When I first thought about a 2015 “summit” message, I thought about giving a speech of lofty ideals and collective aspirations. I even wrote one. Then I decided to not deliver it – not because I didn’t believe what I wrote but because I discerned we didn’t need a speech as we need a plan for next steps for us. I was glad I never gave it and the manuscript remained on my desktop, where it belonged.
Until now. While I chose to not orate it, I placed it in the blog pile for that notorious gang called the Rock Hill Blog Editors, those ruthless, cutting and pasting Team Who Must Not Be Named.
The Summit Speech Not Given is Below.
We came here to Lawrence to give our lives to something big, grandiose, impossible on our own, something that matters for eternity.
We came here to build something – not a good something, but a great something.
We came here in the hope of building a place of transformation and empowerment. We came because we wanted a life different than what the “American Dream” offered, for we have come to believe that the American Dream without Christ eventually becomes a personal nightmare.
We came because we dared to dream and to risk, and for many of us it was scary. Sometimes it still is. But we must not back down from dreaming for God’s best for our lives because of fear.
We came here not because we were special, wise, gifted, flawless or unbroken people. We came here not because Lawrence is cool and edgy or liberal.
We came here because people are lost, like we were, and we want them to be saved by the One Who Seeks (see Luke 19:10, the theme of our current sermon series)
We came here because God sought us. He looked at us, and he gave us the grace and the courage to be found.
We came here because we have been loved.
We came with the awareness of how little we really have to offer in ourselves; actually, this awareness has proven to be worse than we realized. We soon began discovering that trouble came with us – persons with the names of Me and You.
People who we thought we might magically leave behind in Wichita and Manhattan and Kansas City and Hays and Texas and Oklahoma and other places – those sneaky people snuck in our back seats and trunks and came with us.
We came here and discovered the biggest threat to flourishing here is not the lost people of Lawrence, or the devil, or the world; we discovered that what threatens us most is our own selves.
Not our sinfulness, but the threat of the pride of unconfessed, unrepented sin. Not our brokenness, but the threat of the belief that our brokenness would disqualify us. Not the hurts of our pasts, but the threat of refusing to receive God’s grace and let go of the hurts and look to Christ our Healer. Not our inadequacies but the threat of believing that we don’t matter because we don’t have the “wow”, the cool, the resources, the knowledge or the stature we sometimes think we should have.
We have met our enemy, and he is us.
Christ is our only hope.
We came here with the audacious belief that somehow our being here might matter – that through our lives, students and artists and mechanics and teachers and programmers and moms and dads and kids might discover the flourishing life in the kingdom of God and the person of Jesus.
We came here with a ridiculous dream that God would raise up a generation of students, international as well as American, who would apprentice with us in the church and become the next people to do it better than us – to rise up for Christ and take the Good News across their streets and halls and cubicles and to the nations.
To quote C.S. Lewis, our problem is not that we dream too big; our problem is that we dream too small.
I refuse to allow the beat-down tactics of my adversaries – the world, the devil and mostly, myself – to neutralize and erase the call of Jesus to repent, trust, follow and to dream and risk here and now for his sake.
I ask you to join me.
May we dream large.
I cannot promise you great leadership, but I commit to give my best shot. I cannot guarantee that any of our dreams will come to fruition, only the hope that our faithfulness will matter. I cannot say that it will always be compelling or adventurous or even fulfilling.
Many days it will be costly.
But I can promise you that our labor done not for ourselves but for our Guru, our Master and mostly importantly, our Savior, will yield a more lasting return than anything else out there.
I cannot promise we will not suffer. I cannot even promise we will not hurt each other. But, I can say with confidence that when we do, we will always have a Healer and a Friend who sticks closer than a Brother.
The days are filled with the small and the mundane.
The path to realizing big dreams is not to try to do great things; it is to do small things greatly.
It is the way of Jesus that transforms the mundane into the extraordinary.
His life, way, and truth – they will anchor us as his followers; they will keep us in his peace; they will be the anecdote to the worry, distractions and anxieties that swirl in the whirlwinds of our lives.
If we fix our gaze and our ambitions and our way on him, I believe we can see great things come to pass.
There are no little people in this endeavor called the church.
On the other hand, if we give our energy to making things happen ourselves, thinking we are special in ourselves, then we will produce nothing more than the work of our hands – work that moths and rust erode and thieves break in and steal.
I did not come here for that, and I hope you did not either.
I came here for more, and with God’s grace, I will walk in His way.
I write all of this with some fear, for I know myself and my inclination to settle for the small. Yet I can do no other than to follow He Who May Appear Small But Is Not.
I have no ships in the harbor to return to.
God is my only plan.
I hope He is yours, or that you are on your way to Him.