Learning Before Moving (and Vice Versa) – January 8-11, 2023 (12-13/365)

Here I was, thinking it was still 2022, and I still had a lot of surplus articles to cover me. I’m thinking this is a reminder for me to be more intentional in my writing, and also, in these times when I’m not feeling said ‘intention’, to just get to it.

I figure working out and writing in January have one thing in common – there are a lot of excuses to avoid them. In the case of working out I could always say it’s cold, or I could hold off on writing because there’s more to do. But I say, if I can make excuses to avoid them, surely I could just get at it, beyond the excuses. Even if I’m not feeling like writing, or working out, all the more I should do them.

I could be working out right now, and – sure, these are excuses – I’m charging the phone I’m using to record my movements, and there isn’t enough time between now and my 8am deliverables to finish the workout in one go.

So I’m making the most of the time I have while waiting for the phone to charge to an acceptable level – there’s a lot I think I need to write about, anyway.

Last Sunday I had just enough time to more or less repeat the details of our theme as a congregation for 2023.

I shared on how Christ makes us move, instead of merely institutionalizing us.

I shared on the basic story of David and Goliath, and concluded that Christ would have us moving forward, and though we are seeing the giants, mountains, and obstacles before us, we continue to move, not in fear, but in perfect love.

I shared on the story of Compassion International’s progress, and we concluded that a good mission does contribute to compounding and consistent success, but the moment we intentionally recognize and appreciate Christ in our mission, we enjoy the real possibility of parabolic progression – not just vertical movement, but parabolic vertical movement. And now that I think of it, this is success that the world will see.

Finally, I shared on the story of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples of Christ, and they went forth to the marketplace where they spoke to the crowds. The people – who were comprised of more than just Jews, but Romans, Greeks, Parthians, Medes, and Scythians, to name a few – were amazed. Not only were these seemingly uneducated folk suddenly speaking in their languages, but they were all proclaiming one thing in common – the wonderful works of God. The Holy Spirit would have us moving wider. We would be covering more territory by way of speaking to foreign nations.

So we move. We move forward, we move higher, and we move wider. And through it all the light covers us. Christ is with us through it all.

I had a couple of other things in my mind to share to the congregation, but I didn’t want to scramble – both, in my organizing of said ideas and insights, but also in my sharing them. Hence, my motivation for saying I do have a lot to write about.

See, in the days that followed that first Sunday of the year, I expected that people were going to be moving; they would be adjusting from the holidays back to the grind, whether it be work or school. As such, I thought that I would also be working on my routine – going beyond the plotting, and into actual application.

I thought that in itself was already a good and substantial way to spend the week. I saw that it was in application that I was able to do some adjustment – some re-plotting, and some rearrangement. I shouldn’t be too surprised that in my application of my sermon plotting by way of preaching on the second Sunday of the year, I’ve needed to make changes to my Q1 sermon schedule (which also isn’t something I’ve done in such detail before this year).

For see, it was also in application of said sermon plotting that I was led to make a change to my sermon lineup for January; Foregoing talking about each ‘direction’ in general, and going deeper into movement. I figured, I’m going to be going deeper into moving forward, higher and deeper in the coming months, why shouldn’t I talk about actual movement, in-depth?

It’s all so exciting. For see, I’m going to be talking against a mindset that I’ve had myself for the longest time, one that’s sabotaged me by way of giving me more reasons to procrastinate – that is, the notion, or the need to prepare as much as you can before embarking on a project. Or, if I’m honest, the need to feel prepared, the need to feel ready, the need to feel motivated before taking the first step.

I mean, it’s just not true. It’s not right in the sense that you’re holding yourself back, and it’s not efficient in the sense that you’re putting too much thought into ‘the feeling’… when there’s a significant chance that you need to take the first step, and you need to move, and then said ‘feeling’ follows.

I’ve seen it in countless situations. Take for example, my experience in a call center. And really, my trainers were fully aware of it themselves, before they imparted it on to us – that they can only prepare us so much. The real learning is not in the training room, but out there, on the ‘floor’; on the battlefield, where you take live calls, talk to real customers, and experience real transactions. You’re taught in training that the first troubleshooting step to try is to ‘powercycle’ the device – that is, to disconnect the power cord for 30 seconds, before plugging it back in… but it’s in live calls where you learn that isn’t the only way to cut power from the device; for, see, it could be possible that for some harebrained reason the device is inaccessible… but the power adaptor isn’t. And even then, this is where you learn that you don’t need a full, counted 30 seconds before plugging it in.

