On Saturdays, I’m writing my thoughts that have rambled in my brain since hearing the sermon at my church. Today’s entry was inspired by Andy McQuitty’s sermon given at Irving Bible Church upon his return from sabbatical (it’s in-between the series we finished and the one we’re starting next week). This one is simply titled “Andy’s Sermon.”
I have to admit that I didn’t like it when the powers-that-be put me in charge of planning & implementing our summer family camp. The camp was a new idea we were trying, but since I’d previously run mission trips with 140 teenagers and ski trips with 80 people, I was the logical candidate to handle the detail work involved in this new idea.
Even though I was in on the discussions to do the camp and was in full agreement that it would be a vital discipleship piece for our church’s puzzle, my attitude began with that thing that happens when any of us are affected by the decisions others make. I said to myself, “Sure. I’ve got a ton of extra time to put energy into a new program, fellas. That 140-person mission trip is going to happen a month before the family camp…and that’s in addition to my normal day-in day-out stuff. So, yeah. I’ve got plenty of time to handle accommodations and programs in Colorado while the rest of my 50-hour work-weeks.”
So, I did the grunt work.
Hours on the phone pricing locales & chatting with their managers about meeting rooms and projectors. Sending e-mails to remind people when their installment payments were due…and keeping up with their payments on spreadsheets and making the deposits to our church’s accounting team. Getting the check requests signed and filed so all the payments would get to the vendors by deadlines. Keeping lists of families and ages and such to make sure our cabins were efficiently used to save a few bucks. Calling all the activity folks for white water rafting and horseback riding and hiking Winter Park so we could get group rates and all. Checking the menus for dietary restrictions and such. Arranging hotels for the families that were making the drive over two days. On and on it went.
Once we were there it was really just implementing all the plans and I began to relax with my own family and enjoy our time. Then the magic happened:
A surprise late June snow shower. Our Texan families were borrowing coats and hats so they could take their Christmas card photos and building snowmen and taking video and just enjoying the time in the snow. I got hit by a playful snowball right in the side of my head. A group of middle school kids had hit the holy grail of fun: Sneak attack snowball right in their youth pastor’s melon.
I didn’t see who did it, but I saw the group of four girls run into the cabin. The chase was on…and I was able to get my foot in the door before they closed/locked it. Like any good youth pastor, I claimed full knowledge of who did it and took the alleged perpetrator out into the snow for some snow shoveling into their face. All along they way she proclaimed–loudly–her innocence. All along the way I informed her she was guilty. Again, I didn’t know but somebody was going to playfully pay for it. So, Amanda got full fun retribution dealt to her.
She proclaimed her innocence for the rest of the camp.
She proclaimed her innocence for several weeks of Sunday School as she relived the story for her peers.
She proclaimed her innocence any and every time in came up…
…over the next 6 years.
Turns out that moment was the beginning of Amanda trusting me in the discipleship process. We laughed together and joked about it, but the relationship with her youth pastor that started that day turned into several years worth of discussions, coffees, lunches, mission trips, service projects and whatever other pieces was part of her discipleship puzzle. Lots of laughs. Lots of tears. Lots of trust.
Even through college years.
She asked me to perform her wedding ceremony and all that entails. We still keep in touch. It’s been nearly 15 years and counting.
Remember…this all started with some mundane tasks. Phone calls and check requests and accounting and hours spent doing the grunt work to make that camp happen.
Which is why this quote from Andy truly struck a chord with me:
What Paul is saying is that the ‘one thing’ is the basis and the informing principle of the many things. That yes, we all have many things to do but everything we do must be informed, motivated and evaluated by the one thing. Are you with me? We do many things. But everything must be based on the ‘one thing.’ In other words, when I’m working with middle school students and taking a group of boys on a retreat, I’m leading in that with the ‘one thing’ in mind. That as I’m doing this, I want to experience the power of Jesus and I want to serve Him passionately. When I’m doing my laundry, while I’m doing my laundry, I’m still doing the ‘one thing.’ Because I want to do my laundry in such a way, which such an awareness of the presence and the power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit that I’m experiencing His power and serving Him passionately while I’m washing my shorts. In other words, we are called to a ‘one thing’ kind of a life.
Maybe my attitude would’ve been better if I’d been thinking that way as I planned the camp, no?
That the myriad of mundane tasks…that each one, as it was happening…might have an eternal purpose?
Now, I don’t want to overstate it. Amanda had parents that did the heavy parenting stuff of discipleship. She had AWANA leaders and small group leaders and friends who all sharpened her. I was just a piece of that puzzle. But make no mistake, that day was important for my piece of the puzzle to happen.
And as I’ve spoken with other families who went over the years many of them share how integral those camps were to their spiritual lives and that of their family.
And just maybe if I’d understood that reality I would’ve had a better mindset as I did the grunt work. Author Douglas Coupland said it well when he said, “The only valid viewpoint for any decision is eternity.” Wow.
Just maybe that’s the secret to the abundant life Christ promised in John 10:10. To think about the potential eternal consequences of whatever mundane thing we’re doing…
…or whatever spectacular thing we’re doing.
Because both ends of the spectrum and everything in-between really are our “one thing.” It all has eternity in the balance.