Monday, April 21, 2008

I wanted to change the world...


"When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself,
and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself,
I could have made an impact on my family.
My family and I could have made an impact on our town.
Their impact could have changed the nation
and I could indeed have changed the world."
-By Unknown Monk, 1100 A.D.

One of the paths of thought I have been traveling upon lately is the dawning realization that I am facing 40 and many of the ideals that I have pushed towards for so much of my life are probably not going to be realized in the ways that I thought. This was brought home to me yesterday as I was watching my oldest son play drums and my daughter play electric guitar during both of our Sunday worship services. I remembered that for so many years as a youth pastor I had prayed for the Lord to send us great musicians to help us actually play the worship music we longed to hear live instead of on cd's as a youth church. As I was admiring Destiny filling in some sweet notes during the song...the thought occurred to me: We can pray for God to send us a great musician or He can grow a great musician from among us. Both would be a answer to that prayer...but one is far more rich, meaningful to me and rewarding to see...even if it takes longer than we would expect or always think we want. In the end, the Lord has answered that prayer but in a way that I didn't perceive He would.

Isn't that the whole message of the gospels...God coming and doing stuff in ways and with people who we wouldn't expect? I am realizing this "way" is more true than I can ever organize around, plan for or always facilitate...God is more like wind than I can comprehend (John 3).

In fact as a pastor, I am finding that in order to be a faithful and fruitful pastor, I have to be more of a "seer" or "prophet". They are people who spend more time listening and looking than anything else; but occasionally have something to say once those observations form into understanding. This isn't always the best or most accommodating to the current business world model that churches seem to morph towards. The end product is allusive. I find that I can't "change" much at all. I can't awaken desire, impart dreams, open eyes or instill love. I can't create community or eliminate poverty. I can't take back the land, or pull down powers...in fact, I am pretty weak, ignorant and clueless when it comes to figuring it all out.

The older I get the more content and free I am becoming to surrender my world conquering dreams to just simply be...a follower of Jesus.

“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community even if their intentions are ever so earnest.
But the person who loves those around them will create community.”
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I see two paths as a pastor before me...kind of like Jesus was offered at a lonely time in the desert. One is full of miracles, productivity, needs being met, people being fed. It holds a lot of ascending...it's all about going up, getting higher, taking more ground, getting bigger, rising...all the way up to the pinnacle. It's a really visible place to climb towards. People know you, they call you, they invite you...they want you. But it ends in bowing to things, to people, to a way of life that causes you to lose your soul. You end up losing it all trying to gain it all. I tell you the truth...it is tempting, but it is a lie.

The bread is a lie...it won't fill you.
The pinnacle is a lie...it won't make you feel important.
The bowing is a lie...you won't get it all.

The truth is...hunger, insignificance and not having it all...is the way.

I pray I will continue to choose it.
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