4.29.2013

Faith, Fear & the Skycoaster at Six Flags

Many years ago, on a Friday night, a few of my girlfriends & I decided the next day that’d we’d get up at the crack of dawn, drive ourselves 4 ½ hours to Atlanta, Georgia, from Tupelo, Mississippi, spend the day at Six flags, then drive ourselves 4 ½ hours back that night in order to go to church on Sunday morning. If you don’t know me well, I’m pretty impulsive when it comes to travel…I always love an adventure.




While at Six Flags, we saw something called the Skycoaster.


#picturestolenfromtheinternet

As my gal pal’s went racing towards it, I looked up and was terrified. Next thing I know, my two friends and I stood on a little platform wrapped up in a harness and hooked in with a tiny, small hook at the center of our backs to a line that was thin like a clothes line. (I mean, maybe it was bigger than that, but it sure didn’t feel like it).  Then we trusted two young girls, probably younger than us, (probably middle schoolers), who most likely made $5 an hour to be the “responsible party” to strap us in. Then, all of a sudden, the platform just dropped from below our feet, and we fell horizontal. Strapped together, and held together by a tiny cord. What in the world! How have I found myself here!

Then the crane started hoisting us up to the top of the arch (I remember this well). I screamed the entire way.

Once we finally got to the top, one of my girlfriends pulled the cord to let us loose (good thing that wasn’t my job or we might’ve been hanging there all night), and we flew. There were a few seconds of amazing, then the worst part happened. The worst part was when we swung all the way forward and those 2 seconds just before we began to swing backwards. The cord loosened and we felt suspended with nothing attached. That’s the moment your stomach is in your throat, but it’s exhilarating all at the same time.  I’m screaming and laughing all at the same time. Terrified but excited.

Then we swung a few more times and the fear went away, probably because we got used to it. By then it was just fun.

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On the way home from work today I was thinking about faith. Even this past Saturday as I worked on Rescue Pink (my non-profit), I was coming to the realization of how quickly things are happening and how terrified I am. I even had thoughts running through my brain, “Do you really want to do this, you are just about to the point of no return. You are starting a legal entity that you will be responsible for. This is government business now. You’ll be/are using people’s money and making decisions about it. Do you want to work a second job? Do you have the time for this? Maybe you should just stop now, this is too big for you.”  I knew in my heart I wasn’t going to stop now, but that was running around in my brain. I could’ve let it defeat me like I have in the past, but I just let those thoughts sit there and didn’t really make a decision to think about it one way or another.

Sunday morning I woke up and one of my favorite pastors, Marco Monroy was preaching at my church.  His passage? Hebrews 11.  If you’ve been following my story you know this passage was a key turning point for me in stepping out to do this non-profit to begin with.  And Marco could’ve taken this passage anywhere, but here is a quote from his message:

“God is not going to give you a dream in which you don’t need His help to accomplish the dream.” – Marco Monroy


I love how God uses people as gentle reminders that He’s got you in His hands. He knows every, single thing.  And he knows exactly what you need to hear, and when you need hear it.

So back to the ride home from work today.  I was thinking about faith.  And my thoughts turned toward courage. I’ve often heard the phrase, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway.” Then I began to wonder if we all feel fear the same way?  At times I’ve thought that some people just have more courage than others, or they are more apt to just jump into things headfirst.  Then I think about how I used to be that way, but as I got older I became more scared of things, I got out of the practice of jumping in headfirst, pushing past the fear, and instead learned to become terrified and immobilized.  Life became dull.

I tell my niece all the time, who seems predisposed to be very, very afraid (she’s a scaredy-cat), to push past the fear – I tell her that on the other side of it are some of the most exciting things in life. Most of my life I lived that way and I have the most amazing stories to tell.  She listens to me (with a lot of “convincing”), and I’ve seen her push past her extreme fear to pet a stingray, hold a parrot, and rush down major waterslides by herself, and more, all at 5 years old. These seem small, but to her, they are HUGE. She’s learning courage. She doesn’t just have it, she has to practice it. Courage is a choice, it’s a learned behavior.

