Who’s on Your Guest List?
It’s August 30th. College football kicks off in two days. This is incredible: my grandkids have already been in school 4 weeks.
One afternoon five weeks ago they were at the house “hanging out.” We talked about baseball, fantasy football, movies, and books. Then I started asking them a series of predictable questions. How was your summer? Are you excited to get back to school? What’s the worst part of school? What’s the best part of school?” (I am sure they hated it.) I could have predicted the answer to the question, “What’s the best part of school?” Of course, it was, “Seeing my friends.” That opened the door for me to deliver a riveting lecture on the importance of choosing good friends. Soon I was on a roll, and to boost my confidence I was able to prooftext my point. In my powerful summation I quoted 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” That’s the NASB. Here are two other translations: “Bad company ruins good manners,” from The Message, and from the New Living Translation, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Suddenly they remembered their mom had told them to “not stay too long.” While shouting “bye papa!” they raced out the door.
After they left I was replaying their visit. I thought about the above conversation and how that advice was solid and still applicable to me. Big Idea. As is the case with most principles, you don’t “age out” of them. Most often the advice we impart to our kids and grandkids remains good lifelong wisdom for ourselves. That is undoubtedly the case with this maxim.
Over the past three months there is a group of guys who have made the effort to come and visit me. Some of these gentlemen I have known for decades; others I have known only a few years. My time has been different with each of them. With some I have traveled, done deals, played golf, dined, gone to movies, attended church, participated in small groups, and spent hours just talking. They come from various backgrounds, hometowns, educational credentials, economic strata, religious beliefs, ages, even holding differing political opinions. But they are my friends.
Amongst their diversity I find common characteristics. They are men of integrity, honesty, smart (well some of them), hardworking, reliable; each with a wonderful sense of humor. They are men of character who take the important issues in life seriously but never take themselves too seriously. I am indeed blessed.
Do you have a set of friends like that? Trust me you will need them, and they will need you. Here is a great exercise for you to do. I was going to say, “Here’s a homework assignment,” but today I learned my grandkids no longer have “homework.” Instead they have “home practice.” So here is a “home practice” for you. I got this idea when I was teaching the Gospel of John and we were examining the Last Supper. One night I began to contemplate the idea of hosting such an event. MyLast Supper if you will. Who would be on my guest list? This is tougher than you imagine. I was serious in “tackling” this task. I got the Judas role quickly. The next few spots filled in rapidly as well. Then I took a while to finish the list. Finally, I compiled my list, then revised it a few times, eventually arriving at the final group of 13. No Judas included. I did mention the process to a few of the guys on the list.
The timing is fascinating. I conducted that exercise last March before I knew the set of physical challenges that were ahead of me. Can you hear Paul Harvey’s beautiful voice and unique speech cadence saying, “And now the rest of the story”? During the last three months each of these men have phoned, emailed, texted, and visited me in my home--many of them five or six times. I have thanked them for their effort to get here, driving +/- an hour, sometimes making the trip during rush hour, extending their travel time. Their reward, a bottle of water and the opportunity to listen to me repeat long familiar stories. These men have been an unswerving source of encouragement and strength to me. I didn’t fully understand how important this group would be to me. God began assembling this group of guys almost 40 years ago and He adds to it every year. After reflection I realized they are, yet another blessing God has given me that I too often take for granted.
Back to your “home practice.” Put down your phone, turn off the TV, grab a piece of paper and make your guest list. No short cuts. Write the names down. I bet you will be surprised by the final roster. So, who will you invite to your table?
“Talk” again soon