Our church is going off the high dive in any number of ways. But don’t fret, OK? There is probably no way not to worry; but we can at least avoid fretting.
Do they still make graduates of swim lessons go off the high dive as part of the final test of their capabilities? Have insurance companies banned high dives for regular folks altogether? (I don’t go to the pool like I used to).
The big plunge was my final exam when I was done with my third year of lessons. I did not crawl out onto the edge of the diving board when my turn came to leap. But I felt almost exactly like Norman Rockwell’s painting. I was scared of heights then, too. My friend Jeff, pushed off from the back rails and leapt out into the center of the pool, which added to how ashamed I felt for being such a “scaredy cat.” I’m glad I did not die from my flood of emotions before I hit the water! I have to tell you that I eventually made a wonderfully awkward dive off the board before the summer was over, but I would not do it again.
I hope none of us feel like we, the church, are that boy, our present situation is that diving board, and the pool is the mess that is about to drown us. But it would not be surprising if we did. Our church has been pushing us all off the edge for some time, now. I won’t even go back over the “second act” we launched into a couple of years ago; we are still swallowing that change (and benefiting every day!). But just last year we penned a daring map and proceeded to do most of it. We are way on down the road. We are off the edge and into the deep end.
We do not listen to cautionary tales about the perils of doing what God calls us to try.
- A new building came up for sale but we did not buy it, we bought a different one down the street. We were in motion and God could steer us.
- We wanted to get out of 1125 S. Broad because it seemed just as cheap to own a building. Then we decided we wanted both buildings. Not only did we want to preserve our store where it is at, we wanted more room for a new childcare business and events opportunities.
- At the same time, we planted a new congregation. It’s like when you got a new job, moved, and realized you were pregnant. Not that easy.
- What’s more, we entrusted brand new pastors to lead the newly-birthed congregation! Not that easy. They had experience with Jesus and Circle of Hope — but very few people are ready to plant a new congregation! And the way we do it has its own difficulties, since it comes complete with people, some settled in their ways, with it.
The other day, Paul Kohl told the Leadership Team: “I want to talk about the strategy of 1125 S Broad (metrics specifically) and 2214 S Broad as per our agreements. If we were ascending Mt Everest we would be in the death zone, not enough oxygen to sustain life; we need to keep moving until we reach our objective and return to where we can breathe.”
You can always rely on Paul for an apt metaphor. He means we need to get our businesses rolling to sustain our buildings before the cost undermines our capacity, among other things. We took a risk and are at risk.
One of our proverbs says: Following the Spirit is risky business, calm seas do not make good sailors.
I often think it is important for the leaders to keep teaching us good sailing habits. Lord knows the seas of the world are not becoming calmer.
So I am writing this today hoping your basement did not flood during the downpour, your marriage does not feel like it is disintegrating, your children are not sick, your car is running, your job is secure and you are not too upset over the latest disaster in the society — so you feel free to take a risk. If you do not feel like it, then I hope you can trust God, since we are already in the pool.
I keep quoting the King James Bible these days, where Psalm 37 starts out: “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.” That verse can be extended from its immediate outlook on the constant disparity between the rich and the poor, to give us some encouragement for facing other difficulties and injustices.
We can decide not to fret and keep risking because God is with us and the Lord will bring the world to right in the end and is already at work in us and others who follow Jesus.
- Don’t fret when you confront the inevitable risk of following something larger than your own fret.
- Don’t fret when you confront the inevitable temptation to follow what you are afraid of (actually trying to avoid it; but running away is still being led somewhere).
- Fret = to heat or inflame oneself. Don’t get flooded with your fiery emotions. Or when you do get flooded (which you probably will, maybe before this day is over) , take some time to settle down before you do something unworthy of you.
- Don’t let someone steal your joy. God is trustworthy and you are not in charge of the end of things.
Paralleled with “don’t inflame yourself” in this verse is “don’t burn with jealousy.” So this verse is all about getting burned. Someone or some situation is going to try to light a match to you, don’t let them. Douse it with that fountain of living water waiting for just the moment you need to use it, or jump into the sea of grace surrounding you! (Take that metaphor, Paul!)
I think we are going to worry because things are hard and the world is pretty dark, and inexplicable things do happen to nice people. I am worried about a number of things right now. I am not a stone, nor do I want to become one to get by. I want to worry and not sin. I equate the sin with the fretting, with the unchecked burning, with the faithless flaming.
So when troubles set us off, let’s step back and trust, not become paralyzed or over-activated by our worry and end up fretting or throttled up or down by injustice. We are following someone greater than us whose plans are larger than ours. And that’s not only OK, it is salvation.