Saturday, May 28, 2016

Evangelism Part II: On Ships, Prayers, and the Memory of Last Year's Ashes

In Part I of this post, I revealed some fascinating information about my personality and politics which ultimately led to me asking the question “Why do I talk about politics more than I talk about the savior of the world?” I promised a response within six months. Two and a half months later, my answer:

I am afraid.

If I was writing as my usual defensive self, I would try to put a joke in here. I would try to downplay my whole serious tone. I would probably say something along the lines of “This is the point where I give you a moment to roll your eyes, scoff, or do whatever floats your boat to show derision within the next five seconds.” (Fun fact: that may or may not have been the exact phrasing in my original draft.)

But I’m not doing that this time.

Instead, this is the point where I give you a moment to join me in my confession of weakness. A moment to exist in humility with me. A moment to collect your courage and find what you’re afraid of. Because unless we can find the courage to first admit that we are afraid, we will be stuck. We will never be able to pray “Disturb us, Lord, when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little.” We will forever be ships anchored to the shore, too terrified to let go and believe that the One who created this very sea will be there to save us when the storms hit.

And so we don’t let go. We hold on to safety until our knuckles turn white, we squeeze our eyes shut and pretend that we don’t see Jesus calling us from outside the boat. Because if you don’t see it, it’s not real. Right? And all we’re left with is the shriveled desire to follow God and the overwhelming feeling of emptiness on Ash Wednesday when your pastor says “give something to God for Lent” and you can’t think of a damn thing because you haven’t let yourself be disturbed.

I read a blog post a few years ago, a poem about all the things we’re supposed to do, the ways we’re expected to act. The author – getting ready to be married at an age most people consider too young to even consider dating seriously – wrote “Ready is for people who trust in themselves, who want to live small and safe lives. Freedom is for people who trust in the One who made them, who want to live lives too big to be ready for.” Sure, being ready might relieve you of (some of) your fear, but God has plans that you may never, ever be ready for. Are you okay with missing out on those plans just because you don’t feel ready? I’m not.

Exactly 461 days ago, I wrote that I had hit a wall in my own self development because “I was too busy making excuses.” In attempting to follow the traditions of Ash Wednesday, I discovered that I couldn’t find anything to fix because I didn’t want to fix anything. I was comfortable. I was afraid of change. And to most people, that just makes sense. Who would voluntarily give up a life of ease, a life of comfort, to endure the pain and terror of the unknown – just for the sake of following the will of God?

I can think of someone.

In light of that, I will – to the best of my ability – cast my fear aside and take one step closer to trusting God, one step further away from the safety of the shore. I don’t claim to be ready, but I am here. And you may not be ready either, but I can walk with you and you can walk with me, and we can remind each other that God’s perfect love casts out fear. So come here, stand next to me, join me in my voyage out into the endless immensity of the open and unknown sea. Are we ready? Absolutely not. But that’s kind of the point.

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