Sunday, September 07, 2008

On Making the Uncommon Common

I knew it was coming. Mom has been emptying out her home of all the extra things that are there since my dad died two years ago this coming November. Giving away old books of his that I remember even from childhood. I helped her take some of them to the library for donation. . .after I sorted a few out of course.

But she's also suggesting that I take home a little of this and a little of that. Things that dad owned for decades. I hated to do this because, even at my age, the items he had are kind of, well, larger than life while they are in that house that he built at age 82. It's "separate" from a kind of "commonness" and as long as I don't bring them home as "mine", the legends continue to live.

But last night I gave in. Mom said something about dad's now nearly thirty year old 35mm camera and all the lenses. And there was also the nearly 20' leather bull whip dad bought in the summer of 1965 on our drive down Route 66 to Los Angeles for the International Lion's Club convention.

I brought all that stuff home last night. And I sat there remembering dad and all the memories. The fun he had with the bull whip and how we'd all tried mastering that thing. My brother, who died 40 years ago this past March, was one of them. Dad would use it for gags when he was president of the local lions club. (You could say he was a motivator).

There is a "largeness" to "dad's stuff". It's a kind of a feeling and a reminder that "I don't think I can fill those shoes".

But what I hate and fear worse than "not being able to fill his shoes" is allowing these special things that he owned to become "common". For example, about a year ago mom gave me dad's watch. I've been wearing it since. It's not expensive. It's just an "Indiglo" watch. But it was dad's. Lately, I've noticed that it is becoming more a regular part of my life and less of the watch that I saw them remove from my dad's wrist before they gave him the morphine that helped him relax just a few hours before he left this Earth.

All those things, removed from their original context, eventually take on a "smallness". Familiarity does indeed breed contempt. What was "bigger than life" and "uncommon" can easily become routine and less valuable to us.

Now, of course you know that I don't post things just to post things. Also, I don't believe in focusing on Earthly things. And you know I don't post about my dad just to post about my dad, who is now with the Lord. So let me get from my illustration to my greater point. How often do we take the "uncommon" things of God, "bring them home", then begin to reduce them from their "otherness" to a "commonness"?

We talk about revering God's Word, but all too often there is a "commonness" to it. We talk so glibly about "our walk with the Lord" but all too often we're just filling the empty air with comfortable noise.

We preach about evangelism but rarely do it. The urgency is gone. It's become part of our domain. "Something we believe" and only once had a passion for. Pastors "preach" about reaching out to the lost but you wonder if they mean it and those in the church nod their heads in agreement and then go on to other things.

Familiarity breeds contempt. Lukewarmness sets in.

There should be an abiding "specialness" about spreading the news of the One Who died for us. We have the most wonderful, transforming news that anyone could share but are we sharing it? Or have we put it all up on a shelf with other "momentos" so we can give them an occasional nod?

My dad died on November 11th, 2006. And at one time the things he left me and were passed down to me had a very pointed "specialness" to them. But that deminishes.

But even greater than that, Jesus Christ died on cross about 2000 years ago. He was buried and raised from the dead on the third day for my justification as well as yours and showed himself to hundreds of witnesses. For those of us who know Him, He gave us His Spirit. And He has given us a commission.

Has it all become "just a common thing"? Have the things that once were the center of our lives become part of the periphery?

To be continued . . .

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