Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Migration: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

The "Migration" posts are actually much older articles I wrote for the church @ hickory hollow e-newsletter back almost 10 years ago. I've edited them a bit for clarity (and because some of them just needed an editor!)... and in this case, substantially rewritten the end of the article to reflect 8+ years of experience.

I'm not always a big martial arts movie buff, but Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is more of a cross between an 'artsy film' & a 'martial arts flick'. Either way, it kept me entertained the other night - sure beat the heck out of The Mummy Returns, which I'd also rented.


I actually have a reason for bringing up Crouching Tiger... the fight scenes in it were spell-binding in their speed and grace. Blocking one blow after another, deflecting kicks & lunges & punches, parrying with spears & swords & whatever else they can find... all at a lightning pace.

But, of course, someone has to win, so one opponent would surprise the other and deliver an incredible blow. Stunning not only in its physical power but also in the raw shock of being hit.

Feels a little like life, huh? Blocking one thing after another from hurting you and your family, fending off creditors & bosses & people bent on irritating you for no good reason, parrying the verbal thrusts of gossip, lies & anger...

...and then someone/something blind-sides you. Hits you with incredible force, knocking you off your balance, setting you up to be hit again... and again... and again...

Why? Well, I'm not sure I have the be-all and end-all answer to this one... but I do know what's meant the most to me the past few days. Shari told me about it following her quiet time (read: time spent praying & studying the Bible) earlier this week... it's a quote from Beth Moore:
"The enemy can't squelch the power of God so he tries to disable the people of God."
And the verse she quotes is from one of Paul's letter (2nd Corinthians 1):
"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."
Paul was, in the language of martial arts & schoolyard brawls, getting the poop kicked out of him. Read it... "great pressure", "far beyond our ability to endure", "despaired even of life", "felt the sentence of death". That's not just a bad hair day.

But the issue for Paul was so he could rely on God... and the issue Beth Moore raises parallels that: Satan would LOVE for us to believe that our lousy circumstances & the below-the-belt punches of life mean that God is gone and/or doesn't care... so we might as well give up.

When I originally wrote this post (back in the Spring of 2002!), I was freaked out about our church plant moving our services to Saturday nights in order to save $ on renting facilities. For me, it felt like one thing after another had imploded or exploded on me... and the temptation to sit down & give up was huge. What I wrote was:
But I still believe God is doing something special here in our authentic Biblical community, and that letting myself be disabled in the process means I'll miss out on it. I'm not going there.

Don't you go there.
As Paul Harvey used to say, "Now for the... rest of the story." 6 months later, the church @ hickory hollow closed. I went on to work the phone for JC Penney catalog sales & sleeve/stack videos for a fulfillment company. As you can probably guess, this is was not the "something special" from God I had anticipated.

But in that same time period, I had an incredible renewal of my calling to ministry & my desire to live for Christ. That personal revival got me ready to meet the incredible folks @ Easton Southern Baptist Church (now known as NewLife Community Church) where I've been pastor for almost 7 years.

And in those intervening years, I've been privileged to see how God has led a number of the key folks from the church @ hickory hollow to places of healing, restoration & leadership. God has done something special... just not the way I'd planned to see it happen.

BTW, anyone want to watch Enter the Dragon with me? :-)

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