Chasing the wind
Our last guest blogger for the week is Shawn Barnard, pastor of Crossgate Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Shawn and I have been friends since college, and then we both went to the same seminary. He and I have brainstormed about countless projects together and done, well, none. We're dreamers, and when we get together, the church's problems are solved in three minutes or less. We can laugh at anything, and at times, we cringe at our own irreverence.
Our lives intersected in a wonderful way when he became our pastor at Second Baptist Church in Monticello, Arkansas. I was the BCM Director at UAM then, and after having served as the interim pastor at Second for several months, we were elated when the church voted to call Shawn as pastor. Those were great days of being so near one another. He was a huge blessing and support when Carolyn and I related that we sensed God calling us to start a new church in Monticello.
Shawn blogs once a year at shawnbarnard.com. ;) Here's Shawn's take on "5 Things I Didn't Learn in College:"
It's hard to believe that 24 years have passed since my freshman year in college. Even as I type this my daughter is sitting in a college class, and I wonder if she is thinking that perhaps years from now someone will ask her to blog about five things she didn't learn in college. And, if so, I wonder if such a thought will give her pause in how she might live differently tomorrow than today.
Maybe such a thought will give you pause as well, and in doing so will encourage you to live with much purpose and clarity of vision.
1. I didn't learn that you couldn't catch the wind.
Contrary to what you hear at high school commencements and from best selling self-help books, you can't grasp the stars they tell you to reach for in life. And if, by chance, you could they'd burn out . . . that's what stars do. They fade out. In the same way, all the things that this world has to offer will fade as well. To pursue what never satisfies or brings ultimate joy is like chasing the wind. But don't take my word for it. Listen to a guy whose wisdom is Scripture worthy: "And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." Ecclesiastes 2:10,11
(On a side note: I've often wondered what it might look like if I were to run in a field trying to catch the wind. I'm sure it would become a YouTube sensation and start a movement as meaningful as planking.)
Be careful to consider what you are chasing after and seeking to embrace. Which leads to the second thing I didn't learn in college . . .
2. I didn't learn how to discern the significant from the insignificant.
Learn to pursue what really matters. In college everything seems significant, at least in the moment. But the truth of the matter is that what has the illusion of being significant often times is a distorted caricature of what is really significant. I've come to understand that there are two things that are truly significant in this life: loving God, and loving people. Sounds simplistic, I know. But when asked "what's the greatest commandment?. . .what's the main thing? . . . what's most significant?" (I'm paraphrasing, of course) Jesus claimed that it was for us to love God with everything we have, and to love people. That is significant living because it goes beyond this life and touches eternity.
3. I didn't learn that there is a difference between existing and living.
Perhaps a snapshot of your life looks like this: You wake up, get ready for the day ahead, eat breakfast, go to class, come home, get on Facebook, Tweet your friends, watch T.V., go to bed, and then it begins all over again in the morning. And that's your life. It's what you do, and you go through the motions . . . and exist.
But isn't there more to life than just existing? Absolutely. The longing inside to really live, and not just exist, is in every person. The question is how do you get there? I believe that you and I were created for the purpose of living, not existing. And because I believe that God is the Creator, living can't happen apart from knowing God through His Son, Jesus. The Bible affirms that truth: "Whoever has the Son (Jesus), has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life." (1 John 5:12) Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life and have it to the fullest." (John 10:10)
So my encouragement to you is this: Refuse to exist and choose to live.
4. I didn't learn the power of a moment savored.
Learn to savor the moments God puts before you. There is no savoring without slowing. We are far too busy, and much too hurried in our culture. Listen to God's voice when He says, "Be still and know that I'm God." And take David's advice when he says, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!" Hurriedness is the enemy of delighting in God. And when there is no delighting in God, there is no flavor in the moments of life.
5. I didn't learn that I need people in my life who aren't impressed with me, and love me enough to hold me accountable.
Let other godly people whom you trust sharpen your life by holding you accountable. In other words, press your life against those who love you enough to speak into the places of your life that you can't see or just don't want to see. God's word says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)
Some food for thought: A masterpiece sculpture isn't created without a sharp chisel and skilled hands.
As a free treat for you all, I thought I'd include a fun little project I made for a birthday party for Shawn back in 2004 that we shared with the folks at Second Baptist. I know Shawn will be grateful that I still have the image.