Ansell: Heed the call

Ken Ansell
Special to the Daily Light

There is a term for people that have chosen to live outside the lines of what we might call normal according to cultural standards. These people are called “dirtbaggers.” Dirtbaggers live for their passion (key word for what I’m writing about) of the outdoors. Mostly they are climbers, but many are surfers, etc.

Ken Ansell

A lot of these people live in their vans way off the grid, bathing is a luxury. They enjoy doing their sport more than they enjoy making money and they are not shopping at Nordstrom. Think about a hippie that climbs rocks. That can serve as a mental image of what a dirtbagger might look like.

My point is these people have chosen this dirtbag lifestyle and it is a lifestyle. It’s not a part of their life, it is their life. They have fully immersed themselves in living this life of sacrifice.

There is a lifestyle clothing company based out of Austin called Howler Brothers. These men that started the company are bonded not by blood but by shared callings: Surfing, fly fishing, fire pits, pre-dawn coffee. Their slogan is “Heed the call.” Howler monkeys have something to do with this story but that’s for another day.

A few college kids got together not too long ago and started selling golf shirts out of a teardrop camper. The name of this company is Rhoback. One of the founders of this business had two Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs that crave activity — this became their battle cry and the ethos of their new company. The goal was to “inspire people through clothing to get out there and be active.” People wearing their shirts should be able to play a set of tennis before lunch, go paddle-boarding and then hit a quick nine before hanging out with friends that evening. 

Finally, two brothers quit their corporate jobs back in 1998 and used all their credit to buy neckties that they sold out of the back of their Jeep on Martha’s Vineyard. They use a little whale as their logo and they want everyone that wears their clothes to know that “Every Day Should (can) Feel This Good.”

Heed the call, crave activity, every day a good day — a lifestyle like being committed to being a dirtbag. Aren’t these Christian things? Jesus is not an add on to your already busy life — if you have “heeded the call” Jesus is your life. Don’t we crave Jesus' kind of activity and don’t we continue to heed the call of Christ? It’s passion isn’t it that drives this kind of life?

In Matthew 19:27 one of the original disciples Peter said, “We have left everything to follow You. (heeded the call).” The early disciples were so passionate about Jesus they left jobs, they left family, the lives they had built, they craved Jesus' activity (fully immersed like a dirtbagger). They knew what in many ways the modern, mainstream church does not know that Jesus meant what He said in Matthew 16:24 — that in order to follow Jesus you have to “reject and disown your own life.”

Can I give you the bad news? It’s actually good news. Nothing has changed. Each of us has to contextualize this call on our lives — I’m not saying God has called all of us to leave our jobs or our families and go be a missionary or a monk, we just have to have this kind of passion for the Lord and let this passion unfold and go and do whatever it is Christ asks us to go and do (obedience makes every day a good day).

I have a good friend that calls me “DBP” it stands for Dirt Bag Pastor. I take it as a term of endearment and a compliment. I hope I live up to this grand title and it's no doubt a continuing resolution every year. Happy New Year! He told me to tell you that.