“If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers…” (from Donald Miller, A Thousand Miles in a Million Years).
I read Donald Miller’s book three or four years ago, and I still think about this particular quote. Miller’s point is to say, simply, most of us live boring stories. People wouldn’t look at our lives and say, “Wow! There must be something empowering you that’s out of this world.” People certainly wouldn’t pay dollar bills to see our lives played out on the big screen. And for good reason. Stories without risk, adversity, and faith are boring stories–especially for someone claiming to have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwelling within (i.e., the Holy Ghost).
Most recently this quote resurfaced as I sat with my wife listening to a pastor from India. The mission he leads in India educates pastors, trains woman in sewing, cares for orphans, plants churches, and evangelizes the Hindu population. This year alone they’ve already witnessed 686 baptisms of men and women confessing faith in Jesus Christ for the first time. 14,000 Christians are worshipping locally as a result of God’s work through that ministry. Over 20,000 people have entered fellowship with Christ over the course of this man’s 23-year ministry.
I don’t have a Volvo. But I do have an Accord. Mostly because Honda’s are more reliable and cost less to maintain. So, technically, my Accord is even less of a risky choice than a Volvo.
As I listened to pastor Abraham (not to be confused with father Abraham of the beloved classic children’s song), I thought about how boring my life can be. Don’t misunderstand. I love my wife and our kids–and doing that well is a huge responsibility. I love pastoring Bunker Hill Christian Church…another huge responsibility. But I’ve never walked into a house full of Hindus not knowing whether I will walk out again.
I know what you’re thinking. Don’t compare your life with someone else, especially someone in a different country where a particular religion holds sway over all others. It’s a fair thing to say. I probably couldn’t find a house full of Hindus to enter into. But there are plenty of people steeped in southern religiosity, legalism, and Phariseeism. Preaching in this area of the country (E. TN) is tough. Many people have been taught it’s irreverent to say “Amen” during a sermon or to make any kind of motion while singing (raising hands, singing loudly, clapping). We’ve made the most exciting story in the history of the world boring.
It’s not boring for pastor Abraham and his colleagues. It wasn’t boring for the apostles Paul or Peter. It wasn’t boring for Stephen, the first martyr on record. I’m left with questions:
1. Am I personally living a story that requires the power of the Holy Spirit? Or am I living for the Volvo…with heated seats and a coffee maker? (p.s., when will a car be made that has a coffee maker)
2. Is my church–and your church–living for a vision in which the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential to succeed?
If either answer is no, we may want to think about selling the car.