Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hanging By A Moment

What happens when a moment of decision passes without us knowing it? Can that really happen? More to the point, would God let that happen?

I just had the chance to be there for one of my friends in what could have been a time of need, but I didn't take it. Ordinarily, I know when moments like that come because there's a nagging in my gut (i.e., the Holy Spirit) letting me know that I'm at a crossroads of decision. Usually, I get some clarity on what the right decision is and an urging to choose the right option, or at least to make some decision. I'd like to say I always go with the right option, but it's kind of a crap shoot.

This situation was a different animal altogether. As in other moments like this, I didn't know there was a decision to make. So, I did nothing. After a couple of minutes, I thought "Darnit, that might have been important." Then regret set in. Of all of the things that I regret in my life, the majority are moments like this.

But what happens in these moments, spiritually speaking? Is the Spirit speaking as it always does and I just can't hear it? Are these just non-events and I'm not hearing anything because there's nothing to hear? Is the Spirit silent because God is taking off the training wheels and expecting me in my maturity to recognize the moments and the correct choices that He is usually so careful to point out? Is the Spirit silent because I'm not supposed to do anything and He knows if He even mentions that there's a decision to make I'll jump into action and screw it up? Is the remorseful aftertaste conviction or condemnation?

Alas, so few definitive answers, so little time.

Friday, October 06, 2006

That Guy

A month or so ago, I was dragged (okay, gently enticed) by a group of friends to go see Snakes on a Plane. As we drove to the theater it was resolved that, for the sake of this particular screening, we would be “those guys.” We would be the group that laughed a little too raucously, that offered the slightly offensive play-by-play commentary audible to everyone in the theater, that cheered at every bit of asinine dialogue spoken by Samuel L. Jackson. Yeah…those “those guys.”

I knew I couldn’t be one of “those guys” no matter how hard I tried. To be honest, “those guys” bring out my inner Pharisee. I’m annoyed and offended by their very being in my presence. Then I get annoyed at myself because I walk out of theater thinking, “What are you upset about? It’s effing Cabin Fever. What do you really think you lost in that 15 seconds of dialogue they talked through? The meaning of life?”

Luckily for me, the decision was taken out of my hands. The part of “those guys” was already being played by a rowdy group of teenagers a couple of rows behind us. They were clearly pros, because they were heckling the on-screen print advertisements when we walked in.

I introduced the “those guys” concept because last night I was “that guy.” Not a heckler, but a much more insidious member of the “those”/”that” people family. Have you ever met someone who is completely off-putting in social situations? Who only gets more off-putting when he tries to be warm or funny? Whose every attempt at engagement only incites more pity as you see it’s not getting any better? I was “that guy.”

Last night was my first meeting as an assistant leader for my Living Waters group. Everything I said came out in the same annoying, preachy tone of voice. My testimony, instructions, encouragement, a joke here or there, all came out sounding like a hellfire and damnation sermon on a loop.

Granted, I’m probably being a little hard on myself, but it doesn’t change the root issue: I was performing. I was feeling unworthy to be in that position. I was trying to prove to them and to me that I deserved to wear the special nametag rather than the normal one like theirs. I felt myself doing it and I was mad at me.

Things eased up as the night ended. Jesus smiled at me and said, “No, you don’t deserve the nametag. But, I didn’t deserve the cross. Life’s unfair, but it’s working in your favor. Be grateful. Now, make yourself useful and lay hands on somebody.”

So, I got over myself. I got focused on God and he prayed through me. It was a good night.