All About It

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I want to tell you what I’m all about.

In my teens it was music.  I’ve always liked music; I can remember spending many middle-school hours listening to the radio in my room.  But in 9th grade my relationship with music changed forever, because in 9th grade I met Michelle.  During our fourth period freshman art class my new friend would slip me CDs to try by bands I’d never heard of.  My mind was blown.  As it turns out, some of the best stuff never even gets played on the radio!  Who knew?!

As the year went by our friendship grew… and so did my music collection.  Once we got our driver’s licenses Michelle started taking me to concerts in small little venues downtown.  I bought my own CDs and began listening to those bands almost exclusively.  We made friends from the music scene, and my clothing started to resemble theirs:  hooded sweatshirts and big, baggy jeans and skateboarding shoes.  I put band stickers on my car and patches on my backpack.

I was all about it.

I honestly thought I’d be all about music forever.

But in my 20s I found another love:  the outdoors.

All About It

Backpacking in 1997 – while wearing an obscure band t-shirt.  I was *so* all about it.

The summer before college, I worked for a backpacking ministry for the first time.  Then, as a college freshman, I discovered that my school had an awesome outdoor club.  From then on out – through college and seminary – my world became more and more about the outdoors.  I spent my summers on the Appalachian Trail; I spent my falls and springs day hiking; and winter was for snowboarding.  When I had the chance to choose between a concert and going to the mountains, more often than not I’d choose the mountains.  I traded in my band-patch-covered backpack for an outdoors-brand messenger bag.  I slept in my sleeping bag, year round, because it felt more like “home” to me than a comforter (this is true – I’m sure my freshman year roommate thought I was bizarre).  I bought my first pair of Chacos and wore them every. single. day. for 10 years straight (that’s a slight exaggeration – but not by much).

I was all about it.

I honestly thought I’d be all about the outdoors forever.

But it turns out, once you’re out of school it’s not as practical to snowboard 40 days each winter and backpack for three months every summer.

Especially once you have kids.

My love for the outdoors wasn’t affected by my marriage, seeing as I married a wooly mountain man.  But when I had children…

I knew having kids would change our lives forever.  But – like most first-time parents – I genuinely had no idea what we were getting into.  I assumed that they would arrive in their most high-maintenance state, as tiny, helpless babies, and then gradually get bigger and more independent until we released them into the wild world as 18-year-olds.  THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS AT ALL.  When my children started crawling and walking and became even more high maintenance than they were as infants – that was when I realized how much our lives had really changed.

So, while we continue to head into the outdoors as often as we can, the ways we get outside are much different.  We do less backpacking and more car camping.  We go on short day hikes more appropriate for short legs.  We sneak off to snowboard about once every other year.

No doubt about it:  having children changes your life dramatically.  I am no longer all about the outdoors.

I am all about these two amazing little people.

This is the other, better surprising part about parenting:  I love them SO CRAZY MUCH.  I remember holding them in my arms as infants and almost being afraid of how much I loved them.  I had never felt something so fierce before.  I would do anything for them.  This former-music-scene-kid and former-outdoors-enthusiast is now a dance mom and a member of the PTA.  That blows my mind – but I do it, and gladly, because I am all about my children.

This will be the thing I’m all about forever – right?

I would guess so.  I would hope so!  Why would I ever be all about anything else?

But life has shown me already that different stages bring surprising changes.  Before I know it (or so I’m told) the day will come when the kids graduate high school and move out of the house.  I dread that, but I also hope for it – I want them to grow into their own, good lives just like I did.  So while my love for them will never diminish, I know there will come a time when my day-to-day life no longer revolves around them.

I thought I would be all about music forever… but I wasn’t.

I thought I’d be all about the outdoors forever… but I wasn’t.

And while I’ll never stop loving my kids… my life won’t revolve around them forever, either.

So:  what am I all about, really? 

If I look back on my life, carefully, I can see a pattern.  At times, it’s been like a background soundtrack:  there, but in a subtle, supportive role.  At other times, it’s been the commanding theme, even causing me to sacrifice my love for music or the outdoors or even the desire to put my kids first.  It’s been growing in me, filling more and more of my heart, taking over more and more of my life.  And I hope with all my being, that this is the thing that I will be all about as long as I’m given life to live.

See, the thing I’m really all about is God.  That’s what we were all designed to be all about.

Moses knew this.  In part, it’s what the Ten Commandments are telling us.  That list of rules is a way to make God the priority in our lives.  But after Moses passes on the Ten Commandments to Israel, he paints the big picture for them, the purpose for our living and being:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut 6:4-5).

You can read closely into these three parts – heart and soul and might – and draw some interesting conclusions about what it means to love God in each way.  But the main point, the undeniable truth of this passage, is this:  we’re to love God with everything we’ve got, with our whole selves.

God is what we’re to be all about. 

Partly, this is because God is worthy of our full attention.  God is the one who created us, saved us, and continues to work in us.  We would not exist without God.  We wouldn’t have a hope for good things to come without God.  If there’s anything we should be all about, it’s clearly our Creator and Redeemer.

But this is more than just obligation.  Being all about God makes sense.  I think of all the things I’ve been “all about” in just 40 years:  music and the outdoors and my kids, and a dozen other lesser obsessions that dominated my life for a time.  None of them has lasted, not even the ones that seemed like they’d be a permanent part of me.  And that’s because none of them are eternal.  Only God is.

We should be all about God, because only God is worthy of our whole-being focus.

We should be all about God, because only God will last forever.

That’s what I’m all about.

I hope it’s what you’re all about, too.

Only God is God.  So love the God who created you with every fiber of your being, with every second of your life, with every breath you’ve been given to take.

Amen.

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