Friday, July 9, 2021

Appreciating the "Small" Things in Life

I just finished what must have been one of the best suppers I've ever prepared for myself. Maybe I am in the wrong profession. I wrote down the menu feeling that so remarkable a gastronomic occasion was worth recording for posterity:

  • Jambon au miel.

  • Fromage cheddar blanc.

  • Pain frais asiago.

  • Pommes de terre dans sa peau.

  • L'eau du puits.

I ate slowly, savoring every mouthful. The honey-baked ham was spicy and delicious. It needed long draughts of water to wash it down. The cheese and the potato were my meal for the week and I consumed it steadily, without any diminishment of appetite. I was sorry to have to skip the cafè après le dîner but it wasn't offered. When all the food was gone I was as gorged as a Strasbourg goose. I would have gotten a picture of my plate but I was too absorbed in eating that I forgot to take one.

Right now, as I said the other day, I am working hard with a publisher to have Harry Sturz's classic book The Byzantine Text Type and New Testament Textual Criticism reprinted. We have asked for the rights from Harper-Collins and it's all in their hands. I don't ask you to do this very often, but if you could, would you perhaps pray for permission to be granted? I think every New Testament scholar, even those who disagree with Harry Sturz's position (and there are many of them), would agree that Sturz was a first-rate textual scholar whose views deserve to be heard. I'm hoping that patience will pay off in time.

Recently a colleague of mine at school asked me if I was looking for work. You know, like a change of career. That's completely out of the question. I can only do one thing in life, and that's teach and write. As you know, in a few weeks I'll be experiencing a career "swerve" (I do not use the word "retirement" any more; I hate the word; it is so NOT in the Bible). The swerve will mean teaching two instead of three classes so it's not that big of a change. So here I am, just a normal guy who is trying to be patient and grateful that I can do anything at all. People say you can do and be anything you want. I've said that to people umpteen times. You know me. I'm the first person to chase down dreams. And for the most part, God has granted me success. I'm proud of that fact -- that I didn't allow a low self-image to keep me from pursuing God's plan for my life with 100 percent dedication. I've been good at it and the job has been fulfilling, but a new phase is ahead of me and I generally do poorly with transitions in life. 

Right now, the little things are the big things for me. 

Hugging on grandkids. 

Caring for the animals. 

Cutting grass. 

I also try to do a cheery thing for someone every day, whether that's sending an encouraging email/text or helping out a colleague or cleaning up the farm for our retreatants. It forces me to remember how blessed I am. The other day while I was running on the High Bridge Trail, I saw a teenage girl running. She was using a walker. Her legs were all shriveled up, and yet there she was, out running. The amount of people outside doing things and the people I've met on the trails have tripled since the Covid demon showed up. It brings both joy and gratitude. 

We HAVE to look at the small things. One for me is my granddaughter who is graduating from high school next year. I've been able to share with her my own experience of how radical a change it was for me when I left home to begin college and how God's sufficiency was there through it all. I am constantly telling the people in my life to focus on what really matters (not that I'm an expert in this by any means). Yes, trips have been cancelled -- I would have flown to Dallas, New Jersey, and Hawaii last year -- but they will come back. I'll continue to write and teach and farm and blog and travel. I get up and enjoy coffee with the Lord each and every morning. There are still things to appreciate in life. And there is still work to do. You just have to decide to do them.