That’s not necessarily the best of examples. There’s also the need to go past the feeling, especially when you’re starting off and there’s no more delaying your taking the calls you were trained to take; Whether you’re feeling pumped or not, and regardless of how those who have gone ahead of you are scaring you with horror stories about evil customers and extraordinary situations… you’d still have to press the ‘Auto-In’ button to take a call… and that’s where you find out that not every customer hates your guts, not every situation goes awry – in fact, that’s where you learn that most people just want their stuff fixed, and all it takes from you is to follow the procedure.

I could keep going. Say, in driving. That right there is actually one of the best things you can learn while moving. Like there’s no training before you actually start to drive – no, the moment you start training, you’re already driving. Such was the case with me, as on the very first minute of the very first day of our classes way back in 2004, I was learning the concept of getting the car back in motion from what we call a ‘hanging’ position – that is, stationary on an incline. That right there was training for using the hand brake, foot brake, gas, and clutch, all in the same time.

And you learn stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily understand if you read it on paper – stuff like knowing and feeling when the car begins to roll forward with the right application of gas and just the right release on the clutch. Then there’s stuff you learn about dealing with other cars – stuff like the general assumption that the other drivers are also thinking of not hitting you, just as much as you are. As time moved on I learned and re-learned, and un-learned. I learned the importance of the hand brake, and how you’d utilize it over the foot brake when you can, just so you don’t put unnecessary stress over the more important brake pads. And as such, I’ve also learned to appreciate automatic transmission, which mechanically cuts the clutch ‘middleman’, and consequently the wear and tear and margin of error involved in operating an additional pedal.

For a while I learned the unsavory technique of rolling down a decline on neutral, and had to un-learn it in favor of always keeping the car in gear, for everyone’s safety.

As I write all that, I’m realizing that I’ve theorized application over theory. Obviously I couldn’t tell my congregation to move and expect them to move, based on what I have to say alone. No, I believe this is where the power of testimony comes in: That is, how movement adds to our testimony, and how testimony inspires us to movement.

Like I said, for the first week of January I thought I’d only be planning and plotting. That’s how it was for the first half of the week, anyway. Unfortunately, and fortunately, we found ourselves in a situation; Not just me, as an individual, but for us, as a ministry team. The infant niece of a member on our team passed away, after around 6 months of complications experienced since birth.

The death came at such a shock to the family. In spite of all of our prayers, the little girl went back home so soon. However, I believe that we as a team unconsciously agreed, that the love that we were to express, the sympathy we needed to give, was not only to be accomplished in words, and even in our giving gifts, in cash and in kind – no, for the rest of the week, our team was focused on spending time – with our team member, and with her family. We conducted funeral services and prayers in the few nights after the cremation, and the rest of the team ensured that their teammate was not only comforted, but provided for, and ministered to – her, and her family.

We learned, sure enough – but in our application, and in our movement, we learned much more. I have no doubt that the next time a sudden tragedy like this happens, we would be ready to move again, and consequently, we will learn again.

On the first Saturday of the week, I also paid a visit to an uncle of mine – well, he may or may not be an uncle by blood, but he certainly was significant in my own life, in the sense that he is the father of my childhood friends. Anyway, a bit of back story, they thought he had a stroke, but then MRI findings showed that he had a tumor. They tried to use medication to get rid of it but it eventually came to a point that they needed to operate to get it out.

After the operation they reported that he was on his way to recovery, but throughout the holiday season his condition got worse, to the point that when my Mom visited him the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, he was bedridden and barely responding, if at all.

And this was the scene I was expecting when I paid a visit to him as well… but I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only was he now whispering, albeit still unintelligible, but he was also moving his right hand around – and not only was he moving it, he had a fine grip on him when sat and shook his hand.

I kept on with my plan of just reading out Scripture to him, before praying for him and the family.

And see, now that I think about it, I could have easily just sent a message to my friends, or even my auntie who’s taking care of him, saying that we prayed for him and are praying for him. In fact, I did – but there are things you would only see when you go there yourself. In the case of my uncle, I wouldn’t have known about his turn back to recovery, nor would I have known about his motivation to fight what ails him, unless I spent some actual time with him and his family. I wouldn’t have known for myself, what exactly was going on besides what we could already assume from a distance.

I don’t know, but I suppose my point in all this is that in the first parts of the first week of January, I was learning on my own terms, and I was preparing myself to move. It seems, however, that the week could not end without me learning the other side of the coin; that is, that there is the learning that could only be done after you initiate movement.

I’m not sure if this would suffice for my message this coming Sunday, but I’m still praying for more revelations.

Until the next post, God bless you.

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