Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What's Your Wallpaper?

I have the cutest photo ever of my new grandson. He is lying oh so still on his side, his forefinger curled under his little chin, his dark blue eyes focused intently on the camera. I promptly set this adorable photograph as the wallpaper on my smartphone. Now I can show it off proudly to anyone who enquires about him. So precious!

But there is one small problem. My grandson is somewhat hidden in the background. In the foreground are all the apps and icons that are so important to me...all the little buttons that I need to use every day. 

They are, after all, indispensable...one push of the globe gives me instant access to the worldwide web; an opened envelope with a number beside it is a signal that I have urgent mail; the icon of a file folder reminds me of all the important people in my life; the tiny green ear piece is the key to my phone; and of course the blue square with the letter F in the center is my link to the essential Facebook.

Then did I mention the camera icon, my Instagram app, the monthly calendar, my Pinterest link, the MapQuest button, or my highly addictive Scrabble app, just to name a few?
And the result of all this? When I want to see my precious grandson, I have to drag all those important apps out of the way, just so I can focus on what really matters.

What if God has become the wallpaper in my life?

What if I have placed God, my most precious possession, in the background, behind all those other important things that demand my time and attention? And if I am struggling with that, how can I help those tweens I teach every Sunday who are wrestling with it too?

I have learned the simple truth that on those mornings when I manage to lay my phone down, and put God first, my whole day seems brighter. And those tweens? Is there a way to help them experience that too? As a teacher, mentor, and spiritual guide, if I can be honest with them about my own daily struggles with the world, then maybe I can help them drag some of their distractions out of the way, so that they can see what truly matters too.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Rottweiler

Irritation crept in as I pressed the handle down for hot water and heard a gurgle that told me the pot was empty. I was already disgruntled because I had to get up too early, and this did nothing to improve my mood. Can I help you? a bright and cheery voice said behind me. I turned to see the hotel breakfast attendant- a young man, all smiles, wearing his red Best Western apron with pride. There's no hot water for tea, I grumbled.
Oh, I'm so sorry about that. But here's another pot of hot water we use for oatmeal...can I pour some for you?
No thanks, I retorted quickly, you need boiling water for tea, and it won't be hot enough. I'll just wait. Still smiling, the young breakfast attendant poured some of the hot water into a dish and tested it with his fingers. Yep, he laughed, as he quickly withdrew them, it's hot!
But I am stubborn. No thanks, I said again. I'll just wait, and turned away. Less than twenty seconds later, the young man reappeared at my side holding a fresh cup of steaming water and a teabag. Here you go, he said cheerfully. Can I get you anything else?
For the next thirty minutes, I watched and listened as this young man greeted each and every hotel guest who came for breakfast, from the youngest to the oldest, conversing easily in Spanish and English. I watched him welcome, chat, laugh, run, fetch, lift, carry, clean, and serve, all the time wearing a big smile on his face. I was not the only guest to compliment him on his excellent service.
The young man's name is John. He is a senior in college studying Hotel Hospitality. And his philosophy when he comes to work each morning is 'to make everyone happy.' John succeeded.
I have no idea if John is a Christian. I have no idea if he knows just how Christ-like he is. But I cannot help compare him to a Christian man I once knew who stood like a guard dog at the entrance to our sanctuary, on the look-out for any 'undesirables.' I can still picture the scene as if it were yesterday, that Sunday morning when my son's friend decided to try out this 'religion thing' for the first time. And how the rottweiler growled as the teenager entered the church, and let out his most ferocious bark, Take that hat off! I distinctly remember how my son's friend turned crimson as he pulled his hat from his disheveled hair, in front of the entire choir, congregated in the entrance to the sanctuary, robed in their finest. Of course he never came back. Why would he?
And as I prepare to welcome children and families to our church this Sunday, I'm going to try my best to emulate John...because it's people like him who ensure that the Best Western hotel is full...while sadly, our churches are not.