The beep on my iPhone goes off early, and I roll over to look at the incoming message. I see there are a few that came in during the night. Some folks working, some auto deliver, some spam. But at that moment I return to where I was the day before and the day before that. At work, thinking about what I have to do, about all there is that needs to get done. I’m off and running although maybe slower in the early morning hours, I’m off. My work day begins.
I know I am most likely not telling anyone anything they do not already know. I have been thinking about the comment someone said not long ago how an employer who gives their employee a smart phone can get a lot of work out of them that they might not get otherwise. Think about it. Who checks emails at their desk at 9 p.m. – who does it from their phone all hours of the day and night?
So often we become our work. We are super fast on returning comments by others, hammer on projects, emails, stuff, all hours of the day or night. It is a rare person who puts down their phone when the 5 o’clock bell rings and leaves it until the next day. We adults are almost as bad, or worse, as the kids today, we can barely sit still without grabbing for our back pocket comfort electronics. But then, again, we all know this.
So we become super employee and start phasing out the things we used to be. We cancel trips or stare at our phone the whole time on a family vacation. We email, text and Facebook as our kids read their stories or talk about their day. But hey, we get stuff done.
So what do we sacrifice when we become our work? We are no longer the bike rider, the fisherman, the woman who loves to sew or craft? Even worse we skip the morning time with God reading our Bible or walking quietly. We no longer sit with our journal and a cup of coffee as our family awakens, basking in the emotion of a new day. We don’t hear well when our kids speak and don’t call our elderly parents as often. I am guilty.
James was wandering inside the coffee shop. Everyone was busily getting their morning coffee, talking, shuffling along. I watched him walk about as though he was waiting on someone, looking to strike up a conversation. His clothes were a bit ruffled and he wore a desert camo hat strapped below his chin. In my mind, I discounted him early and in some way thought, hoped, I would not be confronted by him for conversation.
I got my small coffee, dark roast, black and made my way to an outside table on the porch. I never sit outside but today, God had a different idea. James was standing next to his bike, next to where I sat. I looked at him and gave him the obligatory smile and quickly looked away so as to not be drawn into a conversation. I took out my laptop and turned it on.
“How does that work,” James asked. “I am going to buy one today.” And the conversation began. I wanted to cut it short, give brief answers, be distracted by my ever-important work. God would not have anything to do with that.
“I love to write stories, but I only have an eighth-grade education,” he said in a joyful voice. ” Well, I began, I only have an eighth-grade education, and I write stories. You can do it if it is what God wants you to do.” The conversation wandered around the Bible and the story of Adam and Eve. James talked about his struggles with alcohol and how money made him mess up. “I know what you mean. I struggle every day too,” I assured him. We talked about the things in his life that influence him away from God and how we should walk inside the coffee shop and pray over it. How we could pray over the people that go to movies that have witchcraft and other distractions from God.
James gathered his stuff together and began to get on his bike. Before he did, he told me a short story about a puppy who was lost and hungry. “Did you write that story, is that one of your short stories?” “I just made it up,” he replied proudly. “I like it, write it down for me James, I want you to write those down.” And as fast as it began, it ended, he said bye and rode away.
James, I am sorry. I am sorry of what I thought when I first saw you, my arrogance, my busyness, my ignorance. The peace that came during my time with James this morning was one I recognize, it was with God also.
As I get older and seek time with God, family, meaning to it all, I realize I have got to be present. I don’t want to be any of the things I once wanted. Wealthy, famous, powerful, in control or whatever that stuff was. Funny thing is as I give those things to God, release my life to His will, my desires, incredible things happen. Things so far beyond what I could have dreamed up, planned, schemed. He takes me places and introduces me to the most amazing adventures and people. Yesterday I sat and talked with the president of Ford Motor Company, a conversation about our ministry (KOZ) and our families. Today, maybe even better, a conversation with James about computers, movies and puppies.
Jeremiah 29:11, “ For s I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And why do I get so wound up? Jeez, I am about as dumb as a rock. But hopeful! God is so good to me.