Well Done

Ok, so I wasn't planning on blogging about this, but we visited some old church friends over Christmas and the gave me a book that they said I should read. It's by Steve Johnson, the one time lead evangelist of the NYC Church of Christ. It's called I Wanna Hear Him Say 'Well Done', Instead of Going to Hell and Gettin' Burned Well Done. We were talking about our church and where we came from and how we got there. This book is supposed to have a lot of history of the ICoC (I haven't got to that yet) which my church is a part of, which is why they thought I should read it. I had a few minutes tonight before putting the kids to bed, so I thought I'd start it. It's a short book, 138 pages from the title page to the publisher's ad in the back, and the pages are small and the type is large. I'm only on page 21 and I've come across some great stuff that I thought I'd share.

I briefly though about putting it down after the dedication and the forward by Sam Laing. You see, Steve, Sam, Russ Ewell (whom the book is dedicated too) and Kip McKean (whom the book is almost dedicated to) were all big-wig leaders in the ICOC when this was published 5 years ago. In the past few years it has become fashionable not to trust, respect or hold in any high regard such men. A lot of stupid, sinful things were discovered that lead to such conclusions. I remembered what I had learned over the past 2 years and I wondered if there could be anything of value here in this book by a Leader, written before The Revelation. But reading the intro, the glowing praise for Steve by Sam and by Steve of these men, and I remember what it was like to have men, leaders, to look up to. That seems to be lost and I felt sad that it was gone and realized that I missed it. It's gone for me party because I've seen the failings - rather substantial failings - of men I thought were holy and now my spiritual innocence is lost. But it's also partly because I won't let myself see my leaders with such idealism any more. They must be up to something, there is something that they don't get. They're part of The System, they don't understand. You know what, that's a lonely, cold kind of existence and I'm a little tired of it. I cannot go back to the idealistic trust of the past, but I can't stay cynical either. I must find the balance between complete and unquestioning trust and constant, tireless questioning and doubt.

Anyway, that's not what inspired my to pull the laptop out and start writing, that was just the intro! No, the reason I felt compelled to blog is Steve's unique, matter of fact writing and the points it drives home. Take this:

What does God want? Lots of "don'ts" come to mind. Don't smoke, don't cuss, don't get pregnant if you're not married and don't get married to a boy ... if you're a boy. But the Bible reveals that if you really want to understand, God is a loving father who doesn't want us to get hurt.The devil is an evil child abductor, and God is the fretting dad who doesn't want his kids to end up on a milk carton for all eternity. He grieves when we run away from home. He is absolutely sick with anxiety when we're stolen by evil. He mourns when we prefer the company of hoodlums over his presence and the thrill of cheap shenanigans over his agenda for our lives. And just like any of us with our own kids, he wants to be able to say, "Well done, good and faithful son, daughter, beloved of mine" more than we could ever comprehend.
That really hit me because in the place I've been I was struggling a bit with the title of the book, the implication that it's all about making the grade and getting to heaven. It seems a bit selfish, and frankly it also seemed a bit demanding and even ungodly that God would have an expected level of performance for me. But I too long to be able to tell my daughters, "Well done." Not to see them perform, jump through hoops or meet my expectations or even to please me, but because I want the absolute best for them. Like God, I just don't want them to get hurt. There's really no selfishness there, but wisdom of years of life that I want them to apply to their life. I know things that can help them, that are crucial to their happiness or even safety - eternal safety, and seeing them follow them gives me joy because I know the pain that they've avoided by doing so. God isn't trying to control me, he just loves me. Typing that now seems so foolish - Duh, I knew that! - but at the moment it seemed so profound.

1 Comment

You're right it's so simple as to sound stupid. Too bad we're so stupid that we've got to remind ourselves of this simple fact over and over and over and...

My kids don't get it (that I don't want them to make the same mistakes I've made, etc) most of time, but I hope with the passing of time and maturity that they will. I guess we're like that with God. I'm sure He hopes that with time and maturity we'll get it too.

Thanks for the "simple" reminder.


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  • You're right it's so simple as to sound stupid. Too bad we're so stupid that we've got to remind ourselves of this simple fact over and over and over and... My kids don't get it (that I don't want them to make the same ...