By Rev. Dr. Brian Gigee
“UPS AND DOWNS”
It’s 5:06 am. In the morning. My street is dark; but the neighbors’ houses are all lit up and it feels safe going out to pick up the newspaper from the driveway. The paper deliverer hit a bullseye right between the cars. Better than yesterday. That was the toss into the wet grass. Front page news. Astros lose. But, they play again today. They could win today. The other headline says, “President pulls troops from Syrian border.” What’s going to happen to the Kurds, now? We don’t live in our own little world anymore. Oh, there’s a lightbulb out on the neighbor’s porch. Someone’s going to have to pull down the ladder and change it. Life is full of ups and downs. Faith matters. Life happens. I need to bring my faith with me again, today.
The coffee sure tastes good. Now my mug is empty. Time to get another cup. It’s a good mug. A gift from my daughter on Father’s day. “King of DaD Jokes” is emblazoned on it and then it has some jokes all over and inside. “What do you call a person with no body and no nose?” Answer? I can wait. Ok. “Nobody knows.” Ah, the coffee mug is full again. Ouch! I just ran my heel into the leg of my office chair. But, I didn’t spill the coffee. In my head goes off the lyrics from a Chris Knight song… “Little victories; they’re all right with me. Some days that’s all I need.” And then I recall one of my grandma Irene’s favorite Bible verses from Hebrews 11… “Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.” Some days are better than others.
I remember the story of two Notre Dame faculty members. Both were priests. One taught math an the other taught the Bible, but his great strength was in pastoral care. It’s said one day the math instructor was ranting about his students… “Don’t they understand? I know I’m a priest and all that but I’m here at Notre Dame to teach math,” he said. He didn’t think he was supposed to have students come to his office and complain about their recent love break-up, or that a grandfather was ill and in the hospital or their best friend was transferring to another college. “I’m supposed to teach math and all I do is deal with the students’ interruptions.” His colleague smiled. “Yes, it’s true,” was the reply. “Your vocation is to teach math, but it seems God has called you to a ministry of interruptions.” Life is full of them. Mountains and valleys. Highs and lows. Stop. Go. Wait. No one is immune.
Most of what many Americans define as “difficulties in life” are really first world problems. There was that guy with the flat tire. He was going to be late for work. Did you know less than 9% of the world’s population owns a car? Or that most young men in the southern hemisphere earn less than $350.00 annually? About a dollar a day? And is happy to have any job at all? Or the young woman who just graduated from law school in Houston now on her way to a career? Her life is very different from a young woman the same age in sub-Saharan Africa who already has two children and gets up at 5:06 am to gather sticks to build a fire to cook a breakfast of bread cakes made with the meal she ground herself and then spend the rest of the day tending to dutiful chores until sunset only to do the same thing the next day and they day after. No paid vacation. No four-day weekend. No light bulbs. More downs than ups… at least by our Texan and American standards.
I need to be in Angleton for a meeting at 9:00 am today. I think I’ll make it right after I make another cup of coffee. So far, my day has had more ups and downs. I hope your day goes well, too. Take your faith in God with you. It seems the world always needs it! Brian
Brian Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland and the lead pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Pearland. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi. Comments and questions can be sent to [email protected].