Pastoral Ponderings December 2015

Pastoral Ponderings . . .

Dear God,

As I write this I stand just a few days after Thanksgiving and a month away from Christmas. That can’t be possible! That means that another entire year of my life has been spent.

That seems like a rather obvious thing…another year of life having gone by as we zero-in on December 31st. But what I was really thinking about was the word “Spent”. You have given me an entire year of life and I have spent it once again. So the obvious question you would ask me…just as any parent would ask their children…is, “How did you spend what I gave you?”

As of October 29th you have given to me 60 years of life. Some people get freaked out by “turning 60”, as if the alternative was to get turned into a pumpkin. If there’s a choice between being a pumpkin or getting older, I’ll choose the latter. I mean, I like pumpkin and all, but…they have seeds and despite what some people say, I’m not a “seedy” character.

The idea of how we spent the years of life was highlighted when a friend sent me a movie clip from my wayward days in 1980. That was a hoot to watch, but I don’t think I’ll show it to a lot of church friends. The short clip was when a group of us were all taking our sports cars to Elkhart Lake, WI, to take in the experience of the famed “June Sprints”.

You don’t just watch the Sprints…you take them in. The June Sprints were, at one time, held in the streets and local highways in and around Elkhart Lake. You can only imagine cars racing through town at speeds in excess of 100 mph. That style of road racing changed in 1952 after a tragic accident and death of a spectator. Tracks were developed and the track in Elkhart Lake is a premier venue.

With the anticipation of taking in the races, my friends and I assembled our cars. We made a caravan, which included my Triumph GT-6, Triumph Spitfire, a couple of MG’s, me in my Corvette, and a van to carry our gear. We had a great weekend, sleeping under the stars at night and watching racing all day. The clip itself reminded me of all the great friends and good times I enjoyed in that time of my life. But as I write this I am also reminded of how I “spent” a few years of my life. Let’s just keep it between us about how much fun I had.

I love the idea of questioning how I spent what you’ve given me. Maybe I’m the odd man out, but I take this notion seriously. Taking the opportunity to look at how we “spend” what you give us should always be a part of the process of life as a Christian. That’s what’s at the core of my conversations with people about stewardship. Stewardship is always the endeavor to be faithful with what has been loaned to us. I might “make money” at my job, but you gave to me the gifts to help people, a family which taught me the values of sharing and hard work, and a thirst to understand your presence in my life.

The bottom line of all of this is how I “spend” what you’ve given to me.

I wasn’t born a good spender. Like most children, money would burn a hole in my pocket. I wasn’t prone to saving for something down the road…there was always something much closer to spend my money on in the radar of life. I had to learn how to spend and what was really of value to my life.

Which brings me back to my 60 years of living. While some people complain about growing older (and let me be clear…I’m not that fond of all the changes of getting older!), I choose to give thanks for giving me the years to “develop better spending habits”. I loved my earlier years of life, and I had lots of fond memories…many of them made with the friends that I enjoyed from our trip to Elkart Lake…but I’m glad I didn’t get stuck in those spending habits.

I’ve always been generous with my time and gifts to others, but you’ve given me the years to grow and develop. You helped me choose to be with people who challenge, nurture, and encourage me. You helped me to understand your presence in me. I hope I spend my remaining years in a manner which would show the world how I choose to “spend” my life.

Thank you for giving to me the years behind me, and guide me in the days and years ahead.

As always, thanks for listening. I love you,

Dan