Just a Few Thoughts for Today

I have been in a contemplative mood ever since Wednesday evening and night when I drove Desiree back up to Lewisburg after she had spent a few days with me. On the way up we listened to the music she likes on my iPod, and on the way back I listened to several episodes of “Selected Shorts,” and thought about my life.

On November 9th, I will turn 48 years old. It is hard for me to imagine that I am actually that old. I guess everybody has a mental image of who they are, and for me that image is of a much younger Will Humes . . . the Will Humes of my college days at Eastern Kentucky University, for example. It is amazing to me that those days are so long ago now, and that this year will also mark the 30th reunion of my High School graduation. Where does the time go?

In fact, my lovely daughter Desiree will be graduating from High School in less than two years now (the Class of 2011), and though my body sometimes tells me otherwise, I do not feel my age. I am older now than when my parents divorced. I have less than 20 years before I retire, and (if life expectancy tables are to be believed), I have much less life left to live than I have already lived.

Shouldn’t I have done more with my life by now? Is this all there is? Or to quote the title of one of my favorite movies, is this “as good as it gets?” I had a t-shirt for several years that I loved (but which my daughter hated for obvious reasons, which read “This is not the life I ordered.” And on many days . . . too many days . . . that is exactly how I feel.

Of course, I realize that most people have these feelings. And I also realize that I am past due for a mid-life crisis of sorts. But still . . .

I came across a quote from Howard Thurman recently that has been playing around in and with my mind. Thurman once said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Is it selfish to do what “makes you come alive” as Thurman puts it? And further, what exactly would that be for me? After all, some days I feel barely alive at all. Is this how the rest of my limited life will be lived?

I hope not, but in order for this not to be the case, I need to discover or rediscover what makes me alive, and then I need the courage to do it. Ah, there’s the rub.

Well, I have rambled on quite enough already. What do you, my gentle readers, think . . . all five of you, that is? I would really like to know.

-Will

All I Need

steve-martin-jerk One of my favorite Steve Martin movies is The Jerk, in which Martin plays the character Navin Johnson, a white man raised by a black family.  Johnson is also little more than a complete moron, who somehow rises to the top of the world due to a simple invention of his, which makes him a multi-millionaire.  At one point in the film, when he is down on his luck, Johnson leaves his home while claiming that he doesn’t need a thing there (quote below from IMDB)

Navin R. Johnson: Well I’m gonna to go then. And I don’t need any of this. I don’t need this stuff, and I don’t need you. I don’t need anything except this.
[picks up an ashtray]

Navin R. Johnson: And that’s it and that’s the only thing I need, is this. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that’s all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that’s all I need. And that’s all I need too. I don’t need one other thing, not one – I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that’s all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.
[walking outside]

Navin R. Johnson: And I don’t need one other thing, except my dog.
[dog barks]

Navin R. Johnson: I don’t need my dog.

It is difficult at times to distinguish between what I need and I want.  The list of my wants is very long and would include items from the silly to sublime:

  • a whole bunch of new books to read
  • several new cds I’d like to listen to
  • more money
  • a minimum of 4 more hours in each day
  • a pair of new black dress shoes that never need polishing
  • a national championship for my alma mater Eastern Kentucky University in football (Go Colonels!!!)
  • the ability to write and finish my sermons before late Saturday evenings or early Sunday mornings
  • a cool new cell phone (since I gave mine to my daughter for her birthday – she needs the minutes more than I do)
  • about 25 less pounds on my body

A list of my needs, however, would be much shorter (and more serious).  I need:

  • to be a good father to Desiree
  • to be a good pastor
  • to be more committed in my following of Jesus

One thing I notice right away when I compare these two lists is that my “needs” list contains not one single “thing” on it.  I already more stuff than I need, and though I may want more stuff, most of what I have already is unnecessary.  The second thing I notice is that my “needs” are all centered on relationships . . . with others and with Jesus.  People are important, not things.

In many ways, I wish that I was more like Paul, who once wrote:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)

How about you?  What do you really need?

Tired

When you are tired, really tired, nothing else matters.  Today I was really tired.

Up at 5:30 after about 4 hours of sleep, I drove my daughter Desiree back to her school before it began at 7:30.  An hour and a half there and same back (with a quick stop at Panera’s for a delicious cinnamon crunch bagel), I arrived back in Pottstown to do my usual work.  At 3:30 I went to the grocery to pick up stuff for dinner.  Got home, made dinner (Asian Bar-B-Que boneless chicken thighs, scalloped potatoes and broccoli), chatted for a moment with Jim and Joy, and then retired to my room for a relaxing night.

I had planned to watch some TV, do some blogging, work on Sunday’s bulletin, and read some. What can I say, I am usually good at multi-tasking.  But none of this actually happened, however.  As I said earlier, I was tired.  In addition to the busy day, and lack of sleep last night, I had also gotten less than 5 hours sleep on each of the previous 3 nights.  It finally got to me.

I sat down in my recliner at 7:00 pm, fired up my computer, and got ready to work and watch.  Five minutes later I was sound asleep.  It was the sleep of the dead, and I didn’t wake up for the next three hours . . . I also got nothing done that I had hoped to do, and now (at 1:01 am) I am wide awake.

What can I say, I was tired, and when you are tired, really tired, nothing else matters.