On the Sideline (by Mike Fox)

James 2:14-18, 24

 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.  24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 

In early February I read 2 books.  The 1st book – “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwamba – is a true story of a 13 year old boy in Malawi, Africa.  At 13 years old, with no education, no help, and constant ridicule from the rest of his village he succeeds in building a wind generator out of scraps from a junkyard.

The 2nd book – “The Mind’s Eye” by Oliver Sacks – is a series of cases studies of people with debilitating neurological disorders.  The book includes a story of an author who lost the ability to read, but continued to write books; a professional pianist who lost the ability to read music, but stayed active in music; and a lady who loses her ability to speak, but maintains a full social calendar.

Both of these books contain accounts of people who faced obstacles that would have defeated the average person, yet they accomplished wonderful things.  This got me thinking about what, if anything, have I done with the gifts God has given me?  I have a well used list of excuses for not participating – “That’s not one of my strengths”, “I am too busy already”, “I’ll think about it”, “There are other, more talented people”, and so on and on and on.  Now, I was feeling a strong urge to get out and do something.  I just didn’t know what.

Then 2 weeks ago Jeremy Berg, pastor of the MainStreet church plant, preached at my home church.  In the middle of his sermon, as he was talking about the needs of his church plant, I heard him very clearly say, “Mike, I can use your skills and talents.”  Later that week I met with Jeremy over coffee.  We discussed MainStreet, what God has done so far, specific needs for moving forward, and where I might fit in.  Last Sunday evening I met the launch team and tomorrow night will join one of their Life Groups.

There are many things I don’t understand, at the top of the list is how God can use my imperfection to help bring his kingdom into being, but one thing I do know is that I can’t sit on the side lines any longer.  There is a saying, “As we go through life, all of us are either a Good Example or a Horrible Warning.”  Barbara Brown Taylor, in her book, “Leaving Church” says it this way, “As my beloved rector had told me in seminary, being ordained is not about serving God perfectly but about serving God visibly, allowing other people to learn what they can from watching you rise and fall.”   I will honor God’s gifts to me by serving him, however imperfectly, and maybe someone watching will see something that makes their walk a little easier.

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