Just some random thoughts this Tuesday...
Last night, Michael, my new son-in-law (who by the way is now out of warranty since he and Jane have been married for 90+days... can't be returned for full refund) and Jane were coming over for dinner and a movie. So I fired up the grill, plopped on the beef and set about to prep the fresh squash for grilling.
And as I watched, the bright yellow flames went south! Yep, out of gas, something I knew was coming. Phyllis had sorta prophesied it. So leaving the meat on the grill (it has a cover) I grabbed the extra tank and headed to the mile-away Tom Thumb convenience store. I'd just been there an hour before renting Invictus at the Redbox. But I wheeled in, popped inside, swiped my debit card, exchanged my empty Blue Rhino tank for a filled one and was back home and grilling again in 15 - maybe even 10 - minutes.
Wham-bam. Thank you mam.
I - as the consummate consumer - adore the whole quick-quick process: bottled gas, a movie, close by, in-and-out and while there I could have gotten whatever else I've ever needed. Even better than Wal-Mart or Lowe's, because at Wal-Mart or Lowe's it would have taken me almost half and hour just to go through the process to get the Blue Rhino exchanged. And Lowe's doesn't have a Redbox.
(And I know all sorts of people are talking about this regarding church, but I can't seem to resist shooting myself in the foot, so here goes...)
So there you have it: CONVENIENCE, COMFORT, SAFETY. All the things I rant against in Church and in Missions.
Many folks look for church like they look for a Tom Thumb store:
- Good parking
- Easy access
- Variety of products -
- Blue Rhino for the dad's grill,
- Redbox for the family entertainment,
- Chips and salsa inside
- Somewhat friendly personnel who at least know how to unlock the secure area where the Blue Rhino gas tanks are stored and work the cash register
And of course, me being me, asks the question (about church, not Tom Thumb): "Where's the Cross? Where's the sacrifice? Where's the Mission?"
Now, don't get me wrong: I love having the convenience of a Tom Thumb near my house, with the mail delivered to my front door and Publix and Winn-Dixie and CVS and Wal-Mart all really close. And I like my electricity working all the time and clean water from the tap. When I have a choice between convenience and inconvenience, I choose convenience. Hands down. No contest.
But when I think about Gospel, and Kingdom, and Mission, I think of costs not convenience; cost in terms of money, time, sweat, effort, skin and blood.
And not just mine but Jesus'.
I cry when I hear people answer the question "What did you learn most while you were on your missions trip?" and they answer, "How really blessed we are" with an undertone of "and I'm not ever going back."
Does it take inconvenience in our lives and poverty and lack in the lives of others for us to see our blessings?
(OK Hatcher, suck it up and shut up!)
My heroes are those who count the cost and walk away from all the coolness and the comfort of our world and accept the challenges and pain of the rest of the world. And they do it, not for the adventure of two weeks in a novel setting, but for the Gospel for a long inconvenient time. They go accepting the frustration and time-consumption as part of the "Go-package" of being sent by God on His Mission.
These heroes look like Jesus to me.
I know, I'll shut up and stop by Tom Thumb on my way home.