Seeing Life Thematically

My buddy, Brian Zehr, talks about seeing life thematically. Sometimes it’s the songs that come on the radio, the books we read, or the shows we watch on television. We have seasons in life during which the world around us is centered around a particular theme.

I feel this way right now. Whether it’s a book someone recommends or even the new album from my favorite singer/songwriter, there seems to be a theme. The current theme I’m experiencing in life is simple: don’t give up. Very interesting that I’m in the middle of launching a new ministry and the theme I feel is not giving up.

The truth is that if doing what we are trying to do through 801South was easy, then lots and lots of people would do it regularly. But it’s not easy. In fact, the other day Ken Lyon (senior pastor at Matthews UMC) and I had the chance to share with a group of pastors about our experience in starting a new ministry. We were asked the question, “What have been some of the challenges you’ve experienced so far?” My answer is everything. The whole endeavor is one big challenge. And I think it’s fun to meet the challenge. Most days I’m having a blast figuring this out, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, and watching other leaders thrive as we move toward launch.

But there are some days that I might not describe as “fun.” These are the rare days that I have to overcome listening to the voices in my mind telling me that failure is imminent. These are the days that require the most courage. So, again, it’s interesting that what I’m reading and hearing these days has to do with overcoming voices and being courageous.

Here are a couple examples:

John Mark McMillan, whose music speaks to my soul more so than that of anyone else, writes in his new song about not being able to do life alone when times get hard. He sings,

“Where the bombs break/
Right outside my door/
And I can’t shake the onset of my wars/
When the stakes are raised/
We hold the hand we’ve drawn/
You’re what I’m counting on”

I have stated from the beginning that if left up to our own intelligence, skills, and intellect, then 801South has no chance of being the movement we all hope to see. We have to be continually open to God’s direction and guidance as we allow Him to lead us through this vision.

In his latest book, David and Goliath, Malcom Gladwell writes, “Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.” Gladwell affirms that courage is something earned from putting one foot in front of the other and knowing that the end result is not going to be as bad as the voices tell you. We are definitely earning our courage these days.

These are just some of the ways the world seems to be speaking to me today. How about you? Do you ever see life thematically? Do all the incoming messages seem to share a particular message as you journey through life? If you’ve never stopped to consider listening for a theme, you might just find it helpful.

2 thoughts on “Seeing Life Thematically

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