Signs of the times

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In the corners of our dining area are two small tables, topped with marble, and designed to store bottles of wine.  As you can see from the picture above, this one is empty.  While I’d love to be able to tell you that the other table is filled, and that the reason the pictured table empty is because of our refined wine tastes and storage methods, I cannot.  They’re both empty.

How sad.

While this might seem like a trivial problem to have, we could just head to Trader Joe’s or BevMo and buy some fermented grape juice whenever we want, I realized this week that this is symptomatic of a larger problem:

We’re too damned busy.

In the past 10 months my wife Alie and I have started a church, taken in a Burmese orphan, purchased a condo, served on a non-profit board, continued to be a kick ass nurse, gotten two classes away from finishing a graduate degree, done our best to maintain friendships and family ties, and a bunch of other crazy ass stuff that makes me want to cuss even more when I think about it.

It’s been the most full and exhilarating 10 months of my life, but definitely the most stressful.   We’ve developed new friendships that have the makings of those life long friendships we all long for.  We’ve watched our friend Phyu, who is staying with us as an exchange student from Myanmar, become near fluent in English and get ready to start college, which a year ago seemed like an impossible dream.  We’ve watched Oak Life Church become a safe place for numerous of folks who have not felt safe at church before.  In my role at Oak Life I’ve been allowed to be a friend and support to many as they process divorces, deaths, depression, addictions, rejection, abuse and more.  Meanwhile, Alie has been in the trenches of nursing work, faithfully serving the sick and dying weekly.

All the while our reserves of wine have dwindled.

For Alie and I, wine is symbolic.  When we open a bottle of wine together, it’s a chance to slow down, relax, and enjoy each other.  Our conversations grow into observations from our days at work and with people.  Each new topic sprouts like the branches of a vine and in the process we recenter.  We pour a little more wine and break a little more bread.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened in a while.  Our wine tables continue to look like blank canvases or a stringless guitars, pointing us towards what could be.

—–

I’ve always wondered why the concept of Sabbath was so important in the Bible.  This has been one of the  main distinguishing characteristics that has set Jewish culture apart for centuries and it seemed like it was still significant in a lot of Jesus’ conversations.  But whats the big deal?  Who cares what we do Saturdays?  Why would this peculiar group of people devote so much energy towards what they can and can’t do on one particular day?

This idea is especially hard when the things I’m busy with are good: taking care of an orphan, counseling people through hard times, coming up with something spiritually significant to share each Sunday, helping to fundraise for humanitarian causes,  setting up coffee meetings with newcomers to church, making sure I’m at every community event I can be just in case a connection might be made that will help some one, answering that email so that person feels encouraged and prayed for, etc.

Meanwhile, those wine tables…. they’re still empty.

—-

If you’re reading this, I’m going to do something that may be a little weird.  But to be honest, I’m keep this blog for my own purposes, to process and collect my own thoughts- so… deal with it.

Every time I notice those wine tables, I feel convicted.  So here is my confession and prayer about my busyness.

God, I’m sorry.  Have mercy on me, a sinner.  I’m sorry for the ways I’ve taken your burden and made it my own.  You care more about the needs and the people of this city than I do.  Forgive me for trying to do too much and be a hero too often.  It’s your ministry, not mine.  Forgive me for neglecting my marriage,  for prioritizing my needs and others needs.  Help me slow down.  Help me spend time in the places that matter.  Father, thank you for wine.  For your shed blood and broken body.  Thank you for resurrection.  Thank you for grace.  Thank you for life.

So, I think we need to make a trip to the store to buy some wine.  I’ve been into Zins and Cabs recently.  Anyone have any recommendations?

 

 

 

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