Saturday, May 16, 2009

Want in?

Years ago I gave my 7 year old heart to Jesus. At age seven I sat all alone in Cathedral of Christ the King Church in Superior, Wisconsin and told Jesus He could have my life. I knew very little about Jesus and probably less about the meaning of my own life but I took what little I knew and made a pact with God. I haven’t always held up my part of the bargain. He’s never wavered.

Now, 52 years later, I look forward to what God will continue to do with my life. I know I can trust Him. And I stand amazed that God still believes in me despite my spotty track record.

God has directed my life in some pretty amazing ways. He’s allowed a pretty ordinary guy to be involved in some pretty significant things. For this, I’m grateful. I’ve had a front row seat on some miracles. I’ve seen lives transformed. And as a result I feel that my life has had and will continue to have significance.

That’s why I don’t find myself playing the success to significance game. Whatever comes after significance and before death is my new playing field. I don’t know what to call it but what I know for sure is that at the age of 58 God is saying “We’ve still got some business to do together. Do you want in?”

That’s both exciting and scary. My answer, though, is “Yes, I want in.”

Can’t wait to find out what I just signed up for.

I’ve always been taken by author Frederick Buechner’s famous line. “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Fascinating. That wouldn’t be a bad place to spend our remaining days, would it?

I’ve learned over the years that the ‘needy’ are all around us. They're in our home, at our school, in the supermarket, in the car next to us on the freeway, and in every classroom. Everyday we have an opportunity to be caring, kind, and attentive. May we never waver from that opportunity.

But there’s another kind of ‘real need and deep hunger’ that Scripture asks us to see and respond to. It requires us to move beyond the ordinary needs of others who will cross our paths. It requires more than awareness, simple kindness, and caring.

You see, there's a harder edge in Scripture. There seems to be this call to go beyond what is ordinary and comfortable to confront what Mother Theresa called “Jesus in his most distressing disguise.” Moving beyond what's comfortable seems to always be what God wants from those who have been given much.

And so, are we willing to intentionally move towards the great hunger and need of this world fully knowing that by taking those steps we will move into discomfort? Are we willing to surrender our sense of security for the sake of being faithful?

When I was seven I gave as much as I knew of my life to as much as I knew about Jesus. At age 58 I do the same knowing that God will always keep his end of the bargain. And at age 58 God is saying once again ‘do you want in?”

And so ...

Am I willingness to face the deep hunger of this world?

Do I really want to meet Jesus in his most distressing disguise?

Do I really want in?

And do I 'want in' at the expense of being uncomfortable?

Want to know something? I really don't have any choice. Not if I really want to live. So, I still say "yes, I want in".

What about you?


Randy Siever said...

The greatest need people have all around us to to be noticed, I think. Paying attention to people all around us, in our ordinary, regular life, is like giving a cup of cold water to a thirsty little one (Matt. 10:42). There's a reward attached to that simple act.

Paying attention to those around us will sometimes lead us into those places that are uncomfortable. I guess that's why they call it "paying" usually costs us something to do it. But it's what I think Jesus is asking us to do. I fear we are distracted with our obsession to do something other than what is right in front of us. I'm not suggesting that we ignore a call of God to go beyond what we're currently doing, but I think we might miss something right in front of us by thinking there's something more significant "out there" to do.

Mike said...

Good point Randy.

I wonder if it's not a both/and situation.

I know I'm called to be present in the present moment. That's my primary ministry.

But I also wonder if we're not asked to ponder the bigger questions ...especially about the world around us.

I've been reading, now rereading The Hole in Our Gospel...deeply impacting me.

As always, you offer a good corrective on my slant. Thanks.



Bob Carter said...

Pondering and attempting to sway the big questions in the world around you is a road littered with traps and pitfalls for the traveler who has a heavy foot.

Also, I tend to agree with Randy in that the most difference is made in one-on-one encounters with those who quietly cry out and are frequently overlooked.

On the other hand, one who is truly called, and who has passed his ego spiritually, can do good as long as he has no motive to do well.

From my sense of Mike from his recent writings, I believe his spirit is firmly planted in good motives, and he is questioning enough of himself to venture on that hazardous path.

My plea to him is that he stop frequently to rest and reflect in the manner that Jesus and his disciples lingered at wells along their way. Speak to the drawers of water. Reflect on the quality of the water therein and take care before you quench your thirst.

God go with you. Go with God.

Bob Carter

Mike said...

Thanks Bob. Advice to be well heeded. I'm surrounded by good water in deep wells and a multitude of Godly counselors, including good Facebook buddies like you and Randy.

Bob, I sent you an e-mail at the address you sent. Hope you got it.