Saturday, April 29, 2023

Your Life - A Dead Stump, or a Flourishing Tree?

                                                        (The Wailing (Praying) Wall, Jerusalem)

For several years Super Bowl weekend was an opportunity to get away. Linda and I would take our boys to a hotel that had a pool and a hot tub and, this one's for me, a sauna. [Pronounced "sow-na."]

This was family time, enjoying being together, playing in the pool, eating good food, and, occasionally, turning on the game to see what's going on.

One of our escape weekends was in a nice hotel in the north suburbs of Detroit. We discovered that, on Super Bowl weekends, we had the entire place to ourselves!

My background is Finnish. My Upper Peninsula relatives had saunas on their property. On one of our hotel getaways Daniel and I went into the sauna. A man was there, heating up. He had a long scar down the middle of his chest, indicating open heart surgery.

This man started talking to Dan. He said, "I have kids, I miss them. I don't get to see them much any more."

"I gave her over a million dollars in the settlement," he said. "She got the kids, and a lot of money."

Our hotel getaway was taking a dark turn.

He looked at me and said, "I had not planned for that to happen."

I was thinking, "Just what did you plan to happen, and how did you plan for it? What, anyway, was your goal in life?"

The sauna was really getting hot, so I asked the man, "Want to talk outside by the pool?"

We exited the sauna. Dan jumped back in the pool. The man and I took poolside seats. He told me his story.

He was the CEO of a corporation in the Detroit area. He had worked and worked to build a fortune that he could comfortably live with in retirement. It was clear to me that this man worked so much on making money that he neglected to work harder on his marriage and his kids. He was mostly absent, but bought them lots of stuff.

His wife was alone in the marriage. Eventually, she divorced him.

I told him that if he wanted to talk more he could contact me. As he got up and walked away, he turned around to give me a piece of advice. "Enjoy your family," he said.

Well, that is exactly what I am doing, and why we got away together, and why we were playing in the pool, and why we were having meals together.

Proverbs 11:28 says,

A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump;
a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.

This man's life was ending as a dead stump. Mine felt like a flourishing tree.