The time has come.
My Seattle Seahawks are again marching forward to war.
Every year, we go through this. We microanalyze the meaningless preseason games, discuss the September cutdowns to death, scrutinize every bit of offseason literature coming out of the city media, all in pursuit of one haunting question…do the Seahawks have a chance this year?
And every year, we Christians think about “that thing”. That breakthrough or victory or miracle or answer to prayer that we’re hoping for.
Maybe this will be the year that chronic illness finally goes into remission. The year you get out of debt. The year you get engaged. The year that gripping sin on your spouse finally gives way. Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want to see; you’re just hoping things will “get better” somehow.
Steven Furtick has a sermon called “Don’t Stop on Six”. It’s one of my favorites. The reference is to how the Israelites were commanded to march around Jericho seven times before releasing a shout, and how they would have missed the miracle had they stopped on the sixth lap. I love an inspirational sermon every once in a while, and “Don’t Stop on Six” is one of my favorites.
And yet…it makes me uneasy.
It makes me uneasy because, while I know this stuff has a place in the Christian faith, it’s not supposed to be the core. Too many churches lean full-on inspirational and spout this stuff 24/7. “You’re closer than you think” is an all-too-common cliche; it gets people perched on a perpetual cliff of anticipation, causing them to defer their joy to something in the future and weighing heavier on their hearts year after year as the dreams fail to appear, because these churches blindly affirm every dream and prayer instead of training them to ask God what he’s planning to do.
Instead, Christianity really takes off in your heart when you’re willing to ask, “This might be the year…but what if it’s not?”
I ask this question often. Some of it is actually mere doubt, which is why some occasional Furtick is probably good for me. But some of it is just guarding my heart. I know my faith isn’t about the “goodies”, as generous as God may be.
I ask the question – “what if it’s not?” – and over the years it has generated such answers as:
“Go spread the Gospel.” (Thousands plunge daily into hell while we ask God for our own comforts.)
“Is your own sin amongst the enemies you seek to defeat?”
“God’s timing is brilliant. You must learn to love it.”
“What do you already have that you’re neither utilizing nor giving thanks for?”
Maybe this will be your year. I pray it is. (And in case you’re wondering, the Seahawks’ recent trade for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has me predicting a 13-3 record.)
But if not…
…then we have work to do anyway.
May we find our joy in him and his work.
And there is so much to be found.