Just inside the door of my sister-in-law’s home, above the cupboard with all the coats and shoes in it, was a lovely artistic sign. As you entered you really couldn’t miss it.
It read, the most important things in life are not things.
The reference of course is to people,
people whom we love and care for,
people whom we have invested in us or who have invested in us.
People that we admire or respect.
I’ve been thinking about how this global pandemic has impacted us in the relationships we have.
Thanksgiving dinner was lovely – a feast – but we didn’t have any immediate family with us. Jason and his kids were in their home, my mother was at the Meighen….
We were isolated, and social isolation is hard on us.
I’ve been thinking about how this has impacted us at THQ and across the territory. Instead of being together, in our departments, on our perspective floors, we find ourselves working remotely, away from the regular comradery of being together.
As I was considering all this and reflecting on the recent Thanksgiving weekend, I started thinking about the people who I am so very thankful for.
Apart from my family and my immediate working partners, I got thinking about the people who have invested in me and my pilgrimage.
I remember Cliff Flanagan – who when I was 7 yrs old taught me how to play a brass instrument. While I never became a great instrumentalist like Marcus Venables, I can say I learned about kindness from Mr. Flanagan.
I recall Colonel Joe Craig, who apart from my parents, was one of the first people to invest in me as a young Christian leader. At age 14 or 15 he would take me along to assist when leading worship in different social service centres around Toronto. He gave me a sense of personal confidence and taught me the value of investing in young people.
As a young, newly married man, trying to adjust from living for myself to living in covenant with Wendy, Mr. Coley Jackson became a mature and wise voice, allowing me to explore days of transition with him with godly wisdom. From Coley I learned about empathy and the practice of allowing maturity to grow internally.
There are so many more people I could tell you about – Commissioner Roy Calvert who was my corps officer at a pivotal time in my life or Brigadier Cliff Sipley, a retired officer from the USA who in my first corps taught me how to do effective pastoral visits, or Mr. Reg Broughton, the business manager for the then Ont South Division who was a tremendous witness to godly integrity.
All these individuals and so many more are people who I cherish.
In a time when we feel like we’ve lost much, it seems it is a good exercise to remember who we are thankful for!
I’ve always been fascinated with the final written words of the Apostle Paul, who in writing to his prodigy of faith, Timothy, pens these words:
2 Timothy 4:9f
By the way he names 17 different people by name…here’s a few…
9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
And he ends with a reference to all “the brothers and sisters of faith”.
In 2003 Mark Dickinson was in Los Angeles on a business trip when he learned that his grandson Caden was lying in a Denver hospital, brain dead and about to be taken off life support.
A few days earlier the boy had suffered terrible head injuries, at the hands of his daughter’s boyfriend.
Mark arrived at Los Angeles International Airport to find a long, slow-moving security line. Airport workers wouldn’t believe his story about his grandson and refused to let him jump to the front of the line.
He called his wife Nancy back home in Arizona for help. She called the Airlines customer service to plead Mark’s case and beg them to hold the plane until Mark could get there.
By the time he got through the security checkpoint, his departure time had already passed. He grabbed his belongings and made a mad dash for the gate, convinced he’d never make his connecting flight in Tucson.
“I was running in my socks through the terminal,” he said. When he got to the gate, Dickinson was shocked to find the plane was still there, the door to the jetway still open.
The pilot was standing by the gate – Are you Mark? he asked.
The cost of holding a plane is extraordinary – thousands of dollars per minute – but as Mark thanked the pilot for waiting – the pilot responded, “they can’t leave without me, and I wasn’t leaving with you.”
The most important things in life aren’t things…
So here’s my challenge for you today. You’ve likely already been thinking about the people who are important to you, people who have made a difference in your world. People who have done things you didn’t expect, or people who believed in you when you doubted yourself, people who gave you a chance when you thought you had none, people who said encouraging things to you, people who were kind.
Will you take a few minutes at some time today, I might encourage you to do it soon so it doesn’t get lost, but will you take a few minutes today to write a note, make a call, send someone a message to simply say how much they mean to you.