I've had a couple of good friends following me around the past week or so. In fact, I suppose they have been there most of my life if not all of my life. I'm rather surprised they are there because many times I have taken them for granted and have not given them the attention nor the honor they deserve. Yet, they have hung on for the long haul.
A few months ago I found out that my prospectus had been selected as the outstanding doctor of ministry prospectus for 2007 and I would be receiving an award. I had no idea such award existed. Cheryl and I dressed in our "fine fettle" and trucked (literally - I drive a pick-up) off to the seminary. The award received was established by the Williamson family in honor of their parents, M. E. and Myrtle Williamson, who received degrees from Southwestern in 1926. Three of the sons and two of the grandchildren are also Southwestern graduates and have distinguished themselves in Baptist life. I am very grateful and have written to the donors.
This past Saturday, we trekked to Georgetown to watch Matt play baseball and for Andrew's 3rd birthday celebration. We all went to Berry Springs park in Williamson County for the celebration. Table and lawn chairs were set up among 1,000 pecan trees on the southern pasture of this park. It is on property settled by John Berry (great grandfather of Audie Murphy) in 1846. John had three wives during his 80 years and 18 children. I think it is safe to say he didn't spend time blogging! :)
Have you ever watched children play? The kids, dads and some moms played "baseball" (with a tennis ball). I wish I had the photo of the "Mighty
Casey Cheryl" beginning her head-first slide (unintentional I might add) into first base! We kept up with Grace and Grant's games through the text messages of two of our daughters. We were able to all be included even though all couldn't be physically present.
Oh - I almost forgot. Those two friends. They were there. They are always there. Goodness and Mercy. Doesn't Psalm 23:6 promise, "goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life."?
I thought on this yesterday and this morning as I caught up on blogs I read. The SBC's statistics show decline. The religious color commentators are giving reasons why. The BGCT stuff continues.
As I've reflected, I also reflected on those two friends, Goodness and Mercy, and whether or not we want their friendship. I do.
Every person whose name is mentioned on a blog; every person who lost their job at the BGCT; and every person still on staff in the SBC or BGCT is just that - a person. All of these people have families. Most have a spouse and/or children. Everything said has an affect, positive or negative on that family and those children. Everything done has an affect, positive or negative, on that family and those children. Trust me on that.
Paul the Apostle said, "...we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view" (2 Cor. 5:16, NLT). In v. 18 he tells us this new life in Christ is a gift from God, and in his theological explanation he said, "For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them" (2 Cor. 5:19, NLT).
That word "reconciliation" is a word of relationship. My two friends are relational. An inanimate object has never been "good" to me. Nor has it ever been "merciful". Goodness and mercy are God qualities and relational.
So could it just be that in a time of decline and in a time where accusations fly...could it be that in such a time as this that we, as people of God who have been reconciled to God...that we could look past the accusations and see the spouses, the children, the extended families and realize that we are never alone nor do we do and say things in isolation? We are in a world of relationship created for community. It is God's will that we not only be reconciled to Him, but also to one another.
Could it be that healing will come as we carve out space for these two friends, Goodness and Mercy and learn from them? Perhaps "Goodness" can help us treat others with goodness and perhaps "Mercy" can help us extend mercy to others.
This is not some spiritual "can't we all just get along" talk. No, there are significant issues and differences and they must be acknowledged and addressed. If God is not in the process, he will not be in the solution. We do not get "right" from doing "wrong".
I need my friends. I choose to walk with them and to stop evaluating others from a human point of view. There is too much at stake.