The paper crinkled everytime I moved; the flimsy gown barely covered my backside; and the cold stethescope caught my hypochondriac mind…”So what’s been going on in your life?” the doctor asked.
“Hmmm, not much…well…its my first Christmas as a pastor…and before that my wife and I bought our first house, ’cause we just moved to town, and I just started my new job. Let’s see, before that we were living in my parents’ basement for 6 weeks as I was “unemployed.” Oh yeah, and this past spring I was diagnosed with a melanoma and went through that treatment…and our first kid was born this past February.”
Suddenly the doctor stopped his physical examination, looked at me and said–“Well, I know what’s causing this…its called ‘stress.'”
Stress can do two things in our lives.
Either we dig in, plant our feet in the ground and grit our teeth…or we get ready to move. If we stubbornly choose the first, the pressure will continue to mount and it will inevitably result in a stress fracture. If we choose the later, we are motivated to embrace and experience the unexpected.
John Ortberg writes,
“Consider the difference between piloting a motorboat or a sailboat. We can run a motorboat all by ourselves. We can fill the tank and start the engine. We are in control. But a sailboat is a different story. We can hoist the sails and steer the rudder, but we are utterly dependent on the wind. The wind does the work. If the wind doesn’t blow–and sometimes it doesn’t–we sit still in the water no matter how frantic we act. Our task is to do whatever enables us to catch the wind.”
This is our task–to hoist the sails and catch the wind.
This is what Jesuit priests are good at; they are said to live with one-foot-up. They are prepared to move on God’s move. This allowed them to bring the Gospel to the untouched areas of China, to form hospitals, to start colleges. They can hoist their sails preparing for the Spirit to blow, because they have mastered a “healthy indifference” as it relates to the pressures that weigh us down: our stuff, mortgages, debts, job titles, and paychecks. And this Healthy Indifference allows them not to be stressed about today but to embrace the mission they are designed for.
Last year, at a men’s gathering I heard DREDD ask two questions:
- “If money were no issue, what would you do with your life?”
- “If there were no social constraints around you, what would you do?”
As he spoke, and I surveyed my life, I realized that I had almost run the thing into ground early in life. The stress experienced 7 years earlier, which had left me in a doctor’s office, had propelled me to make small movements that slowly hoisted my sail and inevitably led me to do the very thing I have always dreamt of doing. While its certainly not easy, in fact there are times when it is just hard to hold on, but as I am riding the chaotic waves, my ears are no longer filled with the crinkling paper of an exam room, but the rushing wind of the Spirit moving me forward.