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If you could do what you've always wanted to do, what would it be?

Like many clergy, one of the things I like to do is read the books of (and listen to the CD's or podcasts of) authors who write about prayer, the Bible, and our relationship with God.

Unlike many clergy - or at least unlike most any other Episcopal clergy I know - I am frequently drawn, in my reading, to several authors who are a bit outside the mainstream. People like Graham Cooke and Julia Cameron and James Martin, S.J. and William Barry, S.J. and Peter Rollins.
I don't agree with 100% (or even 50%) of what these authors write, and in fact many of their theological stances are far away from my own.

But that's part of their attraction: their writing and speaking is, at least to me, a breath of fresh air. They challenge not only my opinions, but my whole world-view.

By contrast, so much of what's out there in mainstream Protestantism seems all the same: carefully rational, and predictably social-liberal (or social-conservative) agenda-driven.

I say all that by way of introducing you to the thought of another such author outside the mainstream but who has meant a lot to me: John Eldredge, who is mostly known for his writing on men's spirituality.

As we prepare for my church's annual meeting this Sunday, the following quote of John Eldredge  keeps coming back to me, because I believe he is asking a critical question not only of us as individuals, but as a church - a faith community - as well.

So here goes. Read it carefully, and think about what he's saying. 

It captures a large part of what makes me tick -- it's as close as I get to an overall guiding leadership principle as the Rector of a church. 

But what's being said here will help YOU in your own spiritual and personal growth, I promise:

If you had permission to do what you really wanted to do, what would you do?

Don't ask how - "how" cuts desire off at the knees.

In the beginning of asking yourself what you want to do, asking how you're going to do it is faithlessness. "How" is God's department. He is asking you WHAT.

What is written in your heart?

What makes you come alive?

If you could do what you've always wanted to do, what would it be? (A clue: those times you found yourself loving what you were doing.)

Release control in exchange for the recovery of the dreams in your heart.

'The spiritual life cannot be made suburban,' Howard Macy writes, 'it is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed.'

Mystery is essential to adventure. (Read the Bible and you'll see that God has his people do some huge, amazing thing. And then never do it that way again. Follow Jesus around looking for a formula for healing and he'll drive you crazy. He never does the same thing twice.)

With God, there are no formulas. There are no step-by-step plans. If we are to be his followers, we must embrace something beyond our control. Originality and creativity are essential.

-John Eldredge, Wild at Heart


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