- It is not always easy to fit our everyday human lives into a divine and eternal context. But if we believe in a this-world-to-that-world continuity we should at least give it a try.
Each Friday I go to breakfast with a group of friends. We talk about sports, the weather and no-longer-reliable bodily functions. Much laughter is enjoyed by all.
But some of the guys offer a different topic of conversation. They play a dice-rolling baseball board game called Strat-O-Matic (I call it ‘Dungeons and Dugouts’). It is a whirlwind of statistics, math and baseball trivia. Frankly, it puts the rest of us to sleep. But it is their hobby and they enjoy it. A lot.
I am no stranger to hobbies. Over the years I have collected vintage toys, restored old motorscooters and studied Polar exploration. While you are reading this column today, I will be neck-deep in my latest hobby: obstacle course racing. I have signed up for five “mud runs” this spring, including the Pig Trail Mud Run in Springdale on May 30th. Later this month I will run a 12-mile Tough Mudder in Oklahoma. It is an odd hobby for a 52-year old. However, last year I competed in a race and qualified for the Obstacle Course World Championship. It sounds impressive until you learn that the guy who won my age bracket could have completed the course twice by the time I finished.
Also happening as you read this column is a vintage car auction in Johnson. If I weren’t mud-running this morning that is where I would be. But a bunch of hobbyists will buy these old cars and fix them up.
With everything in my life, I strive to fit what I do within my Christian faith. But what about hobbies? How does stamp-collecting, bird-watching, kayaking or quilting fit into the Kingdom of God? The Bible doesn’t say much about restoring old cars or crawling under barbed wire.
However, there are some guidelines that might help us answer these questions. For example, did you know that you can buy a NASCAR, bowling or New York Mets coffin? That begs the question: Is that how you want to be remembered? Certainly we must be careful that a hobby does not take over our lives. Recreation is fine, but it makes a poor legacy.
There are also meaningful advantages to our hobbies. Showing my kids that their ‘old man’ can climb a rope and throw a spear into a haybale may encourage them to be healthy and active, but there are other benefits to being a hobbyist. I was at a Vespa rally in Austin years ago and actually stood on stage at a bar and told a crowd of grease-monkeys, skinheads and tattoo-covered scooterists about my relationship with Christ. I’ve done funerals and weddings for people that I’ve met through my hobbies. Those are priceless opportunities because they were my friends.
We live in an amazing world. There are so many interesting things to do and enjoy in God’s creation. At the end of the Bible, when God straightens everything up and offers us a new heaven and earth, we read “…the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it” and “the glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.” I try to imagine God’s joy at seeing all the splendorous and glorious things that people throughout history will bring into the new heaven and earth. And maybe, just maybe, my hobbies will be a part of that.