Over the years I’ve developed a habit. It's more of a complex, to be honest. If I am in a restaurant or in a public place, I always have to sit facing the entrance/exit.
Not only that, but when I walk into an unfamiliar place, I always scan to locate the exit signs and the easiest place to escape in the event of a situation.
Can you blame me?
There is a whole bunch of mess happening these days. It seems like every week there is an active shooter or a bombing or a crazed individual driving into a crowd. It’s always something.
But is it only the fear of disaster that grips us, or is it the culture of easy returns and exits that has created this in me and many other paranoid people whom I’ve encountered?
Think about it.
In college you are given a certain amount of days to drop a class without penalty. But if you miss that deadline you can still withdraw from the class with a “W” which essentially means withdrawal. You can essentially go through the class, get almost to the end and if you are unsatisfied with your class grade, you can quit as to not have to complete the class with an undesired grade.
Return policies that were once 30 days are now 60 and up to 90 days. You can buy a car and return it a few weeks later if you don’t want it. Kids can get emancipated from their parents if they don’t like the rules. If you don’t like your job, quit and get a better one. You don’t like your spouse, annul the marriage so it is as if it never ever happened.
You get my drift?
Because of this, many of us live our Christian lives the same way. As a pastor, I have heard many reasons people walk away from their churches, quit church altogether. Some have even walked away from the faith they once claimed to have.
There is always one familiar tone in most of these conversations. These individuals walked in like I walk into new spaces: looking for the quickest escape route when things get uncomfortable.
I had a couple visit my church and tell me why they were leaving their church-- because there was no one their age. I told them that knowing this information I would not feel comfortable having them be a part of our church. Why? Because as soon as they found something they didn’t like, they would leave our church too.
There was no thought of building up the community they were yearning for in their local church, only looking to pull the escape hatch to go find it elsewhere.
Where in your faith walk are you constantly looking for the escape hatch?
One of my mentors and dear friends who is an incredible psychologist told me once, “people will always find what they're looking for, the good or the bad.” And if we are honest, most of us look for the bad as to justify the necessity of escape.
Jesus said in Luke 9:62 "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
Are your heart and mind focused on what God has in store for you now or are you busy looking back or looking around for reasons to take your hands off the plow?
As long as your focus is on finding the escape hatch, you will hinder yourself from experiencing all God wants to do in and through your faithfulness to put his mission above your fears. I’ve learned this the hard way.
Stop looking for the exit signs or escape hatches or land mines. Whether it's your faith, your ministry or your church, commit, engage and let God blow your mind!