Monday, August 29, 2016

Die Doing What You Love

It has been a couple of weeks since I wrote a blog post.  Thank you for your patience in my absence.

Not long after our baby was born - Ewan Arthur Baird on July 27 - I had to leave and go to Fuller Seminary in Pasadena to take my final class for my DMin.  Thanks need to be given to my mom for coming in to help for a week, and to my wife who deserves a medal of honor (not the purple heart) for her extra work and care.

The class I took last week at Fuller was from Rev. Dr. Reggie McNeal, who is an author, pastor and church consultant who has been involved in the lives of pastors and churches for the better part of a half century in the United States.  Much of what "Reggie" offered was so helpful, but the most lasting and indelible thought he offered was this:

Die Doing What You Love

A couple of years after the 1986 Challenger Disaster - you remember the disaster - in which seven astronauts (Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Gregory Jarvis and, of course, Christa McAuliffe, pictured above) were instantly killed as that space craft "slipped the surly bonds of earth", the main astronaut recruiter for that journey was wracked with pain.  How could he have asked so many young people to be a part of a mission that ended so tragically?  How could the families of the lost loved ones ever move on?  How could a school teacher, Christa McAuliffe, and all of the school children around America that watched her on that day, ever move forward?  Even 30 years after that disaster, those of us who watched our television screens that morning will never erase the scenes of the space shuttle exploding from our memories.  I was in a Junior High physics class.

After many nights of guilt and pain and heartache, a thought occurred to the main recruiter of the astronauts on that journey.  There was one silver lining.  There was one positive thought.  The thought was this - at least all of the astronauts who died were able to;

Die Doing What They Loved

For many of the astronauts, they had dreamed and planned for that space shuttle moment their entire lives.  The training and focus and attention and rigor involved in going into space in a shuttle is a dream that began, for many of them, when they were just 8 and 9 years old at the "Space Camp" being offered at the local YMCA in their hometowns.  For all of their lives, they trained for the moment of going into space.  As children, their personal bookshelves were filled with books about Mars, Rockets, The Moon Landing, The Solar System, The Universe.  Perhaps their first favorite book was - "Goodnight Moon" as they drifted off to sleep, imagining that they might someday visit the moon.  And then they got to go into space on the space shuttle Challenger.  And in their last moments they;

Died Doing What They Loved

I have a friend who is a backpacker, who likes to go on 10-day extreme backpacking trips in remote regions of the world.  He has backpacked all of his life, but now that he is in his mid-seventies, his family have told him that it isn't that safe for him to be going on these long trips anymore.  As it was related to me, one family member recently said to the other; "Jim, it's just not safe.  There's no one to come and get you if you run into trouble.  Please hear what I'm saying, you might die up there."  In response, the septuagenarian is reported to have said; "That's fine, that would be a great way to die, up in nature.  That's how I want to die."  To...

Die Doing What You Love

In an equally tragically iconic moment in America, and one who's anniversary is coming-up once again - Sept. 11, there remains a question.  All of us have similarly vivid images in our minds of the horror of two twin towers collapsing.  The question which comes to me, however, these 15 years later is - "Were the people who died in those burning buildings doing what they loved to do most - right at the end of their lives?  Were those who were working in Wall Street brokerage firms, and stock analysis offices coming to work each morning and saying to themselves, 'If this was my last day on earth, would I be doing the thing that I most love to do?'"  Or was their work drudgery?  Were their tasks rudimentary and bland and depressing?  I don't know the answer to this question, but I wonder.  Did those 2,996 souls...

Die Doing What They Loved

The point of this blogpost, of course, is not to focus on the morbidity of dying but, rather, how we spend the moments that we do have.  Do we spend most of our time doing the things that we love, or do we spend most of our time doing the things that we don't love.  All of us have to do things that we don't love to do (even those who died on the space Shuttle Challenger).  But how is the majority of our lives spent?

I can honestly say that being a pastor is one of the things that I love in life.  I love preparing for messages, and offering them to people whose souls are hurting or confused.  I love being able to work with the Holy Spirit to bring about good and change in the world.  I don't love everything about being a pastor, but I love most things.  And, I love being a dad to three young kids, and a husband to a wonderful wife.  I am doing what I love....

What about you?

All For Now,


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