Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…
It’s not an experience that most people find worthy of our time. It’s a nuisance, it’s troublesome, and we will generally go to significant lengths to avoid it. Who wants to stand in line?
Finished shopping? Look for the shortest checkout line (if a guy, we generally avoid self-checkout. I mean, really, who can figure out how to price broccoli or refilled water containers?). Leaving the island? What does the ferry line look like? Flying out of SeaTac? We may find ourselves longing just a bit for the pandemic days of no lines anywhere. The point is pretty simple; if at all possible, it is our nature to avoid lines. They feel like such a waste of time.
Recently I was standing in a line of nameless masked people of all sizes and descriptions and I started to giggle. We had achieved anonymity. Or, with hats and masks, we could have been standing in a police lineup waiting for the oﬃcer to tell us to turn to the left so the victim could identify the perp who had stolen her purse. Standing in line is an opportunity for my imagination to go a bit oﬀ the tracks, “All right! Everyone assume the position!” (Oh dear, I just had a flashback.)
There is another kind of standing in line that is, for the most part, life-giving. It is realizing how each of us is standing on the shoulders of generations of those who have preceded us and with whom our personal story is interwoven. When I was active in the counseling oﬃce I would often ask, “Who taught you that?” Or, “From whom did you learn that behavior?” Inviting people to tell their stories is more than just an exercise in passing the time. It is way more than figuring out who to point a finger at with regard to behavior, be it good or abhorrent (keep in mind that parents do not die, they just hide in the ground). Rather, it is an invitation to enter onto holy ground. It is the Lord telling Moses before the burning bush to take oﬀ his sandals. Being invited into another’s story is quite simply an invitation to enter holy ground.
We stand in line. There are those who represent generations behind us and there are those generations yet ahead of us who may never know our name, but in fact will be aﬀected by our stories. I find it all quite humbling. And powerful. None of our lives are lived in a vacuum. None of our lives are simply quiet and/or without meaning. We all stand in a long line that reaches behind and stretches out in front. As such, I believe we each share a responsibility that transcends whether we are by nature a gregarious storyteller or a shy introvert who prefers to say nothing. It is to value who we are – we are the redeemed – and to understand that in the economy of God’s plan, God will use my life to bless the coming Kingdom, whether we realize it or not.
Brenda and I typically have two rescue dogs at a time. Gucci is now 15 and Cleo is 7. Through the years we have found it helpful to have a senior dog mentor a younger dog. We have been through generations of this and we could each share with you favorite stories of each of our four-legged friends (Tyrone walking down the street with our neighbors left-over turkey in his mouth is a favorite of mine). Each generation is fascinating to watch as to how one nurtures and models behavior (not always good behavior).
And so, we stand in line. Rather than simply being annoyed, I would suggest your openness to honoring the person in front of you and the person in back with a nameless prayer of blessing. Ask God’s favor on that person. Who knows? That might very well aﬀect someone in your family a generation or two down the road.
“Cast your bread upon the waters for in many generations it will return to you.” Ecclesiastes 11:1.
It was good to see many of you last Sunday, masks and all.