(you’ve walked in on me giving words to friends at our 10 year class reunion this past week….)
…So many of us have gone so many different directions. Some have pursued careers, some families, some life experiences, some giving themselves for others, and some all of the above…but all of us have experienced one common reality: The “real world” contains things we never completely understood…and many that we still don’t. Words like “fatherhood”, and “family”, and “full time job” are all things I thought I knew about 10 years ago. Life has continued to teach me…that I have so much yet to learn. But 10 years ago, I thought I knew a lot…
Here are a few reminders about the things we all knew 10 years ago:
- In 2003, the average price for a gallon of gas was $1.60
- Cameras actually IN cell phones were the status symbol of the high-tech.
- We were all going to keep in touch forever on this new website called “MySpace”.
But with all that we knew, there were plenty of things that life would teach us after we crossed that stage to get our diplomas. I’ve written a little poem/spoken word/thing highlighting some things I’ve learned since that day 10 years ago:
I’ve learned that life gets hard, as credit cards piled up we had our fill of spilling ourselves out on merchandise and eating nice food. Now Macaroni & Cheese is usually our mood.
I learned that becoming a father does a lot more than give someone to call you dad, but makes you realize the preciousness of the world you already had. That smiles and hugs,
and cutting a rug with a 5 year old,
are more fulfilling than any event ticket ever sold.
And that it takes bold people to stand up when there’s injustice and strife
I learned that one of the boldest people in my life, was my wife.
I’ve learned that Iowa smells like Illinois, and teenage girls and boys need silence from life’s noise.
Youth ministry still makes me tick, although today it’s less about neat tricks and more about
time with God.
I realize it was Odd to spell Praise with a “Z”.
I’ve learned that Wheel of Fortune really exists, and that Pat Sajak isn’t all that funny
But when he gives you money, you smile.
And that miles from where we thought we’d end up, we are.
That a car is less cool than a van when you’ve got a small clan to drive around.
I’ve learned the beauty of the sound of being held to the ground by my own children
And I’ve found that family is a lot more important than I ever knew.
And I’ve learned that many of you a more important too.
You see in college I collected friends like badges, and my vest was overflowing
All the while, my wife was focused on knowing a few.
And over the years, it’s rubbed off on me too.
I’ve learned that relationships are more than information, that stations of life are always moving,
And that proving our identity with titles is a race none of us can win.
I’ve also learned it’s never too late to begin.
Because the same God that many of us worshiped in school, is still with us through the drool,
When life makes me the fool, all the diapers and messy moments of brokenness are exactly the times He’s promised to be around.
And I’ve found Him.
Time after time, throughout the highs and lows, I’ve found him close
Even in the days when I’d rather walk away. He’d stay.
I’ve learned I can say the word “Hope” without worrying if it’s real
And that even if I feel frustration, I can offer it to His New Creation.
Because throughout each of these 10 years, God’s been taking tears of brokenness
and trading them for tears of redemption. I should probably mention, he’s not done.
We decided our family was still lacking by one.
God has called us to reach out to a child in need of a family.
If you know much about me, you know God’s been moving.
And proving just how powerful his Story can be, to look at me and think
“Here’s someone who’d make a great father.”
That my identity was not fastened down by the story of my past, but speaking His last words,
Filling our home with the story of His tomorrow.
Not borrowing hope of a day that some think might come,
but building foundations on what already is…
And that’s one thing this morning you don’t want to miss.
No matter who you are, and what’s happened ’til now, the power we wield is not in what was in ’03,
but what will be. And He
Invites us to see a part of it today.
As we moved to our first “Adult home” in Iowa, we had no idea we’d find ourselves in huge credit card debt. We had no idea we’d get out of it thanks to Wheel of Fortune. We didn’t know we’d end up moving to be close to family, or join the Free Methodist Church. We definitely didn’t realize we’d have a house full of girls, and be looking forward to adding a 4th…this one from Africa. But here we are. And 10 years from “here and now”…I have no idea what our updates might be.
There are thousands of stories that each of us could tell about how our lives have changed over the past 10 years, and hopefully you’ve already begun sharing many of those stories. We have an advantage many previous generations never had – the ability to stay easily connected to (or creep on) our friends from college, seeing everything that is experienced, celebrated, and mourned. We also have a disadvantage many previous generations never had – the ability to know everything “about” the people we care for, without ever letting them know we care.
My offer and invitation to you is this: reconnect. The people sitting around these tables may not have everything in common with you. Some of us are so incredibly different. But each of us shared an experience of community during our time here at ONU that will never go away. Not just because Olivet will always be calling us, asking us for donations toward the future of our Alma Mater. But because all of it…the laughs, the tears, the anxiety, the celebrating, the high moments, and the difficult moments – will forever be a part of who we are collectively. Because if there’s one thing these past 10 years have definitely taught us, is the value of community as we face these next 10 years learning all that life has to teach us. I look forward to celebrating it all with you again….
I would like to close this morning with a quote from the late Millard Reed, who spoke at our Graduation ceremonies back in 2003. About learning in life, he states, “I recognize that all scholarship, all invention, all discovery, all exploration – which is truth – is God’s Truth. Christians are to have a passion for learning based on the supposition that all truth is God’s Truth.”
Whatever comes, may these next 10 years fill our lives with such Truth…and may we be transformed by it as all things are becoming New….