Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I was thinking about how gears mesh together. One fits into the other, smoothly one interacts with the other one, together they perform some form of useful purpose. Then it became obvious fairly quickly that meshing can describe how two (or more) people work together.
So then I started thinking about the various ways we might visualize two people accomplishing something together.
When it comes to personalities and abilities, we could say two people are identical. Now that isn't very likely, since there will be differences. Even if both are gifted musicians, for example, each will have their own uniqueness.
However, let's say that both are alike. If they were somehow turned into a chart or a diagram, one would be the same as the other. In some ways, one would be unnecessary, since that one would be duplicating what the first one was able to accomplish—other than the benefit of have twice as much strength to accomplish the task together.
So, you could have two identical people doing a job together.

Then, you could have two people whose gifts overlap in some areas, and are unique in others. As they work together on a project, some areas would be done with a lot of discussion as each one contributed wisdom and together they discuss (argue!) which idea was more worthy of consideration. This would particularly occur in the areas where their skills overlapped. Each one would know that their own idea was very good. In the areas that they had no strength, they would probably be more willing to acquiesce to the gifted partner.
Still, they would get the job done. It would be done with the benefit of both people's experience and wisdom.

Then there are two very different people doing something together. Where one person recognizes they have little strength, they easily turn to the one who has the experience. Together the gears mesh beautifully. (This is my parable, so it can all be a bed of roses!!) Each willingly, even joyfully allows the other to express their uniqe talents. Each moves forward boldly in the areas of their own ability. Perhaps one is more of the driving force, but the other is happy to be empowered, to receive from the other, to take what is given and turn it into something of even greater value.

There are many kinds of partnerships in life. Sure, marriage is an obvious one, but there are many settings where we have the opportunity to cooperate. The responsibility is shared, and so is the reward.

What's the moral of my little gear parable? It's always beneficial to have a good idea of your own abilities, giftings, and callings. It doesn't have to be pride to say “I believe I have the ability to help in this area of responsibility.” Then, it's also good to recognize your areas of lesser strength. You could call it weakness, but it isn't a negative thing to realize that you don't play the piano. Leave that to someone who does, and you can be just as helpful by being the one who bakes the cookies, or stacks the chairs, or fixes cars.
If you are working in tandem on some project, figure out the things you can contribute, the things the other person can contribute, and the things you might be able to cooperate on. If you both are good photographers, share the joy. Celebrate each others great Kodak moments. Then excel at the individual parts that you each will add to the whole affair.
In any kind of team effort, I think it would be good to recognize the following caution: Don't expect the other person to necessarily totally understand where you are coming from, or to bend to operate the same way you do. If you are two gears meshing together (or two jigsaw puzzle pieces fitting together), you won't be the same, but together you will form the whole. Your purpose is not to make the other conform, but together perform the task at hand.
I like the quote attributed to Mrs. Ruth Graham regarding marriage: 'If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.’

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Building a cathedral

Have you ever put together a piece of do-it-yourself furniture? You know, an IKEA shelf unit, or a computer desk. Maybe even a garden shed.
The whole idea is to save a couple $$ by doing it yourself--but you still want it to look perfect, and be done in two hours.
I recently watched a documentary about a cathedral in Spain called Sagrada Familia. It's been under construction for awhile. Over 120 years, to be more precise. And it isn't finished yet, not for a few decades--even with today's technology.
Done perfectly--yup.
Done quickly--nope.

There are a couple of large churches in downtown Victoria a block apart. One building is nearly 100 years old, the other even older. Magnificent structures, but they weren't built in an afternoon.
Both of these cathedrals are made of brick. By itself a brick is pretty small, but together they form a pretty impressive building. They must have taken years to build--maybe not as long as the Sagrada Familia, but still a long time. Layer on layer, brick by brick. Constantly checking that everything is level and plumb. I expect that the bricklayers knew the job wouldn't be done this week, this month, or even this year. Or, like the present architect of the Sagrada Familia project expects, not even in their lifetime.
Still, day by day the building takes shape. Towers, stained glass, and finally pews and pulpit.

God knows His church isn't built in a day. It's a life-long process. Line upon line, precept on precept. Bit by bit our lives become shaped into His image and character.
He has patience, we should too. As we live out our lives in relationships, we often want people to change overnight. What was once an empty lot we want to turn into a cathedral by Saturday.
That's not how it happens. It's here a little, there a little. Bit by bit our friendships grow. Bit by bit our friends are changed into God's image.
Be patient.
Keep plugging.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Reflection on being Canadian

I admit it. I'm proud to be a Canadian. Proud. Blessed. Happy.
Proud to be born in a country known for it's peaceable, supportive spirit.
Blessed to have a passport that is welcome everywhere. (Actually, my passport has expired, but that's not the point!)
Happy to come from a land with a history of many social programs that support all our citizens.

Our flag is loved everywhere. Some non-Canadians have been known to sew our flag on their luggage instead of their own for the good will they know they will encounter.

We are known world-wide for our skill and passion for peacekeeping.

Our scenery and wide-open spaces are the envy of many.

Our leaders had the courage to apologize to our First Nations people for past atrocities.

Our openness to people of all cultures is world renowned.

So, a lot of this surfaced during our recent Canada Day celebrations. As I was waiting with thousands of others for the fireworks to begin, I had a great conversation with a visitor from Kuwait. his son is attending school here, and he and his family had come for a visit. He commented very positively on Canada's reputation as a source of help and assistance internationally, not conflict. (As an aside, his name is Abdul which means 'Worshipper'. What a great name!)

I was struck with the value of freedom as I wandered among thousands of people, many of them teenagers.
--freedom to dress any way they chose (including t-shirts with questionable messages).
--freedom to be drunk in public (not that they were allowed to drink in public, but many of them had obviously had a few before they came.)
--freedom of speech, although the choice of vocabulary was not a strong point!

No, I didn't appreciate the noise level on the bus (including four letter words, etc.), but I value the fact that we have the freedom to say what we want.

No, I don't like to see our flag dragging on the ground as someone's cape, but I'm glad they are proud enough of it to wear it.

The balancing truth also relates to freedom: Freedom is a privilege, usually won through great effort on someone's part.
For that reason, it should be, even must be treated with respect. Otherwise, it will disappear without notice until it is too late.
For example, the democratic right to vote and have a say in the decisions our politicians make needs to be exercised, or the few who actually make the decisions will not reflect the will of the people.
Freedom of speech is a right and privilege. If abused, it may be curtailed and those whose point of view needs to be heard may be muzzled.

So, honor the flag. Recognize that the freedom it represents has been won by much effort, over many generations.

God keep our land, Glorious and Free!

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