Monday, August 13, 2012

Making the Jump...

Will you make the jump?

I love movies; I probably watch thirty movies a year. Some new, some old, but movies speak to me. I love learning life lessons in unexpected places. In the blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises there comes a point where Bruce Wayne finds himself in the bottom of a pit that houses a prison. The only way out is to climb up a sheer rock face to a ledge, and then make an impossible leap to freedom. The legend holds that hundreds of prisoners have strapped on the safety rope, climbed the side of the pit to the ledge and leapt and none of ever made the jump. They then hang by the safety rope and, after slamming into the side of the rock, are lowered by into the prison. In the history of the prison only one person, a young child who climbed out of a desperate desire to escape, ever made the jump. That child made the leap without the safety rope…

Our churches and our lives are like the pit. We know there is a better way but the way up seems insurmountable. We can see the sunlight streaming in from above and imagine what it must be like to feel its warmth surround us, our necks grow sore from looking at what could be while enduring what is. We wish. We hope. We dream, but mostly we just remain in the pit. Eventually the pit is all we know. It becomes uncomfortably comfortable. Its familiarity because the way things must be and soon we forget that there is a better life above us in the world of the sun. Actually, we eventually so value our place in the pit that whenever somebody seeks to climb out we secretly hope he or she fails so we can be affirmed in our justification not to climb. So we sit in our pit.

So how do we get the courage to climb? First we have to want the better life. Then we have to be willing to leave the safety rope on the floor. Lastly we have to make the jump with abandon.

For churches we have to believe that God’s preferred future is in front of us, and not that our best days are behind us. When we spend all of our energy relishing the memories instead of making new ones we deny that there is a better world for us. We preserve building, institutions, and practices that have outlived their original mission and function. We decide that life in the pit isn’t so bad and that perhaps dying in the pit is preferable to dying from the risk of the fall. We die on the inside while attempting to preserve the outside.

We have to leave the safety rope on the floor. Wherever God is calling you is not “safe.” Now I thoroughly believe the safest place we can be is in the very center of God’s will, but that is not what “regular people,” people in the pit, consider safe. In the movie there was plenty of preparation and care taken before the climb, but in the end, the climb had to be made without the rope to insure that the climber would be sufficiently motivated to make the jump with abandon. We want to follow God’s will only if we already know the desired outcome. I thoroughly believe we have to prepare. We have to learn as much as we can, pray as much as we can, and discern as much as we can but eventually there comes a time to climb. If we strap on the safety rope we are holding back from obeying God completely. As the old hymn reminds us, we are called to “surrender all,” not surrender small. Only then will God bless us more that we can ever ask or think.

We desire God’s future, we make the climb without the rope, but we are not done, because we still have to make the jump.  Anticipation and fear mix together in a time of great anxiety. In the Old Testament there is a great phrase. When somebody is called to do something big, way beyond what they think they are capable of doing, they “gird up their loins.” I love that phrase, in the “Marty translation” it means to “pull up your big boy pants.” There is a moment in every church, in the life of every Christian, where they have to decide to jump or to settle for the pit.

I think its time to jump. I have come to the place where I’d rather die from the fall, than die from indifference. Are you ready to jump?

Consumed by the Call,
Pastor Marty

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