Thursday, February 26, 2009

Coming to Terms With...

I've about come to terms with the impending reality that my Kentucky Wildcats will not be in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this spring. I know some bracketologists are still predicting they'll make it, but they must not have seen them play the past several games. If I'm wrong, and they do make it into the tournament, I'll follow them as far as they go. (I suspect that's an easy promise to make that won't require much of me this year.) If they don't get in at all, their absence will seriously alter my life's schedule during March. I may fill out a bracket on selection Sunday anyway, but it won't be nearly as much fun, and Deanna will tell me I'll have to take that process much more seriously because I always have Kentucky winning it. That's not likely this year, although I'd like to be proven wrong there, too. And I guess I can go to work most days without worrying about when to run home to catch a Kentucky game. Looks like March will be a much different month for me than it usually is. In case you haven't figured out what rabid basketball fans we (and many of our friends) are, this time of year always reminds me of the Saturday afternoon when Marquette was beating the tar out of Kentucky in the tournament and our phone rang with less than two minutes left. Caller ID is a great gift during basketball season, so when I went to the phone and saw the name and number of a dear friend who was near death, I knew I had to answer. My friend's son (who is as rabid a KY fan as I am) opened the conversation this way, "Bob, you know I wouldn't bother you now if Daddy weren't dead!" We were both glad his dad didn't have to watch the outcome of that game, which ejected KY from the tournament. I'm coming to terms with the distinct possibility that there won't be drama like that this March.
I'm also thinking about Lent, which began yesterday, as a time for coming to terms with some other realities that I can't control. Every year, I set out to improve the quality of my spiritual life, and every year I fall short of my goals. Even though I know and believe that guilt is not a particularly helpful thing, I get caught up in it like everyone else does. One of my goals for this Lent is to come to terms with the reality that I will never be all that I think God is calling me to be. But an even greater goal is to remember that God knows that, and that God has promised to stay in relationship with me anyway.
The Kentucky basketball parts of this post won't mean much to most who read it. I hope my Lenten coming to terms thinking will. We belong to God. God loves us. God has promised that that will never change, regardless of our worthiness or lack of it. Come to terms with it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Who's On Your Mountain?

Transfiguration Sunday is never a favorite time to preach for me. I've had more than my share of mountaintop experiences, but I never know quite for sure how to deal with the supernatural side of what we believe. I read about another mountain experience the other day, though, that I thought was fun. ESPN has created Mt. Rushmore lineups for all the major football conferences and many of the big football schools (Roll, Tide) with four of the most notable people from the history of those conferences and schools on the mountain like the four great Presidents in South Dakota. That got me to thinking about some of the people who have been especially helpful to me on my spiritual journey. It's hard to narrow it down to four, but, today at least, my mountain would have the likenesses of Hubert Morrow, Paul Brown, Beverly St. John, and Jean Hunter carved onto it. Dean Morrow and Dr. Brown were seminary professors of mine. Dean Morrow exuded a Reformed understanding of Scripture and understood grace better than most people I have ever known. Paul Brown was one of my preaching teachers who taught me things I relearn every week when I sit down with a text, not the least important of which is to work hard enough to have something to say and to shut up when I've said it. Both Dean Morrow and Paul are gone from this world. I miss them. People get tired of hearing me talk about Beverly St. John. She epitomizes grace. Enough said. Jean Hunter will be upset if she discovers she's on this list. That's why she's here. She doesn't practice her faith to be noticed. But those of us who love her notice. (Jean, if you ever read this, I put you here because I'm grown and I wanted to.) I've got a whole list of people who could fill another mountain, but those are my top four.
So, who's on your mountain? Think about it. If you feel up to it, leave a comment to let us know who has been particularly helpful to you on your journey.