When I was about 8, our parents got my brothers and I what I thought was the absolute best gift in the whole wide world … a trampoline. This was before all the hype of safety net surroundings and injury liability, so it was a huge bundle of metal and springs that silently emitted signals of wonder and excitement to the entire neighborhood. It was placed in our backyard, which in the days of not having yard fences just shone brightly for the whole world to see. So many of my memories of growing up took place on that trampoline. So many of my friends’ memories of growing up took place on that trampoline also. We still talk about it today. But what I remember most about it now is what I learned during the first year or so that we owned it.
At that age and as the youngest, I was a selfish child. In my head, I tapped my fingers together and let my best evil laugh bubble up from inside at the thought of my own trampoline. Muwhahahahaha! It was mine, all mine! My very own trampoline to jump on and learn tricks and become the next greatest gymnast of all time on! Mine, mine, MINE! My trampoline was the shape of an octagon, or hexagon, or some type of –agon, but it was different! The only other neighborhood tramp was a boring old rectangle, but MINE was cooler! It had shiny red mats. Yep, that’s right – Husker red! And mine! ALL MINE! And at first, while I wanted all my friends to come and see my trampoline, I didn’t want to ever get OFF of my trampoline to let others have a turn. And before long, they would get bored waiting and decide to go home. Oh, well, more time for me to practice my awesome bounces and flips so that I could be more spectacular! However, you can imagine that this didn’t last for long. For a couple months, it was great having the tramp all to myself. But after awhile it got pretty boring. Here was this big amazing wonderful piece of heaven on earth … but I was bored and often alone.
I learned, as most children do at one time or another, that some things, while amazing by themselves, are even more awesome if they are shared. When I started sharing more with my friends, then even more friends would come over. I had as much fun helping teach them tricks as I had learning them myself. And together, we could play cool games like Shoe Tag and Dodge Ball on it. One year we even formed a Trampoline Club and we all had cool nick names based on tricks we could do (yes, we were tween-age girls). And another year, we got out the ladder when my parents weren’t home and jumped off our one story roof onto the trampoline … until a kind neighbor (that could see us) called and told me she was going to tell my parents. I put that ladder away so fast that the one girl who was too scared to jump was stuck on the roof for almost twenty minutes before she was brave enough to jump down, and only then it was under the threat of losing all our fun together because my parents were due home soon. I laughed so many times with friends on the trampoline. I kissed the first boy I fell in love with on that trampoline. I would lay on that trampoline with friends and debate big life decisions like hairstyles and whether or not to make little hearts or circles when I dotted the letter ‘i’ in my name. I would share dreams for college and growing up with other friends on that trampoline. It really became a cornerstone for much of my growing up. And when my husband and I bought our first house, my first question was “When can we get a trampoline?” It was still something that I wanted to share … with my children.
I bring all of this up because I was reminded of it the past couple days as I have been working through some news I got. Many of you who read this are also members of Beautiful Savior, where I not only attend, but am on staff. Our lead pastor is a simply amazing man of God who after 16 years with our congregation has decided to take a call to a church that is far away. This man has touched so many lives, planted countless seeds of faith, and steered our church through struggles, growth, and changes that would have overturned many. He will leave behind a crater that seems unfillable because of the size of his impact on this congregation, community, and the hearts of those who know him. I consider myself truly privileged to have served in ministry with him for even a brief few years. He is a dependable leader, a blessed pastor, and an honorable man. Quite simply, he is greater than even my trampoline.
My first reaction when I heard that he was considering this call was that human selfishness. No, he can’t go. He is my pastor … mine, mine, MINE! I’m sure many others felt this way as well. But as I have been praying through this, I keep ending up in the same scripture … Hebrews 13:16 which tell us “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” This is what makes me think of my trampoline, my great childhood lesson in sharing. I have had a chance for many years to see the amazing work of God in this man. Why wouldn’t I want someone else to share in that? The congregation he is going to is hurting in many ways. Why should their healing be restrained in any way by my contentment? We can’t ‘share’ in the traditional sense of taking turns back and forth, but I know first hand what God can do through this man. Why wouldn’t I wish that for any other congregation, or every other congregation anywhere? Some things truly are savored most when shared.
Letting someone else have a turn,