Jennifer and the Missing 1st Class Passenger

If you’re like most people I know, you like to have your flight schedule nailed down. You know what seat you’re in, when you need to leave home, and when you’re going to board. But, it’s not just in traveling… a plan gives some peace and assurance. Many of us have plans for our marriages, work, finances, kids, spiritual growth, volunteer work, and physical health. When those plans don’t come together or a wrench is thrown into the works, stress, angst and even anger are many times the order of the day! It’s particularly tough when you don’t know until the very end whether it’s going to work or not!

That’s where Jennifer and the missing 1st class passenger come in… and by the way… thank you to both of them, whoever and wherever they may be!

Sara and I were given “Buddy Passes” for our trip from Austin to Denver a few weeks ago. The way it works is you are put on the standby list and hopefully you get a seat! The challenge is that you are put on the bottom of the list. All other passengers take precedence. So… we got to the airport, checked in on time… everything going smoothly. A little nervous, we kept asking and watching, but no answers.  Boarding began. Then an announcement over the airport system… “The lower level has been shut down for a possible bomb and we are evacuating that level. The bomb squad is investigating so at this time no one is allowed to leave or enter. No action needs to be taken by the people on the concourse.” Can you imagine what everyone was thinking… the lower level isn’t that far away… a bomb could take it all out… are you kidding us!!!!

And then… “Harrow party of 2 please come to the podium.” Awesome… now we can get out of this place! “Mr. and Mrs. Harrow, I’m sorry to inform you that we only have 1 seat left and the next flight is already full.” What? I’ve got to get there but I can’t leave Sara behind with a bomb! A sick feeling in my gut. Sara urging me to take the seat. But there’s still hope… they’re waiting for one passenger who had already checked in online… Jennifer! After what seemed to be an eternity… no Jennifer… the gate agent said to both of us… “follow me down the jetway.” He needed to check if they had missed her boarding. No Jennifer!!!! Whew… we both took our seats and we were on our way! As we taxied, there sure was a lot of traffic backed up… probably because of the bomb scare. THANK YOU JENNIFER!

getting a standby seat to go home So what did I learn? Reflecting on the experience, I thought about how we are called to follow Jesus in every aspect of our lives and, even though we have it all planned out, He may have different plans for us that may not even revealed until the last minute. So, how can I… we… be more open to changes and the dynamic life we’re called to live? By watching, listening, learning and following our Savior closer and closer each day wherever and whenever He takes us… even at the last moment! What a great lesson! That will probably show up in a sermon someday! Confidently and boldly… feeling pretty proud of myself… I thought, I can handle this much better now!

So after an eventful few days, we were looking forward to getting back to Texas. So… we got to the airport, checked in on time… everything going smoothly. Standby list looked pretty full… boarding progresses. “Harrow party of 2 please come to the podium.” Awesome… now we can get back home! “Mr. and Mrs. Harrow, I’m sorry to inform you that we only have 1 seat left and the next flight out is already full.” What!!! How is this going to work? No car or place in Colorado… how will we handle the Texas end? Let’s check other flights… maybe we can buy some tickets. $900… that won’t work. But there’s still hope… they’re waiting for one passenger… a 1st Class passenger! After what seemed to be an eternity… no passenger yet… the gate agent said to both of us… “follow me down the jetway.” He needed to check if they had missed him boarding. No 1st Class passenger!!!! Whew… we both took our seats and we were on our way! THANK YOU MISSING 1st CLASS PASSENGER!

So what did I really learn? That it’s really hard to fully give up our plans, our will, our future, our kids, our families, and marriages to God. How are you at that? God asks us to give it all up to the Creator of the universe… the one who controls nature… the one who provides every single thing we have. My prayer is that you and I both learn the peace, joy and freedom in living that way. It may not work out in the way or timing we want, but we know that it will work together for good.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose

-Gerry

Clinton or Trump? [psst, I have a secret]

Everywhere I go people are talking about the US Presidential election. Everyone I meet has an opinion on the two candidates. The news is inescapable and the content is seemingly bottomless. It seems that much of this frenzy is driven by the peculiar nature of this particular election which is certainly unique in my lifetime and perhaps much longer. There is clearly a lot of anxiety and concern about the direction the United States is headed, and the path either of these candidates will Republican or Democrattake our country along when one of them takes office. But there need not be any concern because I have a secret and I am going to share it with you.

