“Around the same time, a man called John began to travel, preach and ritually wash people through baptism in the wilderness of Judea. John preached a stern but exciting message. Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Matthew 3: 1-3, The Voice New Testament.
Our high school football season is over. We went through another winless season – tough on the guys, but character building, of course. My son, Noah, was one of the captains, and he fought to motivate his team every week, turning him even more into the leader, a man built for others.
The season capped off with the annual football banquet, a highlight for the seniors where their coaches talk about each of them individually, encouraging and blessing them as they forward in life.
Noah’s coach, Boom, said of him, “Noah is an old-school football player. He likes to get on the line and do his job. He likes playing hard, giving it all he has, getting dirty and playing his heart out. Simply put, Noah loves the game of football.”
Noah plays lineman, which, if you know your football positions, isn’t a glory spot. It’s a blocking position – getting in the way of the defense (or offense – he played both ways), so that your backs can score. Or, on defense, it’s occasionally making a tackle, but mostly putting pressure on the ball-carrier so your d-backs can make a tackle. (sorry if I lost you there – but hang with me).
In other words, Noah’s job, for each play, is to go nose-to-nose with the other guy and push him back. It’s gritty, tough work and a great lineman makes a way for other players to shine.
He does one thing, but he does it well, and he loves it. In fact, I think he loves it because he’s poured his heart into doing that one thing, well. His heart is not divided into wanting other positions, but rather dedicated to the one he has. And it’s allowed him to savor his final season, even with the losses.
He recently turned down his election to captain of the track team so he can lift weights and prepare to play college football.
Focus. Simplicity. Savoring his favorite sport.
I’ve spent the past year trying to put the brakes on life. With my daughter getting married, Noah getting ready for college and finding myself with a too-quiet house, I’m looking at my life and taking a deep, cleansing breath. What can I focus on? How can I simplify? Is it possible, in doing so, I can find a deeper love for life? Even better – can I find a deeper love for my Savior?
As I was reading Matthew this morning, John the Baptist’s simple message clung to me. Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near. Get your heart right, so you can recognize and savor the Savior.
November is our John the Baptist month. It’s our opportunity to focus. I look ahead to the holiday season and instead of the bustle, the shiny lights, the miles of to-do lists, and I wonder – how can I simplify so I can savor the advent season?
Maybe I give myself the gift of time to savor Christ longer in the mornings.
Maybe I rethink my schedule so I party less, but spend time with the ones I love more.
Maybe I simplify my menus so I have more time to puzzle with the family.
I’m not sure, but believe there is a gift in doing less.
Recently, we celebrated a weekend together as a family in Minneapolis. We hadn’t all seen each other since Sarah’s wedding in May, so we savored our time together. We kept it simple – a football game on Saturday afternoon. Take-out and games in Sarah & Neil’s tiny starter apartment. Laughter. Teasing. Joy.
I’m going to do something a little crazy on my blog this month. I’ve invited Ingrid Christiansen, the mother in my Christiansen family series to take over and give us her insights on simplifying and savoring the holiday season. Devotionals from her journal, tune-ups for the heart on savoring the season, secrets to simplifying and surviving the onslaught of the world’s expectations, snapshots of life on the north shore, and scrumptious recipes from her kitchen.
I hope you’ll stop by, see if Ingrid’s words bless you.
And, if you want to read Ingrid’s story, I’d invite you to pick up my Christmas novella, Evergreen, a story about keeping your marriage alive in the “winter” of your lives. (a story lifted from the pages of my own life!) It’s in hardcover – so it would also make a wonderful Christmas gift. J
Let’s Simplify and Savor this season. For the Kingdom of Heaven is near!
Thank you for being my reader friends – I appreciate you!