"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,"
(1 Peter 3:15 ESV)
For those of you keeping score at home, we have been in Philly for just under two months. One question that we get over and over again is some form of, "How are you adjusting?" This question just makes sense when anyone moves, but it seems especially appropriate for us. We moved a family of seven who has spent the past decade in rural Mississippi to the city of Philadelphia, PA (the 5th largest metropolitan area in the country). And I mean, we are IN THE CITY.
There are a million things that are different here. Just the other day, we walked to the neighborhood diner for lunch and Madi asked, "Why does everyone say water wrong up here?" For those of you not familiar with Philly, most people pronounce "water" like "wood-er".
But, it's not the local colloquialisms that get me, or the cold weather, or any cultural differences. It's the parking. There is none. Parking lots rarely exist in the city and when they do, you have to pay and pay a lot. Where there are no parking lots, you must resort to street parking.
Street parking is a hassle and has presented two real problems for me:
1) MONEY. You still have to pay for street parking, and in my neighborhood, it is coins only. This is a problem because I haven't carried change in my pocket in 15 years. I put change in the basket on top of my dresser. I NEVER use change. I cannot tell you how many times I have parked only to realize that I had no change to feed the meter. At this point, I usually just go home, not willing to risk a parking ticket.
2) TIME. If you have known me for any amount of time (and as my family and former students could surely point out) I am an extremely punctual person. Punctuality is very important to me. Some of the worst arguments Christy and I have had revolve around my obsession with being on time. Street parking has put my timing all out of whack. I have been late more in the past 45 days than I have in the past 15 years - and I'm not exaggerating. First, I have to FIND a parking space. This may require several trips around the block in traffic. Second, I have to actually be able to wheel my big ol' Expedition into said parking space. And finally, the space is usually a block or more from where I actually want to be, which requires a bit of a walk to my final destination.
As a result of my parking dilemma, I have had to make adjustments. I never leave the house without change in my pocket, now. I also refuse to use any change that may be in my car for anything other than parking (sorry Mr. drive-thru window attendant - you are going to have to make change for my bills from now on). I even have a large ziplock baggie of coins in my vehicle. I also have to plan differently. I now leave an extra 10 minutes for parking and walking to my destination. If I get there early, I utilize the extra time to pray, or catch-up on some emails.
As I have wrestled with my parking problems, I realized that I often times fail to engage others with my faith because of poor planning on my part. Sometimes, being intentional with our faith takes some adjustments. Here are two, that I need to work hard on:
1) BE PREPARED. Peter says that the key to preparedness is to "honor Christ the Lord as Holy" in your hearts. That means there is nothing else that holds a candle to Christ. Your heart, your desire is set on Him because he is unique to everything else in the world and in life. In short, HE is worthy of all our affections. When we are not focused on Christ, we are not ready to engage our culture with Christ. This brings us to the second adjustment.
2) TAKE TIME TO ENGAGE. Just like I have to leave a little early to find a parking space, I need to make engaging those around me with Christ a priority. This means that my schedule revolves around intentionally sharing the love of Christ wherever I go. This looks a lot different than squeezing Christ into my relationships when I feel like it or when it is convenient. When there is an opportunity to "give a reason for the hope that is in me", do I take it? Planning on my part, may mean not filling my schedule so full that there is no opportunity to build relationships with people. For me, it is communicating with my wife and children that there may be times that I am not home exactly when they expect. If that happens they can expect that I am taking the opportunity to give a reason for the hope that is in me and they can be in prayer.
I am resolving to always have some spiritual pocket change and spare time with me in 2015. Will you join me?