The Power of Showing Up

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The older I get, the more I have come to believe that just showing up is 90% of the solution to life’s problems. Though a great deal may hang in the balance of the remaining 10%, not enough can be said for the simple art of engagement. As I write, we have yet another president in the “hot seat” for for violating this principle —(I speak, of course, of the BP oil spill which has become a Big Problem for Obama)—reminding us once again, that the “chief executive” must be engaged before he can execute anything. Even when there are no buttons to push, no bills to sign, no breakthroughs to take credit for, the important work of showing up–being there, operating as “feeler in chief” if nothing else–covers that essential 90% in the recipe for success.

So much of life is in just showing up. God calls us to the mundane work of waiting on Him even when we can’t hear His voice or see his purpose. That is why we wait—-to dial down our restless hearts and minds so we can capture, even if for a brief window of time, His cadence of victory and transformation for the battle we face.

In Acts 1, Jesus instructs his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the power comes. So much had happened at Calvary and the empty tomb and during forty days that followed. God was just getting started with the “new thing” He was doing.  But it all hinged on the 120 disciples “showing up” as instructed.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” Acts 2:1

Today I stumbled upon an excellent example of the power of showing up, in a brilliant column written by author Vin Suprynowicz. Vin relays the amazing story of the battle of Midway on June 4, 1942—sixty eight years ago this month.

Vin opens up with these words:

“As our leaders suck their thumbs and decline to commit “too much force” because the polls might turn against them, one can’t help but wonder if America has anyone left in long pants still willing to take over. (A few years back, it was Mr. Aspin refusing to send tanks to back up the Rangers in Mogadishu, today it’s an Afghan “war” with a pre-designated surrender date.)

In such moments, it bears remembering that within living memory, a desperate nation entrusted to untested Rear Adms. Jack Fletcher and Ray Spruance three of its four remaining front-line aircraft carriers (the Saratoga arriving two days late) in a desperate gamble to turn the tide of Japanese conquest at a little mid-ocean sandspit called Midway Island.”

WWII is chock full of examples of crazy turns of fate hinging on the simple principle of engagement. The Battle of Midway is a stand-out in this regard, marking the day when the tide began to turn on the Pacific War. Up to that day, things were not looking good for the USA.  After that day, there was a sense that we would eventually win.  It is a remarkable story  not only because it shows the power of simply showing up, but it encourages us that even if we show up late, or a bit out of synch with our original plans, great things can happen. The fact is, some of the greatest, most transformative moments in life come seemingly by accident as people have made the effort to show  up and be  part of the action. There is a principle in guidance that rings true here: do the very next thing God tells you to do. That’s all He asks. Life hinges on just that. History is made that way.

I encourage you to read whole article, which will only take 5 minutes. I would not venture to even try and give a synopsis of Vin’s excellent piece, which is so well written that it should be read just the way he wrote it. Here’s the  link

In reading it I hope you, like me, will have a fresh appreciation for history—and the faithful souls who made it— so people like us can sip ice tea, enjoy the breezes of  God’s favor, and marvel at what can happen when people simply show up.


Carrying The Right Lesson Forward

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“I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus…”

This month as I watched the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” I finally got the answer to a question my 10 year old daughter has asked me countless times: “Daddy, what if you could go back in time and be any one you wanted to be?”

I have decided that if I had that opportunity, I would like to be the man who helped Jesus carry his cross on the Via Dolorosa. Can you imagine? What an honor and privilege that would be!

Knowing that opportunity will never come my way, I was encouraged to come across a classic sermon by one of my all-time favorite preachers, Leonard Fox.  This is a man who back in 1976 spoke prophetic words over my life as a part of the presbytery at my convocation in Bible College and whose sermons always challenged me to the core.

The sermon is on Galatians  6:17 where Paul writes:

“I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

Fox points out that Webster defines “mark,” among other things, as:

1) recognition of ownership

2) The outer sign of something that is stamped in written I the character of the person.

So when Paul writes “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus,”  he is proclaiming Christ’s lordship in his life and testifying to the transforming power of God’s grace in his character.

These marks– distinctive traits– were first manifested in the life of our Savior…then the apostles….then passed on to us all who  are “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Rom. 8:32) They are the distinguishing characteristics of all disciples of Jesus.

According to Fox, here are 8 distinctive marks of Jesus:

1. Forgiveness of injuries (“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do…” Also Col. 3:13; I john 2:6)

2. No self pity (“Don’t weep for me” …Luke 23:28)

3. Joy in spite of difficulties…(“Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross”…Heb 12:1-4)

4. Calm receptivity…(“I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence”…John 8:38)

5. Courage (Jesus had courage in the face of growing opposition and certain crucifixion–Isa 40:31)

6. The power to take it…unbeatable (“obedient to death…therefore God exalted him.” Phil 2:8-9)

7. He cared deeply…every man’s hunger was His own (“he had compassion on them” Matt. 9:36)

8. He gave himself (“he suffered death, so that … he might taste death for everyone” Heb 2:9).

While only one man was chosen to help Jesus carry His cross on that fateful day 2000 years ago, today the invitation is open to us all:

” Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)