Wednesday, July 15, 2015

5 Things I Would Rescue

Back in the earliest days of my ministry we used to occasionally build youth group meetings around exercises found in the great book by Dr. Sidney Simon, Values Clarification. The scenarios provided were designed to help us understand what things, which people and what skills and personality traits were important in our lives. We would then hold our thoughts under the microscope of the teachings of Jesus and see how we were doing when it came to getting our priorities straight.

One of the more popular exercises (and one that is often used by people who have never heard of the book) is this: Your home is on fire, and you have time to save only 5 things. Assume that people and pets are already out. What would you go back and retrieve? We used to revisit that scenario on a regular basis, seeking to discover what really mattered to us.

This was brought back to my mind recently when my friend Lisa Jewett told me of a dream she had in which she ran back into a burning home to rescue her son Scott's prized hockey jersey collection. We laughed about it, but it once again begged the question in my own mind. What would I save?  So today I'm making a list of 5 things I would seek to save if my house was burning. Marilyn, Will and Conner are safe. What am I going back for?

  1. Computer Tower - The hard drive to our desktop computer contains many important documents and pretty much every picture we have taken since the dawn of the digital age. It has the manuscript to my book, Will's screenplays and many other valued items. I should probably have all of this stuff on a Cloud somewhere, but since I don't even know how to find a Cloud I better grab the Tower. 
  2. Wedding Certificate - Marilyn and I were married in 1986 in a Baptist church, but part of the ceremony was also from the Quaker tradition. Among them was the reading and signing of a Wedding Certificate, the official marriage license of the Society of Friends. The calligraphy was done by Jennifer Bills, one of my former youth, and it was signed by everyone who attended the ceremony. It's irreplicable and irreplaceable.
  3. My Guitar & My Songs - Will plays my guitar far more often than I do these days, but that beat up old acoustic Washburn has been a part of me for a very long time now. I couldn't leave it behind. And with it comes a faded old orange folder containing over a 100 songs I have written over the years, going as far back as high school. There is no other record of the vast majority of those chords and lyrics so it needs to be saved, because I have no idea how much longer I will be able to remember all the words.. Plus, on the folder in a rather historic sticker. It has the U.S. Olympic Committee logo and it reads, "Win in '80!" Some of you will remember that in 1980 we boycotted the we did not win! It's a relic of days gone by for sure!
  4. Photo Box - In our garage there is a large container of pictures from the many pre-digital years of my life. Family photos, ancient youth ministry pics and remembrances of great moments from the past fill this box- and it's going with me!
  5. Only A Fool - In 1997 I attended a National Youth Workers Convention in Philadelphia and was presented with a wall-hanging honoring me for having spent 20 years in student ministry. On it are the handwritten words to the great Geoff Moore song, Only A Fool, which is a reminder that when God calls us quite often the rest of the world doesn't understand. It is the one token of my many years in ministry that I would desperately want to save.
To complete the exercise I need to ask myself the following question: What did I learn about my values and priorities from this? For me, the answer is simple. It is clear that while I seek to live for today and that I have hope for the future, the things that I treasure most are a part of my past. Our personal histories cannot be repeated or recreated; they exist only as memories. The older I get the more I treasure those memories and love to be surrounded by reminders of the people, places and events that have shaped my life. Everything I would go into the fire for is just such a reminder. We shouldn't live in the past, but we also should never lose it. The stories represented by my 5 items will live on in part because of the presence of those items in my life.
I would encourage you to play this little game as well. What is it that you treasure, and what do those things tell you about yourself? Think of it as a Hump Day Challenge! Be well, my friends.

Because of Jesus,

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