Learn to Fly
If you met an adolescent Friar Tucker, you'd find a teen obsessed with music from the punk, alternative, and grunge scenes of the 90's. One of the artists who still remains influential in my life today is Dave Grohl, lead of the Foo Fighters and former drummer of Nirvana. Not only am I ridiculously jealous of Grohl's ability to perform every instrument - drums, guitar, keys, vocals, maybe even a bassoon - better than I can play any of them, but I'm enthralled with his ability to lyrically state simple truths in ways that deeply resonate with my heartstrings. Not only does he often say what I feel, but he helps me more authentically address what I feel. More than just a young musician, though, Dave Grohl inspired me as a budding disciple of Jesus.
Learn to Fly is one such song that wove together my experience as a child of the 90's and a child of God. In an interview, Grohl spoke of the song as a "search for the signs of life that make you feel alive." Simply, it's the pursuit of inspiration to live life to the fullest. Jesus talked about this in different terms, those of abundant life, and surely Jesus inspired us as Christians to live the most vibrant of lives, lives brimming with divinity in our humanity.
The church, though, seems to constantly face the struggle of complacency. Rather then pursuing flight in our journey with God, we often seem content with crawling down the path. For instance, we seem content with collecting nonperishable goods for hungry people but avoid making meaningful relationships with these people while advocating for systemic political, economic, social, and religious change to eradicate hunger completely. We crawl to barely address the immediate opportunity to live abundant life while ignoring the possibility of multiplying that experience of God to all God's creatures.
Certainly, I'm not advocating that we stop donating to food pantries. Indeed, we ought to celebrate the ways that we live out our discipleship already, no matter how big or small, and give thanks to God for leading us into that faithfulness. However, we ought never be satisfied with the limits of our faithfulness. God's calling us to fly, and in many ways, we're tied to the idea of walking. We can donate food, befriend those who face hunger, and work together to reshape a world with abundant food to share those goods so that no one goes hungry unwillingly. We can learn to fly. We can find life abundant.
The question that comes to us, though, is are we willing to learn?
Here's the weird thing. I began this blog post, on this topic, Sunday night. UNTIL IT DISAPPEARED FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE FOR REASONS UNKNOWN. Forgive my digital yelling, but just ask my wife about my reactions. This is somewhat tame. Now, I don't believe God caused my iPad or Weebly to glitch. I do believe, however, that God used that opportunity to introduce me to Sean.* You see, Sean came to the church in need of some assistance. We'd already helped Sean with some food cards last week while I was out of town, and our policy is to help families with a set amount so we can spread our resources out to make the largest impact across the community. It would have been easy for me to write off the situation, since we'd already helped him and since I'm terribly behind in a number of other work related areas.
Yet, I remembered the now-absent blog post and this generalized desire to take leaps of faith beyond my habitual practices, so I sat and listened to Sean, heard his story, and prayed with him. I found out that he's in the midst of a divorce, lost his job due to poor health, and now faces food insecurity and near-homelessness on a regular basis. He's trying to get disability and find some part time work that he can manage, but he hadn't eaten a true meal in days since he was saving his pennies to get a permanent roof over his head. We then got in my car and went to the store together so I could buy him some more food. In the midst of this conversation, God pressed upon me that a "we helped you last week" stance seemed a pitiful version of grace to offer in this Easter season. I invited Sean to come back so we could develop our relationship and dropped him off at the apartment he's trying to afford.
I didn't fly today, but God took that situation and reminded me of the blog post that I had started, which was born out of a desire to discover the abundant life God has in store for us all. God's presence in our conversation convicted me to do more, to not be satisfied with just good enough, to instead follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit into the realm of risking relationship. God's not just about barely living. God's about living abundantly. We need to learn to fly, not just crawl, not just walk, not even run, but to fly, to live a life beyond our human ability. That's what life abundant's all about. On my own, I probably wouldn't have helped Sean, or invited this relative stranger into my car, or bought him groceries. As an organization, we would have helped once this year and referred to other agencies. But life abundant means getting outside of what I would do, or we would do, and learning to live as Christ would. That's abundant life. That's learning to fly.
I learned what abundant life was from God through Scripture and the Church through our life together in worship and service. But I learned about inspiration from Dave Grohl and others like him. The vitality I find in musical moments, when I feel fully alive, is a shadow of the vitality that God offers in Christ. But to embrace the Kingdom of God, to live in the divine realm with God, we've got to learn to fly, and most importantly, be willing to learn when God shows up. That's what God taught me when my blog died and I met Sean.
*Sean isn't his real name, but all other details are true. The image is also a stock photo of someone who loosely resembles Sean.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.