It has been 98 days since my last blog post on June 5th. I was actually a little shocked to realize that almost 100 days had passed since I last sat down to write out some thoughts about faith, growth and abundant living. I enjoy blogging, it becomes an avenue for personal expression, book writing and gives me a place to articulate God-given dreams and how I want to chase after them for His glory.
So as I sat down to write this post, I wondered why so many days and weeks and months had passed without a single blog post being written.
The usual excuses popped in to my head immediately:
I’ve been extremely busy! I was traveling a bit in June, then in July, I spoke at a camp in WV, ended on Saturday, at which time I took a flight to CA for a Sunday morning church service, that ended at 11:15am and I was back in the air to Boise, ID for a week of camp by 6pm. I left Boise Saturday afternoon and was speaking in another church that following morning and then our family began a vigorous campaign to pack up, clean up and move out of our apartment. We slowly moved into a new-to-us rental home, that wasn’t quite ready for us, as new floors and a significant remodel were still underway. So while we were living in suitcases and unpacking boxes etc…we also had to prepare for a two week, cross-country family road trip to Salt Lake City. At the conclusion of that trip, on Solar Eclipse Monday, no less, my son and I drove back to Michigan to finish the unpacking before the girls returned a week later. One week after their return, school started. I’ve been extremely busy, not sure where a blog was supposed to fit in to that tiresome schedule!
Part-time ministry takes up full-time hours! I’ve been serving anywhere between 15-25 paid hours a week, helping our church with its youth ministry transitions. First I’ve had the privilege of helping the junior high program and now we are serving with the high school program. You should know, though, that part-time ministry, like its full-time counterpart, consumes many more hours than one is compensated for. This isn’t a complaint at any level, it’s just the reality of being in the people business: you don’t ever really get to clock out of work. I don’t get to leave work, at work, and pick it back up next time I’m in the office. People call and text all the time, parents need counseling, students reach out for support, and youth leaders need details and encouragement. As a pastor, when families are in crisis, marriages are in trouble and difficulty strikes someone on your team, you don’t tell them to come back during your regularly scheduled business hours, you find ways to meet their needs, coordinate their care and shepherd the flock. It’s a calling, one that I love, but one that takes it toll on the available hours of each day.
I preach every Sunday! There are few tasks which consume my attention more than preaching. Even writing this I feel that momentary pit-of-the-stomach sensation that accompanies the grand sacred task of communicating the Word of God to His people. It’s overwhelming sometimes to consider what God has entrusted us with as His messengers, and each week’s message takes shape under hours of thought, study, prayer and personal growth. Sermon prep can be down right brutal at times, and sermon delivery is exhausting. I am so grateful for those Sunday afternoon naps, my recovery from sermon delivery!
My family needs me! Ive been married for over 20 years, and I happen to enjoy being with this woman who makes me laugh, who challenges me to grow and who loves the Lord in ways that inspire me to love Him, too! I have three amazing children who are almost all in the teen years: a 6th grade girl, a 9th grade girl and an 11th grade boy. They are high energy fun, they love to engage and oddly, they still want to be with their father and mother. I love spending time with them, helping them grow as individuals, and even more, helping them become who God made them to be. I want to spend time with them and I try to soak up as much personal time with them as possible.
I could list a few more excuses, but I think you get the point: where does blogging or book writing or dream chasing fit into any of this?
It’s a fair question to ask, and forces us to assess a key life principle: how can we pursue those God-given passions, those dreams that seem just out of reach, and accomplish everything else that needs to be done? There are no easy answers. Thousands of books have been written, (I’ve read a couple dozen of them—I’ve even written one!) about how to chase after the things God has put on your heart; how to grow into the person God created you to be so that you can do the things God created you to do. At the end of the day the answer is simple, not easy, but very simple: it requires hard work.