Then I think about faith. And how faith is the same way.  At times I’ve thought that to some people faith must just be easier for them.  But now I think it’s just like courage, we all have the same amount of anxiety about things. But we can choose faith enough so that it can become a learned behavior, and then with lots of practice it will become easier. But it’s not that God put more faith in others, and a little here and a lot there, a teeny tiny bit over there. We all have the same struggle with it.  It’s just what we choose to do with it that matters.

So today, I feel like I’m standing on the platform, and I’m strapped in, the floor is about to drop.

I’m trusting that cord.  I’m trusting that cable is gonna hold me.  Heck, I’m even trusting the middle schoolers who strapped me in.  And I’m gonna fly.  And it’s going to be scary and fun all at the same time, that first swing will probably be the scariest, but the second one should get better. I’m exercising courage. I’m exercising faith. I’m gonna fly.

“If you think God called you to something you can accomplish on your own, then that was just bad pizza.” – Marco Monroy


Check out this video (also stolen from the internet). Start it at about 1:15.


3.02.2013

Here I Go Completely Changing My Life Again…

Little did I know that in January when I posted "Risk" as my word of the year, just how much I would be tested in this. Would I really risk? Or would I waste another year not jumping off the ledge?

In my younger years, “Risk” was never an issue for me. I was a ledge-jumper – I’m telling you, I made it a habit of jumping off some record-breaking sized cliffs.  I have amazing stories of ways that my faith was big and how God was always catching me – trusting Him fully.  But somehow, and I’m not really sure exactly how or when it happened, things changed for me.  Somehow my self-esteem found itself at the bottom of the pit, and I was stuck.

For years I’ve known God wanted me to do something very specific. And for years God has given me this huge vision of the way He wanted to use me. And for years I questioned it all, “God, not really…I know You want this to happen, but the vision I see is too big. I’m not capable. I’m not good enough, or smart enough, or strong enough, or worthy to be used THAT way.”  And because I couldn’t trust that God knew what He was doing, I found myself stuck there. I knew I needed to take that large leap off the cliff and trust Him, but I stayed glued there on the ledge, incapacitated.  For years.

Back in November of 2012 someone mentioned a job offer to me and I sort of laughed in his face. No way. I’m just going to stay right here and do what I do.  But all the while thinking of the vision God had given me every single day. 

Fast forward to January 2013, I was watching Louie Giglio by webstream at the Passion Conference in Atlanta. He was speaking to a dome of over 60,000 students. He spoke of many years ago when he was younger as he sat in the very same dome and God had given him a vision for his future. He saw a dome filled with thousands of young people being mobilized for Christ - and that he would lead them. And as Louie is looking upon 60,000 students on that particular day, he said, “I’m looking right now at immeasurably more.” He talked about Ephesians 3:20 – “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”  He spoke about how some of us do not believe that God can really give us immeasurably more. {Voice in my head: YUP, that’s me}.

Next, he spoke of the passage in Mark 9 when a father brings his young son to Jesus to heal him of seizures. The boy’s father brought him, so he had some belief that Jesus could heal, but he must have not believed that Jesus would choose to heal his son specifically because he says to Jesus, “…but if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Jesus replies, If you can?” “Everything is possible for one who believes.”  Then immediately the boy’s father says, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Then Louie talked about how a lot of us believe God can do amazing things, but we have unbelief that He would choose to use us in that way, that he would give us immeasurably more. He said some of us believe about 90%, but that 10% is blocking us from action {voice in my head: dang, God gave Louie a message just specifically for me – sorry about that 60,000 college kids}

I mean really. That hit me in the face. Hard. So on January 1st, 2013, I began praying every day…”God, I know without a shadow of doubt that you want to use me for a great work in India. I do believe, but please help my unbelief!” Then on January 5th, I started a daily topical bible study in youversion on faith. Every day I was reading and meditating on the great biblical people of faith.

