Yesterday was the beginning of 100 Days of Prayer, a prayer initiative organized by the Adventist Church in preparation for the GC Session this July. I watched the accompanying short film “What Might Have Been” yesterday and decided that I would like to participate.
Why did the film grab my attention?
Besides my surprise at recognizing a few of the cast from my hometown (Willits!), I was totally caught by the practical application of humility that this film modeled.
I love watching people do awkward things for what they believe.
For years, ever since I had the capacity to think analytically, the idea of total surrender to God was always intimidating. But I could never quite put my finger on what, exactly, I was afraid of.
Now I know.
I was afraid of awkwardness.
In high school I hated drama. If there were love notes getting passed around, I disappeared. If people were angry, I just waited till things calmed down. The worst thing I could imagine was to say something someone else would disagree with.
In college, I realized disagreement could be constructive. But I was still afraid of hurting people’s feelings or doing something that my friends (brilliant friends each with wit out the wazoo and the charisma of presidents) might look down on. So I could disagree, as long as I had a semi-logical (or better yet, obscure and unheard-of) reason for it.
The thing is, God might cause drama, and He might not give reasons.
And that could be super awkward.
And so I have come to love seeing people do awkward things for their faith, because that seems to be one of the truest indicators of authentic obedience.
It can, also, be an indicator of off-base, ignorant delusion. I’ve seen that, too.
But often, and I think usually, when a person has the social intelligence to know that what they are doing is awkward but right, but good, and they move forward with it despite the awkwardness, they do beautiful things that make me fall in love.
I played in the orchestra my sophomore year at Andrews. I was second-to-last chair in the violin section. I probably should have been last, but they needed someone better to play next to me and drown out some of my improvised screeches.
At the end of the concert, I was talking with an elderly couple out in the lobby, and the man told me I had done a fine job. I thanked him and we continued talking. A few moments later, though, he circled back to his earlier statement and confessed that, actually, he had been late and hadn’t heard us play. He had lied. He apologized.
I felt so great.
See, what he did was nothing. He could have moved on and forgotten about it, and no one, really, would have been hurt. And in fact it probably felt really awkward for him.
But he cared about presenting himself honestly, and he noticed this little thing. And he acted on it despite the awkwardness. (By the way, he didn’t make me feel awkward, and I only loved and respected him more for it afterward. That’s usually how good-awkward things turn out.)
And in this film introducing the 100 Days of Prayer, the characters (and maybe the cast?) do just this sort of thing. They humble themselves to the point of awkwardness. And that is glorious.
So I’m going to be praying these next one hundred days, and I hope you are also.
Because how great would it be if God really did come down and bring every one of us to that point of glorious awkward obedience that unites the church enough to show the world that God loves us.
Do you have any awkward experiences to share? Put them in the comments! I want to love you more.
Psst! If you watch the video, I also suggest reading this article for some good historical background and another perspective on the issue (note Chudleigh’s conclusion!). And then maybe come back and read mine again. Comment if you have questions.