Friday, January 22, 2010

Putting it all Together Part 11 - Preaching to Myself and Other Drowning Rats

Then there are the days. . .Days when you wonder if this thing you set out to do will ever happen. If you have bitten off more than you can chew and think that you are going to choke on the bones. I would be lying to you if I said there is point in time when you get over it. If there is, I haven’t found it.

As most of you know we are putting together an event in February called Splendor and Holiness, and at the beginning we were all excited. Electrified might be a better word. We had carefully planned and prayed over our topic, we identified the need for Christians to learn more about worship, what it is and how to engage in it, and we had the means to make it happen. Several of our friends supported us as we fleshed out the idea, so we jumped. It was easy and it felt like flying, for awhile.

But something happens on the way to the realization of a dream. For those of us who have figured out how to dream and given ourselves permission to dream, that is the fun part. What isn’t so fun are the times that you wonder just how big of a fool are you going to look like if it doesn’t happen?

I think that sometimes as Christians we are told that following God’s lead should be easy, everything should fall into place with supernatural precision, and sometimes it does. Those are the great times, and you know you can’t fail. However, more often than not there is a time when everything seems to stop and you are left dangling over a cliff, waiting for something, anything to happen. God gets real quiet, and you realize just how big of a chance you took.

This is the place where most of us give up, where we think that we had a delusional moment and made a mistake. After all if we are serving God shouldn’t it be easier, safer? We begin to doubt our ability and God’s faithfulness. So pack it up, retreat to safer ground, and tell ourselves and our friends our excuses for why we stopped. I would be lying if I said I have not felt this way about the February event.

We have had many people say that they would be there, and we have had a few register, but there is an image of a theater in Muskogee with only a handful of people that I just can’t shake. It makes me feel a little sick to my stomach, and I worry if I will disappoint the friends that I have convinced to help me. Some bit of self preservation is screaming to get out while there is still time, keep my dignity intact.

In my more rational moments I have to wonder exactly where we got the idea that following God had anything to do with dignity. The truth is a lot of the time when God called people to great things the first thing they had to abandon was dignity. Noah built a stupid boat in his front yard, David danced through the streets in his underwear, the cowardly Gideon declared he could lead and army to victory, Hosea married a woman that would have shamed a sailor, and Peter made a fool of himself more times than I can count.

Maybe that is why these guys are our favorites. We all know what it is like to fall flat on our faces and make fools of ourselves. They took a risk, they even looked foolish as they did it, but they succeeded. They are remembered as men of faith and courage.

I have to wonder exactly what did Peter think as he lowered himself over the side of that boat. Did he leap out onto the waves with no fear? Or did he shake as he gripped tightly to the hull? Did he play out all the scenarios of how badly this could end for him? Or did he just see the chance to do what his Lord was doing? The Bible says that Peter saw the wind and was afraid. In that moment he began to sink, and I wonder how far down he got before he totally freaked out. Sometimes we see the pictures of Jesus pulling something resembling a drowned rat from among the waves, and yet, I have been told that Peter never made it past ankle deep before Jesus saved him.

Either way, any of you who have fallen know that a split second is all you need to envision your untimely demise. We see the wind and know the distance we have left to travel before we reach our destination. We feel the pressure of having to navigate the waves, and begin to doubt we will be able to do it. We feel the eyes of all the smart people who stayed on the boat and know they are thinking what fools we are while envying their safety. The thing is we know that if we can make it, if we can reach out and touch the object of our desire, no boat will ever be good enough again.

And the truth is, we never wanted sit on the stinking boat to begin with. We wanted to be the One who needs no boat, the One who did great things, and now empowers us to risk great things on his behalf. Striking out for the place you believe God is leading you is scary, but it is exciting and the grandest adventure we can ever know. How many times do think Peter sat around a fire and told friends about that night? How many times do you think his friends asked, “Can he do that for me?” I want a story like that for my life. How about you?

Can you leave the boat, brave the waves, and ignore the wind? There are times when it is easy, and there are times when it is the hardest thing we will ever do, but the good news is if we fail, if our gaze should wander to the elements cause of us fear, there is One who doesn’t mind pulling us drowning rats from the abyss.

Hope to see you in February!

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