Posted tagged ‘Burma’

The Pursuit Worth Pursuing

May 15, 2009

Many years ago I knew a lady who was passionate about collecting buttons. Not buttons that you sew on to your coat, but rather buttons that you pin on to your coat.

Political campaign buttons. Buttons with pictures. Buttons with smiley faces. Buttons with slogans. Buttons with American symbols, and buttons with British symbols. Buttons from states, and buttons shaped like different states.

Her home was populated with buttons, thousands and thousands of buttons! But she used buttons to facilitate “that one thing” in her life that she pursued with passion and purpose. Her buttons were used to initiate conversations, but “that one thing” in her life was Jesus. Buttons opened the door to conversations about Christ.

I would say that a vast majority of people can’t point to “that one thing” they desire to pursue. It’s that one thing that is like an emerging flame within their spirit. That one thing is not a hobby, or even an activity. It’s “the pursuit worth pursuing.”

It’s Adoniram and Ann Judson pursuing a new calling to be missionaries to Burma as a result of being convicted that baptism by immersion was what the Bible talked about. The conviction they felt, listen to this, was during the voyage they were on to India, where they were to being sent by the Congregational Church to be missionaries. All of a sudden the pursuit worth pursuing…that one thing…changed their plans. They went from being commissioned, financially-supported missionaries to un-commissioned, non-supported, un-employed missionaries. Luther Rice, who was another commissioned missionary, whose views on baptism had also been changed, sailed back to America and went from Baptist church to Baptist church raising support for the first American Baptist missionaries overseas. If Luther hadn’t come to understand that this was the pursuit worth pursuing the Judson’s wouldn’t have been able to spend the rest of their lives sowing the seeds of the gospel in Burma.

This was not meant to be an article about American Baptist missionaries. It’s just to illustrate the point that I’m not sure how many of us come to that point of knowing what in our life is “the pursuit worth pursuing.” We might re-word it for our situation, but its realizing the “heart” of Paul’s passion. He wrote “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12, 13b-14)

We focus on trivial pursuits that “flame out.” “Temporary flings” is the phrase that best sums up what consumes the bulk of our energy.

Why is it that our attention is so easily diverted? It could be because the pursuit worth pursuing is also a little intimidating. Like the dust clouds rising behind a speeding car on a dirt road, there are accompanying doubts that trail closely behind the pursuit worth pursuing. When the drive forward is halted the dust settles in around us making the way unclear. The “what if’s” surround us.

What if I go full speed forward and I fail?

What if I pursue and I fall flat on my face?

What if the flame flickers out while I’m pursuing?

What if I’m just meant to be mediocre?

The pursuit worth pursuing is not a problem for most people, because they never get started.

I’m more afraid of another “what if.” What if “that one thing” that God has planted in my heart…that pursuit worth pursuing that He is entrusting me to be about…what if that one thing is the pursuit I never pursue?

That would be a tragedy!