Here we are in a new year. Many of us set new goals, with new expectations in both our personal and professional lives. Yes, we are given a chance to start over. We are encouraged to change our way of thinking, our way of managing our lives, our way of approaching problems that have appeared to have no answer. These are all the hopes and wishes in which we invest as we move forward into 2016.
The problem, however, is that we still bring our baggage along with us. Many of us, I am pointing the finger back at myself, truly don’t live as if we have a new beginning. A new start will include some failures, but will never give up until we achieve our goals. What holds us back are the ways that we cling to the past. We give up on our resolutions, only to fall back into the very familiar patterns of behavior that we promised to leave behind. We fail to hold on to the assumption that our fresh start is indeed that, a fresh start.
I could really move from preaching to meddling with the following question: “How does this mirror your faith journey?” I mean, we start off with incredible energy. We proclaim to the world that we were not the people that we were before. We keep this enthusiasm of new life, only to see it fade as we surrender to the pressures and demands of our places in the world. We continue to drift away, until we wonder where and who we are.
Hear the Good News! We are a people who have a chance to begin anew every waking day of our lives. We do not need to wait for something like a new year to initiate change. Each day for us is a gift, given by the one who encourages you to embrace your life with the passion with which you started the journey. This is the promise that we are given with each passing moment. Praise be to God, who gives us the strength to overcome our weaknesses. May your “New Year” begin today, and may you know the blessings of God, beyond your wildest imaginations.
It has been my experience that there are times in ministry in which I am called on to provide leadership in areas that I have no clue as to how to proceed. Example, I was not trained in seminary how to remove bats from the church. Isn’t that someone else’s job? As the pastor, it is something which I inherited.
Okay, enough with the bat story. What I am trying to say is that our lives reflect the incredible call which God places on our lives. That call involves moving out of our comfort zone and moving into a place which challenges us to listen, learn, and follow. Our journeys are individual and sacred unto us. No one walks in exactly our steps. Our common link is that the one who created us invites us to move along our path with the promise that we will not be alone on our journey.
My journey has been on my mind throughout the challenges and joys of this week. My son auditioned for the All-State Choir. We are anxiously awaiting his results. His story touches me profoundly. As a fellow musician, he is experiencing the joys and concerns of being freshly and newly in love with music. He is passionate and all-consuming with his music making.
I am not sure that this desire will last through the year much less the rest of his life, but I do know I see that excitement about music and I remember myself. There may have been many people who were more talented than me, but there are very few who were more passionate than me when it came to making music.
My wife and I are finding opportunities for my son to explore that part of himself which is compelled to make music. We travel to Albuquerque (a two hour drive from our house) on a weekly basis to provide him with the opportunity to be a part of the Albuquerque Boys’ Choir. He is accepted and celebrated in this venue.
The biggest life lesson that I think I can teach my child is that we are to model our lives as God loves us. I am talking about a radical transformative journey which sets out to take our wounded hearts and lead us to our heart’s delight. I want my child to see in me someone who was not afraid to live into the overwhelming call that God placed on my life. So what if it changes from music to something else, the groundwork by which he seeks out artistic expression may spill over into any part of his life.
And as for the bats in the church, they are gone. I called the chair of the Trustees and we waited until it was appropriate to close up the spaces in the roof in which the bats were flying into the building. One detour down, many more to go. I still claim the beauty of being on the path. That path that guides me and sustains me through the next detour. That path that fills me with passion and purpose to continue forward. My son’s love of music reminded me of my own journey this week.
**For the record, my son made the New Mexico All-State Treble Choir
I am craving for the school year to begin. My family will be in a routine. This summer the word “routine” is a standing joke. Our summer seem to be inundated by hospital stays. The word rest was not in our vocabulary.
My summer was a lesson in how to claim those sacred times that I so desperately need to be a good husband, father, friend, and pastor. I found my holiest of times not in long stretches but in brief interludes. I had to remember that sacred time does not necessarily mean lengthy retreats or hours of time. I could not sacrifice large chunks of time because I needed to fulfill the roles I play in my life.
One sacred moment that I enjoyed this summer was meeting up with a very talented and wonderful friend. She reminded me of days when life was a little more carefree and my passion for the arts was real and vital. She reminded me that I made choices in my life. Without the choices I made, my family would probably not exist. I left her presence by giving thanks for her friendship as well as making my choices.
So often, I feel like I became a victim to life. I feel that my life spun in a direction that I really didn’t want it to go. Now let me clarify something right now. I am grateful for my wife and my children. They are by far the greatest blessings in my life. I am talking about those choices that I made regarding my career.
I am sure many of you can identify with what I am talking about. I am referring to the time in your life when the world was your oyster. I am talking about the time where that inner voice motivated you and compelled you into this fearless search to be true to yourself. Little by little the demands of the world set in and fearlessness gave way to practicality.
Seminary was a tremendous blessing in my life because it woke me up from the feeling of entrapment. I began to look back at my choices and realized that they were options that I had chosen to help further my life in one direction or another. I am grateful that teaching provided my family with security. Although I am very glad that I have sense moved past that experience and entered what I perceive as my true calling, I realize that I had more power than I realized.