My cell phone had been erupting with calls, texts, and voicemail. Unfortunately, it was one of the rare occasions that I did not have my phone immediately by my side. I knew that I had volunteered to drive a friend to the airport, but in my estimation, I still had plenty of time. My phone, though, had been ringing and pleading for my attention. My friend needed to leave earlier than she had anticipated. I, luckily, managed to make it to my phone in time to be able to make the trip as I had promised. It turned out that the frantic phone calls turned out to be a harbinger for the routine trip to the Hartsfield-Jackson.
I volunteered to chauffeur Tori Coe so that she could catch her flight to Arizona, but neither of us took the forecast into account — an unwise decision considering the persistent rain that has swept through Georgia this summer. We were making good time right up to the time that we were close to jumping on to I-85. Rain and hail had been pounding Atlanta as the two of us had been driving down GA 400, and any Georgia native knows how traffic backs up when the rain is a mere sprinkle. A trip that usually takes fifteen to twenty minutes had been elongated into over an hour drive according to the GPS.
Tori and I inched along in the car while sheets of rain walloped the roof. Our previously vibrant conversation devolved into silence as the two of us worried about making her flight. After reasoning our way through the various improbabilities of our late arrival, we were able to assuage our concerns and slide back into conversation. Somewhere along our conversation (it could have been before the rain, but where’s the drama in that?), Tori asked me a pointed question; one that, at the time, I found to be ridiculous. She asked me what I thought would happen if I decided to do something for myself. From her perspective, everything about my life seemed to be about devotion to serving others. I figured it to be a strange thing to consider a life that didn’t involved a sacrificial devotion to others. Her question, however, turned out to be the first point of excavation — a breaking of ground around a part of me that need to be unearthed.
Just a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of serving the singles home group of First Redeemer Church. We were going through a study by Craig (or Carl) Groeschel called WEIRD: Because Normal isn’t Working. For a couple of weeks, I was honored to lead the discussion, and one of the lessons that I led involved the idea of pleasing people rather than pleasing God. The topic, I feel, is a fairly standard one. As I was preparing, the material didn’t seem all that radical to me, but once I started facilitating the discussion, a lot of what we were talking about started hitting me.
I started to uncover a truth; much of my life centered around the idea of serving and pleasing others over serving and pleasing the Lord. Somewhere along the line, I had blurred the two together to the point that I could not discern this issue without the aid of a minor revelation. I used all of the right language to hide the fact from myself, but the majority of my devotion has been directed toward people. The leftovers (and that may be giving myself too much credit) went to God.
Obviously, this needed to change. Precisely what the extent of that change would be, I did not realize then. I knew that the first step, though, was hearing the message and embracing the conviction that wrapped around me.