Firestarters

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. When we were all in elementary school, that was a difficult concept to grasp, as we were all fighting for a firm grasp on our own identities. I recall indignantly crowing on multiple occasions, “You copied me!” I have also been on the flip side of that scenario, however. While being copied may leave one feeling hollow of inspiration and void of worth, being the admirer whose admiration is misunderstood as plagiarism is also a deep blow.

I have been inspired by several people throughout my life, but there is one in particular I would like to highlight for this illustration.

Her name is Lorie. She is a stunningly beautiful young woman who has been my light for going on six years now. We met in middle school, where we began the tug-of-war of who was following whom. Lorie has always had a depth to her that strikes me simultaneously with awe and humility. I have watched this once-intangible depth blossom over the years into a rushing gaizer, an explosive force of Spirit that can and will not be contained.
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When I was younger, I felt so inferior to Lorie at some points that my awe and inspiration morphed into ugly jealousy. Lorie sang better, wrote better, spoke better, and was just cooler in general. My desire to be like her was perverted by a spirit of competition. For years, I battled with this ugly beast, scarcely ever able to surface for air whilst drowning in the exhausting momentum of trying to keep up with her—and not only that, but actually trying to outshine her. Since then, I have entered into my walk with Christ and have been healed of the identity crisis that got the spirit of compare roiling all over me to begin with– but that’s a different story for another time.

I think this is something a lot of people struggle with, not just me. I think somewhere along the line, we were taught that it’s not okay to champion someone else’s cause, that we all have to find our own ten-gallon hat, our own stallion, and our own sunset to ride off into alone. For years, we’ve been spoon-fed the notion that the only way anything we do will ever have value is if it has our own name stamped on the front cover.

What of the sculptors of the European cathedrals? So much painstaking time and effort went into carving out details in the framework that would be forever hidden from view. When asked why they bothered to invest so much into something that no man would ever be able to see or appreciate, their response was that they did what they did for the eyes of the Creator, the One Who sees all. That is the kind of humility we need to have. Not the humility that is self-deprecating, and certainly not the arrogance that demands entitlement. I’m talking about the humility that won’t shy away from the opportunity to follow a good lead.

There are certain people in the world who specialize in sparking fires. They may be considered as forerunners, scratching out the perimeters of new territory so that when the rest of us pioneers come along looking to settle, we can dig deeper past the surface. There are some people whose vision is so sharp, so far-reaching, that they only have time to briefly sample the tippy top layer before their flying feet carry them away again. And then there are people who, at the first sight of gold etched out by a fellow panhandler, dig and sift and pan and search until they have run the creek dry, and then it’s on to the next thing.

I would like to propose that both of these types of people are healthy, relevant, and very much needed for the starting and stoking of revival in communitty as well as for the progress of society in general. For this note, however, I’ll just focus on the first group: the fire-sparkers, the forerunners, the champions of the movements that propel us into the next seasons of greatness.
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Lorie is one such forerunner. She blazes through life with seemingly precarious steps, each one pre-ordained by a loving Father. She has quoted to me at least once that living by faith and not by sight is like “jumping from lily pad to lily pad in the dark, without knowing if the next lily pad is going to be there, but still jumping anyway.”

When she commits to something, she chases it with all her might until she can latch onto it with bulldog-to-the-leg precision to shake it till it’s dry. She has sparked a great many flames in my life and in our community. She has united many of us in unlikely friendships, and is catalytic to the great Olympia stirring of the Spirit we are privy to in this day. Lorie’s family started going to our church in Lacey, and now there are many more of us. Lorie is a

passionate worshiper and leader, and because of this my husband, Levi, and I have both been involved in the worship ministry at our church.

A few months ago, Lorie started talking about this cool organization called Sevenly, which sponsors a different charity each week by selling custom tee shirts and donating $7 from each sale to the charity. Lorie bought me my first Sevenly shirt and began to spam her Facebook wall with information about Sevenly and their causes each week. This warmed me up to the cause, so I started watching. Then Lorie became an Ambassador for Sevenly, something I immediately wanted to be involved in. So I jumped on the bandwagon, and my Levi did also. Week by week, I am privileged to watch Sevenly grow in its followers, donators, and various supporters. Were it not for Lorie, I would not have this great honor.

