I’m re-posting this because: a. It came up in conversation with some friends this week, and b. It’s very timely for our church right now. I hope you enjoy it.
It happened again last week, as it has many, many times before: I was driving home late one afternoon, heading east on SW 112 St., aka historic Killian Dr. (What – you didn’t know it was historic? … That’s for another blog.)
Suddenly a tiny little head popped up on my windshield, attached to the body of one of those ubiquitous little Florida brown anoles. He was perched on the driver’s side windshield wiper looking quite surprised, and not real happy, to be on the outside of this enormous moving contraption looking in.
As I say, this happens to me fairly frequently. I park my van under a tree in my highly coveted “Reserved for Pastor” parking space. In addition to being a sweet perk to my job, that apparently is a very desirable resting place for our little lizard friends. I would estimate that I have one along as a passenger maybe once a week.
Dr. Doolittle got nuthin’ on me
At this point I need to tell you something about myself that you probably don’t know: I am one who understands the thoughts of animals. No, really.
I am fluent in canine: “Hi! I am so glad to see you! Pet me! Play with me! Let me be your buddy and I will love you with all my heart forever! I’m hungry! And by the way, I am so glad to see you!”
I’m conversant in feline: “Feed me. Change my litter box so I can mess it up again. Now leave me alone. And by the way, you’ve been sleeping in my place.”
(I have long understood that in order to maintain balance, every man who has a dog to worship him should have a cat to ignore him. But I digress.)
Moment of truth
Inevitably, whenever one of my little reptile friends hitches a ride on my windshield, there comes a moment of truth. It’s usually about the time I’m heading up the Palmetto, attaining assigned cruising speed of 6- um … 55 MPH. Just as the signs say. As I’m reaching my top speed, the little stowaway, still hanging on – whatever kind of adhesive they have on their tiny feet, it’s impressive – will take a few steps up the windshield, look at me and say:
“I don’t know what’s going on here, but this is definitely not how I intended to spend my afternoon. There I was, resting on this nice, smooth surface, sleeping soundly in the shade, and next thing I know – I’m experiencing some serious wind resistance and watching the world go by. Fast. Whassup?”
I will then explain he’s on my van, I didn’t know he was there, I’m heading home, etc. He’ll say something like, “Whatever – I didn’t sign up for this. I’m outtahere.”
To which I will reply, urgently: “NO!!! You do NOT want to do that. You may think you don’t like being where you are, but believe me, it beats the alternative.”
At which point he’ll usually make his way over to the side of the windshield or up toward the top, take a leap or just lose his grip. Either way the result is the same, which is ….
Well. I can’t be certain, as I continue driving at … um, exactly the speed limit … but I’m fairly sure it isn’t pretty. Once in a while, though, the story has a happier ending.
This was one of those times.
More than he bargained for
Same circumstances: Heading for home; stowaway rears his head; cruising speed attained; bailout sequence commenced. Passenger tells me he is not along for the ride, this isn’t what he bargained for, etc.
“Look, you may have thought you had just found a shady spot for a little siesta, but you actually climbed aboard a Ford E-150, with a 4.2 liter V-8 engine and 225 horsepower. This thing is big, it’s powerful, it’s fast, and it’s been hauling my carcass around for a lot of years. I know it’s more than you bargained for, but – if you abandon ship now, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t like where you end up.
“If you’ll hang in there with me, stay on board and not bail … I’ll take you home with me. I’ll take you to my house. It’s a yard flowing with … well, not milk and honey, exactly, but bougainvillea and cherry hedges and Dutchman’s pipe and lantana and all the bugs you can eat. What do you say?”
He eyeballed me for another minute or so, and then … flattened down against the windshield and stayed on board. He stayed there all the way to my driveway. In what could only be considered a bit of irony, it began to rain just as I got to my street. I reflexively reached for the windshield wiper switch, but caught myself just in time.
I parked, turned off the van, told my little friend, “Welcome to your new home!”, and watched as he scampered off to enjoy his new surroundings.
I hope he eats a lot of bugs. Especially mosquitoes.
Not really a lizard tale
In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m not really talking about carrying a lizard from my office to my home, although it really did happen.
A lot of people want to join the church, thinking it’ll be a nice, safe refuge from the cares and strife of life in Miami. They then go through classes where they hear over and over that church membership is a two-way street. That as members they will be expected to take part in the life of the church. That the pastor and the other elders will work hard to train and equip them – but they will need to step up and actually do the ministry of the church (Ephesians 4:11-13). That their involvement begins, but does not end, with faithfully, wholeheartedly participating in Sunday morning worship (Psalm 29:1-2). That if they will get engaged in the heartbeat of God’s work in the local Body of Christ, the end result is that they will one day be presented to the Lord as “complete in Christ” (Colossians 1:28-29).
Better not to get started
They are told that if they don’t intend to do this, no harm, no foul – just don’t join. Just keep attending as non-members. But if they do join, they say yes to a covenant vow before God and His people that says, in part:
· Do you promise to support this church in its worship of God and in its ministry to the best of your ability?
And yet it happens with astounding frequency: Many people, not long after becoming members, realizing the Church is a big, powerful thing that has been around long before they came on the scene, will be around long after they’re gone, is going places and doing things … raise their heads, startled, and say, basically: “Dude – I didn’t sign on for this. I was just looking for a nice, smooth place to rest in the shade. I’m outtahere.”
The end result is … well, you get the idea.
Worth it in the end
My encouragement to those who – even though they feel the movement and experience the wind resistance, and realize this thing is way bigger, stronger, and faster than they expected, still hang in there – is this: Hold on. It may be rough from time to time, you may experience some serious G’s and possibly even some motion sickness, but where we’re headed makes it all worthwhile. Our Lord, the Head of the Church, the Driver of this vehicle, promised:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms;
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I am going there to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back
and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going,
so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Glad to have you along for the ride,