Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Can we ignore practical thought for just a minute?

At a Steubenville Youth Conference a few years ago, Jim Beckman, a fairly well-known Youth Minister from Denver, was speaking about a crazy family vacation he had recently experienced.  More specifically, he was relating the story of the car ride to Omaha.  In short, it was nuts.  His kids were going bonkers and the trip ended up taking about twice as long as it should have.

He arrived in Omaha completely frustrated and begging God for an answer to why things were so difficult and when God would make himself known during their time together as a family.  Jim then shared the answer to his prayer, which he heard quite clearly - "You missed it."  God had been present the entire time - in the craziness of the journey, in the joy, in the tears,  in the agonizing pain of hours on the road.  Jim had missed God's presence in his circumstance.  As a result of looking at nothing other than the final destination, Jim had become angry, impatient and probably a little sinful.

This story is a microcosm of life that many of us can relate to.  

We simply cannot miss Christ in our midst because we are so focused upon some temporal destiny.  I am speaking directly to all of the Seniors who are scrambling to meet application deadlines this week, but the message applies to all of us. Let me elaborate just a bit.

Last week I was enjoying breakfast with my wife at one of the greatest diners in all the land - Rosie's in Tiffin, OH.  Rosie's does a wonderful job with in creating a hole-in-the-wall atmosphere coupled nicely with greasy, hot breakfast food.  My clothes smelled like a diner for days...but, I digress.

At breakfast, I noticed an advertisement by a financial investment company that read:

-When you retire, you'll have the right to:
  1. Start a second career doing something you enjoy. 
  2. Spend more time with your family.
  3. Plan a beach vacation for the dead of winter.
  4. __________________________________?
This list, 4 bullet points, illustrates perfectly this sort of limitation of desire and freedom that the modern climate (focused upon material success and production) has placed upon human beings.

Why must we wait until retirement to have a career we actually enjoy?  Why does work trump family all of the time?  Do we lack the complete creativity and desire for recreation that making a trip to the beach during the winter can only happen during retirement?  This really seems like a ridiculous way to approach the rest of your lives.

Now, I realize that I'm pushing this advertisement to its logical limits, but the points remain valid.  Are you  going to live your lives constrained by what the dominant culture declares you must do in order to be successful and "materially happy"?  Or, are you going to free your heart and allow it to pursue something you love and enjoy, work that will give your life great meaning and purpose?  Will you set clear priorities and place God first, followed by your family, and then your work?

This "Bill of Rights" need not be limited to retirement.  Let's truly live this journey called life - it doesn't begin at age 65.

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