Later this week, my oldest son and I will be traveling to North Carolina. On the agenda for the trip is to see my nephew (who is a senior in high school) play football, watch him play in the state soccer play-offs, go to my 30th college reunion, catch up with some high school friends and spend time with my family. Now that I look at this agenda, it looks busier than I like to be on vacation. But I'm sure there will be relaxing time during the trip.
I have spent time reflecting on this trip and the opportunities awaiting and wanted to let that guide the focus of this post. I thought about how exciting it will be to finally see my nephew play football. I have seen pictures and watched video, but am looking forward to watching him play in person. I thought about how fast he has grown up and is in his final year of high school. It seems like just yesterday, we were strapping him into his car seat to go somewhere or watching him try to dribble a basketball which would bounce too high for him or going to Celebration Station to play arcade games or playing video games on the original Play Station. Now, he has become a man and is going to be making life changing decisions. Proverbs 22:6 reminds us to "train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it." As parents of young children, we can't wait until our kids are in high school to invest in their lives. We only get one shot at raising our kids when they are young, so make the most of that opportunity. Don't get sidetracked by hanging out with the boys or extra overtime at work or playing with your own toys. The greatest opportunity we have to teach our children is when they are young. We teach by example, by our words and by the time we spend with them. One of the most difficult aspects of being in the ministry is that I have spent my adult years on the other side of the continent from my family. so I have made a concerted effort to come back to spend time with my family. Though I have missed a lot of moments in Allen's life, I pray that he will always know he is loved and cared for by his Uncle Ted. I also am reminded to make sure I am making memories with my own sons because it won't be long before they are seniors in high school and heading off into the real world.
Going back to homecoming at Wingate is something I have looked forward to for a while. The last time I was at homecoming was ten years ago for our 20th reunion of the class of 1983. It was wonderful to see some faces I hadn't seen in a while and was increased by the fact that Leah was pregnant with Thaddeus. Now, Thaddeus will be making this trip with me. I look back on the formative years I spent in college and thank God that He drew me to Wingate College (Now Wingate University). I look back on the friends I made during that time and see how each one had an impact on my life. Some were always there to encourage. Others would often kid with me and make me feel welcomed. There were late night runs to the Flame (The truck stop eatery which was the only place open that late). There were soccer matches and practices with teammates who shared a common bond of trying to get the first victory in school history. There were late time talks with friends about things that were going on in our lives. There were trips to the Sonic riding in the back of my roommate brown truck. There were classes, tests, and struggles. There were trips with the debate team to various parts of the country. There were memories which were made that have come flooding back in the past few weeks as I have thought about those days long ago.
I think back to how young I was in college and how the world lay before me. The day of graduation, I hung out with my suite-mates and talked about where we were headed. We have gone to Florida, North Carolina, Hawaii and one has even passed away. I didn't know what God had in store for me after graduation and never thought He would lead me to Hawaii and California. I look back and think I should have embraced those moments with friends a little bit more than I did. Maybe I took for granted that we would often see each other. Several of those Wingate friends are walking with the Lord, which thrills my heart. I see their posts of Facebook and get e-mails from them. I praise God for the way He has chosen to work in each one of our lives. None of us would have expected the course we have taken.
And so, on Saturday, I will sit back and enjoy hearing the stories of these long-seen friends. I will be amazed at how young they look and what god has done in their lives. I'm sure they will give me a hard time and I will do the same to them. We will embrace and who knows, maybe even shed a tear when we go our separate ways. God is utilizing this week to teach me how to grasp the moment and hold onto it, trying to make it count. I am not really a person who lives in the moment because my mind often focuses on what is happening next. So maybe, just maybe, God can teach me to live a little better in the moment.
I look back over this Sip and realize I haven't actually said anything that would point you to Christ, but have rambled like an old guy looking back on his life. So be it. May you take some time today to look back on your life, see how God's hand has moved (Often in unseen ways) and allow you to appreciate the wonderful people He has put in your path. Jesus tells us we have two path choices: One is broad and everyone is on it. The other is narrow and only a few find it. May you be on the path which leads to salvation and purpose in life.