Thursday, June 26, 2008

(Living in the) Parentheses

Two months ago today, our family drove away from the PCC parking lot - moving van stuffed to bursting, minivan following close behind. We hugged our friends and said goodbye and shed some tears. So much has happened. I can't believe it's only been two months.

And here we are in Washington.

I remember the spring of 2000, when I had already been called to PCC. I still had several months to live and work in Lancaster. I was a high school teacher, and I needed to honor my commitment to finish out the year. Every day was a challenge. I loved my job. I loved the kids. I believed in what I was doing... But my heart wasn't totally in it. I knew I was on my way out. I knew PCC, with all its promises of new and exciting community and ministry, was waiting... the Promised Land, shining on the horizon.

The remainder of my time in the desert was just that: time in the desert. Not wandering, exactly, but waiting, longing... I'm afraid I wasn't too attentive to my work. I wasn't as "tuned in" as I had been in the past. The rest of my time became nothing more than parentheses between two far more important phrases.

My question: How can I avoid that this summer? God has very clearly led Luanne and the kids and me here to Newport Covenant. No, we're not going to be here long... and I feel that. I have a terrible tendency to minimize life in the parentheses. But God lives here too. Sometimes the parenthetical details bring life to the story. They bring out the beautiful color or texture of the narrative God is writing.

This morning I woke up singing an old song. I can't imagine why, unless God brought the memory to me for a reason. Michele Pillar had a song back in the 80s called "Each Day He Gives Me," and the lyric that I can't get out of my head is this:

Each day He gives me can never be replaced
Each one can be a victory
Each day He gives me so much that I'm amazed
And I feel His love lead me all of my way
Each day...

Over a very cheesy synth-pop foundation, Michele sang some pretty simple but profound truth. Today matters. Today, this week, this summer - even this hour... can be lived fully for Him to accomplish His purposes in my life, in the life of the Newport Covenant family, and in the world.

I am so blessed. It's easy to see already what this summer is giving to me and my family:

First of all, rest. That's truly something we didn't see much of in Redwood City. Luanne was working three jobs and going to school while trying to be wife and mother and home manager. Our family was constantly busy, running like mad from activity to activity. School, gymnastics, soccer, karate, youth group, band, drum lessons, choir, Sunday worship, various groups...

These days stretch out lazily... Days last forever here; it's light until at least 9:30pm. We can find ourselves at the Lake Washington beach until 6:30 and then go, Wow... look at the time. Luanne read The Shack and then asked me what she should read next. Friends will know... Luanne doesn't have time to read. The kids play together for hours, building forts, playing "backyard baseball" - all four of them. I have only one or two evenings out per week. It's awesome. Sundays I lead one worship gathering at 9am, and then I enjoy worshipping in the congregation at 10:45. Then I'm done... with a whole day left to rest and enjoy my family!

Second, friends. We have already been embraced and welcomed so warmly. Brad Bergfalk is a great pastor with a real vision for what God can do at Newport, and I'm honored to be a little piece of helping that vision become reality. Plus, he's got great taste in music, movies and wine! Adam Anderson, the youth/young adults pastor, is a great friend already... He and his family have been amazing, hanging out with us, joining us for dinners and brunches, inviting us to their houses, catching movies... The worship gathering that Adam leads, Extol, really speaks to my soul. I'm grateful to be able to sit under his teaching and the great music by Chad Gardner and band.

Third, family. It's awesome to be living close to Luanne's family. We spent time with her Grandpa Paul and his wife, Olivia, last week. Luanne had lunch with her cousin Julie this week. When have we ever had this opportunity? Not to mention the time to be with my immediate family. Jake and I have been reading Harry Potter together for years, but we've never plowed through the books like this!

Now... What can God do through me for Newport? How can I be used? I believe that, ultimately, my role here is to pave the way... for a full-time, permanent worship pastor in the very near future. Simply by providing consistent leadership in the department and publically on Sunday mornings, by building relationships and listening to people, by appreciating what has been done here in the last several years without a worship pastor, I think I can grow an awareness and desire for someone to come and do what I am doing... except better, because he or she can stay and grow and build...

Yes, my call, my future is in Houston. I long to be there with Ted and the Access community. This summer will come to an end, but not today. Today I want to live in the moment and appreciate it for what it is... the good gift of God. Time and friends and family and ministry. There will be much craziness in the packing, the moving, the driving, the money, the new jobs and schools and on and on. A return to our crazy lives lurks just around the corner! So today, I will appreciate the parenthesis, the pause, the deep breath. I will thank God for it. I will be grateful to Newport for the amazing blessings they are pouring out on my family, and I will serve them with my best attention and love. I will love my family well. I will be awake to today's possibilities and promises.

Each day He gives me can never be replaced
Each one can be a victory
Each day He gives me so much that I'm amazed
And I feel His love lead me all of my way
Each day...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is awesome to hear Matt! I am glad you are enjoying the time God has given you with your family! I love long, lazy days with nothing to do but hang out with each other!

Suzie

Blog Widget by LinkWithin