Written by Stonebriar Community Church Family Ministry Pastor Dave Carl
Of the hundreds of cartoons I grew up watching as a kid, one of the strangest was Popeye the Sailor Man. It was quite weird, and I never really liked it very much. I did not DIS-like it enough to actually set down my bowl of dry Captain Crunch cereal, get up off the sofa, and walk across the room in my rocket ship jammies to change the channel, sooooo I occasionally watched Popeye. He is famous for eating spinach to get super human strength, and he is also famous for mumbling in his gravelly voice, “I am what I am.” In essence, he was telling “Olive Oyl” (his true love) I will not change, so get used to things the way they are. This kind of statement feels like a declaration of strength and confidence. It is not. It is contrary to the natural progression of growth, and it is in direct opposition to the normal, expected spiritual growth that should be typical for all Christians.
I’ve heard stories of many struggling marriages where one of the spouses states quite emphatically, “You knew I was like this when you married me . . . ” Popeye all over again. This is quite a conversation killer. It in fact redirects blame for the current issue not on the one who refuses to change but on the one who desires change. It is in essence saying that You were so stupid to marry me like this you don’t get to hope for anything better. This is your fault!
This is not the way it is supposed to be.
REALITY CHECK #1: We are insufficient and in need of help.
Now we have talked about this in a previous post, Exciting News: I’m Not Enough, and You Aren’t Either, so I’ll not belabor the point here, but in summary: you, me, and all of us are not just a little insufficient . . . we are very insufficient, and it is perfectly fine. It is in fact the point where God wants to step in and assist us, guide and lift us up, even carry us along at times. We are supposed to be comfortable in this and calmly ask for help when we’re in need. If we have safe people around us whom we can count on, asking for help from others should never cause an emotional crisis. But for many—to experience insufficiency is like drowning in a sea of shame.
This is not the way it is supposed to be.
REALITY CHECK #2: Total transformation is the expected norm for Christians.
The Good News (Gospel) that Jesus came to deliver is not a promise of a 5% increase of life satisfaction each year. The Good News is a disruptive, adventurous, power-filled promise of becoming the actual YOU that you were created to be, which is categorically different than what you are today. This is not the you that wants to be comfortable and safe and undisturbed by the difficulties of life—that is a horrible, twisted and tragically small vision that has been marketed to us from the pit of hell. The Gospel, on the other hand, is the promise that God has a vision of what we can be, and it is beyond our imagination. Not just when we get to Heaven, but now. We are called to be transformed—to grow and change so much that we would be hard to recognize from who we were 10 years ago. Far from being transformed so that we can be comfortable and safe and undisturbed, we are called to be transformed by the Holy Spirit so that we can participate WITH Him while He takes back what Satan has illegitimately taken.
Luke 4:18 tells us that Jesus came to bring us the truth (preach the Gospel), rescue the souls held captive by sin, addictions, and self-harming, shame, and self-loathing (captives), to open the eyes of those living in lies and ignorance (the blind), and bring freedom to those who are living without hope (oppressed). As Christians, this is also our job description. I know—it makes my throat clench up, too. How in the world are insufficient, self-absorbed people supposed to do this impossible job? This is the stuff of every story in the Bible. Our story as believers is that despite the fact that we are broken clay pots (insufficient), God uses those who are willing to do the patently impossible. We are supposed to be becoming more like Christ so that we can do the things Christ did, and we get to do it with unimaginable power and resources and direction from God. That is why we need to be transformed, or we will never be able to participate in the very things we were created to do (Ephesians 2:10). That would be tragic.
I am not who I want to be. I am much, much less. I want to find healing from my hurts and be freed of the lies I believe. I want to grow. I want to change. I want to be free of anything that is holding me back from being in the arms of God and being effective in a rescue-and-protect mission for those in need around me. It’s a frightening prospect because I don’t know what God has in mind for me, but who am I gonna trust more with who I was meant to be—myself or an omnipotent God? This is not the Good News for a few odd monk-like guys or strange outsiders who eat locust and refuse to wear deodorant. This kind of transformation is supposed to be the norm. Our church is supposed to be filled with these kinds of folks walking around doing Kingdom work as a matter of course. Do not be deceived any longer. Embrace that you are insufficient and aggressively, fearlessly knock aside anything that is keeping you from being transformed into the you God has in mind.
This is the way it is supposed to be!
Dave Carl is the Family Ministry Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church and is responsible for the ministry focusing on children birth through graduation and the parents who love them. With a ministry philosophy based on Luke 10:27, his primary focus is to give parents the skills to raise kids who truly love Jesus and want to serve others. Dave has a passion for ministering to families in crisis in our community. He has spent several years pouring into fathers and husbands and helping them learn that they need community, were designed to guard and protect, and that they really can be the spiritual leaders of their family.
Dave and his wife of 20 plus years, Cathy, have two adult children and one in high school. and Cathy recently became grandparents for the first time and are completely in love. Dave is an avid woodworker and loves to write. He sees all stories in the form of pictures in his head, and he would love to connect with you!