Hanging Up The Hat

May 15, 2018

I like hats.

I wear a lot of hats. Some I wear to pretend I’m someone else. Some I wear when I do particular things or when I go particular places. There are different hats for different circumstances and different hats for different seasons.

I wear a lot of hats… figuratively as well as literally. By that I mean that I fill many roles for many different people. I am a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a friend, a neighbor, a pastor, a mentor, a board member. Occasionally I’m an actor and sometimes I’m a teacher and at times I’m a counselor.

I wear a lot of hats.

About 16 years ago I put on a new hat. I became a Band Dad when my oldest son signed up for band. When you connect that occasion with the fact that I was a band director for seven years before I started pastoring, you see that it was a significant thing to put on that new hat.

Tonight I will go to my last concert as a public school band dad.

It’s weird, I tell you.

I have been to at least a couple of public school band concerts every year since 2002. I’ve been to SO MANY marching contests and football games and band booster meetings. And the fundraisers—Oh my WORD the fundraisers…

I’ve traveled many miles, met many friends, and made SO MANY great memories through band. I’ve grilled more chicken breasts and quesadillas than I can count.

I’ve watched three of my kids find their spouses just like I found mine – in band.

I’ve seen two of my kids go on to earn some serious scholarship money through band.

It’s been such a huge part of our lives. And it’s not entirely over. We still have a few of our expanded brood significantly involved in band into the future. But my public school band dad days are coming to a close.

I’m hanging up that hat.

It’s a season that is coming to a close. And, with it’s passing, a new one begins. I don’t know all of the hows and whys and whens and wheres, but I know that there are great things ahead. I know that there are concerts yet to come that I can choose to attend as a pastor and friend cheering on the kids that he is so proud to support. And there are so many other ways to grow and learn and experience.

It’s hard to hang up this hat.

I like hats.

I wear a lot of hats.

As I hang up an old one rich with memories, I trust the next one I pick up will bring as much joy as the last.

To all of my band family, thanks for helping me enjoy this hat.

Advertisements

The Mess of Failure

December 21, 2017

Failure is something we all have in common. We’ve all experienced it.

In fact, if we’re completely honest with ourselves, it’s a very, very common occurrence in some way or another.

Jesus’ disciples were familiar with this as well. When Jesus was arrested, His followers scattered. Peter followed at a safe distance, but then, when it was suggested that he was with Jesus, he denied that he knew Jesus… 3 times.

In their guilt and fear and lack of understanding, Peter and some of the others went fishing one night. And there, in their failure, Jesus came.

Jesus stepped into the mess of their failure and brought purpose.

Will you SEE HIM – that He is not finished with you despite your failures?

Will you BELIEVE HIM – that there is so much more of Himself that He wants to show you?

Will you KNOW HIM – more and more and more as you walk through this life seeking, following, learning of Him?

Sorrow Transformed

December 19, 2017

While it’s not a particularly encouraging thing to say, sorrow is inevitable. It’s a part of the human condition.

People die. Disease destroys. Violence terrifies. Agony ensues. Hurt happens.

Sorrows come in many shapes and forms and depths and terms. We may have moments of reprieve when the clouds of heartache are thinner or more sparse, but sorrow will come. We may even live for long periods of time without tasting the depths of these things that so many around us face, but it will find us.

Often it seems people get this idea that a follower of Christ somehow gets a pass on the sorrow of life, but Jesus never said anything of the sort. In fact, he said quite the opposite.

In John 16, we see Jesus teaching his followers about things to come. He didn’t tell them they were exempt from sorrow, but He does give some desperately needed perspective.

[Read John 16.16-24]

There are some strange things here, but let’s keep in mind what John’s over-arching purpose in recording this gospel record really was—to show that God really came here into the mess of this life to show Himself to us. With that in mind, we look at this passage and find a powerful promise of transforming sorrows.

Jesus had been telling His followers that His departure was imminent. They were filled with trepidation at this news. It did not in any way fit their expectations of what He had come to do.

He said that soon they would be unable to see Him. But then, some time after that, they would see Him again. They didn’t understand.

Jesus’ explanation was not one of sunshine and rainbows.

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. (John 16.20)

Weep and lament? Really?

And to add insult to the injury, He promises that the world would rejoice at His followers’ suffering. He makes no bones about it, “You will be sorrowful.”

But did you see that last part of that verse? He promised that, “your sorrow will turn into joy.” Strange, isn’t it? How can that be?

He explains how.

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16.21-22)

Whoa… that’s what I would call a truth bomb. While at first it doesn’t make sense that sorrow could somehow turn into joy, Jesus gives the perfect, almost universally familiar, illustration.

I’ve witnessed a few babies’ births. It’s one of the many reasons I very plainly own the fact that my wife is so very much tougher than me. She’s a superstar. But there’s no denying that it involves an intensity of pain and struggle that is unique and profound.

But Jesus was, of course, spot on in saying that, once the baby is born, the pain and struggle fade almost entirely out of mind because of the overwhelming flood of joy that comes with welcoming the precious child.

Jesus seems to be teaching us that the heartaches that we will experience in this world, despite how very real and painful and intense they may be at times, will fade out beyond recollection when the joy that is to come finally arrives.

Jesus goes on to say that, while He would not longer be there in person to ask, by His Spirit within us we could and must boldly approach the Father in His name and have confidence in His answers that would be for our good and for His glory. For, when we are genuinely filled with His Spirit, we will pray for the things that bring Him joy and fill us with purpose. We will seek what draws us and others nearer to Him.

The end of all of this reality is a great and glorious promise summed up in the final words of verse 24: “that your joy may be full.”

The sorrow of separation through the inevitable vale of death will be transformed into the joy of His everlasting presence.

The sorrow of disease wreaking havoc upon these bodies will be transformed in the wonder of a body made entirely new.

The sorrow in the ripples of the violence of this age will be transformed in the eternal, unbreakable reality of a peace beyond our understanding.

The sorrow of agony from fractured relationships will be transformed into unity with one another and oneness with and in Christ.

The sorrow resonating from the constant hurt in this broken world will be transformed as the last remaining tear is wiped from our eyes.

There’s no “get out of sorrows free” card, but there is a promise of sorrow transformed.

And, like the agony of labor pains, it will be worth it.