Archive for February 2011

One And Twenty-Two

February 24, 2011

WORDS FROM W.W. February 24, 2011

Last week the Girls’ Varsity basketball team that I’m assistant coach for finished their season.
“One and Twenty-Two!”
For some reason when I spell it out it doesn’t look as bad as “1-22!”
When you only have one returning varsity player who averaged more than 10 minutes a game last year (Notice I said 10 minutes, not 10 points!) you have the necessary elements of a recipe for…for…corn mush. I can’t think of anything more void of sweetness and lip-smacking potential.
People shake their heads in pity. Opposing coaches would be thinking ahead to the next game while still in the first quarter of their game against us. Officials would give us certain calls out of sympathy.
The only thing worse than 1-22 is 0-23.
What we learned, however, is that people have the opportunity to learn and grow more in the midst of adversity than in the sweet smelling trail of success. In fact, the Bible seems to have a lot of “One and Twenty-Two characters” in it. Think of Jonah. He was walking away from his potential. He was moonwalking double-time away from his calling and opportunity to make an impact. Think of Joseph. How bad does it have to get for your brothers to despise you so much they toss you into a pit? And then shortly after being sold to slave traders, ending up in prison. Joseph was “1-22” before he reached “his breakout season.”
I wouldn’t say Peter was “1-22”, but he was the type of guy who come win five in a row, and then quickly start a long losing streak. You never quite knew what kind of night Peter would have!
Our team hung together even in the midst of some lop-sided games. The players learned to support one another, to appreciate the fact that no one was jumping out of the boat in mid-stream. Two of the girls had been on the softball team that had won the league title and advanced to the state tournament. They went from that setting to being a part of a basketball team that one lost more games in one week than they did the whole season in softball. It was humbling, and yet it taught them that life is made up of some tough periods that require perseverance. It requires having some others to help you walk through the dry places.
Sometimes we appreciate people only for what they can do, not who they are. Sometimes we minimize their importance or value because they can’t do certain things.
Although I don’t wish 1-22 seasons on anyone, it has the ability to take life to a deeper level that is not based on who is most gifted.
Churches go through 1-22 seasons as well. They are times in which we re-evaluate who we are and what is important. We come through them with new understandings and renewed vision. Some things that we thought were vitally important we discover were just the trimmings.
“One and Twenty-Two!” Since I’m a writer I prefer to spell it out.

“The Next Bigger Thing”

February 9, 2011

WORDS FROM W.W. February 8, 2011

Super Bowl commercials went for $3 million for thirty seconds.
It didn’t quite fit in our church budget this year. Maybe next year!
I assumed that since most of the commercials were pretty forgettable it was due to the fact that the $3 million price tag didn’t leave much left over for creativity and production. In the past there have been a few companies that have staked their whole existence to a commercial during the Super Bowl. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with tying my future to whether a lot of people watch thirty seconds or exit for more nachos, but it’s happened.
We’re a culture that seems to always be looking for the next big thing, or even “the next bigger thing.” Just stop at a Best Buy and go to the 3-D TV display. What is better than an LED TV mounted to my wall? TV in 3-D! (Meanwhile we still have our TV that sticks about four feet out from the wall. We thought we were cool when we bought it about four years ago. Now we kind of feel like we did when we still had a turntable for our records, but everyone else had moved on.)
The next bigger thing! It happens in “church world” just as much. Very few of us are content for the peace of God, because the peace of God sometimes means residing in the same place for a while. It we’re constantly looking for the next bigger thing we’re very willing to leave the closeness of God in the present.
In Luke 9 we read the story of “the Transfiguration” where Jesus has a meeting on top of a mountain with Moses and Elijah. Three of his disciples witness this, and it must have been an amazing sight. Peter, however, wanted to move on to the next bigger thing and he suggested to Jesus that they put up three shelters- three new church additions, if you will- to mark the moment and take it to the next level. At the end of verse 33 in the NIV there is a sentence that appears in parentheses. In talking about Peter’s suggestion it reads “He did not know what he was saying.” In looking at my life, it frequently can be said, “He did not know what he was doing.”
How often do we not engage in the moment of what we’re doing now because we’re looking to make it larger than large? We’re prone to move on instead of being moved. Sometimes the next bigger thing is to be still where we are.
And besides, what would I do with an extra four feet in the room where our TV is?