Friday, December 5, 2014

Flashback Friday: Upon Further Review

We are in the heart of football season. Huge college games with playoff berths at stake. Pro teams seeking to make the playoffs. It's a great time of year- as long as the referees don't screw it up too badly! Football fans have by now grown accustomed to the phrase "upon further review..." This means that after a controversial call by an official, someone challenged the ruling on the field and made the referee watch a replay. The ref goes to a hooded screen and proceeds to look at the play from 20 different angles, in slow motion HD, to see if the correct ruling was made. Lots of times the calls on the field stand. Occasionally they are overturned. For the most part these reviews serve their purpose, which is to get the call right.

It has dawned on me recently that when I wrote posts here about leaving the Union Church of Hinsdale in 2001 that perhaps my initial call on the 18 months spent in Chicagoland was not the correct one. Perhaps in telling my stories of those days I did not remembered the positives as well as I should. Perhaps there were factors involved that I did not mentioned. So here goes. Upon Further Review...

Positives-  There were some wonderful people at UC.  Some posts have mentioned David Knecht, Mary McKenzie, Kevin Baab and others from the Youth Ministry Team. Others have mentioned Mark Toole, Barb Cathey and Dick Nye from the staff. There were many students I cared for and loved. Plus our next door neighbors, Paul & Debra Allen, were just the best. We loved being close to Chicago and riding the train into the city (Marilyn did that everyday for work). It's a great city. Going to Cubs games at Wrigley Field simply rocked, as did all of the theater, concert and other cultural events we had access to. We loved the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium and learning to be Bears fans. Will's school was amazing, and within walking distance of our home. When people find out that we were only in Illinois for 18 months, most people assume the weather was a major factor. In fact, it wasn't. We enjoyed the snow and having real seasons. That does not include Marilyn's walks from Union Station to her office in 10 degree weather and 25 mph winds- but for the most part we enjoyed it. Living in Clarendon Hills and working in Hinsdale was like spending Christmas with the Kranks. People had lots of money and spent lots of time and effort decorating, and it was spectacular. As you can see, upon further review there were lots of positives.

Negatives-  We were a long way from family and friends. My family was in Florida, Marilyn's in NC, and even thought they came up it was hard on Will not seeing his grandparents very often. We also never felt like we fit in. So many of these people had so much money, and the lifestyles they lived were so foreign to us. And speaking of money, both of us were being paid more than we had ever made in our lives, and yet we could not get ahead. The cost of living was awful, and because of state taxes I was not actually bringing home any more than I had in Kissimmee. You may remember that I was frustrated with my work, and we were not very enthused about worship at UC either. It did not pass my "smell test." I always ask the question, "If I didn't work at that church, would I attend it?"  The answer in this case was an easy "NO!"  It was partly theology, partly style and partly commitment. Rich Mullins once wrote, "The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things." At UC, the "stuff" was winning. And finally, I just had too much time on my hands. With "summers off" and few special events to plan, I spent far too much time sitting in front of a computer or shopping at bookstores. It just didn't feel like youth ministry to me.

So there you go. Upon Further Review, the ruling on the field is confirmed. My staying at UC for a longer period of time would not have been helpful to anyone. With God's help, I prayerfully made the call. The road was plowed. David Knecht had studied at my side and was ready to be the next youth pastor in his church. 

Because of Jesus,

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