First it was a fishing boat. Sixteen feet of aluminum, shining in the sun. Always an avid angler, this would be his ultimate pleasure. Later would come the shop full of woodworking tools. Playing 'Hans the Woodcrafter' would provide hours of enjoyment during the frigid months of an Iowa winter. I was too young to care, let alone figure out what motivated my dad to launch into these hobbies during my grade school years. He was in his forties then, an old man by kid standards, and pursuing his life-long passion of farming.
But as the years have passed and I have taken his place in the world of over-forty something men, it is clear to me what brought on the quest for those toys. Like ministry, farming is not a career. It is a life. You are what you do. And it can consume you. Dad lived farming. Our house was a parsonage and the fields and animals the church. And though I didn't see it at the time, his fishing and wood-working were his 'escapes', his 'R&R' from the battlefields of corn, oats, and cattle.
When you are what you do, it's easy to get absorbed in your work. As we pastored in the Pacific Northwest, my wife Rolane and I often found ourselves so involved in the cares and concerns of our people and circumstances that we actually began to act as if the world ended at the town limits, or at least revolved around the church spire. What we needed to survive such suffocating pressure was nothing short of a Copernican revolution. Just as he enlightened the world as to its proper place in the solar system, so we needed to see and experience the load-lightening realization that life was more than our church.
In those pastorate years I didn't buy a boat . . . or woodworking tools. But I did get a good camera, scrounge up some used darkroom equipment (this was pre-digital, folks!), and launch an amateur career in photography. Just imagine . . . a place where you can see no evil, hear no evil, and hopefully speak no evil. It was my 'boat on the lake', if you will. Rolane found quilting, gardening, and other crafts therapeutic. And, like my dad (and mom) before us, we lived in a parsonage and stared at our work every day. We needed to leave the farm sometimes, and did so on a regular basis.
In those days the seaport of Seattle, mountains and forests of the Cascade Range, and even distant shopping malls also helped provide the release and refreshment we so often needed. As you pursue your passion for Christ, remember that even He, whose drive and purpose in ministry could never be surpassed, took regular breaks from the daily routine and pressure of service. Take regular times to rest and regroup. I’m grateful for my dad's example. Thank your father for a lesson he taught you that remains a blessing to this day.