What Would You Do If...
Meditation August 6, 2006 by Karen L. Oberst
You may have noticed that we left a larger than usual place blank in the bulletin this morning. That's because I want you to write down your answer to the question I'm about to ask. For those of you who don't like to join in group activities (and I speak as one of you!) you can just think about it - but do think about it. Now remember, I want you to write down your immediate answer. This is for you alone, or rather between you and God. I won't be asking anyone to read his or hers. You don't have to share it with anyone. Don't worry if it seems silly or impossible. Those don't count. Sensible doesn't count Conventional really doesn't count.
Okay, here's the question: What would you do if you had no fear? What would you do if you had no fear? What would you do if you had no fear? It can be anything from skydiving to becoming Mother Teresa, from finally quitting that job to going back to school. But it must be honest and it should be your first thought - not the second more sensible one.
You answer the question while I write it on the board, and give you a minute to two to answer it.
Look at what you have written. For some, if not most of you, this will be your dream - the dream of your heart, perhaps one you have never dared to speak even to yourself. And for that reason, you may want to share it with someone else: your wife or husband, parents or children. This will be especially true if it involves something major, like going back to school or taking a trip to Europe or quitting your job.
The main thing is that you don't dismiss this out of hand. Think about it. Talk to God about it. You can always talk to Faith about it, or another person here or a friend. The Ministry and Care committee are Ken Magee, Jan McClellan, Cindy Prince and myself. Though this doesn't make us the great wise ones of Klamath Falls Friends, any of us would be happy to listen.
By the way, what I'm really talking about is freedom. My theme verse is in the bulletin, and I want to read that along with a couple of verses that come before. Let me set the scene. In Jesus' time, when a person got in trouble with debt, he could sell himself to his debtor for a time to work off the money owed. Essentially, he would become a temporary slave of the house. John 8:34-36 reads: Jesus said, "I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can't come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through."
This freedom means not only that you can live your life as God calls you, but also that you have a sense of freedom in your heart. The dream you just wrote down, has likely been put in your heart by God.
Let me tell you about my own experience with this question. My first thought was "Quit my job and write." But as I thought about it, I realized that was not the dream of my heart. I will quit my job someday, but that time is not yet. Right now, I'm not sure just what my dream is, but the steps to reach it are clear before my feet. I'm like a mountain climber who is just shy of the top of a ridge. I can see the path, but I don't know yet what is over the ridge. So your dream - your calling, - may be not so much a clear thing, but a process.
Let me just say again, don't dismiss your dream because
Also, whatever God is calling you to do, start now. There are not always little things to be done-as the old saying goes, you can't cross a chasm in two small steps. However, most of the time there will be something you can do towards your dream. If it is to visit France, for instance, you can get travel books out of the library. You can take a class to learn French. Don't sit on your dream, squashed dreams die. Take a step towards making it a reality.
So, okay. If this hasn't been harassment enough, I have two more questions to ask you. The second is like the first, but just a little different.
Where would you go if you had no fear? Where would you go if you had no fear? While you write down your first thought, I'll get the question on the board.
For me three years ago, the answer was go to Klamath Falls. It may be an actual place, like K Falls, or as I said earlier, France.
On the other hand, it may be something different, something deeper. Maybe if you had no fear, you would join an organization like Christian Peacemakers Team and go somewhere to put yourself between the innocent and harm. Perhaps you feel called to some other type of peace work, or something similar.
Maybe you feel God has called you to downtown Klamath Falls to feed the hungry or work with the poor.
Maybe God is calling you to go to your next-door neighbor's to get to know him or her. Maybe you would go back to school for that degree you always promised yourself.
Don't think you are too old or too young. Don't think it is impossible. Just try to listen for the place you are called to go.
Now we come to the last question. I'm going to be a bit prescriptive with this one so you don't misunderstand what I am asking. Who would you be if you had no fear?
I don't mean, "I'd be a doctor," since that really falls under doing. I mean, who would you allow God to make you if you had no fear? This is a little harder because it is not something you can do or touch, but think about it for a minute while I write it on the board.
Now there are some things we are all called to be. We are called to be:
But there is also what God is calling you yourself to be. This is again about who we are at the very deepest level. The old term for this, or another way to look at it is gifts of the Spirit. We all have something that we bring to the church or wherever we are, that is uniquely ours. Something will be missing if we are not faithful. Paul describes it like this is I Corinthians 12:4-11: "God's various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! … All gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when."
To go back to the "doctor" statement I made earlier, for most of us "I would be a doctor," means doing, but for some "doctor," or perhaps "healer" may be who you are at the core of your being.
I spent the last year arguing with God. "I'm a writer, not a speaker," "I'm a writer, not a teacher," and so on, until God finally got it through my head. "Writer is describing yourself too narrowly," I heard. "You are a communicator." My calling, my gift, if you will, is to communicate the truth God has given me. Again, this doesn't make me the great wise one at K Falls Friends, but I can tell what I have learned, what I have seen in my own life, and what I understand.
As we go into open worship, think about these questions. Talk to God about them. Above all, don't dismiss yourself or sell yourself short. I speak from experience when I tell you that if you follow where God leads, it will be exciting. It may even be amazing.
Listen to this quote by Nelson Mandela as you ponder what God is calling you to. It reminds us that when we don't follow where God leads, we not only hurt ourselves, but cheat those around us. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God! Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Listen to what God is calling you to do. Listen to where God is calling you to go. Listen to who God is calling you to be. When I am faithful-when you are faithful-it helps others to be faithful too. Think about these questions and listen to the answers God is whispering to your heart.