. . . posts on faith and life
Two different times I graduated school in Tennessee and moved to California. The first time was in 1997, when I graduated from Lee University and moved to San Francisco. I literally threw everything I owned in the back of my battle-tested Honda, grabbed a buddy for the road trip, and drove to California. We made the 36-hour drive in less than 48 hours total. The second time was in 2002, when I graduated from the Church of God Theological Seminary and moved to Fresno. I was still in my twenties, but this time I was married and had to haul a moving truck full of stuff with a car towing behind. That trip took four days.
The morning before we left on that second trip I met with Rickie Moore for one final breakfast together. I was lamenting the much more laborious effort required for the second move, and reminiscing about how much easier the exact same move had been only a few years earlier. Rickie found my observation humorous, and used it (as he always does) as an opportunity to teach me something about life. He noted that life continually brings new cycles and stages, and that with each one of them we find we are carrying more stuff. He went on to point out that every time that happens it gives us the opportunity to appreciate things about our elders that we had never known before. The things they were able to accomplish become even more admirable in light of the other stuff they were carrying when they accomplished them.
Time and time again I have found this to be a profound truism. If ’97 Jon had met ’02 Jon and heard him complaining about the difficulty of moving from Tennessee to California he would have thought that ’02 Jon lacked some mettle. However, ’97 Jon simply had no clue about the extra stuff that ’02 Jon was carrying. In the six years since that second move I have picked up even more stuff (children, heavier ministry responsibilities, owning a home, etc.). Making a decision today, even basic daily ones, looks very little like making a decision in ’97. And I know that there is much more to come!
Sometimes I look at the decisions that my current elders are making and I feel perplexed. Some of the decisions seem foolish. Some of the lack of action seems negligent. Sometimes I feel frustrated and disillusioned by all of this. While I’m not ready to stop asking the hard questions and challenging one another for improvement, I think this truism that Rickie let me in on does remind me that I need to extend a little more grace to those elders that are before me. After all, from where I’m standing right now I’m sure that I don’t have a clue what all they are carrying, and how much more complicated those decisions are from where they stand.