According to www.dictionary.com, "fore" as a noun means 1. Something that is located at or toward the front. 2. The front part. So it's appropriate that I begin this email with the word that means where it is. :)
This week I turned 44. Nice age, I think. Old enough to enjoy more in life than I let myself enjoy when I was worried about being "enough" -- you know, "good enough" and "smart enough" and "funny enough." The closer I get to caring about the things that, in God's economy, really DO matter, the more content my days and the more restful my nights. It's proving to be a lifelong process, but I'm encouraged by the progress I see once-in-a-while.
What am I here for? That's a great "for" question.
(As a former grammar teacher, I'm quite sure there is no such thing as a "for question" -- but, I've chosen as part of my "mid-life madness package" the right to make up stuff like that: words, grammar rules, etc. This also explains the introductory paragraph.)
At Northland (my church here in Florida) we use a rather eclectic blending of worship element -- including portions of creeds and catechisms as reminders & corporate declarations of truth (and of the reality that men & women throughout the ages have, in varying degrees, worshipped and loved and trusted the God who created us and who sustains us all). What is the "chief end of man?" What are we here for? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Part of what I'm growing to understand is how much that is not about lists of what I have to do and not do but rather all about my heart being totally committed to, smitten by, devoted to, overwhelmed by the God of the universe. In what ever way that love expresses itself -- when it's genuine and honest -- God is pleased. Yet, because that love is genuine and honest, it will seek to express itself in ways that God particularly likes -- I will long to do the things He loves me to do. I will live FOR HIM. What am I here for? For Him.
The purpose of this email was NOT to (1) make you feel guilty for not sending me a birthday card if you didn't or to (2) give you reason to question my state of mind. Neither was it to (3) present a lecture on the benefits of the use of the catechism in training children in basic truths of doctrine or to (4) wave my latest learnings in your face in triumphant gloating. (Sometimes I hesitate to put what I'm learning into words publicly -- feeling my own pride surfacing and knowing that often, in his great mercy, God will let the pride blind me while I trip over the very thing I've just said I learned.)
I did, however, want to say FOUR things:
(1) Thank you for the ways you have influenced my life for all of or a portion of these 44 years! God has used you to shape me into who I am as He keeps working in me to make me who He created me to be. Each one of you has contributed to this process -- encouraging, guiding, supporting, challenging, pushing, loving, testing, toasting and teasing.
(2) Thank you, too, for walking a part of my walk WITH me. It's one thing to point me in a direction toward a goal and another thing to walk along side and help me with my load or keep me company along the way. I think that one of my favorite words is "WITH."
(3) While I've too often been motivated to do good things by fear or greed, selfish ambition or vain conceit, I really do want to live a life that is motivated by His love. Thank you to those of you who have taken the risk to speak the truth in love to me at various points along the way. There were times that one or another of you provided gentle course correction with your words or your example. There were other times that a few of you spoke hard, clear words of admonition or rebuke. Without your selfless acts of Christlike love in those situations, I would have continued making poor choices. What a blessing to be loved like that!
(4) So, let's keep doing this -- being salt and light in a world that's increasingly tasteless and dark -- TOGETHER. God, through Paul -- in his letter to the Ephesian Christians (Eph. 4:4-6) -- gives us this clear direction: You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.