Last week Bob Hyatt exposed what most in ministry would as soon keep to themselves – Mondays can be difficult. Call it "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" or a "Severe Case of Self-Criticism" it still can hit you like a brick. Most things we evaluate stem from our deep personal involvement with all that goes in to creating space for worship, fellowship and the ministry of the Word. Occasionally frustrations comes when we fail to communicate like we intended or what we heard from others did not line up with our own expectations.
What a sense of humor God must have. Perspective is everythhing. I was not an art student in high school. I was a drafting/architectural drawing nut. This would be my dream. From my vantage point this vocation would be a perfect fit for me. Our second year courses would give us the opportunity to design our own homes. Mr. Hornish required us to find a lot somewhere in Oklahoma City to use as if we were to build our house on it. We were required to create a "perspective drawing" along with all of the regular working drawings. You would think this would be simple – and maybe for some it was. But, drawing your dream home in proper prespective required a static point from which you would work. Every line must have a referent to that static point on the paper. Fail to use the correct static point and the drawing looks quite odd.
Mondays create the illusion of proper perspective. Surely the "day after" we are brighter, more observant and aware of what coulda, woulda, shoulda been better. Once we filter what we have heard through a night of sleep we convince ourselves that what we heard could have only been heard "that way."
I sat this afternoon in a meeting. Of all the places I would choose to be, this would not be the place to spend an Monday afternoon. But, our commitments to cooperating with a group of churches meant the need to support if but for a short time. It was nice the church had wireless so I could keep up with e-mail and re-read the Lectionary Texts for the coming week. Late in the first afternoon session we heard from Jeff Vernon. Jeff is pastor of the Second Baptist Church in Okmulgee.
Jeff served a church in our Association some years ago. We were glad to have him on our golf team when challenging Capital Baptist Assocation. He could put a great round together. In high school Jeff was a three sport athlete. He was voted "Most Athletic" by his high school graduating class. He could have played a few different sports in college.
At 35 Jeff was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease. His case advanced quickly and in a short time he had enudred four brain surgeries and a couple of back surgeries. He fought back tears as he shared the personal frustration of his then eight year old daughter helping her daddy get dressed. He helped us laugh saying if we got nothing else from what he shared, we could at least say we laughed – and laugh we did. With just the right mixture of wit and wisdom, Jeff brought my Monday into perspective.
The things on my mind paled in comparison. I was reminded of something I had recently read in Franke’s, Barth for Armchair Theologians. One of Barth’s dialectical rationalism reminds us we cannot know without faith (and he would say we cannot have faith without knowing). Put another way, something of Barth’s project, according to Franke’s work, is the expression, "faith seeking understanding." Jeff trusts the Triune God and seeks to understand the complexities of life as he has encountered them. He has not "thrown in the towell." On the contrary, he admits to wrestling and moments of frustration. He did not offer a false piety but rather expressed great trust despite what he did not know and could not understand.
In the end, Jeff’s story put my Monday in perspective. My mentor used to say, "You never resign on a Monday." He understood though we think we see clearly, our perspective is out of whack. Jeff helped me see the right line from which to see how the picture really looks.