Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Dead End (02/06/14)
- TITLE: Let's not Roll the Credits Yet...
By Noel Mitaxa
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(As an aside, my second easiest was devoted to déjà vu. It was called Second Thoughts on Déjà Vu, and every page was the same as the previous one… )
When deadlines or dead ends start breathing down our necks, fun likes to take a vacation; as our attention is drawn to guilt about poor time- management methods or insufficient skills. And have you ever noticed that whatever happens—somebody helpfully declares that they always knew it would? But if they always knew, why not tell us beforehand?
Years of ministry has shown me that one of the great things about faith is learning not to take ourselves too seriously. Not to demean ourselves or to downplay our responsibility; but to give God a little more elbow room in growing our skills and our time-frames.
As single students in our first year at theological college we quickly discovered we had to do our own laundry. Once, while loading a washing machine, a guy behind me was doing his ironing. His sudden lament, “Mum never had this trouble!” made me look around, and I thought, Yep, you’re probably right—for I could see a dying sock being melted into inflexible submission.
About three months later, another single student asked a married student, “How often do you change your sheets?”
As a first-year student preacher, I also visited a Chinese church and got lost (dis-Oriented?) With his very strong accent, the pastor had ushered me to his vestry; from where I emerged. Preaching to a sea of Asian faces, I felt I should use hea-vi-ly lab-oured en-unc-i-at-i-on a-bout Je-sus and his mee-ting (Mee Ting? Was he a previously-unnoticed Chinese observer???) with the Sam-ar-i-tan wo-man. Only for the congregation to thank me afterwards in beautifully modulated English! My lunch that day was cheap but high-cholesterol, mainly from the egg I scraped from my face!
Since those days of innocence I’ve travelled with people through crises that offered no hope, only to see God usher in solutions from the wild blue yonder, but more often from right under our noses—as gentle reminders that he hadn’t run for cover. And when solutions have not come, he has transformed our dead ends into doorways to new blessing and wider blessing than we could ever have imagined from within our own circle of fellowship and influence.
But he’s had lots of practice; such as when Jericho’s might was blocking Israel’s advance into the Promised Land. I can imagine a tribal leader asking, “So Joshua, we destroy Jericho by walking around it for a week? Oi vey, that should work!” And it did.
Or a Philistine who would qualify as a top NBA draft-pick - toppled by a kid with a sling.
The Man of Sorrows also pushed through a few spiritual roadblocks with stories like camels crashing embroidery classes to squeeze through needle-eyes; or removing dust from someone’s eye—while ignoring the plank protruding from your own. All about pricking the pious and giving new dignity to the usual suspects, like shonky accounts clerks or “good” Samaritans.
And while he alone understood it best, he allowed two Emmaus-bound disciples to quiz him: “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what’s happened?” (They later claimed their We Wish We Hadn’t Said That! awards.)
Yet Jesus’ ultimate breakthrough is to overturn the evil whose supreme triumph was to prompt the religious power people to kill him. And whether our mindset would have been to viciously hammer the nails into his hand and feet; or to attend as passive or cowardly spectators; he has morphed the unforgettable shame of this event into our only way of knowing him!
So let’s accept God‘s invitations to give him more time; and to laugh at ourselves - before others do it for us...
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