While driving to Bellevue Washington to pass the time, I decided to measure the worth of my life as a minister. Or at least I tried to measure some of the fruit associated with my existence. When stuck in traffic, I often multitask with introspection. That way I can feel a sense of futility about both my commute and my accomplishments.
As my tires slowly rotated forward, I began to compartmentalize and categorize the worth of all this “doing” that defines my life. Now I’d like to claim that I was doing this in a spirit of prayer or within the context of a conversation with God, but for most of the drive I didn’t actually pause for God’s feedback. In fact, I didn’t even look in His direction for a smile or a nod.
Instead, I behaved like a long lost friend who is so enthralled with the fascinating details of his own soliloquy he forgets to acknowledge the audience who is forced to listen. May I note that no one is being forced to read this post. However, I appreciate your willingness to endure the occasional soliloquy. So were was I. . . ah yes, “To be or not to be? That is the question.”
So I’m slowly driving to Bellevue and I’m multitasking by trying to measure the worth of my life. As I am a positive person by habit, I tried to first look at all the good in my life, all the success stories. Sure enough, people and events came to my mind that brought me a certain sense of satisfaction. I began to take note of specific lives restored, marriages healed, and families renewed. I was reminded of the names and faces associated with ministry done well. It gave me momentary comfort to pause and appreciate the good fruit of ministry.
However, I wasn’t satisfied in just measuring the “successes” of my labor. I also began to look at the “failings.” Immediately, a long list of shortcomings began to rise within me. I considered the people I should have called and visited more. I lamented my inability to be the pastor or friend they needed. I thought about all the people who left our church dissatisfied with how I pastored and cared for them.
And then there were the present concerns; all the tasks I have not completed, all the goals I have not accomplished, all the ways I have not followed through. People I dearly love came to mind. Genuine remorse and mourning filled the car as I counted all the ways I have failed those entrusted to my care.
For a moment, the weight of my failings seemed unbearable. In judging the fruit of my existence, I felt as if I could not stand. For along with every validating good work, there were hundreds of condemning failures. No matter how I ran the numbers or measured the scales, I could not fix the equation. When it comes to the fruit of my life, I am a man in need of immeasurable grace. Without grace, I simply cannot stand.
Fortunately, the traffic was particularly thick that day. So I had a few extra miles to move beyond my mournful conclusion. Although I certainly need grace, God did not allow that observation to be my sermon illustration for the day. Instead, He had a different agenda in mind.
His agenda was less complicated. His purposes were simple, straightforward, and surprisingly achievable. For a moment, I stopped my spiritual monologue and I tried to actually listen. Or at least I tried to discern what I must do in light of all my sins, shortcomings, and failings.
The answer I received was simple. “Well then Doug. . . I guess you better dance. Dance before the Lord. Dance with all your might. Offer yourself as the sacrifice. Dance before the Lord and maybe, just maybe, others will begin to dance as well!”
Whether you are on the mountaintop or in the pit today, I want to encourage you to join me. Dance before your creator. Yield your gifts to the glory of the Lord. You might not please everyone, but you’ll please your heavenly Father.