The final day the passage was Hebrews 11.  It’s known as the Hall of Fame of Faith. It goes through many great people of faith.  By act of faith Noah built a ship because he was warned of something he could not see, and as a result his family was saved. By faith a barren Sarah was able to become pregnant as an old woman. By act of faith Abraham was willing to sacrifice his very son Isaac because he trusted that God had a plan, even when it made no sense. By act of faith Israel walked through a split sea trusting the water would not overcome them. By an act of faith the Israelites marched around the walls of Jericho and watched the walls fall. It goes on and on…Moses, Rahab, Abraham, etc.

But the last 2 verses in that passage was what changed everything… ”Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised.  God had a better plan for us: that their faith, and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete from ours.” Hebrews 11:39-40

{Voice in my head: Hold up…did that just say what I think it really said? That the Saint's faith is dependent upon my faith? That their acts of faith aren’t complete without mine? Man, I bet they are up in heaven saying, come on already, Sherry}

My world kind of flipped on its axis. It’s too important for me to sit here idly by. This doesn’t just affect me. In all honesty, this isn’t really about me at all; this is about God and what He wants to do. He just wants to use me as a tool. I need to get the focus off me, and my beaten down self-esteem, and trust, just like Abraham & Noah and all the great saints of faith, that even if it doesn’t make a lick of sense, God has His reasons.


So, I’m jumping. I’m leaving staff at Community of Faith, which very much is my comfort zone. I love this church so much, there’s no place like it. I love Mark and Laura, they have taught me so much about life and ministry and serving.  But working on staff at COF is an all or nothing thing – as it should be. The staff sacrifice a lot; they pour their hearts and soul, their everything, into the work there – as it should be. Please, if you are a COFer, I ask you to not read into that statement. I am in NO WAY saying this is wrong. I am saying, “As it should be.” God calls very specific people to serve there and God is using them in amazing ways to build His kingdom. It has been an honor to work there the past 5 ½ years and I will use every, single bit of knowledge I gained by working there for what He is calling me to now.

So, to catch you up on what's up with me: I am stepping into the business world. I am taking a Monday-Friday job, and in the time I will gain, I will begin to build the non-profit that God has been asking me to do for years. It will be a non-profit that will help fund and create a rescue mission for baby girls in India affected by female infanticide.

Without going into huge detail (that’s for a later post), girls in India are being killed at birth every single day by their families. There are many Hindu’s that believe that women are the lowest form, and by killing the girls they are doing the baby a favor, in order for it to be reincarnated as a boy next.  To further complicate this, the dowry system is still in play, although technically it’s illegal, very poor families can not afford a daughter, nor her dowry. In reading this, please don’t judge…when this is all you know, then it’s all you know. I’ve spent a lot of time in India, I have a profound love for it’s people – they are absolutely beautiful. But there is this stronghold the enemy has and it’s killing, literally, its baby girls.

I cannot stand for this. I have to do something…and God has given me a plan and a giant vision. So I’m working on it. I’m praying you’ll stand with me.

I’ll leave you with a quote by Bill Hybels out of one of the most powerful talks I believe I’ve ever heard from him called “Holy Discontent.”

“…there’s a reason why you grew up just like you did, and why you’ve experienced what you’ve experienced, and why you’ve traveled where you’ve traveled, and why you’ve done what you’ve done. And along your life’s path you’ve seen something, you’ve felt something, and it’s gripped you, it’s stirred you. And you need to know that what it is that creates that firestorm in you, what’s wrecking you, is also wrecking the heart of our holy God. And He’s looking for someone just like you, to label your holy discontent, and then He’ll birth a vision in you that will release energy in you and you’ll start setting things that are wrong, right. You’ll start taking a situation of total defeat and you’ll start racking up a victory.”

I’m ready to start racking up the victories! Are you with me?