All of the frustration, all of the excitement, all of the nervous anticipation is about to be shattered because of my secret. Once you hear what I have to share there will be no more tense political discussions with friends or co-workers who do not share your perspective. Once you join my little group (let’s call them, “The Enlightened”) you will no longer lose sleep, or care about debates or lies or policies. You will no longer wait with baited breath to hear how the talking heads will spin the topic du jour. Yes, when you find out about my secret your life will return to normal, the sun will continue to rise in the east and the Broncos will still be the very best team in football.

[SPOILER ALERT, HERE IT COMES]

Ultimately the truth prevails, and neither of these two candidates have any idea what that even means. What is taking place in this current election — in this particular section of the world — is ultimately of little consequence. Presidents of the United States have little influence on the course of human events, and this is nothing new. There are 44 previous Presidents we can look to who were some level of indecent, selfish, scandalous, perverted, dishonest, inhospitable, braggadocios, ungrateful, egotistic, unethical, lazy, cruel or generally terrible human beings. In other words they were just like me.

Look deeply into the people who have served this country and you will quickly or eventually find serious personal flaws. I know this because “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23] Our current choices are no different. This could bring me great despair but instead I am reminded of my secret (now it’s our secret). The truth WILL prevail!

When his Disciples were confused and lost, Jesus comforted them by saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” [John 14:6]

On His final day Jesus told Pilate, “I came into this world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” To which Pilate asked “What is truth?” [John 18:37-38]

What is truth indeed? That’s a question we can ask in so many different contexts today, is it not? It seems that we live in a world where everyone has their own version of the truth. It seems that we are witnessing a Presidential election where nobody can lay claim to the truth.

But fear not because we know that in the end the truth will prevail.

This is not to say that we have no role to play. On the contrary. I hope that people of faith will cast their vote in record numbers this year. I hope that all Americans will take the time to research the issues and make an educated decision for the next President. I certainly will.

But what I will not do is pretend like this is the most important thing that has ever happened. I will not give credibility to a system created and perpetuated by wretched people. I will not place such great priority on a system that has been so thoroughly corrupted generation after generation. Voting is something I will do this year, but it is not the most important thing I will do. It may not even be the most important thing I do that month. Heck, I hope it is one of the least important moments of that particular day.

We have been given a beautiful gift. I am constantly surrounded by love and generosity. I hope that I can share some of that with others. I want to be a good Dad and Husband, neighbor and friend. I live in an amazing community that abounds with beauty and love. That should be my priority every single day. Our politicians are deserving of our ridicule and scorn. Our family, friends and neighbors are where we should focus our energy.

Take comfort in the truth brothers!

-Gavin

On Being a Contrarian

two paths

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

 

From outside appearances my life is very common, but it’s not because my thinking is. I find great joy in challenging the status quo, even though those epic battles rarely leave the space between my ears. In fact I have so much disdain for the routine that how and when I brush my teeth each morning is completely random. I am a rebel! CARPE DIEM!

The truth is I don’t do this often enough but I should. I revel in not doing the things I am told I should be doing. I take great satisfaction in the daily bombardment of fast food advertising, knowing full well that I will never eat any of that garbage. Billions of advertising dollars? Wasted on me! I rule you!

And in my stronger moments when the culture tells me that sex sells and women are objects to be exploited I am able to stand up with resolve, appreciate God’s beauty in all things and say with confidence that my standard of beauty is found in my wife.

Those are my stronger moments. But oh how often I fail. Paul’s words ring in my ears frequently and I think, “What a wretched man I am!”

It is easy for me to analyze my many failures and try to re-engineer them. If only I did this differently. Next time I should avoid that and things will turn out better. I must be stronger and work harder if I want improved outcomes.

Of course these are lies that ultimately lead to no change, no improvement, no salvation. I cannot do it alone.

“’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zec 4:6)

I no more have the strength to take on the world than I have the power to create it. I must rely on the power of the Creator of the Universe. He seeks relationship with me, and for some reason I resist that. And that is when I fail.

Which is why I find so much joy when I don’t do what I should do, or when I do those things I should not do. It is in those moments that I feel the presence of the Lord guiding me. Oh what joy to be a contrarian!

You can learn from my mistakes or you can learn from your own, but I hope you will join me in experiencing the tremendous satisfaction that comes from witnessing God’s amazing power. When life gives you trouble, as it surely will, try the following:

  • Humble yourself and admit that you do not have the strength to win this battle. Acknowledge on bended knee that God has succeeded where you could not.
  • Pray for His strength and power to carry you.
  • Listen and be attentive. What is asked of you may be difficult and it will certainly be challenging. Doing the right thing is rarely easy in this world.
  • Prepare to be filled with the joy that knows no bounds.
  • Don’t keep it to yourselves. God wants you to succeed so that others may experience His love and mercy.

I look forward to an amazing journey with you all!