Today’s “door picture” will remind us of my wife’s 13 years of faithful service at Seattle Pacific University.
Where, in the wake of tragedy and loss, do we find the strength to press on as people of hope? The answer is in remembering… and stones, or diplomas, or pictures, or even a door, can help.
There’s a front door in our house, of course. Without much thought at all it became the place where pictures were taken on those monumental days:
What a year it’s been! Santa Barbara, and SPU, and Las Vegas, and friendly fire, and NSA, and politcal polarization, and corporate corruption; daily news coupled with personal loss create a deadly cocktail in which many of us are at risk of losing hope. And if hope dies, we’ve nothing to build on, nothing to offer, no reason to continue. Our worlds will shrink to purely private pursuits of pleasure, prosperity, security. When that happens, it matters not if we go to church, read our Bibles, or play at religion. We’re dead already, even while we live. I’ve seen it often.
How God has been faithful – You graduated; or got the job; or moved from single to married, or renting to owning, or brought a life into your home through birth, or adoption, or foster care. You finished a marathon, or summited Mt. Rainier. The days these things happen aren’t “just another Tuesday”, they’re significant because they represent either the completion of something, or the start of something else, or usually both at the same time.
It’s important to periodically celebrate, and remind ourselves how far we’ve come by looking at our remembering stones and recalling what we’ve done. As Paul reminds us, the lives we enjoy are the fruit of God’s faithfulness, because they’re built on the raw material of God’s gifts: health, education, opportunity, intimacy, adventure? Think of anything that brings you joy, and then ask yourself where the raw materials of that experience came from? God’s the source, always, of “every good and perfect gift” as the scriptures remind us. My diploma, my coffee, the mountains I love, the family that saturates with me joy – none of them are mine because of me. They’re gifts. So fifteen years from now, when I look at this picture by our “door of remembrance” as my wife goes out the door to finish her 13 years of working at Seattle Pacific University, I’ll say “Thanks be to God, who provided for our family every step of the way.” And, “Thanks be to God for a wife who has been willing, over and over again, to set aside her personal goals in pursuit of family goals – she’s been the greatest gift of all.”
Similarly, all our events: graduations, weddings, children, next steps, will matter more, I hope, twenty years from now than they do today, because they become reminders of a gift God gave you, and by then there’ll be more gifts too. Instead of saying, “Wow. I’m awesome. Look what I’ve done” your stones of remembering will give you a profound humility that will make yours a life of gratitude, not grumbling; worship, not boasting. I could wish nothing more for any of you.