Willow Creek has Done it Again (part II)

29 12 2010

I just realized that the Willow Creek Christmas message I blogged about is online!  Not quite as powerful watching it on-screen versus being there live, but you’ll get the idea pretty quick.

Check out the link below:


Willow Creek has Done it Again

28 12 2010

I left work at the counseling center early to be there, and as the lights dimmed, the music began, and images of Mary and Joseph flashed on the screen, I was glad I did.  The drama unfolded and I was transported into a dark world of anxiety, worry, pain, and fear that matched where I was emotionally at the time.

I felt something in my gut, I was being stirred, and I could tell a storm was brewing.  Tears were a few moments away, and through shortened breaths I sat back and held on tight for the onslaught of emotion.  Mary and the Angel were acting out Luke chapter 1 and fighting back and forth through disbelief, fear, anxiety, worry, and anger.  Mary finally reaches a place of acceptance and submission and saying, “I am the lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).

The theme of the Christmas service at Willow Creek Church this year was Do Not Be Afraid -Yeah Right!

Given where I am right now, how could I not be afraid!  I am in a place of taking a huge step of faith and doing things I would not normally do on the belief that I am being prompted by God to do them, and in addition I am supposed to be fearless about it?!?

Through my reactivity, I found myself drawn more and more to Mary, feeling a deep sense of connection with her fear, anxiety, disbelief, and obedience to all that was happening around her. I came to appreciate in a new way the divine orchestration involved in the story of Jesus’ birth:

  • The Wiseman hearing the call and showing up, rallying around Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus showing their respect, admiration, and support.
  • The Angel of the Lord guiding and directing the people to be in the right places at the right time.
  • The raw courage and strength of Mary and Joseph to believe the impossible and act out of obedience and faith rather than out of their own will.

Through my tears I was asking:

  • Would do that in my life?
  • I am that important to God?
  • In what ways is he doing this already?
  • What is going on behind the scenes that I don’t know about?
  • In what areas of my life do I need to choose trust over fear?

After asking those questions and fully feeling my fear, anxiety and worry, a strange thing happened, I felt:

  • Relief– as the angel suggested; I could chose to not be afraid.
  • Joy– being reminded of the complexity of how God works, and how it’s not for me to understand what’s going on, rather for me to be obedient and simply do what I am being asked to do.
  • Peace– I was connected to the story and myself in ways that I had not yet experienced.

Their fear mirrored my own, their experience of being asked to believe and do the unthinkable mirrored my own, and their obedience in the face of great odds mirrored my own.  I was comforted because just as they were ok in the story, so was I.  I had the overwhelming sense that no matter what happens in my life that I have been given or will be given the tools, the resources, and the support around me to grow, thrive, and flourish under any circumstances.  I was fully alive in my fear and knew that the next step in my personal growth is to give and receive love more freely; I felt loved by God after that experience.

The Good Fight

8 11 2010

I wish I could claim authorship of this amazing piece of text, but I must give credit to Paulo Coelho for writing the Good Fight as a part of his book The Pilgrimage. Copied below are excerpts from the text that have inspired me on a daily basis to keep fighting the good fight, the fight that the world requires of me to live to my fullest potential each day.  I hope it will serve you too as you strive to live a principled life of passion.

The journey, which prior to this was torture because all you wanted to do was get there, is now beginning to become a pleasure.  It is the pleasure of searching and the pleasure of an adventure.  You are nourishing something that’s very important—your dreams…

We must never stop dreaming.  Dreams provide the nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body.  Many times in our lives we see out dreams shattered and our desires frustrated, but we have to continue dreaming.  If we don’t, our soul dies and agape (love) cannot reach it (because we have ceased fighting the good fight).

The good fight is the one we fight because our heart asks it of us.  In the heroic ages- at the times of the knights in armor- this was easy… Today, though, the world has changed a lot, and the good fight has shifted from the battlefields to the fields within ourselves.

The good fight is the one that’s fought in the name of our dreams.  When we’re young and our drams first explode inside us with all of their force, we are very courageous, but we haven’t yet learned ho to fight.  With great effort, we learn how to fight, but then we no longer have the courage to go into combat.  So we turn against ourselves and do the battle within.  We become our own worst enemy.  We say that our dreams are too childish, or too difficult to realize, or the result of our not having known enough about life.  We kill our dreams because we are afraid to fight the good fight.

The first symptom of the process of our killing our dreams is the lack of time.  The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything.  Thos who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do.  They complain constantly that their day is too short.  The truth is, they are afraid to fight the good fight.

The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties.  Because we don’t want to see life a s a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life.  We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors.  But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those who are engaged in the battle.  For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are fighting the good fight.

And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our drams is peace.  Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give.  In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement.  We are surprised when people out age say that they still want this or that of life.  But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams—we have refused to fight the good fight.

When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility.  But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being.  We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves… What we sought to avoid in combat—disappointment and defeat—come upon us because of our cowardice.  And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breath, and we actually seek death.  Its death that frees us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of out Sunday afternoons…

You, too, have to learn how to fight the good fight… The only way we can rescue our dreams is by being generous with ourselves.  Any attempt to inflict self-punishment—no matter how subtle it may be—should be dealt with rigorously.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the change to draw back, always ineffectiveness.  Concerning all acts of initiative and creations, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s face all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.  Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.  Begin now!