Last year, Lorie casually announced on her Facebook that there was a storm approaching. She did not specify whether this storm was to take place in the natural realm or the spiritual, though the latter was implied. Levi picked up on this sensation and began feeling restless and anxious for quite a while—then the hairs on the back of my neck began to tingle, and I joined my two best friends in wide-eyed anticipation. Then one day, with little warning, the storm hit. A massive windstorm barreled through our city, toppling trees and snapping power lines. Levi and I stayed the night at Lorie’s house that night when a fallen tree in the road deterred us on our journey home, and the storm blew on.

The next morning, we woke up to an earthquake. It was gentle enough that there was no damage, but it served its purpose in getting the message across. Something had shifted in the atmosphere, and the local prophetic people all confirmed it with reports spanning all the way down to California.

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There have been several other instances where Lorie’s curiosity led us band of merry men into various adventures, and many times where her wisdom and gifts have kept us out of grave mishaps. I’m always on the lookout for what she’s doing and what direction she’s headed. Pastor Bill Johnson describes this in worship as “honoring the point.” In hunting, when more than one hound dog is on the field sniffing about for the first scent of prey, if one dog catches the scent before the other and locks into point, then the second dog will honor the point and lock into position also.

To wrap up this rather verbose post, I would like to make an impartation to both the firestarters and the firespreaders. Both have an invaluable role to play, yet I think both have been force-fed the idea that they are to fit into the opposite mold from what they were made.

Firestarters, I think, are either trained to feel guilty for running ahead of the group, or self-conditioned into indifference and stubbornness. The curiosity and vision of a forerunner is vital to the mission to run forward with everything they have, without looking back. There should be no shame in running ahead—by all means, GO! How else do we expect to shatter the apathy of plodding along with the norms and being satisfied with how things are? If something glitters in the horizon, chase after it fiercely, knowing that goodness and mercy are in turn chasing after you and that you cannot possibly outrun them. Know that you have the baton in your hand and that you are a World Changer by the things you discover and uncover, even if your time to delve into them is limited. If you feel like you are being flung from place to place or project to project, idea to idea, roll with the punches. It is simply because the fires you start are spreading so fast that you cannot walk fast enough to touch something that is not already aflame unless you are taken to a different arena entirely.

Followers and firespreaders, do not be ashamed of who you are. It’s not copycatting. It’s not plagiarism. It’s part of a culture of honor. There is nothing wrong in following the markers of someone else’s trail. There is nothing bad about shadowing another’s footsteps. I don’t mean to imply that you don’t have identity of your own, because you do. But we were created for community, to champion causes together. One of us may sample, and of us may stop and really savor; both are of equal value and importance.
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John the Baptist is probably the best-known Biblical forerunner. In Matthew 11:11, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has no risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.” John the Baptist was a great forerunner, and were it not for him, the world would not have been prepared for Jesus (not that it was really ready for Him even then). But “the least of these,” those who approach Jesus as a small child, with humility and wide-eyed curiosity, with the gift of being able to be content in the moment—those, He says, are even greater in the Kingdom. Small children don’t play with something you give them for two seconds and then toss it aside and say, “What’s next?” They are so delighted and enamored with what they have that it is impossible to distract them from their object of adoration.

Yet were it not for the explorers, no progress would ever be made. Were it not for the daredevils, we would never discover new territory. In a great move of God such as the one we are witnessing now, it is just as important to be firmly rooted in the now as it is to be conscious of moving forward.

If you are called to run forward, then by all means run. We weave in and out of seasons in our lives where we are sometimes called to rest and be content, and at other times we are called to move and be moved. Whichever season you are at, the matter of utmost importance is that you are clinging to His heart, running toward His face.

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