Holding Tight…Letting Go

A life worthy

I remember teaching you to ride a bicycle.  You were so scared, the bicycle so big.  It was, in truth, a tiny machine, long since sold at a yard sale. On that morning, however,  it was your Goliath to conquer, your stallion to tame and to claim.  

“Deeda, hold on tight.  You won’t let go, will you?”

Never, if I have the choice.

So up and down the sidewalk we went, you gripping the handlebars, me gripping the back of the seat, both of us holding on for dear life.  At first it was all I could do to keep you upright, your natural inclination being to kiss the pavement.  Little by bit, you steadied, you strengthened, and you began to pull away.

From me.

I felt it before you did…the balance, the control, the confidence coursing through your little body.  I still held on, but my hand was superfluous.  I held on not for you, but for me.

“Deeda, you’re still holding on, right?”

Right, but…I can’t hold on forever, can I?

Oh please, God…can I?

May I?

No.

I remember—I know it sounds crazy, but I remember—the first glimpse of daylight between my hand and the seat post.  I remember the feel of the metal as it slipped from my fingertips 

and I saw, in that flicker of a moment, that this was the pattern of my life.

Hold

Protect

Teach

Challenge

Guide

Release

I have always known, from the moment I first held you, that letting go was part of the job.  Because, of course, you are not mine—you belong to your Heavenly Father, and he has plans that will take you far beyond my puny grasp. I have always known that my job was to prepare you to leave.

But knowing doesn’t make it easier.  Trust me on that.

So do your old man a favor, huh?  Cut me some slack when it comes to the whole “Letting go” thing.  I may not always release as quickly as I should—or at least, as quickly as you would like. I’ve had nightmares of you driving off to into the great scary world, dragging me along by the bumper as I try to attach training wheels to the car.

I promise not to do that.

Probably.

By the way, watching you ride your bike that long-ago morning was pure delight.  It was a delight that I pray you get to experience one day, the happiness that comes from seeing your beloved child head out boldly into the great big world.  So those tears in my eyes, yeah, those were pure joy—joy tempered by loss, joy strengthened by sacrifice.

The joy of being a dad.

Your dad.

The Prize One-a-Day Friday 5/21/21

A life worthy

But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize… (Philippians 3:14)

I want to win.

I hope that doesn’t offend you.

I know it’s not polite to say these days, but I wanna destroy my opponent, crushing him to powder as I race to the finish line.  I want the gold medal, the blue ribbon, the big trophy, the attaboy certificate.

Over the years, I have won and I have lost, and lemme tell you: winning is eversomuchmorebetterer.

Oh, and here’s the great thing: in order to win, I don’t need to defeat anybody

except myself.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

GOAL!! One-a-Day Thursday 5/20/21

A life worthy

But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…  (Philippians 3:14).

Pick your sports analogy…

Football

Baseball

Soccer

Hockey

Lacrosse…I guess.

Imagine the athlete dodging through his opponents, evading the outstretched glove or grasping hands, bobbing and weaving and twisting and diving headlong toward the goal. All distractions burned away, the entire world has condensed into the space separating him from the prize he seeks.  

That’s you.

At least, it oughta be.

Eyes on the prize, Beloved.

Happy Thursday

Strain One-a-Day Wednesday 5/19/21

A life worthy

But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead… (Philippians 3:13)

It doesn’t say drifting.

It doesn’t say wandering.

Straining

Yes, of course we serve a God of grace, and no, of course you are not saved by your own effort.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t  make an effort.

You didn’t have to try out for this team. You were picked. And, I’ll let you in on a little secret–we win, whether you’re in the action or on the sidelines pretending to check your shoelaces. But wouldn’t it be better to be in the middle of the fight? Wouldn’t it be better, when the whistle blows, to say that you left everything on the field?

Go get ‘em, Beloved.

Happy Wednesday

Don’t Look Back One-a-Day Tuesday 5/18/21

A life worthy

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind… (Philippians 3:13)

Don’t look back.

That was one of the biggest rules my coach taught me.  About 700 years ago I was a cross country runner. I was pretty good, but I had a weakness that often got me into trouble on the race course.

