Tag Archives: Moment

Embrace the Mystery of the Moment

Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
John 13:7 (NRSV)

There was a lot that Jesus’ followers did not understand. It is a subtle, but recurring theme in John’s biography of Jesus:

  • Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
  • They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father.
  • Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.
  • Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
  • His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.

Along my life journey I’ve discovered that I almost always desire clarity and understanding, but it quite regularly eludes me in the moment and in my immediate circumstances. It is only when I reach a waypoint down the road that I look back and perceive with clarity and understanding how God was at work around me, in me, and through me. I have come to accept that there are some things that will continue to elude me until my journey is over and I am safe at home.

At least I’m not alone. I take heart today in the realization that Jesus’ best friends and closest followers on this earth were perplexed in the moment, too. Being physically present with Jesus and hearing His every word, they still didn’t get it until further on down the road. Maybe it’s time for me to cut myself a little slack.

I’m reminded that this life journey is, for me, a faith journey. I will rarely have clarity and understanding in the moment. I am, however, assured of the hope that God will complete His good work in me. Having looked back at how He has brought me to this point, and all that He has faithfully accomplished thus far, it is evident that I can trust that my present circumstances are part of the plan.

You do not know now what I am doing,” Jesus says to His followers, “but later you will understand.”

Indeed.

So, go with it. Trust. Have faith.

Embrace the mystery of the moment.

chapter a day banner 2015

featured image by odreamer via Flickr

Popping the Question 10 Years Ago

It was just over ten years ago that I asked Wendy to marry me. These days it seems that video technology and social media have made popping the question an industry unto itself with ever crazier stunts and extravaganzas. In August of 2005, however, few people had heard of Facebook (it started in February 2004) and Twitter did not exist. So, in the small town of Pella, Iowa I was just this one guy trying to find a creative way to ask the woman I love if she’d marry me.

The theatre seemed a good place to do it. Wendy and I met in community theatre and the stage was our shared passion. The other thing that I wanted to include were friends who had walked with us through this particular tumultuous stretch of our respective journeys. And so, I staged a little production for Wendy’s surprise that began with scheduling a dinner at Monarch’s restaurant with our friends, Kevin and Becky.

I picked up Wendy at her apartment that gorgeous, late summer evening. She’d just gotten home from work at Goalsetters and it had not been a good day for her. She was running late and wanted to get freshened up before dinner. As she prepared for the evening, I received a call on my cell phone from Pat telling me that he was at the Community Center auditorium and needed some help. Our community theatre’s summer production had just finished a week or two before and there were a few large, straggling set pieces that needed to be put away. At least, that was the story I fed Wendy. She was a bit annoyed at the interruption and asked why it had to be right then, but I assured her it would just take a moment and that Kevin and Becky would understand.

We arrived at the Community Center and I encountered the first hiccup to my master plan. Wendy was still putting make-up on in the car and told me to go in and help Pat while she finished. I went in and informed my co-consipirator that Wendy would be in momentarily. The moment lingered, however, and I became increasingly nervous as it became obvious to me that she was not planning to come in.

My heart was already pounding with anticipation as I stepped out of the Community Center door and motioned for Wendy to come in. “We need your help!” I yelled to her in the car. I could feel her increased annoyance as she got out of the car and trudged up the steps. Hastily I improvised a story about needing help holding the curtain back while we hoisted a flat up into storage. I ignored her grumbling as we made our way into the Community Center, into the auditorium, and up to the stage.

The stage was empty and the overhead floods were on. I led Wendy onto the stage telling her that we just needed her to hold the curtain at the far end while we lifted a flat. What Wendy didn’t know was that when she hit her mark, center stage, she was going to get the surprise of her life.

As she reached center stage the lights went out to the pitch blackness of a closed auditorium. Amidst the darkness, all of our friends who had been hiding behind the tormenter curtains lining the back of the stage came out to their places in front of the curtains. A spotlight came on suddenly and highlighted the two of us. I turned to look at Wendy whose eyes had grown huge in shock.

