Dec 28, 2014

Lessons About Finishing Well

All the three ladies in my life (OK, to clarify here,  I mean my wife Andrea, my daughter Danae and my Mom) are into knitting and crocheting in a big way this year.  From various places in the house this fall and winter, I've heard intense "OH NO's!" as the reality of  what they've just done in error sinks in.  Stitches or "rows" that were STARTED WRONG, are pulled back apart for a better re-start! Their cries communicate the value of STARTING RIGHT.

When it comes to working out, I am the proverbial Goldilocks trainee. That is the "just-enough" workout - Not too hard (don't want to have a heart attack or re-injure my damaged knee) and not too easy (just don't want to be wasting my time).  Several times a week, I like to do some healthy activity moderately.  The treadmill works well for me as I can get my heart rate up a bit (ideally around 170 bpm), then slow it down for a time until I get back to a more sustainable 120. I repeat this cycle culminating with a half hour workout and a heart rate back around 120 as I walk away for a deserved cold glass of water.  Finishing well here prevents me from over-stressing and is important to my middle-aged body.  Psychologically,  a sense of well-being ensues when I observe the calorie counter showing a 300 calorie burnoff!  My reality is that although I may not ever fully win the battle of the bulge, when it comes to my workout, finishing well is important. To achieve this I have to pre-plan the workout.  I need to START RIGHT and I need to END RIGHT.

During my early teen years in the '70's, I grew up in the small northern Ontario mining community of Manitouwadge.  We'd moved there after Dad had pioneered a church at Madsen (another small Ontario mining town well north of Lake Superior) in the nearby Red Lake area.  For a variety of reasons, this larger community seemed to be much more vibrant than the previous mining town, albeit still quite isolated from the southern "outside" world. While Dad pastored the church there, it seemed that we frequently enjoyed a steady-stream of visitors to our town every few months. We often had the fun and excitement of entertaining evangelists, hunters, fishermen, relatives from the "south", and district pastors from surrounding communities.  The '70's occurred during much simpler times, and if on "church business", the travellers would inevitably end up staying in our home.  This meant that I would again have to give up my room and my bed. Bed-sharing a double bed with my little brother was definitely the downside, however, I very much enjoyed the conversations around our dinner table from the variety of transient visitors that came and amused us from the "outside" world. I could sit for hours and listen to captivating adult-life conversations over yet another round of Mom's roast beef, apple-pie and ice-cream.

In about 1971, one visitor left quite an impression on me. While his name has long since escaped my memory (I think it was Van-something or other!), I remember an old, tall, thin, and big-bearded Dutch evangelist that came through on his ministry circuit. His "schtick" was that of a stern-faced magician/sleight-of-hand guy who used the "magic" to draw a crowd, hold their attention and thence drive home his life-lesson. It was fun having him stay in our home.  He was sold-out to Christ and his enthusiasm was contagious, his accent exotic!  He arrived at our house with many wooden boxes and trunks full of stage-props squeezed into his station wagon. On-stage, he dressed in a formal long-tailed tuxedo, with a white shirt and bow-tie. He really knew how to draw a crowd to watch his hands in action. His white gloves waved a black wand, and you never knew what he was going to do next. His "magic" worked every time, and for every lesson, and at times you wondered if he held superpowers of some sort as he worked towards ending each performance with a "redemptive" theme. I remember seeing the spit fly out of his mouth during the passionate intensity of his delivery. Impressionable-aged kids, sat spellbound and mouths open, as white birds appeared out of red handkerchiefs or black velvet boxes and just as quickly disappeared back into thin-air.  He covered a lot of ground each weeknight giving his object lessons during the week of that "children's-crusade" winning hearts for Jesus.  After he'd put his birds and magic away, he would draw the now-fascinated children into still more object lessons and a bible story.  His altar calls were effective.

In one of the scenes, he walked up to his stage wearing a big beige sweater with many big brown buttons on it. With determination, he began to talk to the kids about "Life" in his accented, but clear-enough English.  Slowly he began to fasten each of the many buttons all the way up to his neck.  The "twist" in his object lesson, was that he purposefully started by mismatching the wrong button in the wrong button-hole.  As he continued up the long sweater, the kids could quickly see how this was going to end.  They began to call out from their seats "hey you started wrong - you missed one!" or "it's not going to work-you didn't do it right!", indicating their now-careful attention to watching every detail and every move he made.  But expressionless and seemingly deaf, he slowly continued buttoning up the sweater...which further drew in each child causing them to wonder why are you buttoning your sweater like that!   When he got to the top, his face expressed huge-shock, and aggravation as he feigned surprise that the amount of buttons and button-holes just didn't match up!  The children started to laugh hilariously at this silly old man who couldn't seem to properly button his sweater. Faking, he would start the re-buttoning process over and over in cantankerous fashion, again just not starting RIGHT! By now he had the children in stitches and on the edge of their seat, so it was time to deliver the punchline!   He loudly proclaimed, "Children, this is a life lesson.....IN LIFE...IF YOU START WRONG, WHAT HAPPENS?"   By now it was clear! The kids were absolutely right into the lesson and shouted back rhetorically with great enthusiasm, "YOU END WRONG!".   He'd figuratively sent an arrow straight into my heart, right where I sat in the back row.

All of 2015 is ahead of you.....a whole year to spend it as you want.  For the most part, forget about 2014 -good or bad - forget about 2014, now live in 2015 and the finish line is still somewhere up ahead.  If you "START-RIGHT"'ll probably "END RIGHT".  Take lots of time this year to honor King Jesus - MAKE HIM FAMOUS!!!  .... read his Word, communicate your heart to him in Prayer and spend time with other people who do the same (and befriend some who don't)!  Do you want to get to know Jesus just a bit better this year?  Do you want to increase your faith level?  Do you want to be able to trust Him?  The way to do this is to read His Word and get to know Him.  His Word will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from His Word.

Pre-plan 2015 & get STARTED RIGHT, so you can END RIGHT!   Happy New Year!

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