"We are always on the road..." John Calvin. That's a Calvin quote from the Christianity Today of September 2009. When I read Meehan's book on Calvin, I was surprised to discover that Calvin had lived a chunk of his life on the run, fearing persecution, worshipping in caves sometimes.
A couple of weeks ago I went to Jackson, MS with some students from Grace Church; our purpose was to spend a week studying and working at the John Perkins Ministry Center. John is still a compelling Bible teacher, a man of passion and compassion, though marked by his suffering during the civil rights era.
Living on the run, living in fear, living after enduring much.... my life is pretty comfortable. In fact, I've really insulated myself very well against inconvenience, much less suffering! I've got a boundary around my comfort zone that is almost impenetrable. Almost. Sometimes I think the Holy Spirit might be taking it apart brick by brick. But if a deacon talked to me with some urgency about getting more involved - in anything! -- if s/he pushed me a bit, well, I know the irritation and impatience that would well up inside. I've got a list of reasons as long as my lanyard for why I don't need to do any more than I'm doing. I confessed to a good friend lately - I love my orderly predictable life. I love life in my comfort zone. I want to decide all by myself just how I will help others, and when, and how much, and how often. I do NOT like to be "available". I do NOT like to be vulnerable to interruptions. Especially when the unpredictable is so, umm, unpredictable.
I NEED a little deacon in my life. I don't WANT one, mind you, but I NEED one. Deacons are "spiritual transformation" agents. I pretty much want my spiritual formation to move at the pace I prefer, and to involve only those areas of my life that won't disrupt my comfort Zone. Is there a deacon out there who dares to push me? I might not be nice. When I confessed to my friend, he said, What do you think Jesus wants you to do? I gave him a nice answer. I couldn't snark at him - he's my good friend. But I hate that question. I especially hate it when it means I can't relax and enjoy my "cave time". I will gladly stop and rescue the man who fell among thieves, and I'll take him to the med center, but please don't expect me to get involved with whether he has a home to go to, or has insurance, or heaven forbid, wants to be my friend. Really. In my heart of hearts, I don't want to have to give up any single minute of 'my time'. and if I do, I want to control exactly when my "sacrifice" ends. No open ended helping for me!
Now, where's one of those change-agent deacons when you really, really need one?