A few weeks ago I got to hear our pastor preach a sermon on Philippians 3 for what may have been the fourth time in the past 12 years, because of the three-year lectionary cycle that Lutherans are on. And because of this, I knew where he was gonna go with it. I knew when he was asking us what some of our highest moments were, he was gonna tell us that Paul said that everything he had before counted as rubbish compared to knowing Christ.
But I also knew that he was gonna tell us that the Greek word that was politely translated as “rubbish” really means what he politely referred to as “dung.” In other words Paul was saying that everything he had before wasn’t shit compared to knowing Christ.
And I wasn’t disappointed. He hit all the points I expected him to hit.
I thought about all of my really high moments, and most of them involved meeting or being with my wife. Well…OK…and the recent Paul McCartney concert. But then again, I was at the concert with my wife.
The next day, as my daughter was doing her mother’s hair, she complained that Cheryl was being too quiet. So, having been prodded to speak, my wife said, “You know all that stuff Pastor said about all the great experiences we have here not being shit compared to knowing God? I don’t buy it. I think that God is in every one of those moments. In fact, those are what he himself likes to call God moments.”
When Cheryl told me about that little conversation, I laughed and said, “Yeah, maybe everything else in Paul’s life wasn’t worth shit, but then again, he met God. I haven’t met him yet. So right now you’re pretty damned good. I’ll decide whether or not everything else isn’t worth shit when I actually meet God.”
Then I laughed and asked Cheryl if she’d ever heard the story about the boy who wanted a pony. She hadn’t, so I told her:
There was a kid who had been bugging his parents for a pony. Every day, “I want a pony. I want a pony.” His parents tried to tell him that it wasn’t very likely that he’d get a pony, but he kept at it. And then, around Christmas time, just to be sure, he told Santa what he wanted…a pony. After all, Santa wouldn’t let him down, now would he?
The kid’s father decided that it was time to teach the kid a lesson about disappointment, and how you don’t always get what you want (hey…I wonder if that kid’s name was Mick), and so on Christmas Eve he went out, got a load of horse manure, and put it under the tree where the kid’s present should’ve been.
On Christmas Day, far from being disappointed at seeing a pile of manure under the tree for him, the kid was excited. “It’s horse shit!” he exclaimed as he ran out the door. “That means there must be a pony somewhere!”
And then I said to her, “So if you’re not even shit compared to meeting God, at least you’re God-shit. And I think that’s pretty good.”