Thursday, August 08, 2013

The ordinary

My granddaughter Talitha with Dabo
I've told you before about my dog Dabo. He's a little 3-year old Bichon Frise. Not a yapper, thankfully, and lots of fun. He's never met a stranger, and he especially adores kids.

Everybody wants to know what his name means. Dabo Swinney is the head coach of the Clemson Tigers football team. So, since we're big Clemson fans, we named our dog Dabo. His full name is Dabo LeBlanc. The dog's, that is.

Dabo regularly teaches me lessons. One is not to be in a hurry. When I take him outside to go to the bathroom, he just kind of wanders around the yard aimlessly, taking his time, smelling everything, chasing lizards, looking around, and sniffing the air. Finally he gets down to business.

But another lesson Dabo teaches me is enjoyment of the ordinary. On sunny afternoons I'll go outside with Dabo and he'll find a spot in the backyard and just...sit. I'll say, "Let's go over here, Dabo." And he'll glance at me, turn away, and...lie down in the grass. It's like I can hear him say, "Umm, I don't think so. Why are you in a hurry? Don't you want to just stay here a few minutes and feel the sunshine?" I can't resist. So I'll walk over, plop myself down next to Dabo, stroke his back, and enjoy the ordinary.

I hate to confess this, but I apparently need a dog to teach me this lesson. Otherwise I don't know if I'd ever stop and feel the sunshine on my face.

I'm reading Zack Eswine's book for pastors, titled Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry As a Human Being. It's a wonderful but convicting book about enjoying the ordinary. He says we ministers are, generally speaking, driven people. We are always hankering after some "significant" work, chasing some "God-sized" dream, trying to change the world, thinking that we have to move on to some exotic place where we can "make a difference." Problem is, we are not God, though we secretly fancy ourselves to be. We are not omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. We are actually pretty much...a mess. And anyway, God usually chooses to work through ordinary people in ordinary places.
He who called you to where you are declares that you needn't repent of being in one place at one time. You needn't repent of doing only a long, small work in an extraordinary but unknown place. Standing long in one place allows the roots to deepen.
I wish I'd read Eswine's book years ago when, as a young pastor, I felt "called" away from my small, rural church to a city I knew nothing about but where, I thought, I would really make a difference for the kingdom. I don't know, maybe I was called there. But looking back from Dabo's perspective, maybe I was in too much of a hurry.

The prophet Jeremiah told his friend and secretary Baruch, "Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not" (Jeremiah 45:5).

That's what I hear Dabo saying to me in the backyard on sunny afternoons. Standing long in one place allows the roots to deepen.

1 comment:

Chanda Griese said...

Learning this, too...seems counterintuitive to take life slow, but every time I stop and notice something as simple as a leaf blowing in the wind, I'm changed and I remember whose I am (Christ's)and why I'm here (His Kingdom). Maybe "fast" pulls us away from basking in His love?