I am completely and humbly sold out to God. The Lord in His abundant provision is the foundation on which Lee and I have built our core values. We trust God with the way we approach our marriage. We lean into Jesus with the parenting of our young daughter. We rely on the Holy Spirit while navigating the relationships we have with our adult children. We prayerfully move into healthy relationships with friends and family. We are sold out to God and His local church, AC3. Over the years I have been growing at AC3 with one exception, Vision Cast. Can I say that here? On a blog written to encourage you to attend this critical event I have said “no thanks, that is NOT for me.”
My Husband and one of our sons started attending Vision Cast a few years before I did. They came home with powerful examples of how God showed up and how they connected with people they normally would not have. My daughter listened with anticipation for the day she would be old enough to attend. My friends and acquaintances would talk about what a great weekend they had and I would change the subject without missing a beat. In fact, I would do anything not to attend including having my teeth cleaned or any other less than desirable appointment.
What am I saying? Am I really comparing Vision Cast to a root canal, not exactly, but what I am admitting is that my attitude was poor, my perspective colored by past hurts and my fear paralyzing. Why exactly did I change the subject when someone mentioned Vision Cast to me? Why was I terrified of a church retreat? The very simple reason is that I felt like I didn’t belong, I felt inadequate. I felt like the church retreat was nothing more than a painful way to magnify my self consciousness about being an outsider. The idea of a prolonged awkward conversation in the church lobby did not appeal to me let alone a whole weekend! In addition, I was just not emotionally up to standing on the outside of a group where everyone knew each other. The thought of attempting to break into that kind of established circle made me consider a root canal. I just did not want to be vulnerable, it felt too draining, too much of a risk that I was unwilling to take. I liken my intense anxiety to being chosen last in a game of dodgeball, where I know deep down in my bones I am going to get a ball to the face if history repeated itself.
Part of my problem is that there is a discrepancy in the approach to talking about Vision Cast. If someone asks me “hey are you going to Vision Cast?” My response is no way or perhaps a more subtle “I don’t think so.” I have so many excuses ready on the tip of my tongue: lack of child care, no pet sitter, the cost, taking time off from work, random dental cleanings…..you get the point right? BUT if you were to say to me “Hey, Dea I am thinking about going to Vision Cast do you think you would like to check it out with me?” There is an invitation to do life together. To walk alongside me in scary and unknown social environments where I may feel more comfortable knowing someone is in it with me. We need to offer an invitation to attend Vision Cast while also accepting an invitation to attend Vision Cast. Walking into AC3 on the arm of a friend makes a huge difference and knowing that I have received a personal invitation to attend Vision Cast makes a huge difference as well.
Good stuff happens at Vision Cast. God is at the center of everything we do at AC3. Our mission and vision honors the Gospel of Jesus. It took me a lot longer than it probably should have to know and believe that AC3 needs her body to show up at Vision Cast, that I needed to show up. The church needs YOU sharing your ideas, offering your gifts, telling your stories, being part of the fellowship that makes our church vibrant, unique and sold out for Jesus. I am also learning that we can’t be all the things God calls us to be if we don’t step out in faith and take some risks, even if those risks are out of your comfort zone. What does that risk look like? It looks like you living a life sold out to God.
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us this: “therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here (NIV) And that my friends is the game changer. Even if you get hit in the face with the dodgeball- remember you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. So step out in faith and give Vision Cast a chance to connect with God and His people in real and deep ways or in light and frivolous ways. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you into opportunities to grow in fellowship and in your vision of what this next ministry year looks like for you and your brothers and sisters in Christ. Collectively, let us cast a vision for what God can do with you and through you. I think when you do that you will say Vision Cast is exactly for me. For those of you who don’t have any difficulty in attending Vision Cast seek out someone you would like to get to know better and ask them to attend with you. And for those of you who don’t attend find someone you are interested in getting to know and ask them to go with you. For those of you who receive an invitation to attend say yes. And I promise you it is better than that root canal and if I am wrong go ahead and have me committed!