There are some great methods out there that can help you manage your day, arrange your schedule, stay current on trends and important news updates, help you balance your finances and even manage the kids’ school schedule, but all of them hinge on your ability to do the hard work of applying them personally. That’s when we come face to face with the hardest question of all: is my dream/passion/goal worth it?
Sometime before my last blog entry, I watched this video of a young lady performing on stage for America’s Got Talent. I don’t watch the show with any regularity, but I enjoy the clips that circulate on social media and it’s quite likely you’ve already seen this one, too. A sweet 12-year-old girl boldly walks on stage to sing. But she isn’t singing like many of the other contestants, she is singing with a puppet. And when asked why she wants to perform with her puppet mouse Petunia, her goal was simple: “I would really like to keep ventriloquism alive, because it’s really not common, you know?”
Do yourself a favor, even if you’ve seen it before, and take 5 minutes to watch this video clip, all the way to the end:
I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t tear up the first time I watched this clip. Or the second time. Or the time I watched it right now because I posted the link and decided to watch it again. Darci’s response to receiving the highly sought after AGT, Golden Buzzer stirs something deep in me every time. You see, many contestants go on AGT (or insert your favorite “reality” talent show here) to win. They want fame. They proclaim confidently in their interviews, “I’m here to win!” Some of those contestants have good reason for that confidence and bravado, as years of practice and performance have prepared them for such a grand moment.
But Darci’s mission, her simple goal, is to “Help keep ventriloquism alive…” and I’m guessing that her five minute performance that night spiked sales of puppets, stirred peoples’ interest and added rabid viewers to a show that already has a cult-like following.
I know she’s only 12, but it’s obvious that she’s already spent hours working on her performance skills. Her calm in front of a national TV audience is unbelievable for such a young performer, and her vocal skills are mesmerizing for someone singing with a closed mouth! She’s organized her young life in such a way as to prioritize practice, she likely has traded outings with friends, or trips to the movies or mall in order to get in “one more practice session” before bedtime.
And it is very plain to see, when the AGT judge slammed down the coveted Golden Buzzer, as the golden ticker tape began to fall, Darci’s sheer joy says it all: It is worth it!
How much more worth it, how much greater will your joy be, will my joy be, when we stand before God having lived out who He made us to be? Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:10 that we will all stand before God to give an account for our lives, to answer the question of whether or not we strived, by God’s grace, to become who God created us to be (Psalm 139) so that we could do what He created us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
As I watch Darci weep with joy, as she stands on a massive stage with a national TV audience, as she looks up at the ribbons falling, sees her name in lights, for just a moment, I imagine she had achieved more than she ever thought possible in her young life. Who knows how big her dreams have gotten since then, but one thing is certain: she is keeping ventriloquism alive.
Today I’m back to blogging, to writing, to dreaming. I don’t imagine myself to be an immensely talented writer, nor do I envision people who have been counting days between blogs wondering where on earth my profoundly life-changing thoughts have been. I do imagine that God has given me a platform, that He has shaped me to express things in writing about life with Him, and He has put some big dreams in my heart to influence a lot of people for His glory. He has burned the Overboard Life message into my very core: helping believers live their God-designed lives of faith, out of the comfort of the boat, and out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom. In the words of Darci, “I want to keep Overboard faith alive!”
And this I know: it will be worth it. Chasing after these things will be worth the work of balancing my schedule, of fighting hard for better management and coordination, of giving up things that drain energy and resources and reinvesting in the people and things that invigorate, fill and point me to Jesus. When I stand before the Lord and give an account, it will be a joy that makes Darci’s experience fade as quickly as her five minute performance in the grand scale of life. It will be worth it.
What do you need to bring back to the front burner? What habits do you need to restart in order to see pursue those God-given dreams and goals? I know it’s hard. I know you’re busy. I know you’re pulled in too many directions. I know there will be hard decisions to make. And I also know this: it will be worth it.
Go ahead and take the plunge—it will be worth it!—life is always better on the water!