Tuesday was all set to be a trial run for February 21.  After a sequence of very busy days, the plan was for me to be home alone with nothing to do – except to relax, recover, and recuperate.  In a similar manner, I have been telling people my “plan” is to work very hard until February 19, then rest very seriously for 3 months, and after that see what God has in mind.  Tuesday’s “trial run” has probably prepared me for those months even more than I had hoped.
In other words, things did not really go as planned – but Tuesday still was a very good day.  I slept an hour past my usual wake-up time, took a pleasant, but chilly walk to get the Free Press, helped Monica off to work, and then started to organize my day.  I had a nice short list of easy “catch-up” projects planned, with lots of lazy time in-between … emptying the dishwasher, straightening the basement, putting gifts away, sorting through some notes, returning a gift.  I think I was still emptying the dishwasher when Monica reappeared.  She was not feeling 100% so she graciously was sent home by our son.  She crawled into bed to recover … but somehow during the course of the day, my short list of projects grew … and grew … and grew!
My one-stop trip to Kohl’s returning a gift turned into four (or five) stops and lasted more than two hours.  As I entered a line in the front of Kohl’s to return the gift, I asked the person in front of me if this was the return line.  She confirmed that I was in the right line, which I confirmed for the person behind me when asked a couple minutes later.  However, when I reached the counter, I was informed, “The Amazon return counter is in the back of the store, to the right.”  As I headed in that direction I heard a voice behind me saying, “I will follow you.”  Having overheard the words to me, he realized that he, too, was in the wrong line.
All we found in the back, right corner  were the restrooms and the employee break room.  Venturing into that forbidden space we met a staff person who gave us a personal escort to the Amazon counter, which we had walked right past in our quest.  Though my leadership was clearly flawed, my new companion and I had a friendly conversation the entire way.
Then I was on to the gas station, Walmart to return bottles/cans, the car wash, the mailbox, and home.  At Walmart the four items I purchased cost $8 more than the return money I received.  Since I only had $6 in my wallet, I inserted my credit card – forgetting that it had been cancelled the day before because of a scam attempt.  Unable to unfreeze the self-checkout machine on my own, I summoned back the young lady who had first helped me redeem the deposit slip.  Once home, I discovered that I had lost one of the four items!  My search of the van found nothing, so back to Walmart I drove.  My shopping cart was no longer where I had parked it and I saw nothing on the ground.  I retraced my steps back to the young lady at the self-check area (who remembered me – which I am not sure is a good thing or not).  Finding nothing in her large cart of miscellaneous items, she directed me to take an identical item and my receipt to the service counter.  Once there I very quickly and conveniently was told, “Take it and go.  You are all set.”
Apparently she had not seen all the remaining items on my ever-growing to-do list … or maybe she had and was helping me move forward.  Later that day I did get a little nap in somewhere along the line, ate a few leftovers, and then was off to a Circuit Visitor appointment.  Before I knew it the day was done – and it was not until I started writing this that I had any idea “where the day had gone.”
In a similar way I have found myself wondering “where the years have gone?”  Overnight, or so it seems, those 40–50-year-olds I worked with as I arrived at STL are in their 70’s and 80’s!  Both my mind and my body say, “no way,” but their messages are very different!  My mind thinks, “There is no way we are this old” while the body states, “There is no way you can do that anymore.”  And, as passionate as I remain about ministry, I am thankful that these past years have not just been a trial run for another attempt in ministry!
I wonder how old Moses was when he wrote Psalm 90?  Part of me says it was around the age 80, but I think he was likely closer to 120.  “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. … A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. … The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. … So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. … Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.  Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen evil.  Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.  Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90)
The truth of the matter is, God has given us something much better than trial runs in our lives.  It is called forgiveness.  He makes his “dwelling place in all generations” with humankind so that “the favor of the Lord our God” is upon us because, as David reminds us, “as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.” (Psalm 103.11) The end result?  “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103.12)
I for one, am very thankful for this.  Yes, forgiveness is much better than any trial run ever could be.  So, bring on 2023 … fresh slate … sins forgiven … and the favor of the Lord still resting upon us.

Trial Run