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Thursday, August 12, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Matthew 19-20

I know some of you wondered what happened yesterday that got me so freaked out that I wasn’t able to blog. Since you were so patient with me yesterday, I thought the least I could do is provide a few words of explanation.

I had an amazing turn of events over the last couple of days. Each of the things that happened to me was relatively small (in and off themselves), but it was the combination of things that pushed me to my breaking point.

Things started for me on Saturday evening when I was blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of a friend’s baptismal experience that happened on the beach in Santa Monica. When I waded out into the water to be a part of the event, I forgot to leave my Blackberry behind. Consequently, my phone got wet and died. Not only did I lose my telephone service – I lost a good portion of my Internet access, my calendar, and my GPS service.

This pushed me into my second area of frustration.

I had been without a reliable computer in my office for months and had grown completely dependent on my personal lap top. Wouldn’t you know it - the lap top died a couple of weeks ago. This forced me to run out and get a new lap top.

The new lap top has all kinds of wonderful bells and whistles, but none of them were speaking to each other. I was forced, for instance, to create 3 separate calendars and lists of contacts. In a moment of frustration, I decided it was time to invest in software that would allow me to get all of the programs speaking to each other. After a sizeable investment of time and money over the weekend, as of yesterday morning, the programs were still not speaking to each other.

That was okay because my replacement cell phone (and it’s accompanying calendar & contact list) was supposed to arrive yesterday afternoon, right?

Well, the phone arrived all right – but it didn’t activate correctly so several necessary features were inoperable. I couldn't access email, I couldn't use the GPS feature, and I had no browser.

Then, as I was driving to a pastoral visit that evening, the “check engine” light went on in the car. I took it to the dealer first thing yesterday morning, and they said the electrical problem could be several hundred dollars. I wondered how I was going to get through the week with an individual in serious condition at a hospital and two memorial services to pull together for this weekend.

Needless to say, I was in melt down mode.

Thankfully over the course of the day, several of these situations resolved themselves. First, the dealer called back and let me know that the car’s electrical repairs were covered by the extended warranty I had purchased when I first bought the car. Then, after spending two hours on the phone speaking to technician, I finally got the missing features installed on my cell phone. Finally, I stumbled upon software online that I could download and get all of my calendars and contacts synchronized for the first time in my 8-1/2 years of ministry. No fooling!

I can totally understand now the depth of Dicken’s famous words from A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Tuesday was certainly that for me.

So what does all of this have to do with today’s reading?

Well, I couldn’t help but smile as I read the section where “the mother of the Zebedee brothers” asked if her sons could receive the seats of honor in Jesus’ presence. Jesus’ response to the mother’s request was simple: “Are you capable of drinking the cup that I’m about to drink?”

The implication – of course – was that someone who desires to be close to Jesus ought to be willing to pay the ultimate price. The irony I’ve found is that sometimes the biggest prices we pay in following Jesus aren’t moments when our lives are literally on the line. Often the moments lie in those quite moments of accumulated frustration when we struggle to reconcile our desire to show up and be the presence of Christ - with all of the obstacles that present themselves along the way: sometimes even as the result of our own practice of ministry. Oy!!

Today, I would ask you, “What do you consider some of the more challenging things that cause you to wonder if you have what it takes to drink from the cup?”

Til next time …

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