This is the charge I have for all of us. Well, ok. I stole it from my therapist. But hey, I've got to get something out of my copay, right? (Seriously, y'all, this woman is worth every penny. I'd give her a kidney if she needed it. But not both kidneys, because, you know, mental health.)
Put down our garden hoses.
Let me explain.
We run around this world as if it were on fire. We race to appointments, we check the facebooks, we pay the bills and do what we’re told. We are busy, doing doing doing. We are busy trying to live up to expectations and pass tests and prove ourselves — even in the name of ministry, even — maybe even most often — with the excuse that we are doing this because we are serving God.
We go to the meetings and we neglect our spirits. We attend the functions and we miss out on family dinner. We skip just one sabbath because we had that emergency at the beginning of the week and we didn’t get a good enough sermon done.
We sacrifice our mental health for a deadline. We give up ourselves in the name of pleasing others. Of meeting expectations.
We try to prove to others — and to ourselves — that we’re good enough for the job, for the friendship, for the marriage, for the parenting.
Therapist says it’s as if we are in the middle of a forest fire. And we have this garden hose. And we’re trying to put down the forest fire with a garden hose. And it never really gets us anywhere. It’s not really effective, putting a fire out with a garden hose. But it keeps the fire off of us just enough to make us think that we’re doing what we’re supposed to do. That we’re meeting expectations and earning good marks and pleasing others. And we think that that is what God calls us to.
But I think that God calls us to let it burn.
To let the seed die so that new life can grow.
I think God wants us to drop the garden hose and just let it burn. Burn down our unhealthy expectations, our feelings as though we don’t measure up, even our need for security. Let it burn.
There are these pine cones, from the Lodge Pole Pines. And these cones hold their seeds so tightly that they cannot let them go unless they are under extreme heat. Not a hazy, humid Pittsburgh summer heat, but a scalding, raging forest fire heat.
They need the fire. They need the heat, so new life can grow.
So, Us, let the seed fall to the ground and die. Let the forest burn. Put down the garden hose. Let it burn. So new life can grow.
Model how to do that for your people.
People, model how to do that for each other.
Because Jesus doesn’t call us to become another Christian Organization. Jesus doesn’t need another nonprofit or another church run just like a fortune 500 company.
Jesus wants something completely different. Completely alien to the corporate models and quarterly projections and grade point averages. Jesus wants way more from us than a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. Even more from us than doing all the things that the world tells us to do, but in the name of Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t call us to be “christ flavored.”
Jesus calls us to radical transformation, the kind of transformation that requires a seed to die in order for new life to grow. The kind of transformation that requires that we do the hard work of putting down the garden hose. Radical transformation requires that we drop the hose and wait for new life to grow.
So, Us - in whatever we do, may we do it because it is going to change our hearts, may we do it because it is leading us, and each other to radical transformation.
That is the story of Christ on the Cross.
That is the story of Christ on the third day.
That is the story of all of us, if we seek God, if we let it burn.