Sunday, February 28, 2016

God's 2 By 4

When I was a teenager, I can remember my dad saying that we should pay attention to God and listen to Him, so He won't have to "hit us over the head with a 2 by 4 to get our attention." I'm positive he used that exact phrase. Hit us over the head with a 2 by 4. I'm not sure if my dad came up with that one, or if he got it from a former pastor of ours, Ed McDonald. It might have even been my dad's friend Jerry Sherrow. It's a good line, whoever came up with it.

Before you start picturing an old guy with a white beard holding a plank, obviously my dad wasn't speaking literally. But isn't that what happens so often in life? We cruise along, wrapped up in our own stuff, and it takes something traumatic to wake us up to what's really important and what isn't. It sure would be great if we could learn to avoid that, wouldn't it?

I didn't avoid it. I got smacked right in the forehead, and now it's like I'm going through the NFL concussion protocol with little birdies dancing around my head.

Here's the thing about me. I've always been basically lazy. I've never really been interested in working all that hard. That's why I never learned to play an instrument well. First chair cornet in the 8th grade doesn't count. The truth is, I quit trumpet because singing was easier. Becoming a good keyboard player or guitarist would have been an enormous benefit to my career, but I was never disciplined enough to learn and practice. Practice is the bugaboo.

Here's the difference between true instrumentalists and mere mortals. The ones who have the goods get great at their instrument not because they're so disciplined that they practice all the time whether they want to or not. They get that great because they just play their instrument all the time because that's what they love to do. I never had that gene.

That tendency has applied to many, if not most areas of my life. I realize that I couldn't have had the career I've had if all I did was sit around the house and play video games. So it's not like I'm totally lazy. Many people have said to me over the course of my career that they could never be disciplined enough to work at home, that they'd just goof off all day. My reply was simple. A mortgage is a great motivator.

So I'm not a total slacker. But I'm still the kid who could've had a 4.0, but decided he'd rather have fun and get C's. That's pretty much how I've approached my life. I didn't have an A List career, but I've had fun!

Don't get me wrong, my wife and I have been busy. Busy at work, busy with gigs and recording projects, busy at church, busy with friends. But when I had free time, I didn't pick up a guitar or volunteer in a soup kitchen. I turned on the TV.

That lazy streak has also affected my spiritual life, my relationships with others, and just about everything else. If you feel like I haven't called you lately, it's not because I don't love you. Especially now. Everything's different now. But I'm getting ahead of myself. In the past, if you've felt like I've been MIA, it's because I was lazy and wrapped up in my own stuff. I'm still wrapped up in my own stuff, but I'm trying to be better about being in contact. I'm too busy to be lazy right now.

And that's the punch line, isn't it? I got hit with God's 2 by 4, and now, hallelujah, I'm finally awake. As I said in a previous post, "Becoming," I feel like God is changing me from the inside out. And now He has my full attention.

Suddenly I want to watch my weight and work out. Not for the same reason as you, but I'm doing it. My prayer life has been transformed. I can't get enough contact with my loved ones. God is very real to me. I have absolutely no interest in going back to the way things were before all of this began. March 2016 Mark would still not trade places with January 2015 Mark. I have no idea where this whole process is going, but I want to find out. I feel like God is preparing me for something, one way or the other.

Here's the point. Don't be like me. Listen to my dad. Don't let it take God's 2 by 4 upside your head to wake you up to what's really important. Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure he said, "upside your head" too.

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