Monday, May 15, 2006

Living Life

I was reading Herrick Kimball’s May 12th post and read were he is taking some decisive steps in moving towards some long held goals for himself and his family. I always get excited when I see people making plans to step out in faith and do what God has been leading them to do.

In this day and age people so easily get stuck in a rut. I know, I was one of them. I think that is why I in particular, am happy when folks break free from the cultural bonds that hold them to a life of drudgery and meaningless existence. Because I was so stuck before we moved to Wisconsin I can really relate when I see it in others. I’m not saying Herrick was stuck or living a meaningless existence, far from it. I admire all that he has accomplished even while waiting for Gods timing.

But, what happens in this age of artificial reality is that most people just take whatever they can get. When I was a young guy with a new “job” an older co-worker once told me, “get it while you can get it”. In other words make all the money you can and work all the hours you can, while you are still young and able. To me, that kind of advice was a bitter pill to swallow. It was down right depressing. At the time, I didn’t even know how to express the heaviness I felt inside after that statement, all I knew was deep down, that was the farthest thing from what I knew I wanted in life. I always hated the examples I was seeing around me. Work your life away during the best years of your life and then “retire”. Living wasn’t an option until that time. Any dreams you might entertain would have to wait until a distant day way off in the future someplace.

The problem I saw with that kind of plan was there was no guarantee you’d even make till retirement. It seemed you were always hearing about some poor schmuck who put in 30 years only to have the company go under or something and somehow get cheated out of his pension. Or maybe he doesn’t lose his retirement, he loses his life. He’s only got two and a half years to go and then has a massive heart attack or a stroke. Those kinds of stories hung over me like some kind of cloud in those days when I didn’t really know there might be some other way.

Back then there didn’t seem to be any other options. Especially after Kelli and I got married and started our family. She was 18 and I turned 21 two days before our wedding. ( Now at 42 I’ve been married exactly half my life.) Sure I had dreams and goals but, really all the signals around us, all the unspoken rules were, you be a good boy, work hard, do your time and some day you might be free. In many ways I became a very angry and resentful young man from seeing all the walls up around me keeping me bound to a meaningless life. A life of endless repetition doing the same thing day in and day out week after hopeless week.

When I read Ecclesiastes it seems Solomon could have been a modern American. “Meaningless, meaningless all is meaningless“, he lamented. We have so much in this country, but in reality modern life has become so empty and void of any real purpose. Our one aim in life is to make money. All the money we can. A new kind of bread. And Jesus said, man cannot live by bread alone.

Modern men and women find their lives so void of purpose that they throw themselves into whatever they can to dull the ache. They self medicate with pleasure and entertainment or even “work“. All you have to do is look at Hollywood to see what following that kind of life will lead to. You see all those high and mighty people with the whole world at their finger tips, yet living out their days in futility being hooked on drugs and alcohol and leaping from one bad relationship to another, never happy, never satisfied. They live in utter opulence with the ability to have just about any material thing their heart could desire but, it is never enough. Yet the lies that keep them enslaved to sin and depravity are the same lies that infects the entire nation. It keeps everyone running to and fro doing nothing but chasing the wind. Part of the lie is that someday you might actually catch it. The wind, that is.

With that said I want to come back to the gladness I get inside when I see folks stepping out from under the yoke of oppressive slavery and begin to move towards freedom. Being free to live out their lives as God has intended. It is a beautiful thing to see someone working out of and exercising their God given talents and gifts.

I believe that God places in each one of us specific plans to fulfill. We are created for a purpose. What kinds of things do we gravitate towards? For me I always loved animals. When I was a boy our neighbors had horses which were kept in a pasture right next door. I spent countless hours watching them. And I was nuts about dogs. We always had them and I spent most of my youth studying lots about the various breeds and the different activities that you can do with them, such as breeding, obedience, showing, tracking, search and rescue and what not. I was just plain drawn to all kinds of animals. Anytime I spotted a nature show on TV I was stuck like glue. Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins was one of my favorites.

