Out of The Box

Yesterday at church our pastor delivered himself a message.

Not your warm fuzzy campfire song kind of message, but such a good one. He was talking about a praise song- specifically the one that the Israelites sang right after God delivered them through the Red Sea. It’s here – Exodus 15:1-21. If you’d like to see the sermon, click here.

His point being that we have a tendency to put God in a little box on the shelf for most of the week and then get him down on Sunday mornings, take him to church, and then put him back on the shelf as we prepare for our lives.

Then he said this: “A God who can fit in a box is NOT a God who can get you across your Red Sea. A God in a box doesn’t lead people to an Exodus 15 kind of praise. A God that we can understand and explain is not God.”

He started giving biblical examples of people who followed Jesus without question, and he quoted Acts 4:13 “When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and knew that they had been with Jesus.”

The obvious point being that neither Peter nor John were “equipped or educated” well enough to do the job they were doing, but they were doing it, and doing it in such a way that those who came into contact with them knew they had been with Jesus.

YES! I want to be like that. I started thinking about authenticity and boldness and prayer- you know, all those things we think about when we think about doing all the things on the spiritual to-do list we keep.

I was ready to go until he said this: ” Paul wasn’t beaten or put in prison until AFTER he started following Jesus.”

And I’m out.

I didn’t want to be, but honestly, and I’m talking soul bearing honesty here, I’m scared.

Because what if His “big-ness” takes me out of this life that I think I love so much?

This life, that honestly has just become way too much lately. This life that has me waking up soaked to the bone in sweat and shaking with fear about what will happen next. This life, that even as imprisoning as it has been lately, is the life I know and have become comfortable with.

Isn’t it odd that we’ll settle for a life that on a good day is mediocre at best and crammed full of worry and fear and stress and busyness rather than seeking something better?

Because, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we know that if we do look for life abundant we might find more heartache and uncertainty- and I don’t know about you, but I’m just not sure I’m up to that right now.

Or, and here is where I am right now, we might find life abundant, but what if life abundant is in West Dallas living in the ‘hood, or parenting a little boy who was orphaned in Ethiopia and has some significant neurological delays, or having to walk with your 3-year-old daughter as she fights leukemia?
Last night I was thinking about all this and honestly thought “You know what? As hard as this is, I’ll take this life, because I’m too scared to believe that there will ever be anything different.”

This time I was honestly choosing the moderate discomfort of mediocrity.

And then God walked in, and I don’t think it’s any accident at all that 3 significant messages were delivered to me in 3 hours.

1. I bought Forgotten God by Francis Chan (author of Crazy Love) and began reading the introduction in the car while I was waiting for G to finish soccer.

5 pages into the introduction he quoted Acts 4:13 – yeah the same verse I heard in church yesterday- a verse that our pastor only used in passing, a verse that wasn’t really meant to be the focus, except that for me, it was.

Weird.

2. I made it home and checked my e-mail. My dad had sent me an e-mail with a link to a blog that a man in his office wrote while taking his teenage daughter on a 2-week trip to Rwanda to meet their sponsored Compassion child. You can check it out here– it’s really a neat story.

You might know I have a thing for Africa. We sponsor a little boy through Compassion, we send money monthly to build wells in remote parts of Africa, we donate money monthly to Mocha Club to help women in children in Africa, and we tithe at church and earmark a percentage of that money to go directly to a church in South Africa.

My life-long dream is to travel there and work with orphans. Coach jokes that if I ever get to go I will either never get back on a plane, or I’ll end up with 75 kids.

Neither is possible or plausible, or is it? And is that what I’m afraid of?

What if the way out of my fear and mediocrity and bondage is entering someone else’s? What if it’s painful? What if it breaks my heart…again? What if I’m not strong enough?

What if…what if…what if…?

3. I was doing my evening blog-roll. I checked in on Team Alexander to see how little man Abe was doing, and to read about their upcoming travels to pick up Seth, the newest Alexander. Momma Alexander had posted this.

Three messages in three hours from a three-headed God.

And so I’ll leave with a few of Francis Chan’s thoughts:

“Without Him [Holy Spirit], people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results. The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation…But when believers live in the power of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of their lives is supernatural.” (17)

“…if the Holy Spirit moves, nothing can stop Him. If He doesn’t move, we will not produce genuine fruit–no matter how much effort or money we expend.” (18)

“Many have the knowledge but lack the courage to admit the discrepancy between what we know and how we live.” (18)

So I ask myself- am I operating out of my own strength? YES

Is the Holy Spirit moving in me and producing genuine fruit? Maybe, but it’s little runt fruit, not the big juicy kind. 🙂

Do I have the knowledge? YES

Am I living in accordance with that knowledge? Probably not.

It’s the truth. I don’t know if admitting to all of that is courageous or not, but it sure isn’t fun.

So I guess it’s time for the Divine rubber to meet the road…even if it means facing my Red Sea because “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20)

Let’s pray for some Divine Power.

See y’all.

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2 Comments on Out of The Box

  1. Mama Chick
    November 3, 2009 at 7:48 am (8 years ago)

    WOw, you have no idea how your post just hit home for me! I stumbled upon your blog through a friends blog. Isnt it amazing how God shows himself to us in our everyday lives??

    Reply
  2. tgk
    November 4, 2009 at 7:58 pm (8 years ago)

    Preach. It. Sister.
    Awesome Post- Don’t you LOVE it when God SPEAKS to you?
    Good, good stuff! : )

    Reply

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