Dear friends and fellow travelers,
$11K in 1980
Back in 1980 I graduated from Southern Illinois University and moved to Philly to begin work with 'The Fellowship of Christian Athletes,' making make all of $11K per year. My boss, Wynn Lembright, was a fabulous mentor for me and many other staff members.
The only downside of FCA work, as with most non profits, is that said $11K was contingent upon donations which in turn was contingent upon the economy which in turn was not real good in 1980.
I could never seem to get comfortable with that arrangement, always worrying about the status of our donations and income. (Hey, a guy’s gotta eat, doesn't he?!). By contrast, my colleague, Jerrold, was quite serene amidst our financial uncertainty, rarely even mentioning it.
It occurs to me, looking back, that my anxiety and Jerrold’s serenity made perfect sense. I came from an upper middle class family in which joblessness was never known and my dad’s income was both steady and significant. By contrast, Jerrold, hailed from Mississippi, growing up in a family that had little or no access to the economic circles that our family benefited from. He was likely the first of his family to go to college, made possible only by a football scholarship. I suspect that in spite of his parent's best efforts, joblessness and scarcity was a regular staple throughout much of his childhood.
Raised in the church, Jerrold had no other choice but to rely upon Christ at an early age, which made him quite comfortable with the uncertainty that, by contrast, left me feeling anything but comfortable . ‘Faith by default’ engendered in Jerrold, a confidence in God’s care that I didn’t possess because I never really had to.
Faith by Default
Seems like, for most of us, our capacity to befriend, and to relax around, uncertainty can only develop when all of our 'controls' have removed, (ie our child becomes addicted to drugs) all of our strategies have been found wanting (ie. I'm 60 and I've worked my entire LinkedIn network and have yet to get a job interview) and all of our 'resources' have been exhausted. (ie the doctor informs us that we are suffering from an that is both untreatable and terminal).
I, for one, wish there was an easier way but, given that we are all control addicts, some of us more than others, there probably is no other way.
While visiting with cancer patients as chaplain, I noted that many if not most patients were quite willing to 'surrender their lives to Christ' inviting him to 'take them wherever he wished.' I was struck by the gratitude bordering on enthusiasm that they displayed when I invited them to do so.
Once I left the cancer center, however, visiting with men over lunch or breakfast, a 'you need to surrender your life to Christ and invite him to take you wherever he wishes' kind of message was considered bad manners and might well prove fatal to the relationship.
It is ironic is it not, that what we find uncomfortable or even offensive to discuss throughout much of our lives, becomes, in the end, our only real means of comfort?
P.S. Our next 'Men to Serve' community service gathering will take place at 9:30 am on March 8th! Interested? Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org