Talking about G.R.I.T. - what it is, why it is important, and how apprehending it is vital to living well and finishing well. All inspired by Angela Duckworth's book by the same name, in which she studies West Point cadets, Green Berets, national spelling bee winners, and what they have in common.
And how about Christians who face one trial after another, but continue trusting God, not doubting him? G.R.I.T. As Paul said, 'Our work as God's servants gets validated-or not-in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly ... in hard times, tough times, bad times... working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right; when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive... immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.'1
But I digress. Where were we? What about at the end?
He was quiet and he was private,
but he loved to dance;
actually, I guess he was a dancing fool with his love of Big Band!
He was also an ECM operator2 in the Air Force . . .fascinating stuff.
The only time I ever saw him was when I opened the casket for his son to place
a beautifully-hewn wooden cross (he had made) between his still hands. Head full of gray hair, clad in his 'uniform' of plaid shirt and jeans, Don was remembered well on Friday. The long day started in Oceanside where I officiated at the funeral, but then travelled some 60 miles to a national cemetery, where Don found his physical resting place.
Hot day in Riverside, but with a little breeze, the military honors included a color guard, a bugler and Taps. I was proud to be an American that day. 'Most times, I'm proud to be an American--thankful, I am. Totally impromptu, Don's granddaughter popped up and said, 'Could I read something?' Teary eyed, she read from her phone,"He [Grandpa] will always be an inspiration to his family and friends for how to live life wholeheartedly and selflessly, always putting others first and giving unconditional love. His grace, wisdom, kindness, compassion, intelligence, humor and sensibilities have enriched our lives and will always be remembered. He was our center."
Don's life and legacy did not happen by accident; he chose to order his life in such a way as to maintain his values, and live life on purpose. Seems he had G.R.I.T., at least when he needed it, and learned self-discipline. Reminds me of Paul's message, 'do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.' It seems our hectic lives are often filled with the urgent rather than the most important. Sometimes, it feels as though we have tended to a million little things but left undone the big things.3
Is there any help for it? Or is it simply the unavoidable life we have of email, voicemail, cell phones, things that need our attention, places we have to be, things we need to pick up? How do we keep the main thing THE MAIN THING? Maybe we should start by writing our epitaph-what Hannah wrote about her grandfather-- life summed up in a sentence or two. Do you want it to include mention of living for God, loving people well? Is that how you would be described now?
John Doe was a successful businessman who never knew a challenge he wouldn't take, but he never got around to really loving life, or loving people really.... Jeff Jonas lived his life______ (by what values?) and . . .
There is great value considering how our lives will be assessed one day. Perhaps we are right on course, and then again, perhaps we need to tweak a few things, then just possibly, we need to change our focus entirely . . .
Funerals are gritty; they require us to dig deep. It is my honor to officiate at a fair number of services each year, and I find great meaning in bringing to life a loved one and honoring him or her fully and beautifully. In addition, memorials provide a great moment to take stock of this our one and only life on earth. How you doing, Friend? Living well, are you?
1 - from 2 Corinthians 6
2 - An ECM operator maneuvers an electronic countermeasure (ECM) device designed to trick or deceive radar, sonar or other detection systems, like infrared (IR) or lasers. It may be used both offensively and defensively to deny targeting information to an enemy.
3 - Rodney Buchanan, from a sermon called "Distraction"