A Giant Web

This time next week I will be on a plane heading for India. I will be part of a team of teachers who will be leading a pastor’s school for local church leaders. I am excited about the opportunity to return to a community that I visited two years ago and once again share fellowship with these brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of them minister in remote villages where the church is an isolated minority. As important as the teaching will be, I know from past experience that just as important is the mutual encouragement we will receive from one another. Whether in India or right here in Tampa there is no substitute for actually being with one another. (Hint: reading this blog is in no way a substitute for actually showing up at church!)
But while I am excited about what I will be doing over there, this morning I am more mindful of what will need to happen here while I am gone. Don’t worry. I have no grand illusions about myself; I am perfectly aware that the city of Tampa will be just fine without me around for a couple of week. But as I work on the final preparations for my departure I am also aware that my travel plans are requiring significant adjustments for the people close to me.
At this moment my mother-in-law is making her plans to travel here to be with my wife and daughters while I am gone. She says it is no big deal. “I am retired. I have the time,” she says. Sure, but taking two weeks out of her life to come to another state is a big deal. At the very least, it means that my father-in-law will have to adjust his routine while she is away. And that, in turn, will likely have some kind of trickle-down effect on the congregation he pastors in North Carolina.
And then there are the adjustments that will need to happen here at the church. Again, Bayshore Baptist was around long before I showed up on the scene, and it will be just fine without me for a couple of weeks. But even still, my absence is requiring adjustments by others. Fellow staff members will have to take on the preaching and teaching responsibilities that I normally handle. This is on top of their other regular duties. And several meetings have had to be rescheduled to accommodate my plans, and that, in turn, has required other people to adjust their personal schedules.
And all this, just so I can go teach four lessons on 1 Corinthians! 
By now you are probably thinking to yourself, “So what’s the big deal? You have plans, and others have adjusted theirs to accommodate yours.” And this precisely my point. This little trip has made me more acutely aware of something that is always the case: our lives are interdependent on one another. Everything I do has some kind of impact and places some kind of demand on the people around me. And vice versa. None of us live in isolation from one another. The nature of human life requires the involvement and the presence of other people, no matter how self-sufficient we try to be. Just think of how many people played a role in the production and distribution of the bowl of cereal you had for breakfast this morning.
As Barbara Brown Taylor once put it in a sermon (and I am paraphrasing at this point), we live in this giant web relationships, and every time a butterfly flaps its wings or a cat yawns or a baby cries, the entire web shifts to accommodate for it. Modern physics sometimes refers to this as “chaos theory.” I think we can just call it “the human condition.” Our lives require one another, whether we like it or not.
I am grateful that Bayshore is giving me the opportunity to be away these two weeks to participate in something that is potentially life-changing. I am grateful for all those who have been willing to adjust their lives to accommodate my plans. But even more importantly, I am grateful to God that he has placed you and me into this beautiful, mysterious, and messy thing called life. Together
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