Something very significant happened to me, on December 29, 2013, while I watched the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, with my wife and daughter.
Walter, played by Ben Stiller, daydreamed of doing some pretty courageous acts, but in real life Walter played it safe. He struggled to step out in courage to make the daydreams a reality. His life was made up of dry routines.
But this time as the stakes become higher, Walter stepped out and practiced the virtue of courage. One action at a time, from jumping from a helicopter in shark-infested waters, to climbing a mountain, Walter was changed into the man he always wished of. And with this transformation, it seemed as if he became the man that he was meant to be.
I need to say at this point that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was not a great movie. But in a very strange way, I thought entered my mind that “You are a lot like the safe Walter Mitty”. And with that revelation, I knew I needed to make some significant changes in my life.
Have you watched a movie/ t.v. show, or read a book and found yourself connected to a character? As if you were them?
Back in 2007, I was obsessed with following Jesus and leading others on that same journey. I look back on those days often. There was a fire within that burned so brightly that some people were drawn to that fire, and others were scared and moved away from it. In those days, I didn’t care so much about what people thought of me. I wouldn’t let anyone or anything stop me from following the Jesus that is the Scriptures. Looking back, I miss that Paul.
Everyday was full of possibilities and I surely wasn’t going to waste them.
But it all changed…
In mid-2008, I was diagnosed with Lymphoma, and everything changed. Here is the short version. After the 6-Months of treatments, the cancer was declared in remission. I was alive, but was left with a broken body physically and emotionally. In the years that followed, I did everything that I could to rebuild my life and return to who I was before the cancer. As time went on, I realized that I was never going back to normal. I had to come to grips with the new normal.
Instead of living a vibrant life as a cancer-survivor, I turned inward, playing it safe for the past few years. I probably should show myself some grace. I’m still physically broken, dealing with severe lung damage and a compromised immune-system from the chemotherapy.
There are good days and bad days physically, and on the bad days, it is very difficult to function. There is nothing I can do about the bad days. But the good days, that is a whole another story. On my good days, I have been playing it safe. And this is what God was trying to speak to me about. I have been making the good days about me. It feels like I have been God my leftovers.
Do you give your best to God? Or do you give him your leftovers?
I have a really good life:
- I have an awesome wife and 3 beautiful children.
- Our church is going growing like crazy and is very healthy.
- I’m involved in a multi-church collaborative network.
- I serve in various ways in our denominational district.
- I have some hobbies that allow me to have fun.
It’s all good. But it’s all safe.
I am not who I am meant to be. None of us are who we are meant to be yet. Life is a journey.
And this journey has taken me to place for a decision of what I am going to do with the rest of my life. Am I going to continue to play it safe and live this “it’s all good” life? Or is it time for a change? I believe the following list indicates that God has led me to a major shift in perspective.
So here are my hopes for 2014:
- To know Jesus Passionately – to be set ablaze with the passion to follow the radical revolutionary Jesus that is found in the Scriptures with my everything. No more dry routines.
- To Know Who I Am – to pursue who I am in Christ. I am his beloved. I need to shed the false identity of a watered-down, self-centered American christian, and to be a disciple of Jesus that following so close to Jesus that I am covered with the dust of my Rabbi.
- To engage in new and current relationships that will encourage me, will remind me of my identity in Christ, and will keep me accountable.
- To embrace my Spiritual gifts:
- Apostle – at Journey through our Visioning Process currently underway and through sermons, teachings, and conversations; also through consulting work at other churches (see below).
- Prophet – through blogging by addressing controversial issues and Christian cultural problems. Also through graceful conversations, and sermons/teaching at Journey.
- Teacher – through sermons and teaching at Journey with more emphasis on context and history. Continuing to learn how to be a better communicator.
- And to show grace to those that disagree with what I say and do.
- To Make Him Known – To lead my family and my church in three pursuits knowing Jesus and knowing who we are in Christ, and making Him known. To be courageous – to push outside my comfort zone by:
- Starting a Church Vision Consultant Company (Ignite Church Vision Consultants).
- Blogging at least 3 times a week, sharing my heart and passions.
- Living as a missionary – loving people in the context that God has placed me. There is a lot more that I can say about this, but I will leave them for another blog post.
- To laugh much more often & to be even more geeky.
There you have it. I know it was a long journey just to get to my hopes for 2014.
What are your hopes for 2014?
How does God reveal to you what He wants you to be and to do?