Last week my wife and I were at our national conference in Minneapolis. It was a good conference, a chance to catch up on what is going on in the AFLC at large, and an opportunity to touch base with old friends and make a few new ones. We drive to the conferences because flying became such a hassle–long lines, TSA searches, 3 inches of leg room–that the time savings isn’t worth it to me anymore.
Unfortunately, driving has its own issues. We got a flat tire going around Chicago which I managed to keep inflated by stopping frequently on the way to South Bend. That’s when I had to stop and buy a new tire.
Right now you’re probably asking, So what? We all have problems every day. And that is most certainly true. But sometimes those problems seem to have a cause that isn’t necessarily random acts of irritation–and my flat tire might be one of those.
Sven Oftedal, one of the founders of the Lutheran Free Church wrote that our annual conference is “the great powerhouse of the LFC.” In other words, the conference is where those who attend get recharged and ready to go for another year. It does have that effect on me quite often. So I’m driving back to Maryland thinking about all we could do here at St. Paul’s and the possibilities ahead of us and suddenly those thoughts are driven out of my head by this irritation. It is possible that Satan did that, for our enemy hates the Church and any thoughts of making it better. It’s also possible that the problem was satanic in origin but simply another event in life. I don’t know.
But what I do know is that for a short time, I took my eye off the ball and stuffed all the good things from the conference into the back drawer of my mind and focused on the bad thing in front of me.
I think we do that all the time and it is not good for us. Yes, of course we have to solve our problems and deal with the irritating things in life. But too often we let those things take over and create grumpiness. Too often we lose sight of the big picture and focus on the little smudge in the corner. It would be far better for us to look at all we have and all we are and all that God is doing around us and save our mental energy for the things of eternal importance.
My wife read something really cool last week as we were driving. Someone wrote, if you woke up tomorrow and all you had were those things you thanked God for today–what would you have? Think about that a bit.