I was sitting in a vehicle in the parking lot of a local hospital waiting for my wife who had an appointment in the medical wing of the hospital. I was taking advantage of an hour of peace and quiet, of an hour to just be still and even do some reading. I had a new book that had arrived in the mail a month or two earlier and began reading it. Did not stay ‘still’ long.
Normally I would head in to the hospital and find the coffee shop, buy a coffee and find a person sitting alone and ask if I could join them at their table. As the coffee shop there is always crowded and very busy this is an acceptable thing and most say yes and conversations are fairly easy to start at that point. People in hospital or visiting loved one who are in the hospital are eager to share their story. But this day I just felt it would be good to read and spend some time in my favourite passtime – reading. Just leave me alone and let me read. I was not interested in challenges and living on the edge being out there witnessing another time (as much as I enjoy witnessing). I was feeling overwhelmed and this was going to be a calm harbor in a stormy season of life for this small ship.
But I brought the wrong book if I wanted to simply be still and chill out. It was a book on evangelistic principles based on experiences that the two authors have had since they were saved and began telling others the exciting news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Experiences – the good, the bad, and the ugly ones. Some of their experiences (adventures – as they call them) are really funny and some are profoundly moving. The principles or lessons they draw out of the experiences they relate to the reader of the book are always profound and practical, doable.
I realized shortly after cracking the cover (harder to do when it is a paperback) that this was a seriously dangerous book – dangerous to the devil and his domain and to my current fleeting (pun intended – fleet – ship in harbor) desire to “just chill” for a while. It was going to be a life-changing book – one that motivates, encourages, and sets the reader on fire with fresh passion and determination.
Here is what one of the authors wrote right near the start of this wonderful book…
“At the edge of expectation is where we are meant to live life. When we tell God, “Please surprise me with opportunities to tell others about you,” we can have the confidence that he will take us on white-knuckle adventures that will make an eternal impact on others while at the same time giving us the thrills of a lifetime. It’s the difference between a numb life of predictability and an exhilarating series of divine ‘coincidences.'” (Lee Strobel – page 14 The Unexpected Adventure)
Recently I have lived, in many ways, a “numb life of predictability.” Too many demands and too much work and so little, if any, time to engage others in a discussion about the Lord and all that He has to offer. Oh, if the opportunity is really there – I mean, this comment or encounter is really too good to pass up – fine, I’ll share and jump in. But, I have not been praying for more opportunities, daily opportunities. I’m busy – overwhelmed – and its all important stuff. Deadlines and due dates, meetings and appointments, events, activities, responsibilities, a crisis here and there… so, if the door really opens I will walk through and tell others about Jesus but I was not currently praying about God opening doors. I was not daily seeking for opportunities to tell others about Jesus. Nose to the grindstone, get the work done that needs to be done. A “numb life of predictability.”
Well, I have come to understand myself a lot more as I have read this book – and I have almost finished the 300 page book in the last three days. I no longer want to be predictable. I am no longer happy with routine and being a ship in a calm harbor. I was made for the open seas. I was made for adventure. I was made for – I want – to experience “an exhilarating series of divine ‘coincidences'”. I want to experience more “…white-knuckle adventures that will make an eternal impact on others while at the same time giving us the thrills of a lifetime.” I am tired of the same old, same old.
I wrote those last words in my personal journal just five days ago … a Monday (not a good day for a preacher to be journaling). I wrote down a lot of the things that I was facing in my ministry – desk work, appointments, teachings, preparations, and on and on and after each “thing” I wrote “same old, same old”. Honestly, I did. Then I listed the feelings … too little time to write, too much administrative paperwork, no time to be seriously creative… the list is very long. Complaints but reality. And after each one I wrote “same old, same old”. Then I looked back at previous journal entries over the last year and realized I had written similar entries before. Same old, same old. At the bottom of the page I had written: “time to seriously rethink and start over”.
God took my comment and feelings seriously. There were many books I could have picked up to read. I have probably hundreds that I have purchased and want to read. But this one jumped off the table where many of them are simply stacked in tall piles. It was yelling “read me, read me”. So, it was the right book at the right time and my “chill time” became a prayer time when I asked God to take away anything and anyone – everything – that would prevent me, in the senior years of my life, from allowing God to take me “on white-knuckle adventures that will make an eternal impact on others while at the same time giving me the thrills of a lifetime.”
I am now living at the edge of expectation …