Pope Francis and the FedEx Cup

Pope Francis was the news this past week.  I must say it has been a long time since the national media devoted so much uninterrupted time to hear and even affirm various messages from a person of faith.  In our skeptical age it was refreshing.  For a person of faith it was encouraging to see the cross lifted high and Jesus and the power of the gospel exalted.

Observing the multitudes at various venues I am reminded of Ecc 3:11 how “God has set eternity in the hearts of every person.”  Blaise Pascal said it well that “there is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man.” This past week that vacuum was evident for all to see.  People are hungry to know God and to hear from those who speak for Him and exhibit in their character His humility.

Francis was here to celebrate a Festival of Families part of a World Meeting on Families.  His words on Saturday night were passionate and followed a variety of families from countries around the world telling how Christ and their community of faith sustained them through persecution, displacement, and personal sorrow. 

The Pope exhorted the thousands listening to remember to value the family calling them “Factories of Hope.” He challenged all to care especially for the young people as they provide hope and energy to our families. He reminded us to honor and care for the elderly as they provide the continuity of faith and family history, He called for all to persevere for family unity even through challenges and conflicts even while admitting that it is often difficult. His unscripted remarks included a humorous reference to plates flying and challenges with mother-in-laws.  He highlighted the power of overcoming love.

Then on Sunday afternoon, there seemed to me a parallel lesson as Jordan Spieth triumphed in the Fed Ex Cup Golf Tournament.  This twenty-two year old man attributed his amazing success this year to the “team” effort of all those supporting him, especially his family.  They surrounded him at the edge of the 18th green with hugs and cheers and in his words he couldn’t wait to celebrate with them. Especially poignant was the first hug from his special needs sister who raced to embrace her loving brother. 

The commentators could not say enough about the amazing poise and manner of this young man whose amazing talent in golf is just becoming a national treasure. Jordan attends the NGA tour Bible study with other players.  He credits his sister with helping him  “keep the game of golf in perspective.” His family’s support stands behind him in handling this amazing career.

So, how do these stories challenge me today? Am I celebrating that the Gospel has been honored and am I praying for those whose lives have been touched? Am I sensitive to those around me who may be wrestling with the “God shaped vacuum?” And am I willing to prayerfully persevere to stay connected to my own family, to provide support and encouragement and love?  Am I too distracted to stop and take time, as did the Pope, to notice the people around me and as the Pope exhorted the Congress, “Do unto others as I would have them do unto me.”

Gwynne Johnson currently serves on the Board of Entrust, Inc., an international education and training mission where she authored the Entrust curriculum, Developing a Discerning Heart. She recently served as Co-Chair of the training project, Christian Women in Partnership, Russia and as Senior Director of Women's Ministry at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. Gwynne has a M.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She currently lives in Huntsville, Texas with her husband of 58 years, Don. She works part-time in her daughter and granddaughter's bakery "The Best Box Ever," where she gets paid in cookies.