I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about participating in God’s mission of goodness and love as embodied and commissioned by Jesus. I know this isn’t necessarily new or profound, but I’m realizing more and more that immersing myself in this mission requires living with purpose and intention. God’s mission doesn’t naturally flow out of me. That means I’ve got to intentionally live in a way that trains me in God’s grace to become the kind of person who naturally carries out God’s mission. And I’ve got to intentionally live in a a way that naturally engages the world around me with God’s mission.
This morning I began reading a new book by Tom and Christine Sine called “Living On Purpose.” The first couple of paragraphs in the foreword by Les Parrott immediately grabbed me. He says:
“There is a great line in Moby Dick, when the sailors are rowing furiously while the whale boat is racing frantically to catch the great whale. There is one person in the boat who is not doing anything. He is just sitting there, quiet and still. It’s the harpooner, ready to take aim and throw his deadly dart. And Melville writes: ‘To ensure the greatest efficiency in the dark, the harpoonists of this world must start to their feet out of idleness and not out of toil.’
“Our culture has a problem with idle harpoonists who appear ‘nonproductive.’ We are more impressed with the dazzling display of the whirring hamster wheel. The busier the better. So many of us who might be excellent harpoonists get caught up in a relentless pace and are never ready to use our gifts when they are needed most.”
That is an vivid metaphor for our lives today. We are God’s harpoonists in the dark. Our lives are to be poised, ready to launch everything we are — our very beings — into the darkness as we strike with goodness and love.
And yet, the posture of readiness for the harpoonist, as Melville writes, is from a place of idleness and not busyness. That’s not laziness, but focused readiness. I know that in my life, I am so busy that I’m usually aware of God’s mission as missed opportunities from the perspective of hindsight (if at all).
God’s mission is so counter to the way of life around us. That’s why God had to come in person to show us a radically new way of being human. But that means living my life in God’s mission requires living my life completely counter to the values, activities and busyness around me. It doesn’t mean neglect. Rather it means making “space for God” throughout a normally crammed day.
I like how Paul put it in Colossians 3:1-3 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” This happens while we engage our real daily lives. It’s learning how to intentionally live and see things “from above” as we still exist “from below.”
Father, forgive me for my hurriedness and harriedness. Forgive me for defining my identity and value from what I do and accomplish. Forgive me for being delivered into your radically different kingdom and yet still trying to live from the old kingdom. Teach me to do more than live “the Christian life.” Teach me to do more than practice spiritual disciplines as another form of busyness and activity. Use them and other instruments of your kingdom to teach me to enter into and participate in your divine nature from which true goodness and love flow. Teach me to be quiet and still, ready to cast my life into the darkness for your good. Amen.