In the spotlight, I dropped to my knee and pulled out that little box. It suddenly dawned on Wendy what was happening. There, center stage, surrounded by friends and loved ones, I asked Wendy to be my wife as she melted into tears, said “Yes,” and then leaned down to kiss me.

Dinner at Monarch’s with Kevin and Becky turned into dinner at Monarch’s with all of those who shared the moment with us. It’s amazing to think that it was a decade ago. “A lot of water under the bridge,” as they say. Still, it doesn’t take much for me to be right back in the midst of that memory, and I’ll admit that my heart still skips a beat when I go there.

I should mention that I had our photographer hiding on the floor of the auditorium. As soon as the lights went black, he popped up from between the rows of seats and began snapping pictures. We turned the photos our our engagement into 5×7 notepads that were given out as gifts to guests at our wedding reception.

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Improvisational Theater
Improvisational Theater (Photo credit: Daniele Zanni)

So [David] pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

Achish [King of Gath] said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?
1 Samuel 21:13-15 (NIV)

Improvisation, or “Improv” as it’s known in theatre circles, is a well known form of theatre in which the actors create their character and make up a scene live and in the moment on stage. Improv usually takes the form of exercises and short comedic sketches like you see in shows such as Whose Line Is It, Anyway? Even seriously trained actors struggle with Improv, and many actors avoid it like the plague because it can be incredibly difficult to pull off successfully. Successful Improv actors must be quick on their feet and essentially fearless at giving themselves to a part in the moment.

I mentioned in a previous post that I love David for being both a warrior and an accomplished poet, musician and songwriter. After reading today’s chapter, you can ad actor to the list. David appears to have had a natural knack at Improv. When faced with the realization that he might be taken prisoner by the King of Gath, David goes into Improv mode and begins to act like a mad man. He gives himself fully to the part, even letting saliva run down his beard. Obviously, David must have known or observed insane people before. Perhaps he was imitating what King Saul was like in his more insane episodes. Wouldn’t that be an ironic twist?

It is said the desperate times call for desperate measures. David obviously realized that he was in a desperate predicament, and was willing to risk doing a little Improv to try and get out of it. It worked. King Achish wanted nothing to do with the “insane” David and let him go.

I have always had a deep appreciation for David. Reading today’s story again only deepens my appreciation. David was a capable, gifted, and resourceful individual. There is so much I can learn from him and his example.

Just What I Need in the Moment

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 69

Save me, O God,
for the floodwaters are up to my neck.
Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire;
I can’t find a foothold.
I am in deep water,
and the floods overwhelm me.
Psalm 69:1-2 (NLT)

It’s been a crazy week, and things are about to get even crazier. Wendy and I are in production week with shows this weekend and next. I have two project deadlines for work this week (one is done, one is not) and have two major client deliveries next week. In the midst of it, Wendy and I had to make a road trip south for two days. You can feel the tension in our house from the sheer anxiety of “Oh my goodness I have so much to do and the task list keeps getting longer while the time gets shorter and I don’t know how I’m going to get it all done and could the phone PLEASE stop ringing because I don’t want to answer it and have MORE things piled on top of the mountain of things that need to be accomplished or I think I’m going to go TOTALLY insane (breathe, Tom, breathe….remember to breathe)!!!!!”

One of the things I love about the Psalms is the way you can read one particular lyric from one particular psalm and it can be packed with so much meaning. Sometimes one line, phrase or a particular verse can speak to you right where you are in a given moment on your life journey. Today is a great example. The first two verses of Psalm 69 leapt off the page this morning because it so perfectly expressed what both my head and my heart are feeling in this moment. It was like a tailor made prayer just for me this morning. I read it and my spirit groaned, “Yes, God, yes. That’s what I’m feeling. I feel like I’m drowning.” [Then, the song Flood by Jars of Clay suddenly became a soundtrack for the rest of the psalm]

The psalm also came with a much needed word of encouragement that is my take-away for today:

The humble will see their God at work and be glad.
Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.