The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years, according to Scripture. Forty years. That is a long. Dang. Time! Imagine how they must have felt when their paths seemed to cross over one another … When they appeared to be going in circles. The wilderness is a desolate place. It is a confusing and wearisome place. In the wilderness, it is easy to get disoriented even when you are seriously trying to stay on course. Thankfully, God walks with us every trying step just as God walked with the Hebrew people every minute of those forty long years. This is our comfort and strength.
Ask any pastor to tell their call story, and then sit back and relax. Usually, it’s a tale with twists and turns … A story that winds around more times than a slinky with an answer that is just as slow. As you reflect on your own call story — where and when you have heard God calling you to serve — what stands out to you? How have you been surprised? Where has your faith increased? What new venture is God calling you to today?
Ever have one of those days when your feelings are all over the map? When your thoughts are bouncing all around? When you aren’t sure which end is up? I think the Crazy Huggins tangle is perfect for those days. There is nothing like a little time with God to sort through the crazy in your life. When it’s all said and done, the feelings and the thoughts may all still be there, but so is God, who is perfectly willing to wade through the messiness of our lives and listen while we talk — or tangle — it out. Grab a pen and a tile and tangle your crazy out. God is listening.
Mac Davis sang, “You’re gonna find the way to Heaven is a rough and rocky road if you don’t stop and smell the roses along the way …”
We’ve just returned from a short vacation with our oldest son, our daughter-in-law, our grandchildren, and some of our daughter-in-law’s family. It was purely a get-away: theme park, camping, and chilling out. Sabbath time is hard to find sometimes and yet necessary for the soul. God understands the significance of Sabbath, commanding that we observe Sabbath. Sometimes we find Sabbath time in a day off, sometimes on vacation, sometimes in fifteen minutes of tangling. Here’s to stopping to smell the roses …
His name was Abraham. Named after the Isrealite patriarch and the sixteenth president of the United States of America, Abraham had been given a name his parents had insisted bestowed honor and distinction. It was a serious name. However, Abraham was rarely serious. As a child, he was anything but serious. His friends had called him “Abe-the-Ham” in school. When Abraham’s friends went to college, Abe went to clown school. Yes. Clown school. Abe-the-Ham became very serious about clowning, but he never felt that anyone ever took him … or his craft … seriously. Not his friends. Not his deceased wife. Not his only son or grandchildren. Certainly not his parents. As Abraham sat on the bench at the rest area where the circus caravan had stopped on that brisk September day, Abraham wondered if God had ever taken him seriously either.
The circus was disbanding. It had never been a Barnum and Bailey production, but it had provided enough for him to care for his family. At seventy-five years old, however, Abraham’s son was grown and living across the country with his own children. Abraham looked around at the small circus family he had known and loved for years, and wondered what he would do now. He couldn’t imagine his life without clowning, but he could hear his father’s voice in his head saying, “It’s time to grow up, Abraham. It’s time to get a real job.” Was it? What was a “real job,” he wondered. He didn’t know anything else. Abraham stood and stretched, and walked a slow walk around the small pond next to the picnic area. He could hear children laughing on the playground, and Abraham prayed for each one of them as he walked, each step deliberate and prayerful, each breath a prayer for their safety, their health, and a sense of acceptance for who they were as children of God. Abraham also prayed for his son, Isaac, and for Isaac’s wife Addison, and for the six grandchildren, ages fifteen to five, whom he rarely saw. Then Abraham got back on the travel bus for the remainder of his last ride with the circus he loved.
A few hours later, Abraham wearily opened the door to his too quiet home, walked inside, and crawled into bed, his tear stained face showing his age more than ever. Abraham closed his eyes to sleep with the words of Revelation 21:5 running through his head, “And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’”
It was then that the phone rang. Startled by the ringing of the house phone in the darkness, Abraham clumsily reached for the receiver. “Hello?” he choked through sobs he was trying to control. There was silence, and then, “Dad?” Isaac sounded distracted. “Dad is that you? I meant to call Addison, but you’re next to her on my phone. It’s late for you. I’m sorry.”
Abraham’s voice quivered as he said, “It’s fine, Isaac.”
“Dad, are you O.K.?” Isaac’s tone changed from distraction to concern. “Dad? What’s going on?” And within moments, Abraham filled Isaac in on the whole story as tears rolled down his weathered face. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Isaac asked.
“You’re busy with your own life,” Abraham said. “You have Addison and the children and your law practice …”
“Dad,” Isaac said, “I’m never too busy for you.” He paused. “You know, Alex called our attention to a feature on the news the other night about a clown company here that ministers to children and elderly and hospitalized. Addison thought we should mention it to you … she’s been bugging me about it all week. I just thought you were happy with the circus ….” Isaac’s voice trailed while his words sank in for both of them. “Listen, Dad,” he said. “You could live here while you figure out what you want to do.”
“I don’t want to impose, Isaac,” Abraham protested, weakly.
Isaac laughed out loud. “It’s a circus here. You’ll fit right in!” And then, before Abraham could object, Isaac announced, “I’m clearing my schedule for the week, Dad. I’ll book a flight for tomorrow morning, and rent a car. We’ll talk things through when I get there, but Dad? I’d really like for you to think about this.”
Abraham already had. His smile beamed through the tears and the darkness. God was doing a new thing, and Abe-the-Ham would have a new ministry and a new hope … thanks be to God!
On this date in 1922, Christian K Nelson patented the Eskimo Pie. Celebrate by having Eskimo Pies for fellowship after worship today. Invite the people at the grocery store from whom you buy the pies to join you for worship next Sunday.
A year ago, I started this daily posting of invitations in response to a sermon I preached that asked “What good can come out of ______?” and responded with “Come and see.” It was never my expectation that anyone would do every one of these, but it was my hope that each person reading it would do some of them. I pray that this has offered some new possibilities as you have considered who God might be calling you to invite to worship. Today ends this year-long endeavor, but I hope with all that is in me that the inviting continues. Often, all it takes for someone who is longing for community to be willing to step into the unknown is a genuine invitation. May you be blessed …. #comeandsee