Skip to main content

Square one.

By: Scott
Okay, so it's happened.  I'm blogging.  I know, I know, you're thinking, "But Scott!  You're 23!  How do you keep up with young 'uns these days?"  It's not easy, guys.  Not easy.  But, I figure it's gotta be better than trying to keep up with the teeny-bopper music scene these days.  Since when is the annoying girl from "School of Rock" allowed to be a pop star?  She made Band Manager!

But I digress.

As I sit here writing my first post of what I hope to be many, I will start with a message on what it means to begin something.  To take the fresh leap.  To arrive at square one.

It's refreshing, isn't it?  The feeling of having absolutely nothing behind you, everything in front.  I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I'm young and ambitious, but having a clean slate is just about the most exciting thing out there.  It means endless possibilities, boundless journeys off in the horizon.  And almost as soon as we feel the rush of joy and excitement over this new endeavor, we are struck with a sobering sense of fear.

You know what I'm talking about.  You know because you've failed before.  Here's what I mean.

I wasn't the best student growing up.  Okay that's putting it nicely... I was a pretty awful student.  Especially when considering what I could have achieved had I actually put forth the effort.

Some of you know the feeling.

Demotivational Posters are my favorite.
How many of you hate the word potential?  I certainly do, to some extent.  For myself, it summarizes a life of never. quite. getting there.  Over and over again, time after time.  Every class in school, thinking, "This year will be different.  This time I'll stay on top of it."  But it never happened.  That's exactly the problem with potential.  Trying to actually turn all your potential into actual is so darned difficult.

Not just difficult.  Impossible.

To find why this is, we have to go back.  Waaaaaay back.

A quick side note, before I launch into an Adam and Eve reference.  Whether you do or don't believe in Christ as the Savior, whether you've read the whole bible or wouldn't know it from the Quran, whether you're a Christian, Atheist, or somewhere in between, I don't want you to stop reading now.  It's possible to not believe in the Adam and Eve story and still gain some understanding from it.  I'm not requiring my readers to fall in line with whatever I believe, but I would challenge you to keep reading and see if it still can speak to you.

There is this place called the Garden of Eden, a natural sanctuary built by God--beautiful and perfect in it's design.  The Garden itself is potential achieved.  It is complete, because it is completely in God's control.  Not one thing is less than it should be.

And then God brings something else into the picture.  Us.

Adam and Eve come into the Garden and waste no time in making a royal mess of things.  You see, Adam and Eve are created by God, but He makes them different than everything else.  They are made in His image, they possess something in them that goes beyond the other animals.  They have choices to make.  He allows for them to know of a tree, the only tree in the entire Garden that is off limits.

And of course, what do they do?  They go and eat from the tree.

God gave them the potential to listen.  Gave them the potential to follow.  Gave them the potential to stay with Him.  But they left, they chose their own way, they stopped listening.  And we have payed for that mistake ever since.

Potential squandered.

How can we put the pressure of always achieving our potential when we are born from a long line of people?  Innately flawed people, at that.  The sooner we wake up and realize that we don't get a square one, the sooner we can be at peace with our innate "people"ness.  We are people, and people have a history of failing.  We never completely leave behind those feelings of failing. We never get that square one.

Ah, well, see that's not entirely true either.  I was rereading the crucifixion story the other day (I know, fun, right?) and I got to the line when Jesus cries out to God, "Why have you forsaken me?"

That is a haunting line.  And one that confounds a lot of people.  Here's my take.

I think Jesus was God's response to our inability to ever get to square one.  God knows we always fall short, we always sin, we always eat that fruit.  And so He takes action.  He sends His Son.  Someone completely in His control, because Christ is completely God.  And yet completely man.

I think in this case, Christ is God's way of saying, "Look, I get it.  You all feel like no matter what you do, no matter how good you try to be, you end up torturing yourself instead."  And so He sends his Son to be tortured, to take all this potential of being a Messiah and, to the average observer at the time, squander it.

The Joe Shmoe on the street corner is watching Christ walk by, carrying the cross, thinking, "too bad he never became that Savior everyone thought he'd be."

And that's the beauty of the story, because in His giving up everything, God again proves His perfectness to us, but this time in a new way.  This time, instead of casting us out of His realm for our imperfection, He invites us back despite it.  He's saying, "Yes, you are not perfect.  Yes, you will fail time and time again.  But look, I'm taking that pain for you, here and now and forever."  He's giving us a square one.

So now when we seek Him out and ask for a fresh start, we are granted it on the spot.  When we ask to seek out a new adventure in His glory, He blesses us regardless our past mistakes.

And that's the beauty of the square one, of Christ, we are asked to dream, and imagine, and run forth in joy of the unknown.  Run with me.


Popular posts from this blog

On Uniting Methodists: A "Fixed and Free" Romans 14 Church

This past week, the local church I serve, Lovers Lane UMC, hosted a gathering of area clergy and lay leaders interested in learning more about a movement called "Uniting Methodists." Leading the presentation and ensuing discussion were Rev. Rachel Baughman of Oak Lawn UMC in Dallas, and Rev. Dr. Stan Copeland of Lovers Lane.

I respect both of these leaders immensely; Rachel was actually my children's pastor when I was in the 6th grade at W.C. Martin UMC in Bedford, TX, and Stan has been my boss and mentor for the better part of the last decade. That respect was shared by the room as far as I could tell, and it was their presence together on stage that likely sparked more than a little curiosity amongst those who came. 

The sight of them sitting together on stage perhaps sums up Uniting Methodists in one image. On the left (literally and figuratively), a young, progressive, woman with clerical collar, black plastic glasses, and dreads pulled neatly into a bun. On the righ…

Why I Loved Daniel and Hated Job

I used to hate the book of Job.

There, I said it.  I know some of you might be in shock that I--a seminarian, a pastor, a future ordained elder--would actually hate a book of the Bible.  But it's true, for the longest time I just could not stand the story of a man whose life get's worse and worse and worse, simply because God wanted to prove something to Satan... or something like that.*

Which is funny because my wife absolutely loves the book of Job.  It's her favorite in the entire Old Testament, and I could not understand why for the longest time.  It's just so dadgum depressing.  A man's life starts out so wonderful, so full of blessing and grace, and slowly falls apart until nothing is left but his faith.  And I know, I know, at the end he gets back double what he had before, but that's a few verses at the end of chapters and chapters of misery.

Not like Daniel.  The story of Daniel is a book that starts out with destruction and judgement and nothing but …

Israel Trip Days 10-11

By: Scott Gilliland

I've just realized my title for these blogs is partially incorrect.  I'm surprised it took me until now to realize that they should have been titled "Israel/Palestine Trip," out of consideration for the two distinct peoples that occupy this land officially known as "Israel."  These last two days we have been based in Bethlehem, which sits just inside the West Bank (named for it's geographical location on the western bank of the Jordan River, which is actually on the eastern border of Israel, which is super confusing, but whatever...), so I've become acutely aware of the distinct differences between the Israeli and Palestinian territories.  But I digress, more on that in a later post.

We began Day 9 by leaving Nazareth bright and early to make our way down the eastern edge of the country, through the West Bank, along the Jordan River, with Bethlehem as our ultimate goal.  We stopped first in Jericho to see the Mount of Temptation …