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An Heroic Ministry
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Fuller Youth Institute, US
Sophia Network, UK
Stuck in a rut?
I need to share a secret with you. I am afraid of one thing in particular. It isn’t spiders, other members of the creepy crawly brigade or even nasty rodents. (Having spent my university summers working on a farm where the rats wore leather jackets and Dr Marten’s I’m a bit of a brave one when it comes to those things!) I’m not even afraid of getting older! That would be all too obvious as a list of fears.
What I am afraid of, more than anything else is getting stuck in a rut! Think back to the time when you were a little younger in your following of Christ. Do you remember when what you read about Jesus caused you to make some incredibly radical choices and brave decisions - the kind of stuff that becomes the stories that sells the books and fills auditoriums.
We look back on those times with incredible affection – they were the days when we really were up for anything. God could send us to a distant land, or the poorest community at home. We would give a year without a moments hesitation. We would commit to people who were so different to us because we had heard the words of Christ to ‘go’, to go to the margins, to be friends with the poor, to work with the young people that no-one else would.
Yet, through the days of our lives we can get well and truly stuck in a rut; a rut of routine and of being ‘average’. As time passes and as we immerse ourselves in the ‘job’ of being a follower of Christ, we lose our edginess and end up living off the stories of the past rather than the energising reality of ‘doing’ what we were originally called to be, right now, here in the present.
We get kidnapped by the values of the age; success, notoriety, that size matters, the pursuit of a comfortable lifestyle, the right insurance policy, or the mortgage repayments. And before you know it – bam! – you are in a rut! Sadly, the easiest thing for us to do is to stay in it. But choosing to stay in it will have the effect of paralysing us. The best thing for us to do for the sake not only of our own sense of well-being but also our ongoing adventure with God is to be very intentional about getting out of it.
How do we do this? It all seems to begin when something happens in your circumstances or someone crosses your path who reminds you that there is a whole world and mission beyond what you are currently doing. Then you need to take action.
Firstly, get in to some peer mentoring dynamics with just a few well-chosen people. Allow these people to niggle and question you on the things that lie at the heart of who you are. To be perfectly blunt with you, you really do only appreciate the difference this dynamic makes when you are in it.
Secondly, cut the talk! The time for simply talking about how great things were ‘back then’ and the constant talk of the ‘if only things were different now’ is over. The real change and rekindling of passion comes when you begin to actually act. For some of us that might mean choosing to mentor a young person very intentionally, or beginning a new initiative, or even changing job or location. Whatever it is, small or large, the change only really happens when we act upon the impulse. And when we do, something in our hearts and souls is re-envisioned – as if God is whispering to us again that this is what he made us for and we become more fully alive.
So many of us have untapped hopes and dreams inside of us that are bursting to get out but we never quite get round to checking these out in reality. I often get asked by other people what they should do with their lives. Unsurprisingly, I don’t have any special link to God on this stuff – after all, I’m trying to work it out for myself and that is tough enough. But, I have a line I often use which certainly isn’t a throw away comment, more a statement of faith, which is ‘Hey, what’s the worst that could happen?’
Finally, read the Bible, revisiting the big story of God again and again. When we do, we allow God, in his grace, to let it churn us up inside. It should make us feel uncomfortable and agitated. Write about it. Keep a journal of your thoughts and questions. Revisit the things you write, spot the patterns and ask God to illuminate the way forward.
So, no pressure, just intentionally pursuing the God who loves us, who made us, sustains us and longs that we might fully become who we were created to be, a fully-fledged participant in the transformation of people and communities. Now surely it is worth getting out of a rut for that?
Jill Rowe is the Oasis Community and Church Development Director, UK
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