God wires each of us differently in order to fulfill specific purposes. When someone is wired for something you can hardly keep them away from it. Musicians gravitate towards singing and or musical instruments. Artists find things to draw, paint and sculpt. Tradesmen gravitate towards tools and building projects. The mechanically inclined towards cars and machinery. Cooks and chefs towards kitchens and food. The list goes on and on. Sure, people can learn most any skill but the best ones seem to be the ones who are born to it. The tasks are not burdensome, they are a joy.

That is one of the problems with the modern way of things. People for the most part just do whatever it takes to make some cash. The agrarian living of the past provided such a wide outlet for needed skills, people seldom had time to be bored and unfulfilled. Nearly every natural talent can be fully utilized on a farm.

Of course not all people are made for farm life. Ever since the beginning there were people who specialized. There are some folks who are way more comfortable behind a desk than behind a plow. I personally might have a hard time understanding that but, it is true. God designs people to be experts with numbers, finance and all kinds of clerical abilities. And when people are working out of those God given talents that too is a beautiful thing to me.

But, if we look at the things we day dream about, as long as they aren’t unbiblical, then I really think those are the area’s God is leading us to. The sad thing is there are countless millions who are so caught up with this present system they are totally miserable. Sure, everyone has dreams. But, the majority of folks it seems, just let those dreams fade away with time. It’s to risky or they don’t have the money, that’s a big one by the way, or there isn’t enough time. I’ll do it when I “retire”. And it is sadder yet that there is so much that God would do through people but, all these things just always seem to get in the way.

So really what I’m saying is the time is now. Life is short. There is no guarantee that it will wait for “retirement”. I’m not saying eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Far from it. I’m just saying that we need to put away our addictions to stuff and start living out of our hearts. What has God put on your heart to do? And we all know when it is more than just a good idea. The things God has for us to do are “inspired“. When you can see the vision so strongly you can almost touch it. That I believe, is God given. We didn’t come up with it. In fact it’s too big for us to have come up with anyway. That’s how inspiration works.

I’m really glad for Herrick. Glad to see him following the great adventure the Lord has for him. The creative approach he brings to living an agrarian life is very encouraging. And his writings are inspired, that is obvious.

We have some close personal friends in this area that are taking some big steps too. For some reason I just love it. It does my heart wonders to see people stepping out of their comfort zone and living there lives on the cutting edge of Gods will. To quote William Wallace from the movie Brave Heart, “ all men die, but not every man really lives”. Seeing folks exercising their gifts and living life to the full is an exciting and beautiful thing to see.

Until Next Time


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Russ!

Great post!

Fits in with what Tom wrote about the 'Revolution'.

Gotta run otherwise I'd comment me.

God bless!

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post Russ!! It is a shame how people are in to big of a rush. And always wanting and needing. When they don't even need it. Most people are in to big of a hurry to understand what God really wants them to be doing. So most people live a life of unhappiness and shame. Looking for the "real life". This was a nice post. Pastor Josh

12:23 PM  
Blogger Tom Scepaniak said...

Just a darn good post Russ! Amen!

8:37 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Thanks guys! It's kind of on my heart to encourage people to follow the Lords leading in their lives. To see God working helps build my own faith.


8:02 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Thank you for sharing those inspired thoughts, Russ. It reminded me of something Thoreau wrote: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

After living all of our married lives in a two bedroom apartment, we had perhaps dug ourselves little too deeply into a rut and called it contentment but it was a sham. The Lord had other plans for us....plans which we would never have envisioned on our own. I've always loved the verse in Psalms that says, "May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." Those seeds He planted were watered abundantly (thanks in large part to the voices of the online agrarian blogging community), and have been transplanted into this richer soil. I feel that our roots can grow deeply here and know now the feeling of true contentment as the desire that He placed in our hearts is utterly satisfied, and that as we follow Him, we will succeed.

8:55 PM  
Blogger RL said...

One thing I see happening in the agrarian blogging community is that we are being mutually edified and encouraged by one another. That's great that the community has helped "water" the seeds that the Lord has planted. It's functioning like a true church.

I am also reminded of the verse that says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man (or woman I might add) sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 NIV

May the Lord prosper you and bless you during this season of renewal.


11:02 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home