Well, in answer to my previous question on my last post- yes, I suppose it is (sort of) summer. :) The last day of school was Thursday, and though we had in-service yesterday and through Tuesday of next week, we are, for most intents and purposes, done.
Thursday afternoon was the high school boat party on Lake Travis, and I spent four hours watching my students skip rocks and eat hot dogs- still not sure where Nicole put the three that she ate... and slide down the slide linked together at the elbows. It was a fun moment in the sun that perfectly reflected something that I learned in church on Sunday.
Andy and I visited Hill Country Bible Church for the first time on Sunday morning. After a couple of years at the Austin Stone, we feel like God might be calling us to find a different community of believers. Doubt I'll write about the reasons for that, but I do want to just affirm for anyone who is reading that we just feel like God has fellowship for us elsewhere. We aren't angry or upset with the church and we're truly thankful for all that God has used the Austin Stone to teach us because- it's been a lot! But we are growing up, and feel the need for change- and well, that's about all that needs to be said.
Anyway, we went to HCBC on Sunday to check it out. We're really on the search for community and I know from experience that Hill Country does community well- at least I know that the school does. That has been so satisfying for my heart this year, that we thought we would check out the church, as well.
Quick side-story on that, because it's funny- but then I'll get back to my point. So, while Andy was in Utah for National Guard for the month of April, I felt like God was reminding of my need to let him be the leader in our marriage- especially spiritually. And so while I was feeling the need for change in the area of our church community, I also knew that I needed to let Andy lead. On the three minute drive over to HCBC on Sunday morning, we prayed and asked God to direct us and that He would use our time at HCBC that morning to give us some wisdom about where He wants us to fellowship and worship Him with other believers. And in my heart, I was silently thinking about how I wanted His help to follow Andy's lead. Well, we got inside the sanctuary, and Andy had my hand. I went for some seats over on the side, but Andy literally led me by the hand to a row that was more central. He didn't realize it at the time, but he led us right in front of a row of my students! I was stunned and humored by God's sense of humor, especially when, in unison, three of them said, "Mrs. Wermer!" No, that's not a typo- they really call me Wermer, and MerWer and also, when I'm in a good mood, MerBear- long story. Anyway, I thought it was a sweet reminder of the reasons that God brought me to HCCS- those kids- and maybe an indication of how He might be developing those relationships even further by bringing us together for church, as well. We'll see.
Anyway, the service on Sunday morning was about Ecclesiastes, and it couldn't have been more timely. Tim Hawks, the head pastor at HCBC talked about Solomon's pursuit of pleasure and did an excellent job explaining what his pursuits actually meant. If you're familiar with the book of Ecclesiastes, then you know that Solomon was David's son through his marriage to Bathsheba, and that he, at the beginning of his reign, asked God for wisdom, and God granted it to him. Well, I guess the richness of his mind might have been part of the reason that he went on a life-long quest for meaning, which he recorded in Ecclesiastes. Maybe if Solomon had been simple-minded he wouldn't have had such a desire, but, in any case, his wisdom certainly expressed itself in a pretty systematic approach to searching for meaning. He tried everything- all of the variables- which makes him a pretty good scientist, by the way. But in the end, he found that most everything was "meaningless, a chasing after the wind."
On Sunday, Tim talked about the search for pleasure leading to that same meaninglessness, and, as I said before, it could not have been more timely. Tim pointed out that having fun and doing things that satisfy the senses- does not mean that it is necessarily bad. And that we should enjoy these things- they are a gift from God. But that they are their own reward. There's nothing more to get out of them than what you are able to enjoy with your eyes, ears, touch, taste, etc. This was a great lesson for me heading into the summer because, as I wrote about in the previous blog, I have really been building up the summer in my mind. And that some of that build up is centered around activities that will satisfy the senses. Tim's lesson reminded me that it's okay to enjoy those things- as long as they are not sinful- it's good to feel the sun on my skin and to cook and eat a good meal. I'll love hearing the waves lap the shore at Part Aransas next weekend and will delight in being reunited with my friends and family when I get back to North Carolina. But they are their own reward. That's what I was thinking about during the boat party. There we all were- students & teachers- soaking up the sun, splashing in the water, and it was fun. But it was its own reward.
Yesterday's in-service gave me the desire to seek out the next lesson from Ecclesiastes for myself- although I think I might be hooked on Tim's Ecclesiastes series and will be back for this Sunday's lesson. Reason being that, even though we've finished with 2011-2012, one day of in-service was enough to get me excited about 2012-2013. I left with drive, desire and not just a little bit of anxiety about how to tweak my lesson plans and the things that I would need to improve and create this summer. I kept going on and on about it when I got home, which must have devastated Andy, who is ready to have his wife back, at least for the few months when school does not have to be so consuming. But my mind was so busy that I couldn't even stay asleep. A little after 1AM, I went into the study and pulled out Ecclesiastes. I knew that after pursuing pleasure, Solomon pursued work- and I needed to read what he had to say about his quest. I paused and wrote down this part in my journal-
Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief. Even at night they cannot rest. Ecclesiastes 2:23
It was one of those rare moments when you know you're living a Bible verse. Solomon hit the nail on the head. Even after a year filled with moments of work-induced pain and grief, I still couldn't sleep because in my mind, I was still working. So I got to thinking, work is good. Just like sensual pleasure can be good. They are gifts from the Lord. But they are their own reward. Another thing that Tim brought up about pursuing pleasure, and I find this to be true of work too- both leave you with a continual hunger for more. More fun. More money. More accomplishments. More knowledge. As Solomon said, "a chasing after the wind..."
So now what? Pleasure is only worth the moment we enjoy it, and will leave me hungry for more. Work will drain me, and even when times of rest come, I won't be able to enjoy them, yet I'll feel the need to continue to produce. What's to be done? I've searched a couple of places in Scripture this morning, looking for an answer, and Deuteronomy 6 stood out. Deuteronomy 6 says that we need to do three things. Love, fear, and serve the Lord. These are the real things. The things that mean something. The things we can chase- and actually will actually satisfy.
So summer- at last we meet- and there will be some good times, there will be some work to do, but I'm hoping that in all of that, there will be a chasing after love, fear and service to the Lord. I'm not sure what that looks like or means, but I've got two and a half months to try to figure it out.