Disturbances

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

In the original Star Wars movie, Obi Wan tells Luke, “There’s been a disturbance in the force.” This is an understatement if there ever was one considering that an entire planet was just blown to bits. Sometimes it feels like our world has been blown to bits, and sometimes we overstate our disturbances. Sometimes disturbances are necessary, especially when we have been in a hard season.

I was recently watching Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris with Love. One of the characters had given up hope and another character came along and said: “It’s been a long winter, but spring is coming.” He points to a flower that has popped up overnight, the first bloom of spring. We look forward to spring and the idea of new growth, but the first movements require a disturbance as the seeds burst forth from underground sprouting leaves and buds.

On Palm Sunday, Pastor Brady at New Life Church in Colorado Springs read a poem by Sir Francis Drake which I was unfamiliar with, but it sums up the idea quite well:

 Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Attributed — Sir Francis Drake — 1577

I have been inundated lately with the phrase “dream big.” What does it mean to dream big? We need to be shaken loose from the status quo and learn to think in God-sized terms. God wants to do so much more than we are able to accomplish on our own. He wants us to come alongside Him in His work, not for Him to come alongside us in our work. He has bigger plans than we ever though possible much less were able to complete.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

It is very easy to get settled in our comfort zones, but we miss so much when our worlds are too small. God wants to do more than we can even imagine, but it will require a disturbance to shake us free. Just this morning, I was sitting at my desk and a spider hopped up on top of it. I had been meaning to spray the house to keep unwanted critters from invading. It only took one spider to get me up and looking for the bug spray because the spider’s presence disturbed me. Maybe it’s time for Christians to be disturbed, not by a spider or the evening news, but by the Spirit of God. We need to be disturbed to get up and be about the Father’s business.

Word of warning: don’t confuse disturbed with fearful. God wants to wake us up and get us moving not to make us afraid. He wants to stir our hearts with a vision and a dream, not make us huddle in panic. He wants to give us a heart for hurting people, not anger and resentment. You can have an adventure right where you live if you are willing to open yourself up to a God-sized dream.

What dream has God given you? What will it take to disturb you? An adventure awaits if you are willing to dream big.

Changes in Vision

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

(Attributed to a variety of sources including Albert Einstein)

On March 25, 2021, I went to get in my car and noticed my irises had bloomed overnight. It’s always the first flower to bloom in that flowerbed, and it always takes me by surprise. Life can be the same way as many families discovered that day as tornado warning sirens filled the air all over the state. I am grateful that I woke up to see the same iris the next morning, still blooming despite all the storms. But, sometimes it takes a disturbance to help us see more clearly.

Seasons of Change

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11

My irises always let me know that spring is upon us. Unfortunately, it also brings turbulent weather and allergies. Anytime change comes upon us there is bound to be turbulence, but it is the shake ups that force us out of our ruts and makes us take a look around. Often we find things that need to be done. For instance, I already have a mental list of chores that need to be done around the yard now that I no longer have the winter weather as an excuse to stay indoors. Spiritually, both individually and corporately as a church, we need to take a look around as we come out of a turbulent season. What needs to be done? What needs to be done differently?

Assess the Landscape

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Matthew 13:30

First of all, we need to assess the landscape to see where we are. For example, I have two stumps and laundry pole that are getting in my way of maintaining my yard. I have been throwing around ideas on how to work around or remove the obstacles, but I seem stuck with them for the moment. Sometimes God leaves the obstacles in our way because to remove them would hurt more than it helped. So, I have to figure out how to work around them by mitigating their influence as much as possible. Usually that means maintaining the area around it so that weeds don’t overrun and keep me from doing what needs to be done. We live in this world, but we are not of this world, so we have to learn to work around obstacles.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

John 15:2

At other times I have to prune with a passion. I have some dead plants and limbs that need cutting out before they become serious problems later. There are also weeds that need cutting down and maintained all season. Spiritually speaking, God often prunes with a passion. We need to be willing to accept His pruning and weeding so that we can be used in His vision for our church and our communities. It may require a new approach, doing things in a new way.

Find a Landmark

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Proverbs 28:18

When we lose our way, our first step should be to take a look around us and take stock of where we are. Once we assess the landscape, then we should look for a landmark to help guide us. For Christians, we need our moral compass set to true north: Jesus Christ. When we set our eyes on Christ, we gain a kingdom perspective. Instead of looking through rose-colored glasses, we are looking through Christ-centered glasses. A kingdom perspective will change everything.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.

(Attributed to Jessie Potter)

Adjust Your Course

When you know where you are and have identified where you want to go, you are ready to plot a course. Usually, this means adjusting your course. It means being willing to change. In the book Say Yes: How God-Sized Dreams Take Flight by Britt Mooney, the author talks about how this group of Christians said yes to God at every opportunity and how God blessed their ministry abundantly above what they imagined. But, they didn’t stop at saying yes to the vision; they took action and stepped out in faith. We have to be willing to let go of our limited perspective and get a God-sized vision. It won’t be easy, but the end results will be worth it.

What vision has God given you? What is the next step He wants you to take?