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The Quest

By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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May 03 in Musings
For the last thirty years, my quest in life has been to be one person. A whole person. It’s so tempting to be many different people and wear many hats.  I remember my years in business, trying to manage a career, be a good husband, tiptoe into fatherhood, stay connected with friends, serve as a church elder...I wanted to do it all. I needed to. I was juggling a million balls, but inside I felt like there was more to life. What might it look like to be ONE person? Just me.
We can do the same thing in matters of faith–serve at church, nurture a devotional life, witness to others, take up the cause of widows, orphans, the oppressed and victims of injustice. We try to wear different spiritual hats.  We can feel like we must continually step into a different role. “Oh, this is a witnessing opportunity–time to put on my evangelist hat!” 
But what matters of life and faith...we focus on being just one person?  So here’s two stories.
As you know, Anne and I are preparing for a big move north, which involves lots of cleaning, packing and getting organized. Last night we had set aside the entire evening for doing exactly those things. Then came the knock on the door. Our 82-year old neighbor was perplexed. He brought home a new barbeque from Home Depot, unboxed it, laid everything out in the yard...and was immediately overwhelmed.  There were dozens of parts and only a teeny instructional diagram of dubious quality. Could we help?  Sure.
You know where this story is going. Two hours later, Anne and I finished assembling the barbeque. By flashlight. The good news is, we turned on the propane and it worked!  But the evening had disappeared. Or rather, our evening had been spent bantering and laughing over the absurdity of the whole thing with a neighbor who will not set foot in a church, but for some reason has taken a particular liking to us. We even found out he grew up an Oklahoman Baptist and knows more scripture than he has ever let on.
This morning I paid a pastoral visit to one of our elderly Hollywood saints who is in declining health. I sat by her bed as we chatted and remembered people who have gone to be with the Lord, talked about family and revisited different chapters of her life. I read passages from Psalm 91 and John 10 to her, and we held hands to pray together.
As I drove home, I had this thought: these two encounters were very similar.  It didn’t matter that one was a humorous interaction with an atheist neighbor, and the other an official visit as the pastor of a church. Both were with God’s people. Both were ministry, no matter how you want to label it. And both meant that there was no role to assume, no hat to put on- just me trying to be a follower of Jesus. I’m learning...and there’s still a long way to go. It was never God’s intention for us to live fragmented lives. One life. Whole people.
See you soon,
            Pastor Dan

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