Friday, May 6, 2016

Breathe Deeply

May 6, 2016

"I'm not sure what I want to do now." Max uttered these words in response to my asking how I could pray for him as he graduates from college. I'm guessing that on that college campus he's far from alone. For the past four years, his life has been pretty well regimented and proscribed by a curriculum and syllabus, but in two weeks that all changes. "What do I want to do" however, is not a problem limited to the young. I've been fortunate enough to have not had to ask that question for more than thirty years. Unlike many friends who moved from one job to another with relative frequency, I pastored the same congregation for most of my working life. It's been a long time since I've had to wonder what I do next. Until recently.

Since I retired, it seems Max and I hold his question in common, except it isn't quite as momentous for me. "What do I do with my life now that the last chapter has concluded? For Max, it involves work, location, family--big ticket items no matter how you cut it. For me, it's often whether I mow the lawn today or tomorrow--pretty insignificant stuff. But for both of us, the question misses the mark because it's actually the wrong question. The real issue is not "What shall I do?" but "What shall I be?"

Max could make all the right choices for work and career, but if he forgets who he is, he'll never find true joy and contentment. Life will have its ups and downs; its successes and failures. What he does will be inconsequential compared to who he is, and that is only found in Christ. The Creation story tells us that God breathed into the dusty man he had formed, "and he became a living soul." The world is filled with soul-less people who have never inhaled the breath that truly gives them life. So they run from job to job, lover to lover, addiction to addiction, hoping that somehow the next experience will give them the life that is only found when they get a whiff of God's breath. My prayer for Max is that as he searches for what to do, he will discover who he is, taking a deep breath when God exhales the wind of his Spirit in his direction. It is the same prayer I offer for myself.

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