August 30, 2010

A Brush with Death

On Saturday, August 14, Nancy and I were driving south through Kinston, North Carolina to join family members for a vacation on Emerald Isle. It’s a trip we have made twenty times or more without incident, but on this occasion, things were different.

Distracted for just a moment, I drove through a red light, and as a result, we were hit by another car on the driver’s side. The impact totaled the car, but we walked away without help from others. Nancy was badly bruised by her seat belt, and I lost some hearing in my left ear where the side air bag hit me.

Fortunately, the adults in the other car were not hurt, and there were no children who might have been injured in the accident.

I can’t say for certain that if the circumstances were just a little different, Nancy and I might have been severely injured or even killed, but a possible brush with death like the one we survived makes you think about your mortality. And the question that comes to my mind as a result of our accident is just this: Was I prepared to die at the corner of Queen Street and Vernon Avenue in Kinston, North Carolina on August 14, 2010?

In her book, God Never Blinks, author Regina Brett quotes priest Father Zubricky who suggests that when your life is over, God will have only one question for us. “Did you love?”

I have had a lot of time since the accident to reflect on my answer to that question, and I know now that my truthful response would be, “Yes, I have loved. . . . . .but I have not loved enough.”

God has given me another opportunity to prepare for the day when I will be asked, “Did you love?” Next time, I hope I can respond without adding a . . . “but.”

“A new command I give you. Love one another . As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

August 9, 2010

Communicating Your Joy

When I meet certain people on the street, I have learned to avoid asking, “How are you?” That's because their answer is often so bleak and dispiriting that by the time their litany of troubles and misfortunes is complete, I will be utterly and totally depressed.

Such experiences remind me of a song from long ago that included the lyrics, "The screen door's broken, and the flies are comin' in, the well's run dry, and . . . ". I don't remember more, but you get the idea.

All of us know others who are just the opposite . . . people who are cheerful and uplifting when we meet them. I recently had an experience with two people whose enthusiasm for life is not only readily apparent but contagious

Early in August, I attended a sales retreat sponsored by Monroe Wheelchair in Rochester, New York. Our son, Doug, owns the company, and writer and college professor, Dr. Gary Schwantz, was the facilitator for the seminar. A year ago, Gary and I cooperated to marry Doug and our new daughter-in-law, Holly, and I wanted to renew our friendship and observe him in his more traditional role as a motivational speaker.

Gary's cheerful disposition was readily apparent in his interaction with the group, and his clear, creative and thought provoking comments and questions on such topics as family, service and the dignity of life left me reflective, pondering my own feelings on those subjects.

The other inspirational person I met the following Sunday was Judy White, the pastor at the Bluff Point Methodist Church. Nancy and I returned to the church where I was the lay pastor and we were members many years ago to recruit people to sing in a men's chorus sometime this fall.

Judy's message was about the zest for life that comes from faith in Christ. Her uplifting sermon was spirit centered and delivered with enthusiasm, energy and confidence. A line from the closing hymn, My Faith Looks Up to Thee, summariazes what I took from Judy’s message: "May thy rich grace impart strength to my fainting heart, my zeal inspire.” When we have faith in the promises of Jesus, we can face our problems with a joyful heart regardless of our circumstances.

Here's my challenge to those who read Contemporary Parables. We have a choice in life. We can choose to communicate in words and actions a message of dismay and desperation or we can be an example to others of the joy that comes with faith in knowing Jesus Christ.