Searching for Significance in the World’s Largest Paint Ball

This is the “world’s largest ball of paint.”

When Michael Carmichael’s son was three years old, he painted a baseball. Intrigued by the vibrant color and smooth coat (and inspired by his own youthful memories of layering paint), Michael and his son continued to add more and more paint, layer by layer, in various colors, until it eventually grew to enormous proportions.

At that point, Michael’s giant ball of paint started to get attention. Newspapers wanted to write about it. Record books wanted to investigate it, and road trippers wanted to come get their picture taken with it. The ball’s fame grew organically, in ways its owner never expected.

For almost 30 years, Michael hasn’t stopped adding layers of paint to the ball, and he now invites visitors to do the same. All told, there are more than 20,000 layers of paint on the ball, and he has no intention of stopping.

I don’t want to hammer this guy or his ball of paint. It’s just something he did. And besides that, he and I might, I strongly suspect, share a certain characteristic. If so, it’s the one that has led him to create this enormous paint ball as well as one that drives many parts of my day.

It’s the search for significance, or conversely, the fear of insignificance. Of being normal. Of someday dying and having nothing to show for this life.

Now here’s the thing about that desire: It can push you forward into great good, or bog you down into great evil. On the good side, the desire for significance can force you to take stock of what matters. To commit yourself to say “no” to meaningless things in favor of eternal ones. To live a life of focus for the sake of the kingdom of God and the souls of men and women.

But on the bad side… The bad side of the desire for significance is a life of frustration. Of endless efforts to garner attention. Of unfulfilled dreams, and then great bitterness.

It’s all in how you define significance, isn’t it?

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