Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Farnsworth's First Law of Life, Leadership, and Extraterrestrials


No matter where you are, what you’ve done, or what kind of mess you’re in, you can always phone home.
I was enchanted 30 years ago with the Steven Spielberg film, E.T., The Extraterrestrial, and I still am. The tender story of a vulnerable child far from home, yearning to “phone home,” strikes a chord deep inside me.
It resonates with me as I think about my relationship with my children. All six of them are grown now with homes of their own, but I still cherish each occasion when they call. I’m glad they want to share their joys and their sorrows with us.
Over the years they’ve called to let us know they just landed their dream job, or found that “special someone,” or given birth to a new grandchild. They’ve called to ask me to help orchestrate a surprise visit on my wife’s birthday, or to make sure someone knew where they were going on their weekend biking/camping trip and where our “grand-dog” would be kenneled, “just in case.”
Sometimes they call simply to say hello and chat a while. We like those calls.
Our most anticipated gift this Christmas will be a phone call. Our youngest child Paul is a missionary in Vina del Mar, Chile, and he’ll be phoning home Christmas day. We are so excited! We email every week but we haven’t spoken with him since he left in July. We can hardly wait to hear his voice and to tell him we love him and miss him and want to hear all about his experiences in Chile.
Like most parents, we’ve had our share of crisis calls too: news that one of them was getting a divorce, checking into a detox facility, or worried about a very sick baby.
Whether it’s good news or bad, I treasure their calls. Whether it’s a crisis or a celebration, I am grateful every time they phone home.
I also resonate with the story of E.T. because I see it as a metaphor for some of my personal spiritual beliefs.
Like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, I believe that “[w]e are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
I also concur with William Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality. “Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting. The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, hath had elsewhere its setting and cometh from afar; not in entire forgetfulness and not in utter nakedness, but trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home.”
Hence I believe that we earthlings are a lot like E.T. We sense that we’re not “from here;” that we are in fact “extraterrestrials;” and that if we “phone home,” things will get better.
Yet unlike E.T., we are not on earth by accident. I believe our presence here is part of a grand design. We are pilgrims on a journey, students away at college. We’ve left our heavenly abode for a season of discovery, learning, growth and testing. In the end, it is our destiny to return home.
While here, we have not been left to our own devices. God our kind and loving Father has extended a standing invitation to phone home. I suspect He likes it when we just want to say hello, express thanks, and chat a while. If an earthly father like me can find so much joy in hearing from his children, then our Heavenly Father must find even greater joy when one of His children chooses to call, for whatever reason.
He wants to hear from His children in good times or in bad. I believe that no matter where we are, what we’ve done, how alone we feel, or what kind of mess we’re in, we can always phone home.
Thankfully, when we call our heavenly home, we never get a busy signal or an answering machine. He always answers. With an understanding ear and love in his heart.

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