July 31, 2007

Something New

It's now been two weeks since Ethan went to his diabetes camp. He cried when we put him on the bus. "Take me home!" he said.

"No," we told him. "We love you, but you need to get on the bus." We hugged him, said goodbye, and watched as he climbed onto the bus and took his seat. Then, when we were sure he couldn't see us, we cried a little, too.

How easy it would have been to say, "Let's just go home. Doing something totally new is scary; let's just return to where things are safe and familiar. Let's just return to what we know."

However, doing so would have denied him all the wonderful opportunities for fun and learning that his camp offers: meeting new friends, enjoying the mountain setting, playing games, and learning how to take better care of his diabetes. In addition, because he did get on the bus, he now has the confidence to try other new things in life, things that can lead to other new opportunities. Those difficult steps up into the bus were worth it. Perhaps now he will be willing to take other difficult steps in life that can lead to even greater rewards.

Watching him leave for camp, I wondered what it must have been like for Abraham and Sarah to agree to leave their homeland and follow God someplace new. (That's certainly a bigger undertaking than spending a week at camp!) What must it have been like for the Israelites to follow Moses out of Egypt, or for Ruth to say to Naomi, "Wherever you go, I will go; your people shall be my people."

Perhaps these experiences are not so different from that of the individual who hasn't been to church in years, but one day decides to return. Returning is difficult; there may be questions. It would be easier and safer to stay home. Yet, he returns.

Perhaps it's not so different from the person who has come to worship for years, but one day decides to get more involved by volunteering as a leader, or starting a new outreach ministry, even though he or she has never done anything like that before.

Perhaps it's not so different from the church that decides that the way it has always done things is no longer working, and that it needs to completely re-invent the way it does ministry, even though that new ministry will look and feel like nothing the people of that church have ever experienced.

The first few steps on any new venture can be scary. Some people are paralyzed by that fear, and never leave home, never do anything new. But God's people draw strength from their faith, and willingly go where God leads, even if no one has gone there before.

I made him get on the bus, because I knew that trying something new is good. Experience has taught me this. I believe that his experiences will teach the same.

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