From my front row seat

Thursday, December 13, 2018

It's never too late until it is.

Is dorky still a word?  When I was attending Franklin High School in Franklin, Tennessee, our new principal, Mr. Pike, came up with this "dorky" mantra that he thought, I suppose, would magically improve everyone's behavior.  He would gather us in the gym, get the drums from the marching band to back him up, and it would go like this...

"DO RIGHT!"  dum dee-dum...dee-dum dum
"DO RIGHT!"  dum dee-dum...dee-dum dum

The sophomore and junior classes would yell and chant along with him, even stomp on the bleachers to make more noise.  My entire senior class, on the other hand, would stubbornly sit silent with frozen facial expressions.  You see, The Fonz was our role model, and he was the epitome of cool and rebellion.  He wouldn't be caught dead saying something like that - and neither would we.  (In fact, in the picture above, some of the senior guys are dressed like cheerleaders to make fun of it.)  It always intrigued me, though, that Mr. Pike thought doing right could just be spoken into existence by yelling it out loud.

Many years later, after I had gotten a few years of Blue Monarch under my belt, I reached a really worn out place in my spirit.  The level of frustration and disappointment with a young non-profit that served this population was overwhelming some days, and there were times when I considered giving up.  One day in particular stands out in my memory because it was my daughter who got me back on track.  I was venting to her and said, "I don't know why I keep doing this!"

Mary Susan's response was short and simple.  "Because it's the right thing to do, Mommy."

Sometimes I think we misinterpret the word, "right."  It implies that the opposite is "wrong." But I don't think that's always the case.  Sometimes right means best.  Let's take my example, for instance.  If I had walked away from what God clearly called me to do, I don't know that I would call that wrong.  This is what I do know, however.  I would have missed out on so many amazing blessings God had in store for me.  

Just this morning I was looking for a specific photo on my phone.  As I scrolled through the many photographs I had collected, I saw lots of snapshots of the tremendous blessings I had received over the past year.  For example, I couldn't imagine missing all the times little Gauge came into my office so we could pray together.  Those moments are so special to me.  I would hate to think I had not seen Maleak work so hard on his anger to become the sweet boy who actually enjoys playing the piano and making excellent grades in school.  What a shame it would have been if I had not seen Trenton this year as a robust teenager after I watched him nearly die at birth - the night he miraculously survived through prayer.  Honestly, I could go on and on all day with stories just like these.

One thing that has always struck me, when I am out speaking to church congregations in particular, is that I sometimes spot individuals across the sanctuary with very emotional tears streaming down their faces.  One might assume they are crying over the moving story they just heard.  But oftentimes they will come up to me afterwards and say, "For a long time I have been feeling like God is asking me to (fill in the blank here) and I haven't had the willingness or the courage to step out and do it."  It is so obvious this is causing them great turmoil.

It always makes me so sad because I know, firsthand, they may be missing out on some pretty incredible things God has in store for them.  They aren't doing anything "wrong" but the "right" thing would bring them so much more!

Let's take the Christmas story, for example.  Ever since I was a young child, I have imagined Mary and Joseph, already exhausted, going from door to door looking for a place to stay.  The fact they ended up in a stable (or whatever scholars want to debate it was), means there were some who took a good look at Mary, about to give birth any minute, with her scruffy husband who probably looked pretty overwhelmed and worried, and said, "No, sorry," and shut the door.  I've even wondered how many could have given up their own rooms when they saw Mary's condition but decided not to help and looked the other way.  That wasn't necessarily wrong - but look how amazing it would have been to do the right thing and let them in?  Can you imagine being the ones who later realized the unbelievable blessing they missed because they couldn't find a way to say yes to the parents of baby Jesus?  How many of them felt a nudging to do the right thing and simply ignored it?

One day recently my husband and I stopped at the local airport to watch some skydivers.  As we were standing at the fence watching another group land with their colorful parachutes, a twenty-something girl walked up next to us with her boyfriend.  "Are you going to jump today?" she asked.

At first I looked around to see if she was talking to someone else because I was surprised she could see me.  (I have recently come to realize, there must have been a day over the past few years when I suddenly became invisible to younger people.)  Could she actually see me?

"Well, to tell you the truth, I have always wanted to skydive," I told her.  "So I wanted to watch for a while to see if I could do it."

She leaned over to me, cocked her head to one side, and with a voice one would typically reserve for babies or puppies, she said, "Well, it's never too late."

Too late for what?  What did she mean, never too late.  At first I thought she must have meant the time of day, but then I realized she meant that even though I was so old, it was never too late for me.  What?!  (Naturally I had to resist the temptation to march in and sign up on the spot.)

Isn't it great that it's never too late to do the right thing - to say yes to what God is asking us to do?  Sad thing is, though, it may be too late for the blessing that could have happened yesterday.  Let that sink in.  It may be too late for the blessing that could have happened yesterday.

There is a chalkboard on the front of my desk so children can enjoy drawing when they come into my office.  One day I found this sweet message, written by a young boy who had just been reunited with his mother, a day I will never forget.  What he wrote immediately brought tears to my eyes because I could hear my daughter's voice from many years ago..."Because it's the right thing to do, Mommy."  

A few days later I happened to catch this photo of that same boy.  He and his mother were so happy to be back together, they couldn't stop hugging each other.  Turns out, this boy and my daughter were right.  It was the right thing to do and I'm glad I did it.  After all...what if this had been yesterday's blessing?  Just look at what I would have missed.

Thank you, Lord, for all the many people who listen to you and support Blue Monarch through their time, their resources, and their prayers.  We ask that you bless them abundantly as you continue to bless us.  Amen

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