Saturday, January 14, 2012

Order to Disorder

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to help an old friend move. His house had been foreclosed on and he was moving into a rental. As we moved his boxes and pieces of furniture, my mind kept drifting to the day we moved his family into this house. The house was brand new and they were on top of the world to be moving into a home they had designed and planned. Now there were holes in the wall, stains in the carpet, and the musty smell from a water leak somewhere. The house was in remarkable disrepair. It made me sad that day because I knew the design and plan for the house was not to become dilapidated. But, I knew why this had happened. A once successful business was now bankrupt and a once beautiful marriage was now over. A once newly built dream home was a repairman’s nightmare.

My days of studying physics has longed past, but I believe there’s a universal law of science that states that without energy, any system will move from a state of order to increasing disorder. That’s why metal things rust and wooden things rot when they’re not cared for. But, this principle seems to apply to things less physical in nature. It also applies to finances, marriages, friendships, families, businesses, spirituality and other important things. If I fail to apply positive energy to my relationship with my wife, I should expect drift or conflict. If I don’t invest into my relationship with my kids when they 5 and 15, I may not have a relationship with them when they are 25 or 35.

Well before the laws the thermodynamics were penned, the author of Proverbs wrote this,

I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. Proverbs 24:30-34

In contrast, something very simple reminded me recently of the importance of attending to things in our life. During the holidays, my sister invited us for Christmas dinner. On the table that afternoon were several dishes that had belonged to my mother who had passed away almost five years ago. One in particular was a glass water pitcher. That water pitcher is older than me and there’s a good chance that it’s over 60 years old. I won’t be surprised if this was the first and only glass water pitcher my mom ever owned. Now, I doubt it has any value outside our family. I’m sure American Pickers and the Antique Road Show would let it pass. But to me, it’s a symbol of the values of simplicity and care that my parents forged in their lives. Mom and dad had very little. But what they had, they took very good care of. That’s why a simple glass water pitcher is still pouring water for our family. That’s why my parents passed away having been faithful to each other for almost 60 years. That’s why my dad, on a rural pastor’s income, saved enough money to care for himself in his elderly days and still left some for his kids and grand kids. They attended to their field diligently… for a long time.

Without energy, attention, and commitment virtually everything in life will erode or decay. In this sermon series, we’ll look at a short list of commitments that really matter to our lives. The bad news is that if we neglect these commitments, we risk having to deal with fields filled with worthless weeds. But the good news is, if we apply ourselves to these commitments, God may bring a wonderful crop of goodness.

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