A Friendly Lunch
“What I like about the man is he’s a philosopher.” – Augustus McRay, Lonesome Dove
Today I visited with two remarkable men. Each of them is a modern philosopher in his own right, though I suspect it’s unlikely either would warm to that description. I enjoyed both of these visits immensely and want to use this forum for the next couple of days to journal my thoughts.
My first visit was over lunch with James W. (“Jim”) Allen. I originally met Jim online through a theological discussion board in which we both participate. Jim’s posts to that forum have always demonstrated an agile intellect, a precision and orderliness to his thoughts that are both impressive and persuasive. It is also a style that belies his profession. Yes, he, too, is an attorney.
Jim is also a pastor, though he currently serves in other capacities. It was his pastoral spirit and demeanor that struck me over lunch today. We could have talked over any number of theological issues that have arisen during our online discussions, touching areas of agreement and disagreement, I’m sure. But Jim’s first, and I think instinctive, question had to do with my family, about the church I pastor, about me as a man, a husband, a father, a pastor. He asked a lot of questions without reverting to cross-examination. He genuinely cared about my answers. He offered insights when he had them and camaraderie when he didn’t. Everything about him radiated pastoral concern. I loved that, and wondered if people come away from lunch with me thinking similarly.
Something else was striking. I’ve seen Jim’s intelligence at work often enough to take it for granted. But today I saw a distinct and more difficult commodity. Jim isn’t just smart, he’s wise. Our conversation meandered over a broad range of topics, from parent-child relations to modern technological trends to reflections on the state of the Church, from weight loss (Jim’s lost 86 pounds and kept it off) to ADHD. And repeatedly I was somewhat awed not merely by the breadth of his knowledge, but by the freshness of his perspective. I don’t think there was a single occasion when he spouted what I would consider a “party line.” He had personally thought through these issues, and his insights were his own. On a couple of occasions, his perspective was so new to me that I made a mental note to think (or rethink) my way through the matter when I had some time to reflect.
I came away from lunch feeling profoundly blessed. I have long believed and often said that among the greatest blessings Christians experience in this life are the people whose paths God causes to intersect with our own. I knew that feeling again today.
Father, you’ve brought amazing people into my life. They inspire me. And for this, I give you heartfelt thanks.