Monday, August 22, 2011

What a day.

8/22 : Not your usual day.

Today I served as a pallbearer which is by no means an ordinary occurrence for me. Actually I think today was the third time but I'll admit it's not one of those things you tend to keep an accurate record of. What today's experience did was put me in an interesting situation - at least it was to me.

Now I don't want this to stir any debate or discussion because I think it could - no, I'm sure it could. I've given it some pretty heavy thought and come to the conclusion that there's not a right or wrong. Actually there's likely just rights.

For several years now I have not taken part in the 'procession' that makes it's way by the open casket at a funeral. I don't go into 'the room' during funeral visitations. The term 'viewing' seems odd to me.

But I'm obviously in the minority - at least from what I've seen at quite a few funerals now. As the pew spills out into the aisle and heads toward the front I head for the back. So far I have not had a nice funeral man grab me and point me in the 'right' direction. I also have not had anyone jump out of line with me.

And that's fine. I get it. The whole 'one last look' or 'closure' thing is understandable but it's just not for me. I have a very vivid memory of the last 'viewing' I attended and that memory is forever burned in my mind. Despite the fact I have plenty of other memories of that life that was cut very short I'm constantly taken back to the vision of a lifeless body laying in a lifeless box. And I don't like it - not at all.

That was my interesting situation for today. As a pallbearer I was led to the front row of the church prior to the entrance of the family. Avoiding that one was pretty easy.

The hard part was during the 'procession.' I couldn't bow out and head upstream like I normally would. I was a pallbearer - I had to maintain formation. But I also wanted to maintain my principle. It's important to me. I'll be perfectly honest and say that avoiding the logistics of the unpleasant view was much easier than fighting the urge to take that glimpse.

I don't know what it is. There was something pulling at me to take that look. Some sort of morbid curiosity. Fortunately I was able to resist and the pleasant memory of that wonderful man remains intact - exactly as I think it should.

I'm glad it's intact. That wasn't my friend in there. It was a tired, used shell. He was gone - he had been made new. He actually looks much better than he does in my memory. Praise be to God.

8/22 : First day of school. Facebook led me to believe it was the first day of school pretty much everywhere in the civilized world. For us it meant 4 kids on three different campuses. Seems like we were dropping off kids for and hour and a half. Wait, we were.

8/22 : Dad died 11 years ago today and he is still missed greatly. But like my friend today he's been made new. Praise be to God.

8/22 : This is the day I became 'great' uncle David. Little Hadleigh turned three today. She's the daughter of my niece Corlie and nephew in law, if there is such a thing, Heath. I don't see her nearly as much as I'd like but I still take a certain amount of pride in that title.

Like I said, what a day.

Friday, August 19, 2011

5 Stones

I guess you could call it an addiction but I think that would be a little harsh. Whatever the label I will admit that long road trips prompt me to pick up a book or two on CD. It seems to help pass the time. Give it a try next time you're heading to west Texas or the panhandle and tell me I'm wrong.

I had a one day trip last week - Houston and back. Per my criteria this trip qualifies as 'book-worthy.' Normally Cracker Barrel is my source but this time I opted for the library as I was making a stop there anyway.

The book was good and it served it's purpose. But when I went to return it I thought I'd see what else was available as these Houston runs are going to be pretty regular. There on the shelf I saw Max Lucado's "Facing Your Giants" and picked it up. I started it this morning on the way to the office which is a break from the usual routine and could indeed indicate the beginning of an addiction.

The story of David and Goliath, duh. I guess I could have made that connection. I'm only three chapters in - much of which is a recap of that famous battle. Early on it actually begins with David kneeling at the stream and picking up five stones.

Wait, five?

Of course I knew it was five. But why five? I think I was always so excited about the eventual downfall of the giant that I never gave any thought to the number of stones the recently annointed king picked up. He went out and faced Goliath "in the name of the LORD almighty" and one did the trick just fine.

So why five? I've read it's because he wanted to make sure he hit him which I will quickly dismiss. God killed Goliath, not David, so let's assume that after creating the universe in 6 days it would only take him one try to hit a nine foot tall man with a head the size of a watermelon.

Goliath had four brothers? Maybe. There may be retaliation from other Philistines? Perhaps. David was an avid rock collector? Doubtful.

I don't know. And I think this is one of many instances that is left to our speculation. Realistically in the terms of David vs. Goliath it doesn't matter, it's not the main point.

But should I take something from this seemingly small detail? Lucado has not given me his opinion of this, at least not yet. He seems more focused on us facing our giants, our Goliaths, just as David did. Charge at them confidently with your faith in God, not the sling or the stone.

Maybe the point is preparation. I'm David. Yes, literally I am David. But in a spiritual sense I'm David - a young shepherd facing a giant. Or more correctly in my case - giants. A whole army of God-mocking giants being sent my way to discourage me, derail me, destroy me.

Why five? I need five. Honestly I probably need five a day. Certainly there's been days I've needed five before lunch. Because for every giant that falls there's more coming. And they'll continue to come until Jesus returns and makes things right.

In confidence I will continually kneel at the stream to gather more stones. As I kneel I know that God stands there behind me staring down the giants. With that knowledge I will confidently face them and allow God to strike them down.

He is after all, a much better shot than me.