To You, O King, I pray: Take center stage as I write the following words to people I do not know. May they know You more deeply than ever before, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. Our forever-longing is to have You as You have us, to see You as You see us, to know a satisfaction that can only be realized in You. With my simple letter to these women and men, may we move together in this very direction… not knowing about You, but actually knowing You.
Let me introduce myself a bit to you. My name is Buddy Odom and I presently reside on a little 4-acre farm on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My lineage is Scotch/Irish. Thirty-nine years ago I married an artist and, so far, she continues to show me more love than I deserve. I am both introverted and extroverted… in other words, when it comes to being around people, I swing between the desire to run from them and run to them.
Chocolate is my favorite food group and baseball is the best invention of mankind. My dad died when I was ten. I became an Eagle Scout at seventeen. I graduated from The University of Tennessee at an age I will not tell you. And I believe the most important trait to be developed within a person is courage.
Personal integrity will not come into being without courage. Nor compassion, generosity or leadership. Without the practice of courage, new discoveries are impossible. Without the practice of courage, I am unable to recognize my own patterns of relating to God and others. Without the practice of courage, I would never write a letter to people I do not know. The Cowardly Lion of Oz leads the way for me by singing… But I could change my habits/Never more be scared of rabbits/If I only had the nerve.
Who do you want to be?
Many of us have heard that being is more important than doing. Since I am running out of days on who-I-can-be vs. what-I-can-do, the temptation to do more rich life-experiences looms large. But this year I turn sixty-three, and I still have hopes for myself. There are places I want to go to within my inner world. A trip to France would be nice, but what if, instead, I more diligently pursued being who I was meant to be?
But things get in the way. Wonderful things like the good life I’ve established, harmony with my spouse, having a theology that works, enjoying the comforts of home, maintaining right relationships with family, erasing bad memories, keeping work that is impactful, and so on. All are good things worth searching and praying for, but somehow, they interrupt my deep desire to move toward that hope of discovering more of who I was meant to be while living here on planet earth.
Add to that, I am fearful of what might be found. What if it disrupts the life I’ve worked so hard to arrange, or irritates my wife, or screws up my solid thoughts of who God is, or makes me review my already small bank account, or kicks me out of some friendship circles, or surfaces old wounds or even directs me from an already established vocation? What if discovering who I was meant to be requires some truth-telling about my past or causes me embarrassment?
As you read, what are the 2-3 things that resonate with you most?
If you were to embark on a similar journey inward, what would your obstacles be? What would keep you from moving in? Where do you need divinely-sourced courage?
Offer this as honestly as you know how to All-Mighty God.