A few weeks ago, Pastor David Franklin (PDF ha!) preached a sermon entitled “Am I a Risk Taker?” This sermon in conjunction with the wonderful ministry of the Deliverance Mass Choir has changed my life!
Before the sermon, before the choir, I was stagnant. I was not comfortable per se but I definitely was not moving forward in the spirit as I should have been and I was feeling it. Pastor Franklin said, “the number one enemy to change is comfort…when we fail to acknowledge our true condition, we sabotage our opportunity to be free from the pain of the place we are in”. WOW! I felt like the hand of God smacked me in the back of my head and He said, “listen up” (…actually that might have been my mom, just kidding…maybe). All the memories of the times I procrastinated because I was physically comfortable, did not take a step forward because of fear, or comforted myself after resisting God (I’m not ready; I’m only human) came flooding back. On one hand I felt relief because I acknowledged that I needed to change (cool, I might be better off than I thought [that can be a dangerous train of thought by the way]) but on the other hand I was alarmed because regarding spirituality, my acknowledgement meant nothing without action. Many of us have at least heard the first step of the twelve-step Alcoholics Anonymous program, which is to admit that you have a problem. I believe this applies to our spiritual lives as well, what good is taking the first step of acknowledging I have a problem if I do not take the other eleven? (know what I’m sayin’?)
“The result of stagnation is termination”. This can apply to many if not all aspects of life. If I stay addicted to drugs, I will die. If I stay unhealthy, I will die. If I stay dirty, I will die (any definition of dirty will fit). If I stay reckless, I will die. If I stay gossiping, I will die. If I stay lying, I will die. If I stay causing turmoil (especially in church), I will die. If I stay negative, I will die. If I stay isolated, I will die. If I stay amoral, I will die. If I stay kicking my neighbor’s cat, I will die. IF I STAY SINNING, I WILL DIE. I believe that last one but I know that sometimes I do not behave like I do.
Ok, I get all of that but what do I have to do? I have to become a risk taker. What do I need to become a risk taker? According to PDF (hmm, I think I’ll refer to Pastor Taylor as PT…PT and PDF heh), I need, “a growing relationship with God (got that) after all, He is the one who will reward the risk I take for my spiritual advancement. I need, “a community of people [I] can trust”, people who have my back (check!). Finally, I need, “a calling, mission, passion, or purpose that is fulfilling,” which I will summarize as “direction” (…I’ve got nothing). “Direction”, that is what I am missing. I want to do things I have mediocre results in (painting, photography, science-y stuff) but the things I am good at (writing, office stuff) I am just not passionate about so I am going from pillar to post praying and searching but as of yet to no avail. Regardless, everything is copacetic because I have and am following the steps to become a risk taker. What are the steps? Well, PDF said, “make up your mind”. Great, because after hearing the Deliverance Mass Choir I decided I wanted to change (seriously a LIFE-CHANGING experience) and hearing PDF’s sermon the next week sealed the deal. “Look for the miracle”. Not counting the miracle of me having made up my mind, I thought of what it took to get to this point, what God has brought me through, and how blessed I am even though I feel like I am floundering and lost in the proverbial sauce. “Maintain your integrity”. No problem, I am getting better all the time. The pièce de résistance, “rejoice”. For me, rejoicing is the hardest part (I’m learning to be a see-the-silver-lining type). Of course, it is easy when things are going well but I cannot just rejoice then, I have to “rejoice evermore” (I Thessalonians 5:16) even when things are not going my way and I do not understand what God is doing. The notes for I Thess 5:16 in my Bible says, “people are naturally happy on some occasions, but the Christian’s joy is not dependent on circumstances. It comes from what Christ has done and it is constant”. (cont…)