Wanting What You Don’t Want

Growing up movies were a big part of my life. Not because I was big fan of a particular actor or genre, but because they were great time killers.  When my family moved to Southern California in the very late 70’s, we moved within walking distance of 16 movie screens.  That was about 4-5 individual theaters.  Over the years as our region of Orange Country developed this number only increased. In high school the number had more than doubled! Somewhere close to 40 screens! This was a big deal because the VCR and cable TV were just hitting the market, and they were very expensive to have, so the theater was our only access to movies.

Movies were great for my brother and I because we could spend the whole day at a theater while we waited for our parents to come home from work.  When we moved to The OC Mom went back to work leaving my older brother and to figure out how to be “latch key kids.” This meant after school and all during the summers we were home by ourselves taking care of each other.  The movie theater was a great baby sitter.

There were times during the summer when a theater would run a movie just for kids, for a quarter! I can’t tell count how many times I saw Indian Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark that summer (25+). We just kept going, day after day.  When there was no movie specials, we would created our own.  Doug and I would pay for the first movie of the day and when it ended we would jump to the next movie screen in the same theater watching whatever was playing. Always sneaking in and out so the theater staff did not know we were there all day. This is how we would spend our summers. When it got to be close to 5pm we would start to walk home beating Mom and Dad back to the house.

With all the movie watching we did growing up I remember one movie vividly for it cinematography, also because it was awesome. That movie was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Ferris was witty, Sloan was hot and Cameron was quirky. But, the striking part of the movie was not the guts to skip school or take out dad’s classic roadster, but it was when Ferris broke the “fourth wall.”  What this means is that Ferris not only was a character in the movie, but he stopped and took time to talk to us the watchers! He brought us into the film or rather he stepped out of it to be one of us.  He transcended the “wall” that was imaginatively in place between the actors and the audience. He crossed the barriers that separated the two. This was fascinating and hilarious!

Recently, I have been reading (actually listening to) a book that does something similar to breaking the fourth wall.  Francis Chan in his books, or at least the ones I have read, likes to challenger readers to stop reading in order to reflect or mediate on a point he has made, a Scripture he has quoted or a question he asks.  Who does this? What author wants you to stop reading their book? (One who has a bigger point to make than what their words can express.) In Forgotten God Chan challenges the reader this with these words,

“Right now, I want you to take a break from reading or listening
and spend some time asking yourself why you want the Holy Spirit.”

Admittedly, I rarely stop and follow Chan’s instructions.  I just keep reading or listening. But, when I heard these words the other day, I stopped.  I stopped to follow them and to reflect. I stopped listening and tried to answer the question. I think I don’t normally follow Chan’s pleas because I am afraid of what I might learn about myself and my faith.  Although, this time of refection was certainly enlightening (and that is why he does it).

Q: Why do I want the Holy Spirit of God?

The answers that came were as follows:

  • I want to see God do amazing things. I long for the days of Acts when the Spirit of God filled, motivated and emboldened people. I want his power to be evident in healings, visions and empowerment. I want to be part of something supernatural. I want to see radical transformations. I want to get caught up in the movement and will of God. I want to live a life that confounds critics, bucks the system and makes no rational sense. I want to know that there is more strength and power in the faith than my own.
  • This thought led me to recognized I have flat, 2-dimensional, black and white faith. My faith lacks depth and understaning. I live in the natural and rarely encounter the supernatural. I live in a controlled world of my own making. But, I believe the piece needed to move my faith into a more fully developed, 3-dimensional, high def, colored existence is a fuller embrace of the Spirit of God. Part of this is cognitive knowledge. Part is trust and dependency. Part is communicative and prayer. Part is submission and surrender.

The hard theological truth I have to face is that I have all of the Spirit of God I will ever get or need. God has not restricted himself. He is not holding back until I am ready, more mature or or until I get my act together. I have a compete relationship with God through the Spirit right now!

The reason I have not seen God do the amazing things I am longing for is not because he stopped healing, empowering or transforming lives, but because I am not paying attention. The reason my faith is flat is because it is safe. With this confession I am reminded of Mr. Beaver’s description of Aslan, the lion King of Narnia:

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?
Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.
But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Why do I want the Spirit of God? Because I want to care more about being faithful, than being safe.

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