I just returned from an annual week-long hiatus with my wife’s family to a small lake in northern Indiana. It was a relaxing time. There is just something about being in or near the water that soothes the soul. What I look forward to most on these vacations is the opportunity to wake up early to read and think while sitting on the end of the dock (coffee in hand, of course). With work and responsibilities far from my mind and no busyness commandeering my life, I more easily sense the presence of the Lord. And I am more easily able to reckon with my own brokenness. In the early morning there are no speed boats making noise and waves, just a few small fishing boats trolling around in search of bass and blue gill. I typically spend some time reading Scripture then move on to a book that I choose months in advance after (too) much contemplation. This year I read a theological biography of the missiologist, missionary, ecumenist, and scholar Lesslie Newbigin. A life change- the addition of six-month old boy- significantly slowed the pace of my reading, a small price to pay for the blessing of being his dad!
But I struggled to really engage with the book. I found myself distracted by a tension brewing inside of me. Not a new one, though. In fact, it’s one that visits me every year during this vacation.
I marvel at the beauty of the homes on the lake. Then I think about all the fun and anticipation and excitement that accompanies these vacations. My mind fast-forwards to a time when our kids will begin their lives out of our home. I wonder where they’ll live and how often I’ll see them and my grandchildren. A desire rises up in me to provide a place (other than my own home) for my family to congregate and make memories together. As I consider this period of time in my life, the comfort of “lake living” becomes very appealing. There is an ease and a laziness to life to which I am drawn.
The only “logical” conclusion I can come to is that I need to buy a lake house someday. Nevermind the fact that most houses on this not-overly-glamorous lake cost at least $500,000 with the larger homes (able to accommodate multiple families) pushing a million dollars. So the tension that rages within me is this question: Could I ever buy one of these houses?
Passages of Scripture that warn of the danger- indeed the deadliness- of money and possessions come to mind. I wonder what a half a million dollars could do for a community in a poverty-stricken area of the world- where food and education and medicine are scarce. The juxtaposition of the comfort and coziness of lake living with the nightmare that some people live everyday is staggering to me. I cannot hold the two in tension.
Yet I think, “There is nothing wrong with wanting to make memories as a family.” Children are a gift from God and because Tiffany and I will encourage our children to pursue their callings no matter where they lead them, owning a lake home that will reconnect our family is an admirable desire, right?! So long as I maintain a high commitment to giving a portion of my income to the work of the Kingdom, I am fine, right?!
How do we navigate these issues? How do we engage these questions with theological and biblical concern? What central truths form the framework within which we wrestle with them? What, if any, passages of Scripture might speak directly to this tension? And most importantly (for me, at least), how do we draw out and reckon with those desires in us which stand in contrast to the Christian life attested to in Scripture?
I guess I should try to answer these. Next post.