A couple weeks ago I was looking forward to reading Me, Myself and Bob. Then I read the book and wrote the formal “review”. Now I’m gonna take a shot at conveying what I took away from it.
In Chapter 21 (out of 22), Phil writes of influential reading he did soon after the downfall of Big Ideas. He was reading Henri Nouwen and was fascinated by how Henri gave up an Ivy League teaching job and moved into a home with handicapped individuals. Then he found a book his wife bought him but had never given him. Through this tThree stories changed his perspective on life:
The Shunammite Woman and Abraham were each tested by God to see who they valued more: God, or their children. Both Abraham and the Shunammite Woman had dreams of having a child, and God granted them that dream. Then God threatened taking their children away from them. Each accepted the possible loss of their child, for they were following their God. God had Elijah breathe life back into the Shunammite Woman’s child; as Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, God told him he didn’t need to. When Phil Vischer had his dream of VeggieTales and Big Idea Productions, of creating media to change the world through children, God threatened taking Phil’s dream away from him. Phil looks back now and realizes that he had not put God above all else, and God wanted Phil to refocus his life.
Then Phil mentions that Noah accomplished a God-sized mission when he was 500. But what did he do in his first 500 years? Only one verse tells us.
This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. [NLT]
Noah lived a life of walking closely with God. When God knew that Noah was focused enough to handle the mission, God empowered Noah to do it. Even then, Noah screwed up. How much greater, then, will we screw up the little missions in life if we are not walking closely with God?
I finished the book Saturday morning and sat down in the middle of my living room. The TV was off. There was no music. I sat there wanting to be following God so closely with my life. I’ve had my own missions lately, especially in church work. Last week was one of the lowest I have had as a pastor. And in that moment Saturday morning, I knew that my focus was off. I wanted so greatly to share that with the church, to help the church refocus. Phil’s most poignant illustration: he said that he had gotten so caught up, so stressed out in finishing each video, pushing towards the next VeggieTales project, he forget even to care for the people he interacted with, the cashier behind the register in the grocery store. And after he had interacted with these stories, he took a pause in the grocery store and asked the cashier how life was going.
May we be so caught up walking alongside God, that we lose sight of lofty visions and expectations of ourself and the church, and let God work in and through us.
For lack of vision, the people perish…