Chasing After The Wind

I find myself frequently diving down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos, and quite often surprise myself at where I end up. Not too long ago I was watching a documentary called “A Hole in the Head”- which is about people who are bonkers enough to drill small holes in their own skulls! 

Don’t run away! I’m not going to talk about that. What I am going to talk about is a man who appears in the documentary for maybe 5 minutes. His name pops up for about 5 seconds, which I’ve conveniently extracted for you below.

When I saw this, I zeroed in on one thing- what in the heck is an “Ommaya Shunt”? How awesome is it to invent some sort of brain surgery technique that is then named after you! So I did a little research on the man, Dr. Ayub Ommaya, and was absolutely blown away. Born in 1930, here are some notable excerpts of his life:

  • 1953: Wins national swimming competition in Pakistan. Establishes himself as a champion debater and trains as an opera singer.
  • 1956: Completes Physiology, Psychology, and Biochemistry degrees at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
  • 1961-1980: Immigrates to the US, joining the NIH as the Chief of Neurosurgery. In 1963, pioneers the Ommaya Shunt, which treats brain cancers. His work and connections with Congressmen lead to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
  • 1980-1985: Becomes Chief Medical Advisor to US DOT.
  • 2008: Dies at the age of 78.

I don’t think I’m speaking too quickly to say no one reading this has EVER heard of this guy.

I have a tendency to measure the success of my life in what I can accomplish.  At work, it’s hitting targets and moving up in the company. In the church, it’s growing a congregation and trying to create the perfect worship environment. At home, it’s trying to provide the most comfortable life for my family that I can. But reading about all that Ayub Ommaya had done- a champion swimmer, debater, opera singer and pioneering neurosurgeon- I was struck by the foolishness attaching any worth in earthly accomplishments.  It turns out that wasn’t an original thought.  Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 2:11, writes:

"Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun."

Ecclesiastes 2:11 (NIV)

What I think we can learn from King Solomon and Ayub Ommaya is that accomplishments fade, no matter their grandeur or magnitude. Unless I really step up my game in the next couple of years, those two guys are going to leave me in their accomplishment-dust. But that’s the wrong place to put our focus and our value.

What doesn’t fade is a relationship with Jesus. 

When you consider the people most important to you, I would wager that the people at the top of your list aren’t there because of impressive things they’ve done. They are there because of what they mean to you on a personal level. They are there because they invested in your life, forming a deep relationship where you know they are always there to turn to. As we think about what we spend our lives chasing, I hope that we’ll keep Solomon’s words in mind. Most things will ultimately be a chasing after the wind.  But pursuing the Lord and being a kind voice or open ear that points our friends, neighbors, and strangers to Jesus will be a good that endures.

-Sam Houff

Sam Houff amd his wife Elissa have been attending Redemption for 3.5 years. Sam is one of our Worship Leaders and a member of the South Park Community Group