Daily Archives: December 28, 2014

“Calico Joe” by John Grishman

When we travel by car, I often find books on CD at our local library for the trip. I try to get books that will interest us both and so often I get a good military story or mystery. This past trip, my selections included two books by John Grisham (The Broker and Calico Joe) and a third one by another author that was so disappointing that we turned it off after less than 15 minutes of play.

The Broker is a pretty good story and it takes nearly 15 hours to listen to it all. It was fun and had enough suspense to keep our attention, although my napping during parts of the book didn’t keep me from knowing what was going on after a brief synopsis from John, and vice-versa.

But the second Grisham book, Calico Joe, was wonderful. Published in 2012, the book shares the history of two fictional major league baseball players, a pitcher and a first baseman, through the eyes of the pitcher’s son. It is a great baseball story and a marvelous audiobook (taking only about four and a half hours).

If you haven’t read Calico Joe, put it near the top of your list for 2015. It deals with issues that impact us all and you will find yourself loving and despising the characters. As we finished listening to the book, I found myself reflecting on my own life and people I have known. It reminded me of some of the goals that I am setting for 2015.

I thought that you might enjoy three lines from the book:

  1. The first is a Yogi Berra quote: “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.” Think about it – it will make sense! Actually, this silly line reminds me of the importance of staying connected. Too often, we are tempted to ease out of situations, trying not to be noticed. Being a hermit in a community is a horrible choice. We pull away and pull away and pull away and then are lonely or in need and cannot figure out what to do. At one point in the book, Grisham describes the funeral of a man who has no meaningful relationships. I realized that a deceased person does not care who attends their funeral. But, if no one cares to mourn their passing, what does that say about their life?
  2. The second line is actually a phrase: “the restorative power of forgiveness.” What relief we experience when we are forgiven by another for past grievances and what joy there is in truly forgiving another. Forgiveness removes burdens.
  3. The third line was: “He led a sloppy life with many regrets.”

It was this third line that really got my attention. A “sloppy life with many regrets.”

Sloppy: careless, slapdash, slipshod, lackadaisical, haphazard, lax, slack, slovenly.

Regret: a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment.

To live a life that is careless and without purpose and that causes personal disappointment must be the saddest course of life possible. Why on earth would someone chose that kind of life? My belief is that they probably did not plot a course at all – thus, the use of the word “sloppy” – and, that their lack of purpose influenced their ability to be successful as well as the lives of those around them.

I am reminded even more of the importance of planning our direction and of living a life of purpose. It is too easy to slip into a lifestyle that is without aim, that is selfish, that is sloppy, and that brings disappointment.

But my life planning is insufficient; my thoughts are too limited; my goals are too mundane. The scripture on my business card reminds me of the better way: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

Read the book.   You will enjoy it!

Could Peter have been a tattle tale??

I just read something that I never before had noticed in the Bible.

In Matthew 18, Jesus is talking about resolving disputes between fellow Christians. Jesus says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.” And, then he goes on to explain what to do when the situation is not resolved after taking that first step.

Peter is listening to this teaching and asks a great question, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Seven times sounds reasonable. I mean, seven is more than double current legal requirements of “three strikes” or the basketball rule of five personal fouls and you are out of the game. Seven is a pretty big number.

What makes me giggle about Peter’s question is that his brother, Andrew, was also one of the twelve disciples. Do you think Peter asked the question to highlight something that Andrew had done? If that is the case, can you imagine Andrew’s reaction?

  • “Good grief. Because Mom isn’t around, he’s telling Jesus about me! What a tattle tale!!”
  • “I am sooooo embarrassed!”
  • “Peter, give it a rest, will you!!”

It is hilarious to think that two brothers might have argued petty differences before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

And, even more hilarious is the answer that Peter gets to his question. Remember, Peter suggests forgiving someone seven times; seven seems like a big number. Jesus’ reply? “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.”  I can only imagine Peter’s thoughts after getting that kind of a response.  Seventy times seven??

I don’t think that Jesus intended for us to keep a “forgiving count” on our family members, but to forgive every single time when someone harms us. Seventy times seven is just too large to keep track. Just keep forgiving.

Did you have a family challenge over the holidays? Did someone tattle to Mom or Dad about what you have been doing? (LOL!) Well, just keep forgiving and forgiving and forgiving.

And, why do we forgive others? Because when we ask for forgiveness, God always forgives us.  It’s very simple.

“If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14)