What do you do when good stuff hits you hard? Have you ever had moments when you just sit back and think, “holy smokes, I have it good?”
There are piles of crap pulling for my attention. Gross, right? Crass, huh? I’m sorry but it’s true. It yells at me from my television, blares across my radio, tweets at me and scrolls down my Facebook newsfeed. Someone shot a bunch of people, this guy is promising to build a giant wall, that woman is up to her eyeballs in half-truths at best, “share this if you agree” posts, hateful messages left around a housing complex … It’s easy to get cynical, negative and fatalistic.
An old guy outside a store in Pennsylvania gave me an earful last week while we sat on a bench waiting for our shopping wives. “This world is going to hell in a hand-basket,” he told me.
I took note of his Marine cap declaring his Korean War service and asked him if life was easier back then. He stayed silent for a while. It looked to me like he was processing some painful memories.
“No, it wasn’t easier,” he finally answered. “We’ve been going to hell in a hand-basket for a very long time.”
Nero lit up his courtyard with human torches in 64 AD. People have been hating people, killing people, torturing people and abusing people for nearly as long as there have been people. Is it worse today than during than Hitler’s Germany? Worse than the Rwandan genocide? Worse than Colonial times?
If I put my hope in mankind I will always be disappointed, so, I choose not to. I choose instead to put my hope in Jesus Christ and try to live like he lived. My hope is in him. My perspective goes beyond this temporal plain.
I look for the good. When you train your eyes to see it, it isn’t hard to find. Last week it was all around me every day. Somehow a family vacation came together and we had all three of our kids, their three spouses and both of our grandchildren with us for a whole week.
My favorite times were the down times. Yes, we shopped, we went to a water park, we hit up restaurants, did touristy things and we swam in the pool but it was the nothing times that I loved most. It was the boring, do-nothing, small-talk, together times that made me most thankful for this life I’ve been given.
- My granddaughter, Emma, six months old, went from her “oh no, that guy” face of terror when she saw me to a “Yay! There’s Grampa!” with her little arms reaching for me.
- My grandson, Calvin, 8 months old, started doing the army crawl and is now on the move. He looks at me with a big smile that says, “my Grampa is a goof ball.”
- I saw my kids’ marriages, full of affection and the playfulness they grew up experiencing in Robin’s and my marriage.
- Aunties and uncles read books and played with their nephew and niece.
I don’t think anyone noticed my moment when it all came down on me in a wave of emotion. I was sitting in a chair to the side, Calvin and Emma were lying on their stomachs on the floor while Shara read a book to them with Kristen sitting nearby. “Holy smokes, I have it good.”
It’s been 4 years and 3 months since my liver transplant. It’s been 4 years and 5 months since they took me off the transplant list and I was sure my life was coming to an end. But, my God, had other plans. I’ve been given bonus days.
I’m not going to waste my days worrying about Democrats or Republicans. I’m not going to believe that there’s a bomb around every corner or live my life in fear. I’m not going to fear my black neighbor, my tattooed neighbor, my Muslim neighbor, my gay neighbor … I’m going to choose to love and serve because that’s what Jesus did. I refuse to let CNN and FOX shape my outlook and attitudes.
I’m determined to live out these bonus days recognizing my God’s Grace in this very messy world.
The world may well be going to hell in a hand basket but I jumped out of that basket a long time ago.
2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.