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    STAGNATION

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    A close friend of mine was asked back to his forty-year high school reunion. For months he saved to take his wife back to the place and the people he'd left four decades before. The closer the time came for the reunion, the more excited he became, thinking of all the wonderful stories he would hear about the changes and the accomplishments these old friends would tell him. One night before he left he even pulled out his old yearbooks, read the silly statements and the good wishes for the future that students write to each other. He wondered what ol' Number 86 from his football team had done. He wondered if any others had encountered this Christ who had changed him so profoundly. He even tried to guess what some of his friends would look like, and what kind of jobs and families some of these special friends had. The day came to leave and I drove them to the airport. Their energy was almost contagious. "I'll pick you up on Sunday evening, and you can tell me all about it," I said. "Have a great time." Sunday evening arrived. As I watched them get off the plane, my friend seemed almost despondent. I almost didn't want to ask, but finally I said, "Well, how was the reunion?"

    "Tim," the man said, "it was one of the saddest experiences of my life."
    "Good grief," I said, more than a little surprised.
    "What happened?"

    "It wasn't what happened but what didn't happen. It has been forty years, forty years -- and they haven't changed. They had simply gained weight, changed clothes, gotten jobs...but they hadn't really changed. And what I experienced was maybe one of the most tragic things I could ever imagine about life. For reasons I can't fully understand, it seems as though some people choose not to change."

    There was a long silence as we walked back to the car. On the drive home, he turned to me and said, "I never, never want that to be said of me, Tim. Life is too precious, too sacred, too important. If you ever see me go stagnant like that, I hope you give me a quick, swift kick where I need it -- for Christ's sake. I hope you'll love me enough to challenge me to keep growing."

    Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, pp. 54-55.