A postcard from Hawaii
For the next 12 weeks, Michael Green, a student on the multi-generational Discipleship Training School will be submitting bi-weekly updates on his experiences at the Kona, Hawaii campus. In this second "postcard", Michael and his family (a lovely wife and two small boys) start applying the DTS teaching on giving up your rights. (Editor, YWAM International Communications Team)
I wish that you could see our “Island car”. It’s midnight black, with shiny chrome hubcaps, it runs . . . and . . . well, that’s about it when it come to the good points. The glove compartment hangs permanently open, you have the tap the speedometer to get it to work and when it rains, which is does fairly frequently, we get wet. No, sadly it is not a convertible, but rather the result of a large impact dent down one side of the car that stops the doors from closing properly. In the perpetually damp interior we are cultivating at least three different types of plant and are slightly concerned that one of them might be an illegal substance if we were to dry it and smoke it. Still, we love our Island car and it does get us to the beach – provided that we don’t drive at more than 1mph over any speed-bumps as the wheel arches on one side are somewhat lower than they should be.
In a small way, our Island car has also provided me with an example of something that we’ve been discussing in class - what it mean to lay down our rights. We live in a world obsessed by the protection and even exaltation of rights. Now don’t get me wrong, personal rights are of great value, but if Jesus really is Lord, then even the most basic human rights must be laid down at the feet of the one who went before us.
I’m not currently having to lay down any of the basic human rights (although the right to eat unprocessed cheese is being severely challenged), but what about the right to be understood . . . the right to an assured income . . . the right to a certain kind of lifestyle . . . the right to our reputation.
Loren Cunningham, the founder of YWAM, spoke a few nights ago on the laying down of our rights. He said that he knows of no modern man or woman of God today with an effective ministry who did not first go through the pain of losing human reputation. But there are much tougher tests too. He described the moment after a nearly fatal car crash that he and his wife Darlene had been in. In that moment, as he cradled Darlene’s lifeless bleeding body, he heard the Lord ask him, “Loren will you still serve me?” Through the tears he answered, “Yes, Lord, I’ll serve you. I have nothing left except my life . . . and you can have that too”. He then heard the Lord speak a second time. “Pray for Darlene.” He had thought that she was dead and so hadn’t thought to pray. As he did so, she drew a breath.
How would I answer? I would like to think that I know, but it’s not in the big decisions that we suddenly find out where our hearts are. It is in the daily dying to self, the laying down of what I want in obedience to God, that the battle is won or lost. As our speaker this week has been fond of saying, “It’s all about the heart.”
Hmm, so back to the Island car. Debbie Duke, one of our DTS staff, was the one that found our Island car. She said to me afterwards that she wasn’t going to tell me about it, except that that morning I had publicly said that I was prepared to lay down my ambition and reputation. Having let go of the need to be “cool”, she decided that the Island car would be perfect for us, and after the amount of sand the boys have deposited in it, I think that it probably is.
But I’ve discovered something else. As I let go of some of my long held and cherished rights, I realize that I’m actually freer than I’ve ever been. I haven’t possessed them so much as they have possessed and enslaved me. For example, as long as I require a certain level of income there are so many life options that are closed to me. Dan Bauman, another of our speakers, described the moment as he sat in an Iranian cell, sentenced to death, of giving up the ultimate right - his right to life. As he did so, he found himself suddenly free of fear and full of joy. His captors couldn’t take from him something that he had already given up. I’m not sure that I’m quite there yet, but perhaps my Island car is a step in the right direction. As Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose."