It's been an interesting year for me. My wife had our second son in September, I started seminary last June, I went back to visit the place were I spent my first 3 1/2 years of full-time ministry, and my parents have begun the process of searching for their first house EVER!
Time has passed, much faster than I would like it to have. I am constantly reminding myself to not wish away these years when both of my boys are young. It will be gone sooner than I think and I will be wishing to have it back again. As I watched some video of my oldest son's first birthday this week, it was hard to believe what had happened to the time. I was trying to picture holding him the way that I hold our youngest son, it was only two years ago that he was that same size.
Having two boys is a draining experience. Of course, my wife can attest to this more than I can. She is a woman whose patience has probably grown tremendously in our nearly 8 years of marriage, not only in dealing with our boys, but also in dealing with me. I had bonded with my oldest son, Dylan, for nearly two years and really wondered how I was going to take to our new little boy, Tucker. It was difficult at first because I almost felt that I was betraying Dylan and abandoning him. But over time, I put those thoughts away and allowed myself to love Tucker just as much as Dylan. They are both incredible boys, even as young as they are, and I look at them with pride and joy every time that I lay eyes on them.
Seminary has been good. It actually spurs a lot of the thoughts and ideas that will most likely end up on this blog. It has been a challenge to try to balance everything and not have someone mad at me. I think I have done a fairly good job with it, but my opinion can hardly be described as "objective." I have done all right and while it has been stressful, putting it off will mean missing some even more significant years in the life of my sons.
My first 3 1/2 years in full-time ministry were difficult. The situation to which I was called was tough, at best. The people that we met were great, the pastor that I worked for was full of grace and patience, and the city that we lived in was full of interesting people and exciting opportunities. Things did not go the way that anyway had thought that they would. The ending of the time there happened much faster than we would have liked, but that was probably for the best.
Going back to visit nearly a year and a half after we had left, I had no idea what to expect as far as my emotions were concerned. There were other circumstances that impacted my emotions during the trip as well, although I was unsure of how they might impact them. We intentionally spent time with people and, although we did not see everyone that we would have liked, we saw a good deal of the people that we came to love, and who came to love us during our time there. It was a short visit, but time was well spent, and although we would again miss the people when we left, we felt affirmed in the fact that God had called us elsewhere and His work continues in that place through some amazing people.
The hardest of the 4 things that I had experienced in the past 12 months has got to be my parents' transition. Forget the fact that I am coaching them on house hunting and buying as I am in my third house in 8 years. My parents have lived in the same house and my father has served at the same church since 1974. That's 35 years! He has become a fixture in town. This transition really means that time is marching on. It's one thing to see your grandparents get older but an entirely different thing to see your parents grow older. While they don't necessarily act older, age will slow down anyone.
Time is marching on and I can't slow it down, but I can look at it differently. If I measure my days by what tasks that I have accomplished, time will move quicker. But if I measure my days in the lives that I have interacted with, the people who I have touched in those days, my time and how it is spent will look different. In Galatians 6, Paul writes, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people..." I have to ask myself, "Am I making the most of every opportunity that crosses my path?" It's easy to see people as barriers to accomplishing my goals, do I look at them as such or do I see them as opportunities? Opportunities not necessarily for me to better them, but them to better me.
I heard someone once say, "If you look at the things in your life that you do, you need to evaluate them by asking yourself this question: when you throw them up against the wall of eternity, do they make a mark?" Those words have stuck with me. They are words to live by. I hope that as I end every day that God has allowed me to take part of, I can say that I have seized opportunities and that what was accomplished will be more significant than just having an impact on the temporal. I want to be used by God to make an eternal impact. Do you?