Friday, July 17, 2009

Living vague and sketchy

For about six years I lived in the state of Nevada. I lived north, in Sparks which is right next door to Reno. Great place, great people, beautiful scenery. Every once in while you’d get the sense that the wild west of yesteryear was still right around the corner. People came to Nevada for a lot of reasons. Some to find their fortune, others to lose a fortune. Some came for a fresh start. And others came to hide out, hoping not to be found.

Occassionally, I’d sit down with someone and as ask them questions about their past. Sometimes folks were very forthcoming. Often enough the answers I got were a little vague, very sketchy. I wondered why. Then it began to dawn on me. Nevada is a big state with few people. It’s a great place to disappear. Buy a single wide mobile home, park it in a desert valley next to some other single wides and no one would notice. No one would care. Just fit into the landscape. There were people in Nevada that had a past they wanted to escape from. “ Don’t ask, don’t tell” was the mantra long before ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’

Moses moved to the biblical equivalent of Nevada. It was a place called Midian. It was a good place for a murderer to hide out, buy a trailer, grow a beard and start life all over again. It had to be a tough move. Moses went from the penthouse of Egyptian society to a nomadic existence in the middle of nowhere. He had a past. It probably served him well to be vague and sketchy.

And then God found him. Spoke to Him. Stopped him in his tracks with a 'burning bush message'. He not only found him but he had a ‘mission’ for him. Moses didn’t want any part of it. It meant going back to Egypt. It meant staring down one of the most powerful people in the world and then attempting to extricate thousands upon thousands of people who knew nothing but slavery and take them on a journey towards a future they weren’t even sure they wanted.

God was disrupting Moses’s life.

I’m convinced God is in the ‘disruption’ business. And that’s a good thing. It’s a sign of love.

If truth is told we don't like disruptions. Of course if God wanted to disrupt my life tomorrow and say to me ...

Mike I want you to be the pastor of the Caribbean. I’ve got a place in Arube, right on the beach, for you and the family. Nice salary, medical, good pension. I’ve also got a yacht and a crew because I expect you to check up on my people in Grand Cayman, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua …don’t go any further north than the Bahamas. I don’t want you to come close to getting chilly. Make sure my people are doing OK, that they have what they need. OK?

I think I'd like that kind of disruption. Unfortunately, that's not the way God seems to work. OK, maybe if you’re a TV preacher he works that way but not in ordinary lives.

Nope, God looks for you. He asks for your heart. And then he messes with your life and we don’t understand why half the time. Oh sure, God loves to love on us. But almost always He’s calling you to someplace or something where you’ll have to trust Him.

And the truth is we don’t want that because it’s disruptive. We want a big house and a nice car. He might want you in a trailer park in a desert valley in the middle of Nevada. We want a nice retirement. God says “I’m your retirement plan”. We want more. He says less is more. We're committed to being busy and God says 'slow down so you can get to know me'. We commit ourselves to being laid back and God asks us not to squander our talents.

Let me be blunt. Most of us don’t want to hear what God will say to us unless it’s on our terms. That’s especially true if we’re lucky enough to be living high and well and relatively secure.

And so we hide ….trying to create a cocoon of safety. It works as long as we forget that God is on the prowl.

In all honesty, I want to be Pastor of the Caribbean. Many of you would love to be on my staff. Those jobs don't exist.

Moses faced the business end of God over and over again. He interacted with God. He saw God’s anger and frustration and He saw God’s provision. God called Moses from a hideaway in Midian to one of the great adventures a person ever was called to undertake.

And Moses didn’t want it. He made excuses. He asked God to send someone else. When push came to shove Moses was God’s man for that time for that mission. Just as Moses was feeling OK about Midian God forces him to change direction and focus on going back to Egypt.

Why does He do things like that?

1. Because He loves us.
2. There’s work to be done.
3. He needs to call our bluff or challenge our priorities in order for us to become more like Him.
4. He’s prepared us for some specific mission.
5. He knows we’re growing soft.
6. Because our comfort isn’t necessarily integral to His purpose.

All these things. You could probably add a dozen more.

Let me repeat. Most of us don’t want to hear what God has to say to us unless it’s on our terms because we value our comfort more than we desire doing God’s will.

And so we hide and hide and hide …ignoring the burning bushes calling out our name.

Moses is a good example. He didn’t ignore his burning bush. He went, certainly not sure of himself but with enough trust in the God who was leading him.

I don’t want to go sometimes. Uncertainty reigns. When I do go I learn to trust God all over again. Sometimes I hide. I rent myself a singlewide trailer in the middle of my mind and pretend that no one notices me. I want to live in a vague and sketchy kind of way. God always notices. Always beckons.


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