I looked back.

I just couldn’t resist sneaking a peek at who was behind me, wondering if they were catching up or falling back or what. That was a problem, because it took my focus off of the challenges right in front of me, the things in my path that could slow me up or knock me down.  With my eyes to the rear, I couldn’t give my all to the race in front of me.

As an adult, sort of, I still struggle with the temptation to look back, to think about how I should have run that last mile when the next mile awaits. That’s silly, because the next mile has rocks and sand and thorns and I really oughta pay attention.

Of course, we’re not talking about running anymore, are we?

Eyes front, Beloved.  Run hard.

Happy Tuesday

Press On One-a-Day Monday 5/17/21

A life worthy

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me (Philippians 3:12).

You, my friend, have a destiny.

Ooooooohhh! A destiny! So fancy!

You have been selected by the Lord of the Universe for a grand task.

Seriously

You may feel like your life leads nowhere, like you’re not making a difference, like what you do or even who you are doesn’t really matter.

I teach middle school–I feel your pain.

But–and it’s a big but–you do matter.

Jesus says so.

You have the honor of glorifying Christ Jesus, your king. You have the privilege of being conformed to his image. You have the goal of eternal life spent with the one who knows you best and loves you most.

That’s the prize, Beloved.

Press on

Take hold

Live

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Work in Progress One-a-Day Friday 5/14/21

A life worthy

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect…(Philippians 3:12)

Whew!

Thanks, Paul.

I tell you, I am so very far from being the man I want to be that it gets downright depressing.  I think that if Paul had said, “I’m so glad I’ve arrived. Perfection is just…perfect!” I would have crawled into the corner to suck my thumb and rock gently back and forth.

But he didn’t say that, did he?

Because Paul–even Paul–knew that the journey wouldn’t be over, that he wouldn’t be complete, until he stepped out of this body and into the arms of his Savior.  

The same goes for you, Beloved.

And me

Our time will come, we will be complete.

Until then, watch out for the potholes.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Resurrection One-a-Day Thursday 5/13/21

A life worthy

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead (Philippians 3:11).

You will sleep

and then

you will awake

and this…this will feel

like a dream.

You will laugh

and weep

and dance

and shout

all at the same time

all from the same bursting heart.

It will all be over

and

it will all be

Beginning.

Someday

Perhaps today?

Oh, Lord…perhaps today?

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Life and Death One-a-Day Wednesday 4/12/21

A life worthy

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death… (Philippians 3:10)

Chances are, I will never be called on to physically die for the sake of Christ.

But if I am?

Well, we’ll see about that when the time comes.

In the meantime, there are other kinds of death.

Christ’s death was the perfect act of submission to the Father.  

Can I submit?

Christ’s death was an acceptance of pain and guilt and shame he did not deserve.

Can I accept?

Christ’s death separated him from all the joys and pleasures of this world.

Can I let go?

Beloved, we don’t know the future. You may one day be called to give your blood for the sake of Christ. But I can guarantee that you’ve already been called to give your life for the sake of Christ.

Are you willing?

Am I?

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Fellowship One-a-Day Tuesday 5/11/21

A life worthy

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings… (Philippians 3:10)

Jesus went to the cross.

We probably won’t have to do that.

Jesus became sin, bearing the punishment of all evil for all time.

Not your job, my friend..

Jesus lived in a world that didn’t understand him, where he did not belong. He was mocked and abused for obeying the Father. He was abandoned and betrayed by those who had sworn to love and stand beside him.

Now that…

Cathy and I belong to a home group. We have been meeting off and on for a while now, and we’re all still getting to know each other. I don’t know how God is going to use this group over the long haul, how we might share and impact each other’s lives.  I do know that hardship will come, to one or the other or all of us. It always does. If we’re brave enough to share the suffering with each other, and to help each other bear the burdens, we might see something pretty amazing happen,

Fellowship

I don’t know what God has called you to endure today, Beloved. I do know that he has not called you to endure it alone.

Happy Tuesday.