I’m almost inclined to start off by saying I don’t really have a whole lot to say about Paul’s sermon Wednesday. Primarily, that’s because it spoke to me in much the same way that Lisa Comes’ sermon on “Your Place Of Ministry In The Body Of Christ.”
The focus of this sermon, however, was on the importance of making our living sacrifice … our gifts and talents … our everyday, ordinary life … pleasing to God around the clock.
Part of Paul’s conclusion nearly says it all (of course, you’d miss out on Paul’s masterful use of examples in his sermons if you left it at this):
What I enjoyed most from this is the importance it places on the fact that our time with God isn’t simply something we do on Sundays – or whenever we head to church. It’s an ongoing constant in our lives … whether we realize it or not. I tend to think of it as God being with us during those small things we do in life – be it eating breakfast, reading the newspaper, doing some mindless repetitive task at work, scratching ourselves, or anything else for that matter. God is with us in every detail of our lives.
John Ortberg writes about the “Everywhereness of God” and I think much of that applies in thinking about this. He wrote of Michelangelo, after devoting countless time toward painting The Creation of Adam, penning his frustrations in his journal with one mere sentence: “I am no painter.” I think there’s two ways to look at that. One is view the sentiment as a (positive) reflection on the idea that God is working through you for something. The other (negative) is to view your efforts as nothing out of the ordinary … possibly even as a futile perseverence. Michelangelo wrote as his body ached from the tortures of the task at hand. It was far from positive in his case … at least to the extent that he realized it at the time.
Either way we choose to look at our own situations and how God works through each of us, he uses us as we are. Not everyone is called to run the same race. Occassionally, we may look in envy as someone accomplishes something of percieved greater importance. In other words, if God is supposed to use us, why aren’t we all Billy Graham by now and changing the world in one snap of the finger? Clearly, for some of us, if God had to wait for all of us to develop oratorical skills like Graham, or encouragement skills like Joel Osteen, God would be waiting a long time for some of us to even start the course he’s charted for us. I mentioned some time ago a drama segment that McNair Wilson did for us at Koinonia. He concluded with the realization that we each write that page, that chapter of God’s plan that has our own name on it. We don’t write someone else’s chapter. We don’t lift someone else’s plan and plaigerize it as our own. We just take our everyday, ordinary life and offer it as a living sacrifice.
I’d written in the post about Lisa’s sermon about how it pushed me over the edge in starting this blog. Perhaps not surprisingly, Paul’s sermon brings up an opportunity to reflect a bit on whatever feeble state of this blog there is to think about. I’m glad to see that there’s been a bit of word of mouth about the blog in the past few months. I tend to be the worst marketer in the world when it comes to my own work, so I’ve never been a shameless promoter of this or any other writing I’ve done. But when you see others react positively to something that you’ve begun initially for your own sake and into something that hopefully overflows to become a benefit for others, I take that as a measure of success. Not a sign of success as a writer or self-promoter … but as a sign of success for what I pray God finds a way through my writing here. Todd from our Compass Class once offered a quote from St. Francis of Assisi: “Evangelize. And if you have to, use words.” Blogging obviously turns that axiom on its head and forces one to live the hard way. But that’s the ordinary and everyday for me. And I’m glad to learn of others finding some faint echo of Joel’s (or Lisa’s or Paul’s or Marcos’ or Dodie’s) encouragement here that brightens their day and helps them stay truer to their walk with Christ. So my many thanks to the kind words from everyone that I’m sure I’ve not thanked nearly enough in their own reciprocal encouragement of this very blog.
I’ve written a bit about the overloaded work schedule the past few months and of my eagerness in getting plugged back into the many relationships I’ve built up over time at Lakewood. After about two months of feeling like a stranger on those rare occassions I have found time to head back to the sanctuary, there have been no shortage of welcome signs of normalcy lately – from a generous and overdue hug from a long lost Koinonia MVP whose spiritual mentorship I can’t say enough good things about; to a loving stranger sitting next to me reaching out to hold hands during a point of encouragement in Wednesday’s service; to seeing an absolutely beautiful smile (the kind that can make a whole day) from someone who apparently was glad to see me since no idea when. There are times I feel like all that I try to do here is just pass along that smile for the rest of the world. The other times, I’m probably straying from that mission somewhat.