with gratitude to God and each other for these sweet and sacred days in the desert. It was good to be reminded that God sees us in our wilderness and may surprise us with joy even, and maybe especially, when He calls us to something that may not be much.
Next time we gather, I’m confident we’ll swap stories of radical amazement at what God’s chosen to do with a handful of older folks who’ve decided each day to wake up with or without coffee and exclaim, “Here I am, Lord. I may be slow but I’ll go. With You, not much is all I need.”
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