It’s about people

I’ve been thinking about my mission trip again. I guess that shouldn’t surprise anyone, since I spent six hours yesterday poring over videotape we shot while we were down there. And yeah, I still think it was the best week of my life. But I’m a little disappointed in the leadership.
The leadership’s focus was on prophecy. That makes me uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong. It was the best week of my life, and our leadership definitely played a big, indispensable role. But prophecy had nothing to do with it.

You see, prophecy shares more with pride than just the first two letters. Pride’s a very dangerous thing. To hear most Christians talk, you’d think lust was the sin God hates most. It’s not. Pride is. God can still use you when you’re thinking with the wrong part of your body, but when you think you’re better than God, or at least the people around you, there’s not a whole lot God can do with you at that moment.

Prophecy’s not my greatest gift. Well, I guess it depends on your definition of prophecy. Biblical prophets spent a lot more time talking about right and wrong than they spent fortelling the future. And it seems like they spent more time talking about right and wrong than they did repeating things God told them.

I do fine on that right and wrong thing. But that’s not what most people have in mind.

I’ll tell you about the last time I knew God was talking to me. It was months ago. MONTHS. One of my friends was having family problems. It was breaking her up pretty badly. That night, around midnight, I drove home from Hampton to where Lindbergh ends. For those of you not familiar with St. Louis, it’s about 10 miles, through stoplight city. I must have had to go through a dozen stoplights, maybe more. Every single one of them either went green or went on flash as I drove through it. Those of you who are familiar with St. Louis will understand the miracle there. Nobody, but nobody travels 10 feet on Lindbergh without having to stop at a light. I drove a mile through six green lights. And then, to top it all off, when I pulled into my apartment complex, the best parking spot in the lot was wide open for me. All in all, it cut about 7 minutes off my trip.

When I got home, I e-mailed my friend and told her the story, then I told her my interpretation of it: If God cares enough about me to get me home seven minutes earlier than usual, then God cares enough about you to take care of your family. Seven minutes is nothing. But your family is everything.

She thanked me and told me that helped her feel a lot better. She looked a lot better the next time I saw her.

But that wasn’t the kind of prophecy they were talking about either.

I realized today what really is important. I was running through 14 one-hour tapes, reliving events that are already fading in most peoples’ memories, rediscovering delicious moment after delicious moment. And yeah, I found myself smiling, thanking God when I’d look at clips with terrible audio reproduction where the most important point the person made was the only usable snippet. I had pictures of everybody who was there. Most of them were moving pictures, even. (Imagine “Pictures of You,” by The Cure, playing in the background.)

Here, I’ll help you out with some lyrics:

I’ve been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they’re real
I’ve been living so long with these pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel

Yeah, the pictures and movies are great, and the memories are great, and the rediscoveries are great, and they make me happy. Almost as happy as making a catch in right field that I thought I wouldn’t. But they’re just shadows. The people that the pictures represent aren’t there. Only a reminder. Only a memory.

Notorious loner that I am, it was a bit surprising. I was in lots of those pictures. Often I was the only one in the picture who wasn’t talking. That’s not how I want to be remembered, and if all goes well with this video it won’t be how I’m remembered. I’ll be remembered as the guy who was inseperable from his camera, er, CAMERAS. Of course I wasn’t talking–I was too busy thinking about the next great shot! But the pictures give an accurate account. Even in a crowd, I can find a way to be by myself.

Prophecy’s fine, I guess (I’d rather leave it to someone else) but we need to turn our focus on that other p-word: People. What’s the point of being able to prophesy if there’s no one around you?

Forget spiritual gifts. God will bless you with those in time. Meanwhile, pay attention to that blessing in the chair closest to you. Whoever that may be.

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