Life Has Gotten In The Way

Yesterday Carol and I were in attendance at the funeral of a dear elderly gentleman who passed away at the well-lived-life of 90. During the service a lady, who like the deceased, had been a mentor for me spoke about her departed friend. Since I had retired from my career as a pastor at the end of 2015, our paths had only crossed a couple of times.

As she spoke I felt a sense of sadness and loss at how we hadn’t connected, the opportunities that we had missed. She being in her late-80s now, it really had fallen to me to initiate our chats and I had let it gradually drift away. After the service we were talking and I apologized to her. I said, “Vera, I’m sorry that we haven’t gotten together with you, taken you to dinner, and talked for about three hours. I have no excuse. Quite honestly, life has gotten in the way.”

She understood, but it didn’t erase the disappointment I had in myself. Life had been thrown into a container, shaken, and rolled out like Yahtzee dice to reveal a new configuration. Last year I unexpectedly had ended up teaching 7th Grade language arts from August through May. My teaching has been heavy on the assignments so far this year also. COVID-19 has thrown a monkey wrench into the plans for most of us. There have been other things that have come up as well, but the bottom line is that I so often allow responsibilities to get in the way of relationships.

It seems like the responsible thing to do, right? Taking care of responsibilities is the grown up thing to do, right? In saying that I’m feeling my “Martha” coming out. Jesus had been at her house and Martha had been scurrying around taking care of “responsibilities”. After all, the bread doesn’t get ready for baking on its own…and this is Jesus that is being waited on…and, and someone needs to take charge and get the dishes, drinks, napkins, food, dessert, and wash basin ready. The words of Luke put it into context. He says that Martha was distracted by the preparations.” Meanwhile, her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, which irked Martha to the nth degree.

And Jesus replies to her whining with these words,  “Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about many things, but only a few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

Well, my Martha had been in the dominant spot for a while. Life has gotten in the way. I’ve tended to be richly responsible and relationally-restricted.

There’s been glimpses of relational richness, like when I flew to St. Louis about month ago and drove up to Springfield, Illinois for a reunion of my Judson College cross country team 45 years later. What an awesome couple of days that was! I thank God for Jim and Lynn Fay who brought up the idea last March when Carol and I drove over to Aspen and had dinner with them during their days in Colorado skiing.

Life just has a way of getting in the way and blurring our vision. My two best friends in ministry, Chuck Moore and Tom Bayes, and I have talked about getting together for the past two years. Tom lives outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Chuck just began an interim pastor position at First Baptist Church of Foxboro, Massachusetts. He also had a heart episode almost two years ago that put the fragileness of life squarely in front of us. Tom’s son, Brandon, has pressed us…all right, scolded us… about the need to get it scheduled.

I miss people. I miss my friend, Dave Volitis, who lives in San Antonio now. And I miss my best friends from high school, Dave Hughes and Mike “Fairboy” Fairchild, one in Bradenton, Florida and the other in Rochester, New York. I miss Harold and Carol Anderson, now living outside of Las Vegas; and David Leonard and Dave Golder in Mason, Michigan, who I served on the Mason School Board with; and Dave and Pam Shaffer in Davison, Michigan; and Wendell and Heather Garrison, now serving in

The Marthas in us have distracted us with all the other “stuff” of our lives. Maybe you’re like me. Maybe there’s someone you need to call up and invite him/her to join you at Village Inn for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. Maybe it’s simply someone that NEEDS YOU to call him/her!

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