i have never done this and am reluctant to do it now, but i am going to resubmit an article for your consideration. i posted it almost a year ago and, remarkably, the topic has resurfaced (besides the fact that i worked really hard on it and almost no one read it). check back tomorrow for something fresh.
a huge sports story broke over the weekend that totally substantiates the “your best life later” concept. i apologize in advance for the sports reference if you are not a fan (and if brett favre happens to be reading this, i’m not necessarily talking about you, sir).
it seems that a veteran nfl quarterback (who will go unnamed) has “unretired” after retiring at the end of last season amid much congratulatory hoopla. in the city where said quarterback spent his entire career (it might be green bay, i’m just not saying), much speculation has transpired about favre’s this quarterback’s motivation and how the team might fare without him. in an article in the minneapolis/st. paul star tribune, former teammate darren sharper described his reaction when he heard back in march that the quarterback had retired:
“I’m not completely sold that he is going to retire,” Sharper told KFAN Radio at the time. “Come midsummer, when everyone starts talking football and he’s done about four months worth of fishing and playing golf, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear speculation that Brett Favre (sorry, mr. favre) might be coming out of retirement.”
“As long as you are playing at a high level, it’s hard to give it up,” Sharper said.
we have not heard from this veteran quarterback directly, so we can only speculate about his motivation for unretiring. we have, however, heard from the team, his agent, fellow players, countless fans, and hordes of media. there is a party very close to the situation, however, whom we have not heard from. i wonder how the famous man’s wife and children (two daughters, ages 19 & 9) feel about his unretirement?
“gee, dad, i don’t blame you for being bored…you spent almost a whole summer with us.”
i remember having the same questions when michael jordan retired then played baseball then came back to basketball then bought a team. what are you looking for? a zillion dollars isn’t enough? why don’t you take your wife on an extended (very extended) vacation? is the applause more important? is your life that empty? is that what they mean when they say you’re “competitive”?
while i certainly can’t speak to what these great athletes are feeling, solomon could. listen to what he wrote in ecclesiastes (various passages):
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work,
and this was the reward for all my labor.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.
There was a man all alone;
he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
a miserable business!
Whoever loves money never has money enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
This too is meaningless.
Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.
why is that so hard? why is “success” so important to us? why are we so in love with a life that god called “meaningless”?
i also cannot speak for other church leaders, but i suffer from a similar malady. if my building is not full on sunday, i question god on monday. if i’m not seeing the results i’m expecting (”can’t you see how hard i’m working, god? i’m way more talented than that guy.”), i begin a search for the latest church-growth gimmick. why can’t i just enjoy my friends and my family and this great life the lord called me to? i know the answer–i am sick with pride.
to one thing i can attest: the closer i get to jesus the quieter my spirit becomes. i believe i will find satisfaction in him. i’m not saying that i will ever “arrive,” but i am convinced that the scratch to the deepest itch in my soul is more of jesus.
maybe when the church believes that, the world will as well.