Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On The Watch...

I'm feeling the need to share a few things that God has been impressing on my heart.

I enjoy movies. Not to the point where I have to see them as soon as they come out, but I like things that take me out of my life and submerge me in another place. A place where I can feel what the characters are feeling, see what they are seeing, experience their emotions. And then there are those movies that have legendary quotes that will stick out and be repeated over and over in years to come.
"I'm your Huckleberry" - Tombstone

"Feeling lucky, Punk" - Dirty Harry

"I feel the need, the need for speed" - Top Gun

"You've got mail" - You've Got Mail

"Tomorrow is another day" - Gone With The Wind
One of my favorite movies is Little Women, if you are a guy stick with me. For me, this movie has many quotes that apply to my life today. But two quotes seem to keep rolling about in my head lately.The main character, Jo, is a young woman who is unsettled in the stage of life she is in. During a discussion with one of her sisters she's trying to figure out where she fits into the scheme of things within her family, her circle of friends, her community, and she says,
“I want to do something different. I don't know what it is yet, but I’m on the watch for it.” 
And at another point in the movie she is having a discussion with her mother regarding what she should do because she again feels unsettled.
"I love our home but I'm so fitful and I can't stand being here. I'm sorry, I want to change, but I can't and I feel like I'll never fit in anywhere." To which her mother responds “You have so many extraordinary gifts, how can you expect to lead an ordinary life.”  
She’s not at peace with herself, she feels like she is on the cusp of something big but she doesn't know what yet.

I feel so deeply within myself that this is where we are as a church. We are on the cusp of something big and we love our home and we feel unsettled at the same time and we want to move forward but at times we feel stalled. But while we are in God’s holding pattern, we should be “on the watch”  for anything and everything God shows us. I think we should show up on Sunday mornings and start each service saying “We don’t know what’s going to happen today, but we are going to open this place up to any miracles God wants to perform no matter how unsettled or fitful that makes us. We are going to move forward today with the expectation that the ordinary is not going to happen. We are giving God full permission to show us the extraordinary!”

Through a course I have taken on Spiritualities (a.k.a. Spiritual Gifts) the past couple months, I have learned that there’s more to me than what I do in the everyday. And if God took the time to give me these Spiritualities and mirrors of himself in me… how can I expect to lead an ordinary life. We were made for more than just the mundane. We were made to be extraordinary people. I can’t stand the idea of looking at myself and thinking… is this as good as it gets? Is this all I was brought in this world to do?

I am in that fitful spot, where I am unsettled and teetering on the cusp of something big, but I don't know what it all looks like yet. I have been given so many extraordinary gifts, to waste them on a life lived in an ordinary way would be such a disappointment. And so I am on the watch for God and looking to see how he might use me in ways that aren't ordinary. I will look for those extraordinary things during the day to day, be they little or big, and celebrate each one. 

I hope that this has encouraged you, or caused you to think or maybe see the church through a different lens.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tree of Irritation

Pretend there's a tree in my front yard.

This tree has been here since before I owned the house. In fact, when I moved in, the previous owner told me that the tree had been there since he bought the house and that was a full 40 years. This tree has been around a good while. But there's a problem. It doesn't grow. It never gets any taller or thicker. It does not leaf out in the spring, it does not exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen and it does not produce any kind of fruit. It doesn't perform any of the tasks a tree is supposed to perform. And yet... it remains in my yard, highly visible for all to see.

Each day I leave my house, I see this tree that does not live up to its potential and I find myself starting the day irritated. There must be something this tree needs so that it can grow, thrive, flourish. I need this tree to see in itself what its possibilities are. So I decide to make a concerted effort to talk to the tree, invest time in it by pulling weeds, making sure the soil is just right, giving it living rain water instead of chemically treated water, researching exactly the right kind of food it needs to really take off. I have set aside my irritation with the idea that if I work with this tree, it will begin to function as a working part of my yard. I will give it the love and time it needs so that it will see that I value it and that it can be a part of a really great yard that others will want to visit and maybe grow in the same way.

Everything is lined up. I have crossed every "T" and dotted every "I" so this tree has the best chance of not only growing, leafing out, exchanging gases and producing fruit, but becoming beautiful as well. But as I spend time with the tree, giving it everything it needs I notice that it's still not growing, still not changing. It is still irritating me that the conditions are optimal for growth and it's not happening.

You see, the tree has existed all these years in the same state. It grew to a certain point and then stopped. It was content with being small. It had no reason to get bigger. It had no desire to entertain the new idea of leafing and producing fruit. It had no desire to learn how to take a gas that can suffocate and turn it into life giving air for those around it. In fact, the tree took more time and energy than it ever gave back.

There comes a time in life when it can become necessary to yank out this life-sucking, time-sucking, non-fruit-producing, irritating tree. Give it the freedom to find another yard to be stagnant and toxic in. My energy is better spent with the trees and plants that want to grow, that are open to new ways of growing and readily entertain the idea that how they've always been shown to grow may have worked in the past, but time brings new intelligence, new understanding and if my plants are open to me helping them, they have the ability to reach their full potential along with all the other plants.

I need to do some time investing and pruning and plucking and nourishing and talking and loving. I need to make sure that the things in my life, regardless of how long they've been there, are the things that will help me reach my full potential and hopefully I'll bring others who are willing along with me.