Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Proverbs 4:23
It was unkept…but it was cool. Ok, let’s just lay it out there. I am just a tad on the old school side. I was a teenager in the late sixties and early seventies with a daddy who wasn’t fond of anything countercultural—and that included longer hair. That was phase one. Phase two was twelve years in the United States Air Force. They and my Daddy would have gotten along really well- since they weren’t fond of anything countercultural either. Phase three was being a Baptist pastor. Back in the days, Baptists were pretty much not fond of anything countercultural either. Suits and ties were the norm and facial hair was basically a no-no. So, you can probably understand that I wrestle with some of the new fashion norms. It’s not that I don’t like them—it’s just that I don’t understand some of them.
As an example, part of my morning routine is having a time with God. Part of that is watching a short video of someone speaking. This morning it was a pretty successful young pastor from somewhere. As the video began I noticed a couple of things. First, his hair had the now fashionable “unkept” look. It was like he got out of bed, ran his fingers through his hair and went to work. Again, that’s cool. Hang with me. Second, he sported the wildly popular beard stubble look. I mean, if you don’t have a stubble… you’re not ready to rumble. He had a good stubble. Hey, that’s cool. I wish the Air Force had discovered that when I was in. Again, the cool “unkept” look.
Another fashion statement with the “unkept” look are jeans with holes in them. They are crazy poplar. When I was growing up jeans with holes were tossed out and people who wore them were poor. Now, people pay big bucks to have jeans with holes. Hey, just buy a regular pair and give them four years—bam—another cool “unkept” look. And you save a few bucks. Another “unkept” look that is popular with the “we don’t own an iron” crowd is the wrinkled look. You just grab your shirt or whatever and throw it on and you are in. Again, totally cool—totally in.
I’ve even seen this in yards. There are folks who have unkept yards because they just don’t like to mow grass or trim their yards but there is another group that simply loves that look. To them unkept is “unkept—the cool kind.” To some folks an “unkept” yard is all about nature. I really liked that when I was young—my Daddy did not. It just wasn’t his thing.
So, what’s up? Well, through the years different things have come and gone. It’s just the way culture works. Things are fashionable for awhile and they move on. I know there was a time I couldn’t imagine preaching without a tie. I even said one time that I didn’t think I could preach without a tie. Now days, I usually preach with an open collar. Things change. Right now “unkept” is cool and one day it probably won’t be and I’m good with it either way. But wait.
While “unkept” is cool, fashion wise…it is not cool or healthy to like an “unkept” life. You ask, “What is that?” It is a life that is lived solely in the moment. In the sixties it was the “if it feels good, do it” thing and each decade has had its version of that thought pattern. But the bottom line is that when we live “unkept” lives there are usually consequences and regrets. I said this morning to my wife Judy that “success is not accidental, it is intentional.” That almost sounds deep. I also think that God’s peace, and joy, and happiness, and a host of other things that make life worth living aren’t accidental either…they are intentional.
For me, as a Jesus follower, that intentionality involves checking in with God on a regular basis to see what He thinks about my day…my life. For me it is a daily dose of His Book, the Bible. Trust me on this one…there is a reason why it remains one of the best-selling books of all time. The truths and teachings of Jesus are found in the second part, the New Testament, and they were groundbreaking two thousand years ago and they still are today.
Ok, so I don’t know if I will ever do the “unkept” thing or not. It took me a long time to figure out I could teach without a tie. But I do know this. When it comes to life, a “kept” life is just better—fewer consequences—fewer regrets. That is probably why the Book says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” God really wants what is best for us…He loves us that much. If you find yourself in an “unkept” mess, just remember that He is there waiting and no matter what it is, “He’s got this.”