One of the greatest feelings in the world is to be spent at the end of the day, knowing that all your energy has gone to serve the Lord!
This picture has stuck in my head for a long time.
It's Richard John Neuhaus as a young man in Brooklyn, NY, in the 1970s. Neuhaus was a man who spent himself for the Lord. He marched with Martin Luther King. He advocated for a better life for his community in Brooklyn where he served as a pastor (Lutheran; but he converted to Catholicism in 1991). Neuhaus devoted his voice to the defense of the unborn, and gave the lie to the desire for a 'secular society.' It was Neuhaus who first really made it clear that there is no naked public square, no religionless public life. The call for a secular, religionless square is itself a religious and faith-based stance making substantive universal claims about the nature of life and the world we live in. So he started the First Things Journal (this picture is from issue no 192, April 2009) and sponsored forums of deep, intelllectual dialogue about the place of Christian faith in our common culture. He's a hero to me.
I love the picture. It inspires envy in me. He looks spent; exhausted. Richard looks like he has earned the posture of rest. It's time to pop the collar open, lean back and let the chair hold him. But behind the tired, there's something else. There is contentment. The contented spirit that says, that's it! I've spent it. I've poured myself out entirely for you, Lord. There's nothing left in the cup. The day is done and all I have done I have done in service of you.
That's joy. That's peace. That's contentment.
August is a month when all of us in campus ministry gear back up for the returning students and the press of the academic schedule. Teachers too, and professors, and even most Pastors whose churches are tied in one way or another to the educational rhythm. It's time to gear up, prepare. It's time to find that fire again and get motivated. We go looking for that burning bush--what rock was that behind again?--where we first were called to this ministry, looking for that fire and spark that will motivate us again to the task.
I envy Richard on his folding patio chair. I'm going to have that picture framed for my office. It's a reminder to me to make sure that the time and energy I'm spending is being spent on the right things. That my priorities and tasks are so shaped that when the energy is gone, when the day is over, when it's time to pop the collar and lean back in the chair, I can truly say, There you go, Jesus. I did it for you.