Sucking Out The Marrow

 

 

I’m a big fan of King of the Hill. Or at least I was until Fox got the terrible brilliant idea to cancel it.

One of my favorite episodes of all time involved the Hills’ search for a new church.

They had been lifelong members of Arlen First Methodist, but when they arrived late to church one Sunday and discovered that their usual seats had not been reserved for them, and that the pastor had no plans on rectifying the situation, they decided it was time to look for a new church.

After trying out several different options they eventually landed at the Church of the Rising Son. It was the quintessential mega-church, complete with it’s own Starbucks, tram service, dry cleaners, and big screens in the sanctuary that they left on after to church so everyone could watch the Cowboys game. Of course, all of that was just the tip of the iceburg.

The Hills quickly discovered that the church also offered a never ending stream of activities; activities which they wouuld also be surveyed on to determine their level of satisfaction. Before they knew it, the Hills were so wrapped up in church life that they barely had time to take a breath before the next church event started.

I don’t know about you, but I think a lot of us fall into this same rut.

Church is great and so are many of the events that churches put on. I love going to church, I’ve dedicated my life to serving the church, and I’m usually the one planning half of those non-stop events.

However, I’m not convinced that all that “stuff” is a great thing. In fact, and this is going to sound a bit strange coming from someone in ministry, I wonder if sometimes we get so busy trying to “be Christian”, that we forget about taking the time to just enjoy life.

I’m not talking about all the wonderful things like love, compassion, hope, and grace that define the Christian life. I’m talking about all the other “stuff” we attach to “what it means to be a Christian” like small groups, church softball, Wednesday night fellowship, and all the other extra-curricular activities that have come to define church. Now, there’s nothing wrong with anything of these things. In fact, many of them are wonderful things to be a part of. But I think a lot of us have become consumed by a form of “checklist Christianity” in which our identity as Christians is defined primarily by our church attendance, how many church activities we’re involved in, or how much “Christian stuff” we do.

Once again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those things. And I want to be very clear, that there is not and never has been any such thing as “just Jesus and me.” Likewise, there is no “being Christ-ian” apart from the Body of Christ.

But sometimes I think we get so busy doing “church stuff” that we neglect the incredible world and opportunities to enjoy that world that God has created for us.

Here’s what I mean….

There’s a great story in the Gospel of Matthew that tells us about the time Jesus was anointed with oil by an anonymous woman. This was an incredibly expensive and lavish gift. The disciples were appalled at the apparent waste. Like most of us would have done today, they pointed out the money made from selling the perfume could have been used to help the poor.

Being that it’s Jesus that they’re talking to, we would expect him to say “You’re right” and then miracously refill the bottle of perfume so that it could be sold to help people. But he doesn’t. Instead, he says something very “un-Jesus-y”, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

On the surface it might seem that Jesus was being a little selfish, “Forget the poor! I want to smell nice!” However, I think Jesus was reminding us of something very important, something we so often neglect in our pursuit of being “better Christians”.

We forget about beauty and how to enjoy life.

I’m not talking about personal, superficial beauty that fades with age and income. I mean the beauty that’s all around us in creation. And when I say we need to enjoy life, I’m not talking about a free license to fulfill all of our selfish, destructive desires. I mean the simple moments of pure happiness that last a lifetime.

I’m talking about the beauty and enjoyment that comes when, as the great Thoreau once said, we “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

Have you ever seen water erupt of the earth in Yellowstone? It’s better than any reality tv show you’ll ever see.

Or climbed the ruins of Mayan temple? It’s a workout you’ll actually enjoy.

Or buried your feet in the black sand beaches of Costa Rica? It’ll make you forget all about your backyard pool.

Or eaten an incredible meal at a back alley restaurant in Florence?

Or simply laid on your back in the park and watched the clouds go by?

There is so much to do in the world. So much to see. So much to experience. If God gave it to us or at least inspired people to create it, then I have to believe that it’s a gift meant to be enjoyed. And if that’s true, then those moments when we pause and enjoy the life God has given us, those moments are acts of worship.

Please don’t hear this as a call to abandon the poor or cease participation in your church. Those things are profoundly important. But we shouldn’t neglect the gifts of life and beauty that God has given us.

There will always be another mission trip to go on, another church service to attend, or church softball game to play in. You only have 1 life. Only one chance to see and experience a creation more beautiful and diverse than you could ever imagine.

If we don’t take the time to enjoy the beautiful creation God has given us, then it is all for waste. So don’t be afraid to “live deep and suck all the marrow out of life.” Even if you can’t make it all the way to the Great Barrier Reef, find the time to explore a national park, eat a great meal at a local restaurant, or just sit on your front porch on a warm summer day with a glass of lemonade and watch the world go by.

Doing so will create memories that will last a lifetime, but more importantly it will remind you how amazing, wonderful, creative, and extravagant God truly is.

Grace and peace,

Zack Hunt