Golf claps. You know what they are. That polite tapping of the hands that provides just enough affirmation so that people know you support them, and also have a pulse. They’re kind of funny, actually. So when I teach Large Group we do a lot of golf claps. You might get golf claps for nailing a scriptural reading. Or answering a tough Biblical question (especially if it’s Old Testament) or just about anything else. You go above and beyond the call, you get some golf claps.
So one day I was teaching, and it was a story where Jesus had done something amazing (go figure!). And the kids started doing their golf claps, and it popped out of my mouth. “Golf claps for Jesus!” As soon as the words passed by my lips I thought, and said out loud, “Oh shoot, can I say that?” Let me remind you that I am not a classically trained teacher. Well… not trained at all, actually. Ever. But one of the small group leaders Al latched onto it and thought it was a riot.
Now, shift gears. Earlier this year we had planned to move. I live 35 miles away from work which kinda sucks. So we had a plan all in place. We found an apartment we liked. We would rent for a year or so, and shop for the perfect house. I was getting two pretty huge commissions and that would be enough to pay for fixing up our house so that we could rent it out. It was going to be tight, but between a small monthly profit on renting out our house, and cheaper gas, balanced out by higher cost of living by work, we were going to squeak by. That was the plan. I put in notice at church that April would be my last month doing Large Group. They started looking for a replacement.
Then commission number one dried up. Client never paid. Then commission number two dried up. That one is still being fought about in court with no end in sight. No commissions. No move up north. Looks like we’re staying. It turns out that there were three people at church who were praying daily that I would not move. And looking back on all of this now, these were the best commissions I ever lost. I’m suddenly reinvigorated with my present surroundings. A simple home with squeaky floors, a disaster of a driveway, and a list of repairs needed. An old car with almost 150,000 miles. But this is home. This is a home where we live and we don’t worry about paying our bills every month. We are close to family. We have awesome neighbors. This is home.
So we’re staying. I re-announced at church that we wouldn’t be moving after all. I’ll continue teaching Large Group into the foreseeable future. Moving wasn’t just delayed. We’re back to “I have no idea when we’re moving” phase, and to be honest I’m not sure I want to move at all anymore. And people were supportive. Nice. Thankful even. And they consoled the loss of our commissions. (Note: We can still pay our bills. This would have been extra money way outside the budget so we didn’t really LOSE anything. No worries mates.)
Then today happened. Back to the “Golf Claps for Jesus” thing. I was just about to wrap up the Large Group lesson when I was interrupted by Bethany. If you want to picture Bethany, think of a giant super-tanker of positive affirmation wrapped up into a tiny little package. My left arm would weigh as much as Bethany if it went on a diet. And she’s amazing. And then picture Al. Al is not your stereotypical small group leader. He’s a shade older than I am, has an awesome sarcastic sense of humor, and has a huge heart. But I learned a little bit about Al’s character today. So anyway, I’m just about to wrap up and Bethany interrupts me. She comes toward me with a gift bag and home-made card. Signed by everyone in the room. And the gift? A brand new shirt. Here it is:
Golf Claps for Jesus. This is the handy work of Mr. Al, as the kids call him. Forever enshrined on a t-shirt that has volumes of goodness written between it’s lines. This was presented to me with a card that read, “Thanks for sticking with us.” This blew my mind. You go through life trying to affect people and wonder if you do. Today, that wonder was removed. I’m affecting these people. And it blew my mind. This simple act of kindness blew my mind because of all the thought that went into it. It’s like they climbed into my head and figured out exactly what they had to do to make me feel the most appreciated. And they nailed it. I instantly began reciting the phrase in my head, “I am not going to cry! I am not going to cry!”
Yeah. I’m home. 35 miles just isn’t that far to drive to work. Not far enough to leave all of this.
It’s good to be home. Thanks Al. You rock, my brother.