How Big is the Garage?

When a teacher of the law said to Jesus, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus lamented “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Having reached full retirement age this scripture often crosses my thoughts as I contemplate my future path in ministry. While Debbie and I appreciate having a parsonage provided to us, we long to have a home of our own. Perhaps that why I can commiserate with Jesus’s mood.

The lyrics of the song “El Condor Pasa” declares:

“A man gets tied up to the ground

He gives the world its saddest sound, Its saddest sound”.

In the past I followed these words and chose to not be tied down by ownership of land. Now I long to be anchored to a home that is mine, a place to put down roots, a sanctuary where I can live out whatever future God has planned for me. I still wish to do God’s work, just let me do it in a little piece of heaven I can call my own. In the words of songwriter James Taylor,

“I’m gonna cash in my hand

And pick up on a piece of land

And build myself a cabin back in the woods

Lord, it’s there I’m gonna stay

Until there comes a day

When this old world starts to changing for the good”

Has the confidence of youth been replaced by the caution of being older? Or I am simply getting tired. Tired of the polarization of thoughts and opinions. Tired of the labels imposed on others because we are too indolent to emphasize with different opinions. Tired of divisions and schism and intolerance, of stereotyping and generalization, of dotting i’s and crossing t’s, of systematic programs structured to guarantee we will be smarter, richer, happier, or thinner. 

Perhaps Jesus spoke of his homeless status because he knew his fate. There was a certainty of his destiny which he pleaded to be altered at Gethsemane. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;” And in the same breath he said, “yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Inversely it is the uncertainty of these days that compel me to “build myself a cabin back in the woods”, a place where the “the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

It is not my intent to sound cynical. And I do not mean to imply that life is a futile exercise of misguided goals and dreams as the writer of Ecclesiastes declares.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”

    says the Teacher.

“Utterly meaningless!

    Everything is meaningless.”

It is that pragmatism plays a stronger role in my life’s choices today. The youthful energy that once motivated me to overcome the challenges of modern living has faded. Plans which seem so obtainable and realistic yesterday are replaced with a no-nonsense awareness of what is practical. Debbie shows me pictures of lavish, sprawling Victorian homes she had yearned for in years past. My first question is always the same, “How big is the garage?”

The Book of Joel says,

“your old men will dream dreams,

    your young men will see visions.”

From my over-the-hill vantage point I am reminded that youthful vision foresees the opportunity to build a future and that old men’s dreams still have the power of hope.  At my age I have a mixture of visions and dreams, not yet old but no longer young, able to still do much with the time God gives me and hoping that both the visions and the dreams will be fulfilled by the youth who follow.

So, while I dream of a little patch of earthly heaven I can call my own, I know that “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places” Still I will ask,

“How big is the garage?”

 

Peace of Jesus be with you

Pastor Dan & Debbie

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