Every week I write a short pastoral letter to the West congregation of The Austin Stone. These are the people I serve and this is one of the simple ways that I like to stay connected with them. This letter was from Thursday 15 August, 2019.
Dear West Family
A couple of weeks ago a ceiling fan mysteriously fell out of our ceiling at home and came crashing to the floor in a few dramatically separated pieces. We have no idea how it happened, but I am glad that on one was hurt. Since then, the ceiling in our lounge has been taunting me with its clear and obvious lack of fan, and my clear and obvious inability to do anything about said lack. You see, I grew up in a home with a dad who was very committed to DIY and rather than my observation of that commitment leading me to desire to do the same, it led me in the opposite direction. I would help my dad with projects (including insulating our roof one summer which is a project that none of the Lester family ever fully recovered from) and the overwhelming sense I had as I watched him struggle was, “I am going to pay someone to do all of this.” It is a philosophy that has served me well until we moved to Austin and discovered that hiring someone to do anything costs approximately the annual GDP of most developing nations. And so, the ceiling sat fan-less for a couple of weeks until my wife Sue started to reach out to some of my friends to see if any of them were actual men and could help. She didn’t phrase it that way to be fair, but the message was clear, I was deeply disappointing as a man, a husband and even as a member of society. It was time to do something about the fan.
And so yesterday, I set to work. I turned the power off to the fan, the room, the house and potentially the neighborhood and spent three hours following the instructions to the letter. I even watched a YouTube video to double check my work. I got that sucker done, and it even looked like it is supposed to look on the box. I climbed off of the ladder feeling like Chip Gaines and anticipating a standing ovation from my adoring family. There is only one problem. The fan doesn’t work. Neither does the light attached to the fan. None of it works. I tried everything, I retraced my steps, I watched some more YouTube (no more DIY videos though, just mainly cats falling off of things so that I could comfort myself) and still the stupid thing won’t work.
It got me thinking.
DIY is dumb, at least if you try to do it on your own.
It yields horribly disappointing results, and yet most of us try this approach when it comes to our faith. We really can be guilty of a DIY christianity, not stopping to ask others for help and not admitting at any point that we need it, and the results we end up with are not unlike my unfinished fan. Our Christian lives might look good enough from the outside but they fail to deliver on the actual results that this journey with Jesus was designed to deliver on, that we would be more like Him.
So friends, in your journey of faith, please don’t do it yourself.
If you need help from others (you do), ask, and do it now! If you need the power of the Holy Spirit (you do), ask the Father for more of that. Do it now! If you need wisdom and instruction (you do), don’t rely on your own, run to the Word. Do it now!
Now if you don’t mind, I am off to YouTube to find out how to uninstall a non-working fan. Pray for me, my family, our neighborhood and the wellbeing of everyone in the general vicinity.
See you Sunday,