Trapped Between Planners and Freedom

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I am not a planner. I think of myself as a spur-of-the-moment, let’s go do something, sort of guy. But I lie to myself.

My wife is an amazing planner; my son thrives in knowing what is going to happen next. Their planning tendencies can often drive me nuts. I just want to be in the moment. Feel the waves. Again, I lie.

My dark secret: I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want to do for the day.

Do you find comfort in routine? I do. Knowing on some foundational level what I’m going to be doing throughout the day is like a cozy heavy jacket. Knowing that I’ll start my day:

  • Drinking coffee
  • Reading a morning devotional
  • Eating breakfast
  • Taking a shower
  • And finishing getting ready

The above minuscule routine can be bliss.

Working as an office manager for an architectural firm, I have little routine. I walk in, most days, not knowing what to except. One week, we could be working on a marketing brochure; the next week, we might be working on a slew of projects on a daily basis. There is no base level routine. Which leaves me on edge.

The sky is the limit.

Sure, I could come into work early, try and establish my own routine. The problem with this solution is that the moment I walk in the door, I am fair game to whomever needs my help. The needs of the firm and all that.

Planning equals paralysis.

Whenever my wife asks me a question about some upcoming event, I mentally freeze up. Something inside just doesn’t want to commit. I want to be free. Screaming with Mel Gibson’s William Wallace, “Freedom!!!” But freedom from what?

Deep down, beyond my deer in the headlight stare I give when asked a planning question, I am a planner. I crave routine. Or at least I crave structure. Give me a solid structural foundation and you can throw anything at me. Anything.

I need to know that my footing is sure. That even as all hell is breaking loose, there is the promise of routine to fall back into.

I feel trapped by those who feel the need to plan and yet, I am a planner. Go figure.

GO: The Application

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Yesterday, I wrote about how persecution led the early church to disperse, thereby fulfilling the Great Commission. How does this apply to us today?

Sometimes We Can Get Comfortable…

Admit it, the church pew that you sit in week-after-week is comfy. The routine of dropping your kids off in children’s church (free babysitting!), enjoying coffee and fellowship in Sunday school, and going through the motions in the main service is familiar. One might call the church routine rather cozy. You know what to expect; you know that nothing uncomfortable is going to happen. If you don’t want to shake hands with someone, you don’t have to. Sure, you may feel spiritually uncomfortable/convicted by the sermon, but church is overall a safe environment where you don’t have to step out of what you know.

Which Keeps Us From Meeting People Where They Live…

I would like to make a bold statement. The people who need Christ the most are not the ones who are going to show up at your local church. Instead, the people who need to hear the Good News are those in our work places and those we meet on the everyday streets of life.

Ever wondered why churches are built where they are? I have. Here in Longview, for instance, we build a good chunk of our churches away from the city’s dividing line, Highway 80. For those that do not live in East Texas, or Longview for that matter, Highway 80 represents a physical shift from the nicer to the older/rougher part of town. The highway itself is filled with strip clubs, homeless, and even prostitutes. All people that need Jesus. So why aren’t more churches built along 80? Ultimately, I think, it boils down to our modern church model. The people who would attend a church located on Highway 80 are not the type who would be able to contribute money on a regular basis for tithe (which keeps the church running). A church located along this line would have to be ran on donations or some other sort of creative model. Not sure how one would accomplish this but the need to meet people where they live is great. No matter what the cost.

But We Are Called To Step Out.

As we saw starting in Acts 5, if we do not step out and go, God will stir up the church and make us go.

What does all of this look like in practice?

  1. Taking on a God-perspective and seeing people as He sees them.
  2. Recognizing that there is a need to tell people about Christ outside of our churches, our comfort zones.
  3. Not only recognizing but also actively doing something about it (the going part). This can be as simple as engaging a co-worker in conversation; this can be has complicated as physically moving overseas to preach the Gospel.
  4. Regardless of location, all Christians are called to share about Christ.

I do not think that there is anything wrong with going to church or sharing life with other believers as the early Christians did in Acts. At some point though, we are supposed to branch out: locally, nationally, globally. Living with the perspective that God has, that there are needs all around us, is hard. I know personally I find it hard to step out of my own life situation. Too often I get bogged down in the day-to-day stuff. As a Christian, I am called to be active, to engage, and to go. For most of us, I don’t think this means suddenly selling all of our possessions and moving overseas. Obedience is the key here as we strive to daily live in obedience to Christ and share Him with those around us.

What do you think?