Can I Ask You a Question?
The title of this blog perfectly personifies my past. Maybe it was those often loaded questions from friends and family members that ignited my love for questions. Many of you know, I am writing a book about questions and how those questions can help create positive relationships in our world. I was recently asked a question, which is the reason for this blog, would I offer the benediction at Harrison High School’s Baccalaureate service yesterday (Mother’s Day). I replied, absolutely (the manuscript can be found at the bottom of this blog).
Knowing I would be speaking to youth, the next generation of world leaders, I decided to ask questions, because questions have the excellent ability to stimulate the mind in ways that typical conversations cannot do. My book dives into over 20 questions varying from quick to ask, easy to answer questions like, “If you were going to be a pilot, what kind of pilot would you be?” to more complex, deeper questions like, “If you were commissioned by the government to lead a program to change all of the roads into ice rinks and all of the car tires into skates, where would you start?” All of these questions summarize 6 topics. I won’t go into all of the topics because then you wouldn’t buy my book, but I will discuss the one on which I focused yesterday, “being stuck”.
We are stuck because we often confuse being stuck with being stable. Our world has beautifully painted a landscape of stability that is now so desired. It’s not just modern America; Jesus confronted these same humanly desires 2,000 years ago. A few decades after Jesus’ miraculous conquering of the grave, the Apostle Paul spoke on contentment. We want stability so we don’t have to worry, but we need to be content; what? As I say in the manuscript below, it can be summed up with the words, take an adventure. Be content with the adventure you’re taking. Too often we switch from one adventure to the next because the results are too delayed.
For those of you interested, here is the majority of my manuscript from the benediction (it cannot be exact as I lean toward a conversational approach when public speaking, often deviating from the course):
If you had to talk to a tree for 2 hours, what would you talk about? Would you talk about your past, your present, or you future? Would you focus more on memories or dreams? Would you focus on things or people? My name is Mat Murphy, and I’m the pastor of a local church about 4 miles from here called Garvinwood, and for my remaining 4 minutes, I’m going to talk about my favorite thing: hope.
As a pastor, I’ve had the privilege of serving in different countries all over the world, mainly in city settings with high homeless populations. Similar to many people in the struggling lower class, one man who escaped the grips of chronic homelessness once told me, “It wasn’t that I was HOMEless, I was HOPEless.” No hope, no future, stuck.
I’ll start with another question, “If you had to travel through the desert, would you rather ride on a llama or an elephant? Many of you probably said, camel. Why? Because that is what is familiar to you. You know camels are supposed to cross the dessert. You know they can get you the thing for which you hope, water. Many of you have never been in the dessert or have ridden a llama or an elephant. Our decisions are often inaccurate because of what I call “Success Deprivation Syndrome or SDS”.
We want to go down a path makes us proud, but we don’t know how to choose successful path bc we’ve been deprived of tasting success for so long/ever. Instead, we sit on sideline longing, panting, thirsty to taste success. In Psalm 42:1-2, “as the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longs (yearns) for thee.” That word thirsts is translated into suffering. We suffer without that hope for the future. Without the promise of comfort.
We long for things, stuff, and status. If you could pick any house, would you pick a big house with a little view or a little house with a big view? Many say the big view because in theory we want to see and experience things. In reality, we pick the pick house to fill it with things, stuff, and status that vanquish. I pick the big house because I want to fill it with people (I love people) and memories.
So, Harrison Class of 2017, I encourage you to use your knowledge acquired and change the nouns in my question: ‘If you had to travel through life, would you rather have stability or adventure?’ Sometimes we can have both, but many times in life, we only get one option, so find which one you want and get it.
A Bible story tells of Jesus asking people to follow Him; a path of adventure. Matthew 4:19 says after the call out, they immediately followed Him. Life is short, find what you want, the path of hope, and go get it immediately. Don’t be stuck on the camel. Take an adventure. Maybe it’s a stable adventure. Live a life filled with stories you could tell for more than 2 hours, not to just a tree, but people. People you love to who you want to pass hope and joy.